Georges St-Pierre rewrote UFC history books with his eight consecutive title defenses inside the 170-pound division at UFC 158.
His victory over Nick Diaz was historical, if not mostly forgettable.
GSP began his run as welterweight king as a feared opponent, a man who could finish opponents with his devastating striking, his slick submissions or his ferocious ground-and-pound.
As time wore on, however, GSP became a bit more calculated, a bit more calm, and a bit less aggressive with his approach.
This alone did not please fans, but the problem was exacerbated by a side effect of this new approach—it also made him more effective.
During his eight title defenses, GSP has scarcely looked beatable, and his elite wrestling and top control provides an insurmountable hurdle for challengers.
Overall, GSP's title defenses range from absolutely sensational to unbearably boring.
Start the slideshow to see how these victories stack up against one another.
Technically, GSP's first title defense came against Matt Serra at UFC 69.
The young Canadian looked primed for a long run atop the 170-pound mountain, but Serra committed regicide and snatched GSP's belt in a shocking upset.
Serra blasted GSP with vicious punches in Round 1, earning the TKO stoppage and stunning all in attendance.
While this list aims to only examine GSP's successful title defenses, it is worth noting his loss as the sole exception.
Let me put it this way: Did anybody actually re-watch GSP's performance at UFC 129 against Jake Shields after the original broadcast?
Of your own accord?
...Not for educational purposes?
I didn't think so.
The champion's performance against Shields certainly wasn't disastrous—he successfully defended the title, after all—but it was dreadfully boring.
There was no reason this fight should have been close, but GSP came out a little less sharp than usual, and Shields actually managed to steal a couple rounds in the eyes of the judges.
Contested mostly on the feet due to GSP's reluctance to engage Shields on the ground, this fight was defined by inactivity, and it stands as GSP's worst title defense to date.
At UFC 100, a decisionator was born.
GSP's 2009 matchup against Thiago Alves began a streak of decisions that still runs to this day, and many MMA historians claim that if you put your ear the ground on a clear, summer day, you can still hear the sounds of takedowns, heavy breathing and seductive French-Canadian whispers.
So they say.
Regardless of this clearly-made-up story's validity, GSP's performance against Alves stunk.
Nestled between one of the greatest knockouts in UFC history (Dan Henderson vs. Michael Bisping) and one of the most anticipated rematches of all time (Brock Lesnar vs. Frank Mir II), GSP vs. Alves put an unforgettable damper on an otherwise exceptional night of fights.
GSP is the welterweight division's finest wrestler, and 2009-era Alves possessed terrible takedown defense.
That was the difference, and this fight was characterized by GSP's wrestling dominance and little more.
Ugh, what a disappointment.
Kudos to you, UFC marketing squad. Despite years of exposure and an understanding of your motivations, I fell for your tricks once again.
I truly believed that GSP "snapped" and was eager to inflict physical harm upon Nick Diaz at UFC 158.
Nope, he was just eager to wrestle him—like always—in front of the Canadian crowd.
Sure, there were some moments where the two stood and traded—and GSP's standup looked crisp in these instances—but GSP vs. Diaz was an archetypal performance by the champion with little serious action and little drama.
Exciting? Come on, Shelly.
Dan Hardy cannot wrestle, this we know.
GSP took Hardy down on all 11 of his takedown attempts, passed the Brit's guard 26 times and attempted a staggering six submissions—and finished none, mind you—in 25 minutes of cage time.
Part of me feels like GSP should have finished Hardy on the ground, but another part of me appreciates the grappling clinic the champion showcased in this bout.
I'm torn on this one, but I think No. 5 is a fair balance between the two schools of thought.
Ahh, the bouts are heating up now.
Like many of GSP's fights, this UFC 124 encounter with Josh Koscheck failed to live up to the immense hype and trash talk, but it did muster up some redeeming qualities.
It showcased GSP's picture-perfect jab and his wrestling superiority against a former Division I national champion, and both aspects were a joy to watch.
GSP obliterated Koscheck's right eye throughout the bout, rendering him half blind and useless.
Contested in the middle of GSP's streak of title defenses, this fight showcased GSP's ability to wrestle or strike his way to a decision victory—a scary realization for the rest of the 170-pound division.
This fight was awesome.
At UFC 154, many fans and critics were convinced that GSP was an unstoppable force of grappling perfection.
Condit, with his weak wrestling base, would surely suffer the same fate as the rest of GSP's opponents and be forced to fight from his back for 25 minutes.
While this was mostly the case, Condit scored the bout's only knockdown in Round 3 with a vicious head kick that nearly toppled the GSP era and crowned a new welterweight champion.
The moment was tense, it was exciting—it was every reason we watch the sport to begin with.
Making the fight even better, Condit actually showed life and an ability to stifle GSP's top game from his back, a testament to his well-rounded skill set.
Condit was game for this fight, and such a willingness to engage and to fight to the finish brought out the best version of GSP we have seen in recent fights.
I can think of no word that better describes GSP's performance against Jon Fitch at UFC 87.
Yes, GSP has been "dominant" in virtually all of his title defenses, but he looked ridiculously fast, super strong and incredibly well-prepared in this particular fight.
GSP rocked Fitch with punches throughout the fight, and he completed takedown after takedown when he felt compelled to do so.
Expected to be the toughest test to date for GSP in the wrestling department, Fitch provided absolutely no resistance to the perfection that was 2008-09-era GSP.
For me, this was when GSP was at his absolute best.
Speaking of which, do you remember his next fight after Fitch?
It was his finest title defense of all...
BJ Penn is a tough man to finish.
He has never been knocked down or submitted in professional action, but GSP finished his night in a better, even more humiliating fashion at UFC 94: He forced him to quit.
I'll be the first to admit that I've never competed in a cage fight. I've never stood toe-to-toe with another man in a fight to the finish.
That said, I have thrown myself into competitive environments time and time again in my life, and to force an opponent to quit is, in my experience, an accomplishment of the highest order.
That says you broke them. Perhaps they could have continued, but they didn't want to.
They had enough.
On the biggest night of his life, Penn quit between Rounds 4 and 5 to avoid further damage at the hands of GSP, and this feat is remarkable.
MMA fighters are insanely tough individuals cut from an irregular cloth, and GSP forced an elite-level mixed martial artist to throw in the towel and to flush his dreams away.
The welterweight king has never looked better, and his bout against BJ Penn will forever stand as an example of one of the sport's greatest athletes fighting at his peak ability.
It was a thing of beauty, and it represents a brighter time in GSP's illustrious career.