The Ultimate Fighting Championship has been associated with many great names. Common examples include Bas Rutten, Royce Gracie, Dan Severn, Ken Shamrock, and Tito Ortiz. Indeed, each of these fighters brought their own unique set of skills to the table and was formidable in his own right. This is why the subject of rating the “best” pound-for-pound athlete of all time is often a contentious matter.
Still, there are some names which tend to rise to the top of the list. Perhaps the most well-known example is Georges St-Pierre. What qualities made this man immortal within the Octagon? Could he really be the best of all time? Let’s take a look at some of the main arguments in favour of such a brazen observation.
A Synergy of Physical Prowess and Mental Flexibility
As ESPN noted, one of the main reasons why St-Pierre was so successful during his career involves a combination of physical strength and a malleable mindset. To put this into perspective, St-Pierre was quoted as saying:
“I aim to be flexible, open-minded and ready for any situation.”
This is why the term “bigger is better” does not necessarily apply within the world of UFC. Let’s also keep in mind that this welterweight took on many opponents who were initially considered to possess much more “strength,” and muscularity. Adaptation is key within the Octagon and his ability to change strategies based upon the task at hand stymied many fighters soon after the opening bell.
Statistics Do Not Lie
Even those who are not fans of GSP will be unable to dispute the fact that this man boasts one of the most impressive track records that the UFC has ever witnessed. At the time of his retirement, he enjoyed a total of 26 wins with only two losses. Furthermore, he won all 13 of his last fights along with 13 title bouts. On a final note, his two losses (against Matt Serra and Matt Hughes) were both avenged with subsequent knockouts. It therefore becomes clear to see why St.-Pierre was a dominant force for so many years.
The Role of Performance-Enhancing Drugs
While UFC weight classes are obviously important for fans and fighters alike, we also need to keep in mind that what goes on “behind the scenes” can often make or break a career. Similar to other sports, the UFC has not been immune to the presence of performance-enhancing drugs. Two rivals of St-Pierre (Jon Jones and Anderson Silva) both tested positive for the presence of these substances in the past. Thus, it only stands to reason that their natural physical prowess has been called into question over the years. On the contrary, GSP has remained free of such substances. This is a final fact which should not be taken lightly.
Of course, the debate over the best pound-for-pound fighter will continue to rage on. It is nonetheless clear that Georges St-Pierre was at the top of his game throughout his long and illustrious career.