Narrative Check: Has GSP Been Taking More Punishment?
By Kelsey Mowatt
While it remains to be seen if and when Georges St. Pierre will return to defend the UFC Welterweight Championship, there’s been no shortage of discussion as to what’s behind the star’s self declared personal issues. Of course, there has also been speculation that the fighter is considering retirement as a result of a punishing championship run, which includes nine title defenses. The argument being, that the 32 year-old is not the same fighter he was prior to having ACL reconstructive surgery, and that his last three fights have demonstrated as much. But what do the numbers show?
Of course, few would argue that St. Pierre is coming off his worst outing since he upset by Matt Serra in 2007, as many believe Hendricks should have been awarded the belt at UFC 167. Not only did GSP escape with a controversial, split decision victory, but the renowned fighter looked worse for wear after the thrilling bout.
Decisions aren’t decided, however, by bruises and marks. So how much punishment did GSP take in the November 16th fight? According to Fight Metric, Hendricks landed 142 strikes throughout the five round fight, 85 of which were “significant.” The champion reportedly landed 125 during the bout, but 101 were significant.
In terms of grappling, St. Pierre managed to secure 3 of his 6 takedown attempts, while Hendricks landed 2 of 4. After evaluating all the striking and grappling data, Fight Metric awarded the bout 48-47 to Hendricks.
St. Pierre faced Nick Diaz at UFC 158 in March, and after the final bell sounded, there was no question that GSP was the winner. The champion turned to his vaunted wrestling skills to score a unanimous decision win, and during the bout Diaz managed to land 80 strikes total, 41 of which were significant. St. Pierre, on the other hand, landed 210 strikes throughout the fight as well as 9 takedowns. Fight Metric gave St. Pierre all five rounds.
St. Pierre returned from an 18 month plus layoff from knee surgery last November, and took on interim champ Carlos Condit at UFC 154. While Condit did send a collective gasp throughout the MMA world by flooring St. Pierre with a head kick, the champion was clearly the winner.
Condit managed to land more strikes than either Hendricks or Diaz, as the well rounded fighter scored 190. Of those, however, only 36 were significant. GSP landed 172 strikes throughout the bout as well as 7 takedowns, and Fight Metric had him winning by a 49-46 margin.
St. Pierre faced Shields in April, 2011, and prior to his ACL surgery. The latter surprised many at the time by outscoring GSP 96 to 92 in strikes. Of the strikes Shields landed, 78 were significant, while 85 of St. Pierre’s were classified the same. Shields was unable to put his feared top game to use, however, as he went 0 for 6 in takedowns while the champion was 2 for 3. Fight Metric scored the fight 49-46 St. Pierre.
Josh Koscheck II
Although St. Pierre had handed Koscheck a UD loss in 2007, the powerful wrestler worked his way back into a rematch at UFC 124 in 2010. Once again, however, St. Pierre’s diversified attack was too much for “Kos.”
St. Pierre badly outstruck Koscheck by a 136 to 30 margin, 110 of which were recorded as significant strikes. Koscheck only managed to land 16 significant blows during the bout, and Fight Metric scored the fight 50-45 St. Pierre.
In March, 2010, St. Pierre squared off with Dan Hardy, but as many expected would be the case, the dangerous striker’s wrestling and ground game was no match for GSP. During the bout St. Pierre landed 174 strikes total, while Hardy only scored 42. As far as takedowns, GSP landed all 11 he attempted, and Fight Metric scored the bout in his favor by a wide 50-44 margin.
St. Pierre threw down with Alves at a time when the punishing striker had won 7 straight fights, which included wins over Koscheck and Matt Hughes. The UFC 100 bout would go down, however, as one of St. Pierre’s most impressive wins to date.
During the fight GSP outstruck Alves by a margin of 149 to 72, and was able to land 10 of his 12 takedown attempts. Fight Metric awarded the fight to St. Pierre by a 50-45 score.
What Does it all Mean?
Of course, there’s only so much you can draw from statistical data, and not all “significant” strikes are the same in terms of damage. What these numbers do show is that in his last three bouts, St. Pierre has absorbed 412 strikes total, compared to 168 in the three bouts prior to his knee surgery. Whether that’s an indication of the competition he’s faced more recently or diminished abilities, however, is up for debate. Perhaps it’s a bit of both.