After watching the GSP-Carlos Condit fight this past Saturday, my initial reaction after 5 rounds and seeing GSP's bruised and bloodied face was that he would not stand a chance against the bigger, faster, stronger Anderson Silva. If GSP was almost finished by Condit's leg kick in the third round, how will he survive an all limbs combination that the Spider will unleash on him?
Then I thought if it was fair to judge GSP based on his long layoff, ring rust, the fact Carlos Condit is a tough SOB, and that even dominant champions look vulnerable. Like GSP appeared on Saturday night, there were moments where Anderson Silva has also looked vulnerable, especially against Chael Sonnen, who while bigger than GSP, does not have the same fight IQ, heart or athleticism that GSP possesses. However, while Sonnen has made habitual mistakes in defending from top position and made an ill-fated spinning back fist against Silva, he did do many things correctly that GSP must replicate to beat Anderson Silva.
Again, GSP is not as athletic as Anderson Silva, nor does he strike at the same level as Silva. However, neither was Sonnen and Sonnen dropped Silva. GSP's basic game plan to beat Silva is the same as Sonnen:
- Do not let Silva find his timing and range: Silva likes to use the first minute of the fight to feel out his opponents' timing and find his range. This is also psychological warfare as most of his opponents start to worry about counterattacks and are intimidated by Silva's hand gesturing and posturing.
- Attack and close the range: Following from the topic above, close the distance quickly on Silva and do not let him get comfortable and set. Press Silva with combinations to set up take down attempts.
- Use Anderson's counterattack to attempt take downs: Once GSP closes the distance and engages Silva, GSP needs to go for the take downs. GSP has the best wrestling for MMA. He uses the timing and countering he learned in karate to launch into his double leg take downs.
- It is not about holding down Silva, it is staying on top: Sonnen is much bigger than GSP and was content on laying down flurries on Silva from half and full guard positions. GSP will be at a size disadvantage and will really need to rely on BJJ and wrestling technique to stay in top position and transition to other positions. John Danaher is one of the best coaches out there and they will likely be drilling top position posture and positioning in the training camp with light heavyweight and heavyweight training partners to maintain pressure on Silva in the actual fight.
- Ground and Pound: Chael's flurries of strikes on Anderson Silva in both fights was to outpoint and wear down SIlva in a war of attrition. GSP's as shown in Saturday's fight with Condit can ground and pound with bad intentions. Again, maintain position and posture and throw elbows and strikes that count.
- Cardio, Cardio, Cardio: Going 5 rounds with the greatest of all-time is like running a marathon with 100 pound sack on your back, and somebody punching you in the face the whole race. GSP's ring rust cardio where he looked tired in the 4th and 5th round won't cut it against Silva. If GSP's body language going into those rounds is the same, SIlva will be like a shark smelling blood and attack to finish. I expect GSP's cardio to be better for the fight.
While my initial reaction to the thought of a GSP-Silva superfight after Saturday night was "GSP is going to get killed," I now believe he has the tools and potential game plan to win this fight. He is still going to be the underdog going into the fight and need to fight the perfect fight to prevail, but if anybody can follow a game plan, it is GSP. Any thoughts from the forum?