For five years, Georges St-Pierre has been more than just one of the great champions in mixed martial arts history. He's been the face of a promotion – one of the cornerstones in a jaw-dropping business turnaround from epic failure to sensational success.

He exuded class, portraying himself and, by extension, his fellow MMA fighters as thoughtful, polite and dedicated athletes who wanted nothing more than to compete against the best.

For all the problems he has been forced to deal with on a daily basis, from failed drug tests to drunken binges to homophobic slurs and thoughtless tweets, UFC president Dana White never once had to worry that he'd be awakened from his sleep because St-Pierre had gotten into trouble.

St-Pierre brought hordes of positive media attention, attracted fans by the droves and generally set a standard for what a professional fighter should be. He's always been in magnificent condition and pushed the sport to new levels. He still executes moves in the cage others simply are unable to do.

Yet, it will be in many ways a very different St-Pierre who steps into the Octagon at the Bell Centre in Montreal on Saturday to defend his welterweight title against archrival Nick Diaz in the main event of UFC 158.

[Also: Nick Diaz is no media darling, but at least he's true to himself]

Diaz has managed to puncture the notion of St-Pierre as the cool, unflappable, imperturbable athlete.

Diaz's taunts and his actions – missing several news conferences that St-Pierre managed to break his training schedule to attend – have seemingly pushed the champion beyond his limits.

During a wild conference call on Thursday, St-Pierre angrily referred to Diaz as "an uneducated fool." So frustrated was he during a lengthy Diaz rant that St-Pierre, whose first language is French, said "I don't understand half of the words that you are saying because your English is bad. I speak English better than you, man."

His voice rose and his normally placid demeanor was sharp.

The UFC's feature commercial promoting the fight shows White saying St-Pierre referred to Diaz as the world's most disrespectful man.

Over the last several weeks, Georges St-Pierre has spoken of the dark place in his head so frequently, it's become an Internet meme.

Former fighter Danny "Boy" Downes, who now occasionally writes for UFC.com, created the hashtag #GSPsDarkPlace on Twitter and began a series of wisecracks that made fun of the dark place in the champion's head.

It was all in fun, but it mockingly pokes at the squeaky clean image St-Pierre has not only crafted, but carefully maintained.

[Also: Ronda Rousey, Mike Tyson drop wisdom in joint interview (video)]

For years, no matter how disrespectful or out of bounds his opponent may have gotten, St-Pierre remained cool. He formed a game plan, stuck to it religiously and racked up win after one-sided win.

It was simple, really. He never let himself get angry or distracted from the ultimate goal, which was to win the fight in the simplest manner possible. If his opponents were best on the ground, St-Pierre kept the fight on the feet. He battered the faces of wrestlers Jon Fitch and Josh Koscheck into ground chuck with his precise and powerful striking.

Against powerful strikers like Dan Hardy and Thiago Alves, St-Pierre used his uncanny takedown ability to put them on their backs, where they were essentially helpless.

"I'm the one who decides where the fight is going to go," St-Pierre said during a telephone interview with Yahoo! Sports in a rare moment of braggadocio that, notably, came prior to the Thursday conference call.

Diaz is a well-rounded fighter, but his striking and unbelievable stamina are his strengths. It would stand to reason that St-Pierre would look to take Diaz down and try to control him and pound on him from the top.

[Also: Rare double knockout happens in amateur California fight]

The unknown, though, is whether St-Pierre remains in control of his emotions or whether Diaz has gotten through enough to cause him to fight angry.

An angry St-Pierre could make mistakes that could open the door for an upset victory by Diaz.

St-Pierre, though, as angry as he is, insisted he'll fight the calm, controlled fight he and his staff have prepared, regardless of what Diaz may say or do.

"Do you know how many times fighters have said things and tried to get into my head?" St-Pierre said. "He can say what he wants, but that's not going to work. I know what I want to do and what I need to do and I'm going to go out there and do it."

Diaz has unquestionably gotten under his skin and on his nerves. But just as unquestionably, St-Pierre has proven time and again in his lengthy reign as UFC champion he's able to put emotion aside to fight like few men ever have.

Nothing he may ever do should surprise.

Memorable Moments on Yahoo! Sports:

Other popular content on Yahoo! Sports:
Watch DeAndre Jordan obliterate Brandon Knight with ferocious dunk
Sources: NFL star Tony Gonzalez will return for right price
Infographic: Memorable moments of Big East tournament
Hooters ball girl has nowhere to hide after humiliating mistake

view original article >>

Report here if this news is invalid.

Related News

How Nate Diaz turned the UFC upside down (Yahoo Sports)

  • 23 days ago
  • 34 views

From Yahoo Sports: Diaz came from nothing and now has plenty. But he didn't get to this point immediately, or with luck. It took some self-realization and business smarts. read news >>

How Nate Diaz used his mind to turn the UFC upside down (Yahoo Sports)

  • 23 days ago
  • 87 views

From Yahoo Sports: Diaz came from nothing and now has plenty. But he didn't get to this point immediately, or with luck. It took some self-realization and business smarts. read news >>

How Brock Lesnar has changed since his first UFC stint (Yahoo Sports)

  • 22 days ago
  • 7 views

From Yahoo Sports: Lesnar was more surly than charismatic in his first UFC run. But he's seems right at home in his long-awaited return. read news >>

How Brock Lesnar has changed since his first UFC stint (Yahoo Sports)

  • 22 days ago
  • 8 views

From Yahoo Sports: Lesnar was more surly than charismatic in his first UFC run. But he seems right at home in his long-awaited return. read news >>

TUF 23 Finale Weigh-in Results: Jedrzejczyk and Gadelha Step Out of the Shadow to Make Weight

  • 21 days ago
  • 16 views

In the shadows of a crazy 24 hours, Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Claudia Gadelha made weight to make their TUF 23 Finale title fight official. read news >>

UFC 200 Weigh-in Results: Miesha Tate Averts Missing Cut-Off; Johny Hendricks Misses Weight

  • 20 days ago
  • 28 views

Though she pushed the time limit to the wire, bantamweight champ Miesha Tate made weight for UFC 200. Johny Hendricks did not. read news >>

UFC 200 Embedded, Episode 7 Video: A Vegas Wedding and Final Weight Cuts

  • 19 days ago
  • 9 views

On Episode 7 of UFC 200 Embedded, Mark Hunt's coach gets married on the Vegas strip, Frankie Edgar watches Eddie Alvarez win lightweight belt, Miesha Tate and Amanda Nunes cut weight. read news >>

Cro Cop Comes Out of Retirement to Fight in RIZIN FF Open Weight Tournament

  • 11 days ago
  • 47 views

Former PRIDE and UFC heavyweight star Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic comes out of retirement to participate in the RIZEN FF Open Weight Gran Prix in September. read news >>

Strawweight Felice Herrig Posts Weight-Cutting Selfie Before UFC on Fox 20

  • 7 days ago
  • 82 views

Weight-cutting is not a new concept in combat sports. But fight fans don't often get a behind-the-scenes look at the process—or the effects it can have on the body. Perhaps that's why a selfie from U read news >>

Holm-Shevchenko to clarify title picture

  • 6 days ago
  • 4 views

The UFC women's bantamweight division has experienced plenty of twists and turns in recent months, but Fight Night Chicago could provide clarity once and for all as Holly Holm battles Valentina Shevc read news >>