Sitting in the stands at UFC 111, I watched GSP destruct Dan Hardy with relative ease. I spilled beer on the young girl sitting next to me when I jumped up as he locked on a couple of submission attempts, but failed to get the tap. No thang, I figured it was only a matter of time. He’ll get the stoppage. Bleh, decision. Then watching him basically win his UFC 124 fight against Josh Koscheck early in the first round by breaking Kos’ orbital socket, I figured okay this time he HAS to get the finish. He has four more rounds against a guy who can’t see. Ugh, decision.
I wondered what happened to the unforgiving slayer of welterweights who had decimated the mighty Matt Hughes – twice; who made Frank Trigg look like a kid; who damn near ended BJ Penn’s life; who knocked out Jay Hieron standing about five different times in one fight; and who beat poor Sean Sherk into a bloody pulp – an offense I still maintian should have resulted in criminal charges.
I’m not alone, of course. MMA fans have long been sending criticism GSP’s way for his safe fighting style. Granted, the guy faces the best every time he steps into the cage. And he’s absolutely superb as a fighter. But that’s the problem. He’s so much better than his opponents that he can afford to take a few chances, to go for the kill, yet he rarely does anymore.
Unlike a lot of fighters though, GSP isn’t tone deaf to the criticism. He actually agrees with it. He recently spoke to the NY Post and had this to offer:
“I agree with the criticism. I want to do better. I want to give more entertainment to the fans. Ive been training to jump more on opportunities that are open to me. I’m still gonna fight my fight, but I’m going to be more opportunistic.”
It’s hard to criticize a guy for winning. And it’s not like the criticism has affected GSP’s popularity. He’s the UFC’s top draw, and if you’ve ever been to an event he’s headlined you can’t miss the “Rush” mania by the neuseating amount of fans who’re walking around the joint with their stupid Karate Kid headbands on. So the fans are still on his side. But we know he has that killer in him. We’ve seem it. We long for that homicidal maniac to reappear.
We’ll see if GSP is serious about this when he makes his return against Carlos Condit at UFC 154 in a few weeks. Most fans are sensible though. We know you can’t finish everyone, well unless you’re Anderson Silva. But aside from the “Just Bleed” guy, we just want to see GSP try, to go for it. Then, we can go back to being impressed by his performonce.