May 1, 2011
GSP wins but didn't finish the job
By NEIL SPRINGER, QMI AGENCY
It wasn't pretty, but it got the job done.
Despite having blurred vision in his left eye, Georges (Rush) St. Pierre managed to outwork challenger Jake Shields to retain his welterweight championship via unanimous decision in the main event of UFC 129 at the Rogers Centre Saturday.
St. Pierre's wrestling looked sharp as he defended all Shield's takedown attempts and even scored a few of his own in the later rounds to mess with his opponent's confidence. Going into the fight, many felt St. Pierre's biggest advantage was in the striking department, yet this is where he actually lost rounds.
For someone who is constantly criticized for his stand-up game, Shields won two rounds on two of the judges' scorecards for bloodying St. Pierre and causing his left eye to close. The scoring is somewhat debatable, but there's no denying the striking exchanges were close.
"At some points he was getting the better of me, at some points I was getting the better of him," Shields said at the post-fight press conference. "Later on I started feeling like I was getting the better of him, but obviously I have a ways to go. I'm going to go back and really start focusing on my boxing because I usually get people down and Georges was able to stop my takedowns.
"I've worked on it some, but next time I'm going to really focus on it and hopefully I look completely different in my next fight."
St. Pierre's stand-up didn't seem as crisp and it usually is. He kept swinging a huge overhand right like he was hurling a fastball. It looked as though he was trying hard to force the knockout, perhaps due to the recent criticism that he doesn't finish fights.
Unfortunately for the Montreal native, who was taken to hospital immediately following the bout, yet another decision in a flat main event only adds fuel to that fire.
UFC president Dana White immediately brushed off the critique and praised St. Pierre.
"Listen, if you watched (Primetime: St. Pierre vs. Shields) and educated yourself during this fight -- this guy (Shields) is no joke," White said. "This guy's been unbeaten for a very long time -- six years, 15 straight fights. He comes out of a very serious camp.
"Georges St. Pierre knew what he was up against and trained hard. Do I wish there was fireworks and these two were standing in the middle of the cage blasting each other? Or he gets his back and somebody gets choked out? Yeah, but it doesn't always play out that way.
"I know Georges is going to be the guy catching all this stuff -- that he didn't finish another fight. But Georges is fighting the absolute best guys in the world."
Following his sixth consecutive title defence, St. Pierre's next step remains unclear.
Many fans want him to go up in weight and challenge middleweight champion Anderson (The Spider) Silva, who is set to defend his belt against Yushin (Thunder) Okami when the UFC returns to Brazil this August.
However, White still referred to a potential showdown between St. Pierre and Silva as a "dream fight" and reinforced that no serious talks have taken place to make it a reality.
I'll also be the first to admit I don't like St. Pierre's chances in that fight. Silva is too big and too skilled. Sure, St. Pierre could maybe utilize his wrestling to secure yet another dull decision, but is that the fight fans really want to see?
Following the press conference a number of journalists stuck around to fire even more questions at White. The consensus among the group of reporters was that Strikeforce welterweight champion Nick Diaz is the best fight for St. Pierre.
However, Diaz is looking to compete in a boxing match next, which his Strikeforce contract allows.
White admitted he was blown away by Diaz's recent win over Paul (Semtex) Daley and is open to the idea. But first, he has to convince Diaz not to box next.
"I do respect Nick Diaz's boxing; he's got good boxing for MMA," White said. "Boxing and MMA are two totally different sports.
"I don't know, we'll see. I got to go talk him out of boxing first."