Georges St-Pierre is about to walk in to the Bell Center in the best shape of his life. If he beats Carlos Condit at UFC 154 in Montreal with this much time off, and the lingering thought of absolute annihilation of his knee if something goes wrong, then who is next?
Here are the facts. GSP's chin is, and always will be, in question. He hasn't been hit many times and when he did get contact from Matt Serra, he lost his title. That shot would have KO'd a normal man. Is that an indicator that he has an “Achilles chin”? NO.
St-Pierre normally doesn't get hit, because he controls the fight start to finish. His defence is impenetrable, or as Mike Tyson would say, “My style is impetuous. My defence is impregnable, and I'm just ferocious. I want your heart”. Well, Mike was kind of right in this instance. St-Pierre's defence is what gets him wins. He never exposes himself, he rarely misses a take down, and there is almost never a mistake in his game plan. In short, GSP is a boring fighter, but he is a champion. He is an athlete and not a mindless brawler. That is what makes the fight with Condit interesting.
I don't think there is really any chance of Condit beating St-Pierre. To take his title away, GSP needs to be picked apart. His game needs to be stopped and someone has to stop him from imposing his will.
Can Condit stop the takedown? I don't see it. Can he avoid the back kick or superman punch? GSP is faster and more athletic. So once again, the punchers chance is the only thing St-Pierre has to worry about. Serra landed the one-in-a-thousand shot and GSP has since changed his game to make sure no one else will.
Both St-Pierre and Condit have the same reach at 76 inches, so it's not like Condit will be trying to throw that big bomb upper cut, or really work St-Pierre from the outside.
So what do I think Condit can do? Well like most of us, if we were in the cage with St-Pierre, would get taken down, and hope he hits his head on your knee on the way in. Not taking anything away from Condit, he is a highly talented fighter, but GSP has turned himself into a takedown machine. That machine stays the course, and controls fights. Condit's only chance is in a striking match. The longer he stays standing, the more likely St-Pierre is to take one on the chin. So of course, GSP and his coaches will “Rush” this to the mat.
Now comes the fun conversation - the prospect of a fantasy match at Dallas Cowboys stadium against the Spider himself, middleweight champion Anderson Silva.
This is the only fight on the horizon that I see St-Pierre having problems with. Silva is faster, his striking is on a level all of its own, and his ground game is perfect to submit GSP.
Let's talk about striking. If you watch GSP, he has three go-to strikes. Back kick, superman punch, and a solid rear leg kick. He wins fights with those because they are so fast that they score. Once a fighter gets hit a few times, they begin to open up to a takedown. The takedown is St-Pierre's bread and butter. Once on the ground (usually on the first shot) GSP controls the fight. This is where St-Pierre gets his bad rap. Of his 22 wins, nine are by decision. In fact, five of his last six wins were by decision. St-Pierre hasn't earned a stoppage in three years.
Then there is Silva. He hasn't lost in six years and has 15 stoppage victories in his last 17 fights. Silva finishes fights.
Remember how I said Condit (or anyone) would need to pick apart St-Pierre to win? Silva can do just that. He can make GSP miss, both on strikes and on takedowns. Once he makes GSP miss, he can target his chin. That means one very dangerous thing for St-Pierre. The fight could end on the first takedown attempt. That is not how GSP would want to be remembered, but the possibility is there. If it didn't end there, it would end as soon as Silva found his target.
The difference in the fighters is this - GSP is an athlete. He uses all his speed to secure takedowns and control his opponent on the ground. However, Silva is a fighter. He is born and bred in Curitiba - a tough city, with strong roots in the origins of MMA. He has spent time with the best of the best perfecting his striking. He stalks with deadly accuracy, and wins fights with flash knockouts. Silva isn't impressive for his ability to knock out his opponents, he is impressive because he seems to do it at will. Add to that a size advantage over St-Pierre and this fight really seems to be a lock for Silva.
So here is my pitch to you, and I would love to hear back from the fans. I say scrap the St-Pierre vs. Silva super fight. Give me Jon Jones vs. Silva. I would actually pay big money to see that fight. St-Pierre is a champion athlete, but Jones and Silva are champion fighters. All three men deserve respect for their talents, but only two get my hard earned money for a pay-per-view.
First thing's first though, St-Pierre needs to control Condit, stay away from his power punch, and win a 25-minute decision over the interim champion. That's my call. It will be a decision win. St-Pierre wins fights, he doesn't finish them. Don't agree? Well stats don't lie and five of his last six were in the hands of the judges.
Good thing the Bell Centre card has a lot of other fights that promise to be explosive. More on that in my next installment!