I’m Not Impressed, Georges.
At least, that’s the reaction some fans are having to last Saturday’s main event.
It’s Georges fault! He didn’t try hard enough to finish the fight! It’s Dan’s fault! He didn’t try hard enough to…well, do anything, really.
Fair points. I think Some of the blame must fall squarely on the UFC’s shoulders, however.
Weeks of “Primetime” fuelled hype had buoyed fans expectations. Trash talking back and forth had driven it even higher. Media analyzed the training camps, partners, coaches, styles, and past fights of both men extensively. To their credit, the UFC marketing machine convinced most of MMA fandom that St. Pierre vs. Hardy was a legitimate, big-time main event fight.
The UFC hype machine had convinced us Dan Hardy would present a legitimate challenge. He was doing hardcore wrestling training! He was training BJJ with Eddie Bravo! He even studied under Matt Serra, in a plot turn straight out of Vince McMahon‘s playbook.
And dude, didn't you hear? Hardy wore red eye contacts at the weigh-ins! He's inside GSP's head, dude. Matt Serra has shown him the secret, unblockable punch! This fight is going to be badass! And so droves of casual fans tuned in to see Hardy deliver on his promise.
Unfortunately for “The Outlaw”, it turns out he had absolutely nothing for Georges. Over the course of 25 minutes, he didn’t offer up even a moment of offence. Sure, he proved he was a tough bastard (we already knew that) but the problem for his is he also showed just how vast a talent gap exists between him and the divisions elite. St. Pierre hit 11 takedown, 13 guard passes, and took Hardy’s back 5 times. He defeated Hardy 7 rounds to 0 in a 5 round fight according to the judges scores.
The problem for Georges is that despite pitching a shutout, this fight was his 3rd title defence that has gone to the judges cards. Worse, this fight lacked the balls-to-the-wall excitement of the Fitch decision, or the gutsy performance of the Alves 5 rounder. For fans tuning in to see GSP dispatch an unworthy challenger, a 5 round, play-it-safe positional clinic didn‘t exactly fit the bill.
GSP must rightly take some of the blame for this. For whatever reason, he got it in his head that he was going to submit Hardy and for 25 minutes he didn’t deviate from this plan once. I know he trained BJJ hard for this fight, but just because you tap out Kenny Florian in training doesn't mean you should ignore the other facets of your game come fight time. He eschewed his normally devastating ground-n’-pound in favour of riding out the fight in side control, looking for arm locks. He proved his top game was world class (we already knew that) but he should have abandoned that gameplan after the 1st round, or at least after the 4th.
That is when GSP had an armbar and kimura, respectively, locked on and in deep. Hardy was screaming in pain. Georges would later claim he could hear his joints clicking and popping. For all intents and purposes, the fight as this point is over. With the 4th round kimura, GSP even looks at the ref, confused, seemingly asking if he’s going to have to “go through” with the sub.
All that’s left is for Georges to “finish” the fight - by breaking Dan Hardy’s arm.
Gruesome though it may be, it is an unspoken rule of MMA. Tap, or snap. As this was possibly Hardy’s only ever title fight, there was no way he was going to give in. Georges had to break the arm to make good on his submission attempt - it’s that simple.
But he didn’t. Both times, he let Hardy go rather then finish the fight.
You can rightly criticize St. Pierre here for his lack of killer instinct. Many other fights would have taken the arm home with them that night. But GSP is on a different level from most fighters - and I don’t mean skill wise. He’s only just shrugged off the insane controversy of “Greasegate”, and didn’t need droves of casual fans opening their sports section Monday morning to the headline “Georges St. Pierre breaks arm in ring!”.
But more then that, GSP has become a sports empire unto himself, more then even Chuck Liddell or Randy Couture. His squeaky clean, world class athlete image has drawn big name, big money sponsorship from the likes of Under Armour and Gatorade. He has an image and a reputation to protect beyond just about every other MMA athlete out there.
Put simply, a man with his own 12 month calendar doesn’t cripple people in main event fights. It really is that simple, I’m afraid.
That's my theory, anyways, and that doesn’t excuse his poor game planning. He should have disregarded the submission attempts after he realized Hardy was not going to tap, and that he was not willing to break the arm. At the very least, go for a choke or something where his "tapping" is involuntary. Hopefully, this criticism will motivate him to step up his game for his next title challenger, probably the winner of Koscheck/Daley in May (here’s hoping it’s Kos).
Oh, and for all you critics and fair weather fans - you should remember that the best fighter in the world once took Thales Leites to a 5 round snoozer of a decision that made GSP/Hardy look like Liddell/Silva by comparison. Before that, he was content to let a lifelong knee injury take care of Patrick Cote for him.
Critics swarmed on him. He was boring, uncaring, and had lost his killer instinct. People vowed never to watch him again. In his very next fight, he was emphatically booed out of the building. 5 minutes later, and he was the baddest dude walking again.
So no matter what you believe, just remember that there's nothing worse then a fickle fan.
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