UFC 158 again showed us that Georges St-Pierre is a dominant wrestler who implements his gameplan to effectively neutralize any perceived advantage that an opponent may have. While he used this strategy to thoroughly dominant Nick Diaz, the outcome may have ended up costing GSP more than it truly gained for him.
St-Pierre is behind UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones in the pound-for-pound rankings. It would seem that it would be very tough to sit at #3 (P4P) after dominating a #3 ranked contender in Diaz for five rounds.
Perhaps fans and media alike are beginning to grow tired of GSP’s predictable act. There’s no doubt that he’s faced top competition throughout his reign at welterweight, and that competition seems to be the toughest it’s ever been. Let’s take a look at the possible reasons Jon Jones passed Georges St-Pierre as the second fiddle to Anderson Silva’s long-held no. 1 spot.
GSP, although facing top-flight 170 lb. fighters all throughout his title run, has not quite faced off against the competition that Jon Jones has. In a short span of time dating back to his first championship win versus Shogun Rua in early 2011, Jones has bested an incredible five former UFC Light Heavyweight champions in a row. That’s a feat not likely to be duplicated soon, if ever.
While GSP set the record for most consecutive title defenses at welterweight with 8 at UFC 158, Jones has taken down 4 straight former titleholders. He finished all but Rashad Evans, and this efficient rate must be a deciding factor for the voters. Jones comes into fights looking to take his opponents out. He will also tie Tito Ortiz’s record for most title defenses at light heavyweight with a victory over Chael Sonnen next month.
The heart of Jones may place ahead of GSP here as well. When Vitor Belfort nearly submitted Jones with an armbar at UFC 152 last fall, he persevered and acknowledged that his foe would have had to break his arm rather than tap out and lose the belt. GSP has been in a similar situation twice in his career as champion, once getting knocked out by Matt Serra. The next time, he weathered the storm with his own show of heart after Carlos Condit dropped him with a headkick and then swarmed, looking for the finish.
So both fighters do have great heart, but when you’re looking to vote on such a prestigious title as pound-for-pound best, even the most minute of details must be analyzed. I’d have to give the edge to Jones in strength of competition and killer instinct. And while Jones is a great wrestler in his own right, he uses it to look for the finish via submission or brutal ground-and-pound.
Maybe the lack of excitement that GSP seems to be exhibiting in recent bouts is reason for his decline in the rankings. Many St-Pierre fans hope for him to finish a fight and prove all of his doubters wrong. It could be just the massive hype that the UFC places upon all his bouts that simply sets him up to fail. Perhaps it’s a combination of several things.
In conclusion, I think that while it’s a very close debate, Jon Jones truly has passed GSP by as the number 2 pound-for-pound fighter in the world. St-Pierre now finds himself with a bout against Johny Hendricks, a man that many view as the biggest threat to the welterweight crown in some time. Both Jones and St-Pierre have been rumored for superfights with Anderson Silva for some time now.
While it’s completely unclear whether either fight will come to fruition, I feel like the general consensus has the Jones/Silva bout as the fight fans want to see. Jon Jones is a special fighter whose meteoric rise to the top is already legendary. And Georges St-Pierre is the best welterweight in the history of the UFC. Who do you believe should occupy the number 2 spot below Anderson Silva?