There is no discrediting Georges St-Pierre’s accomplishments in MMA and the victories that have secured his place as an all-time great and current top three pound-for-pound fighter. But with that said, there is also no denying his biggest victories are no longer over the top fighters in the welterweight division. There is now, finally a new group of welterweights ready to take a shot at his throne.
John Hendricks was able to take the luster off St-Pierre’s biggest victory on Friday night by accomplishing two equally impressive feats in one punch: knocking out Jon Fitch and making a Fitch fight exciting. Other recent GSP victories look less impressive in light of the his opponents subsequent performances. Thiago Alves (2-2), Dan Hardy (0-3), Josh Koscheck (1-0), BJ Penn (3-3-1), and Jake Shields (0-1).
I’m not suggesting that St-Pierre is no longer the best welterweight in the world: his point striking, transitions from standup to takedowns, and ceaseless ground control make him the obvious choice. What I am saying is GSP is in a similar position now that Fedor was in after Pride was purchased by the UFC and he was no longer fighting the top guys. St-Pierre’s recent victories alone are no longer proof that he is the best. GSP’s place at the top of the welterweight division is now more about the level of domination he has shown in his fights rather than the level of competition he has defeated.
John Hendricks and Jake Ellenberger were able to smash the formerly second and third ranked welterweights ( Jon Fitch and Jake Shields) in a little over a minute. Rick Story’s stock as a top prospect may have fallen, but not before further exposing Thiago Alves, a man who demolished Josh Koscheck, as a one-dimensional striker. BJ Penn looked like a top welterweight in his draw with Jon Fitch and then like he had no place in the division against Nick Diaz. Carlos Condit stunned top grappler Dong Hyun Kim, and is now facing Diaz for the interim welterweight title. Mike Pierce dropped a split decision to Hendricks and has a chance in his next fight to further invalidate GSP’s victories by best Josh Koscheck. The old guard is finally on its way out, and its not because they were not great. This new group is just better.
The welterweight division used to lack contenders. The big question for GSP was when will he fight Anderson Silva. He won’t have to worry about answering that question any time soon. He will have to answer a new question every time he steps into the cage: is he still the best welterweight in the world?