Saturday, November 4th – saw George “Rush” St. Pierre’s return to the octagon. The 36-year-old, perviously absent from the cage for a mysterious, four year period, captured Michael Bisping’s middleweight crown following a decisive win by submission.
In his absence, the elusive fighter had been seen training everywhere from his familiar Tri-Star Gym in Montreal, to rolling with John Danaher’s “Death Squad,” at Renzo Gracie’s in Manhattan.
Not withstanding, the MMA world was abuzz with conjecture. Seeing speculative fight arrangements come and go, much like the talented champions whereabouts. Fans delighted in St. Pierre’s dazzling showcase of skills known and those most recently gained.
With all this said, what does his victory mean for the future of the UFC, now seemingly revived by the vigor of one of their all-time greats? For a time, we’ve all grown accustomed to the relentless touting of new era superstars. Brilliant strikers the likes of Yair Rodríguez, Max Holloway and most notably—Conor McGregor. Could the return of this brilliant wrestler and takedown savant be signaling a change?
It seems, mixed martial arts is not unlike merry go round. The bright colors of the nearest creature most visible—prominent. Its common knowledge, that the dominant beast of the past was wrestling and ground and pound. Yet, in recent years, with the advent of superior takedown defense, world class strikers have seen quite a prolific rise.
Still, things do seem to come full circle. Early this year was host to the absolute domination of a new-gener’ by one of the UFC’s most consistent, old-style practitioners—Edgar vs Rodriguez. Wherein, Edgar was able to completely shut down the high-flying antics of the young, Rodriguez, using his ability to quickly close distance and apply blinding pressure.
So, inasmuch as Strikers have learned takedown defense, it seems ground tacticians have learned to strike and strike well. With Boxing luminary, and renowned trainer Freddy Roach in his corner, last saturday’s fight saw an all out lesson in the artful use of jabbing by St. PIerre. Using it to keep distance, to punish Bisping, desperately trying to find his range and fainting it to disguise the takedown. Pierre having such success, it was hard to tell which man was the superior boxer.
With every iteration of the sport, one thing remains vividly certain: as knowledge grows, fighters become better versions of even their previous selves, leaving us all wanting—for what’s to come.