September 08, 2009

He's the Michael Jordan of Mixed Martial Arts, the Derek Jeter of fighting. A virtual Terminator in a John Conner-less world of humans.

Put simply, UFC welterweight champion Georges "Rush" St. Pierre is not only one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world but he may rank as the greatest athlete this sport has ever produced. Not to mention the guy has insane cardiovascular endurance and could fight all day at a frantic pace and never tire. St. Pierre seems less like a human and more like an unstoppable cyborg every time he competes. But is he truly unbeatable?

In this sport, no fighter is untouchable, and even St. Pierre has tasted defeat twice in his career. The first loss came at the hands of a future UFC Hall of Famer and a man whom St. Pierre looked up to as a role model: then-welterweight champion Matt Hughes. The defeat haunted St. Pierre for two years and it was all the he thought about every day at the gym. When St. Pierre heard that Hughes was mocking him in interviews it added more fuel to the fire and St. Pierre steam rolled his next five opponents before earning a rematch with Hughes.

This time in the stare-down, instead of crippling at the sight of his idol, St. Pierre looked Hughes in the eyes with the intensity of a true warrior. The bell rang for the first round and St. Pierre came out a completely different fighter than the last time, landing swift kicks to the champion's body and legs. In the second round St. Pierre dropped Hughes with a head kick and finished him with punches to earn the welterweight belt.

Everyone predicted a lengthy reign of dominance for St. Pierre. He was set to take on The Ultimate Fighter winner Matt "The Terror" Serra in his first title defense at UFC 69. Most had their money on St. Pierre destroying the Long Island, N.Y. native.

Nobody expected Serra to knock out St. Pierre in the first round with cannonball-like power punches, but that is exactly what happened. St. Pierre may have underestimated the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu wizard but, regardless, on that night Serra did what no other man had ever done before.

The welterweight division can blame Serra for St. Pierre's recent reign of destruction, because ever since that loss, G.S.P. has beaten all of his opponents -- including Serra in a rematch at UFC 83 -- without breaking much of a sweat.

G.S.P. is always evolving as a fighter, but there are still some holes in the champion's game. Here's how to capitalize on a few of them:

Step 1: Stay on the outside and work angles

Rely on cat-like footwork and quick explosive strikes to pick G.S.P. apart without coming in close enough to be taken down. Work the angles of the Octagon and stick and move. Obviously, this is a difficult task, considering St. Pierre is a very long fighter who utilizes kicks from strange angles. His long legs don't make it any easier to avoid getting hit.

Those who are taller than St. Pierre and are known for their world class Muay Thai striking and pinpoint accuracy will have more success than others. One fighter who uses this strategy regularly, and has often been speculated to be an interesting matchup for St. Pierre, is middleweight champ Anderson Silva.

Step 2: Leg kicks, leg kicks and more leg kicks

One of the most devastating strikes in martial arts is the Muay Thai leg kick. For victims of the brutal kick, it feels like someone swinging a baseball bat at you, full force. The beauty of the technique is that it can be used to weaken your opponent's takedown accuracy.

Wrestlers drive off their lead leg when shooting in for a takedown, so if done properly, leg kicks make it difficult for them to shoot in on you.

It's a risky move against St. Pierre because he'll be sure to slow kicks that aren't fast enough, resulting in an easy takedown.

Step 3: Put him on his back and finish with strikes

St. Pierre is, arguably, the greatest wrestler in MMA. He has taken down world class wrestlers, such as Matt Hughes, JoshKoscheck and Jon Fitch, with a relative amount of ease.

His takedown defense is just as good as his offense (look back to the Koscheck fight for proof).

St. Pierre isn't impossible to take down. He is most dominant when in the top position, but when the tables are turned, he could be in for trouble.

Maintaining the dominant position on him, and spraying him with strikes -- elbows would work -- would allow a challenger to get in and secure a rear naked choke.

Yes, this is easier said than done, and most of St. Pierre's previous opponents have failed miserably while attempting to execute these steps. With the way St. Pierre recently handled Alves, it doesn't seem like any welterweight will be able to put up much of a fight against the champion.

But as great as St. Pierre is, he is only human and just like any human he has weaknesses, they just aren't visible to the common eye.

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