Going Mental – Georges St-Pierre, Dana White, And The Ugly Side Of MMA
Georges St-Pierre not only wins, but usually does so without even losing a single round.
When you have a champion as dominant as that – a champion that always seems to find the tiniest hole in his opponents game and turns that hole into a gaping abyss – its shocking to see them in a war. It’s shocking to see them losing rounds. It’s shocking to see them struggle to find a way to dominate their opponent, when it usually seems so effortless.
And it’s shocking enough to cause us to see a close decision as a landslide defeat.
It happened before with Jon Jones and Alexander Gustafsson, and it was happening again with Georges St-Pierre and Johny Hendricks. But – just like the Jon Jones fight - when you look at the UFC 167 main event in a round-by-round situation, things become a little clearer.
On all 3 scorecards, the judges gave rounds 2 and 4 to Hendricks. They also gave rounds 3 and 5 to GSP. And these scores are VERY easy to corroborate: Round 2 saw Hendricks out-land GSP, wobbling the champ and putting him in serious danger. Round 4 also saw Hendricks out-score the champ in the striking department, while bloodying him up with some effective ground and pound. In round 3, GSP more than doubled the challengers striking output (31 to 15 in significant strikes), and when “Bigg Rigg” managed to take GSP to the mat, the champ got back up quickly, without absorbing a single power shot. And in round 5? The striking was almost even (13 to 15), but GSP would take the round by scoring two takedowns and finding success in the clinch, closing the round out with a fairly threatening kimura attempt.
So, Hendricks clearly won two rounds, and GSP clearly won two rounds. Even if Hendricks won 2 and 4 in more convincing fashion, GSP still won 3 and 5. People seem to think that if Hendricks won his rounds more dramatically, that means he should win the fight. But that’s not how it goes, guys.
This supposed “landslide defeat” came down to a single round: the first round. And it was closer than you probably thought.
In round one, GSP landed one more significant strike than Hendricks. Hendricks however landed one more strike overall. Both fighters scored a takedown. GSP had a guillotine attempt recorded, while Hendricks landed a stinging uppercut and some heavy elbows against the cage.
Did Hendricks do enough to edge out the champ? It’s entirely possible. Did GSP do enough to deserve the nod? Maybe so.
But no matter what you believe, it was in fact a very close fight. A great fight. An entertaining fight, where the champ put everything on the line. He was hurt, he was rocked, he was bloody and he was fighting his heart out. He found himself in a fight with a man who has cinderblocks for fists, and – in what was sure to be a horrifying realization for GSP - he could not get this man to the mat. GSP had to stand. He had to trade with him, risking a knock out at any fraction of a second. A risk that GSP barely avoided, which was evident by the cuts, bruises and bumps all over his face. And at the end of the night, GSP had apparently done enough to get the nod; he was a severely injured champion, but a champion none the less.
But now, in the aftermath of George’s greatest test to date, it seems that some of his worst injuries, well… they aren’t so easy to see.
St-Pierre first showed signs of the mental damage he had sustained while in his corner, preparing to step back into battle against the hardest-hitting man in his division. It was a quick question. A simple question. And a telling question:
“What round is it?”
After the fight, GSP struggled to put his words together during his in-cage interview, even apologizing to announcer Joe Rogan at one point. He made mention to incipient brain damage, admitting to having lost time in the cage that night… and although he looked like he had something very important to tell everyone, he thought better of it; perhaps realizing that he might not be in the best state of mind to be making career choices.
But Joe Rogan wasn’t having any of that.
Joe had to know what GSP was about to say. So he prodded him, and the concussed champion let it out: he was going to take some time off. He had some personal matters to attend to, and he needed some time to sort things out.
To say that UFC President Dana White took this news poorly would be the understatement of the year.
White was clearly in the Hendricks camp. He felt Hendricks not only beat GSP, but did so in an overwhelmingly convincing fashion, leaving zero doubt in Dana’s head (or any other sane person’s head, as far as he was concerned) that Hendricks had the championship belt stolen out from under him. And he was going to let us all know exactly how he felt, directly after the fight.
It would be nice if I could say that Dana took GSP’s obvious personal, mental, physical and emotional struggles into consideration before opening his mouth. It would be nice if I could report to you that Dana seemed to be concerned about St-Pierre’s well-being, first and foremost. But – like most times that Dana needs to get something off of his chest – taking other people into consideration is not a prerequisite of his. No, Dana began to spew his apathetic vitriol the moment he could get a mic in front of his face, demanding that his injured and mentally broken champ – the biggest draw that the UFC has on its roster, mind you – gets back in that cage and gives Hendricks “what he owes him”. In fact, Dana told GSP that he not only owes Hendricks, but he owes the fans, the belt and the company… making it seem like the champ had just pulled off a multi-million dollar heist, and had a getaway driver ready to peel off the moment he came running out of the cage.
Imagine that. After giving us every ounce of himself, after making this company millions upon millions of dollars, after fighting every top 5 contender the fans wanted to watch him fight, and after being one of the greatest ambassadors to this sport while devoting his entire life to this company, Dana apparently feels that GSP still “owes us”.
Well, after sitting down with the concussed St-Pierre, it seems that Dana will be getting what he wants: GSP is probably coming back to the cage in short order, whether or not it’s the healthy thing for him to do. You see, Dana seems to feel that St-Pierre’s personal issues – issues that apparently include a terminally ill father and a possible unplanned pregnancy – well, “His problems aren’t as bad as he thinks they are,” White told the press after his brief chat with the champ. “They’re personal problems…it might seem like the end of the world but it’s not.” Dana was seemingly moving directly past apathy, acting almost sociopathic in his emotional disconnection to the champ’s personal issues.
To any sane person, it’s easy to see that GSP should not be within 10 miles of a cage in his present mental condition – at least not until he sorts out his issues. The last place on earth that a person should be, when suffering with issues that might cost him even the most microscopic amount of focus, is inside of a cage fighting another man. But that’s the first place Dana wants to put him. Sure, he might be emotionally unprepared, which could have truly disastrous consequences for his psyche if he were to lose the rematch, culminating in a complete mental breakdown right before our very eyes… but Dana doesn’t care about any of that. You see, GSP owes it to us to get back in that cage and fight. No matter where he’s at, mentally. No matter what he’s going through. He’s gotta get back in there for us. For the fans. For the belt. For the company. For Hendricks.
He owes us.