Fresh starts are not always easy to come by in a sport as fever pitched as MMA. A fighter is normally only as good as his last showing, and labels seem to stick to the skin like tattoos.
But given enough distance and a long enough time to ask questions that need the kind of answers that only come from within, a fighter has the right to say: “Yes, my destiny is in my own hands.”
For a long time now, Georges St. Pierre has been as close to perfect as a fighter with his style can be. But with that came a trend of decisions that, be it right or wrong, has hung around his neck like a scarlet letter.
Then, a long absence necessitated by a serious injury had him questioning if he really wanted to come back. It was gut-check time for the champ, who was seeing doubt in the eyes of his training partners and those who were expecting far more than he was showing on his road to recovery.
But now he’s back, and after such a long time off, many a fan and critic are going to be throwing questions his way like stones—questions about his heart, resilience, desire and, most of all, his attitude.
If GSP was a play-it-safe fighter before the injury, what is he going to be after?
Well, if those questions are going to be asked (and they are), and if those asking the questions are going to proceed from false assumptions (and they will) given GSP’s track record of safe, patented, generic answers that seem more scripted by a Goodwill ambassador than coming from the heart, then he might as well take the reins and give them something to talk about.
If he defeats Condit at UFC 154, no matter how good or bad he looks in victory, he should call out Nick Diaz.
Make no mistake about it, in his first fight back, chances are very high that GSP is going to be rusty, and he could very well have the toughest fight of his career against a young, mean Condit. His timing will probably be off, he will be hesitant at certain points, and he’ll also be hittable.
But he’s proven in the past that when the going gets tough, he can come up with the answer and pull it off. His style is a great one, and unless Condit finishes him quick, odds are he can win a decision.
Yes, I know, another decision. Awful, isn’t it?
But in his first fight back, against such a great fighter, a win is a win, and that may help him finally get his legs back under him. Before you can run, you gotta be able to stand up with some balance.
And if the victory comes to pass, GSP will indeed be standing, and he should, with no hesitation, make a run straight at Nick Diaz. I’m not just talking about a tentative, respectful request that ends up complimenting Diaz and the fans: He’s done that before, and it sounds almost robotic by now.
He should take the microphone from Rogan, and just let it pour out. If he’s still mad about Diaz insinuating that he’s a coward, he should rip into Diaz for that and mention that he’s never been afraid of a press conference in his life and maybe it's Diaz who’s scared.
If GSP thinks he can destroy Diaz, he should make it known, loud and clear. If he thinks he can take Diaz down at will and dominate him on the ground like he did BJ Penn, then give it air and don’t hold back.
Shock the world. Why not? It’s not like anyone is doing GSP any favors or giving him the benefit of the doubt based on the early days of his career when he was finishing many a fight.
Given his trend of decisions and his “turn the other cheek” attitude, he’s being looked at by many a fighter as if he isn’t dangerous anymore. They have a point: None of them will look awful if GSP takes them down repeatedly and wins a decision, so what’s to be scared of?
But if GSP were to start pounding opponents out on the ground or breaking arms like Frank Mir—if he were to come out mean and nasty, channeling his inner Wanderlei Silva… those same fighters would be given a great deal of pause.
Of course, many would say: “That’s stupid. He shouldn’t do that because that’s not who he is.” Truth be told, do any of us know who GSP really is, and if we do, does that matter so much that he can’t reinvent himself?
Maybe he really is just a nice guy, but he’s in a mean sport, and he clearly knows this given that he’s once again promising to finish fights. Maybe now is the time to put the nice guy away for a while and go get some respect back.
Granted, calling out Nick Diaz after the fight would be nothing more than talk, but you’ve got to start somewhere, and if GSP were to let it all hang out, he’d end up with some serious goals set for himself.
He’s said he didn’t want to come back “just to take a beating,” and in the sport of MMA, where beatings are part of the job description, it’s much better to give than receive. GSP knows this better than most, and in his case maybe he can lead himself to walk it as violently as he talks it.
It might just see him end up walking right over Nick Diaz in vintage fashion.