Georges St-Pierre: A Tribute to the Greatest Welterweight in MMA History
The term "once in a generation" is a term used to describe something truly special. It implies that you will only see this level of greatness once in your life. MMA fans have been lucky enough to see two fighters who've achieved this level of respect from the MMA community.
The first is Anderson Silva, with the other being the greatest welterweight in MMA history, Georges "Rush" St-Pierre.
The French-Canadian had his first Octagon appearance all the way back at UFC 46 and, outside of a bout with Dave Strasser, competed the rest of his career under the Zuffa banner.
It's been a long road filled with a who's-who of MMA veterans for St-Pierre to become the best 170-pound fighter in the history of MMA. Here's a small glance of where St-Pierre has come from and where the UFC champion can still go.
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Georges St-Pierre came from humble beginnings much like the average guy. He worked for his money and credits his parents for helping him get to where he is and becoming the person he is today.
St-Pierre's career in martial arts began as a necessity, as the fighter was bullied in school. GSP took to learning Kyokushin karate and soon transitioned into training multiple disciplines.
With a good head on his shoulders thanks to his parents combined with the discipline martial arts installs in a person, St-Pierre has always remained with a solid foot on the ground despite his lofty status as a MMA fighter.
Streaking into the UFC
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Georges St-Pierre began his professional career in impressive fashion. GSP took out Ivan Menjivar in his first professional fight and won five consecutive bouts before getting a call from the UFC.
Included in those five wins was a victory over UFC vet Pete Spratt. Also, all of St-Pierre's wins came before the final bell, with four of them ending in the first round. This aggressive style is likely where St-Pierre gained the nickname "Rush."
St-Pierre drew another tough debut when he faced Karo "The Heat" Parisyan at UFC 46. The judo specialist was believed to be one of the top talents in the division, and GSP was able to control the action for most of the fight.
In his second UFC contest, St-Pierre faced Jay Hieron and simply smashed the American. It took only a minute and 42 seconds for GSP to stop Hieron with a flurry of punches.
GSP had defeated two very good fighters in his short UFC tenure and was set up to face Matt Hughes at UFC 50. Would it be too much too soon?
The Rookie Wall
There comes a point where every young athlete hits the proverbial rookie wall. It's that point where everything you've been doing simply isn't good enough anymore and you must do even more to maintain your level of success.
For Georges St-Pierre, his rookie wall came in the form of UFC champion Matt Hughes at UFC 50.
GSP had won seven straight MMA bouts and was given the chance to challenge for the UFC welterweight title. It was a dream come true at such a young age for GSP. In contrast, the champion Hughes was entering fight No. 41 and was the quintessential king of the 170-pound division.
The contest between GSP and Hughes ended with just a second remaining in the first round as St-Pierre tapped out due to an arm bar.
It was a fight that St-Pierre admitted he had already lost before stepping into the Octagon and would use it as motivation in the future.
Becoming the Best of the Best
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After defeating Dave Strasser, Georges St-Pierre was back in the UFC. St-Pierre picked up wins over Jason "Mayhem" Miller, Frank Trigg and future lightweight champion Sean Sherk in his first three fights back in the Octagon.
The victory over Sherk in particular was of note, as St-Pierre became the first fighter to ever finish "The Muscle Shark."
All of these victories set up a showdown with perhaps the most decorated lightweight in MMA history, BJ Penn. The two were to be matched up at UFC 58, which was fittingly titled USA vs. Canada.
In a hotly-contested decision, St-Pierre edged out a split decision victory over Penn. The win would give St-Pierre a rematch against his idol, Matt Hughes.
However, the rematch wouldn't be anywhere near as competitive as their first meeting. St-Pierre thoroughly controlled the action and finished Hughes with a flurry of punches after dropping him with a head kick.
The win not only made GSP the best welterweight in the world, but also a UFC champion. He had reached the pinnacle of MMA, a place that some men spend an entire lifetime attempting to reach.
But as the saying goes, it's harder to stay on top than it is to get there.
Twice the Pride, Double the Fall
Achieving the level of success GeorgesSt-Pierre achieved at only 25 years of age comes with some dangerous pitfalls. While on top, everyone wants to be your friend and fighters often get pulled in all directions.
Coming into UFC 69, GSP was a monumental favorite over title challenger Matt Serra. Many believed Serra, who earned the title shot by winning a close decision over Chris Lytle to win The Ultimate Fighter 4, shouldn't have even been in the cage against GSP.
Serra, a noted jiu-jitsu specialist with KO power, changed all of our minds in just over three minutes. Serra floored St-Pierre with a number of punches and secured the TKO finish to take GSP's belt.
The Canadian admitted that personal factors, along with a lack of focus, helped contribute to the poor showing against Serra.
St-Pierre changed his entire life following the loss to Serra and vowed to come back better in his next Octagon appearance.
The Phoenix Rises
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Georges St-Pierre went back to the drawing board after his defeat by Matt Serra. Changing his entire life and training schedule, GSP couldn't wait to showcase his new-found devotion. St-Pierre faced what would become a rival in Josh Koscheck in GSP's first bout since dropping the title.
Despite being the much more decorated wrestler, Koscheck was routinely taken down and controlled on the ground. An unanimous decision gave GSP the chance to face a familiar foe at UFC 79.
The rubber match between Matt Hughes and GSP mirrored that of their second encounter. St-Pierre controlled every facet of the fight and, in a moment of irony, finished Hughes with an armbar with only a few seconds remaining in the contest.
At UFC 83, St-Pierre would finally have his moment of vindication against Serra. The two faced one another, with GSP delivering a one-sided beatdown to reclaim his title.
It appeared as if St-Pierre had become fully devoted to the sport of MMA and was once again on top of the world. But the best was yet to come.
The Reign of Dominance Begins
After securing his title from Matt Serra, Georges St-Pierre would begin a reign of dominance over the welterweight division. It began with a massive beating of Jon Fitch and has continued to this day.
Names like Thiago Alves, BJ Penn, Dan Hardy, Josh Koscheck, Jake Shields, and Carlos Condit all failed in their attempts to stop GSP's reign. Even a torn ACL couldn't stall St-Pierre's run of dominance over the competition.
However, fans have become complacent with St-Pierre winning. Now, it's not enough for GSP to simply win, and fans rush to the keyboard to complain about St-Pierre not finishing his opponents. I'll admit I would like to see GSP cap off these dominant performances with a finish, but it certainly says something about the man when simply winning isn't enough.
St-Pierre has become one of the most well-rounded fighters in MMA history and, despite never wrestling competitively, has become one of the top grapplers in the UFC. GSP gets his training from some of the best coaches in the world, and it's shown in his performances.
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Georges St-Pierre is set to defend his title against Nick Diaz in 2013. Diaz is a formidable foe and will no doubt be a tough win for GSP to obtain. But what does St-Pierre do if he defeats Diaz?
The talk of a superfight with Anderson Silva is growing old and it's becoming clearer each day that the fight will never happen. Besides, Silva vs. Jones is the new superfight in town, which means GSP will have some choices to make if he defeats Diaz.
He's taken out nearly every challenger at 170 pounds, and his protege, Rory MacDonald, gets closer to a title shot each time he fights. Johny Hendricks is campaigning for his chance to face St-Pierre, but after that, is there a fight fans would care to see GSP compete in?
I'm not sold on any of the top welterweights being the guy to dethrone St-Pierre, and it wouldn't shock me to see him retire from the sport. He's done virtually everything possible and is without a doubt one of the top five fighters in the history of MMA.