Kenny Florian: GSP is the GOAT

Saturday, December 14, 2013

When George St-Pierre took a leave of absence of indefinite duration and vacated the UFC welterweight championship, every writer of note in the MMA space did their best to define who GSP was. No one succeeded to do so as well as well as former UFC middleweight, welterweight, lightweight, and featherweight Kenny Florian, who currently works as an analyst and color commentator.

Everyone trotted out GSP’s remarkable numbers:
•Most wins in the UFC ever with 19.  Matt Hughes and Randy Couture have 18. Chuck Liddell, and Anderson Silva have 16. Jon Fitch and Tito Ortiz have 15.
•Most title bout wins ever with 12. Anderson Silva has 11.
•Most time in the Octagon with 5:28:12. BJ Penn has 5:03:51, Tito Ortiz has 5:01:53, and Randy Couture has 4:40:06.

But numbers don’t tell the whole story. Florian didn’t talk about a man he has tried to understand from afar, he talked about a man he has trained with for years. Florian called GSP the greatest champion of all time, and explains how he got there.

I’??ll never forget the first time Georges St. Pierre called me. It was right around 2009. It was after we had already trained with each other for 10 days. I missed his call and his voicemail with his unmistakable accent was the following: “??Hi Kenny, this is Georges. Georges St. Pierre. GSP. From the UFC. I am in New York so let’??s train!”?? He wasn’??t saying it in a funny or cocky way; he was saying it just in case I had forgotten who he was. I still laugh about that voicemail.

Growing up a karateka in St. Isidore, Quebec, Canada, Georges was always a true professional in and out of the cage. In the UFC, just one slight mistake can be the difference between winning and losing and GSP was able to keep an amazing consistency in what is most likely the UFC’??s most difficult division. Georges was the new breed back when he started competing in the UFC and he remained a step ahead of the competition to the very end. In combat, if you are not evolving and improving, you are getting worse. Not only did GSP keep up with the times, he really led the pack with his unique and brutal training regiment. Whether it was his training with the Olympic wrestling team, his sports psychology training, his gymnastics or unique strength and conditioning program, GSP was probably doing it before you.

He has fears, problems and insecurities just like everyone else. He ignores them and just works at it, fanatically. He doesn’??t pick things up like jiu-jitsu or wrestling and just dominates on day one. GSP truly isn’t this freak athlete that everyone turns him out to be. He is however, a freak with his work ethic. Having him as a former training partner I have had a chance to really see what he is about over the years. The volume of training that GSP can withstand is mind-boggling. What got me to improve and fight at a high level was my work ethic and Georges always outdid me and everyone else in training. GSP’??s work ethic was at a higher level than any athlete I’??ve ever seen, period. If you asked me to describe GSP in one word, it would be ‘MORE’??. He always did more.

GSP was also smart enough to surround himself with a world class coaching staff and the best sparring partners he could find. From coaches like Firas Zahabi, Greg Jackson, John Danaher, Gia Sissaouri, or Freddie Roach, Georges always had great eyes watching him and helping him through the complex maze of mixed martial arts combat. He sparred with excellent pro boxers, elite muay-thai champions and world class BJJers and wrestlers. If he couldn’??t fly them in, he would go and train with them. If George went on vacation after a fight, it really wasn’??t a vacation because he would always bring a coach or training partner so he could train on his ‘??time off’??.

After his last fight with Thiago Alves, he told me that his main goal throughout his fight career was to be able to give back to his parents. After one of his fights, he had planned a trip to Brazil. Just before his trip, he paid off his parent’s house, cars and any other payment that they owed. Knowing his dad would be strongly opposed; he never told them and took off to Brazil for a week. He said his mother called him crying. His father was on another phone and asked him why he did that? Georges said he laughed and told them “??he did it for them.”?? Georges didn’??t tell me that to show off. He told me that because he said he had accomplished everything he had ever wanted to do in his life at that time. He was the champion in the welterweight division and his parents were taken care of financially. So after that point, GSP was just competing to compete. I knew his retirement was only a matter of time.

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