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GSP’s camp responds to criticism that he’s lost his killer instinct to finish fights

By Zach Arnold | May 3, 2011

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On two separate radio shows yesterday, Firas Zahabi (audio here) and Greg Jackson (audio here) responded to questions & criticism about Georges St. Pierre’s performance against Jake Shields at UFC 129.

Whether it was online or in the Toronto newspapers, the question that a lot of fans, media, and some fighters (Ben Askren perhaps being one) are asking is this: Has GSP lost his killer instinct to seal the deal against opponents that he should finish off in his Welterweight title defenses?

“He’s just as sharp as he’s always been,” responded Mr. Zahabi in an Monday interview with Mauro Ranallo. “You know, his eye was injured, you could see it half-way through the third round, there was a swipe at the eye from the right side to the left side. It’s on the internet, the video’s on the internet, it’s everywhere. I retweeted the video, somebody sent it to me. It’s clear as day and when you fight with one eye, your depth perception is very well altered.”

MMA Weekly is reporting that St. Pierre suffered some bleeding in the eye but not a detached retina, which is good news. As for the fight against Shields, the injury played a big role in how the rest of the fight played out and the kinds of punches he started to throw.

“I think it had a lot to do with why he was missing his shots,” exclaimed Mr. Zahabi. “It was a little bit hard for him to gauge, you know, the depth and I don’t want to make any excuses. I mean, Jake looked phenomenal, he was better (than he ever has been) and it was a great fight. But the fact of the matter is, Georges did tell me several times he couldn’t see out of his left eye and things were going really well for him the first three rounds and even though he got a knockdown in the fourth round, the good left high-kick to the head… you know, he was still having trouble in that round until he got that high kick.”

As for why he didn’t jump on Shields after the high kick and go for a finish on the ground?

“That’s just textbook. when you stun a guy, you don’t jump on him. You make space because when you jump on him, you create a clinch, buying him time to recover. It’s textbook. In boxing, when you stun a guy you’re supposed to check the guy, you’re supposed to keep him at arms length and keep punching, keep working. But, you know, he did the right thing. Let the guy get up, hurt him again, put him back down, knock him back down, make space, don’t let him get into a clinch. You don’t want to get tied up on the ground with Jake Shields, that’s not the way you’re going to knock him out, so. Georges was definitely working for a knock out that night.”

In an interview Monday with Jack Encarnacao, Greg Jackson discussed the stand-up style of Jake Shields and said his open-handed stance is similar to what you see in a street fight (he made the same remark about Nick Diaz as well). He didn’t think that Jake’s eye-poke of St. Pierre was intentional.

“Well, it’s obviously a mistake, you’re not allowed to poke each other in the eye and I don’t mean street fighting as in like he was trying to poke Georges’ eye. When you open your hands up, especially if you’re fighting somebody’s bigger than you and they’re really launching a lot of power shots at you it’s important to put something in the way, like you can’t always just put your hand against your head like you do in boxing because the force isn’t dispersed in a large glove. So, a lot of times when you’re dealing with stronger people and you’re fighting them, bigger people, you have to really kind of put your hands in the way and your arms in the way of their big shots and parry their big shots so they don’t get clean shots on you because one shot can end your night or your day. With the hands open like that, it’s much more of like trying to anticipate the parry when punches come and stuff. I think what happened is Jake didn’t think and he threw a jab but his hand was still open, even though he threw a jab. So, I don’t think Jake did it on purpose, I know him pretty well and he’s a good guy and I don’t think he would do that on purpose.”

The Albuquerque trainer felt that GSP could finish the fight either on the ground or standing up.

“I felt like if we could do enough damage standing up and then some good ground ‘n pound, Georges might have a good chance of submitting him. He could also knock him out on his feet. We were trying to finish but I think what threw us off of that whole plan was Georges’ eye. When he got that eye poked and he couldn’t see things happening, he just wasn’t himself, you know what I mean? He had to really step up and be brave and focus on staying calm & relaxed and just using that jab as a range-finder and laying down that right hand to punch. But I think at that point, Georges just wanted to make sure that he didn’t get caught with something silly.”

Mr. Zahabi said that he was happy with GSP’s fight performance given the circumstances.

“He’s a warrior, you know, he didn’t back down from the fight at all. He kept engaging Shields. He could have ran around and sat on the first three rounds and just played it safe, he could have just kind of tied up with Jake. No, he kept striking, he kept working for the knockout. He was very adamant about getting it. You know, he saw that with the overhand right, you know how many did he throw? And some of them, you know, a good few landed and backed Shields up, but they just weren’t on the jaw, they were a little too high and some just missed by an inch or two. But he was going for it, Georges was going for it, so I’m really happy with that.”

“If you look at the guys Georges is fighting, all of the guys that he’s fought, who’s finished these guys? Who’s finished Jon Fitch? Who’s finished Jake Shields? Who’s finished these guys? They’re hard to finish these guys, man, they’re really high-caliber fighters and, just, people don’t understand, it’s not always easy. I’m not making excuses. All the coaches are working hard to get all our fighters in our camp to finish, definitely. But it just, you know, it’s just not easy.”


Speaking of GSP’s trainers, they will be in attendance this weekend at the Paradise Warrior Retreat in NYC, starting on Friday. Click the link for more details.

Topics: Canada, Media, MMA, UFC, Zach Arnold | 23 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

23 Responses to “GSP’s camp responds to criticism that he’s lost his killer instinct to finish fights”

  1. 45 Huddle says:

    GSP has lost his killer instinct. Serra knocked it out of him. I could care less what his camp says. He has lost his killer instinct. Doesn’t mean all of his opponents are finishable, but when he does have an advantage he is too scared to capitalize on it.

    • fd says:

      I’m sure Hughes and Serra both would be surprised to hear about GSP having his killer instinct knocked out of him, since he finished both of them after the Serra KO.

      • 45 Huddle says:

        He still played it safe with both of them. With Serra, he refused to engage in basically any striking and went straight for the takedown. With Hughes, he submitted him.

        It’s very different then the pre UFC 69 GSP who had classic wins like Miller, Hieron, Sherk, Trigg, & Hughes 2. He was an animal. Not so much anymore.

        • fd says:

          First of all, “With Serra, he refused to engage in basically any striking and went straight for the takedown” isn’t true. Secondly, how is “With Hughes, he submitted him” in any way relevant to “lack of killer instinct” or “playing it safe”?

        • 45 Huddle says:

          You can still submit somebody while playing it safe. He was never in a position to lose control during the Hughes fight.

          And with Serra, YES he was afraid to engage on the feet. Even Jon Fitch made mention of it before their UFC 87 fight. He talked about how GSP had showed a different style and being less willing to strike since his KO loss to Serra. He used GSP/Serra 2 and GSP/Koscheck as examples.

        • edub says:

          I would also like to understand how going for the takedown, shows a lack of killer instinct. Considering he beat Matt half to death on the ground.

        • edub says:

          GSP-BJ Penn 2, also after Matt Serra KO.

        • Nepal says:

          It is false that GSP was any less aggressive than earlier in his career up until his last 3 fights, Sheilds, Kos2, Hardy.

          He took Sherk down and TKO’d him with elbows, he tried the same thing with Kos, Hardy, Fitch, BJ and all the guys he took down. He just was unable to take them out.

          He knocked Heiron down and finished with elbows. He knew his standup was much better than Heiron’s.

          He took Trigg down and dominated him just because he could. Trigg isn’t that good.

          Honestly, these guys are not and were not in GSP’s league. There is nothing different in what he’s doing lately. If he could easily take guys like Kos, Fitch, Sheilds, Alves, BJ out, he would, they are simply much higher competition than those guys he fought earlier in his career.

          This “GSP is afraid to stand since Serra 1” is BS. GSP has rarely stood with guys, only Hieron because he said Heiron was a better wrestler than he at the time. If you look at GSP’s early fights, from TKO in Canada, he always took guys down and subbed/tko’d them. Every time. Only stood to get a takedown.

          GSP however has looked bad in his last 3 fights. He played it safe with Hardy and made it boring. He didn’t have killer instinct with Koscheck even though he totally dominated him and with Sheilds, even in the first 2.5 rounds before he hurt his eye, he wasn’t very creative or aggressive.

          The big thing I wonder about him is, when he is so athletic, so mobile and agile, why doesn’t he use other techniques? Why didn’t he throw one left hook like he did against Kos, or one straight right like against Kos? He jabbed and threw big overhand rights. That’s great but why not the other punches, even once???

          Why not a flying knee with 30 seconds left in the round? Even if he gets taken down, Sheilds wouldn’t sub him in that short time. Why not a fake knee tap and then a spinning back elbow like Jon Jones does? Why throw 20 spinning back kicks and only land maybe one of them effectively. Why not mix it up more? This has nothing to do with playing it safe, these are techniques that he is good at and have no downside. That’s what really makes me wonder about GSP.

      • David M says:

        I hate to say this, but I agree with 45. GSP is much more concerned with his fear of failure than entertaining the audience. People still like him because he looks like a million bucks and is virtually unbeatable, but he just doesn’t seem like he cares about hurting anyone. I don’t know how else to say it. He has no interest in taking any risks to win decisively. I know, it is easy for us to criticize him because we aren’t in the cage, but we are allowed to criticize because we are consumers.

        I think the Shields fight could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back and starts to cut into his appeal as a ppv headliner. His fights have gotten Fitchesque, which is not a good thing.

        As Nepal pointed out, what the fuck happened to his striking? He jabbed, threw the Liddellian horrid overhand right, a weak ass spin kick, and that was it. No straight rights, no hooks, no uppercuts, barely any kicks to Shields that didn’t involve GSP spinning like a dradle, and no combos. His entire strategy was jab, Liddell punch, and escape. I don’t watch him and think toughest dude in the world, I watch him and think best point fighter in the world.

        • IceMuncher says:

          Yeah, GSP’s striking looks like it devolved. We can talk up Shields as a huge threat on the ground all we want, but the fact is that Shields is downright horrible in the striking. He’s slow, upright, and telegraphs everything, and we knew this long before the GSP fight. Standing, it never should have been as close as it was, eye poke or not.

  2. 45 Huddle says:

    The prelim show did 1.5 Million viewers. Which is a good sign that the time change did not effect PPV Buys. I’m guessing around 800,000 buys.

    • The Gaijin says:

      “Iā€™m guessing around 800,000 buys.”

      Not bad, not bad at all sir. Da Meltz is reporting trending buyrates of just under a million…I was thinking in the 850k, so not far off.

      This show had a good card, one of the biggest draws in the UFC and some great hype with the first stadium show…should not be a surprise at all that the numbers are looking so good.

      We’ll see if GSP’s drawing power continues to stay strong, but we’ve heard before that his “dominant but safe” performances would hurt his buyrates and that has yet to be the case. I would note that a lot of people in Toronto were angry with GSP after the fight, and a majority of the fans at shows tend to be casuals so we’ll have to wait and see.

      • The Gaijin says:

        I will add this however, I think they’ve plateaued in as much as they seem to have hit a definite ceiling with how high big shows with big draws will take them.

        That’s not saying they can’t/won’t have a situation where they are consistently having shows that pull in the 500’s-700’s (and healthy gates) or something nice like that, but it seems like 1.0 million give or take a hundred thousand is what they’ll pull for the “super shows”. And that’s not a slight to them, I mean boxing only has a very elite few that could pull the high 1’s to low 2’s and I think the odd Wrestlemania pulled that in the heyday…so maybe there’s just not that much room left to grow domestically for a fight sport.

        Not sure what it will take to bump them to the next level – further international expansion is obviously part of the package, but I think network TV would also have to be a step in the growth process.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          1) If this is as big as the UFC gets domestically, I will be happy. It’s big enough to get some good paydays and have serious talent continue to enter the sport. Even if they have a slight decline, they should be okay.

          2) The PPV model can only do so much. It’s much like HBO or Showtime. It limits the access to a broader, much more casual fanbase. I don’t know what it looks like money wise…. But even if they take a small hit financially (still making money just not as much)…. Network TV is the way to go. Who knows. It might fail on Network TV. But I don’t think they can get past their current plateau without risking it right now.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          3) With the estimates Meltzer is talking about…. That means the 9pm start time didn’t effect anything. I personally prefer it coming on earlier. I just hope in the future that not all shows are 4 hours. I prefer a clean and crisp 3 hour show that is done by midnight. If they really have to, make it 3.5 hours top…. But staying up until 1am…. And then trying to watch the post fight press conference until almost 2 isn’t easy for this east coaster….

  3. Zack says:

    Speaking of GSP vs Serra 2…can anyone name other fights where someone got a TKO ref stoppage from knees to the body?

    • The Gaijin says:

      I think Overeem and Rampage got a couple in PRIDE.

      I recall Overeem hitting the knees to the body against Baz “Volk” Atajev so badly he dove out of the ring causing a ref stoppage. Maybe against Batman Bencic too?

      And didn’t Rampage get a stoppage on Mikhail Illoukhine with knees to the body on the ground as well? Though I don’t remember if that was a tapout/verbal submit or the ref stopped it.

      • Zack says: we’re going back 8+ years now? My Pride DVDs have been in my attic for over a year now.

        • The Gaijin says:

          Welll…I don’t recall you setting a timeline on your question. Hell, your own example is over 3+ years old.

  4. Zack says:

    Gaijin…I brought it up cuz it’s GSP related, and I wasn’t knockin your knowledge…it was actually pretty impressive. Just sayin I always thought that was a weird stoppage.

    • The Gaijin says:

      Sorry, all in good fun my friend, didn’t mean to sound like I was taking offence – just cracking wise.

      /should have put it in brackets to denote wise-assery/ šŸ™‚

      Agreed, I always thought that was a bit of a weird stoppage because it wasn’t your typical “guy is rocked/really hurt by strike and opponent is pouring it on”. It was just a factor of GSP having a “dominant position” and continuously scoring blows to the body that Serra wasn’t even trying to defend. I recall Serra was warned plenty so it was a fine stoppage, more of a “technical superiority” stoppage than anything.

  5. blaine says:

    Georges only problem is that he lacks big power and that he lacks elite jiu-jitsu; he has to work harder to finish an opponent than a guy like anderson, say, because anderson is just a terrific striker. The garbage about him being tentative is just empty talk: he does fight conservatively – why wouldn’t he when he holds the belt? – but, if he had an “H Bomb” such as a dan henderson-calibre right hand, he would definitely have got koscheck out of there; if he had elite jiu-jitsu, he absolutely would have got hardy out of there. Georges is a great all around fighter, but lacks elite finishing skills.

  6. Jonathan says:

    On a totally un-related note, have any of you heard of American Top Team – Oklahoma City? I was dropping something off at Fed-Ex the other day and I saw that there was a legit American Top Team establishment right across the street. I checked out their website ( and wondered if any of you guys have heard ANYTHING about them?

    If you have, please shoot me an e-mail at [email protected].


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