If Georges St-Pierre isn’t practicing the flying scissor heel hook religiously by now, perhaps he’d better start.
The indomitable welterweight champ went out against Nick Diaz at UFC 158 and did what he always does, which is to say he was a wet blanket for five rounds. He grappled and jabbed and thoroughly controlled his opponent, but for the sixth straight time, it didn’t look like GSP even contemplated a finish.
It was wash, rinse, repeat. It was yet another title defense that—as only St-Pierre can accomplish—was totally impressive yet completely boring in its unoriginality. One has to believe that if GSP goes into a superfight with Anderson Silva with the same strategy for the seventh consecutive time, it will be one too many.
So Firas Zahabi may want to get Ryo Chonan on speed dial and start taking notes.
Striking against Silva is futile.
Let’s get this one out of the way: If St-Pierre tries to work the jab against Silva for even the briefest of moments, it could be all stars and chirping birds and ice-cold bags of peas.
St-Pierre is a fine striker; he’s simplistic and methodical, but that’s OK. There's no doubt that his jab is the stuff of legends and one of the deadliest weapons in MMA. Just ask Josh Koscheck’s right eye. An enormous chunk of St-Pierre’s success (or all of it) can be attributed to his uncanny ability to keep the fight where he wants it. His jab is sharp, quick and makes people hesitant to attack first.
That’s great against most people. But if St-Pierre is going to rely on his jab to set up range against Silva, he’s in for a very short night. Silva’s head movement is absolutely magnificent; he shakes and shimmies and smiles as punches crawl past his face in slow motion. You’re not hitting him with a jab, especially when he’ll be spending an entire training camp learning how to defend it.
The hopelessness of it all for St-Pierre is that even if he can somehow land against the slippery cobra standing before him, it probably won’t faze Silva. Silva’s chin is criminally underrated, and if his ability to avoid taking damage wasn’t so legendary, we’d probably be talking about how amazing his ability to absorb it is.
If GSP can’t knock out Koscheck, Jake Shields or Dan Hardy, he’s not going to start with Silva. In theory, the striking game should be completely off limits to St-Pierre unless he wants to leave the arena in a coffin.
Surviving five full rounds may be impossible.
We all know what it looks like to beat Silva. We saw it at UFC 117.
That’s when Chael Sonnen dominated him nearly every second of the fight. Of course, this fight had a surprise ending, one with Silva somehow pulling off a Hail Mary in the 11th hour to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
Any way you look at that fight, Silva should have lost. Every external and internal force in the universe was trying to make it happen. Sonnen had elevated testosterone, Silva had an injured rib, and Sonnen could not have possibly fought a more flawless fight with a more perfect game plan.
And yet Silva won.
So the question remains: How do you beat this guy? He’s lost four times in his career, one a disqualification to Yushin Okami that he easily avenged. He lost a decision in his third career fight almost thirteen years ago and another to Daiju Takase by triangle choke in 2003.
Then there’s the loss to Chonan in what was arguably the single greatest submission in MMA history. In retrospect, considering what Silva has gone on to accomplish, it’s even more preposterously audacious. It’s a move that only ever works in the movies, and yet it worked against the best fighter of all time. Which makes one wonder: In order to win, does GSP have to pull off his own “Chonan”?
That’s not to say it has to be a flying scissor heel hook, obviously, but it may take a move of similarly ridiculous origins in order to defeat Silva.
The logic says that if St-Pierre fights conventionally, he won’t win. He can’t win. The chances of him grinding out five rounds against a fighter who only needs the briefest of moments to knock an opponent out seem laughably minuscule, and the fact that GSP can’t finish fights has become almost as concrete as the law of gravity.
None of this makes me want to see this fight any less. Silva and St-Pierre are probably the two greatest fighters in MMA history at this point, and it would be a spectacle to just see them in the same ring together. But the odds of this being even remotely close to a competitive fight dwindle every time Silva delivers a stunning first-round KO and GSP goes to a decision.
Ring. Ring. Ring.
“Chonan? This is Georges. Let’s talk”
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