A simply stunning performance by returning welterweight legend Georges St-Pierre on Saturday night has reponed the debate on who the greatest mixed martial artist of all time truly is
GSP was always in the mix for that particular title, alongside the usual suspects including Anderson Silva, Jon Jones, and Demetrious Johnson.
Last night at the iconic Madison Square Garden, even the greatest expectations of fans of the Canadian were surpassed as the 36-year-old choked out Michael Bisping to join an elite club of two weight world champions in the UFC. St-Pierre promised to stop Bisping (it was his first stoppage since a 2009 win over BJ Penn) and looked focused on getting the job done from the outset.
Things weren’t easy, however, as the Canadian found himself eating some heavy elbows from the bottom as Bisping aimed to deal with St-Pierre’s takedown. Looking as though his gas tank had taken a hammering and with blood gushing from his face, “Rush” did not relent and trapped Bisping into giving him the window he needed in order to execute a tremendous rear-naked choke and send the crowd wild.
The man who had left the sport in 2013, having been renowned for his cerebral fighting style which was punctuated by a run of 7 consecutive decision victories, stepped in to face the middleweight champion and emphatically prove his doubters wrong.
“Martial arts is not about who’s got the biggest balls,” St-Pierre told Joe Rogan in his post-fight interview. “Sorry for my language. It’s about technique, setting traps and intelligence. I was fighting a bigger man and I was trying to prove it tonight to all my fans.”
“Well, this is not really my weight,” St-Pierre added. “I did it for the challenge. There was a time in my career, I was too busy. The challengers were one after the other and I was too small to go up. Now I’m still welterweight size, but I decided to take a shot because I put on some muscle mass. There’s a point that it’s too much, but now I’m at the point where it’s OK.”
St-Pierre also explained that his intention to throw the left hook in order to bring the fight to the ground came from his time studying Bisping’s defense:
“I studied a lot of his tape,” St-Pierre said. “I knew he had problems with the shot coming to his right. Our plan was to fake him on his left side to attract his attention and strike him on the right. That’s what we did most of the fight.”
“It was a trick,” St-Pierre said. “Sometimes I put traps. I have more experience. Before, a few years ago, I was always trying to force things and I think the best thing in fighting is to try to set up some traps on your opponents.”
St-Pierre was magnanimous in victory and explained that he held and continues to hold a lot of respect for the Brit. Despite a catalog of insults and a campaign of trash talk inflicted by Bisping on the Canadian MMA legend, GSP was not afraid to pay his opponent his dues, post-fight. Additionally, St-Pierre also claimed that he was genuinely hurt by shots he took against “The Count” and would not relish an opportunity to do it again:
“He hurt me very hard,” GSP said. “A few times, I got stunned. I tried to hide it, but man I wouldn’t like to do that fight again. Oh, f’*ck. Sorry, I don’t want to swear on TV, sorry for that.
“Michael, he’s the toughest guy I fought. This man is amazing. I’m a fighter, but I’ve been a fan of this man. He’s a true example of hard work and perseverance in the sport.”
St-Pierre’s feat will effectively cement his legacy and further move to separate him from two of his main rivals for the title of the greatest fighter of all time in MMA. Anderson Silva and Jon Jones’ exploits, while being an essential part of the history of the sport, came in what many would refer to as the pre-USADA days. Jones’ well-documented fall from grace and Silva’s paltry record of 1-4-1 No Contest since 2013 only further serve to push the case for the Canadian being the G.O.A.T.