UFC Welterweight Champion Georges “Rush” St. Pierre cannot seem to escape criticism of his fighting style, despite being one of the most dominant fighters on the planet. He is often derided for fighting too safely and has been called out by fans and peers alike who say that “Rush” is unwilling to take risks in the cage. St. Pierre recently told MMAJunkie that he does not disagree with these assesments.
“That’s true,” said the French-Canadian. “I fight safe, and I’m not going to hide it.”
Most of his criticism stems from the fact that St. Pierre has taken three of his last four opponents the distance and most recently failed to finish huge underdog Dan “The Outlaw” Hardy in five rounds. St. Pierre says that the fault is his own but that his critics are failing to acknowledge all that he did well that night.
“I had some great opportunities, and I made a stupid mistake, and I couldn’t seal the deal,” he said, adding however, “I did add some great highlights that people don’t even acknowledge. At the end of the third round, for example, the best grappling highlight of my whole career was in (my fight with) Dan Hardy.”
St. Pierre says that the highlight is a grappling series where he seamlessly transitioned from back mount, to a leg lock, to a guard pass.
“That was a beautiful display of jiu-jitsu,” St-Pierre said. “People don’t even know this because they don’t have the knowledge to appreciate what happened. Some do, but a lot of people did not acknowledge what happened.”
St. Pierre is echoing fellow UFC Champion Anderson Silva’s oft-stated sentiment that the fans do not always fully understand the action going down in the cage. “Rush” further explained his mentality, stating that he fights the way he does in order to avoid accruing damage and to maintain his career’s longevity.
“I’m fighting safe,” St-Pierre said. “Every time I step into the Octagon, my life is in jeopardy. For me, it’s more important to not get hit than to hit the guy. I will never fight in a way [in which] I fight like I flip a coin.
“I never took risks. The only fight I took a risk was when I fought Matt Serra, and I went in a stupid exchange, and it was not smart. I got caught; Serra beat me fair and square, and he deserved the victory that night. But it taught me a good lesson, and I don’t want it to happen again.”
St. Pierre went on to elaborate on his idea of fighting smart.
“When I’m standing up, I hit the guy, (and) I pick my angle, and I’m smart,” he said. “I’m not afraid to say it: I’m not a brawler, and I’m not a coward. I’m not going to trade punch one-for-one with a guy. I’m going to hit the guy and not get hit. That’s a smart way to fight.”
Displaying a kind of honesty not often seen from fighters, St. Pierre said that his reasoning behind avoiding punishment is simple: he has seen the deterioration suffered by those that throw caution to the wind and wantonly trade leather and he wants no part of that.
“I’m not going to give names, but if I would tell you names, you would know who’s a brawler (and) who’s not and who now has a problem with his career because he got hit too much,” St. Pierre said. “They can’t take a punch anymore.”
Far from taking the criticism to heart, St. Pierre declared that fighting safe and smart is the only reason that he is still the champion.
“I don’t fight like an idiot,” St-Pierre said. “That’s what defines me. I’m (not the) champion because I’m the strongest guy in the division. It’s not because I’m the fastest guy. I’m not the best grappler. I’m not the best striker. I’m not the best wrestler. But why I’m champion is because I fight smart every single fight.”