By Thomas Gerbasi
NEWARK, March 27 –After a gutsy effort by Dan Hardy, England may still belong to him, but Georges St-Pierre has the rest of the world wrapped up as he defended his UFC welterweight championship for the fourth time with a shutout five round decision over his British challenger. Watch post-fight interview
Scores were 50-43, 50-44, and 50-45 for St-Pierre, who was hard on himself after yet another dominating performance.
“It’s a win, but I’m not really happy with myself,” said St-Pierre. “I made a lot of stupid mistakes.”
“I can see why he’s the champion,” said Hardy. “He’s a strong athlete, very skilled.”
Hardy had a smile on throughout the introductions and as referee Kevin Mulhall gave pre-fight instructions, but St-Pierre was all business, taking the Nottingham native to the canvas moments into the bout. St-Pierre quickly moved to side control, then took Hardy’s back as he tried to escape. Hardy was able to elude trouble on the mat, but as he escaped and got to his feet, St-Pierre made it a brief respite as he took ‘The Outlaw’ back down. With 1:30 left, St-Pierre got into the mount position before again taking Hardy’s back. A late armbar attempt by the champion appeared to spell the end, but the challenger gamely got free and back to his feet before the bell.
After his first round dominance, St-Pierre went back to what was already working in round two, taking Hardy down one minute into the second stanza. He effortlessly got into side control and took Hardy’s back again. Hardy was able to break free and get into St-Pierre’s guard, but the two decided to get back to their feet moments later. With his confidence unwavering, Hardy stood in the pocket with St-Pierre, even smiling when the champion nailed him in the face, but the inevitable takedown left the Brit again on the receiving end of punishment for the rest of the round.
St-Pierre grounded Hardy again in round three, this time posturing up to add some more muscle to his strikes. Hardy, not surprisingly, remained game – even trying to grab the Canadian’s arm for a submission attempt - but his odds of pulling off the upset victory were dwindling with each punch. With 90 seconds left, St-Pierre started working for the finish, but he was unable to break his foe.
Barely breathing heavy, St-Pierre opened the championship rounds with a quick takedown of his foe. Hardy’s attempts to get back to his feet were rebuffed, but he wouldn’t give in, even after a tight kimura attempt by St-Pierre that should have ended matters.
“One thing I have above all,” said Hardy. “I won’t quit, and I don’t give up.”
If the ground attack wasn’t enough, St-Pierre opened up the final five minutes with some thudding strikes that set up another takedown. Again, St-Pierre looked for the kimura, but Hardy wasn’t giving his arm up this time. Unfortunately, it was only a small battle won for Hardy, who, though lasting the distance, was simply unable to deal with the ground attack of St-Pierre.
“I wanted to avoid the fight where my opponent was strongest, and fight where he was at his weakest, but he’s a lot better than I thought he was,” said St-Pierre.
With the win, St-Pierre improves to 20-2; Hardy falls to 23-7 with 1 NC.