Ever since the GSP vs. Nick Diaz fight, something’s been nagging in the back of my head.
It was a comment one of my friends made during the aforementioned welterweight title fight. He’s a guy I’ve known forever, and who’s opinion I deeply respect, even if we’re frequently at odds. Case in point: since about 2009, I’ve been a huge fan of seeing an Anderson Silva vs. Georges St-Pierre superfight. Him, not so much.
So as we’re watching St-Pierre start to struggle against Diaz, missing on takedowns and starting to take his foot off the gas, he turns to me and says “This is the guy you want to see face Anderson Silva?”
For the first time in years, I didn’t have an answer back to him. He was right. He was absolutely right. The GSP I was watching, right now, wouldn’t stand a chance against “The Spider”.
Now don’t get me wrong, I never thought GSP was an odds on favourite to beat Andy. In any fight featuring the sport’s top fighter, the other guy is going to be a rightful underdog – it’s not different in GSP’s case.
But I always argued that GSP had a better chance than many were giving him credit for. I argued he could always follow the gameplan laid down by Chael Sonnen, focus on grounding and pounding Silva, and use his superior submission defence and cardio to stat out of trouble.
Now I’m not so sure. While still dominant, GSP has looked hittable in his last two fights. And “hittable” is not something you want to be against Anderson Silva. And there are “questions” about his cardio coming off the Diaz fight – mainly, why it went from “superhuman” to “slightly slowed” in the latter rounds, which for a machine like GSP is a huge drop.
The biggest factor in this fight getting made has always been timing, and the ever-shifting landscapes in either man’s respective division. There have been a few times where it looked like the stars might align, and the fight would happen. But at the moment there are clear-cut #1 contenders in either division, and what’s worse – guys who have a very legitimate shot of derailing any future GSp or Anderson Silva superfights.
Chris Weidman has a legitimate shot against Anderson Silva. Yes, he does, and you can stop rolling your eyes now, thank you very much. Like I said above, everyone is an underdog against the baddest man in MMA. That’s a given. But Weidman has the wrestling base, the submission skills, and the striking ability to give anyone fits.
That he only has nine professional fights to his credit is a problem. That he’s coming off a serious knee injury is another. So is that whole “Anderson Silva for an opponent” thing. Still, Weidman is absolutely capable of upsetting an aging Silva who may be suffering from motivation issues (remember, Anderson has stated he doesn’t feel Weidman has earned his shot yet).
And you couldn’t build a more dangerous opponent – on paper, at least – for Georges St-Pierre than Johny Hendricks. Let’s run the list, shall we? World-class wrestler who can stuff GSP’s takedowns and prevent him from controlling the tempo of the fight? Check. One-hit KO power that can shut the champ’s lights off it he finds his chin in space? Check. The cardio to go bell-to-bell with GSP? Check, as his last fight with Carlos Condit evidenced.
Hendricks is absolutely the real deal. He’s a very real threat to St-Pierre, and arguably the most promising title contender the UFC welterweight division has produced in some time (remember that Jake Shields, Carlos Condit and Nick Diaz were all acquisitions).
So there’s a very real chance the whole GSP/Silva discussion is a moot point anyways, because they could both lose their next fights. But even so, do people still want this fight? Most folks I talk to are more excited to see Anderson move up to face LHW champ Jon Jones, rather than move down (as would likely be the case) to face GSP.
I was the biggest fan of this fight getting made, and even I’m starting to have my doubts. Is it time to let go of GSP vs. Anderson Silva?
UFC on Fuel Disappoints
You knew from the moment the UFC rushed a guy in on short notice, to make his UFC debut, in a main event against another guy who also happens to be making his UFC debut, that this was going to be a weird card.
And that’s exactly what it was. Luckily, because this card was being held in Sweden, and it aired on Fuel TV in a strange time slot, it’s not like this was a 1 million-plus PPV that was one the line here.
The main event turned out more or less exactly as you imagined it would. Ilir Latifi did exactly as well as you’d expect for a guy coming in on a week’s notice. Once it was evident he didn’t have the gas take to take the fight to the floor, the fight was all Mousasi’s.
And it was Gegard who disappointed somewhat to me, jabbing and dancing his way to a lopsided decision win. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not some bloodthirsty fan demanding every fighter drop his hands and play Rock ‘em Sock ‘em robots with his opponent for my amusement. But Mousasi was once one of the most dynamic fighters in the entire division. It’s a shame to see him coasting against a novice like Latifi.
We found out after the fight that Mousasi was coping with a pretty serious knee injury, so hopefully that explains away most of it all of his performance. A guy with a bum knee versus a guy with a week’s training time – it was one of those main events.
The other fights on the card provided a bit more entertainment. Ryan Couture failed to take the next step many hope he would, as Ross Pearson used his superior boxing to put “The Natural Jr.” away in the second frame. Matt “Meathead” Mitrione picked up a huge win, flattening Phil De Fries in just 19 seconds. Brad Pickett and Diego Brandao picked up important wins, too.
In case you missed it
The best fight this weekend didn’t take place in a UFC octagon. And it didn’t feature two men throwing down, either.
The main event of this past weekend’s Invicta FC, featuring Michelle Waterson vs. Jessica Penne, was one of the most entertaining ground battle I’ve seen this year. It features absolute top-notch performances from either woman, and seems to indiciate good things down the road for both the Invicta promotion, and women’s MMA itself.
And finally, even though I already discussed this last week, I’d like to give another shout-out to Bellator featherweight champ Pat Curran, who made an authoritative statement in his title defence over Shahbulat Shamhalaev at Bellator 95 last week. Curran has always been my favourite of Bellator’s homegrown stars, and it quickly establishing himself as an elite name at 145-pounds.