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That debate has continued to heat up as Usman racks up title defenses during his four-year run as UFC welterweight champion. And although it’s a question that will never truly be answered, the 41-year-old St-Pierre was always a master tactician in his heyday, so he’s given thought to how he’d approach a fight against MMA’s No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter.
“Usman has a style that he’s very good at chain wrestling,” St-Pierre told MMA reporter James Lynch. “He’s very good when he puts his opponent against the fence. He can do it all, he’s very well-rounded, he’s very good, but his main specialty in wresting, he’s very good at putting his opponent against the fence and working from there. My style, I was more of a guy that moves. Moves and hit and run, so to speak. That was my game.
“So my game would’ve been to put him down, but with fakes and proactive and reactive takedowns. I would’ve liked, if I would’ve fought him, try to put him on his back because I’ve never seen him there. So that would’ve been my strategy,” St-Pierre continued.
“Where someone seems stronger than everybody, there’s a place where you need to attack, because sometimes their strength can get transformed to a weak link. Because you never know how he fights on his back. Nobody has ever exposed him there. So there’s guys that are very good wrestlers, but once they’re on their back, they’ve never been there so you don’t know how they will react. So because of that, that’s what I would’ve tried to do in a fight. But would I have succeeded or not? We’ll never know.”
St-Pierre is widely considered to be one of the greatest fighters of all-time. The UFC Hall of Famer earned titles in two divisions and avenged the only two losses he suffered in his career. His nine consecutive title defenses from 2008-13 still stand as the third-longest streak of title defenses in UFC history.
Usman, on the other hand, is an undefeated 15-0 in his UFC career and holds the record for the longest win streak in UFC welterweight history. He has defended his belt five times since capturing it with a dominant win over Tyron Woodley in 2019.
So in a hypothetical superfight scenario, does St-Pierre think he could’ve been the first welterweight to solve the puzzle “The Nigerian Nightmare” presents?
“I think so, because I’m a fighter and I’m kind of biased about my [skills], because there’s nobody that I fought that I wasn’t able to put down,” St-Pierre said with a smile. “I put everybody down. But it’s a different era, different times, guys get better.
“So I don’t know. Usman is just fantastic. He’s the best right now.”