After watching an action packed six hours worth of mixed martial arts yesterday, I eagerly anticipated the moments leading up to the main event between George St-Pierre and Jake Shields.
Sadly, when you strip away the record-breaking attendance and solid fights on the card, and only look at the main event, UFC 129 falls a bit flat.
St-Pierre, or Captain Canada, as Joe Rogan repeated over and over throughout the night, looked very tentative as the fight progressed, and while the reigning welterweight champ managed to leverage yet another victory by way of unanimous decision, a few nuggets of truth had finally been revealed that may prove to be startling to many GSP fans.
If any of you are still under the delusion that a GSP/Anderson Silva super fight should happen, think again. Lately, whenever Georges is offered the opportunity to speak on a potential fight with Silva or even moving up to Middleweight, he seems hesitant.
Well he should be. Here are some key truths to why:
Sobering Reality No. 1 - Size Matters
One glaring thing that stuck out to me from the moment that Jake Shields squared off against St-Pierre is how much bigger he was than the champ. At 5'10", St-Pierre has a great frame to be the athletic and powerful welterweight that we've all come to know him for. However, at middleweight, he'd be vastly undersized and would have to sacrifice a considerable amount of speed in order to pack on more size for the move upwards.
What is more startling is that when you take a look at all the fights St-Pierre has had since winning the interim welterweight title over Matt Hughes back at UFC 79, his major finishes have come against opponents who are much smaller in stature:
- Matt Serra - 5'6" - TKO (knees to the body) - UFC 83
- B.J. Penn - 5'9" - TKO (corner stoppage) - UFC 94
When attempting to strike at the 6'1" Shields, even prior to the damage to his eye, St-Pierre did not look as crisp or as relaxed as he usually does. The reality is that most fighters in the middleweight division have a build which is similar to Shields or bigger. Georges might have realized this as well, and had a bit of a mental struggle during the fight.
Sobering Reality No. 2 - Cesar Gracie Was Right
During the first episode of the UFC Primetime, Jake Shields' trainer and mentor, Cesar Gracie, said that while GSP is a great fighter, he is not a tough guy. He alluded to the fact that you need someone to take the fight to him and take him into deep waters.
Last night, we got a glimpse of what Gracie possibly meant. During the course of the fight, St-Pierre suffered an injury to his eye which immediately put him into a state of panic the likes of which we are not accustomed to. Thanks to the strong words and guidance of his cornerman, Greg Jackson, St-Pierre was able to continue to fight, albeit cautiously.
This look of fear, while natural when it comes to a loss of vision, was a bit shameful on St-Pierre's behalf when you consider that in the match just prior, Mark Hominick was suffering a massive eye injury while growing a second head in the form of a subdural hematoma.
The fact of the matter is that last night, GSP looked a bit soft, which only adds to the laundry list of complaints that his detractors have.
Sobering Reality No. 3 - Safe Isn't Always Better than Sorry
Since unifying the welterweight title against Matt Serra at UFC 83, George St-Pierre has played it safe in his fights. It is that measure of safety which has lead to five unanimous decisions.
Failure to finish fights is the fundamental difference between a champion like him and a champ like Anderson Silva. Silva goes for the jugular and does it with confidence. St-Pierre attacks with a plotting and methodical offense just to grind out a victory.
Sobering Reality No. 4 - GSP Is a Victim of His Own Success
At 170, GSP has managed to clean out his division. There really isn't anyone left to fight in the welterweight division outside of a much deserving rematch with Jon Fitch and a long awaited fight with Nick Diaz.
Say what you want about Georges, but at the end of the day he is a winner. Unfortunately, he's suffocating the welterweight division, and in order for the division to thrive with new blood, St-Pierre needs to move on to 185, but it is not necessarily a move which he really wants.