Start up a conversation with anyone about mixed martial arts, and who are the best or favorite fighters, and inevitably one Canadian superstar tends to pop up. You will not find any list of pound-for-pound best without seeing Georges “Rush” St. Pierre’s name near, or at the top of it.
GSP has been one of those fighters that comes along every so often that is able to adapt and improve himself as time goes on. He has proven his dominance in the cage and has truly written his name down in MMA history already.
When defining a champion, one has to look at a few factors.
By sheer numbers, the opponents they fought play a role, as well as the means in which they came out victorious. Beyond the arena, fans and critics alike look at a fighter’s character and demeanor to determine if they ACT like a champion.
Lastly, after winning the title, many believe that in order to be considered a “true” champion, they must defend their title at least once.
GSP is in no shortage of any of these factors. He has fought top name fighters such as Matt Hughes, Matt Serra, Josh Koscheck, Thiago Avles, Jake Shields, BJ Penn and more. He has defended his UFC title six times in a row, a feat that is impressive in an organization where titles change quickly in other weight divisions.
GSP now stands with a record of 22-2.
The one factor that is of controversy and debate is the HOW he was victorious in his fights. GSP is notoriously criticized by fans and critics alike about his inability to finish fights. It may be an inability, but even some fellow fighters have looked at their Canadian colleague and have indicated they thought he was playing it safe, and just trying not to lose instead of trying to win.
Having five out of the six title defenses be by decision, it does not help his case.
Whether or not he is playing it safe, his wins are still wins. With almost every fight, we see two things stand out. We see what new developments he has made to his game, and we see his game plan unfold.
For example, after bringing on Freddie Roach to train him in boxing, GSP showcased his vast improvement in striking. Josh Koscheck can attest to that. Many have said that GSP is one of the smarter, if not the smartest, fighter.
He intelligently prepares and comes up with a game plan, and then executes it in the cage. He shows that he learns from his mistakes and pushes himself to be a better fighter each day.
A champion is a fighter that does not attain the belt, then sit back and wait. They train and study the same way they did to get to the top. GSP has proven that having the belt is not the summit for his legacy, but rather the beginning. He stays unsatisfied with himself to a degree and looks for new means of improving himself as a champion, an athlete and a mixed martial artist.
GSP may be the next best Canadian product aside from Mark Messier and Wayne Gretzky drinking maple syrup while riding a moose, Eh? But he truly has been not only an ambassador for the fan-filled nation of Canada, but for the rest of the world as well. GSP is a name that people recognize far more than other fighters in MMA. With his sponsorships of Under Armour, ESPN, etc, he is not only a terrific fighter, but a very marketable one as well.
His humbleness inside and outside the cage is unwavering and helps his overall image as a champion.
Whether you are a fan of GSP or not, one cannot deny his ability as a fighter in the biggest organization in MMA. He still retains that 12 lbs of gold and does not show any signs of slowing down. Whether he loses his next fight or if he were to retire tomorrow, he will go down as one of the greatest mixed martial artists of all time.
EPISODE TWO of "Defining a Champion" Series: Georges St. Pierre
What do YOU think is GSP's defining factors that makes him a Champion? Please leave your answers and why in the Comments Section below!