MONTREAL – For a moment there at the UFC 158 post-fight press conference, I could have sworn we were in reruns.
It was right about the time UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre (24-2 MMA, 18-2 UFC) walked in sporting bruises that were eerily similar to the ones he displayed following his decision win over Carlos Condit here four months ago. The ice pack he clutched to his swollen, discolored face this time was nearly identical to the one he used back at UFC 154, and the suit he wore looked like it could have come from the same tailor. Condit was there too. So was Johny Hendricks (15-1 MMA, 10-1 UFC). Just like last time, only with the seating arrangements slightly altered.
There we all were, not only in the same arena, but in the very same Bell Centre room. We had gathered once more to talk about another decision victory for GSP. We asked similar questions and he gave similar answers. Even his post-fight plans for a vacation “somewhere exotic” felt like an echo of this past November. Deja vu all over again.
In fact, if not for Nick Diaz showing up a half hour into the proceedings and announcing he was either retiring or gunning for a rematch or preparing for a prison jolt due to tax evasion, this night might have been totally indistinguishable from the last. The same play on the same stage. Only the supporting cast changes roles.
The good news for St-Pierre is, they don’t seem to be sick of this show in Montreal. Not yet, anyway. It’s one of the few cities in the world where each GSP takedown is cheered like a knockout blow. Outside of Quebec, however, it might be a different story.
“I think Georges St-Pierre fought a great fight tonight,” UFC President Dana White said. “He didn’t pin him down and hold him and not work. He was working the whole time.”
Which is, you know, true. But then, it’s more or less always true. That’s the point. It’s not that what St-Pierre does isn’t impressive – it’s that he always does it.
The stunning sameness of St-Pierre’s victories has a certain numbing effect. The champ is obviously effective, but he’s also predictable. Even Diaz, who was injected into this drama as an agent of chaos, couldn’t get him to swerve from his script. The UFC sold us a chance to see St-Pierre stumbling around in the dark places of his own mind, eager to hurt his disrespectful tormentor in memorable – maybe even risky – ways. Instead we got the standard GSP fare. Not even the scenery had changed.
Maybe Diaz was onto something with all that “wolf ticket” stuff. Or maybe I still don’t totally understand what that phrase means.
Is GSP boring? Your answer to that probably depends first on whether you like the guy, and second on what style of fighting you prefer to watch. What’s less debatable is the question of expectations. You know what you’re getting with a GSP fight at this point. If Diaz can’t rattle him out of his own familiar patterns, who can? Hendricks seems likely to be the next to try, and it’s true that his wrestling background gives a better chance of staying on his feet than GSP’s last couple opponents enjoyed. Then again, it’s starting to feel like we’ve talked ourselves into believing that hype before.
Clearly, St-Pierre is a great and wildly successful fighter. He’s got the victories and the records and the sponsorship deals and the passive income and all the rest. But then, who says you can’t be great and boring all at the same time? Who says you can’t be so good and so consistent at your craft that you drain all the excitement right out of it? Middleweight champ Anderson Silva might occasionally produce a stinker, seemingly on purpose, but at least that injects some interesting element of doubt.
And oh, by the way, this is usually the point where we talk about a potential GSP-Silva superfight, right? That’s how it was the last time we sat down to watch GSP talk past his icepack in that same Bell Centre restaurant. You knew it would be the same this time around, especially when the conversation turned towards GSP’s next opponent, the fresh challenger he sorely needs.
“Right now, I just finished my fight,” St-Pierre said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen. I got hit on the head and everything and you ask me all these questions.”
You can’t hate a guy who has a sense of humor when evading tricky questions. Although, I don’t know, sure seems like I’ve heard that line somewhere before.
For complete coverage of UFC 158, stay tuned to the UFC Events section of the site.