Georges St-Pierre is without a doubt one of the greatest fighters to ever compete in mixed martial arts. His expertise in multiple disciplines have made him possibly the most well-rounded fighter in history, but he has been criticized lately for his “safe” fighting style which leads to predictable, non-eventful unanimous decision wins.
You can’t dispute the results—six straight defences of the UFC welterweight title including wins over BJ Penn, Jake Shields and Thiago Alves say that his style is working. Only one of the six wins was by a stoppage however, and that was when BJ Penn’s corner threw in the towel at UFC 94.
Despite the successes GSP has enjoyed with his methodical style, it may well lead to his undoing if he comes up against the wrong fighter. An aggressive striker who can hold his own on the ground is the type of fighter that could dethrone the welterweight king—and the UFC has several near the top of the division.
Nick Diaz, BJ Penn and Carlos Condit all fit into this category, and all are itching for a fight with St-Pierre. Nick Diaz will get his opportunity first and has the stand-up ability to cause huge problems for the champ if he can defend the takedowns (no mean feat).
If GSP fights in the non-aggressive way he has in his past few fights then it will allow Diaz to take the initiative and unleash the “punches in bunches” that have served him so well in his time outside the UFC. Condit and Penn also have this ability and I believe that St-Pierre will be in some serious trouble if he allows any of these fighters to dictate the pace of the fight.
It can be argued that by resorting to his outstanding wrestling, St-Pierre can neutralize any dangerous striker and grind out the win. But with Diaz, Penn and Condit having excellent submission skills, is this really the best way to approach such opponents?
The reason that fans get so frustrated watching St-Pierre is because he showed earlier in his career just how aggressive and exciting he could be. His two victories over Matt Hughes and his second fight with Matt Serra showcased his full arsenal of strikes and thrilled fans everywhere.
GSP has been heavily criticized by some fans due to the lackluster fights his style has produced. While some will be satisfied with nothing less than a highlight-reel knockout, no one will complain about a fight going the distance if he gives his best effort to end it. Other fighters (Rampage Jackson for example) have recently been unable to finish their fights, but remain popular because they are aggressive and try to finish as much as possible.
As well as the safe, calculating style has served the French-Canadian over the past couple years, he may be best advised to get more aggressive in his coming bouts to ensure he holds onto the title—as well as his many fans.
The fighters he is likely to match up with in the near future are less likely to be susceptible to this strategy and no one wants to see a champion like Georges St-Pierre dethroned simply due to his reluctance in pulling the trigger.