Gunning for KO bad idea for St. Pierre?

UFC interim welterweight titleholder Carlos Condit has never been knocked out in 33 professional fights. UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre feels he might be the first to turn the lights out on Condit.

Power Punches to Head Landed

From Striking Distance, Last Five Fights

During his 10-year career, St. Pierre hasn't exactly shown a pedigree for being a finisher with his hands. While the Canadian fighter has eight KO/TKO victories, he has not finished a fight with punches since winning the UFC welterweight title for the first time (a stoppage of Matt Hughes at UFC 65 in 2006). In that bout, however, the punches that finished the fight were set up by a St. Pierre head kick.

It’s possible St. Pierre can get the knockout, as his power-punching output has increased in his past two fights. “Rush” landed 32 power punches to the head from striking distance in his past two victories. Before that, St. Pierre landed a meager 12 over three victories.

Stay grounded

If St. Pierre wants to make an impact and remain champion, he'll need to take the fight to the ground.

Takedown accuracy, UFC history

St. Pierre had two takedowns in his unanimous decision victory over Jake Shields at UFC 129, the fewest the Canadian has had since UFC 74 win against Josh Koscheck in 2007. However, Shields and Koscheck are both known for their ground games and takedown defense.

In his previous two matchups against strikers (Dan Hardy and Thiago Alves), GSP combined for 21 takedowns in 23 attempts. In his 18 UFC fights, St. Pierre has a takedown accuracy of 77.3, the highest in UFC history.

Stand up to the takedown

Condit's takedown defense will be severely tested by St. Pierre, just as it was against other wrestling-based fighters such as Jake Ellenberger and Rory MacDonald. In Condit's first three Octagon appearances, he stopped only 23.5 percent of takedowns (4 of 17). Since then, opponents are one for four in takedown attempts against Condit.

Condit is known for his striking, and in five of his six career UFC fights, the Natural Born Killer has out-struck his opponent. Condit is 4-1 in those fights, including his past four where the striking differential was plus-113 (257 to 144).

Condit's takedown defense

While Condit will look to batter St. Pierre on the feet, the interim champ will have his hands full in doing so. In 18 UFC fights, St. Pierre has a significant strike defense percentage of 75.6, good enough for second all-time. According to FightMetric, strike defense refers to the percentage of opponents’ attempts that do not land. Condit’s game plan in standing with St. Pierre should be to attack the legs of St. Pierre. With Rush’s excellent takedown offense, leg kicks could neutralize the Canadian’s wrestling and keep the fight standing. In his fight against Diaz, Condit landed 68 leg kicks over five rounds, setting a new UFC record. Condit landed 42 leg kicks in the first three rounds of his fight against Diaz, only seven behind the record for a three-round UFC fight.

For St. Pierre to get the victory and secure a potential superfight with Anderson Silva, he might need to worry less about knocking out Condit and more about remaining the grappler who won him the title he hasn’t lost in almost five years.

Statistical support for this post provided by FightMetric.