MONTREAL – Georges St-Pierre might be trying to downplay his anger this week, but his head coach and trainer knows better.
St-Pierre (23-2 MMA, 17-2 UFC) puts his welterweight title on the line against former Strikeforce champion Nick Diaz (26-8 MMA, 7-5 UFC) in the main event of UFC 158 on Saturday. It’s a fight years in the making, and one that has had the typically calm and cerebral St-Pierre more riled up than he’s ever been.
On Wednesday, St-Pierre said stories about him being in some kind of new head space that has him at anger levels bordering on crazy are, well, crazy. The longtime champ told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) said someone like Diaz bringing heated trash talk to his doorstep is nothing new. He said it calmly.
“They take some line that I said … I don’t know when I said that (about being angry),” St-Pierre told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). “There’s only three guys that have been nice with me in the UFC, that never said anything bad about me leading up to the fight. All the rest have said bad stuff, so I’m used to that position. It’s no big deal.”
But Firas Zahabi, his longtime trainer and coach at Tristar Gym in Montreal, on Wednesday told MMAjunkie.com that his star pupil might not yet realize just how angry he really is after what amounts to years of trash talk from Diaz.
“I think I’ve never seen Georges this angry,” Zahabi said. “Maybe he doesn’t realize it as much, but he’s been insulted many times – worse, even. But I think what pissed off Georges the most is he was insulted while he was sidelined. Nobody else insulted him except Nick Diaz when he was sidelined. He said, ‘You’re faking. Where are you? Don’t be scared,’ insinuating that he was lying about his injury. He had a serious injury, and I think Georges carried that with him a long time. After his operation, Georges was in a lot of pain, and he had guys on his list – and Nick Diaz was on top of it.”
St-Pierre, of course, was supposed to fight Diaz in 2011. That fight didn’t happen when Diaz no-showed a pair of press conferences promoting the fight, and UFC President Dana White pulled him in favor of Carlos Condit. Diaz was demoted to a fight with B.J. Penn, who Condit was supposed to fight. But then St-Pierre injured his knee, delaying the fight, and injured it again trying to come back, keeping him on the shelf until he beat Condit in November. Condit had beaten Diaz in an interim title fight when the extent of St-Pierre’s knee injury was known. Diaz’s position in all of it while Condit waited for St-Pierre was moot since he had been suspended after the Condit fight for a second positive marijuana test.
Diaz gets a shot at the title despite his yearlong suspension, and despite his most recent fight being a loss to Condit, because St-Pierre was so adamant with White that he wanted the fight after being disrespected by Diaz.
Many would argue that if Diaz doesn’t fight angry, he’s deserving of an Oscar for Best Actor. St-Pierre, on the other hand, isn’t known for fighting on emotion, but rather careful execution of a game plan. And Zahabi believes that needs to be the case on Saturday – despite what he believes is the angriest St-Pierre he’s ever seen.
“He’s the more technical fighter and can keep it a technical match,” Zahabi said. “Will it turn into a street fight? We’re going to find out Saturday night. I think he’s very mature as a fighter in terms of controlling his temperament. But we’ve never been in this situation. So I don’t want to say there’s no way he’s going to street fight, and then it turns into a street fight. I don’t know. This is a unique situation. Nobody’s ever gotten under Georges’ skin this personally.”
For more on UFC 158, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.