I’ve been putting this comparison off for as long as I could, simply because Georges St-Pierre is one of my favourite fighters of all-time.
But we’ve reached a point in time in the UFC now where there is a genuine and deserved debate as to who the welterweight G.O.A.T is these days.
Kamaru Usman has made himself inevitable now, moving to 15-0 in the UFC and 20-1 in his professional career after a successful fifth welterweight title defence at UFC 268 this past weekend.
But who is the greatest welterweight fighter of all-time? Is it Georges St-Pierre or Kamaru Usman? Who would win if they both fought each other at the peak of their powers? Lets break it down and find out.
Every fight starts on the feet, so we should probably start off with who would win a straight striking match between the two.
Usman has developed his skillset over the last two years or so to become one of the best on the feet in the division. He has an absolutely brilliant jab, using his reach to manage range and he has developed a kill-shot of a right hand that has turned the lights out on the likes of Colby Covington, Gilbert Burns and Jorge Masvidal.
Georges St-Pierre though was a different level. GSP’s jab was excellent but he also had tremendous kicks from his karate background and great power too. Both men are durable, but technically GSP was much further ahead of the curve in the striking realm and he would have the edge here.
GSP’s greatest successes in the octagon came once he developed his wrestling game to a level where he could take anyone down and control the fight.
The issue for him this time, is he is not going to be able to do that against Usman.
‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ is a brilliant wrestler, possibly second only to Khabib Nurmagomedov in UFC history. Officially he has a 100% takedown defence throughout his UFC career (although most believe Covington took him down during their UFC 268 bout).
He has the strength advantage between the two and I think because of the striking edge going in GSP’s favour, Usman would likely use his wrestling in this bout and that’s because he is the better wrestler.
Both fighters have got a tremendous gas tank and experience of performing on the biggest stage of them all. They have been through wars, fought fierce rivals, earned knockouts and submission wins – they really have done it all.
It would undoubtedly be the biggest fight in UFC history but it would almost certainly not be the most exciting.
The prettier this fight is, the more chance of St-Pierre winning and that means that Usman would make it as ugly as possible. He would use his grinding style to close the distance, use his jab to set up takedowns and control top position whenever given the chance.
It would be razor close, simply because St-Pierre is that talented. But ultimately, Usman is the man and I would have him as the favourite to be the undisputed G.O.A.T by the end of 25 minutes together in the octagon.
Abdulmanap has been the coach of his son Khabib since forever, and the two shared a very close bond. When he passed away due to complications from COVID-19 during the summer, the lightweight champion’s future was cast into doubt.
He decided to fight on and the UFC made the fight between him and interim champion Gaethje. Fight week seemed normal, as the Russian spoke about potentially moving to 30-0 after the fight but in his post-fight interview he revealed that he had made a promise to his mother that he wouldn’t fight again without his father.
Since then though, the UFC haven’t stripped him of the title and he hasn’t relinquished the belt leaving question marks over his future.
He has reiterated on several occasions that his decision is final and that he won’t fight again unless he receives the blessing of his mother, but that hasn’t stopped Dana White from talking about it.
UFC president White has insisted that he believes Khabib will fight one more time, to hit the 30-0 mark that his father had wanted for him. Opponents have been loosely discussed and the two will have a meeting in Abu Dhabi during this two week spell that the UFC are back on Fight Island.
However, both have won in impressive fashion since then and another win would see them right back at the front of the queue. Dana White has also admitted that they would probably be next in line, although it would depend on Khabib’s thoughts on the fight too.
He has called for the next title shot or a fight against the winner of Poirier vs McGregor, but White has recently said that if “everything goes to plan” his next fight will be against Justin Gaethje.
As crazy as it may sound, ideally none of them should get the next shot. That should be reserved for a super-fight against Georges St-Pierre.
GSP was the reigning welterweight champion for five years before taking a long break from the sport, before returning to become middleweight champion and then retiring.
He has continued to train though and when Khabib mentioned the prospect of potentially fighting him, he responded in a positive manner. The weight cut could prove to be a problem, but if GSP could guarantee that he would be able to make the weight, there is no better legacy fight.
Both men have made a name for themselves with their tremendous ground game and it would be a spectacle between two fighters who have looked unbeatable in the octagon for the vast majority of their career.
Both men are in the conversation when it comes to greatest of all-time and are physically in phenomenal condition. What better way to sign of both of their careers than a fight against each other?
UFC 254 is this weekend and for the first time ever, Khabib Nurmagomedov will headline the card against Justin Gaethje for the UFC lightweight championship.
An undefeated 28-0 record, Khabib is arguably the most dominant fighter in UFC history. When he comes up against Gaethje though, it will be the toughest test of his entire MMA career. A man who lives for controlled chaos, Gaethje is an elite wrestler with some of the heaviest hands in the sport.
With 19 knockouts from 22 career wins, Gaethje revealed in a recent promo interview with BT Sport that the reason he doesn’t use his wrestling in fights is simply because it’s quicker to win by knockout.
Despite being the favourite for the fight, Khabib Nurmagomedov is usually one of the fighters who controls the narrative through actions rather than words. He is almost always respectful to his opponent and does his talking in the cage. This time around has been slightly different though.
Since the passing of his father Abdulmanap back in July, there has been a lot of talk about retirement from the Nurmagomedov camp. Revelations have come out that Khabib’s father had wanted him to retire once he hit 30-0, while others say Khabib has been planning for a potential fight with Georges St-Pierre more than ever since his father’s untimely demise.
During the fight week this week, Khabib has been quoted once again talking about a potential bout with GSP.
“If you want to fight, he has to come and make 155lbs. I am ready for him. After this fight [with Gaethje] it’s going to be a great fight with GSP. Fans, they’re going to watch this fight. UFC loves this fight. I really want to fight and it’s going to be the biggest fight in UFC history.“
Khabib Nurmagomedov talking to Adam Catterall for BT Sport
On this occasion, I believe it’s Khabib who is being the disrespectful fighter. He’s overlooking a motivated and healthy Justin Gaethje who is quite comfortably the biggest threat to the title he’s ever faced.
Gaethje has consistently referred to Khabib as the best in the world and the number 1 lightweight, with all predictions for the fight coming across as competitive and confidence rather than disrespect. Khabib has matched those comments, talking about ‘drowning him in deep water’ with his wrestling but the talk about his next fight before this one has even happened just seems disrespectful.
With Khabib seemingly overlooking the threat Justin Gaethje poses to his title reign, the chance that we see a new champion has grown in my eyes ahead of this fight. Khabib needs to focus, ignore the talk around a potential super-fight with Georges St-Pierre and make sure he does his job in Abu Dhabi this Saturday night.
When you think fantasy fights, you often think of the best to ever do it against the best of the current generation. What if the best of the current generation *is* is the best to ever do it?
There is a very, very strong argument that Georges St-Pierre is the best mixed martial artist of all-time. He has just two losses in his career, both of which he avenged soon after suffering them and he has held a world title in two different weight classes.
He’s probably in the top two for most dominant wrestlers ever too in MMA, but he’s definitely not No.1 in that department.
That honour belongs to ‘The Eagle’ Khabib Nurmagomedov. At 28-0, Khabib is the most dominant UFC champion in history with the consensus being that he has lost just one-round in his entire career. He’s taken everyone down and after wearing on them for a few rounds he gets the submission. If he doesn’t get the submission, he beats you to a pulp for five full rounds and gives the referee a decision to make. Stop the fight or watch me maul this man.
St-Pierre has been retired since he beat Michael Bisping for the middleweight belt back in 2017 and was suffering from ulcerative diverticulitis. He has since been declared healthy again but officially retired in February 2019 and entered the UFC Hall of Fame this year. But he’s open to a return.
After Khabib made the world aware of his plan to fight Georges, Ariel Helwani said he spoke to the Canadian athlete about a potential bout and how Dana White had agreed that it is something he would try to make happen if Khabib got past Gaethje.
According to Helwani, GSP immediately reacted with joy at the thought of a bout between the two and began strategising immediately. How would he cut down to 155lbs? What would the gameplan be? Would he be able to stay on his feet throughout the fight and avoid the takedown? His genius mind starting ticking at the thought of a bout.
So what would happen if they fought? How would it go down?
Both are dominant fighters who use their wrestling skills to dominate where the fight will go. Khabib is the better grappler and if it was up to him, he’d employ his usual tactics of takedown, ground & pound, submission. GSP’s usual plan would be to stand and strike then shoot in for a takedown later in the fight if he needed to, because he knows he has the advantage there.
His kicking game is excellent, but he’d surely be wary of throwing too many kicks against someone as aggressive and talented as Khabib. If you ask Daniel Cormier, it doesn’t matter what GSP’s plan would be because there is nobody in any division in the UFC up to 185lbs that can stay on the feet with Khabib across the cage from them. If that’s true, then it’ll be a long night for GSP just as it has been for everyone else that has fought the Russian superstar.
In all likelihood, Khabib smothers him on the ground and the weight cut works against GSP’s chances. But St-Pierre is so skilled on the feet that he may have the best chance of landing the knockout punch that is needed to defeat Khabib. His spinning attacks along with his strong jab and 6 inch reach advantage would mean Khabib needs to close the distance quickly in order to get the fight down and it could be a big enough window to keep the fight up for a bit longer than anyone else, which means more chance of a knockout.
There’s also the off-chance that GSP attempts to take the fight to the ground himself, trusting his own wrestling abilities and top control to beat Khabib at his own game.
The fight would arguably be the biggest MMA fight of all-time between two names synonymous with dominance in the sport. Beating Justin Gaethje is no walk in the park, but if Khabib can do it then this would be *the* fight to make.
Two of the best Weltwerweight champions ever, fighting the same opponents and during the same generation and yet somehow, they never crossed paths.
Georges St-Pierre was the reigning Welterweight World Champion in the UFC between 2008 and 2013, succesfully defending his belt 9 times before vacating. Robbie Lawler immediately fought for that belt and while he didn’t win it at the first attempt, he eventually took the crown and made the division his own.
Yet somehow, despite them going back-to-back in the record books as the King of the 170lbs division, they never fought eachother. So, in their prime, who would have won?
Before GSP won the belt in 2008, he had already previously held the title and even competed for it before that. He first competed for the belt back in 2004, being submitted by Matt Hughes. He went away, honed his craft and became an ultimate wrestling machine. He came back and put a five-fight win streak together, including victories against BJ Penn and Sean Sherk before challenging and defeating Matt Hughes in their rematch with a second round TKO. He had a blip in the road immediately after that, losing to Matt Serra in his first defence of the belt. He then toppled Josh Koscheck and Matt Hughes again to earn a rematch with Serra, who he defeated with relative ease in the second round. At that point, his reign of dominance began.
‘Rush’ never lost again in his career, earning wins by KO, submission and decision on his way to cementing a legacy worthy of his Hall of Fame entry this year.
Lawler has had a very different path to greatness in his career. ‘Ruthless’ has a record of 28-14-1 which on paper is not very impressive. A host of big name wins on his record doesn’t make up for the L’s he’s taken but it’s more the style of fighter he became throughout his career that has him written in MMA folklore.
His size was always an advantage in the 170lbs division, considering he spent a large portion of his career at Middleweight. His aggression and physicality mean he could hang with anyone, plus his granite chin saw him go through some of the greatest wars in recent memory. His fight with Rory MacDonald at UFC 189 is widely considered as one of the greatest fights in history, while he also battled with Carlos Condit and Johny Hendricks either side of that to 5 round decision wins.
Both men were phenomenal in all aspects of mixed martial arts. We already mentioned that GSP went away and honed his craft to become the ultimate wrestling machine, but Lawler had a wrestling background to begin with. Both men also had a fantastic striking game, with GSP more focused on technique while ‘Ruthless’ was more about power and durability.
If the fight had happened, it would have been a traditional Robbie Lawler war. ‘Rush’ would have dominated the early exchanges, using his superior footwork to his advantage. As the fight wore on though, Lawler would start to dictate the pace and press forward. He’d eventually land big strikes and I expect GSP would be able to eat them in the same way he endured Johny Hendricks’ heavy hands.
In a fight that would without a doubt end with both men bloodied and battered, I think that Georges St-Pierre’s big-fight record would come into play. He knows how to get the wins in these types of fights, while Lawler is sometimes more focused on the entertainment factor than actually securing the victory.
For this reason, I expect GSP would get the win in via Unanimous decision in a tight affair.
Conor McGregor, pre his third retirement in four years, started up a very interesting debate recently.
The Notorious one headed to Twitter to vocalise his thoughts on the ‘GOAT’ arguments that have been taking over social media recently. Conor, the first ever simultaneous two-weight World Champion in UFC history, ranked himself as “2nd if not joint first” behind the legendary Anderson Silva and ahead of the likes of Jon Jones and Georges St-Pierre.
Many laughed at the notion of McGregor being so high up on his own list, myself included. So I, inspired by the tweets and my friends at 8 Sides Podcast decided to do a Top 10 and see where I actually ranked him.
#10 Jose Aldo (28-6*)
Jose Aldo until recently was regarded as the greatest Featherweight that ever lived. The Brazilian native was handed the inaugural belt in the UFC after the organisation’s purchase of WEC and defended it an unprecedented 7 times in 4 years before his devastating KO loss to Conor McGregor.
Wins against guys like Chad Mendes (twice), Frankie Edgar (twice), Kenny Florian, Urijah Faber, Ricardo Lamas, Korean Zombie and Jeremy Stephens mean his CV holds up against anyone else on this list. That said, the loss to Conor came as he entered his prime years in the game and have seen him go on somewhat of a downward spiral since. Defeats to Max Holloway (twice), Alex Volkanovski and Marlon Moraes (135lbs) have seen him go 3-5 in his last 8.
Despite this, Dana White has said recently that the UFC is looking to have Aldo compete for the newly-vacant 135lbs belt soon so a win in that fight could see him stake a claim for a higher place on this list.
#9 Conor McGregor (22-4)
Well, that was quick. The former Featherweight and Lightweight World champion, as well as two victories at 170lbs, McGregor is most definitely worthy of being on this list. A phenomenal record that includes wins over fighter like Jose Aldo, Chad Mendes, Dustin Poirier, Max Holloway, Nate Diaz, Eddie Alvarez and Cowboy Cerrone, McGregor constantly backs up his trash talk with big performances inside the Octagon.
The reason he’s so low down is that despite both of those title wins coming in emphatic fashion, he never actually defended those belts. After KO’ing Jose Aldo in 13 seconds, McGregor went on a voyage through the divisions. He was originally scheduled to fight Rafael Dos Anjos for the lightweight title immediately after, but RDA withdrew injured. That led to Nate Diaz stepping in on late notice and we all know what happened after that. By the time he’d defeated Alvarez to become a duel-weight champion, the Featherweight division was held up. The UFC stripped him of the belt and awarded it back to Aldo. McGregor then transitioned to boxing to fight Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather. He didn’t fight in the UFC following the Alvarez fight until his return to fight Khabib Nurmagomedov over three years later. The UFC moved on.
McGregor’s CV is undeniable but with all the gaps and questions left unanswered about his career, it’s hard to rank him any higher.
#8 Demetrious Johnson (30-3*)
Arguably the most complete fighter in Flyweight history, DJ’s record speaks volumes about his ability. Wins over Joseph Benavidez (twice), Henry Cejudo, John Dodson (twice), Ray Borg, Wilson Reis, Kyoji Horiguchi, Ian McCall and others saw ‘Mighty Mouse’ go on a 13-fight win streak including 11 successful title defences.
He would win fights in all ways too, with his iconic flying armbar against Ray Borg a particular highlight. Only 5 TKO/KO wins to his name is surprising considering how crisp his striking was throughout his tenure. Often dismissed by UFC management for his lack of draw, it didn’t help that Johnson literally cleaned out his entire division. He was so dominant, there was talk of a super-fight between he and TJ Dillashaw to spice the division up. That fell apart however when he suffered a controversial defeat to Henry Cejudo and lost the belt.
He left shortly the UFC shortly after that in a trade for Ben Askren to ONE Championship, but his skillset often has people wishing he was bigger physically so he could have fought more top level fighters in different divisions.
#7 Henry Cejudo (16-2)
An Olympic Gold medalist in freestyle wrestling, Cejudo’s legacy extends far beyond the sport of MMA. His legacy in this sport stands up with the best ever though. He has wins over Demetrious Johnson, TJ Dillashaw, Marlon Moraes, Dominick Cruz, Sergio Pettis, Wilson Reis and Jussier Formiga across two weight divisions and held both the Flyweight and Bantamweight titles simultaneously.
After losing to Mighty Mouse by KO and then to Joseph Benavidez by decision in 2016, ‘The Chosen One’ never lost again. He avenged his defeat to Johnson in a controversial decision win, before KO’ing TJ Dillashaw in a champion vs champion bout in just 32 seconds. At that point he moved up to Dillashaw’s Bantamweight division and took his belt, beating Marlon Moraes by KO for the vacant title following Dillashaw’s suspension. To top it off, he defeated the consensus greatest Bantamweight of all-time in Dominick Cruz via second-round knockout in May, handing Cruz only his 3rd defeat ever.
Cejudo retired following that win and vacated his belts, meaning he retired from the sport having held two titles in two different weight classes and having beaten the consensus G.O.A.T in both those divisions too. Not bad for the ‘King of Cringe’, eh?
#6 Khabib Nurmagomedov (28-0*)
Undefeated, untroubled and unchallenged. Khabib Nurmagomedov is the greatest lightweight of all time and has defeated all comers, including Conor McGregor, Dustin Poirier, Al Iaquinta, Edson Barboza, Rafael Dos Anjos and Michael Johnson.
An unblemished record at this level of MMA is an unheard of accomplishment, so when Khabib continues to take on all challengers without complaint and beats them (usually convincingly) it’s hard not to have him high up on this list. His style of completely overwhelming an opponent to the point where they just completely lose hope is a sight that fans enjoy watching despite it’s dominance. ‘The Eagle’ is also a massive draw commercially, having been a part of the biggest PPV in UFC history when he main-evented UFC 229 with Conor McGregor, while he was also the headline attraction for the organisation’s first card in Abu Dhabi against Dustin Poirier.
He’s expected to defend the title against Justin Gaethje later this year, while other challengers like Tony Ferguson still wait in the wings. It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that he beats both Gaethje and ‘El Cucoy’ and then retires with an unflappable 30-0 record as the undisputed best lightweight of all time.
#5 Daniel Cormier (22-2*)
The baddest man on the planet for a long time, but also one of the greatest minds in MMA. Cormier was the reigning champion in both the Light Heavyweight and Heavyweight divisions, defending both belts successfully. He has wins over Stipe Miocic, Derrick Lewis, Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson, Alexander Gustafsson, Anderson Silva, Dan Henderson, Roy Nelson, Frank Mir and Volkan Oezdemir during his career, proving he knows how to come out on top on the big occasion.
Cormier, a teammate of Khabib, ranks at No.5 mainly due to the double title wins. He held both belts simultaneously after moving up from 205lbs to defeat Stipe Miocic by 1st round KO, before the UFC forced him to vacate the Light Heavyweight belt. He defended that belt too before losing to Stipe, and a rubber match is slated for this year before he retires.
DC’s only fault is that he could never beat Jon Jones. He lost a decision to Jones in their first bout before being head-kick KO’d in their second (later overturned to a NC). Other than those results, Cormier would without be the greatest big-man the sport has ever seen, having dominated the Light Heavyweight division in Jones’ absence while also only ever losing once at heavyweight.
#4 Amanda Nunes (20-4*)
The undisputed, greatest female fighter of all-time. The Lioness extended her winning record at UFC250 with a win over Felicia Spencer, adding another former champion to her resumé. Nunes has beaten Germaine De Randamie (twice), Valentina Shevchenko (twice), Miesha Tate, Holly Holm, Raquel Pennington, Cris Cyborg and Ronda Rousey in her career, with the latter two taking her just a combined 1:39 to KO.
She’s a two-weight World Champion, holding both the Bantamweight and Featherweight titles at the same time. She has beaten every single woman to have held a title in the UFC in her two weight divisions, all while improving and growing as an all-round mixed martial artist in the process. She is the hardest hitting female in history, and yet ironically won her first belt by tapping-out Miesha Tate via RNC. She’s currently on a 11-fight win streak, having not tasted defeat since 2014.
While nobody is truly sure what’s next for Nunes, her legacy is cemented as the first fighter (male or female) to defend two titles in two weight divisions successfully while simultaneously holding both belts. A true GOAT.
#3 Anderson Silva (34-10*)
The Spider is one of the most charismatic and dominant champions in UFC history. A legendary figure among MMA fighters and fans, Silva has wins over Chris Leben, Rich Franklin, Dan Henderson, Forest Griffin, Demian Maia, Chael Sonnen (twice), Vitor Belfort, Yushin Okami and Stephan Bonnar on his CV.
The Brazilian dominated the middleweight division in his prime, defending the Middleweight title 10 times after unifying the division with the Pride title. He fought in both middleweight and light-heavyweight divisions throughout his career and until his career began to wind down he was unbeaten in both. His first loss in middleweight came after he was mocking Chris Weidman and got KO’d with a grazing right hand, before breaking his leg famously in the rematch. The leg break was a defining moment in his career that he never really recovered from. He lost at light-heavyweight to champion Daniel Cormier at UFC 200 as a late replacement. He’s suffered with several positive drug tests since USADA came in which has somewhat damaged his reputation too.
Since his broken leg Silva’s record reads 1-5-1NC, showing just how much it really affected him. He continues to fight even at 45 years old. Despite the recent damage his record has taken, his legacy remains untouched and he will go down as one of the greatest fighters of all-time.
#2 Georges St-Pierre (26-2)
The consensus greatest welterweight of all time, and it’s hard to argue. GSP’s record is phenomenal, having lost just twice in his entire career across two weight divisions. At welterweight, ‘Rush’ has wins over legends such as Frank Trigg, Matt Serra, BJ Penn (twice), Matt Hughes (twice), Dan Hardy, Jon Fitch, Josh Koshcheck, Jake Shields, Carlos Condit, Nick Diaz and Johny Hendricks, while he won the middleweight title by submitting Michael Bisping following a four-year hiatus from the sport.
At his peak, GSP was one of the most complete fights around. Of his 26 wins, he has 8 KO/TKO’s, 6 submissions and 12 decisions proving he can beat you in a variety of ways and was always dangerous. He improved his wrestling skills following defeat to Matt Hughes and never looked back. His two defeats were avenged and he went on a hot streak of 12 successive wins. That 12th win however came against Johny Hendricks, who many believe won the fight. Dana White famously said in the post-fight press conference, “I’m blown away that Georges St-Pierre won that fight.” He retired from the sport immediately following that fight before returning to beat Bisping and retire again.
Had it not been for the several year hiatus plus the controversy surrounding his win over Hendricks, he might well have been top of this list.
#1 Jon Jones (26-1*)
The consensus greatest of all time, Jonny ‘Bones’ Jones comes in at No.1 of this list too. The reigning Light Heavyweight champion’s only blemish on an incredible record is a dodgy disqualification he suffered against Matt Hamill for 12-6 elbows. With wins over Daniel Cormier, Shogun Rua, Rashad Evans, Lyoto Machida, Vitor Belfort, Chael Sonnen, Rampage Jackson, Glover Teixeira, Alexander Gustafsson (twice) and Ryan Bader he has beaten 6 former UFC champions.
A career littered with controversy, including failed drugs tests and run-ins with the law, Jones has never let any of it affect his in-cage performances. He’s dominated everyone he’s stepped in a cage with and has rarely looked troubled. His most recent fight against Dominick Reyes was the first time people had seen a fight look like it may get away from him.
Despite missing several years through suspensions, Jones is still only 32 years old. He is the youngest champion in UFC history after winning the Light Heavyweight title for the first time in 2011 and has never lost the belt (although Cormier held the title while Jones was suspended and stripped of the belt). He has knockouts and submissions. Wrestling, striking and grappling are all trademarks of his style and he’s publicly stated that he trains in his opponents style “to beat them at their own game”. He is the best ever and if he ever loses it will be a monumental moment in the history of sport, not just MMA.