Georges St-Pierre is still the best welterweight in the world. He is also one of the most successful UFC champs in history.
He just isn't a top three fighter.
Georges St-Pierre damaged the ACL in his right knee recently and will be out for at least half a year.
It would be easy to use his injury and time away from the cage as the reason he doesn't deserve to be recognized as one of top fighters in the world, but that would be a cop-out. He shouldn't be considered among the elite because he hasn't been dispatching his opponents in an elite manner.
It would be different if Georges St-Pierre was considered an underdog, but he isn't. He is considered to be an incredibly well-conditioned fighter who could transfer over and play in other sports if he wanted to. It would be fine if he was undersized like Frankie Edgar or if every opponent was a hulking phenomenon like Thiago Alves, but they aren't.
This isn't to say the men he has faced aren't talented martial artists and some of them were considered to be near the top of the division when he faced them. Many of them were, but that doesn't mean he couldn't have finished them.
To be honest, two of his last few fights could have ended before the final bell.
He went the distance with Dan Hardy, and even though Hardy did well to survive on the ground, Carlos Condit showed that with precise striking, the trash-taking Brit could be taken out.
St-Pierre then when the distance with Jake Shields. St-Pierre was the superior striker and yet he resorted to swinging an overhand right that proved ineffectual. He still won the fight, but if his striking had been more precise he might have knocked Shields out.
It's frustrating to watch him fight because there is a sense that he could switch levels and push to finish his opponent but doesn't because it would involve taking a risk.
Jon Jones takes risks.
So does Anderson Silva when he finds an opening, no matter how small.
Junior Dos Santos knows how to finish fights.
Frankie Edgar takes on opponents larger then him and in his last fight was even able to knock one of them out.
Georges St-Pierre, for all of his physical gifts and abilities, doesn't find a way to push past his opponents' defenses. Other champions in the UFC have, but he can't seem to do it.
Or maybe he doesn't want to.
Not taking risks is understandable. It gives him a better chance at winning and at the end of the day fighting is how he makes a paycheck. Winning consistently pays more than fighting in an exciting manner.
But there is a trade-off. Winning fights in an anti-climactic manner won't get many new fans and when other fighters start stringing victories together in a more dominant manner fans will see them as superior.
St-Pierre is still the best welterweight in the world and if he took a few more risks in the cage he might just be the best fighter as well.
But he hasn't and unless things change after his layoff he never will be.
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