LOS ANGELES – Georges St-Pierre knows something about upset losses, which is why he may be a little more forgiving than most when it comes to UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva‘s first UFC defeat.
St-Pierre (24-2 MMA, 18-2 UFC), who holds the UFC’s welterweight title and fights Johny Hendricks (15-1 MMA, 10-1 UFC) at UFC 167 on Nov. 16, said that despite Silva’s UFC 162 title loss to Chris Weidman earlier this month, he still considers the Brazilian to be MMA’s best pound-for-pound fighter.
“I still believe Anderson Silva is the best in the world, pound for pound,” said St-Pierre, who was in Los Angeles as part of this week’s UFC World Tour of fan and media events. “Even though he (made) a mistake and got beat by Chris Weidman, I believe it was a style matchup, and he got caught. I believe he’s still the best in the world, but even the best can lose sometimes.”
St-Pierre, who occasionally trains with Weidman, said he considers him a friend. He also expected Weidman (10-0 MMA, 6-0 UFC) to pull off the victory, which came via second-round TKO after Silva (33-5 MMA, 16-1 UFC) dropped his hands and continually taunted the wrestler. But the upset, which snapped Silva’s 16-fight UFC winning streak, also served as a warning to St-Pierre, who’s won 11 consecutive fights since his own shocking upset to Matt Serra in 2007.
“He made me realize when I watched that fight that even the best can lose sometimes,” St-Pierre said. “It made me realize that what I’ve got as the world champion right now can go away in the blink of an eye. If I don’t pay attention, one punch, one submission or one mistake, it can change the whole thing.
“It made me realize I need to work very hard to maintain what I have. It gave me motivation and woke me up in a way.”
It’s also why St-Pierre is willing to give the ex-champ a pass in his own pound-for-pound list. Silva, of course, had long been atop the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie.com MMA pound-for-pound rankings, but following the July 6 loss to Weidman, he slipped to No. 3 behind Jon Jones (No. 1) and St-Pierre (No. 2).
Jones, of course, has been on a rampage in the light-heavyweight division and has defeated a small army of former champs during his title reign. But when it comes to breaking Silva’s records, St-Pierre actually has the edge. He needs just two more title defenses to tie Silva’s record for consecutive defenses (10), and he’s currently tied with the Brazilian with 11 overall wins in title fights.
Those record-setting possibilities come with pressure. St-Pierre said that as the title defenses mount, fans’ expectations continue to increase to the point they’re hard to live up to. St-Pierre is sure Silva felt some of that pressure. But for a fighter who said he doesn’t necessarily enjoy the fame, St-Pierre said the key is to continue making MMA an enjoyable pursuit, however possible.
“The pressure builds up, builds up, builds up until it explodes,” he said. “Even for me, it’s hard sometimes because my life changed. You just need to find a way to keep having fun. Even though the critics are there, you just need to find a way to have some fun.”
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(Pictured: Anderson Silva)