Saturday, June 12, 2021

Georges St-Pierre Breaks Down How He’d Beat Khabib Nurmagomedov

We will never know how a fight between Georges St-Pierre and Khabib Nurmagomeov would have played out, but St-Pierre thinks he has a pretty good idea.

Before both Khabib Nurmagomedov and Georges St-Pierre moved on from the idea of fighting one another in a dream match for the ages, there appeared to be a very real chance that the fight could happen. The biggest barrier that stood between the fight and reality was Dana White, and at one point, even he began to warm up to the idea of a Nurmagomedov/St-Pierre marquee. 

But what if that fight did materialize? What if Khabib had the opportunity to go toe to toe with his idol while St-Pierre looked to conquer the biggest mountain of his illustrious career? What would that fight even look like? Would Khabib maul the unmaulable? Or would St-Pierre beat the unbeatable? Whose grappling and overall skill set would have reigned supreme?

With both men now retired and the manuscript on this story forever incomplete, St-Pierre spoke freely on how he would have approached the megabout. 

“Well, Khabib is very good against the fence. I would have to establish a game plan and everything, but I think what I would (have) needed to do is take the center of the Octagon right away, use a lot of feints and fakes, keep the fight all the way out or all the way in,” St-Pierre said in an appearance on “Lex Clips.” And when I say ‘all the way in’ is when he close the gap, use my proactive and reactive takedowns and perhaps use my (explosiveness) to put him down. I like to use those proactive and reactive takedowns because, for me, I feel it’s more economical. Khabib is a much better chain wrestler than me…

Georges St-Pierre Nick Diaz
Image Credit: Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

“Khabib has more a style of chain wrestling like Kamaru Usman. It’s a different style. You cannot compare both styles. And that’s the kind of takedown I’m good (at). If I were to fight Khabib, that’s one of the strategies I would have adopted. I would not have been afraid. Because everybody that I fought I was able to put them down. And I have the pedigree to prove it in my fight résumé. So you would perhaps see him on his back, and I would perhaps be on my back as well, so it would have been a very interesting fight.” 

It would have been very interesting indeed. Perhaps fans can simulate the fight on the UFC 4 video game to see what the bout would have actually looked like. One thing that can’t be simulated in a game or in the human imagination is the feeling one gets when they are actually in the Octagon facing a fighter the caliber of Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Khabib Nurmagomedov
Khabib Nurmagomedov (Photo: Ed Mulholland/Getty )

Even without this first-hand knowledge, St-Pierre has enough experience in the game and self-confidence to believe that the emotion of fear would have been far less present within himself than it has been in Nurmagomedov’s other opponents. This is especially true when it comes to the wrestling component of the hypothetical fight. This fearlessness, the welterweight great believes, would have been the biggest determining factor of the fight. 

“I would not have been afraid of his wrestling. I would have instigated,” St-Pierre assured. “I would have forced the fight forward. And that’s how I would have approached that fight, which I believe most of his opponents were afraid of his wrestling because they didn’t have the tools that I have to put him down. In the clinch, I would have tried to disengage. I have many ways to disengage a clinch. I would have wanted to force the fight in a fighting distance, in a shoot-box distance, not in a wrestling distance.”

Clearly, GSP has put a lot of thought into this subject. But with this hypothetical superfight now as dead as can be, the entire MMA community is left to only imagine (and debate) if St-Pierre’s strategy would have proven fruitful against the undefeated Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Do you think Georges St-Pierre’s plan would have proven effective against the 29-0 Khabib Nurmagomedov?