It’s the age-old question – who is the greatest MMA fighter of all time?
Not so long ago, there was a discussion over a legacy fight between two of the top contenders for MMA GOAT status.
Georges St-Pierre and Khabib both wanted to fight, pre-Khabib’s definite (probably) retirement, although this was vetoed by UFC president Dana White. Although White did become less averse to the idea as time progressed, the bout tantalisingly fell through our grasp as both fighters’ careers came to their natural conclusions.
The fighters had, to an extent, studied each other’s game, with the fight having looked to be a real possibility.
So how would the fight have played out? Since the bout now looks impossible, St-Pierre has finally lifted the lid on how he would have approached the sizable challenge of beating the undefeated Khabib.
St-Pierre told Lex Clips: “Khabib is very good against the fence. I would have to establish a game plan and everything, but I think what I would (have) needed to do is take the center of the Octagon right away, use a lot of feints and fakes, keep the fight all the way out or all the way in. And when I say ‘all the way in’ is when he close the gap, use my proactive and reactive takedowns and perhaps use my (explosiveness) to put him down. I like to use those proactive and reactive takedowns because, for me, I feel it’s more economical. Khabib is a much better chain wrestler than me…”
He continued: “Khabib has more a style of chain wrestling like Kamaru Usman. It’s a different style. You cannot compare both styles. And that’s the kind of takedown I’m good (at).
“If I were to fight Khabib, that’s one of the strategies I would have adopted. I would not have been afraid. Because everybody that I fought I was able to put them down. And I have the pedigree to prove it in my fight resume. So you would perhaps see him on his back, and I would perhaps be on my back as well, so it would have been a very interesting fight.
“I would not have been afraid of his wrestling. I would have instigated. I would have forced the fight forward. And that’s how I would have approached that fight, which I believe most of his opponents were afraid of his wrestling because they didn’t have the tools that I have to put him down.
“In the clinch, I would have tried to disengage. I have many ways to disengage a clinch. I would have wanted to force the fight in a fighting distance, in a shoot-box distance, not in a wrestling distance.”
Debating who the greatest of all time is an ultimately fruitless endeavour, with every candidate having significant pros and cons.
St-Pierre boasts a remarkable 13 wins in title fights, while Khabib has just five. However, Khabib retired with an undefeated record whilst GSP lost twice.
The winner in a GSP/Khabib superfight will have given fans of the winner a weighty argument as to who the GOAT is. However, GSPs age and lack of activity over more recent years would have diminished the significance of the bout in relation to the debate. As Khabib was still in his prime at the time of his retirement, and GSP was well past his, Khabib would have been a fairly heavy favourite.
Nonetheless, it would have been fascinating, but now we’ll never know, and the debate will rage on!