We can bandy about all day what chances GSP has against Anderson Silva, or if the Superfight will ever even happen, but I have grown weary of all the armchair predictions. I'd like to change things up around here, and start off a trend of...Armchair Coaching!
The premise is simple: if you were to win some sort of promotion where you get to be Greg Jackson for Georges St Pierre's Superfight with Anderson Silva, how would you change up GSP's game to give him the win?
I'll go first, because it's my idea:
Georges tools are: 1) the ability to chain takedowns until he succeeds; 2) strong wrestling ability to keep top position; 3) incredible cardio; 4) good overall speed; 5) takes direction exceedingly well; and 6) great work ethic.
Georges weaknesses are: 1) does not have the chin to take a strike from Anderson Silva; 2) does not have the flowing, snake-like striking of Anderson Silva; 3) "spooks" when in danger
Anderson Silva's tools are: 1) top of the sport positional awareness when striking / defending strikes; 2) liquidity in his movements, especially striking; 3) devastating strikes; 4) good BJJ overall (could be great, haven't really seen); 5) incredibly efficient; 6) incredibly durable.
Anderson Silva's weaknesses: 1) TDD below GSP's ability to take down; 2) Grappling weaker than GSP
Having tabulated thus, I base my coaching of Georges St Pierre on the following premises:
1. Wear Anderson down on the ground;
2. Use punishing body shots to slow Anderson down;
3. Change up striking to prevent Anderson from calculating GSP's range accurately;
4. Threaten with submissions constantly; if submissions aren't available, then:
5. Strike to the body;
6. Stay in close to Anderson, don't let him breathe, but avoid the clinch at all costs.
Anderson Silva spends about one minute learning his opponent's range, and then using that information to crush said opponent. Georges will need to keep constant pressure on Anderson, threatening with takedowns whenever he finds the fight on the feet to prevent Anderson from acquiring a comfortable knowledge of Georges' striking range. By focusing his strikes on Anderson's liver, solar plexus and ribs, Georges can build on Anderson's fatigue. Strikes to the head should only be feints and never at full range; full range strikes should be saved for later rounds, when they may catch Anderson by surprise.
George should throw kicks with impunity; he has no reason to fear Anderson taking him down, and I sincerely feel GSP has the speed to avoid getting KO'd like James Irvin. Leg kicks will dimish Anderson's striking and can be thrown by GSP with relative safety provided he mixes them up with kicks to the body. By kicking to the body, he forces AS to block and not throw straight punches, which could catch GSP following the kick. GSP also possesses the power in his kicks to actually hurt AS.
Georges has developed a great jab, but he's fighting Anderson Silva: NO JABBING. Short, powerful upper cuts to the body if caught in the clinch, same to the body when on top. Mix in the occasional upper cut to Anderson's chin when on top if only to open up the chance for a submission.
Drill clinch defense, mainly escaping. Georges absolutely cannot afford to be caught in Anderson's Thai Plum, but I'm confident Georges can execute whatever the appropriate response is to this clinch. Anderson Silva's Thai Plum is too strong and dangerous for Georges to fool around with; hook to the liver, throw flurries and basically spazz the fuck out but never leave an opening for a knee.
Stay inside of Anderson Silva; spend as little time as possible at any sort of range with The Spider, force him to use core strength to wear him down faster.
With the right burst of speed and strength, I believe GSP could catch Anderson with a submission...but keylocks only, avoiding straight arm bar and leg locks that tend to leave you in a terrible position if you lose them. I'd even go so far as to have GSP try for the rear naked choke, relying on his excellent wrestling awareness and speed to get out of trouble if Anderson rolls on top of GSP.
Georges St Pierre has wrestling strength; hard to describe, but basically, Georges is going to be equally strong at any point in a given muscles' range. Anderson Silva has striker's strength, that fluid-like strength that allows him to throw fast and hard and makes him dangerous at the beginning and end of a strike, but has little anywhere else. By keeping Anderson engaged close up, Georges can negate Anderson's strength, force Anderson to burn more oxygen and physically tire to the point where he's vulnerable. I'm having trouble articulating it, but Anderson's muscle pathways for oxygen rely on that Bruce Lee philosophy of "being water", which I translate as his muscles not being conditioned to function mid-way between flexion and extension. By forcing Anderson to use his muscles as they are "caught in between" their normal movement, GSP can change how Anderson's muscles burn oxygen, increasing lactic acid in the limbs and effectively slowing The Spider down.
That's how I'd coach GSP, and I'm confident that Georges is the kind of fighter that would implement that gameplan if it came from a trusted source. Wrestle Anderson, strike to his body, make him use his legs to fight off positions then punish them with strikes as often as possible. Take his legs, take his cardio, then strike with the submission.