Even the referee of GSP v. Hendricks saw it in favor of the challenger

MMA referee’s are required to take a judging course. Thus, as opinions on the way a decision goes they have another front-row perspective on fights.

Mario Yamasaki, the referee of the controversial UFC 167 event between Georges St. Pierre v. Johny Hndricks, gave his view of who won. Considering his experience in the game and proximity to the action, his opinion may be the closest thing fans can get to a judge’s official explanation.

In comments reported by MMA Fighting, Yamasaki saw it all Hendricks. In fact, he described Hendricks as having ‘dominated’.

“I’m inside the cage so I can’t see the fight as the judge sees it, but I thought Hendricks won the fight. I thought Hendricks dominated the fight, it was brutal, and I was surprised when they gave St-Pierre the win. But I’m not the judge. I look at the fight with different eyes.”

Yamasaki’s comments are not far off from those of many experts who feel Hendricks simply hurt GSP with a ton of power shots and conversely was never threatened by the champion in similar fashion. Except, further explanation draws an interesting parallel to why St. Pierre was awarded the fight.

“The first round was slow and could have gone either way. Hendricks dominated the second one. The third was close and could also go either way, and the judges gave it to St-Pierre. When the fight was over, I thought Hendricks won every round except the last one,” he said. “But I have to watch the fight again to analyze it as a judge.”

As The FD explained, via a breakdown on the scorecards provided by Bleacher Report, this is exactly the way the judges saw it in favor of the champion. Yamasaki said the first round could have gone either way – close as it was, two judges scored GSP as winning the first thus giving him the round. The third was close as well, bu the judges again gave it to GSP. Then Yamasaki admits that he felt GSP won the fifth, which the judges did as well. That makes three rounds for GSP – razor-thin or not – to Hendricks’ two.

Therefore, losing two close rounds does not make up for two dominating ones, unfortunately for Hendricks. It all draws more controversy towards the state of MMA judging whereby razor-thin mathematics can stump a great fight.

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Between St. Pierre and Hendricks, it all came down to one round

While most will tell you Hendricks won the fight, it’s hardly that definitive.

An extensive breakdown by Steven Rondina of Bleacher Report, details how the fight ultimately was far closer than many fans are willing to admit as the reaction was overwhelmingly pro-Hendricks.

GSP out-struck Hendricks only in one round, the third. If you were to look at that number, Hendricks controlled the fight on the feet. However, throughout the entire fight, GSP landed far more significant strikes – 101 to 85. In that sense, GSP controlled the fight on the feet. Cumulatively, then, the two fighters split the fight.

By virtue of out striking Hendricks in the third and taking him down twice in the fifth (while controlling those rounds in most facets), GSP won two rounds. Hendricks, meanwhile, out struck the champ in round two and round four which also included a controlling top game, which won him those rounds.

Based on scoring, ultimately it came down to the first round. Hendricks only landed one more strike (27 to 26) but one fewer significant strike (18 to 19). Each fighter scored a takedown. It appears, if we want to go by numbers, that the tipping point may have been GSP’s ever-so-brief guillotine attempt. By that distinction, two judges saw round one in favor of the champion.

Many fans will point to how much physically stronger Hendricks appeared at times. If we were to award a bout to the stronger guy every time what would be the point in having them fight? Because conversely GSP was far quicker in his movement. So why wouldn’t we as fans score it that way? The easy answer is because it doesn’t matter how athletic fighters appear during a fight.

Another talking point was the visible damage apparent on GSP’s face compared to Hendricks. Visible damage is misleading. Bruising and cuts differ from person to person. Some fighters eventually take so many hits to the face they develop scar tissue which causes cuts easier. GSP’s face has shown more bruising in his most previous fights as the years go by. Punishing a fighter in a fight for damage that is inasmuch caused by previous fights doesn’t make sense.

The scoring system is what it is. Hendricks did better in the rounds scored in his favor than GSP did in his. The issue is that Hendricks never did so well to earn a decisive 10-8 score, thus, the scoring system will show that each fighter is awarded two rounds by equal measure of 10-9. When dealing in black-and-white, it doesn’t matter if one competitor’s 10-9 is a superior 10-9 to the others’. They appear equal on a scorecard.It’s the opinion of The FD that like Ric Flair always said, if you want to be the man, you got to beat the man.

Yesterday night, Hendricks never proved that he was better than a fighter with the most wins in UFC history, title wins,  etc. While GSP’s history should not necessarily come into play, the fact is on fight night he was not out-fought, beat up, controlled, or any connotation that would point to him being thoroughly defeated. This was not Junior Dos Santos v. Cain Velasquez II, in which Velasquez did all the above from start to finish to retain his belt.


Say it ain’t so – will St. Pierre walk away from the sport?

Start either holding your breath or begin reflecting: if you believe a man very close to Georges ‘Rush’ St. Pierre, we may very well be seeing the last of the great welterweight this Saturday.

Kristof Midoux, a man who mentored GSP at the age of 16 and remains close to the champion, believes there is a chance that GSP walks away from the sport on Saturday night. Midoux makes a convincing case and has told St. Pierre it’s a decision he supports.

The reasons he mentions GSP may retire are numerous, practical and logical.

Midoux says GSP wants to open a martial arts school. That move would be both a way for him to stay in the game and would likely be a lucrative venture as his reputation alone would attract aspiring fighters in droves.

As well, St. Piere is cognisant of friend and fellow Canadian Rory MacDonald’s rise in the ranks. He even tows the patriot line by saying, “Help Rory become a champion to show that Canadians dominate this weight class.” As anyone can attest, people have strong ties to their national heritage. In sports, pride in one’s country is common. The notable part of that is how he mentions that it would fall in line with St. Pierre’s character in that, “It would be generous and Georges is generous.”

Perhaps most convincingly, GSP wishes to have a family – while he’s young. Midoux says St. Pierre is very realistic when it comes to that fact. He knows that having a family is difficult to remain at the top of the game. But it’s the last bit of the quote that’s extremely intriguing:

“It’s not true that you can have a family and children and remain at the highest level of the sport. He took my advice.”

Nowhere in the interview does he provide context to what ‘advice’ he is speaking of. Has GSP taken his advice to start a family and is in the process? Has GSP taken all of his advice? If that’s true, we’re looking at a man who has taken action and not only spoken of it. Actions speak far louder than words.

In addition to this interview, the rumblings about St. Pierre’s retirement have been steady for some time. His coach has mentioned it and even he has mentioned it. Key factors have been that St. Pierre is financially secure and is a strong enough brand to remain as such even in retirement. In his last few fights, he has taken more punishment than he is accustomed to.

The sport is a dangerous and fickle one.Unlike other sports, where a competitor on top of his game generally degrades over time in front of our eyes, an MMA practitioner falls of in sudden drops – as in each fight we watch. All it would take is GSP to lose to Johny Hendricks and a subsequent loss in say, a super fight with Anderson Silva, and those who once hailed him will be burying his reign. All that could happen in less than a year.

It sounds like a man who has made up his mind that his career is ending and wishes to end it on the right note. Maybe we should appreciate what we have had while we have it. It could be the last time.

 

 


GSP says he will fight Ben Askren, but who will decide if he gets to?

Georges St. Pierre has dominated the welterweight landscape for five years, compiling nine consecutive title defenses.

He has fought grapplers (Josh Koschek, Jon Fitch),  BJJ specialists (Matt Serra, Jake Shields), strikers (Thiago Alves, Nick Diaz, Dan Hardy), and balanced fighters (BJ Penn, Carlos Condit). He has displayed an adaptability both mental and physical – altering his strategy to each opponent while focusing his game around exceptionally  crisp striking and stifling wrestling. Some would argue amongst those fighters are a few world-class level practitioners.

Talking with MMJunkie.com, St. Pierre stated he would like to fight Askren, “He’s a good fighter, undefeated, and yes, if he comes, I’ll fight him. No problem.”

The question is if GSP will ever get the chance.

There are a number of parties and politics at play. On one side we have the UFC by extension Dana White and GSP while on the other is Bellator by extension Bjorn Rebney and Askren.

According to Dana White after last weekend’s card, the UFC plans to talk with the Bellator champion. It would appear as such that the ball is in Askren’s corner. Until it isn’t.

The issue is the same as with Eddie Alvarez: Askren has a matching clause in his contract. Per Josh Gross of ESPN on Oct. 10, Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney and Askren have an agreement in place regarding the use of the matching clause – should the UFC offer Askren an immediate title shot, Bellator and Rebney will waive the clause.

The likelihood of that is slim. Immediate title shots are rare (they traditionally have gone to fighters who are consolidated onto the UFC’s roster a la Gilbert Melendez and Strikeforce) for a reason. This would make it appear as if the UFC is in the driver’s seat. Dana White has in the past expressed doubt whether Askren is capable of fighting even the tope contenders in the promotion.

Which ultimately brings us back to the champ. Realistically, GSP is in the most influential position. While GSP tried to assert to MMJunkie that, “I am the champion, and I have no choice, so it’s no problem.” That’s largely a lot of bunk. GSP surely has a choice. He had the choice to fight Anderson Silva and chose not to. He had the choice to fight Hendricks or Nikc Diaz and chose Diaz.

If GSP feels Askren is not deserving of an immediate shot or that he would like to take a long break (such as, oh, retirement), what leverage does Askren have? What would motivate the UFC to enter into a contract battle for Askren’s services and a title shot? It would take a huge deal which Bellator could not possibly match – to which Bellator will probably do anyways.

In the end, we won’t know until GSP v. Hendricks has taken place – because the outcome can change everything. If Hendricks wins, GSP retires (as some have rumored he would with a loss), the UFC would absolutely offer Askren a title shot for no reason other than to pilfer him from Bellator san the matching clause.

This could get very interesing.


Rory McDonald reiterates he won’t fight GSP

We hear weekly about fighters fighting friends. Some take the position it’s their job and being a professional demands they fight whoever they are asked to fight. Others hold friendship in a higher regard. More still likely use either stance as a political means to avoid or position themselves to fight whom they like.

Rory McDonald tells MMAJunkie he is holding his stance on the GSP front. One can only trust McDonald’s word considering he has held this stance since his ascent to title contention became evident (considering his age, when was that, elementary school?).

For the UFC, this is surely an inconvenience. This inconvenience will only itch more if, as McDonald asserts, a win over Robbie Lawler at next month’s UFC 167 puts him ‘very near’ a title shot.

Because the rumor mill has spun – aided by statements from those close to the champ – about GSP’s future – then countered by statements from those close to the champ, it is reasonable to assume the McDonald-GSP will not happen. McDonald claims not to be interested and GSP is juggling potential super fights, drug testing, welterweight challengers, and retirement talk. If either one were to be answering the UFC’s calls regarding a fight between them, it would be a most presumptuous, premature conversation.

In spite of all that, the mere fact McDonald chooses to speak about his proximity to a title shot considering the circumstances is curious and quite presumptuous in and of itself. Dana White is always one to point out that when money is involved, the UFC can convince anyone to fight anyone. Maybe the money is speaking – in a more political way than we are to believe.