When it comes to interesting albeit pointless “GOAT” debates in sports, people’s criteria are vastly different so there’s just a multitude of things that can be validly argued. I’m not sure we can say the same about Joe Rogan’s recent head-scratching claims about Georges St-Pierre though.
The longtime UFC commentator argued that mixed martial arts has already evolved so much that the legendary two-division champion isn’t even on the same level of Kamaru Usman’s recent opponents.
“I just think the level of competition he faced is higher. GSP was so good he raised the bar,” Rogan said on his podcast (via BJPenn.com). “But, you look at GSP’s victories. He beat some very good guys, but I think the guys Kamaru Usman beat — Colby Covington, Jorge Masvidal, Tyron Woodley — I think they are better.”
Even his country singer guest in Luke Combs thought this claim was worth questioning. But as the musician checked if he really believed that Masvidal is better than prime GSP, Rogan only doubled down with a bizarre response.
“Yeah,” Rogan responded. “I think if Masvidal was around at that time he would be dangerous for everybody, I think he is on another level. I think everyone is on another level.
“The Masvidal that knocked out Ben Askren, that was one of the craftiest moves that anyone has ever done. He went sideways and ran straight at him and Askren’s instincts kicked in and he kneed him into the dark lands. Just one shot, boom, into the shadow realm. Masvidal, I mean he knocked out Yves Edwards with a f—g head kick back in the day. He is a f—g assassin. Masvidal is a gangster.”
MMA as a whole is evolving and getting better, but that’s probably the only thing Rogan is right about here. No disrespect to Masvidal, who has always been a fun and talented fighter, but Rogan’s claims are hilariously false and goes way beyond recency bias.
The most obvious thing to point out is that Masvidal was around at that time, and if anyone was “better” and “on another level,” it’s certainly not him.
St-Pierre and Masvidal made their MMA debuts just a year apart in 2002 and 2003. They’ve also had roughly the same amount of fights (23 and 26) by 2010, but while St-Pierre was already on his ninth UFC title fight, Masvidal was getting TKO’d by Rodrigo Damm in Sengoku and getting inverted triangled by Toby Imada in Bellator.
St-Pierre and Masvidal then spent three years together under Zuffa, where one was adding to his incredible championship resume, and the other was losing to the likes of Gilbert Melendez and Rustam Khabilov.
Seemingly proving that he was way ahead of his time, St-Pierre also returned to competition four years later and won the belt on a higher division.
And if a five second KO win is an argument for Masvidal, it’s worth pointing out how Askren — who spent years as Bellator champ during GSP’s reign — is the antithesis of a “modern MMA fighter.” He’s a great wrestler, but the complete absence of striking ability was more of a throwback to MMA before GSP’s championship run even.
GSP and Masvidal are close in age and debuts, with a similar amount of fights during well over a decade of career overlap between them. He deserves praise for longevity and good branding after his iconic KO, but Masvidal definitely isn’t some “new age fighter.” They’re both from the same era, with Masvidal being around during GSP’s entire title reign.
I understand being more detached from MMA since getting that $100M Spotify deal, but Rogan should know this. He was literally there when it all happened.
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