Few mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters could ever aspire to be the fighter Georges St-Pierre has become today. Athletic, technical and dominant, St. Pierre has exhibited very few moments of weakness throughout his professional career, which is a scary prospect for those who come against him.
However, for such a dominant fighter, it certainly is concerning that he has not finished an opponent since a corner stoppage against B.J. Penn in early 2009. Indeed, six straight Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) title fights going the entire 25 minutes has caused controversy during his recent title reign.
That could all be erased, though, with one big statement that will shut up all the doubters.
Later this evening, St. Pierre has that opportunity at UFC 167 from MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, when he collides with Johny Hendricks in the main event. "Bigg Rigg" is a fighter St. Pierre should beat and in impressive fashion. That's because St. Pierre boasts a complete MMA arsenal, while Hendricks packs a big left punch (albeit with poor setup) and first-class wrestling skills.
But, the latter might not matter after seeing St. Pierre inflict permanent damage on Josh Koscheck's face back at UFC 124 in late 2010. Koscheck was faster, more technical and an equally good wrestler in comparison to what Hendricks presents today. After seeing Hendricks tire toward the end of a three-round fight with Carlos Condit earlier this year, it's hard to believe that "Bigg Rigg" can give St. Pierre more than he can handle, much less when he is dragged into the deep water in which we all know "Rush" is so comfortable.
St. Pierre has to approach Hendricks just as he would any opponent who has has stood in his path. Only overconfidence could be his undoing in this fight. And after we've seen how St. Pierre trains for each opponent, it probably won't be big of a problem. Expect a clinical performance coming from the Canadian champion, combining all his skills to show Hendricks just what the next level of MMA looks like.
As this Welterweight match gets into the later rounds, St. Pierre will more than likely have his way with Hendricks. That is his opportunity to finally destroy the criticism of his title run. With a bit of pressure and killer instinct, don't be surprised to see St. Pierre punishing Hendricks in the later rounds of their 170-pound title fight, taking home a finish in basically whichever way he chooses.
Indeed, a win in this manner would pay huge dividends in the fan support department and it could also serve as a big boost to his confidence down the line.
The only threat St-Pierre really faces at UFC 167 is a big, telegraphed left hand. Other than that, he is the vastly superior fighter once the Octagon door closes. With a more dynamic skill set and more ways to win, this could be St-Pierre's best chance to secure a finish in almost five years.
That would be an incredible feat, especially on such an historic 20th Anniversary occasion, which would just add to the legacy he has created in this sport. And that is a very big deal, making St-Pierre the "Fighter to Watch" tonight in "Sin City."