File Photo: Sherdog.com
UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre continues to be his own worst critic, even after a dominating five-round decision over Dan Hardy at UFC 111 in Newark, N.J. The 28-year-old champion had voiced his intentions to finish the bout early and decisively, but Hardy proved more durable than most.
“I was not that pleased about my performance,” said St. Pierre at the post-fight press conference, comparing his efforts to a sprinter unable to beat his best time.
“I won, but I haven’t beat my performance of last time, so I’m not happy, “ he said. “I wanted to finish, you know, have a clean win and for me, like this, it’s not clean.”
Regardless, St. Pierre delivered another solid demonstration of skills, grounding the Brit at will and maneuvering for multiple submissions. On two occasions, St. Pierre seemed to have victory in his grasp with fully extended armbar and kimura attempts. The latter looked especially painful for Hardy, who managed to escape the hold, but never launched his own offensive against the champion.
St. Pierre blamed his lack of technique, particularly with his angle and leverage on the kimura, which allowed Hardy to counter the move with his body movement.
“I forgot the technical element of it,” said St. Pierre. “Sometimes those technical details make the difference.”
When asked if he’d applied the holds at full bore, St. Pierre replied, “I wanted to go 100 percent. I trained to break. I want to finish him, you know what I mean?”
St. Pierre said he reviewed “the technical mistake” he’d made with the kimura attempt in the locker room after the bout with jiu-jitsu coach John Danaher.
“Now it’s fresh in my head,” said St. Pierre. “I know what I did wrong. It won’t happen next time.”
The popular French Canadian also applauded the 29-year-old Hardy’s fortitude.
“At one point, I was like, ‘Man, I think I broke his shoulder,’ and then one time I thought I’d broke his arm when I had the juju-gatame. I heard like ‘click, click.’ It was completely extended,” he said.
White was a bit more critical of Hardy’s efforts, and said the entertaining striker, on a seven-fight win streak up until Saturday, should have “worked on his takedown defense.” White added that St. Pierre’s strategy was far from a secret, referencing the French Canadian’s declaration to take the bout to the ground in numerous interviews leading up to the fight.
“I stay on Twitter and I can tell you this: the fans were not happy with tonight’s fight,” said White. “My twitter (account) was blowing up with a lot of negative stuff about the main event…but listen, this is mixed martial arts. Dan Hardy came in to fight the best 170-pounder in the world. When you show up to fight him, you better have some takedown defense.”
Later, White defended St. Pierre’s fourth straight title defense, which lacked the finality of past matchups.
“Not every fight on the card is going to be the greatest fight in the world,” said White. “It happens sometimes.”
St. Pierre described his strategy as “scientific,” and said he chose to ground Hardy, where he could fight his British opponent at his weakest.
“I believe my standup is superior (to Hardy’s),” said St. Pierre, “but it could have been a risk because that’s his main asset.”
White said he’d defer to St. Pierre and matchmaker Joe Silva regarding the fighter’s next bout.
Jon Fitch, the only other 170-pound fighter besides Hardy and Brazilian Thiago Alves to take St. Pierre for the duration in a five-round championship bout, said he was prepared to rematch St. Pierre next. St. Pierre battered Fitch at UFC 87 in August 2008 – Fitch’s only UFC loss in thirteen outings.
The American Kickboxing Academy fighter, who earned his fourth straight decision over late replacement Ben Saunders on Saturday, described St. Pierre’s dominant performance as “very technical,” but also had his own critiques for the pound-for-pound candidate.
“I thought he would have posted up a little and done a little more ground-and-pound, thrown some more elbows, but he controlled the fight,” said Fitch. “He lost some vital opportunities to finish with the kimura, armbars and even his back control…I still see flaws in his game and that’s why I want to fight him next. There’s nothing more important to me right now than fighting for a title.”
When asked if Fitch might be awarded a rematch next with St. Pierre, White described the wrestler as “in the mix.” White then suggested a bout between Fitch and his AKA teammate Josh Koscheck to determine a clearer No. 1 contender. Fitch declined the offer, to which White responded that the fighter must not want a title shot bad enough.
“If that fight happened, it would happen in our gym with the doors closed,” said Fitch.
“That would make a lot money,” deadpanned White.
White said a May bout between Koscheck and rising contender Paul Daley would figure into the company’s next welterweight moves. Thiago Alves, who was sidelined on Thursday for an irregular brain scan in his pre-fight exams and pulled from the card, is expected to make a speedier return than first anticipated as well. White did not rule out re-scheduling the Fitch-Alves rematch again.