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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Georges St. Pierre: Kicking it, Canadian-style

Georges20st20pierreYou thought hockey was Canada's sport? Think again. In “Kicking it, Canadian-style,” John Robson makes his case for karate:

"What could be more Canadian than a karate chop? Asked to name a sport where punches are thrown, some people in this country might dimly remember something called pro hockey. But martial arts are increasingly popular here, for their health, psychological and social benefits. It is odd that karate gets so little press or government attention."

Karate, in particular, may not get much press, but mixed martial arts (MMA) has had a sensational rise in popularity since 2005. The sport is fast becoming mainstream -- and both karate and Canada are at the centre of this new attention.

The world’s premier MMA organization hosted its first ever event in Canada tonight (Saturday) in Montreal, and karate-trained Georges St. Pierre was the fighter everyone was talking about. Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fans call him GSP and he fights out of Montreal as a welterweight at 170 pounds. While Kyokushin karate is his primary discipline, he’s perhaps the most well-rounded and athletic MMA fighter in the world. With tonight’s win over Matt Serra, he’s also once again the UFC welterweight champ.

So through the phenomenal rise of MMA, karate is finally getting the attention Robson thinks it deserves. As for government attention, be careful what you wish for, Robson. The last time this sport captured the attention of the government was when Republican presidential candidate John McCain tried to shut it down.

Posted by Matthew Johnston on April 19, 2008 | Permalink


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Now that GSP has kicked Serra's butt, its Hughes turn to shut that little flunky up.

Posted by: Tank | 2008-04-19 10:48:06 PM

As a coach and former athlete, I respect all disciplines of martial arts. MMA contains elements of most forms, but is not much of a platform for any particular discipline. Karate, in it's purest form is not well represented in MMA. Neither is boxing. If anything, wrestling and ju jitsu seem to be the favourite styles.

My sport and many others have suffered from the migration of fans to MMA. It might be a temporary situation. The big problem is, the entertainment dollar only goes so far. We could see some new strategies and marketing from the more traditional sports. There was a big name boxing match on free TV at the same time as tonight's MMA show.

So Marc, did you watch on PPV?

Posted by: dp | 2008-04-19 10:54:25 PM

I just got out.
What as fighter. An artist.
Oléééé olé olé olé...

Posted by: Marc | 2008-04-19 11:12:50 PM

I agree Marc. Also a good role model. No trash talk, no bragging, all business. By the look of it, Montreal might be in line for more events.

Did you hear Bernard Hopkins screaming that no white person would ever beat him? A sickening display. Well, he was wrong. Calzaghe won the decision.

Posted by: dp | 2008-04-19 11:23:19 PM

For a connaisseur, you seems to forget that Adrian Diaconu, a Montrealer - member of Interbox, became World Champion tonight after his fight against Chris Henry. With Lucas, Bute, Alcine, Jean Pascal...Montreal is already pretty well known for it's present fighters and events.
Our present boxers but also, as you know, our long list of former champions.

I love Calzaghe. A machine that will not be stop soon. I like Hopkins too.

Posted by: Marc | 2008-04-19 11:38:00 PM

...MMA is just WWF upside down.

Posted by: tomax7 | 2008-04-20 11:33:00 AM

Could Georges St. Pierre be next in line for Anderson Silva?

The Canadian Press is reporting that UFC president Dana White likes the idea:

"There's not a lot of guys out there for Anderson to face," White acknowledged. "It's not a bad idea for him (St. Pierre) to move to 185 and give it a shot. He looked good tonight, he looked amazing. He looked like the guy that we expect him to look like. I'd call him pound-for-pound No. 2 in the world."

I'm not sure what you mean by "WWF upside down," tomax7 -- but this headline in the Montreal Gazette likely summarizes your views:

"Hockey Shrine Overrun by Barbarians"

The UFC event took place at the Bell Centre.

Of course, the UFC is not barbarism.

Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2008-04-20 12:02:55 PM

"Could Georges St. Pierre be next in line for Anderson Silva?"


"Next in line" says it all. If his management team is thinking about such a match, they should be fired.

He could be champion for a couple of years, enjoy the spotlight, make a couple of million dollars, and get the experience he needs to beat Silva. Or, he could pack on a few pounds, get totally distracted by the spotlight of such a match, get knocked out (and possibly messed up, like Franklin), and fade into memory as a Canadian flash in the pan.

A fifteen pound gap is a legitimate reason(excuse) to avoid Silva.

Posted by: dp | 2008-04-20 1:11:28 PM

PS: Dana White is a meat bug. He's no better than Don King, Bob Arum, or Vince McMahon. He's never set foot in a ring, but pretends to have some sort of knowledge of the sport. GSP's health, career, and future mean absolutely nothing to him.

Posted by: dp | 2008-04-20 1:20:08 PM

Good analysis, dp. I agree.

Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2008-04-20 3:02:45 PM

Not so fast dp
Dana White was an amateur boxer and coached youngsters at a YMCA in Boston for years.
Last year MMA fighter Tito Ortiz challenged Dana White to an exhibition bout which he trained for over six months for. Unfortunately the fight never occurred when Ortiz pulled out at the last minute.
Dana White almost single handedly resurected a discredited and insolvent UFC and turned it into a highly respected combat sport entity, the top tier of the fastest growing sport in the world.
To slag a savvy operator like Dana White by saying that he doesn't care about the health and welfare of one of the games best draws and excellent ambassador of the sport is a ludicrous statement.
Get your facts straight before you start beaking off about something you obviously have no knowledge of.

Posted by: robert | 2008-04-21 9:42:01 AM


Dana White had no amateur fights. He was a gym rat for a couple of years, which means he was never considered ready for competition. The Ortiz challenge was a stunt. I watched a clip of White working hand pads. He was not in shape, he had no skills, he was not ready for his FIRST competition. He was actually an aerobics instructor, not a boxing coach.

He turned out to be a good manager, but his participation as some sort of matchmaker is a joke. Going to school with some rich guys was pretty well his greatest accomplishment.

Posted by: dp | 2008-04-21 10:05:10 AM

Oh hell, lets stir the pot some more.

90% of the MMA matches I've seen were totally boring. These guys look like a couple of newlyweds, rolling around, humping at each other. The only time there's any real excitement is when someone actually shows some boxing or muay thai skills. It's like watching a hockey fight. Out of the 100's of competitions, and 1000's of MMA fighters, we're seeing about 50 fighters who can actually create excitement.

There are probably more than 50 boxers in Tijuana alone who could put on a more exciting performance.

Brett Hart made a great observation. When someone gets killed on TV, parents will wish their kids were watching something else. Of course he knows plenty about allowing a sleazy manager to make life and death decisions for you. His brother died because the stunts just kept getting more outrageous.

I think MMA will continue to attract fans, and will be a good alternative for athletes who lack the skills to compete in more specialized sports. I've always felt the UFC is great revenge for us white trash. I'll continue to watch occasionally, when there are no good boxing matches on. Just remember that 20,000 fans watched GSP, but Joe Calzaghe has packed in over 50,000 in Wales on several occasions. Boxing is still the ultimate test of strength and will.

And to those who claim there are too many rules in boxing, there are just as many rules in today's UFC. Otherwise, some guy with a flamethrower would be UFC champ for the next 10 years.

Posted by: dp | 2008-04-21 10:49:34 AM

There's a guy in my town who's having his first MMA match this weekend. He's no ordinary guy. He's had over 200 amateur boxing matches. He fought in the 2004 olympics. His first match is against someone with 14 MMA matches under his belt. No one else would step up because of his boxing experience. I'll be following his progress with interest. If he makes the transition it will surprise me.

What surprises me more is the fact that he got a license to fight so easily. He trains in a gym that has no creditation. His coaches are self-appointed MMA experts. His training partners have no competitive experience.

You may wonder why he didn't become a pro boxer, given his vast amateur experience. Answer: he suffers from chronic back problems. WHAT? God Almighty. This is no sport for someone with back trouble.

The shine will wear off the MMA craze once some of these situations are brought to light. They go on and on about how there's never been anyone killed in the UFC. Where's the fun in that?

Posted by: dp | 2008-04-21 5:09:38 PM

Hey, Tank. I think a better match up would be Josh Koscheck against Matt Hughes. Although maybe Serra deserves a little more time in the limelight. He was the welterweight champ for a while.

Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2008-04-23 7:48:33 PM

"My sport and many others have suffered from the migration of fans to MMA."

What is your sport, dp?

Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2008-04-25 10:34:28 AM

MJ- 30 years of amateur boxing, athlete and then coach. Two of my sons now compete.

Just to be clear, I don't begrudge the success of MMA. I actually enjoy some of the events. I'm actively attempting to put together events that combine several martial arts disciplines. My athletes train with athletes form different sports. One snag I've run into is from associations that want to hold onto old ideas. I recognize the need to work together.

Check this out. It's an interesting match, featuring a friend of mine who's in his forties.


We are in the planning stages of combining this with amateur boxing in hopes that the respective fans will become interested in both sports.

Posted by: dp | 2008-04-25 10:54:38 AM

That was a great fight. Standard kick boxing rules, I presume. Without the clinch, stand-up fights move quickly. I think showcasing different disciplines on a card is a good idea. Good luck with it.

Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2008-04-25 11:14:04 AM

Thanks for the support. By the way, there's an MMA event in Calgary this weekend. One of the combatants will be the ex-boxer I mentioned earlier. It might be interesting.

Posted by: dp | 2008-04-25 12:09:44 PM

dp, one of the Western Standard's orginal co-founders is a sponsor of tonight's MMA event, so I'll catch the show and report back as to how well your boxer made the transition to MMA.

Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2008-04-26 1:52:56 PM

Trevor Stewardson, the former Olympic boxer you mentioned above, dp, won a decisive first round victory against Jacob Macdonald. Stewardson showed great striking skills (as you would expect) and a very good take-down defence. He's made the transition to MMA.

Posted by: Matthew Johnston | 2008-04-27 1:38:53 PM

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