When it comes to the debate over who is the greatest of all time (GOAT) in sports, there are a multitude of valid arguments based on different criteria. However, Joe Rogan’s recent claims about Georges St-Pierre in mixed martial arts (MMA) are head-scratching and worth examining further.
Rogan, a longtime UFC commentator, argued that MMA has evolved so much that St-Pierre, a legendary two-division champion, isn’t even on the same level as Kamaru Usman’s recent opponents. He claimed that the level of competition St-Pierre faced was not as high as that of Usman’s opponents, including Colby Covington, Jorge Masvidal, and Tyron Woodley.
However, Rogan’s claims were met with skepticism, even by his country singer guest, Luke Combs. When Combs questioned whether Masvidal is better than prime GSP, Rogan doubled down with a bizarre response, claiming that Masvidal is on another level and that everyone is on another level.
While it is true that MMA as a whole is evolving and getting better, Rogan’s claims go beyond recency bias and are hilariously false. Masvidal was around at the same time as St-Pierre and had a similar number of fights by 2010, but he was not on the same level as the legendary champion.
St-Pierre was already on his ninth UFC title fight by 2010, while Masvidal was losing to lesser-known fighters in other promotions. St-Pierre also returned to competition four years later and won the belt in a higher division, proving that he was way ahead of his time.
Additionally, the argument that Masvidal’s five-second KO of Ben Askren proves he is better than St-Pierre is flawed. Askren is a great wrestler but has a complete absence of striking ability, making him more of a throwback to MMA before St-Pierre’s championship reign.
In reality, St-Pierre and Masvidal are close in age and debuts, with a similar amount of fights during well over a decade of career overlap between them. While Masvidal is a talented fighter with good branding after his iconic KO, he is not a “new age fighter” and was around during St-Pierre’s entire title reign.
“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.”
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.”