by Ken Pishna
(Author’s Note: Okay, so I know that whatever I write beyond this point, I’m going to get hammered for. Either I’m a traitor for not towing the party line and going with MMAWeekly Radio co-host, Frank Trigg. Or, I’m a suck up because I want “my boy” to win. Well, I say screw it, I’m writing this preview anyway. It can’t be any worse than the cliff my wife led us down while snowboarding last winter.)
This fight between Frank Trigg and Georges St. Pierre is probably one of the most difficult fights to break down on the UFC 54 card, which is chock full of tough calls. On one side of the Octagon, you’ve got a veteran fighter in Frank Trigg that has been in title contention since his debut in the UFC 45 two years ago. On the other side stands Georges St. Pierre, a young fighter that is considered the future of the sport, who has fought his way into contention.
Trigg is a superior wrestler with a second degree Black Belt in Judo. What does that mean? That he can take your ass down. If he can take Matt Hughes down, which he did, he can take nearly anyone down. But takedowns alone rarely win fights. He’s not really known for submissions; even his defense in this area is questionable. Hughes has caught him twice with the rear naked choke and Charuto Verissimo had him in a tight triangle that he somehow managed to work his way out of.
But for what he lacks in submissions, he makes up for with his hands. Trigg knows how to throw a punch, just ask Dennis Hallman or the aforementioned Charuto. And when he lands, he lands hard.
Georges St. Pierre doesn’t have the wrestling pedigree that Trigg does. He’s not a world champion Judo player. He hasn’t won the Shidokan or traveled to Thailand to win a Muay Thai title. There is no one discipline that St. Pierre has conquered. He is a mixed martial artist, first and foremost. This is why he is considered the future of the sport, because he trains for the sport. He is not a boxer or wrestling adding on to complement his style. His style is mixed martial arts. And he’s damn good at it.
St. Pierre is good enough in all areas to compete with Trigg. His takedowns aren’t as good as Trigg’s, but he’ll be able to sprawl and stop some of them. His submissions are better. His stand up is probably better as well. St. Pierre definitely has more tools in his stand-up arsenal. He knows and is not afraid to launch a spinning back kick or a hook kick to the head. Trigg has more power in his hands, but what St. Pierre may lack in power, he makes up for with his impressive hand speed.
Experience could be the decisive factor in this one as Trigg has fought three times more than St. Pierre. He’s defeated guys like Jean Jacques Machado (a BJJ legend), Fabiano Iha, Dennis Hallman, Charuto Verissimo and others. For his part, St. Pierre hasn’t taken the easy road to his 8-1 record. He has victories over fighters such as Pete Spratt, Karo Parisyan, Dave Strasser, and Jason Miller. His only loss was in what may have been a premature title shot against Matt Hughes. But the loss to Hughes, in which he performed well, even dominating the fight up until being caught in a submission, only seemed to strengthen his confidence and propel him to greater heights.
With Trigg coming off of a loss to Hughes (the second in two attempts to lay claim the champ’s belt) and with the build up of St. Pierre being the next coming, there’s really a lot of pressure on both fighters to be able to notch up a win in this one. Trigg needs to shake the Hughes losses off of his psyche and St. Pierre needs the win against a top caliber veteran to solidify his credibility as a true contender.
This is a very close fight and one that is nearly a coin toss to call. But I know if I don’t give an edge to one or the other, I know my head will be on a chopping block. So here it goes; I’m giving the edge to Trigg. His back is against the wall. If he doesn’t beat St. Pierre, the top up and comer in the division, he may as well write a one-way ticket away from a future title shot. That is the kind of adversity he responds so well to. After losing to Hughes the first time, he came back stronger and better than ever exacting his revenge on Hallman and Charuto.
That’s not to say that it will be an easy fight and it is anything but a sure bet. If he doesn’t bring his “A” game against this “B” level fighter (sorry Frank, I couldn’t resist), he will lose. But if he comes at St. Pierre with everything he’s got, Trigg has the experience and the wherewithal to bang out a win. St. Pierre’s time will come, but I don’t think it will be right now.