Thursday, June 25, 2015

Significant Strikes

After watching the GSP vs. Hendricks fight again, I felt the need to look up the word significant. The Oxford Advanced American Dictionary defines the word as follows:
Large or important enough to have an effect or to be noticed.
“Significant strikes” is a very important factor in how fights in the UFC are scored, and in my opinion the fact that St.Pierre landed more strikes than his opponent is the only possible way any sane person could conclude that he won his title defense last Saturday.
I know what you’re all thinking “There goes Bob again, hating on our Georges! He should be ashamed of himself, criticizing a Canadian champion! Maybe he should move to the US! Traitor!”
It’s true. I have been highly critical of GSP’s fighting style since he lost his title to Renzo Gracie black belt and sexy Italian Matt Serra in 2007. He came back and avenged his loss just a few months later and in doing so reclaimed the WW belt.
He was our National Hero again, but it became increasingly clear that the brief beating he took from Serra left GSP mentally and emotionally scarred for life. Gone was the Georges “Rush” St.Pierre of old who knocked out former champion Matt Hughes with a stunning head-kick in 2006. In his place was a tentative, take-no-chances fighter who, instead of actively seeking to finish his opponents by knock out or submission, preferred to out-position and out-point them. In essence, he stopped fighting to win and began fighting not to lose.
You may ask yourself “Who the hell is Bob to say these things about our golden boy from Montreal?”
Hey man, you don’t have to take my word for it, his fight record speaks for itself. In his last twelve wins, only two have come by KO or submission. He has the unenviable record for most decision wins as a champion in UFC history. That has to tell you something.
I cannot however criticize St.Pierre’s fight against power-puncher and All American wrestler Johnny Hendricks. He stood and traded with perhaps the most dangerous opponent he has ever faced and went the distance. He showed pure heart.
I watched the fight again this morning and left my disappointment with GSP’s past performances at the door.
The first round was too close to call, both fighters scored nice punches and kicks and had a take down a piece. During the break, Hendricks’ coach said something to his fighter that I found really interesting.
“At that range, he [St.Pierre] can’t kick and he’s got no striking.”
The second round began with Johnny Hendricks grinning across the cage at an already bloody GSP. There was a familiar gleam in his eye. Where have I seen that look before? I thought to myself.
The second round definitely belonged to Hendricks, He rocked the champ with an uppercut that left him struggling with his footing and balance. Nearly all of the punches the challenger landed seemed to stagger Georges, while his own shots didn’t seem to faze Hendricks at all.
The third round opened and there was Hendricks with that grin again, and I finally figured out where I saw that look before. It was the same look my older brother and I gave each other when we realized our mother couldn’t punish us with the wooden spoon anymore. She could no longer physically hurt us.
It’s my firm belief that Johnny Hendricks realized the champ just didn’t have the power to inflict any real damage on him. He began to slow down, take his time and pick his shots.
It is also at this point in the fight where color commentator Joe Rogan begins to spin the action to match what he believes is transpiring in the cage. Rogan, a third-rate comedian and marijuana enthusiast who produces a long, meandering and brutally boring podcast for stoners called The Joe Rogan Experience is famous for his bias, often shouting into his microphone with glee when the fighter he favors scores even the most glancing of leg kicks and completely ignoring any counters or techniques the other fighter is succeeding with.
Again, round three had GSP landing more, but failing to inflict any real damage or stunning Hendricks in any way. Rogan of course mentioned Hendricks’ takedown but was quick to add “Johnny didn’t really do any damage”
And that’s when I had enough of Joe Rogan’s pot-head logic and muted the volume. After all, GSP has been winning fights with impotent takedowns for close to seven years.
The beginning of round four had Hendricks once again smiling with his fist up, saluting an appreciative crowd. He didn’t have a single scratch on him.
It was in this round that the champion scrambled so frantically backwards to avoid his opponent’s powerful left hand that he actually tripped and fell to the mat. After that Hendricks owned the young Canadian martial artist, busting him up badly with a series of elbows on the ground and combinations on the feet. St.Pierre was game and threw some technically solid strikes of his own, but again they didn’t seem to have any effect on the challenger whatsoever.
Round five is when Georges St.Pierre showed up. He out-struck and out maneuvered Hendricks for the final five minutes, putting on a spectacular display of heart and courage.
The final buzzer sounded and everyone who wasn’t blind or deaf knew who won that fight. Two judges however, scored the bout for the guy who lost the fight.
The President of the UFC blasted the Nevada State Athletic Commission and called on the Governor to “step in before they [The NSAC] ruin this sport like they ruined boxing”
Many people have an opinion on how to fix the judging problem in mixed martial arts. Some think the 10-point must scoring system is antiquated and needs to be modernized. Others have suggested former fighters as judges.
Here is my suggestion: Beside each judges scorecard should be an Oxford Dictionary opened to the page that defines significant.
Large or important enough to have an effect or to be noticed.           

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