From their days training together at Jackson's MMA in Albuquerque, New Mexico, former UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans and UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre have forged a bond. They're friends and often if not always speak fondly of one another. They've both also developed a keen sense of the other's abilities and limitations as fighters, which gives them insight into what they can and can't do.
Sure, there's bias there, but for all of their rose-colored glasses, there's an equal amount of conviction. That's why Evans, who has dealt with knee injuries during the ups and downs of his own mixed martial arts career, had high praise for his friend and former training partner after his big win over Carlos Condit on Saturday at UFC 154.
Evans wasn't merely relieved to see St-Pierre physically able to move around, but specifically noted how smart he believed the French-Canadian's game plan was in addition to being highly effective.
"I thought it was outstanding," Evans said of St-Pierre's comeback performance on Monday's The MMA Hour. "Right out the gate, he did something to Carlos which really changed it up from the beginning. He put him on a black line, that outside edge of the cage. And he kept him on that black line, pretty much kept him on his heels the entire time. It's really hard to mount an offensive attack when you're on your heels and you're backing up. That was something Georges did right out the gate. The only time he did get in trouble, Carlos was pushing forward and he got caught with that left high kick."
Now that St-Pierre is back to what appears to be full form, a proposed super fight with UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva looms on the horizon and Evans knows it. While St-Pierre has been non-committal about it and has never publicly stated he likes the idea, Evans doesn't seem to think that's an issue.
The Blackzillian light heavyweight told Ariel Helwani on Monday's show that St-Pierre's best skills match up neatly with Silva's most glaring weaknesses. Asked if St-Pierre has a shot against 'The Spider', Evans was unequivocal.
"Oh yeah, I definitely think he has a shot against Anderson," he said. "One thing about Anderson is this right here: Anderson's a great fighter, but one thing with Anderson is that he has such a problem with defending the takedown. And then on the ground even sometimes he allows people to advance position way too much."
"You see Chael Sonnen, the second time he fought him," Evans continued. "He took him down and before the round's over he had him in mount. You get a guy like Georges St-Pierre in a position like that, Anderson may not make it to another round."
in fairness, Evans - who admitted Silva is one of his favorite fighters to watch compete when he's just being a fan and not a UFC light heavyweight - didn't think it'd be a walk in the park for St-Pierre. Sure, GSP is widely regarded as the better wrestler between the two and arguably the best MMA wrestler in the sport. But what about closing the distance? Silva may not have the wrestling of St-Pierre, but he's also believed by many to manage the real estate between himself and his opposition in fights better than most others. Could St-Pierre really work through that to bring his wrestling to life?
"You know [Silva]'s going to get taken down," Evans argued, "but what it comes down to is does Georges have enough razzle dazzle in order to get in to take a shot? And I say 'yes'".
Evans doesn't suggest beating Silva will be easy for St-Pierre and suggested he'd be more than willing to help the welterweight champion prepare for such a challenge if he's called upon to help. Silva is a stiff test for anyone, the UFC welterweight champion included.
But while Evans acknowledges beating Silva is no given for St-Pierre or any other UFC fighter, he didn't hesitate to go on the record about his prediction for the fight should it happen. Challenges and all, Evans firmly believes St-Pierre has what it takes to become arguably the best pound-for-pound fighter alive.
"I think Georges beats Anderson, yeah," he said. "I really do."