I like GSP, it’s difficult not to. His fights are great, he’s never condescending to his opponents, he’s seems to be more interested in the challenge of beating them than in bad mouthing them. For each fight he sticks to a plan designed for that opponent. He trains like an athlete, using Sports Science to get an ‘edge’ and is always in fantastic shape.
While all of that is true, I really like him because he is so explosive and fluid, his transitions between stand-up, clinch and the ground are seamless. I also really like how he baffles the UFC commentators with his continual ability to out-wrestle the ex-Champion wrestlers he comes up against. He’s beaten many high level former wrestlers and Ju Jitsu MMA fighters such as Matt Hughes, Josh Koschek, Sean Sherk, Frank Trigg, Matt Sera, Jay Hieron, Jason Miller and notably BJ Penn.
GSP has now trained in a variety of martial arts after beginning with Kyokushin Karate at a young age. It’s impressive that he adapts the discipline he trains in to his requirements inside the octagon,as pointed out he hasn’t had the time training in wrestling or BJJ that others have but still manages to dominate his opponents. It’s reassuring to know that you don’t need to be a BJJ black belt or an All American Wrestling Champion to be able to wrestle to an extremely high level.
GSP comes across as an articulate intelligent bloke in his interviews and as a supremely conditioned, intelligent fighter in his fights. His dominance over opponents in the majority of his fights is notable, he has the advantage of natural athleticism, for sure, but he’s had to acquire a lot of fighting skills later in life. Certainly later than many of his opponents and as such seems to have ‘cherry picked’ skills relevant to the octagon. The intelligent training he undoubedtly undertakes resulting in him keeping the useful stuff without being distracted by the irrelevant is key, in my opinion, it’s easy to get bogged down by the detail or the Form Police. He seems able to apply his intellect to his fight preparation, other fighters seem unable to do so effectively.
Below is a clip containing excerpts from the majority of his UFC fights, note his fluidity and explosiveness.
An example of how he plans for fights can be gleaned from his blog. Talking about the recent fight with BJ Penn, St. Pierre says
“I fought a great fight, I did I stick to the game plan – it was amazing. BJ Penn is built like a boxer, and we have been studying a lot of tape, a lot of his training footage – so I know that with clinching with him, he would have built up a lot of lactic acid in his shoulders and because of his physical type he has a hard time taking out the lactic acid to make it evacuating so it make his hand very heavy and very slow after that. So my strategy was to clinch him and to work a lot to the body and on the ground. I was hitting a lot with my elbow in the middle section all the time because of his very flexible thoracic cage, he has a very weak body so I stick to the game plan. Even though the body does not do much damage it make people really tired and it really pay off for that fight. On the ground he always use a move called the Hip Eyes when he put his foot on his opponents hips and he stood up – so I knew that as soon as he opened up his guard I was controlling his ankle, elevating his leg and standing up before he does. So that’s why he would not be able to stand up from me. Also, to not let him use his rubber guard was very important for me to not let him control the over-hook, to not let him wrap my arm, all the time soon as wrap my arm, swim inside and get the better position and keep my body in a vertical position to avoid his rubber guard to not let him elevate his leg. I did very well, I work the body a lot, I clinch a lot in the first two round then after I really felt like I took control of the fight and I broke him mentally. It was a great fight – I had a lot of fun.”
You can watch the fight here, unfortunately it takes ages to load, sorry.
As GSP is able to successfully ‘cherry pick’ training methods from a variety of sources, so too are amateur martial artists, so long as we do so intelligently.