Children and fans new to MMA may not remember, but back in October 2010 Georges St-Pierre was the lord of all creation. UFC welterweight champion of the world, pound-for-pound title contender, and owner of an unreasonably muscular body, GSP was the golden child and the face of a movement. He was good looking, he was charming, he was affable, he was hard-working, he was everything MMA and the UFC needed him to be at that time: a cage-fighter who didn't look or sound the part. He was a poster child at the height of his powers, right when his sport was making its way out of the dark ages.
He was also a fantastic nerd, a man who despite his chiseled frame, athletic genius, barely concealed rage, and millions of dollars, was willing to admit that he was more interested in dinosaurs than sports. "Ask me a question about the Jurassic period or the Cretaceous period and I probably could answer it," GSP told ESPN at the time. "Seriously, I'm into paleontology. That's the study of prehistoric life. ... Most of my friends are nerds like me. That's why I have a hard time finding a girlfriend. I need someone to talk science with."
At a time when MMA was still struggling for legitimacy and mainstream cultural acceptance (long before Fox Sports and Reebok and the New York State Assembly) St-Pierre made cage-fighting safe for everyday average people by showing them that underneath all the brutality and roiling violence could live the gentle soul of a geek, someone who felt more comfortable visiting museums than talking to girls. GSP wasn't a beast; he was just a normal guy. Like us. Except he had been sent down to earth by the MMA gods to make his sport safe for the world.
Now, with MMA light years away from the shadowy spectacle it was when GSP made his UFC debut back in 2004 (his job done, I guess), the former champion of the world has finally found a way to spin his world-changing success in the Octagon into an opportunity to indulge his first and truest love. On April 14th, the History Channel will be premiering a new two-part television special called The Boneyard With Georges St-Pierre in which the former fighter will travel the world looking for dinosaur bones. After two years of self-imposed exile the world's most dangerous nerd has found a new home.
According to the History Channel web site, Boneyard will follow GSP as he visits a secret triceratops burial ground in the Badlands of South Dakota, comes face to face with a "living dinosaur" in the swamps of Alabama, and tours Patagonia, known as Argentina's "dinosaur graveyard," all in search of the "truth about prehistoric life."
I suppose we could have seen this coming if only we'd had eyes to see and a willingness to think about GSP as something more than just a temporary MMA refugee. Because while we've been scouring the Internet for rumors and indulging our cultural myopia, GSP has been out traveling the world, in search of prehistoric beasts and what they mean, quietly sending us back transmissions and clues.
"You know why we play sports?" GSP told ESPN six years ago, when we were young and didn't know what we had. "It's because it goes back to days when we used to fight in the battlefields. We are war-like. It's deep inside us. Sports today is the modern way to make war. We're just more civilized."
See, while we're at home wondering when and if Georges St-Pierre will ever return to fighting, he's been looking for the cultural and historical and paleontological meaning behind why we, and he, fight at all. Searching for himself and for some greater understanding, all while becoming a TV star.