FanPost edited and promoted to the front page by MMAmania.com.
Georges St. Pierre is the greatest welterweight mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter to ever live.
Holding a 22-2 record, and avenging both of those losses, "GSP" has defended his championship six consecutive times, but has come under fire for being a point fighter. Since regaining the 170-pound title from Matt Serra, every one of St. Pierre's title defenses have come by way of decision, not including the corner stoppage of B.J. Penn
In fact, until Jake Shields won two of five rounds against him, the champion did not lose a round on all the judges scorecards for 130 consecutive minutes. Let that soak in. "GSP" did not lose for over two hours of professional fighting. That, in itself, is an amazing accomplishment.
Many fans still clamor for more, though, and St. Pierre is to blame. He is expected to finish fights. As an up-and-coming fighter, he made his name by finishing fights. When he was 7-0, with six stoppages, he was given a title shot against legendary former welterweight champion Matt Hughes. While St. Pierre did not attain victory, he came back strong after his first professional defeat, going 5-0 with three stoppages, to earn another shot at Hughes, who he subsequently finished by way of strikes. The new breed welterweight champion was born.
But then Matt Serra comes along and messes everything up. I won't bore you with the details, but "Rush" did, in fact, tap to strikes.
Where am I going with this, you say? Well, St. Pierre fights in arguably the toughest division in MMA. His opponents have been the best fighters available to him. But how tough were his opponents, exactly? Are these guys getting knocked out or submitted on a regular basis? Should "GSP" be finishing these fighters?
Come with me after the jump to find out.
Before poking St. Pierre in the eye, Jake Shields had not been stopped in a professional fight since 2000. More than 11 years passed between that stoppage and fighting the welterweight king. Carlos Condit, Dan Henderson, Paul Daley, Robbie Lawler, Yushin Okami, Martin Kampmann, Mike Pyle and Nick Thompson couldn't stop him.
Hell, they couldn't even beat him.
"Hendo," the guy who just knocked out Fedor freaking Emelianenko, had Shields on Queer Street for the majority of the first round in their fight and couldn't finish, but "GSP" was supposed to?
Did anyone really think Koscheck would take anyone that lightly again? He has fought two very accomplished power punchers since. Anthony Johnson thought "Kos" would box with him and got choked out for it. Paul Daley did, as well, and lost his job after Koscheck was unwilling to walk into any of his punches.
Yet and still, I don't hear anyone talking about Koscheck's inability to finish fights. Of course, he gets guys like Trigg and Hughes, both well past their prime, to pad his finishing rate. That's a luxury St. Pierre will never have.
Granted, "GSP" broke Koscheck's orbital bone in the first round and probably should have been able to take advantage, but better punchers couldn't knock Koscheck out, so he gets a pass on that.
St. Pierre should have finished Dan Hardy. There is no excuse for not snapping his arm off when he had the chance to do so. That armbar was deeper than the one against Hughes and the French-Canadian had no problem torquing it to submission. Maybe he really is mental.
"Ultimate Submissions" expert AintNoSunshine would call that a great escape. I am not buying it.
Thiago Alves has been stopped four times in his career, three by way of submission and one technical knockout at the mercy of a Jon Fitch upkick. Some will say that Alves is tailor made to lose to St. Pierre. He has subsequently been grinded to decision losses by Fitch and Rick Story, although the latter did trade blows more than the others. Smart? Who knows, but Ricky still won.
This fight was a point fight, plain and simple. Greg Jackson repeatedly called for "GSP" to stay in full guard and pass to half with 30 seconds left in the round. St. Pierre did not take any chances at any point in the fight where Alves could have gotten any kind of advantage. Granted, he did so while grappling with a torn muscle in his leg but this fight exemplifies why he's earned the monicker Georges "Safe" Pierre.
"GSP" did not stop this fight. Penn's corner did. Would it a finish have occurred had it made it to the fifth round? Maybe. The same conjecture here tells me that Fitch and Diaz would have stopped B.J. had their fights gone to a fourth round, but that's all that is -- conjecture. Both fights went to three round decisions.
"The Prodigy" has fought at every weight class imaginable and he's only ever been stopped once. And Penn was dominating that fight until suffering a rib injury.
Jon Fitch is a tough bastard. He is also the greatest welterweight bridesmaid MMA has ever seen. Enduring the longest tenure as the number two ranked fighter in any division without winning the belt, Fitch has never lost, let alone get finished, at 170-pounds in his career. His only stoppage losses came at 205-pounds to eventual UFC fighters Wilson Gouveia and Mike Pyle.
That was in 2002.
There is no reason to believe that St. Pierre should have finished Fitch. Although Fitch did say "Rush" came close with the following flurry and that he was never able to fully recover due to the relentless pressure from the champion:
There it is in a nutshell. Six opponents who have had 169 combined fights who have collectively been stopped a total of 17 times. These fighters have only been stopped nine times since entering the UFC, fighting at the highest level. Should St. Pierre have finished more than one of these fights? In my opinion, yes, he should have. Dan Hardy, I am looking at you.
So "GSP" should have been 6-0 with two stoppages, maybe three if Koscheck is included. Does that really change the argument?
There are two sides to every coin. Supporters of St. Pierre, like myself, will point to how tough his opponents have been. The numbers don't lie. His opponents are tough guys.
"GSP" detractors, on the other hand, will point to failed submission attempts and safe, gameplanned fights that make him so deserving of criticism.
Either way, there is no discounting St. Pierre's accomplishments in MMA. He truly is only eclipsed by Anderson Silva as the best fighter in the world.
If only he had the same killer instinct.