It won’t do much to turn away his critics, but Georges St. Pierre put on another dominant performance tonight in Toronto to keep his welterweight title.
“Rush” set the tone early, outclassing Shields on the feet — which came as a surprise to no one — and avoiding the challenger’s takedown attempts, which all came off of St. Pierre’s kicks during the first frame. St. Pierre showed amazing takedown defense by staying upright even as Shields was in deep on a single leg attempt. Despite the apparent gulf between their stand up games though, Shields was able to avoid taking too much damage on the feet. In the second round, he was wobbled with an overhand right thrown with bad intentions and St. Pierre continued to shuck him off anytime he attempted to clinch, but the Californian landed a few good shots that began to damage the champion.
A swollen left eye had the champ hesitant to engage as the fight wore on and his nose was bleeding heavily in the later rounds. Perhaps smelling blood in the water, Shields began to push forward more aggressively, but was still unable to put the champion in real trouble. St. Pierre found it easy to put Shields on his back and was never in danger of hitting the mat himself, but the challenger remained in his face — even taunting him at one point å la the Diaz brothers.
“I think it was the second round,” St-Pierre said after the fight of when he incurred the eye injury. “In the beginning, I was able to see. I can’t see out of my left eye right now. I just see a blur, and it’s very bad.”
The significant action mostly died by the fifth round though, and St. Pierre coasted to another successful title defense — his sixth. He again showed himself to be a league ahead of his opponent, but will no doubt continue to endure criticism for not obtaining the finish. Whether it be because St. Pierre has trouble mustering the killer instinct to pounce on an opponent clearly out of his depth, or because his eye was truly hindering him to the point where his best effort was not enough to put Shields away, the dominant welterweight champ fought to his fourth decision in a row and is probably going to hear about it until he fights again.
“His striking was much better than I thought,” said St-Pierre of the challenger after the fight. “He closed my eye. Standing up, I was expecting to beat him more with ease and then put him down later in the round, but I couldn’t deliver much like this. I’m sorry to the fans. I wanted to make a knockout or submission tonight.”
St. Pierre improves to 22-2 with his win and may be moving up to middleweight — or at least a catchweight — to take on middleweight kingpin Anderson Silva in his next outing.
“We’ll see,” said St-Pierre of a potential bout with Silva. “I just finished my fight. I haven’t considered that yet. Going up in weight class is a lot to consider. Maybe there are other ways of [making that fight]. We’ll talk.”
Shields falls to 26-5-1 with the loss and sees his fifteen-fight winning streak broken.