Georges St. Pierre is the greatest welterweight of all time. He has dominated his opponents – fighters who are floating at the top of a rich talent pool of contenders. He's avenged his two losses with dominating vengeance. The two blemishes on his record came not by domination but by getting caught – one by submission the other by knockout – a fate which any mortal man can suffer.
He has reached such a peak that any logical argument is not over his position at the top of the mountain, but over how he slays his adversaries.
Some say he doesn't do enough to win or he wastes his talents. It seems we're not satisfied with him winning until we're satisfied with him destroying. Or maybe we just want to be entertained, even if it's at his expense. Our expectation has exceeded our admiration. But the criticisms will never stop. They keep coming. He's perfected the outcome, the victory, now he has to perfect something else. The way in which he does it.
But he's boring, some say. All he's doing is executing a better kind of lay n' pray. OJR made some good points regarding this, lending some credence to the tenacity of GSP's last few opponents, how they're all, in their own right, tough to put away. We should also look at them and consider what they are doing – or not doing – to stifle his takedowns, to put up some kind of competition to contend with his greatest strength.
His greatest strength is his honed yet inherent ability to wrestle. In fact, his greatest asset surpasses anything his opponents can offer. To eschew its benefits would be foolish, creating an unnecessary risk of losing his title – and his legacy. If Fitch and Koscheck can't offer any kind of wrestling competition, no other welterweight can. He's simply sticking to his strengths.
Rashad Evans chose to forgo his wrestling pedigree by trying to beat Machida at his own game. It was a valiant effort on Rashad's part, but it was a failed one.
Fighters who don't stick to their main strengths, who don't have a standout skill which exceeds any opponent's attempts to stifle it, have to take risks in order to overcome their opponents. Just as a tennis player who faces a tougher opponent than usual has to take a risk to strike the ball that much closer to the edge of the court, to summon that entrained skill by hitting the ball harder and faster, playing at a frequency with little errors and a higher intensity that his opponent can't match.
GSP doesn't have to take those unnecessary risks because he's not required to. He doesn't need to risk getting caught on the chin when he knows there's no one who can offer any kind of effective defense to his preternatural ability to wrestle. No one can deny him his takedown.
He has something most fighters don't have. A dominance in a set skill no one can come close to competing with. He doesn't need to take as many risks by staying on his feet and having a scrap or by timing his opponent. He can time his takedown instead, take their timing away from them, make them fight on his terms.
If GSP fought at 185, however, his wrestling would remain an asset but wouldn't be as overwhelming an asset as it is at welterweight. There are bigger, stronger wrestlers like Chael Sonnen and Yushin Okami, bigger BJJ experts like Demian Maia, guys with bigger frames and faster hands like Vitor Belfort.
Without the ability to overwhelm his opponents with his wrestling, he'll have to take risks, he'll have to mix it up and try to beat them on the feet, confuse them by going for the takedown, open up a newfound survival mechanism and do what he can to conquer his opponent. He'll be forced to use what he can to get the victory, not simply rely on his overwhelming strengths.
And if he loses . . . he loses to a bigger and stronger opponent. When BJ lost to GSP it didn't affect his legacy as a lightweight champion. And if a loss did affect GSP's status as a reincarnated god, illuminating us all of his own mortality, it would be better for him to be praised for what he is and for what he did rather than for what he didn't do, or for what he avoided.
He could stay at welterweight and try to work on finishing his opponents, possibly succumbing to the crowd's discontent by taking unnecessary risks, eventually getting caught by a fighter he could have otherwise beaten had he used his strengths to tackle his weaknesses. Or he could take the next step to cement his legacy, fight the next challenge, and be a champion who fought anyone even when the odds were against him.
GSP wants to be known as the best pound for pound fighter in the world. The only way to do that is to fight at a higher weight class and prove it.
Note: Go easy on me, lads. This is my first and probably last post.