How Georges St-Pierre Went from 'Rush' to the Fighter We Know

Dustin FilloyFeatured ColumnistJune 27, 2013

Nov 17, 2012; Montreal, QC, Canada;  Georges St-Pierre reacts after the fifth round of his Welterweight Championship bout against Carlos Condit at UFC 154 at the Bell Centre.  St-Pierre defeated Condit by unanimous decision.  Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Not long ago, Georges St-Pierre's fighting style downright embodied the longtime welterweight champ's nickname, "Rush."

A fast starter with a never-ending gas tank, St-Pierre earned a reputation as one of the most efficient and venomous finishers in the UFC in his first six years with the company.

St-Pierre scored his seventh finish in 14 fights with the organization when he TKO'd B.J. Penn in a much-anticipated rematch at UFC 94. He also notched five decision wins in the UFC, constantly fishing for submissions and pushing for knockouts in that span.

He's obviously maintained his status as champ since clobbering Penn at UFC 94, but the 32-year-old Canadian disappointingly hasn't finished another fight since.

Rush has earned six straight wins via unanimous decision and has astoundingly prevailed in 44 of 46 rounds since suffering his last loss, which came against Matt Serra at UFC 69.

While GSP's been a more dominant force at 170 pounds since thumping Penn, plenty of critics contend that his style has become far too conservative.

Fans seeking an explanation for this transformation should look no further than St-Pierre's decision to hire renowned head trainer Firas Zahabi following his setback to Serra.

A former Canadian Muay Thai champ, Zahabi not only forced GSP to hone in on his superior intellect, he also helped the then-31-year-old Canadian optimize his strength and become the sport's most versatile and explosive athlete.

A longtime Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, Zahabi's also guided St-Pierre's growth as a meticulous game-planner, teaching the Renzo Gracie student to minimize risks with the use of precise control.

Sporting a 76-inch reach, St-Pierre constantly pumps his jab in striking exchanges to control the distance. He also perpetually looks for a blast double-leg takedown that his opponents seemingly can't stop.

Still, much of the criticism directed toward St-Pierre isn't merited, even though the Tristar Gym product has undeniably tailored his approach to satisfy Zahabi since UFC 94.

For example, aside from the six submissions he tried on an outmatched Dan Hardy at UFC 111, St-Pierre has attempted just one submission since UFC 94.

St-Pierre has also employed a more wrestle-heavy style in the six fights since UFC 94. Already one of the company's best takedown artists, GSP improved his numbers from 17 takedowns in the six fights leading up to his second encounter with Penn to 43 groundings in the six fights succeeding UFC 94.

Before his fight with Carlos Condit at UFC 154, St-Pierre surprisingly agreed with the naysayers, stating the following to the New York Post

"I agree with the criticism. I want to do better. I want to give more entertainment to the fans."

In a tantalizing display of his former self, St-Pierre appeased his fans and put on a brilliant show in his long-awaited return from ACL surgery against Condit.

"The Natural Born Killer" put the most significant scare into St-Pierre since his loss to Serra when he landed a flush headkick in the third round and swarmed the champ with vicious ground-and-pound.

St-Pierre survived Condit's furious third-round assault to hold on for a memorable win that garnered both men "Fight of the Night" honors.

GSP's thrilling victory over Condit seemed to signify the return of Rush, although the feeling didn't last long.

St-Pierre left his fans disappointed once again following the champ's next win over Nick Diaz at UFC 158.

GSP not only outstruck Diaz 210-80, including 105-41 in the significant strikes category, he also floored the Californian nine times and passed his guard twice.

But despite thoroughly dominating the former Strikeforce champ, St-Pierre didn't attempt any submissions or genuinely threaten Diaz in their stand-up exchanges, facts that made for a relatively uneventful bout.

Granted, fans may never see the GSP that armbarred Matt Hughes and TKO'd Serra with knees to the body again. In the home stretch of his career, advocates should just expect St-Pierre to continue to neutralize the strengths of world's most dangerous 170-pounders with relative ease.

Truth be told, when the lights fade on his career, St-Pierre wants to go down as the most dominant welterweight to ever grace the Octagon, not the most entertaining.

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