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The Perfect is the Enemy of the Good

(Our man Matthew Polly returns with some pontifications on Georges St Pierre. And above we have one of the great pictures from Esther Lin’s UFC 124 gallery)

For over a year, I had the undeserved opportunity to work with two of GSP’s coaches – Phil Nurse and John Danaher. During that time, I enviously endured story after story about what a brilliant student Rush is. (“He’s a sponge.” “Teach him something one day, he’s using it the next.”) At one point I had become so sick of it, I snapped at Phil, “You and John talk about him like he’s the Second Coming of Jesus Fucking Christ.” Channeling God’s wrath for my blasphemy, Nurse smote me down.

And now look at the GSP legend. He had Freddie Roach as a coach for (maybe) four weeks, and he lands so many jabs it should be MMA’s new drinking game. After years of wrestlers loading up the Hendo right, GSP picks Kos’s eye socket apart with jabs and crosses, not to mention ducking or slipping nearly every counter.

GSP is such a divine student that when he retires all his coaches should commit ritual suicide. They are never going to see another one like him in their lifetimes. The match was, from a coach’s perspective, tactical perfection. GSP established the jab, peppered it with crosses, won the first three rounds, added some hooks, turned up the heat, saw that finishing someone as tough as Kos would be immensely risky, and so returned to what had worked all night. He dominated; he hit and wasn’t hit—a coach’s dream fighter.

But a coach’s self-interests do not always line up with a fighter’s. Coaches want fighters to stay healthy and keep winning, because unhealthy fighters who lose, especially after being advised to take big risks, fire their coaches. On the other hand, fighters, while wanting to stay healthy and keep winning, also need to please the promoter, who cares about fans buying tickets and PpVs, not the win-loss record or health of a particular fighter. (There are always more where they came from.) So a Forrest Griffin or an Arturo Gatti can fail miserably and still get work, whereas technical, cautious fighters are bad for sales. Dave Meltzer even hinted that it’d be better for the UFC if GSP lost one.

When Dana White says that fans will accuse GSP of “not having a killer instinct,” and Dana’s mouthpiece Kevin Iole repeats the same talking points (“think of Silva and think of the killer instinct he shows”), it is management’s shot over the bow. At some point GSP will have to decide who he wants to please (apparently, not Ryan) and what kind of fighter he wants to be: perfect or good.

(Matthew Polly regularly appears on and a bunch of other super serial websites, so it’s always surprising even to us when he shows up on a site like this. His last book was about how he infiltrated a Chinese terrorist group known as ‘The Shaolin.’ His next deals with the Satanic sex cult that many top MMA brass and fighters belong to. Or something like that.)

  • Schrute Boxe

    Good article.

    GSP broke Kos’ orbital bone and had the doctor stopped the fight in the 3rd there would be no hubbub about GSP not being able to finish

    Instead we have the irony of GSP possibly finishing Koscheck’s career as an elite ww.

  • iamphoenix

    Kos had a career as an elite ww?

  • subo

    I am looking for perfection. To me, this is about a quest to find the best fighting style, the right proportional mixture that, executed correctly, will beat anything you throw at it. GSP is the closest to that ideal. I begrudge him nothing for not going Riddle/Pierson and risking victory to look good.

    Also, I would have died or gone broke trying to sip my Crown and Coke in time with GSP’s masterful striking performance. Kos was more than willing to eat one in order to land one and he still couldn’t do it.

  • Letibleu

    Im in line with Subo.

  • Jim

    If GSP really thinks a one eyed, beaten down, hesitant Koscheck is “immensely risky”, I doubt he’ll be finishing many fights.
    Up to GSP how he fights though. Personally, I wouldn’t pay to see it.

  • NinjaCodah

    I’d rather see GSP win decisions with technique than see him lowering himself down to the level of his competition and take unnecessary risks. Koscheck isn’t a joke however, he’s well-rounded and once he started taking things seriously he destroyed a bunch of guys in order to get his titleshot. I think it’s amazing that GSP could simply come in there and say “This is how you beat Josh Koscheck, with a jab”. It looked so easy, so obvious, yet it was GSP who showed the world how it had to be done. That’s why he’s the reigning supreme champ.

  • CheapSuit

    Perfect or good? You honestly asked that question? Who in the fuck wants a good fighter? Stefan Struve is a good fighter right now, and GSP isn’t even perfect.

    If Kos wasn’t such a silly-dummy, he would have thrown that uppercut with reckless abandon, GSP was open ALL DAY for it. Point is, GSP is far from perfect, and he will taste defeat again.

  • Blackula Jonez

    People thought that GSP training with Freddie Roach would produce a Pacquiao, instead it we got a Mayweather.

    Georges jab was already an established weapon of his striking arsenal.

    Training with Roach was as much an obfuscation for fans to expect a finish as his weight training is only used objectify his physique for photo ops and calendars.

    Its all for show, GSP has finishing ability but only when he knows there is little chance for retaliation/getting countered.

  • Blackula Jonez

    For the record I am indifferent towards GSP and was impressed by how feeble he made Kos look.

    I am expecting a finish against Sheilds though, Jake loses heart when his takedowns get stuffed is is wide open for an array of strikes.

  • GoldenArms

    gsp is boring. the only people who want to see him fight are dirty canadians. when was the last time you saw a gsp gif that didnt involve nipple tugging? we get more excitement from the once a year fedor fight than 5 years of gsp. fuck him, he’s on steroids anyway.

  • Schrute Boxe

    just because you’re the lamest member of the wu doesn’t mean you can get all grumpy like that

  • iamphoenix

    i don’t like your tone goldie arms

  • frickshun

    U God is so bad that I would not actually refer to him as a legitimate member of the Wu.

    Good write-up Polly.

  • GoldenArms

    like anyone cares what frickshun thinks. if it were up to him, arianny celeste would be replaced by sailors. that’s a direct quote.

    if gsp had a wu nickname, he would be Hott Nipples or Roidkwon the Chef

  • I am the Liquor

    Subo, twatting up the internet, one post at a time.

  • Blackula Jonez

    I can’t lay the entire blame on GSP, what really seems to be the problem is the illusion of depth of the welterweight division and the misunderstanding of KO power.

    There are very few 2 dimensional fighters, the best strikers (my personal criteria is a fighter that can go to K1 and get into a final four or win a tournament at the highest levels) and grapplers (wrestling pedigree, sub grappling achievments) at 170 are just that. Paul Daley in a pure stand up fight will flatline 9 out of 10 welterweights in the first round and Jake Shields will either sub or out point anybody at 170 on a wrestling mat.

    But neither guy is super proficient at both or good at switching gears between the art of striking and grappling. That honor belongs to GSP, he may not be caving heads in or snapping limbs off left and right but the man is a high level MIXED martial artist. And even though I am not a fan of his I have the utmost respect for his skills and abilities.

  • glassjawsh

    chuck liddell spoiled you pussies and look what happened to him? GSP isn’t willing to be a mush mouthed 40 year old and i commend him for it. I am a newly converted hater. GSP isn’t boring he’s brilliant.

  • FiveBoltMain

    If GSP had said “fuck it, I’m going for the KO” and stooped down to KOS’s level and started brawling, there was a good chance of getting KO’ed. If that had happened, you guys would be calling him a fucking idiot for abandoning his game plan.

  • frickshun

    Blackula–>well said.

    GoldenAppendage–>sorry that the internet has ruined any chance of me obsessing over ONE CHICK.

    PS: She’s got NO ASS. That’s a dealbreaker for me.

  • SST

    I would like to see GSP knock out one opponent. That has to be a rule, if you’re an aspiring MMA legend.

  • CAP

    One day fans will wake up and realize brawling is stupid. Sure it can be fun to watch but not a good strategy for a fighter not named Leanord Garcia. Let’s see GSP beat the snot out of Sheilds who he should finish on his feet. Then I’d say there is nothing left at WW for him.

    Looking forward to the Sheilds beatdown myself!

  • Reverend Clint

    or sub a guy… he hasnt subbed a dude in 5 years and that was against the rear naked joke. yes i know he almost had Dan “No Jitsu” Hardy but this aint horseshoes. to me koing a guy seems like a better stratagy than a 25 minute fight… if you ko a guy you dont have to worry about him doing shit afterwards, unless you are frank mir and all you have left is like 10 seconds.

  • dulljake

    I would have liked to see GSP throw some fucking combos. Jab Jab is the start of something good, not the complete strategy.

  • G Funk

    Word Jake, word…

  • matthewpolly

    For the record, if I were GSP I’d want to stay technical, cautious, and perfect and retire with the same number of brain cells I entered the sport. But from a financial stand-point, he is so dominant in the welterweight division that he has pretty much made himself unmarketable (except in Canada) until he moves up a weight class…by natural means, of course. It will be entertaining hearing Dana White try to convince the fans that Jake Shields poses a threat, since there is no way Shields can take GSP down.

  • matthewpolly

    oh and combos are a terrible strategy against a wrestler with a powerful looping right and nothing else. It exposes you to getting taken down or clocked.

  • G Funk

    ^ Really? Even a 1-2 combo? I’m not expecting a 10,000point flurry, just a follow-up punch.

  • Reverend Clint

    yeah like a jab and a hook or a jab to a kick? Jab, Jab right?

  • agentsmith

    I can’t believe he didn’t start lighting Kos up with left hooks once that eye was closed. I was hoping he’d put Kos face-down with it, like Danzig and Daley showed how it’s done.

    What happened to the dynamic striker GSP used to be? It’s almost like now he can only think about one thing at a time.

  • subo

    Yeah, no. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. If I can just jab you all Goddamn day with 0% risk to myself, I’m not going to increase my odds of losing to show off.

  • Reverend Clint

    but the longer you take to finish a fight, like say all 25 minutes, means the more time the other guy has to get in a “lucky” shot. finish and its over. like agent said why didnt he jab then hook? right jab… left hook?take down and elbow the eye into a stoppage.

  • matthewpolly

    Even a long left hook leaves GSP open to the overhand right counter, since it closes the distance and leaves the left side of his chin open. GSP was clearly instructed not to throw hooks until the fourth round when he tentatively threw a few. And GSP took down Kos multiple times (after the orbital was broken!), and couldn’t hold him down for more than a few seconds. Give Kos credit: there was no way ground ‘n pound would work against him. Kos was out-classed, out-strategized, and out-boxed, but the only way to finish him was to hire a better ring-side doctor or take risks GSP was (smartly) unwilling to take.

  • frickshun

    Polly–>I agree that we all want to see GSP jab his way into the UFC Hall O’ Fame……wait, no we don’t. But I do agree that he shouldn’t take risk. However, Kos’ ugly, slappy, loopy right is not the big power punch everyone is making it out to be. He throws it from the cheap seats & you pretty much have to want to be hit by the thing. Half-way through the fight, there was little to no sting on that slapunch. Once GSP realized Kos’ spirit was broken (yes, it did happen), he should have taken a LITTLE risk & follow a jab w/a right or a gosh-darned kick.

    I’m a fan but it’s hard for me to convert new fans w/his style. It’s like trying to convince casual boxing fans how beautiful it used to be to watch B-Hop operate.

  • G Funk

    ^ Agreed Fricky. If GSP would’ve followed up that jap with a straight right or quick right hook, there wouldn’t have been much of an opening for KOS’s right hand. Especially after the seconf round. Nice jab, but it’s meant to set up other things.

  • matthewpolly

    I’d have to go re-watch the fight to be certain of this. But he threw a few left hooks in the 4th and the 5th. And he threw switch kicks to the head. And he threw crosses. More importantly (people forget) at the beggining of the 4th, he immediately went for the take down and jumped on Kos’s back. Kos shrugged him off, showing he was still game. GSP went for the kill; it just wasn’t there without high risk.

  • Reverend Clint

    i bet if gsp actually tried a takedown in the 3rd or forth he could have done someother things besides jab