MMA's Pound-for-Pound Debate That Shoudn't Be: GSP Is No. 1
The pound-for-pound debate has been central to the mixed martial arts world since the beginning. The premise of it is rather simple, if every fighter weighed exactly the same weight, who would win? In the past arguments have raged between a plethora of fighters but with the recent losses of Lyoto Machida, B.J. Penn, and Fedor Emelianenko only two fighters remain at the top of the heap: Anderson Silva and Georges St. Pierre.
Both Silva and St. Pierre have outstanding resumes. Silva is an astounding 27-4 with a 13-fight win streak, while GSP is 20-2, winning seven straight. Superstars are littered amongst both of their records. The Spider has beaten greats such as Forrest Griffin, Rich Franklin, Dan Henderson, and Carlos Newton while Rush has conquered Jason Miller, Matt Hughes, BJ Penn (x2), Jon Fitch and Matt Serra.
The two would seem pretty equally matched if you were to just glance at their past records and accomplishments. But if you were to have actually watched them fight there should be no doubt that Georges St. Pierre is the pound for pound best fighter in the world. If they entered fight night at the same weight, the Canadian would lay a total beat down on the Brazilian.
Yeah that might sound pretty bold but look at the facts. Silva has always had trouble with wrestlers: he was taken down and controlled by Dan Henderson in the first round of their fight, Chael Sonnen had him beat in their title fight until Silva caught him in a triangle armbar, and he was even mounted after being taken down by Travis Lutter. If Sonnen could implement that gameplan for five rounds, it would seem as if GSP could easily do the same.
Georges St. Pierre came into mixed marital arts with an extensive karate background and little wrestling, but somehow the Canadian has managed to become one of, if not the best, wrestlers in all of MMA. His shot is ridiculously fast, which when coupled with his relentlessness, often leads to a takedown. While most wrestlers stop driving once the initial takedown is stopped, GSP continues moving forward while trying to complete it.
While his wrestling will obviously be his biggest asset in a dream match-up against Silva, people seem to forget that St. Pierre is one of the most well rounded mixed martial artists of all time. He has black belts in both Gaidojutsu and Brazilian jiu jitsu as well as a third degree black belt in kyokushin karate.
Prior to joining Greg Jackson's camp, St. Pierre had some of the most exciting and well rounded stand-up in the UFC. He put together punches and kicks incredibly well and TKO'ed Jay Hieron, Sean Sherk, and Matt Hughes. He would often throw spinning back fists, head kicks, and any other combination of exotic and dangerous moves.
Is Silva the better striker? Oh by far. But with St. Pierre, Silva will constantly have to worry about the takedown, making GSP's striking that much more effective. We saw the Brazilian get rocked by Chael Sonnen of all people while he was worried about being dragged down to the mat. So to say that GSP would get tooled standing is downright absurd.
Unlike Chael "jiu jitsu is gay" Sonnen, once the fight does hit the mat, St. Pierre will be able to fend for himself. Silva is a legitimate Brazilian jiu jitsu black belt but between St. Pierre's own skills and Greg Jackson's conservative gameplans I seriously doubt GSP would put himself into any harm.
If and when these two do fight, I expect Rush to finish what Sonnen started, with continuous takedowns and brutal ground n' pound. The moments the fight is spent standing will be tense as Silva obviously has tremendous power and ability but GSP is more than capable of weathering the storm.
So that's how I feel the fight would go if the two superstars would meet, which in essence should decide who the pound for pound number one fighter is. There should be no debate on who is the clear cut number one if GSP is capable of beating Silva.
"But, but, but Georges St. Pierre lost to Matt Serra! He can't be ranked number one!"
This is honestly one of the worst arguments I have ever heard for why GSP should not be ranked above Anderson Silva in the pound for pound rankings. His loss was a fluke, which he avenged savagely only a year later. If people want to discuss losses why don't they mention when Ryu Chonan or Daiju Takase beat Mr. Silva?
"Well at least Anderson Silva finishes fights!"
People also seem to forget that Silva has put on two of the worst performances in the Octagon when he beat Demian Maia and Thales Leites by decision. Yes Silva destroyed Forrest Griffin and Rich Franklin, but GSP made B.J. Penn and Matt Hughes look fairly amateur in both of their second bouts.
At the end of the day St. Pierre is better than Silva at every facet of MMA outside of striking. His losses were a long time ago and it's not like he tries to decision the fighters he beats. He doesn't take risks but that does not mean isn't hurting his opponents.
So go ahead and ask Thiago Alves or Jon Fitch who they think the best pound for pound fighter in the world is. I bet it isn't Anderson Silva.