Over the course of his decade-long career,
UFC welterweight champion Georges St.
Pierre has become known for his mental and physical
preparation, including his ability to maintain a positive mindset
when facing adversity.
The champ has continued in that vein ahead of his UFC
154 title unification bout against interim champion Carlos
Condit, a man St. Pierre calls his most dangerous opponent to
date. “The Natural Born Killer” captured the interim strap this
past February, outpointing Nick Diaz after
St. Pierre withdrew from his UFC
143 title defense against the Cesar
Gracie pupil due to a torn ACL.
Now fully recovered from the serious knee injury, St. Pierre says
the time on the sidelines actually proved beneficial as he prepared
for his Nov. 17 showdown with Condit at the Bell Centre in
“This last year has allowed me to take a break, mentally and
physically,” St. Pierre said at the UFC 154 pre-fight press
conference on Thursday. “A year-and-a-half ago, I realized I had
kind of lost the fire a little bit. Now, after everything I’ve been
through, I’m coming back motivated and stronger. I’ve rekindled the
passion for the fight game.
“Before my injury, I was at the point where I had to train, not
because I wanted to. I lost motivation, and I learned that
sometimes you need to break something [on purpose] and fix it
before it breaks by itself,” St. Pierre continued. “I don’t need to
lose a fight to improve my training schedule and make me a better
martial artist. I need to stay on top of the game before the fight
game catches up on me. That’s what the long layoff allowed me to
do. I can’t make everyone happy, but I need to make changes in my
training for myself that makes it more efficient.”
In Condit, St. Pierre faces a fellow disciple of vaunted trainer
Greg Jackson, who has declined to help either man prepare for the
bout. Though he would obviously prefer for Jackson to be in his
corner on fight night, St. Pierre says that a fighter’s corner can
help only so much within the confines of the one-minute rest
“[Carlos and I] both have the same problem right now. The corner
doesn’t really matter in a fight,” said St. Pierre. “Of course it
does a little bit, but even if I had the Pope in my corner, the
truth is that when you come back from a round, you’re exhausted.
You have maybe 20 seconds where [your corner] can tell you what to
do or change your strategy to help you out. The rest of the time,
you just recuperate and try to [catch] your breath.
“Also, it’s about the hours of repetition and training that will
[take over] in the fight without you thinking about it. So it’s
really the instinct that takes over. It happens so quick that you
don’t have time to think about it.”
St. Pierre has made a career of honing those fight instincts, which
have guided him to 22 victories in 24 career appearances. One of
the major knocks on the dominant champion, however, has been his
inability to finish the majority of his opposition while competing
at or near the top of the UFC welterweight division. While “Rush”
has previously explained the inherent difficulties of stopping
challengers in a category as talented as welterweight, St. Pierre
says he has nonetheless made an effort to further develop his
finishing instinct in preparation for Condit.
“For me, I think the key to getting more finishes is to be more of
an opportunist, not taking more punches or having less defense,”
said St. Pierre. “It’s more about having the instinct for the
finish, and I’ve been working a lot on that these last few months.
The ultimate goal is to entertain, but it’s also to win and hurt
your opponent. That’s how you win the fight.”
When St. Pierre steps into the cage in eight weeks, it will mark
his first fight in nearly 19 months. As a result of the extended
layoff, St. Pierre says he actually views himself the challenger --
not the champion -- in his return to the Octagon.
I have two challenges in one. I’m fighting the most dangerous,
well-rounded martial artist that I’ve ever fought, and I’m also
coming back from a long period of inactivity,” said St. Pierre. “In
my contract, I was supposed to defend my title every year, and I
couldn’t do it because of injury. So the champion, for me, is
Condit, and it’s up to me to take the title.”