Friday, April 22, 2011

Is GSP game for wrestling match with Matt Hughes?

GSP scoops ThiagoAlves at UFC 100.
(Pic Props:
Even on the heels of UFC 129: St. Pierre vs. Shields, the seemingly endless GSP-Hughes saga continues...

Georges St. Pierre and Matt Hughes are two of the greatest athletes to ever grace the UFC Octagon, and they owe each other in part for that accolade. The two welterweight fighters have met three times, forming one of the most storied trilogies in UFC history (second to the Huges-Penn trilogy). The GSP-Hughes rubber match series ended in favor of St. Pierre who defeated Matt Hughes in their last two meetings by way of TKO and armbar submission at UFC 65 and UFC 79 respectively.

Despite the two losses, Matt Hughes hasn't given up on the GSP challenge. His most recent comments target Georges St. Pierre's wrestling abilities. GSP has been both praised and criticized in the wrestling department, as he has become highly regarded by many as being MMA's best wrestler, despite never competing in the actual sport of wrestling. Separate articles by have revealed talk of a wrestling dream match between the two fighters.

Matt Hughes admits Georges St. Pierre has skills, but points out that GSP's MMA wrestling success his owed to his striking-to-takedown set-up ability:

"He's a phenomenal athlete, no doubt about it, but you know, he's not a great wrestler. I think if you put him and Koscheck in a wrestling match, I think Koscheck would eat him up. From take downs to rolling him, I really do. But if you watch GSP fighting, he does a very good job transitioning from striking to takedowns. He does great with his striking, so that's what really enables him to take people down like he does. And of course he's very quick, but if you put him up against a wrestler on a wrestling mat, I don't think you'd see that great wrestling that you do in a fight."

Click here for original article.

Georges countered in a more recent article. GSP doesn't hesitate to acknowledge his own ability to transition from striking to takedowns well, but he also embraces his raw wrestling abilities, and welcomes a match with Hughes:

"I think I'm good with mixing take downs with strikes, it's true, but as far as (pure) wrestling, I started wrestling late. I was like 20-years old when I started wrestling. But I think a lot of people, they underestimate my wrestling. And as far as wrestling, I would not be afraid to challenge Matt Hughes to a friendly wrestling match."

As a true wrestling fan, I would kill to see this match happen. The thought of MMA's best wrestler set to face one of MMA's accomplished wrestlers is kind of a big deal. There's so much behind the idea -- the importance of wrestling within MMA, pumping up the art of wrestling at a time when the sport is struggling at the collegiate and international levels.

But how would a GSP-Hughes wrestling match turn out? Who would win?

Well, the first thing to consider is rules. Would GSP vs. Hughes take place under folkstyle, or freestyle rules (I think it's safe to assume that Greco-Roman is out of the picture here)? And if folkstyle rules are used, will riding time be in place?

Personally, I give Hughes the obvious upper hand. Let's face it, he's the experienced wrestler. In a wrestling match I see Matt Hughes throwing or hip tossing Georges St. Pierre as he is slightly shorter, more stout, and engages his opponents up-close, in the the tie-up. Hughes would easily dig under GSP in the clinch and work the hips. I also see Hughes working low singles, a problem for GSP with out a cage to back into.

But like Matt Hughes himself, I can't deny Georges St. Pierre's athletic abilities. The guy is a monster who has a natural niche for athletics, particularly fight sports. With no competition experience in wrestling, GSP has managed to make a name for himself as MMA's best wrestler, but with the absence of takedowns, can he still force takedowns in a wrestling match. This is a question that remains to be answered? Or does it?

Back in 2005 Georges St. Pierre faced D-1 All American and ADCC runner-up Otto Olsen at the Abu Dhabi Submission Wrestling Championships. St. Pierre took Olsen down three times en route to winning the match on points criteria. Georges displays credible wrestling skills in this match, but also shows some vulnerabilities. You might notice how GSP slightly telegraphs his first takedown, although he does a good job of repositioning and digging in to secure it. I also noticed that St. Pierre's stance is too narrow at times and that he often crosses his legs -- a wrestling no-no -- this is like asking for a double-leg. But of course, this was about six years ago. I think we can faithfully assume that GSP's wrestling game has improved since then, making for a barn burner of a wrestling match with Matt Hughes. This would make a sick UFC Expo superfight (if Zuffa would allow it). Until that happens, this is just a dream match, but it is okay to dream, right???

In the meantime, peep GSP's 2005 ADCC match with Otto Olsen:

Georges St. Pierre is scheduled to defend the UFC Welterweight Title against another accomplished wrestler, former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion Jake Shields, next Saturday at UFC 129.

1 comment:

  1. Pure fantasy, granted Hughs started wrestling when he was much younger, but I think he'd be in for a rude awakening. GSP is younger, stronger and faster. Actual mat experience aside, GSP has had enough background over the last 10 years that given a few months to tweak things he would eat Matt alive. Hughs himself wasn't a great college wrestler, not on par with Koshek or Munoz.