MMA Analysis: What Should We Expect Out of GSP?

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It seems everywhere I look inside the world of caged fisticuffs I see bad news – Eight Main Events on the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s 2012 calendar have fallen to pieces, the injury bug is running rampant and it’s all been capped off with the cancellation of UFC 151.

At one stage I strongly considered joining a cult, living in the underworld and preparing for the inevitable rapture. Alas, finally there was a shining light  that came over the darkened hallway with the news that George St. Pierre, the UFC welterweight champion and promotional cash would return to action.

“Yesterday was the final chapter of my Road to Recovery,” St. Pierre wrote Tuesday on his Facebook fan page. “I’m now medically cleared to compete in professional mixed martial arts! Big thanks to all my fans for the amazing support during those nine long months of rehab — couldn’t have done it without you. … Rendez-vous le 17 Novembre, UFC 154, Montreal!”

The welterweight kingpin had surgery after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament – The ACL provides 90% of the leg’s stability and is essential to dynamic movement. Widely regarded as one of the most painful injuries it has forced sporting greats like Tom Brady or Tiger Woods to sit on the sideline.

Before the wonders of modern medicine a torn ACL was the death nail to just about any professional athlete. Luckily, we live in a day and age where an ACL tear is treatable and athletes are capable of nurturing the wound back to 100 per cent.

The longest reigning UFC welterweight titlist wasn’t expected to return until the early shades of 2013 but has put in the hard yards to be ready to return to his throne in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

The French-Canadian star hasn’t stepped foot inside the UFC’s Octagon since UFC 129 in front of a ruckus Rogers Centre in Toronto, Canada with 55,724 pairs of eyeballs locked on the welterweight kingpin as he soundly defeated former Strikeforce middleweight champ Jake Shields.

Since St. Pierre has been gone a lot has changed at 170-pounds. Nick Diaz isn’t the key predator seeking his shiny toy that resides on his mantle. Jon Fitch actually lost a fight. Johny Hendricks and Martin Kampmann are chomping at his heels.

Oh, and fellow Greg Jackson trained product Carlos Condit also has a UFC welterweight championship. Having never defended it, that title is worth about as much as one purchased at a UFC merchandise stand so you can bet that he wants the real one.

“The Natural Born Killer” has been patiently waiting to break through to the top of the division for some time now. A trio of stoppages against Rory MacDonald, Dan Hardy and Dong Hyun Kim earned him a chance to fight consensus number-one contender for GSP’s title Nick Diaz for an interim championship.

It wasn’t pretty and it probably didn’t earn Condit any more fans but the 28-year-old got to take home the interim UFC championship to Albuquerque, New Mexico to show his newborn child.

Getting inside an eight-sided cage to duke it out with St-Pierre, the long-time consensus pound-for-pound star is never an easy task, but Condit might have found the perfect moment to pounce.

In stick-and-ball sports an ACL tear can happen in the blink of an eye, just ask Derrick Rose. The reigning MVP of the league made one false move and came down wincing in pain and unable to return to his feet without assistance in the first round of the NBA Playoffs last year.

The Chicago Bulls point-guard is a supreme athlete, breaking through as one of the best in the game at just 23-years-of-age but isn’t even expected to return to action for a year and even when he does he isn’t expected to be tearing it up on his first match back.

Playing basketball you are given the luxury of a season to play, in the hurt business you only get to enter the ultimate proving ground a few times a year.

Since his last setback, a shocking upset at the hands of Matt Serra, St. Pierre has been a different animal – He no longer toyed with an opponent or underestimated their abilities. He was all business.

Potentially the most essential asset to his success has been his wrestling – Despite never wrestling in college GSP is widely regarded among the best wrestlers in the sport with a lightning-fast power double-leg that has forced some of the best off their feet.

Realistically, if he doesn’t have that same spring in his step when trying to place Condit on his back, it could give Condit the opening to inflict damage with his jaw-shattering power.

It’s unheard of for an athlete to return better than ever on the first night back, whether they throw a ball through a hoop or inflict damage on an opponent sporting four-ounce gloves. The 170-pound king better be prepared for the toughest night of his professional career in November or it could be curtains.


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