Georges St-Pierre vs. Carlos Condit: What We Learned About GSP
Now that the champ has spent more than 18 months on the bench, everything we knew about Georges St-Pierre no longer applies anymore.
He's vulnerable. He's changed.
Most importantly, he's a different fighter than before, the effects of his ACL tear still lingering and not quite resolved just yet.
It's not certain we've seen the new "best" St-Pierre, but here's what we do know.
His Double-Leg Takedown May No Longer Be a Threat
St-Pierre has the best double-leg takedown in the welterweight division.
So where was it last night?
Perhaps we didn't see GSP's trademark technique because Carlos Condit was too willing to expose himself for single-leg takedowns and trips. Or maybe—just maybe—the new St-Pierre can't do them as frequently anymore.
On the other hand, it may not be a huge advantage for potential new title challengers. As the stats show us, GSP still completed seven out of eight takedowns.
GSP's Striking Is Still as Potent as Ever
Despite Condit being the taller, lankier fighter, St-Pierre still beat his foe to the punch with lunging shots and fast jabs.
That's an impressive feat for GSP, especially when you consider (according to FightMetric) that the champion actually landed twice as many significant strikes and body blows over five rounds, despite racking up fewer blows overall.
But as impressive as that is, you can't help but feel like GSP was in trouble on the ground.
Yes, St-Pierre frequently had top position, but he was never able to rain down fight-ending blows in full mount; instead, he was forced to play offense and defense while sitting in guard.
GSP Can Get Rocked on the Feet with the Right Combination
Condit will likely be haunted by the third round of that fight, where he dropped St-Pierre with a stiff kick at the end of a crafty combination.
On the opposite side of that situation, that single kick may haunt GSP just as much.
Expect the champion to review that moment of the match over and over and over again, as he tries to figure out just where that lapse in judgement came from.
Did he just not see it coming? Are his reflexes slowing down?
And that's not even the most pressing issue.
If Condit could drop GSP with a kick like that and almost force a finish, what'll happen if St-Pierre faces the best striker in MMA history next summer?
GSP's Cardio Suffered During His Time Away from the Octagon
Fire burns, wind blows, water flows and GSP never gets tired.
For so many years, fans could rely on seeing St-Pierre crank out five grueling rounds of striking or takedowns, a by-product of "Rush" always being in peak physical condition for his fights.
That's why it was so strange to see St-Pierre slow down so much after the third round.
Even if you chalk that up to the fact that the champion likely had a near-concussion from that huge kick, you simply couldn't ignore GSP's frequent glances at the clock and determined grip on Condit in the final round of the fight. Make no mistake, he was tiring out in the home stretch.
The Champion Definitely Hasn't Lost His Fire
Although St-Pierre was bloody, beat-up, bruised, tired and fighting for the first time in years without the usual advice of Greg Jackson, the will to win never faded.
It would've been so easy for GSP to repeat the pattern of his second career loss, flailing on the mat and turtling up while Condit rained down blows.
But GSP regained his wits, forcibly thew up his legs and hung on until his head cleared.
No matter what kind of punishment the champion took, that was the moment that it became clear St-Pierre was willing to risk it all as long as he could still fight. And fight he did, planting Condit on his back over and over, torquing his hips just to put a little more power behind the punches he hit the "Killer" with within guard.
Simply put, the kind, humble GSP has always been clinical, but not as aggressive as his past self.
But somewhere between the months of rehab, the weight cut, the boring media questions, the doubt, Anderson Silva and the edge of Condit's elbows, St-Pierre got mad enough to beat Condit with everything he could muster. GSP's determination to be the best hasn't gotten any weaker.