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GSP Vs. Woodley: Who Is The Welterweight G.O.A.T?

Tyron Woodley followed up his UFC 228 win over the weekend by making it clear that he believes himself to be the greatest 170lb-r of all-time and as a result, we feel it’s only fitting that we stack his accomplishments up against the legendary Georges St-Pierre.

Five rounds, five categories, and only one eventual winner.

The scoring criteria will follow the ’10-Point Must’ system, meaning that the winner of each round will receive 10 points, while the loser gets 9 or less.

A 10-9 will indicate a victory of any sort while a 10-8 will be given if there is a clear gap between the two.

So without further ado, let’s get things started.

Round 1 – Calibre of opponents beaten throughout career

Georges St-Pierre’s notable wins: Matt Hughes, Michael Bisping, BJ Penn, Nick Diaz, Carlos Condit, Johny Hendricks, Matt Serra, Sean Sherk, Jon Fitch, Thiago Alves, Dan Hardy, Jake Shields, Frank Trigg.

Of course, we’re looking at a much longer streak in the world’s premier mixed martial arts promotion but let’s be honest here, the resumé of the Canadian superstar is one of the finest the sport has ever seen.

It doesn’t matter how you felt about some of the less-than-entertaining wins of his career, Georges was able to defeat some of the very best to ever do it – a feat he managed to achieve while minimizing risk to himself.

When you’ve been fighting and beating guys as dangerous as he has, even besting the champ at middleweight – that makes for one helluva resumé.

Tyron Woodley’s notable wins: Darren Till, Demian Maia, Josh Koscheck, Stephen Thompson, Robbie Lawler, Carlos Condit, Kelvin Gastelum

Ok, this one might divide people. His resumé might not have the name-power that GSP’s does. And sure, it’s a result of him having a shorter career more than anything else but when you break down the fights that he has won – it’s pretty clear that the matchups were incredibly difficult.

In his run as the champ, Woodley has defeated two of the trickiest matchups in the sport’s modern era in Demian Maia and Stephen Thompson. In doing so, he managed to crack a pair of seemingly uncrackable puzzles – allowing future opponents of both men to do the same.

He might not have won the hearts of many fans with his methodical approach in doing so, but make no mistake – Woodley proved his greatness with those two victories.

His accomplishments to date still pale in comparison to those of GSP, though, so for now, we’re going to have to award round-1 to the Canadian.

RD 1: 10-9 to Georges St-Pierre

Overall: 10 -9 to Georges St-Pierre

Round 2 – Performance in UFC title-fights

GSP’s UFC championship record: (13-2)

Woodley’s UFC championship record: (4-0-1)

Title bouts are where legends are made. The stakes are at their highest and the two extra rounds allow us to truly see what a fighter is made of.

Both guys have proven their ability to go the full five rounds on several occasions but on the merits of the sheer length of his title-reign, I’m more than prepared to give this one to St-Pierre.

He did lose out by way of stoppage to both Matt Hughes and Matt Serra but since he avenged both of those losses, his overall performances with titles on the line are unparalleled.

RD 2: 10-9 to Georges St-Pierre

Overall: 20-18 to Georges St-Pierre

NEW YORK - MARCH 24: Georges St-Pierre of Montreal, Quebec, Canada speaks at a press conference for UFC 111 at Radio City Music Hall on March 24, 2010 in New York City. St-Pierre will face Dan Hardy of Nottingham UK in the Welterweight title bout. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

Round 3 – Ability to impose strengths

Both guys are extremely talented wherever the fight goes, make no mistake, but again, when you consider each man’s career on whole – there is only one clear winner.

Woodley’s strengths mainly lie in his power, wrestling, and fight IQ. Barring his more straight-forward domination of Darren Till last weekend, the biggest problem for Tyron in his title-reign has been finding the balance between attack and defence.

He hasn’t exactly looked vulnerable to any of the guys he has beaten since winning the title but most widely held criticisms of him revolve around his willingness to allow time to go on without exerting too much of himself. It has clearly worked but when you look at Georges for contrast, there is a noticeable gulf in this category.

St-Pierre fights wherever he wants to fight. In his run at 170lbs, his takedowns were seen as the very best in MMA and in a run that saw him out-grapple the likes of Matt Hughes, Josh Koscheck, and Jon Fitch, he managed to establish himself as the perhaps the finest example of an MMA grappler of all-time.

Woodley fights his fight, there’s no doubt about it, but make no mistake, GSP’s ability to work to his strengths is on another level.

RD 3: 10-9 to Georges St-Pierre

Overall: 30-27 to Georges St-Pierre

Round 4 – Ability to overcome weaknesses

It’s hard to pinpoint a chink in the armour of the formerly-dominant 170lb champion St-Pierre.

Sure, you can express your dissatisfaction with the lack of finishes in his later run, but in his return to action against Michael Bisping at UFC 217, GSP proved his ability to answer all of the questions that loomed large over his career up until that point.

It’s hard to grade Georges in this category considering how water-tight he has been up until this point but in the case of Tyron Woodley, the rather glaring holes in his games have been sealed up emphatically since he won the belt.

Cardio was always pointed to as a weakness for ‘The Chosen One’. Even during his run in Strikeforce, his muscle-bound figure was always seen as one that would prevent him from pushing into the championship rounds.

As he matured, though, the incredibly explosive welterweight began to settle into himself more – allowing a slower and more manageable pace that would almost lull his opponent into a rhythm before he would strike with that right-hand. Woodley has dropped each of his foes in his last five fights and appears to be retaining his power well into the later rounds.

It might be a consequence of the airtight skillset of St-Pierre, but Tyron takes this round in my view.

RD 4: 10-9 to Tyron Woodley

Overall: 39-37 to Georges St-Pierre

Round 5 – Standing in the pound-for-pound G.O.A.T conversation

This is an important category. A fighter’s standing in the P4P conversation does give us a solid indicator of how the world perceives them in relation to the other top-level fighters of their era.

Woodley has been underrated by the various members of the media who vote on the list for sure, but with his most recent win over Darren Till, there’s no doubt in the minds of most that he’s within the top-5 or even top-3 fighters on the planet today.

He has unfortunately never done enough to warrant a shout at the P4P #1 spot.

St-Pierre’s talent was never in question. He ruled his division in the era that saw the likes of Anderson Silva, José Aldo, and Jon Jones at their very best and even still, had a credible argument at being the very best to ever do it.

On the merits of the level of his competition for the top-spot and the length of time he spent in it, GSP takes this one and seals things up in the fifth.

RD 5: 10-9 to Georges St-Pierre

Final Score: 49-46 to Georges St-Pierre

A comfortable win for St-Pierre as expected but don’t let the 4-1 scoreline distract you from the fact that Tyron Woodley is an all-time great welterweight.

He might have reached his peak a little later in his career but the American is an elite talent. Who knows if we’ll ever get the opportunity to see these two ever fight but for what it’s worth – only one man can be crowned the 170lb G.O.A.T as things stand.

Cillian Cunningham, Pundit Arena

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Author: Cillian Cunningham

Lead mixed martial arts writer who can be contacted at [email protected]