Does anyone else think GSP's ability to get people to the ground has really decreased in his last two fights?
Before he fought Nick Diaz, there was almost no one GSP couldn't take down at will. The only two people I can remember him having trouble with are BJ and Matt Hughes in their first fight. Even Koscheck gave him only the slightest amount of trouble.
Then he had the knee surgery, and took Condit down whenever, and everything seemed fine. But then he fought Nick Diaz, and Nick somehow stuffed more takedowns than anyone before ever has. Now I'm sure Nick is a very good grappler and trained extensively to not be taken down, but he's also someone who was taken down by Paul Daley and BJ Penn not that long before fighting GSP.
I think everyone remembers that fight as a blowout for GSP, and the scorecards say that, but I think it was far closer than I thought it would be. Nick was actually able to dictate where the fight took place, and dragged GSP into grueling exchanges in the clinch at will. IMO the only reason that fight wasn't closer was because Nick took almost a year off before jumping into a title fight.
And now he's fought Johny Hendricks, and it seems like his wrestling ability has completely evaporated. The three times he managed to get Hendricks, one was from Hendricks overcomitting, and the other two were from dragging him down in a pure war of attrition. If anything he looked more like Jon Fitch than the explosive GSP of old.
I have two theories on why this might have happened, and neither bodes well for GSP. The first is that he's simply physically depleted. He had a major knee injury, and he's pushing the wrong side of 30, and for someone who used to rely so much on explosiveness and strength these are death knells for effectiveness.
The second possiblity is that people have finally figured out how to counter his techniques. GSP might be the best wrestler in MMA, but he relies almost exclusively on a powerful double leg, with a few transitions off that first shot as required. Years and years ago, Mark Coleman had a powerful double leg too. And Demian Maia had a terrifying guard, and Donald Cerrone had a bruising Muay Thai arsenal, and the Diaz brothers had a venomous boxing/BJJ attack. And their opponents all figured out ways to counter them, and once it worked once it began working over and over again.
Maybe Nick Diaz, of all people, finally wrote the blueprint on how to beat GSP, and had five rounds to try it out. And Johny Hendricks studied the fight and went back and did the same thing, but better.
Either way, the future doesn't look bright for GSP's wrestling dominance.