As the dust settled from the UFCs banner night at UFC 129 Twitter and a host of other social media outlets began to paint a pretty uniform picture of the fans’ thoughts on Georges St-Pierre’s dominate, title retaining, five round decision victory over Jake Shields.
One particularly witty Twitter user proclaimed that “GSP couldn’t finish a Happy Meal.” But, this user, along with countless others critique are not without reason. Combative sports are unique in that they require its stars to not simply win, but to win in entertaining value. Which is why there has been a loud and vocal throng of GSP detractors that are upset in the UFC welterweight champion’s perceived lack of a killer instinct.
No one can question the legitimacy of GSP’s championship reign, or the fact that he will go down as one of the all-time greats in the sport of MMA. But, with that being said, GSP’s financial compensation is, and will be, largely based on his ability to put butts in the seats and eyes on the PPVs. When a vast majority of fans vocally deride a fighter for his insomnia curing fighting style, well, then should it be a cause of concern for the UFC or GPS and his team? To hear UFC president Dana White tell it, there is no cause for concern.
“Nobody said anything negative to me about the fight,” White said in a post-fight interview with MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani. “Listen, when you’re at the level he’s at you’re going to continue to fight the best guys in the world, and you know, Georges St-Pierre keeps winning. He isn’t catching anyone with exciting front kicks, but he’s a winner.”
White hits the nail squarely on the head here. There is something to be said about the fact that GSP is at the level where everyone he faces pose a legitimate threat to usurp him from his throne. If St-Pierre was battling a string of second and third-tier fighters then you can all but guarantee that the majority of his opponents would not see the final bell. But as it stands, GSP is a champion, one who is transcendently popular across the globe. The UFC would be doing a huge disserves by feeding him tomato cans, and as such we are treated to GSP in the cage against some real beasts. When you fight the best, the best fight back so it is not without reason to attribute some of GSPs lack of finishes on him.
But, such an explanation should only absolve GSP partially. Let’s not forget that St-Pierre should shoulder some of the blame. There were times in Saturday night’s fight with Shields where you could see GSP backing off his opponent instead of going for the kill. St-Pierre suffers from the same problem that boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. suffers from; a debilitating fear of losing. It’s a phobia that GSP himself has stated on numerous occasions. This is why you will never see St-Pierre tear into a hurt opponent unless the percentages are overwhelmingly in his favor.
Granted, this is extremely frustrating behavior from a man who is a great among men in arguably the most exciting sport in the world. When you have the freakish physical tools, the unparalleled fighting acumen, and a team of trainers and sparring partners who are universally considered the best in the world, then engaging in dominating, exciting fights should be the norm. Unfortunately, this is not the case with GPS, a fighter so supremely talented and intelligent that he finds new ways to win with the absolute minimal amount of exposure to damage.
Will a career record that shows more wins by decision than any other means tarnish the legacy of Georges St-Pierre? Of course not, GSP is a once-in-a-lifetime type of fighter. Even the most jaded and barbaric fight fan recognizes it. GSPs legacy is secure; unfortunately, his endearment by fans craving their warriors to go for broke every second of every round will never come. St-Pierre is too good for them.