Everyone is looking forward to the return of UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre.
So much has happened since the last time we saw him step into a UFC cage. The UFC itself has been back to Toronto for two more events since the night St-Pierre fought Jake Shields at the Skydome. Yes, I know it's actually called the Rogers Centre these days, but old habits die hard.
With St-Pierre's return comes the rebirth of the same criticism that has followed St-Pierre around for the past few years: Why doesn't this guy finish fights? If he's one of the best fighters in the world—and make no mistake about it, he most certainly is—why doesn't St-Pierre prove it by taking chances and going for the kill against his mostly overmatched opponents?
It's an easy answer, really. St-Pierre is, first and foremost, an athlete. Like Jon Jones, St-Pierre chooses to take the best path available to protect his brand and ensure that his future earning power stays intact.
With that decision comes a fighting style that cautions against risk and stresses the idea of stacking the odds in your favor, no matter what the result may look like in the cage.
St-Pierre does hear the criticism, though. Responding to the New York Post during an interview, the champion said he would be more opportunistic about going for the kill against Carlos Condit at UFC 154.
"I agree with the criticism. I want to do better. I want to give more entertainment to the fans," St-Pierre told the Post. "I've been training to jump more on opportunities that are open to me. I'm still gonna fight my fight, but I'm going to be more opportunistic."
We've heard this before.
We heard St-Pierre give the same spiel before his fights against Josh Koscheck and Shields, only to go into the cage and play it as safe as humanly possible. Afterwards, he'd explain that he didn't want to jeopardize his future by taking needless chances—he didn't want a rehash of the time Matt Serra beat him to capture the title in the biggest upset in UFC history.
I'm fine with the idea of playing it safe. Sure, it's not the most visually pleasing thing to sit through, and perhaps St-Pierre's decision to weigh safety over thrilling the fans who paid money to see him fight isn't the best idea for his long-term earning potential. Driving away the people who support you is never the best decision for your pocketbook, even if those fans simply don't understand the nuances of what you're doing in the cage.
But if you're going to play it safe, don't go out before each and every fight and promise that you're going to start going for finishes. Every UFC fan in the world knows and understands that St-Pierre has the ability to finish fights; we've seen it plenty of times throughout his career.
If you tell them that you're going to be more opportunistic, well, you'd better be opportunistic, because explaining to them after the conclusion of another boring fight that they didn't appreciate your performance because they don't understand the sport isn't going to cut it for much longer.