UFC 129 headlined by Jake "Mr. Shields" Shields against Canadian Hero Georges "Rush" St-Pierre. It just made perfect sense to give him the main event slot on the inaugural Toronto, Ontario UFC card... or did it?
Sports are unique in that anything can happen. Bookmakers will make the odds taking every foreseeable factor imaginable into consideration before setting a line, and even then the impossible can be possible sometimes.
Yesterday was not one of those times. That fight couldn't have been predicted any better, in fact, I'm wrong, no one could have predicted how terrible that fight would have been. What everyone and their mother got right
1) GSP would keep the fight standing
2) Jab, jab, jab, and follow with another jab.
3) Jake Shields will prove his fighting style is actually more lackluster than his personality.
4) GSP will win with a unanimous decision victory.
Where we went wrong:
1) GSP would cruise to a *dominant* victory: He actually lost 2 rounds (I didn't think so, but my scoring isn't what determines the victor) on two judges cards. Had Jake Shields done a little more in one round, he'd literally be walking away with the belt right now. I don't think anyone actually realizes how close GSP came to losing without even being put in danger.
2) Jake Shields would put up a fight. I know he stole two rounds on two judges cards and actually landed a couple shots, actually injuring beloved Georges St. Pierre's eye... but that was more of a "4 ounce glove's seam landing in the worst spot possible" to probably scratch a cornea than actually being the result of a good offense. I don't think the guys who co-headline these main event fights realize that A) it is a main event and B) it is a title fight. They fight with no urgency and wait for a guy who is so disciplined he'll to throwing the same jab-overhand right combo for 25 minutes before making a mistake. I'd like to know what's going through their head at the end of the 5th round, going the distance in a GSP title defense is not going to get anyone bragging rights outside Jon Fitch. I think BJ Penn set the bar too low for quitting on the stool, giving these guys the illusion that hanging in there for 5 rounds is a moral victory.
3) Don't blink, or you'll miss it. I believe when Georges said "Don't blink, tomorrow. Don't blink." he saw the future where he'd be doing a lot of blinking and wanted to ensure no one is going to be imitating anything but his accent.
I could go on but even I am getting tired of reliving that fight in my mind. I watched it live and in person last night, but I had also made my donation to the Rogers Center charity and purchased a couple $10.75 beers (they were that expensive because the proceeds were going to cure cancer, please tell me that's the truth?) so I made sure I watched the fight again today before putting my criticism into words.
Stone sober, I found myself counting the missed overhand rights, trying to time the amount of time Jake Shields spent stepping back instead of forward, noticing that for a guy who was blind in one eye his depth perception was pretty good for that high kick which knocked Jake down... whether it was out of respect for "American Jiu Jitsu" or sticking to his "jab-overhand right" mantra, he didn't follow him to the ground in what could've been the finish we all hoped and prayed for.
After that performance, I sincerely believe GSP should not be headlining big cards. He is a fan favourite because of his demeanor, his good looks, his charisma outside the ring. What he does inside the ring has just become too boring to watch. We've heard it all, the "ab-duck-tore", couldn't find his timing, he was "the toughest opponent of my career"... I'm done hearing it.
His performance was highlighted by being the least exciting fight of the night. Being on a card which started with several extremely flashy and incredible fights only emphasized how terrible that fight was.
When you are headlining the biggest fight of the biggest card in UFC history you have the onus of providing entertainment. This is almost an insult to his fans. This is worse than Anderson Silva dancing in the ring, he at least acknowledges when his competition is below him and says he wants to fight the best, he wants a challenge and comes out and knows how to put on a show. GSP will feed us the same "toughest fight of my career" "dangerous opponent" BS time and time again.
I am glad the rest of the card was phenomenal because I paid way too much to go see this fight. Don't get me wrong, UFC 129 was an amazing experience. I was also at UFC 113 and this event blew it away, but the next time UFC comes to Toronto, there better be a great supporting card because GSP headlining is no longer an asset but a liability.