St-Pierre vs Tyson: Why GSP would win

A writer named Brian D’Souza wrote an interesting column on the Grant Brothers MMA website this week. It weighed in on a fascinating question: who would win an MMA fight between prime Georges St-Pierre and prime Mike Tyson?

The well-written, carefully thought out article can be read here:

In a nutshell, D’Souza argues that Tyson would beat St-Pierre on the strength of his superior size, speed, punching power and discipline to train hard in submission and takedown defense. It just so happens that I feel the opposite way. I’ll explain myself by counter-arguing D’Souza’s key points.

ARGUMENT #1: Tyson’s size would be too much for St-Pierre.

The initial reaction is to assume Mike Tyson is too big for Georges St-Pierre but that argument neglects two important factors: reach and weight cutting. First off, St-Pierre and Tyson are the same height, each listed at roughly 5’11”. Tyson’s reach is 72 inches; St-Pierre’s is 76. So GSP would have a chance to keep Tyson at bay with his jab.

More importantly, while Tyson fights well north of 200 pounds, he actually wouldn’t be much bigger than the biggest man GSP has faced. Thiago Alves is a beast; St-Pierre told Michael Landsberg on Off the Record that Alves walks around at up to 210 pounds yet cuts all the way down to 170.

That means St-Pierre battled a man almost Tyson’s size at UFC 100 – and one with far better takedown defense than Tyson would have.

ARGUMENT #2: Tyson’s speed would overwhelm St-Pierre

There’s no denying that Tyson’s furious speed added to his terrifying presence at the peak of his boxing career. But we should remember that St-Pierre is known for being one of the top two or three athletes in mixed martial arts. He’s fast as can be – and also a great punch evader. He scores so many takedowns largely because he dodges strikes at the perfect moment right before he shoots.

ARGUMENT #3: St-Pierre couldn’t handle Tyson’s punching power

In MMA, punching power amounts to the law of diminishing returns in my opinion. Sure, Tyson would probably hit harder than anyone in the history of MMA. But as long as you hit hard enough to have devastating one-punch knockout power, registering a 12 out of 10 on the scale won’t help you much more than a 10 out of 10 would.

I think we all agreed that both Thiago Alves and Dan Hardy had major puncher’s chances against St-Pierre. That is, if they caught him with a clean shot, they both absolutely had the ability to put him to sleep instantaneously. Tyson could do the same, yes, but what threat would he bring that Alves and Hardy haven’t already brought? All three guys are simply powerful punchers who can drop an opponent with one swing. Sure, Tyson hits even harder, but they all pose the same threat to a guy like GSP. A knockout is a knockout.

Factoring in those arguments, a prime Mike Tyson would be a faster Thiago Alves with serious KO power. GSP’s strategy wouldn’t change. He’d need to use his reach to keep Tyson at bay and look to shoot for the takedown – only he wouldn’t have to worry about Muay Thai knees or a good sprawl. It doesn’t matter how hard Tyson trained. St-Pierre has taken down MMA’s best wrestlers. Getting Tyson down wouldn’t be a problem.

So there you have it – my take on GSP/Tyson. I think St-Pierre would win because Tyson isn’t nearly as unique a challenge as some people would have you believe. And his lack of versatility would make him even more predictable than GSP’s typical opponents.

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