A Gatineau museum has gone to the mat for fighter Georges St-Pierre to pluck one of his title belts from auction and put it on public display.
The Canadian Museum of History says it acquired St-Pierre's Ultimate Fighting Championship title belt, which he won exactly 10 years ago, along with a pair of shorts and autographed fight gloves during a recent auction.
The auction company's website says bidding closed in June, with the winning bid listed as $55,527.
An accompanying description says the consignor recalls St-Pierre "gifted" him the belt, plus the gloves and shorts that might have been used in practice.
The only details about the consignor is that he was "one of St-Pierre's first sponsors" and that the fighter trained at the person's gym years prior to becoming a UFC champion.
In a statement through the museum, St-Pierre says the belt is now in good hands after having been almost lost "as a result of an unfortunate set of circumstances."
"It is a great honour to have it on public display," he says. The belt will be on public display starting Friday in the lobby of the museum, where it can be viewed for free for the weekend, before it becomes part of the collection.
Born in Saint Isidore, Que., just south of Montreal, the 37-year-old best known by his initials – GSP – is the most successful Canadian to compete in mixed martial arts, having defended his title nine consecutive times between 2008 and 2013.
St-Pierre defended his UFC welterweight title on Jan. 31, 2009 in Las Vegas, defeating B.J. Penn, a former champion, by technical knockout in the fourth round when the referee stopped the match.
The belt St-Pierre won in that bout is made of black leather, with a metal title plate lined with cubic zirconia and emblazoned with the UFC logo. St-Pierre has said he makes a habit of giving his championship belts to people who have helped him.
The museum says landing the belt, gloves and shorts makes it the first such institution in Canada to have St-Pierre's memorabilia in its collection.
"The belt helps us tell the story of a well-loved and inspiring figure in Canadian sport, and the evolution of mixed martial arts from brutal combat to a mainstream sport with universal rules," museum CEO Mark O'Neill said in a release.
It’s not the first time the museum has gotten its hands on pieces of sports history. In 2017 it paid $2 million to acquire a Maple Leafs superfan’s 1,700-piece collection of memorabilia related to the Toronto hockey team.
– With files from OBJ staff