Georges St. Pierre’s seventeen month journey back to the Octagon culminates on Saturday night in Montréal. Once the cage door opens, Carlos Condit will be waiting with anything but open arms and a firm desire to remove the interim status from his championship reign. This is a fascinating fight for a variety of reasons despite the resounding opinion of a GSP victory.
Carlos Condit’s perennial contender status made it abundantly clear we would see this fight someday. He will be the most well rounded fighter GSP has ever faced. The precision and dedication Condit applies to his craft suggests he will be in the best shape of his life. Don’t let the moniker of “Natural Born Killer” fool you. Condit is a level headed fighter who will not be easily broken. The application of his game plan against Nick Diaz convinced the three most important people in the world he was the better fighter. This can be attributed to Condit’s ability to see angles that most fighters never know to look for. The one thing GSP has not displayed in his remarkable career is the ability to come back from adversity. That is not a knock but simply a matter of fact. If Condit smells blood, it will be very difficult storm to weather.
GSP victims of the past believed they had the recipe for success. Jon Fitch believed he could methodically grind his way to the welterweight championship and GSP flipped the script and did it better. Josh Koscheck thought his all American wrestling credentials would seal the deal and he was overwhelmed with bone crushing jabs. Dan Hardy assumed his superior striking ability would do the trick and his grappling deficiencies were exposed. Through meticulous preparation, St. Pierre was able to negate their strengths and highlight their weaknesses. This is what makes him the epitome of an elite fighter. He is coming off a torn ACL in his right knee that resulted in a lengthy recovery period. He stated in recent interviews he wasn’t finishing his opponents because he lost the desire to fight and went on to proclaim the old GSP is back and that he will finish Condit.
How much of a factor will Greg Jackson’s absence play in the bout? The esteemed trainer has opted out of training or cornering either fighter to avoid a conflict of interest. Firas Zahabi is GSP’s head trainer and on fight night, he will run the corner which is normally Jackson’s role. Mike Winkeljohn, who trains fighters alongside Greg Jackson is Condit’s head trainer and will run the corner on fight night, also roles normally reserved for Jackson. Condit was quoted at a press conference stating he brought additional people into camp to replace Jackson’s missing expertise. That is a hard adjustment to make when you are preparing for the biggest fight of your career. While it has been speculated about, it is not known why Zahabi is normally, not in charge of St. Pierre’s corner on fight night. He will be in charge on Saturday and we will find out if it is a role he and his fighter are comfortable in.
So, how does the fight play out? Conventional wisdom says Condit gets taken down at will and loses a decision. What about GSP’s knee? Is it one hundred percent? If so, will he be confident enough to work off his lead leg? These questions won’t be answered until fight time. However, GSP’s trademark of finding a way around or through a situation is indicative of his world class pedigree. There are more obstacles this time out and Condit’s striking will be difficult to subdue but the world champion shall overcome.
The Pick: Georges St. Pierre via unanimous decision