As Georges St-Pierre ascended the ranks of the UFC welterweight division, he did so while dispatching opponents in brutal fashion. Vicious strikes coupled with relentless ground and pound and possibly a gut-wrenching submission were commonplace for one of the best fighters in the sport today.
Since re-taking his belt from Matt Serra at UFC 83, however, GSP has not stopped anybody mid-round, and as such he’s developed into a “safe” fighter who does enough to get the decision win and preserve his legacy. GSP has essentially become a point fighter.
It’s not a problem on a large scale in MMA or, more specifically, the UFC. If it was, the outcry would be deafening, and ratings for the sport would subsequently drop.
The issue of fighters doing enough to ensure a decision on the judges' scorecards without ever making a legitimate attempt to finish an opponent is something to keep an eye on, though, and something the UFC should make sure to keep down.
Most decision victories are not the result of “point fighters,” they’re simply the result of two talented fighters unable to get the better of each other in 15 or 25 minutes of battle. There have been plenty of fantastic decision fights over the years, too many to list here.
The problem of point fighting typically arises from a fighter like St. Pierre having a clear talent advantage over his opponent, knowing it, and hanging back while occasionally throwing a strike or takedown that allows them to score with the judges while rendering their opponent helpless.
The day the sport of MMA becomes littered with point fighters is the day I stop being a fan. Until then, you and I can just scoff at those who utilize this method to gain victories, while pumping up all the rest who make an effort to build their names and appeal to the fans.