"I’d take GSP’s ‘lay-n-pray’ over Anderson Silva’s dance and prance any day.” “How can anybody criticize GSP after a performance like this?” Two days after Anderson Silva’s underwhelming and at times infuriating performance against Demian Maia and the comment section is filled with these comparisons. But why? There is no real correlation between the two. Any given fan could find both of these fights boring. Any fan could simultaneously feel that both of these fighters underperformed. Right?
This was indeed my first reaction leveled by these angry claims. But maybe I was wrong. Anderson Silva and Georges St Pierre appeal to two separate sides of the MMA fan spectrum. In theory they are both two athletes trying to approach perfection, but that is really where the ideological similarities end.
Georges St Pierre is a machine. He is created by science, and his every action is rational. He feels like a fighter manufactured on an industrial assembly line. His athleticism is top notch. His game-plans don’t stop at exploiting technical weaknesses of his opponents, but their very biological deficiencies. He is hardworking and humble, but stony in interviews. He is a marvel of modern science.
Anderson on the other hand is much more complicated. If GSP is the scientist, Anderson is the artist. At his worst he is childish and self absorbed, fighting as if nobody is watching. But at his best he puts in truly inspired feats of technical brilliance the likes of which have never been seen. He fights with ego, and he fights for himself. The results are mixed, but if nothing else truly expressive.
In a way it makes sense that fans would immediately think of Georges St Pierre when disappointed by Anderson. They are essentially idealistic opposites that appeal to the opposite spectrums. The fans that appreciate humble, hardworking champions will always be attracted to GSP. Conversely those attracted to mercurial genius will give their fanship to Anderson. They are intrinsically linked, MMA’s very own Superman and Batman. Or rather if I will, Nightman and Dayman from Charlie Kelly’s underrated musical masterpiece The Nightman Cometh.
This is why they simply must fight. There are few fights more compelling at an ideological level. This is why their names will always be listed next to each other.
(A couple quick notes:
1. Obviously it is possible for an MMA fan’s two favorite fighters to be Anderson Silva and Georges St Pierre. I would just argue this isn’t very common.
The BJ Penn/GSP fight was kind of a sample of this, but Anderson is an even deeper manifestation of those ideals making it that much more interesting.)