(“‘aters gonna ‘ate.” Photo courtesy of CombatLifestyle.)
George St. Pierre‘s genius as an MMA fighter is his ability to put his opponents exactly where they don’t want to be. Against strikers (see: Alves, Hardy), that usually means St. Pierre taking top position on the mat and not giving them an inch of space. Against wrestlers (see: Koscheck, Shields), it usually means keeping the fight standing and jabbing them into a living death.
But in both cases, it hasn’t translated into dramatic finishes recently. Aside from his corner-stoppage win over BJ Penn at UFC 94, the last time that GSP has legitimately TKO’d or submitted an opponent was during his rematch with Matt Serra, over three years ago. Now two months away from his UFC 137 title defense against Nick Diaz, St. Pierre has picked up a reputation among some fans and observers as a “safe” fighter. One of his recent critics is Diaz’s trainer/manager Cesar Gracie, who shared some less-than-kind words to Full Contact Fighter:
“The thing is it’s really not my business how he fights; he’s not on my team, so, I truly don’t care how he fights. Now if you’re asking me as a fan, yeah, that style is not what I like to watch. I like to watch guys that just go completely for it, take chances, and give crowds what they want, which is ‘Ultimate Fighting,’ not ‘ultimate stalling’ or anything like that.”
If Gracie is just saying that to get under St. Pierre’s skin and insult him into fighting a different kind of fight against Nick Diaz, well, his strategy probably won’t work. But from a fan’s perspective, he has a point. Keep in mind that Georges St. Pierre was unable to finish Dan Hardy in 25 minutes when they fought at UFC 111, while Carlos Condit subsequently knocked Hardy out in the first round, and Chris Lytle tapped him in the third. That seems to imply something about GSP’s finishing ability and/or risk-aversion.
Meanwhile, Nick Diaz’s current ten-fight win streak includes six TKOs and three submissions. Admittedly, Diaz’s level of competition hasn’t always been as high as GSP’s, but it’s obvious that when both fighters enter a cage, the objective is different. One is looking to win, the other is looking to kill.
So whose strategy will prove more effective when they meet on October 29th? And does GSP’s decision-streak affect your enjoyment of his fights?