George St-Pierre is arguably the most outstanding athlete in mixed martial arts. He is also one of its greatest champions, having defended his welterweight crown for the eighth consecutive occasion with a characteristically efficient points victory over Nick Diaz.
GSP is, quite rightly, hugely admired for his achievements. However, it has escaped the attention of no one—least of all the man himself—that relative to that other dominant force in the UFC, Anderson Silva, he is loved very little.
The reason for this lack of affection is quite simple: personality. The French Canadian's character out of the Octagon mirrors that of his style in it—he is affable, polite, ruthlessly politically correct for someone with so violent an occupation and never gives any more of himself than is required.
Each and every interview given or opinion offered is the verbal equivalent of the sort of methodically planned points victory with which he routinely tops cards. He, quite simply, lacks the intensity of his—largely less successful—colleagues.
Such grindingly predictable efficiency is bound to alienate the masses who prefer flawed exuberance—the sort of fighters with the imperfections with which one can empathize—those who willfully put themselves at risk to thrill the fans who fork out hundreds of dollars to watch them in combat.
So follows a tribute to five of the sport's current great personalities—those men whose intensity inspires interest both inside and out of the cage.