I really respect Georges St. Pierre. He’s a terrifically talented fighter and a great ambassador for the UFC and the sport of mixed martial arts. He is, by all accounts, a genuine human being, polite, respectful, well-spoken. And pretty darn dull.
Just once I’d like to see the welterweight champ display a little edginess, get fired up about something. Anderson Silva is the same way but he can get away with it because he doesn’t do interviews except through a translator and that tends to water down any emotion or attitude in what’s being said.
GSP needs to put away his playbook, go off-script and get excited about something. If he did that, if he gave a few quotes that were memorable, that were perhaps slightly out of character, that showed he possesses a full range of emotions, that he has feelings, a sense of freaking humour, his superstar status would rise even higher.
Think about it. Muhammad Ali is as well-known for his poetic way with words as he is for the rope-a-dope or the Thrilla in Manilla or any of his other classic battles. Michael Jordan wasn’t above a little trash talking and he’s one of the greatest – if not the greatest – sports brands in history, with clothing, movies, cologne, you name it. Likewise, Tiger Woods became a whole lot more interesting, especially to the casual golf fan, on those occasions when he’s lost his temper and snapped a three-iron over his knee. Nobody thinks less of him for those occasional outbursts because of how he carries himself the other 99 percent of the time. We actually think more of him in a way because it shows he’s just like us, someone who gets frustrated and angry when things don’t go his way when they should. It shows he’s fallible and human.
Now, I’m not saying GSP should turn heel and start putting his finger in the chest of a defeated opponent or that he needs to start cursing and swearing and bad-mouthing his opponents. His sportsmanlike respect for his opponents is refreshing for a fighter, but he goes out of his way to be nice and it’s starting to come across as farcical, especially when – a Matt Serra-like puncher’s chance aside – not everybody who steps in against him has a hope in hell of beating him.
Which brings me to his next fight, against Dan Hardy. Here’s a fighter that GSP could actually learn something from. Not in the cage, of course. But Hardy brings an energy, an attitude, a personality to the game. He gave a runner-up trophy to Mike Swick at the UFC 105 pre-fight press conference, for crying out loud. That’s funny. That he beat Swick makes it even funnier. Hopefully, Hardy won’t be intimidated by GSP and will continue to bring a bit of sideshow fun to the lead-up to their title fight. I’d love to see him give GSP a second-place trophy and maybe it would encourage GSP to come out of shell a little bit and remember to have some fun. Unfortunately, if the look of horror that briefly crossed Hardy’s face when GSP was introduced into the octagon after the Swick fight is any indication, Hardy might start to act a bit more like GSP, and that would be too bad because being Dan Hardy is about all Hardy has going for him right now.