Recently Dana White drew some ire when he stated that Connor McGregor did what George St. Pierre (GSP) wouldn’t. For the first time I was deeply offended by a remark made by Dana White. Like many millions of MMA fans I am usually entertained by the words that come from the face of the company. More so because it’s been most recently watered down. However, as a Canadian with Irish ancestry it was a comment that hit home. In light of McGregor’s loss and GSP’s attendance at the event, White was referring to essentially the fact that GSP refused to fight for two belts. Lost in the translation is the fact it’s half-truthful at best. As GSP’s trainer recently noted neither Nate Diaz or McGregor did anything to inspire GSP to jump start his already storied career. Connor McGregor was scheduled to fight for an opportunity to hold two belts simultaneously. The key word is ‘was’. Already holding the 145 pound featherweight belt, he sought to win the 155 pound lightweight championship. As many of you already know the lightweight champion Dos Anjos pulled out of the fight due to a broken foot two weeks before the scheduled contest. Posters for the champion versus champion bout were made and remade but the fight never came to fruition at no fault of McGregor. Regardless, the fight did not happen. Therefore a late replacement was needed in the form of Nate Diaz and, as history would have it, while fighting up two weight classes, McGregor couldn’t beat the Diaz Brother. In fact, GSP has done something that McGregor couldn’t, beat a Diaz brother. He convincingly defeated Nate’s older brother Nick Diaz at UFC 158 in the penultimate fight of his career. Sure McGregor was more than willing to fight for two belts by moving up in weight class for a champion versus champion bout. But after his loss to Diaz, he quickly changed his tone. Moving up in two weight classes isn’t an exclusive club by any means. Dan Henderson and Rumble Johnson already make claim to that fame. Moving up in two weight classes to fight an opponent who’s really only 155 pound fighter on short notice only to lose isn’t something to brag about. Royce Gracie beat guys four modern day weight classes above him. He did it three times in one night. Competing in a champion versus champion bout and winning is something to you can take home to momma. Something GSP did when he fought BJ Penn for the second time – something that McGregor hasn’t done. BJ Penn is the last man to actually fight for two belts at the same time. As history is told, Penn got embarrassed in that fight against St. Pierre. One couldn’t help but imagine after watching UFC 196 that the one-sided loss Penn received would have been the same fate McGregor would have faced if he had fought Dos Anjos, Lawler or even GSP had he coaxed him out of his hiatus. Let’s face it GSP showed little interest in fighting Anderson Silva and the only time he was officially offered the fight, he was retired at the time and Silva was caught using banned substances weeks later. At the same time, GSP is criticized for using the fact he’s an undersized welterweight as an excuse during his career. Conor McGregor is an oversized featherweight. The jump for fighting for a title at featherweight to lightweight is only 10 pounds. However the difference between fighting at welterweight and middleweight is 15 pounds. So it’s hard to fault GSP for not being in a hurry to do it. It’s an easier feat for McGregor and I’m not trying take anything away from the reality that the bout between Dos Anjos and Connor McGregor would have happened. However GSP never said the Anderson Silva champion versus champion bout would never happen either. When it was finally offered to him, Anderson Silva was not even a champion anymore and was clearly on the downside of his career as evidenced by his recent loss to Michael Bisping. Fighting Anderson Silva is no joke. but it’s nothing special anymore as the latest offering has gone to Urijah Hall. During Silva’s title reign, GSP stated that if he was to fight him that he would be forced to vacate his title at welterweight to fight for another because of the required increase of muscle mass. Something McGregor wouldn’t do. If McGregor accomplished the accolade of the only UFC fighter to ever hold two championships in two different separate weight classes simultaneously, there was talk of McGregor moving up to welterweight to fight for the title there as well. Happily waiting in the wings was either GSP and/or Robbie Lawler. As based on GSP’s former manager’s comments to the media, he was in attendance for one reason that night as it slipped between his fingers as McGregor tasted defeat. Sitting Octagon-side, he watched the potential McGregor super fight fall short, never becoming a reality at UFC 200. Therefore instead on continuing to compare the differences between the two fighters I’ve decided to highlight the biggest similarities between the two. They both captured the hearts of a nation. GSP single handedly broke records much to the delight of his fellow countrymen. That same backdrop of success is something McGregor has become accustomed to with the Irish fans. With a strong homeland fanbase they quickly became international stars as well as pushing the UFC further into the mainstream. However McGregor and GSP stylistically during the build up of a fight differ greatly. McGregor’s relentless and promotionally favourable trash talking is in direct contrast to what GSP embodies. From the illustrious ‘Red Pantie Night’ to ‘not being impressed by your performance’ they each have very memorable one liner quotes. However, English as a first language for McGregor already outweighs GSP’s ability to captivate an audience prior to a fight. It wasn’t GSP’s style to engage in a war of words and its what’s gotten McGregor to the top. GSP viewed it as a weakness and shied away from the promotional aspect by repeating the same almost scripted lines in response to media obligations. McGregor seemingly is taking mental warfare to the next level while GSP has never really been fazed by it because it wasn’t in his best interest to engage in such things. Remembering when Nick Diaz referred to GSP as a “motherfucker,” it was later revealed that GSP took that as he fucks his own mother, explaining why he broke character during that historic media call. I don’t think GSP can be a trash talker even if he wanted to be. As talks of McGregor Diaz 2 heat up, the plan is still written on the wall. The UFC would like to see McGregor attempt to accomplish what GSP never tried to do. Problem is that mean mug of Nate Diaz is standing in his way at 155 pounds. That’s the weight class that McGregor essentially belongs at and if the cut or gain from Welterweight to Lightweight or Middleweight wasn’t 15 pounds GSP could have easily been a simultaneous two division champion. Nothing that McGregor does impresses GSP outside of his momentous captivation of patriotic fans that will result in a big pay day. McGregor’s movement training for instance, GSP was the first one to embrace this gymnast type of regiment while Rickson Gracie was the first to note it importance for fighting. Meanwhile, fanatics think its something revolutionary because McGregor is practicing it. When all is said and done. When GSP’s and McGregor’s careers are well behind them, people will look back and with all due respect, there will be conversation that revolves around who is the greatest of all time – and it will be between two people. George St Pierre and Jon Jones. After McGregor gets exposed once again, look for him to become nothing more an afterthought who hasn’t even defended his world championship title yet. Defending your title is something many modern fighters consider to be a requirement when cementing yourself as a true champion. Simply winning as a title contender isn’t the same as being the defending champion. It’s hard to declare yourself as a reigning champion if it’s short lived. GSP, as a champion, has easily accomplished what McGregor hasn’t. In the same light that there has never been a simultaneously two title champion inside the UFC, prior to GSP walking away, there has never been a UFC champion to retire as champion. Something McGregor wouldn’t do and will never do.
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