It's hard not to like George St. Pierre!

Rested Georges St. Pierre eager to get back to battling at UFC 111
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Georges St. Pierre speaks at a press conference for UFC 111 at Radio City Music Hall Wednesday in New York City. St. Pierre will face Dan Hardy in the Welterweight title bout.

By Beau Dure, USA TODAY
The chant resonated through Mandalay Bay at UFC 100, the most hyped show in U.S. mixed martial arts history, and was louder in the fifth round than in the first:
"G-S-P! G-S-P! G-S-P!"

That's Georges St. Pierre, the popular French-Canadian welterweight champion who easily retained his belt with a dominant performance against Thiago Alves on that July night in Las Vegas.

St. Pierre didn't finish the fight with a dazzling knockout or submission, but no one seemed to mind. The crowd roared through every takedown — 10, by FightMetric's count — every positional improvement and every ground-and-pound flurry.

The roar has been silent for a while; St. Pierre suffered a groin injury in the fight. He returns Saturday to defend his title vs. Dan Hardy at UFC 111 in Newark (10 p.m. ET, pay-per-view).

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"It's a long time, but that's needed," St. Pierre says. "I used that time to train and get better."

Get better? St. Pierre's dominance already makes finding decent opponents for him in the welterweight class a challenge. Since losing to more experienced Matt Hughes in 2004, St. Pierre has won 12 of 13 fights, twice avenging his loss to Hughes and convincingly avenging his upset loss to Matt Serra.

He has beaten the next three fighters in USA TODAY/SB Nation's consensus MMA rankings —Jon Fitch, Alves and Josh Koscheck— with little trouble. Hardy, a rising star from England, is ranked sixth.

UFC lightweight champion and one-time welterweight champion BJ Penn has twice taken on St. Pierre. The first bout in 2006 was a split-decision win for St. Pierre. The rematch in 2009 wasn't close, with Penn unable to continue after four rounds.

Penn complained to Nevada officials that one of St. Pierre's cornermen had illegally applied Vaseline to St. Pierre's torso. The Nevada state athletic commission investigated but declined to change the result or penalize St. Pierre's camp.

The controversy and St. Pierre's injury absence haven't affected his popularity.

"You get Brock (Lesnar), Georges St. Pierre, BJ Penn, Chuck Liddell," UFC President Dana White says. "Forrest Griffin's in there, too. Those are the top five."

Even among the diverse personalities of MMA, St. Pierre stands out. His French-Canadian accent gives his calm voice an air of sophistication. And where most fighters wear logo-riddled T-shirts for a news conference, St. Pierre often turns up in a suit and tie.

"When I used to do karate back in the day, when I was going to competition, our teacher told us to dress like this," St. Pierre says. "All our black belts had to put on a tie or a suit to represent the school well."

And he wishes others would follow suit.

"In other sports, like basketball and hockey, in press conferences they're always in ties and well-dressed," St. Pierre says.

The distinguished air fits him, White says.

"I can't think of a better human being to strap my belt around his waist," White says. "When it comes to the way he presents himself, how hard he trains, how well-rounded he is, what a great human being he is, how he treats other people ... I couldn't say enough good things about Georges St. Pierre."

White also has an artistic reminder of St. Pierre's fitness and generosity. Before UFC 100, St. Pierre presented White with a commissioned portrait of himself.

White says he has the portrait at home. St. Pierre wasn't sure where White had put it.

"Maybe he put in his office. Maybe he played darts with it," St. Pierre joked.