Georges St. Pierre is unquestionably the best welterweight in MMA today. Josh Koscheck is going to re-test that hypothesis on Saturday at UFC 124. But in the minds of most observers, the only questions about GSP's abilities that remain are whether or not he's the best welterweight in history and whether or not he's the best pound-for-pound fighter in MMA today.
His technical acumen, physicial gifts, brains, thirst for knowledge, and incredible work ethic have combined to create an MMA monster. He began his martial arts life at 7 training in kyokushin karate, even giving up ice hockey at age 12 to focus on his karate. He's since become a jiu jitsu black belt, but he is perhaps most highly regarded for his application of wrestling to MMA.
We've wallowed in a couple of our favorite GSP technical showcases in previous Judo Chops, but have truly only scratched the surface:
- Georges St Pierre and the Superman Punch
- Thiago Alves Could Not Stop Georges St. Pierre's Chain of Takedowns
BB: Why did you choose karate?
St. Pierre: I liked karate better because hockey is a team sport and in karate, like any other martial art, you're alone. You decide your own destiny. Sometimes when you play hockey, you play very well but your teammates don't, so it messes up everything.
BB: Has karate affected your personal growth and discipline?
St. Pierre: I'm very happy that I learned karate when I was young. A lot of people told me that it's useless in fighting, but they're wrong. I'm pretty sure if I hadn't done it, I wouldn't be at this level today. Karate made me a lot stronger, and it made me flexible and athletic like I am right now. When I'm fighting, I'm not doing kata, but I use a lot of kicks and techniques that I learned from kyokushin.
BB: When did you begin to branch out and learn ground skills?
St. Pierre: I started learning jujutsu because when I was 12 or 13 years old, my karate teacher died. Before he died, he gave me my second-degree black belt. I stopped doing kyokushin and started doing muay Thai. I liked muay Thai, but then I saw the first Ultimate Fighting Championship with Ken Shamrock, and those guys inspired me to become a mixed-martial arts fighter. As soon as I saw the UFC, I wanted to train for it, but at that time jujutsu didn't exist in Montreal. I decided to train in muay Thai, and later on I got my third-degree black belt in karate. When I was 16, I found a good place to do Brazilian jujutsu. When I was 18 or 19, I started wrestling and boxing.
We'll look at some excerpts from the Judo Chops in the full entry and I'll be adding gifs from his other fights in comments
From the piece on the Superman Punch:
On the right we see one of GSP's most epochal uses of the superman punch. In the closing seconds of the first round of his rematch with then champ Matt Hughes, GSP absolutely drills Hughes with it. The straight on angle in slo-mo gives a very visceral account of the sheer impact of the technique as GSP's right hand makes contact with Hughes' forehead. But a close look also shows that Hughes is bringing his left leg up to block what he instinctively assumes is going to be a kick. It appears that Hughes may have begun to realize what was coming as he first drops his hands then begins to lift them up to attempt to cover his face, but it's too late and the punch comes in over the top, sending Hughes reeling.
From the piece on his wrestling against Thiago Alves:
In the first takedown, we see St. Pierre attempt to run the pipe off of the single leg only to switch to a double leg to finish. When running the pipe to finish the single, you're circle your back leg clockwise or counterclockwise (depending on which leg it is, but the motion is always to the rear) while you pressure your chest down on the thigh of your opponent. This forces them off balanced hopping on one leg while you drive them down. In this instance, St. Pierre attempts to run the pipe, but a strong Alves resists. Sensing he can't get Alves to the mat off the single leg alone, St. Pierre uses Alves' balancing leg - also the supporting leg - to transition to and subsequently finish the double. A double, mind you, that's aided by St. Pierre changing angles on the takedown at the last push. This is an impressive, athletic feat and one St. Pierre has likely drilled under the tutelage of the world-class wrestlers on the Canadian national wrestling team (and the others he trains with).