Sunday, August 14, 2022

Georges St-Pierre Was Driven to Answer Past Criticisms at UFC 217

John Danaher claims that Georges St-Pierre and his team wanted to answer all criticism of his fighting style ahead of his UFC middleweight title fight win against Michael Bisping

For Danaher, he had no desire to see St-Pierre slot back into the welterweight division where he cemented himself as one of the greatest mixed martial artists of all time. If GSP was going to return to fighting, it should be under different terms:

“It’s a huge thing to come back after four years, but if you come back why don’t you do something different – something that’s going to change your legacy?” Danaher told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour.

“We talked about it a little more and I said to him that there has always been three criticisms of your career. The first is that you’re so controlling and tactical in your approach to fighting that it makes for boring fights. That’s always been a persistent criticism.

“The second is that you never fought up a weight class. You always fought guys at welterweight. The third is that you don’t finish fights. Those are the three persistent criticisms of the legacy of Georges St-Pierre.

“I said why don’t we focus on a training regiment that strongly emphasizes submissions and TKOs/KOs and punching power that you need to finish a fight. You go up a weight division and you focus on the old, dynamic in-and-out and lateral movement of Georges St-Pierre to create a faster paced fight that people find more interesting.

“We ran the idea past other people – Firas Zahabi, Freddie Roach etc. – and everyone said that it was a good idea.”

Danaher also went through the changes to St-Pierre’s training regime prior to the bout against Bisping:

“Georges came in and worked with the squad and we strongly emphasized submission holds. Normally when I train with Georges it’s really what we call ‘grapple boxing’, which is a mixture of striking and boxing on the ground. It’s mostly positional work,” he explained.

“Instead we changed everything to submission holds, favoring strangulations from the back and leg locks. Georges made remarkable progress. He started working with Freddie Roach on the mechanics of punching so he was hitting harder. He was sitting on his punches more and just working on the mechanical element of straightforwardly hitting harder with a strong emphasis on left hook, jab and straight rear hand.

“He made significant changes and there was a notable sense that he was hitting harder and he was working submissions with a lot of success in the gym. He started working with a karate specialist who brought back the old, linear, in-and-out movement that Georges was so famous for in the early days of his career.

“We were pretty confident before the camp started that people were going to see something new, something that would add to Georges’ legacy. This wouldn’t be the Georges of 170 fighting another top welterweight and doing the same thing that he did for a decade. This was him fighting up a weight class with a strong emphasis on finishing the fight in a dynamic, mobile way, which people found exciting.”

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