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Anderson Silva vs. GSP Superfight Prediction and Analysis

In the last blog we talked about one of the big super fights that is currently being rumored for UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva. This time we’ll take a look at the other major Super Fight that may indeed be on the docket for Silva, this time it’s a bout against reigning Welterweight Champion Georges “Rush” St. Pierre. Like the Jones-Silva bout, initially both men showed very little interest in the bout, however, for whatever reason this appears to be the bout that Silva is most interested in. Many people feel like this bout is old news, as there are a number of potentially intriguing bouts for both fighters in their weight classes with the emergence of new contenders. However, it still remains a highly interesting bout between two of the UFC’s top stars and would surely gain a lot of casual fan interest.

Again, like the last breakdown, this bout certainly might not ever happen. But with so many people calling for the bout and the fighters warming to the idea and the potential pay day that it might bring, it might be worth a look to consider what might happen if these two men were ever to face off inside the Octagon.

Fighter Preview: Anderson “The Spider” Silva

Last Three Fights:
Defeated Stephan Bonnar at UFC 153 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – via TKO in Round One (October 13, 2012)
Defeated Chael Sonnen at UFC 148 in Las Vegas, Nevada – via TKO in Round Two (July 7, 2012)
Defeated Yushin Okami at UFC 134 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – via TKO in Round Two (August 27, 2011)

Anderson Silva is the reigning UFC Middleweight Champion. The 37-year-old hails from Curitiba, Brazil and is a member of the Black House Gym located in Los Angeles, California. Silva is best known as one of the most technically proficient and talented strikers in all of MMA. Silva has a diversified background in martial arts, as he started training at an early age. This lifelong commitment to martial arts has brought Silva a number of belts and accolades throughout his training. Silva is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, a black belt in Judo, a black belt in Tae Kwon Do and a yellow rope in Capoeira.

Silva has also gone on to become one of the most talented and dominant fighters in the history of MMA. He is currently the UFC’s longest reigning champion, winning the UFC Middleweight title on October 14, 2006, just over 6 years ago. Silva has also won 12 Fight Night bonuses, which is another UFC record. He is currently riding a 17-fight-winning streak, bouncing back and forth between the Middleweight and Light Heavyweight divisions in the UFC. His most recent win came at UFC 153 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil where he stepped up to save a card plagued by injury and delivered a first round pummeling of Stephan Bonnar, pounding the former TUF 1 cast-member straight into retirement.

Fighter Preview: Georges “Rush” St. Pierre

Last Three Fights:
Defeated Jake Shields at UFC 129 in Toronto, Canada – via Unanimous Decision (April 30, 2011)
Defeated Josh Koscheck at UFC 124 in Montreal, Canada – via Unanimous Decision (December 11, 2010)
Defeated Dan Hardy at UFC 111 in Newark, New Jersey – via Unanimous Decision (March 27, 2010)

Georges St. Pierre is the reigning UFC Welterweight Champion. The 31-year old Canadian was born in Saint-Isidore, Quebec, Canada. St. Pierre is a member of the Tristar Gym in Montreal, Quebec but also spends time with Greg Jackson’s MMA in Albuquerque, New Mexico. St. Pierre is one of the most dominant wrestlers in the Welterweight division. St. Pierre is also an extremely talented kick boxer who works well behind a strong jab. Part of that solid jab has come from the time that St. Pierre has put in with famed boxing trainer Freddie Roach. St. Pierre is a well-decorated martial artist who owns black belts in a number of karate disciplines including Kyokushin Kaikan, Shidokan and Gaidojutsu. In addition to his karate black belts, St. Pierre also holds a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu from the Gracie Barra Gym in Montreal, Quebec.

St. Pierre is arguably the most dominant Welterweight fighter that the UFC has ever seen. St. Pierre is also one of the UFC’s top draws and has among the most loyal following of fans in the UFC. St. Pierre also has a lot of crossover appeal among other media, he has been nominated three times for the ESPY Award for Best Fighter, he has won the World MMA Awards Fighter of the Year award in 2009 and was also selected as a Spike TV Guy’s Choice Award winner as Most Dangerous Man of the Year in 2010. In addition to his crossover appeal, St. Pierre is also one of the UFC’s most marketable fighters, holding major endorsement deals from both Gatorade and Under Armour. St. Pierre has lost only twice in his career once to Matt Hughes and once to Matt Serra, but has since avenged both of those losses in dominating fashion; defeating Matt Hughes twice, by TKO and Submission both in the second round and defeating Serra via TKO in Round Two. He has been on an extended layoff since his April 2011 victory over Jake Shields, as he tore his ACL while training for a bout against Nick Diaz.

Fight Breakdown: Striking

St. Pierre has a reach of 76 inches, while Silva holds a reach of 77.5 inches. So the reach difference between these two guys is pretty negligible. St. Pierre is a talented kick boxer, but he has taken more of a traditional boxing approach to many of his most recent bouts. In his bout against Josh Koscheck, GSP worked a dominant jab that broke Koscheck’s orbital bone and managed to keep Koscheck’s offense completely at bay because of it. Because of his training with Freddie Roach that jab has become the backbone of GSP’s striking offense.

In my opinion Silva is a much more dynamic striker than GSP. St. Pierre is athletic and agile and puts combinations together well, but Silva simply has more tools. Silva is excellent at measuring distance and constantly switches his stance to create distance between his lead leg and the lead leg of his opponents. This is an incredibly useful tool against a wrestler like GSP who has both excellent double leg and single leg takedowns. Silva also has impeccable timing and there have been times in the past where GSP got slightly careless in his takedown attempts, any such lazy shots against Silva could wind up with him eating a big knee or a kick.

In a battle of pure power when it comes to striking the edge has to go to Silva. Although St. Pierre holds a number of victories via TKO most of those have come from ground and pound while smothering his opponents. Silva on the other hand has won a number of fights by straight knockout or has won via ground and pound after big punches or kicks that have dropped his opponents. Throughout his career GSP has a knockout/TKO percentage of 33%, Silva on the other hand has a career knockout/TKO percentage of 61%. Beyond just raw power, Silva sets up his power shots slightly better than St. Pierre. While GSP prefers to work behind a strong boxing based jab, Silva is more of a Muay Thai fighter, who prefers to mix up his strikes. Silva has dropped a number of opponents with unorthodox strikes throughout his career, including standing elbow strikes, knees, front kicks as well as punches.

Fight Breakdown: Grappling

Georges St. Pierre is a dominating wrestler despite not having an extensive background in the sport throughout his life. In fact there were rumors that GSP was considering trying out for the Canadian Olympic Wrestling team for the London Olympics this summer. His knee injury prompted those plans to be cancelled, but I’m not sure how much success he would have in a pure wrestling match. Nevertheless, his wrestling in the sport of MMA is excellent. He has a strong double leg takedown and is also very effective using a single leg knee-pick takedown. His top control is excellent as well, as many talented grapplers have simply been smothered by St. Pierre when he takes them to the mat.

Silva’s ground skills are underrated and he has a good knowledge of submissions and sweeps from his back. It’s rare that a fighter is talented enough to get him there, but he has submitted a number of fighters from his back, most notable triangle chokes against Chael Sonnen and Travis Lutter. Despite his talent on the ground, I think GSP is excellent at controlling fighters on the mat, so I’m not sure how many openings Silva would be able to create for himself. However, if GSP plays it safe, Silva should also be able to easily survive and work towards earning a stand up from the referee or making it to the end of the round. It’s unlikely that a strategy like that would earn a lot of praise from the judges but it’s also unlikely that St. Pierre could implement that kind of lay and pray strategy for five full rounds without ever getting caught by a punch or knee or kick once.

Match-Up Advantages

Striking Offense and Power: Silva
Striking Defense: Silva
Hand and Foot Speed: EVEN
Takedowns: St. Pierre
Grappling and Submissions: EVEN
Fight IQ: St. Pierre
Heart and Chin: EVEN

Analysis and Prediction

St. Pierre is a dominant wrestler and will likely want to take Silva down as much as possible and try to control him as much as possible. Coaches Greg Jackson and Firas Zahabi are master tacticians. They will surely have studied numerous tapes of Silva’s past fights. One of the things that is sure to stand out to them is the success that top wrestlers like Dan Henderson and Chael Sonnen had against Silva, no matter how brief that success may have been. While GSP is certainly a more complete striker than Henderson or Sonnen, it’s unlikely that he’d want to engage in an extended striking battle with Silva.

The question then becomes can St. Pierre work the fight with Silva to the ground. The biggest problem for St. Pierre is likely to be the size differential between the two. This will also largely depend on what weight class this fight gets contested in, however if St. Pierre moves up to 185-pounds to face Silva, I’m not certain that it will be easy to earn the takedown against Silva. Silva is much larger and much stronger than many give him credit for, so to simply assume GSP can pack on fifteen pounds and drag him to the ground is a bit of a stretch. Given proper time to put the weight on, will surely make it easier for GSP, but Silva’s takedown defense is excellent even against larger opponents. The other problem for GSP is to shoot for a takedown means that he must get directly into Silva’s wheelhouse, which is one of the most dangerous places for a fighter to be. In close or in the clinch is where Silva does some of his best and most destructive work.

Georges St. Pierre will do his best to work the fight to the ground, early and often. In fact he may even have some success early on in the fight. Unfortunately for him, his ground and pound isn’t overly threatening and his submission offense isn’t enough to overcome the underrated ground skills of Silva to earn a submission. This means he’s unlikely to inflict a whole lot of damage on Silva without opening himself up to the possibility of being swept and the bout returning to the feet. On top of that, every round begins on the feet and every time GSP gets close, he is putting himself in harms way. I think that eventually Silva gets his timing down and can find the big shot that ends St. Pierre’s night.

My prediction… Anderson Silva via KO in Round Three

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