Who would have won GSP or the Spider in their Prime?

Here we will talk about a hypothetical fight between two of the greatest UFC fighters of all time. We are going to go through the stats of these fighters if they would have fought during their prime reign in the UFC. Anderson Silva’s prime was obviously during his 16-fight win streak in the UFC, but we will look at him in 2011 in the midst of his win streak right after he front kicked Belfort in the face. Silva will win his next three fights and will finally lose to Weidman in 2013 and his trajectory in the UFC changes forever. We will look at George St-Pierre right after 2011, as well where he has won the title back from Sierra and reigned over the Welterweight division for about 3 years with an8 fight win streak. GSP will never lose another fight again and dominates the Welterweight division for another couple years up until he retires in 2013 after a controversial fight against Johny Hendricks. GSP does come back for one more fight against Bisping for the Middleweight championship of the world and defeats him in 2017 to become the Middleweight champion. He wanted to build his legacy by going up in weight due to missing the opportunity with Silva. Everyone always wants to know who would’ve won the fight and taken home the glory of the ultimate fight of the UFC.  Well, we are going to go back in time and use our models, data from the time period, and our thoughts on the fighters to see where it would have ended up if these guys would have taken the leap to fight at Middleweight, Welterweight or at a Catchweight.

First, let’s breakdown their overall comparison stats to get a feel for 2011 Silva and 2011 GSP. They look pretty comparable… Silva has better total striking accuracy, but the grappling stats go to GSP. These are pretty fair knowing that GSP is fighting in a smaller division, and it should be analyzed appropriately. GSP’s takedown percentage at this point in his career is 77%. It absolutely unheard of to have 15 wins and a takedown percentage this high where everyone knows you want to take it to the ground. However, GSP also has a takedown defense over 80%. The only other individual with stats like this is Max Holloway (19-20), but he is a striker so when he goes for a takedown itis successful due to surprise.

Reviewing the other metric stats, it clearly shows the way these fighters try to win their fights. Silva will stand and dominate anyone with his impeccable power, whereas GSP will hold you down and dominate you by time of control or submission. At this time in the UFC, GSP had 15 wins by GSP, and Silva had 14 wins. Both fighters were the best at what they did.

Both fighters dominated in their career… but how much? By 2011, GSP fought 17 times. and Silva fought 14 times. By then, GSP has a total dominance score of 47.24 and Silvas has 65.56. Silva averaged a 4.68 score, which means a submission or knockout would come when fighting him. GSP scored an average of 2.78, which is the score given when winning by a unanimous decision. Silva has the edge in his striking and dominance score, and this shows the power and accuracy of the Middleweight champion. However, let’s run our Bayesian simulation model to go through the fighters’ careers and simulate the chances of them winning against the other fighter. Using this method, BCDC is 86% sure that Silva was the better fighter with a 6% chance of being wrong. This means we have an 80-86% chance of Silva winning this fight against GSP. However, we need to break down this fight more and see what else we can do to make sure we have touched on everything. 

Georges St-Pierre is 11-0 against fighters with 7 or more for Total Strikes Attempts per min, and he is 7-0 against fighters with 6 or more Significant Strike Attempts per min. GSP has handled this type of accurate or pace fighters before and has done well against them. We have no significant stats for Silva when facing a similar opponent to GSP, and this is because GSP’s stats are insane. Nobody has fought someone so successful data-wise in the octagon. From a historical data perspective, we would have to go with GSP on this one because there are so many stats where GSP is undefeated against opponents like Silva. 

I want to go over one more big thing for me, and it is Silva’s fight with Chael Sonnen in 2012. This is a year out from this historical data we are referencing, and Chael Sonnen absolutely dominates Silva… but gets caught in a submission to lose the fight. Sonnen is a typical grappler with a 42% takedown at this time and controlled the entire fight. Sonnen has taken grappling to a level most do not, but most also do not grapple like GSP. At this time in 2011, GSP had a control time of 53 minutes in the octagon and Sonnen had less than 40 minutes. GSP had 19 submissions at this time, and Sonnen had 2 going into 2012. Personally, from the data and weighing it slightly different for Welterweights than Middleweights, I give the edge to GSP in grappling skills. 

Finally, let’s use our machine learning models to predict the fight and see who is most likely to win this fight. We are going to give results at certain weight classes (Welterweight, Middleweight, Catchweight) in this order.

Our Welterweight choice would have been Anderson Silva. 

Our Middleweight choice would have been George St-Pierre.

Our model projects this would have been a ground fight and the fight would have gone the distance. GSP is the fighter who averages a unanimous decision and has more ground fights. 

Our Catchweight model would have George St-Pierre.

Our final answer for who would win this fight is George St-Pierre. George would have won this fight and likely done what Sonnen did for four rounds against Silva. Personally, nobody has data quite like GSP. George will always be in the record books for going up against a formidable opponent in Bisping to win the title. I think it would be close and both fighters were the best of all time in 2011. GSP wins this fight by going to the ground using his wrestling skills to control the time and fight to his advantage. 

Please reach out on Twitter for who you want us to do next week!

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