Pat Miletich, the UFC's inaugural welterweight champion and longtime captain of the renowned Miletich Fighting Systems team, appeared on Sherdog Radio earlier this week and chimed in on the buzz about Georges St. Pierre's next opponent.
St. Pierre, the longstanding UFC welterweight champion, returned from an 18-month hiatus to defend his belt against then-interim champ Carlos Condit in the headliner of UFC 154. In what I deemed as GSP's most authenticating performance to date, the humble Canadian orchestrated the tempo by imposing his suffocating wrestling acumen, which was far from a surprise. However, GSP was also plastered and subsequently floored by a 3rd-round high kick and spent much of the fight entangled in Condit's active and dynamic guard, and persevered through each obstacle with flying colors.
Having notched his 7th career title defense and re-established himself atop the welterweight totem pole, the next step for St. Pierre has been a hot topic of discussion. Many, including UFC president Dana White, feel that a super-fight with alpha-middleweight Anderson Silva is the way to go. However, immediately preceding the St. Pierre vs. Condit collision at UFC 154, bearded slugger Johny Hendricks continued his meteoric rise by clubbing consummate scrapper Martin Kampmann with his signature left hand to earn a 1st-round knockout, cementing himself as the new #1 welterweight contender in the process.
On the Sherdog.com radio spot, Miletich was asked to lend his opinion on the two available options for St. Pierre and, putting himself in GSP's shoes, relayed the following collection of perspectives:
- "If I'm Georges St. Pierre, to be honest with you, I'm probably going to lean towards fighting Anderson Silva. There's a hell of a lot more to gain obviously, but that might even, to be honest with you, be a safer fight for him."
- "I think Johny Hendricks might have a unique game that may go as a serious risk for GSP."
- "(St. Pierre) may get a takedown, but he's not holding Hendricks down. I think Hendricks is obviously a good enough wrestler, a strong enough guy when he's coming back up. And Hendricks has some serious one-punch knockout power. When he hits people, he's sliding them across the ice."
It's not uncommon for the Bloody Elbow staff to go a step farther than merely repackaging news by voicing our personal interpretation of the topic at hand; an opinion on an opinion, if you will.
On the surface, Miletich's choice to advocate a fight with Silva instead of Hendricks was received with eyebrow-raising skepticism and triggered some piercing reactions in our coverage of the story on BE. After all: "The Spider" is an unadulterated instrument of highlight-reel violence with a mile-long body count that's anchored in a division 15-pounds heavier (middleweight) than GSP's normal fighting weight and, better yet, spills over into a weight class that's contested a full 35-pounds higher (light-heavyweight).
Overall, including "Anderson Silva," the most dominant champion in MMA history, and any semblance of the word "safe" in the same sentence is bound to spark a degree of controversy and, in general terms, any personal opinions are often accompanied by external criticism. That's why Miletich's counter-critique on Twitter can only be considered fair play.
Having Miletich filed under the unusually slim "Level-Headed" category in my personal archives, I touched base with him for an opportunity to clarify his point of view.
Pat Miletich: "Simply put, I was saying that Johny Hendricks' style poses a serious risk due to his punching power and wrestling ability compared to Silva's lesser wrestling and takedown defense.
"A loss against Hendricks does real damage and certainly derails the super-fight with Silva. A loss to Anderson does not derail a great career and I'm sure it will contain a much bigger payday for GSP. I honestly doubt, due to style and financial gain, that GSP will choose Hendricks over Silva. Anderson Silva is obviously the top 1 or 2 pound-for-pound guys (ever) on the planet, but styles make match-ups, and bullshit walks and money talks. That's why I said, if I were GSP, I would choose the Silva fight long before the Hendricks fight."
Using the basic "pain vs. gain" equation, a trusty and timeless formula that can be flexibly applied to a breadth of pivotal life dilemmas such as "paper or plastic?" to "boxers or briefs?", Miletich's perspective is far from unfathomable.
As the undisputed kingpin of his weight class, St. Pierre would surely be favored to defeat his welterweight counterpart, rendering Hendricks as a veritable lose-lose option. Conversely, Silva has already emerged as a strong favorite over GSP on the betting lines that were published for their proposed super-fight, meaning that the aforementioned lose-lose scenario would then be transposed on Silva instead, while St. Pierre could bask in the pressure-free environment of the underdog in a win-win situation.
Perhaps the only thing everyone can agree on is that Georges St. Pierre is in a supremely unenviable position: Option A is arguably the greatest martial artist in the history of mankind and Option B is an unshaven brute with unparalleled wrestling credentials and jaw-cracking knockout power.
Based on that reality, one could argue that GSP's in a lose-lose situation regardless, while the fans are blessed with the win-win of seeing an incredible fight either way.