In the build up to the Abu Dhabi Combat Club's 2015 Submissions Wrestling World Championship, Bloody Elbow looks back on some of the most interesting moments in the promotions history. In this edition we look at Georges St- Pierre's failed attempt to capture gold in Long Beach, California in 2005.
Long Beach, Calif. May 28, In a room filled with the best black belts in the world, a Canadian prodigy steps on to the mats. Georges St-Pierre, a just-turned-24-year-old is a month removed from his last competitive fight, a one-sided match against Jason Miller at UFC 56. Standing opposite to him today is Otto Olson, the man who finished runner-up at ADCC 2003. Georges St-Pierre's ADCC career is set for a baptism by fire.
While St-Pierre's mind has been set on ADCC, there is still one man lingering in the back of his mind, just months previous St-Pierre suffered a submission defeat to Matt Hughes in a world title fight. The Canadian was one second away from the end of the round when he succumbed to an armbar from the dominant champion. For today, St-Pierre's focus needs to be fixated upon the man opposite him.
The match starts with both athletes jockeying for control, St-Pierre is clad in a white, green and yellow Brazilian Top Team rash guard, representing his esteemed coach Fabio Holanda. Olson, a product of Matt Hume's AMC, is shirtless, in black shorts with a heavily strapped right knee. As the match progresses, St-Pierre's athleticism takes center stage. The powerful Canadian drives through with a takedown and Olson immediately fishes for a guillotine choke, but St-Pierre is savvy to Olson's choke game. As if cyclical, the cat-and-mouse game of St-Pierre's takedowns and Olson's guillotine attempts repeated. The Canadian's takedowns earned him the victory.
What was amazing about St-Pierre's performance against Olson you might ask? Well, not only was Olson a far more accomplished grappler, a ADCC runner-up and most importantly, he was also an NCAA star who was the runner-up in 1999 at the national championships. On that afternoon we witnessed Georges St-Pierre, the Karate kid, outwrestle the gifted University of Michigan wrestler.
With Olson defeated St-Pierre's next foe was ready and waiting in the wings for his shot at the UFC star. Leonardo Santos, a 4-time World Club Cup champion earned his place against St-Pierre by winning a decision against Jason Brudvik. Brudvik, a decorated European black belt with a PhD in Nuclear Physics proved no match for Santos.
The beauty of jiu-jitsu is its versatility. From every opportunity and position jiu-jitsu has an available attack. As the match starts Georges St-Pierre begins to jockey for position once again with his opponent. St-Pierre begins to get somewhat comfortable with the clinch, mistaking Santos' willingness to clinch with vulnerability. Leonardo Santos leads St-Pierre into to clinch once again and St-Pierre unwittingly follows like a lamb being lead to slaughter. It is at this moment Santos pounces, catching St-Pierre's right arm in a textbook armbar which forced the future UFC champion to tap.
That weekend in Long Beach, California was, in hindsight, our first true glimpse at Georges St-Pierre 2.0. St-Pierre's match up with Olson was the first time we got to witness just how good his wrestling was from that day onward we should have known the Canadian has the ability to outwrestle the likes of Jon Fitch and Josh Koscheck. After all, Olson defeated the latter on the mat in college.
While Leonardo Santos' victory was amazing a thoroughly deserved one can't help but think what would have happened if St-Pierre had been victorious? How would Georges St-Pierre have fared against Marcelo Garcia, how would the greatest UFC welterweight ever have fared against the greatest grappler of all time? Had St-Pierre been defeated by Garcia, which he almost certainly would have, he then would have faced his future foe, Jake Shields in a battle for third place match.
Now that Georges St-Pierre's fighting career is on an indefinite hiatus it is easier to look back on his career and his most formative moments. It is clear that Matt Hughes' armbar taught St-Pierre more than any victory ever would. The man who returned from that defeat wasn't the same man that entered the cage, this man had fallen in love with grappling and competed against the best at ADCC. As the years ebbed on St-Pierre went from supreme striker to grappling extraordinaire.
ADCC 2015 goes down from August 28-30 Sao Paulo, Brazil and is expected to be available on pay-per-view at www.abcombat.com