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Is Winning Enough to Cement a Legacy for Georges St. Pierre in UFC?

  • Published in Kickboxing

(C) Getty ImagesAt UFC 129 we saw UFC sell 55,000 tickets for what turned into North America's largest MMA event in history, in GSP's home country of Canada. Georges St. Pierre is one of the UFC's most decorated champions in history, a two-time Welterweight Champion with six defenses in a row, seven if you count retaining the Interim Championship against Matt Serra to be crowned the Undisputed Welterweight Champion. Of course, over that streak there are only two stoppages, including the win over Serra and defense against BJ Penn, which has earned him a reputation among hardcore fans as lacking a killer instinct.

Without a doubt, GSP is something very special for the MMA world. To see that all you needed to do was watch tonight's UFC 129 and watch for both fighters entering the arena. GSP came into the arena sporting a seasonally fashionable suit and looked very composed while Shields was shown stumbling in the arena dressed in a t-shirt, oversized hoodie, jeans, baseball cap and sneakers. For St. Pierre this is par for the course, he is the epitome of professionalism in the world of Mixed Martial Arts; he dresses well, he speaks well, he also comes across as personable and intelligent. He is really the total package in a business sense, with no one able to come close to him in this department and might not for a while. Shields, while the elder to GSP was walking into the biggest fight of his life looking like a NASCAR vehicle, splattered with his sponsors and a bit nervous.

There is also little doubt as to why there were so many fans in the arena tonight; 55,000 came not only for the UFC brand name, the experience and for fights, but to see a hometown hero like Georges St. Pierre fight for the honor of Canada. We may have to wait and see what the PPV numbers are, but there is a good chance that they are indeed very good considering the solid line-up and marketing leading into the event. For GSP, everything seems on par for him to become one of MMA's biggest legends and superstars, yet something doesn't feel right.

On the same card fans saw a humble Randy Couture knocked out by a Crane Kick (not joking) by Lyoto Machida and announce that he was officially retired. Couture has already cemented his legacy, oddly enough he did so with a 19-11 record, which for an elite level MMA fighter who is held in such high regards as he,  a rather poor record. You could see Couture as the fighter that made the blueprint for GSP to follow; be humble, professional, follow the rules and never forget your fans. Yet for Couture, there is something about him that is very different, and that is his story and feelings he evokes from fans. Couture overcame insurmountable odds a few times in his career, hopping between two of the most competitive weight classes in the sport during his twilight years and securing big-name victories and title wins unlike any other fighter. Some of his fights when watched live were impossible not to be caught up in the moment and the passion of, like the Time Sylvia bout, don't hold up when viewed years later. The Sylvia fight is actually a rather boring fight with a very active crowd, but that is because it has already happened and we all know the outcome. Live, it was exciting and told a story of an over-the-hill underdog, former champion coming out of nowhere to stop a then-dominant champion. When Couture landed a punch you felt your heart race, when he took Sylvia down you wanted to jump out of your seat and cheer.

Randy wasn't always "good for business" with Zuffa, as they had a very public tiff a few years back including a lawsuit, Randy almost fighting for Affliction against Fedor Emelianenko and signing on for the EA MMA video game, all while holding the UFC Heavyweight Championship. Even with that said, Randy returned to UFC, was given a better contract than he had before, was allowed to keep his Heavyweight title and actually put it on the line against up-and-comer Brock Lesnar who was doing great PPV numbers for his previous fights. For many, Randy has an X-Factor, even if there are stories of him being a womanizer, hard to work with, terrible at managing his finances and possibly using hormone therapy to extend his career. None of that matters in the eyes of the public.

At this point UFC has two dominant champions; Georges St. Pierre at Welterweight and Anderson Silva at Middleweight, yet neither man really seem to be as beloved as Couture or primed to have as long of a lasting legacy as Couture. Both champions have been criticized for not finishing off their opponents, many of which are clearly not on their level. For Anderson Silva, the criticism tends to lean towards him simply playing with his opponents and becoming bored and disinterested with fighting them or putting on a good show. For GSP the criticism comes that he looks to fight a safe fight and only to win, not to finish his opponents. Anderson Silva plays more of a bad boy and GSP plays off more like a company man, and while both have great drawing potential in their home countries, possibly even become big stars on a world-wide scale, neither man have the untouchable aura of Randy Couture.

This makes one wonder if winning is really important for cementing a legacy as much as telling the fans an interesting story and having them get emotionally invested in you as a person, not just a fighter. A fighter like Brock Lesnar has this figured out, as to date he has only a handful of fights but has earned more money in those fights than some UFC fighters with lengthy, successful careers. On top of that, he will most likely always have a place in UFC history with fans all having a strong opinion on him, be it good or bad.

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John Wayne Parr to Help GSP Train for Johny Hendricks

  • Published in Muay Thai

JWP

Muay Thai and Kickboxing living legend John Wayne Parr not only picked up an impressive recent win inside of a cage wearing MMA gloves, but he's apparently been tapped to head to Montreal to train with UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre, helping GSP prepare for his upcoming title bout against Johny Hendricks. This also means that we'll see John Wayne Parr cageside at UFC 167 to help corner Georges St. Pierre.

Here is the statement from JWP via his Facebook today.

"Received another email off Firas, looks like I am going to Tristar in Canada early August for 2 weeks for the sole purpose of training George St Pierre with his striking. The best part is the boys will be flying me to Vegas to be part of the corner in November when GSP takes on Johnny Hendricks.

This is without doubt the biggest opportunity of my life. Thank you Firas & GSP!"

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Photo of the Day: Cosmo Alexandre Trains MMA With UFC Fighters Jon Jones and GSP

  • Published in Kickboxing

Yet another of the kickboxing/muay thai world is dipping his toes into the water of the MMA world, this time in the way of Cosmo Alexandre. As we've seen with Cosmo, he is immensely talented, hits hard and has incredible skill. If he learned how to sprawl and escape submissions he could be a force to be reckoned with in MMA, but of course, that takes years of preparation.

If you've been following Cosmo's exploits online, you've seen the mentions of him training for MMA, but here is the photographic proof of him training with some of the best (or at least posing with them). [source]

Cosmo with Jon Jones Cosmo with GSP
Cosmo/Jon Jones Cosmo/GSP
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Jake Shields and the Persistence of Loss

  • Published in Kickboxing

Jake Ellenberger d. Jake ShieldsApologies in advance for the non-Kickboxing content, but this is my site and I'm allowed to post whatever I please.

Are MMA fans heartless? This is a question I find myself asking on the morning after UFC put forth one of their weakest cards to date, headlined by Jake Shields vs. Jake Ellenberger. Ellenberger did something that only one other man has done and that was knock Shields out, which is impressive. It is impressive when you consider the strikes Shields had held strong against, from Martin Kampmann, Paul Daley, Dan Henderson, Robbie Lawler, Carlos Condit and so on. Jake Shields has been a guy who has always held strong against guys who can hit hard, and even held his own against guys with a more well-rounded ground game than him.

So the question is, what happened against Jake Ellenberger? Ellenberger is a former KOTC and IFL veteran who was added to UFC’s roster to little fanfare and has just accumulated his fifth win in a row in the UFC, which would be impressive until you look over the list of opponents. Jake Shields is far and away the biggest win of his career and no one can ever take away that accomplishment. Ellenberger proved the age old adage in MMA that styles make fights, and Ellenberger has a solid Div II wrestling background, a blue belt in brazilian jiu-jitsu and years of kickboxing training under his belt. Without a doubt Ellenberger is well rounded and at age 26 could have a career as a contender, with his win over Shields being a launching point. We’ve seen fighters in other divisions get title shots for less, especially in a division like Welterweight that has almost entirely been cleaned out by the champion, Georges St. Pierre.

Ellenberger was a tough fight for Jake Shields no matter how you looked at it, but there was a factor that played into the fight that not everyone can understand or empathize with. Jake Shields lost his father, Jack Shields on August 29th suddenly, without warning. Jack Shields was working on securing sponsorships for this fight when he sat down to rest and never got back up. By all accounts, Jack Shields was an important figure in Jake Shields’s life, described as always going out of his way to be around his son while training or fighting. A bond between a father and son like that serves as a lifelong best friend, mentor and many, many other things.

As I stated before, no one can take away what Ellenberger accomplished last night, as he did his job and racked up the biggest win of his career, but a lot of talk about Jake Shields right now is confusing at best, heartless considering the facts. Many have decided to dissect Jake Shields and his career, deciding that after a loss to GSP and now a loss to Ellenberger to claim that Jake Shields has been overrated by fans and that his career benefited from being outside of the UFC. I’ll argue that any fighter can get caught on a bad night by a strike that lays them out, that styles make fights and even the best fighters in the world have losses, but that isn’t the issue. The issue is Jake Shields is a human being and the loss of a close loved one is something that until you experience it, empathizing with it can be difficult.

Jake Shields is of course an athlete, that is his profession and it places him and every move he does in the public eye. That being said, Jake Shields is first and foremost a human being who just suffered an insurmountable loss. To lose a loved one quickly, without a chance to brace yourself and mentally prepare for it is traumatizing and in some cases crippling. I understand that for Jake fighting and continuing on felt like the right decision, as I can say I’ve done similar when in a similar position. Everyone thinks that they are tougher than they really are, and that doing something constructive can help keep them grounded, but the truth is everyone reacts differently to circumstances like this. Jake Shields has a rough road ahead coping with the loss of his father and in light of this loss should take some time to regroup and reflect.

On the other hand, Jake Shields doesn’t necessarily deserve a pass for a loss, but instead some human empathy and let him recover and give him a chance to fight again before declaring him overrated, washed up and a bum.

If you for some reason can claim that when fighting there are no excuses or any other tough guy mantra, realize that everyone has achilles heels, that no one is invincible. After the loss of his sister, Vitor Belfort pulled out a win over Randy Couture, sure, but in the year to follow he pulled together a four fight losing streak and many said something in him had fundamentally changed. Some artists, writers and musicians never recover from a loss and spend the rest of their careers and lives living inside of their heads ruminating their loss. Famous American author and poet Edgar Allen Poe was so crushed by the loss of his wife that friends had found him sleeping on her grave months after her death, with many of his works after her death being credited to being about her loss.

So I urge you, before deciding that Jake Shields “sucks” and was “never any good” try to remember that he is human and should be given at least one shot at redemption before we collectively judge the state of his career.

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