Undisputed welterweight king Georges St-Pierre is set to make his long-anticipated return to the Octagon in late 2012. In recent years, the Montreal native has evolved into a safe fighter. However, don’t expect him to play it even safer this time around.
“Rush” St-Pierre, who has been sidelined with a knee injury for the best part of a year and is currently in rehab, has not endeared himself to the MMA contingent with his safety approach to ensure victory. Or better yet, to avoid defeat at all costs.
Long story short, the 30-year-old St-Pierre’s uncharacteristic penchant for playing it safe dates back to April 7, 2007, when Matt Serra upset the odds and usurped the 170-pound UFC gold from GSP's grasp via submission (strikes).
Since that shocking night, the majority of St-Pierre’s fights have been akin to the idiom “safe as houses.”
Albeit he did enact sweet revenge for said defeat—recapturing the title in devastating fashion—his record after that win contains five unanimous decisions and one TKO victory (corner stoppage) against BJ Penn.
Some of the aforementioned decision wins came against some of the upper-echelon combatants of his weight class—Jon Fitch, Thiago Alves, Josh Koscheck and Jake Shields—but the fact remains, the fear of losing was uppermost on his mind during those encounters.
That said, when he comes back to the UFC fray, he’ll have to contend with two things. First, the notion that some fans believe his fights have become boring, and that’s regardless of the fact he more or less put on absolute clinics against each and every one of the aforementioned fighters.
Secondly, whilst he’s been recuperating, the welterweight assemblage has gone through a transformation: Carlos Condit is the interim champion; Johny Hendricks steamrolled Fitch; Jake Ellenberger is on a tear and his fellow Canadian Rory MacDonald is waiting in the wings.
The fans want to see the “Rush” of old and his contemporaries want the Holy Grail that he’s so proudly worn for more than four years.
The heat is on and playing it safe isn’t an option—systematically and clinically taking it to his opponents is. When St-Pierre (22-2 MMA, 16-2 UFC) next sets foot inside the Octagon, he will throw caution to the wind, because it’s a prerequisite that he makes an emphatic statement of intent, and of that I’m sure he will.