The Georges St. Pierre vs. Jake Shields UFC welterweight title fight proved something. It proved that it doesn’t matter how good the challenger is. It just matters how good the champion is.
You can come into the Octagon fully trained, at your peak condition, with a wide array of skills and an unquenched thirst to reach the top. But if you have to meet one of the sport’s all-time best fighters, who is still in his prime, well, you just might be out of luck.
Despite the betting odds for GSP vs. Shields which had St. Pierre as a 4-1 or 5-1 favorite, this was a competitive and intriguing showdown. You have a reigning champion facing a fighter his size, in the midst of an extremely long unbeaten streak, with a masterful set of skills, including top flight jiu-jitsu and wrestling.
None of that mattered by the time the GSP vs. Shields results came in from UFC 129. What mattered is that Georges St. Pierre is the preeminent UFC fighter of his era, perhaps even more so than Anderson Silva.
If it wasn’t for Silva’s extended dominance, GSP might be hailed as the best mixed martial artist of all-time. He’s that good. Even so, GSP has his own list of fantastic victories in the Octagon, and the win over Shields needs to get tossed to the front of the list.
The judges were mixed in just how close or dominant this win actually was, with one judge ruling it 50-45 (5 rounds to 0), and the other two ruling it 48-47 (3 to 2). For what it’s worth, the GSP vs. Shields bout looked to be more along the edges of a dominant GSP win, as opposed to a toss-up bout.
The three scoring writers on Sherdog.com, for example, scored it 49-46, 50-46, and 50-47, all for GSP. It shows several even rounds but not a single round decisively going to the challenger. Sometimes a judge has a tendency to give a round to the losing-but-trying challenger just because. The facts are that GSP controlled the action, and while rounds were close, he consistently was dictating the way the fight played out, and was dealing more damage in all phases of the game.
Next for GSP may just be a bout with the sport’s other reigning kingpin, Silva. The duo could meet at a catch-weight, or could meet for the middleweight title. Or perhaps St. Pierre stays at welterweight, turns back Jon Fitch yet again, meets a Diego Sanchez, faces fellow Canadian Rory MacDonald in 18 months in a final fight before moving on. Who knows.
But right now, Georges St. Pierre is reigning supreme in the UFC, and throughout the entire world of mixed martial arts. Off the charts athleticism, unmatched dedication, superior skills, a well-rounded approach, and a constantly evolving game separates GSP from the pack. Who’s next?