Posted by State_Champ
I think maybe the reason GSP angers me is because he SEEMS to take fewer risks and/or finish his title defense fights less often than other champs.
Being the nerd that I am, and having some time to kill, I decided to look into the second part of your thesis. I don't think there's any way to quantify whether he takes more risks, so I'm looking at whether he finishes opponents in title fights (not just title defenses).
GSP: 8 title fights, 6 wins - 3 by sub or TKO, 3 by decision.
Anderson Silva: 7 title fights, 7 wins - 6 by sub or TKO, 1 by decision. iirc, the Lutter fight wasn't technically a title fight because Lutter failed to make weight, but I included it here anyway.
B.J. Penn: 3 Lightweight title fights, 3 wins - all by sub or TKO.
Sean Sherk won 2 Lightweight title fights by decision before Penn, so that's 3 finishes and 2 decisions in the 5 Lightweight title fights since the division was reinstated.
Of the last 6 UFC Light-Heavyweight title fights, 3 have ended with TKOs and 3 have gone to a decision.
The UFC Heavyweight title is harder to track, with all these "interim" belts. If I'm doing it right, the last 6 title fights have included 4 TKOs and 2 Decisions.
Of the last 6 WEC Featherweight title fights, 4 have ended with a sub or TKO and 2 have gone to a decision.
Of the last 6 WEC Bantamweight title fights, 5 have ended with a sub or TKO and 1 went to a decision.
Overall, the "batting average" of these title-fight winners, vis-a-vis finishing fights, has been a collective .667. That is, two-thirds of the 42 title fights cited above ended with a finish and one-third ended with a decision. GSP is below-par, with only a .500 average.
However, there's one more thing in GSP's favor, and people have already mentioned it in this thread: The quality of his opponents. I can find only two measures of a fighter's "strength of schedule", but both of them favor GSP over every fighter in the sport, but one. Fight Matrix
compiles their "Division Dominance"
list, using a formula that they keep to themselves.
"The division dominance list," they write, "is comparable to a pound-for-pound list, [and] ranks fighters based on their point level superiority over those in the division in which they are currently ranked."
"One important thing to note is that there are two important factors that comprise a fighter’s division dominance rating. The strength of the division’s top fighters and the fighter’s own current rating."
So this rating isn't itself a "strength of schedule" score, but incorporates the quality of a fighter's opposition. GSP heads this list by a significant margin, with 206 points over Anderson Silva's 165. MMA-ELO
calculates a fighter's strength-of-schedule score, and GSP's 1857 is not only the 2nd-best currently, it's the 2nd-best of all time (behind B.J. Penn's 1867). That's a career score, and doesn't include last night's fight, so it's actually a little bit higher than that. I would guess that if we were to calculate strength-of-schedule values for only the title fights (which I'm not nerd enough to do), the SoS score would go up and not down. I think this would be true for all fighters, not just GSP, but his relative position on that list probably wouldn't change much. In fact, if anything, he might pass B.J. and place 1st.