Is being dominant sometimes too much?
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That’s what we have on our hands with Georges St. Pierre, who barely walked out of UFC 129 with his welterweight title against his stiffest challenge to date in Jake Shields.
For the first time since August 2007, St. Pierre lost a round on a judge’s scorecard, losing two on two separate cards against Shields. He still managed to walk out of the cage with his title, despite looking worse for wear, and his decision victory for the fifth time in his last six fights has prompted some to look at his current state and wonder if GSP will ever win a fight by stoppage again. St. Pierre seems comfortable wearing out his opponents and imposing his game plan upon them instead of looking to secure the decisive victory.
But when he loses, it will mean something.
Whenever a dominant champion loses a title the victor gains something. St. Pierre became a star by defeating Matt Hughes, as dominant a welterweight champion as GSP has been. Anderson Silva’s reign over the middleweight division has been nothing short of spectacular. Even in a narrow defeat to Silva, Chael Sonnen gained instant credibility that he didn’t have before nearly walking away with the title.
UFC 129: FULL COVERAGE
Headlined by Georges St. Pierre's win over Jake Shields, UFC 129 was quite an event.
St. Pierre outpoints Shields
Photos: UFC 129 action
Round-by-round: The Fight Network | Inside Fights
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Dominant champions give titles credibility. As the old saying goes, “To be the man, you have to do more than beat the man.”
When St. Pierre loses, and he will, the man who eventually defeats him is going to have an instant level of credibility many champions will never get. GSP has been such a dominant champion that guys aren’t training to just be the latest guy to hold a particular title. They all are training to beat the man who has been seemingly unbeatable.
How do you crack the code that is Georges St. Pierre? World-class wrestlers can’t take him down. World-class strikers can’t stay on their feet long enough to connect. People in between can’t do enough to be effective against the Canadian champion. The man who’ll end up taking his title will find the perfect game plan and catch the champion at the right time. It will happen to him in the same way he beat Hughes. GSP won’t have an answer for a new contender. He’ll lose and then something magical will happen.
A star will be born.
MMA doesn’t lend itself to dominance by nature. Anything can happen once the cage door closes and two men are allowed to settle the question of who exactly is the better man. When we have a dominant champion, we rarely appreciate it in the present.
What we are seeing right now with Georges St. Pierre is something MMA fans will look back on decades from now and marvel at. People will look at him going as many fights as he did without losing a round, by dominating world-class wrestlers at their own game without an extensive wrestling background of his own, and view him as the standard by which current champions will be judged.
They will also wonder why we never gave him his just due when he was champion just because he didn’t finish fights. He merely destroyed fighters for 25 minutes without ever being in danger of losing. He took the best fighters of the era and made them look like clowns who didn’t deserve to be in the cage with him.
The fact that the closest anyone has gotten to him in his second title reign is to win two rounds, two very close ones that could’ve gone to GSP, tells us a lot about his dominance. He isn’t merely winning; he’s destroying everyone in his path. The fact that it’s taking him 25 minutes, instead of finishing it at some point, is irrelevant.
Winning is winning.
Just because St. Pierre is not winning with pizzazz shouldn’t take away from the fact that no one is stopping him from doing it. Dominance can’t just be measured in knockouts or submissions; dominance is also measured in using the tools he has to eliminate the tools of others. GSP’s wrestling and boxing has eliminated the strengths of the best of the best.
He’s made an NCAA champion and the captain of the Purdue wrestling team in John Fitch look like he ran into an Olympic champion by how masterfully he imposed his wrestling on him. He’s also shown abilities in all facets of the game, using every tool in the MMA kit to win fights. People aren’t stopping what he’s doing.
GSP is not just good with one weapon in his arsenal; he’s good with all of them. He’s showing improvement and brilliance in every fight to the point where it’s a moral victory to win a round against him.
That is dominance. If you can’t appreciate that, then you can’t appreciate the brilliance and majesty that is the reigning, defending UFC welterweight champion of the world, Georges St. Pierre.