Over the years we’ve seen some amazing fighters come and go. The title of GOAT has been thrown between many fighters and is still debated by many. Some say Silva, some say Jones, some say Fedor. But for me and many others there is only one; Georges St-Pierre. Not only by his incredible octagon achievements but the way he’s conducted himself throughout his career has made him the undisputed GOAT in many people’s eyes. He’s the man that took me from a casual to a die hard MMA fan as I’m sure is the case with many others and as the news breaks he’s calling time on an awe inspiring career, we look back at the greatest mixed martial artist to ever do it. Questions will always be asked why he ducked Big Country Roy Nelson, but there are blemishes on everyone’s record.
Georges St-Pierre was quite simply an expert everywhere, a third dan black belt in kyukoshin karate, a 1st degree black belt in BJJ and a black belt gaidojutsu. And shidonkan. This is one of the highest level MMA fighters of all time, he was one of the best in the game, as an opponent, I can’t imagine watching his tapes trying to find that achilles heel to exploit. His striking, wrestling, timing, distance control, durability and stamina were phenomenal and if any of you have seen his training videos it’s no mystery why. The training he put on himself was almost like a Marvel superhero montage. We’re not just talking about a guy who goes hard in the gym, this is a man who’s pushed his mind and body to the highest level they can endure. He was a perfect athlete and his mental toughness was truly unmatched. However, despite being an absolute monster in the cage, he had one of the most genuine personalities outside it, which in this day and age of MMA is rare. He respected everyone he ever face, in fact sometimes he respected them too much for his own good. He even said himself the downfall in the first Hughes fight was he couldn’t stop idolising the legend. He even stated he was so in awe of him he couldn’t look him in the eye. That’s the kind of man he was. Even when regarded as one of the best up and coming MMA fighters at the time, he still saw Matt Hughes as a God before him. Humble and respectful to the core, never letting his hype inflate his ego like we see too much in MMA today. So respectful, the most unkind thing he ever said about a fighter was the famous “I’m glad you won that fight Matt but I’m not impressed by your performance” before shaking Hughes hand. That to me was one of the most pleasing things about GSP. There was no need for mind games, no need for trash talk or getting in his opponent’s heads, he respected everyone and he enjoyed seeing his fellow competitors do well even if he had to face them. He just wanted to be the best by fighting the best. His career had some many highs that if we were to go through everything now this article would go on forever, so here’s our top 5 moments in GSP’s career.
- The Matt Hughes Saga
When GSP fought Matt Hughes he was the absolute man at welterweight. Already a UFC legend, he was one of the best wrestlers MMA had ever seen having a highlight reel of slams and dirty ground and pound. GSP had a lot of steam behind him making a huge scene in the division. As we said before, he felt the downfall in this fight was the such high esteem he held Hughes in, and if you walk into the cage with Hughes without full intent you’re not gonna come back out. That’s exactly what happened in the first fight. George gets subbed via an arm bar in the first round. There’s no shame losing to someone like Hughes, but GSP doesn’t leave losses unavenged. He focused, trained harder and came back better than ever to see him destroy Matt Hughes in the rematch, nearly finishing at the end of the first round and getting the job done in the second. Every great rivalry needs a trilogy, maybe even a guard if you’re 76 years old and have a mohawk and goatee. The third fight was for the interim title and went similarly to the first, this time with GSP comfortably getting the arm bar in the second. Not only was this truly a passing of the torch moment, but this was the rubber match for one of the most storied rivalries in UFC history to date.
2. BJ Penn
What can we say about BJ. It’s fair to say we all love a BJ and the fighter wasn’t bad either. At one time, Penn was considered one of the greatest of all time, devastating the lightweight division and becoming one of the first fighters to win titles in multiple weight classes (one of the many, many to do it years before Conor). A 5th degree BJJ black belt and not bad striking to boot, he was one of the most feared men in MMA. After a successful stint in K1 where he defeated Renzo Gracie he went up against our Canadian hero only just losing to GSP in a split decision, this was one of his toughest outings to date and an important victory over one of the most talented fighters in the world. After this loss, and one to Matt Hughes in an absolute war, he dropped back to his natural lightweight winning the vacant championship. It wasn’t long before he came face to face with GSP again, wanting to add the welterweight belt to his portfolio. Finally at this time we had 5 round fights, and it was a corner stoppage in the fourth after a dominant performance from GSP. These two fights were stand outs in GSP’s career and are jewels on his repertoire. BJ was one of the only fighters people thought could topple GSP, but in the end, he wasn’t at the level.
3. Carlos Condit
At this point in this career it really looked like GSP was unbeatable, he’d been through almost everyone and very few ever posed him any problems. Then came Condit, winning 13 of 14 wins, in which he picked up the interim welterweight belt, he was the one of the only people I thought could actually pose GSP a problem, and for a minute, in the third round, he very much did. This was a war, a war that GSP won comfortably yes, but he got thrown into deeper waters than he had ever been in. He even stated himself in his retirement speech yesterday that his proudest achievement was surviving the head kick that nearly took his belt from him. On paper it was just another GSP title defence, but this was his hardest test for years, one that left him looking more battered and bruised than Jon Jones buttocks after a hard juicing session, but one that saw him with his hand raised, yet again.
4. Johny Hendricks
Johny Hendricks was quite frankly the scariest man in welterweight history, well, pre USADA, but that’s a conversation for another day. He was knocking peoples out like a 14 year old knocking out wanks the first time he discovers the dark side of the internet. He was the closest thing to the one punch man that we will ever see. GSP had only been in deep waters a few times in his career, but boy did Hendricks push him to his limits in the first two rounds of their encounter. Rocking GSP several times and landing on him at will he seemed to be in firm control, however GSP managed to stay calm and completely turn the tide of the fight in the last three rounds, having it is way, using his incredible timing, ground game and cardio to eventually win the tie, many believed Hendricks won that fight, I do not. Don’t get me wrong Hendricks dominated the start of the fight but GSP’s incredible fight IQ and composer saw him take the fight in the later rounds. The fight took so much out of GSP he took an extended break from the game to fully recover from the knocks he had picked up throughout his illustrious career.
5. Michael Bisping
When he met Bisping in the squared circle he had been out of the game for 4 years, not only was he coming off a 4 year layoff, he was moving up in weight and fighting the champion. Do I think Bisping was a top tier champions? That doesn’t matter, he was still a ridiculously hard challenge for GSP to get back in the cage and test himself against. The first round went perfectly for GSP, his timing, distance control and jab looked just as good as the prime GSP that dominated the welter welt division all those years, and even though he slowed and Bisping had more success in round two, GSP never looked out of his depth. Then in the third round he done what many thought was impossible, and he done it in spectacular fashion, dropping the Count with a beautiful lead left hook, dropping elbows on Bisping like they were going out of fashion, before slipping in a beautiful rear naked choke that made Bisping take a nap, the best of all time had moved up in weight and finished the champion after four years out of the game.
Many people dispute who the greatest is, to me it’s GSP, and always will be. The 2 weight champion, the most title defences in welterweight history, the most amount of strikes and takedowns ever recorded in UFC history, and there second most wins ever in the UFC, the records speak for themselves, a name that will reign supreme in the world of MMA for years to come, there will never be another. He done things many thought were not possible, a true icon, who carried himself in the most respectful fashion throughout one of the most successful careers combat sports have ever seen, it’s been a pleasure of watch his career unfold, and I’m glad he hung his gloves up on his own terms, going out on top, just the way he deserved. Thank you GSP, the greatest mixed martial artists to ever live.