UFC Hall of Famer Chuck Liddell became one of the biggest stars in mixed martial arts because of his exciting fighting style left always left the fans pleased, but the same style has not been implemented by some of the biggest stars in the sports today.
One of the UFC champions who most commonly receives criticism for his tactical approach is welterweight king Georges St-Pierre, who relies heavily on his wrestling to control opponents and avoid any risks on his feet.
When Liddell was speaking on GSP in a recent interview, he was very outspoken about how the 170-pound champ fights and he began to call for St-Pierre to become more aggressive and exciting rather than play it safe.
“I think some people make complaints about some of the champions playing it safe,” Liddell said during an appearance on ESPN’s SportsNation, via MMA Fighting. “I understand it, but I don’t want to watch it. I think St-Pierre is a great fighter. He’s awesome… I just don’t like watching him play safe. And he fights safe. I mean against Diaz he spiral rode him for half the fight. I don’t like watching that.
“Now, for him to able to do that to guys that are at that level is impressive. But it’s not exciting to me. And the way they chose the fight. I mean ‘I’ve been beating this guy up for four rounds, I’m still just gonna win the last round. I’m not gonna try to finish him. I’m not gonna go after him. I’m not gonna take any risks.’ From a coaching standpoint and a manager’s standpoint, I understand. It makes sense. It’s big money now.
“But from a fan’s standpoint, I don’t want to watch it, [not] unless I think he’s fighting someone that can make him fight. I actually think this next fight coming up, I’m excited, he’s fighting Johny Hendricks and I think Hendricks is going to make him fight.”
St-Pierre hasn’t finished a fight since 2009, when B.J. Penn’s corner called an end to the fight. In fact, St-Pierre has just three finishes since 2007, when he suffered an upset loss to Matt Serra by way of knockout.
The loss shook GSP and forced him to be more cautious moving forward, but now his safe style is beginning to agitate fans.
GSP’s next fight comes in the main event of UFC 167, where he puts his title on the line against top contender Johny Hendricks. Unlike GSP, the challenger has big knockout power that will threaten the champ and the top notch wrestling to try to neutralize GSP’s strength.
It will be an interesting stylistic match up when the two men enter the octagon and many fans, like Chuck Liddell, will hope that the champ finally puts on an exciting fight and avoids looking to grind out his opponent.