When the topic of conversation surrounds who the GOAT is at 170 pounds, there are two names that inevitably come up: St-Pierre and Usman. Up until recently, the former was seemingly alone in the debate and unchallenged. But with his ongoing dominance, “The Nigerian Nightmare” has caused a divide.
Option number one, St-Pierre, is a UFC Hall of Famer who defended the welterweight title a record nine times. During his 19 wins in the division, a record shared with Neil Magny, GSP defeated names like Nick Diaz, Carlos Condit, Matt Serra, BJ Penn, and Matt Hughes. “Rush” also achieved champ-champ status when he dethroned Michael Bisping to collect middleweight gold in 2017.
Option number two, Usman, has joined GSP in the debate off the back of an undefeated tenure in the UFC that has seen him dethrone Tyron Woodley with ease and defend the title on five occasions, twice each versus Colby Covington and Jorge Masvidal, and once against Gilbert Burns.
With their impressive accomplishments in mind, for many, the debate comes down to their individual skillsets and abilities. So, how would prime St-Pierre fare against Usman?
How about we let the man himself provide an answer…
St-Pierre: I Would Put Usman On His Back
During an interview with MMA News’ own James Lynch, St-Pierre assessed his chances against the man currently reigning over the welterweights in similar vein to his own stint on the throne a number of years ago.
After describing Usman’s strengths when it comes to controlling against the cage, St-Pierre suggested he’d utilize his active, movement-based style to counter. Beyond that, the name of the game would be takedowns. For GSP, the key would be testing Usman in waters he’s never swam in.
“Usman has a style that he is very good at chain wrestling. He’s very good when he puts his opponent against the fence. He can do it all. He’s very well rounded,” admitted St-Pierre. “His main speciality in wrestling, he’s very good at putting his opponent against the fence and working from there.
“My style, I was more a guy that moves, moves, hit and run, so to speak. That was my game. So, my game would have been to put him down, but with feints and proactive and reactive takedowns,” GSP told MMA News.
“I would have, If I would have fought him, tried to put him on his back because I’ve never seen him there. That would have been my strategy.”
Some may suggest that given Usman’s wrestling credentials and dominance in that department to date, taking him down would be an ambitious route to victory. However, for “Rush,” the key to tackling the best is to find their weaknesses, which he believes are usually embedded in their strengths.
“Where someones seems stronger than everybody, that is the place where you need to attack. Sometimes their strength gets transformed to a weak link. You never know how he fights on his back,” suggested St-Pierre. “Nobody has ever exposed him there. There’s guys that are very good wrestlers, but once they’re on their back, they’ve never been there, so you don’t know how they will react.
“Would I succeed or not? We’ll never know [LAUGHS]… I think so, because I’m a fighter and I’m kind of biased,” said GSP. “There is nobody that I have fought that I wasn’t able to put down. But it’s a different era, a different time, guys get better. Usman is just fantastic. He’s the best right now.”
Check out our full interview with MMA legend Georges St-Pierre below:
While many share the sentiment that St-Pierre remains at the head of the table for the time being, the man himself has previously said that Usman is well on his way to surpassing him.
Unfortunately, with the Canadian remaining firm on his decision to retire, a fantasy clash between GSP and Usman will likely remain just that: a fantasy.
How do you think prime Georges St-Pierre would fare against Kamaru Usman?