Georges St. Pierre talked with MMA Ring Report about his upcoming Championship fight with Matt Hughes, his injury going into the fight, his thoughts on dropping the puck for the Montreal Canadiens and much, much more...
MMARR: You had to pull out of your Welterweight title shot against Matt Hughes back in September because of a groin injury. How does the groin feel today?
GSP: It feels more then 100%, (its) a 120% and even stronger now because I have built it (back up).
MMARR: In your last fight against B.J. Penn you overcame some early adversity to win a split decision. How much have you grown as a fighter because of that experience?
GSP: I grew a lot. I made a mistake in the 1st round, when I got poked in the eye I should have took a break so I could come back 100%. But I learned from this experience, (yet) I kept going even though my vision was messed up and it allowed B.J. Penn to hit me a lot because I couldnt see very well during the exchanges. B.J. Penn was more accurate then me, so I took more punishment then him in the 1st round but I think I came back strong in the second and third.
MMARR: Was your nose also broken in that 1st round?
GSP: I didnt break my nose, he cut me with an uppercut and it slit my nose. It looked worse then it was, but if my vision was good I would have probably done better in the first round, it was just bad circumstances. I thought I would have won the 1st round as well, I mean I dont know, I cant say that as I dont like to make excuses. He (Penn) fought a very good first round, but the fact I got cut on the eye really messed up my vision because I saw him in double for a good three minutes. I was not accurate during the exchanges, (because) it was like I was seeing him in double. (Also) I didnt want to back up too much because if I did he would know that I was hurt and take advantage of it, so I stayed and kept fighting but it was really bad.
MMARR: Talk about your experience as one of the coaches on The Ultimate Fighter 4.
GSP: It was a great experience, I learned not only from the other trainers but I learned from the fighters as well. I think the person that grew up the most from that experience was myself, because Im always willing to learn and I have a very open mind. Some guys are not open minded, they dont want to learn and (theyll) stay like they are but Im always looking to improve all the time.
MMARR: Was there one trainer/fighter that you learned from more then anyone else?
GSP: I learned from many guys. I learned a lot from Shonie Carter, Matt Serra, Chris Lytle, Travis Lutter, Rich Clementi, Pete Spratt, Randy Couture, Mark DellaGrotte and Marc Laimon. I learned pretty much from everybody, everyone came from a different background and they all had something good to teach me. As I said (before), Im very open minded and always willing to learn, (its) not because my ranking is better then any of those guys that they cant teach me anything new.
MMARR: During the filming of the show, you seemed uncomfortable in the presence of Matt Hughes at times. Was there any animosity between the two of you?
GSP: Yeah, we were suppose to fight on September 23rd, and Matt Hughes was being very arrogant with me down there (Las Vegas) and would say Georges, when are you going to stop avoiding me, come see me and Ill show you how to get out of my armbar. He gave me a lot of bad attitude and (he) was cocky, but I just tried to avoid him and didnt play his games because I do my talking in the Octagon with my fists, not with my mouth. I dont talk shit before a fight.
MMARR: What did you learn from your loss to Hughes?
GSP: I learned a lot of things. I realized that I can beat this guy and Ive grown up so much since that time (2004). I have a lot of skills and now Im even better then I use to be, Matt Hughes as well, but I think Ive improved more then him. I have a lot more knowledge then before, I think it will be a tough fight but I truly believe I will win.
MMARR: Mentally, how are you preparing differently for the rematch?
GSP: Im going to fight him like I fight everybody else. I am not afraid or intimidated by him at all. Hes the Champion and I respect him and his skills, but Im not afraid of him.
MMARR: Youve been known to move around and train with various camps leading up to a fight, who have you been working with in preparation for this fight?
GSP: I still train in Montreal, but I also went to New York and trained with Renzo Gracies team, (as well as) Phil Nurse who is a Mauy Thai instructor in New York. Also, I spoke with Greg Jackson and he allowed some of his guys like Nathan Marquardt, Joey Villasenor and Keith Jardine to come train with me. They have helped me so much, theyre still here and will spend the last week of my training with me.
MMARR: Did you have the chance to work out with Rashad Evans (from Greg Jacksons team)?
GSP: I trained with him last weekend but his fiancé is pregnant so he couldnt come (to Montreal), but we trained together, Rashad is an amazing fighter. Im looking forward to training with him in the near future but he couldnt come this time, I totally understand he has other priorities.
MMARR: The biggest weakness in Hughes game seems to be his striking. Do you think it has improved from when you first fought him?
GSP: Oh yeah, hes improved a lot since then, but Ive improved as well, so its going to be very interesting to see whats going to happen.
MMARR: Do you think youll be able to use your reach advantage to pick Hughes apart from the outside?
GSP: Im coming into the fight with a strategy, but you know when you play cards you dont show your hand before the match, (therefore) I cant tell (you) anything about that. (However) Im coming prepared with a very good strategy and I will execute it and take care of business.
MMARR: Hughes has proven to be devastating when he takes his opponents down. If you find yourself on your back are you more concerned with trying to defend a submission attempt or his ground-and-pound?
GSP: I think its both. Im realistic and I train for any situation, Ill try and avoid the takedown but its possible that I will have to fight from my back in this fight and Im ready for it and hell find out Ive improved a lot since last time. I might even submit him from my back, a lot of people that have trained with me would not be surprised if that happened.
MMARR: Youre known to be a big hockey fan, if you win the Welterweight title, has there been any discussion about the possibility of you dropping the puck during the opening face-off of a Montreal Canadiens game?
GSP: (Laughs) Yeah, its probably going to happen. I have talked to George (Gillett Jr.), the owner of the Montreal hockey club who is my friend, he called me yesterday so its probably going to happen. Its not 100% sure, but Im telling you dont be surprised.
MMARR: That would be great exposure for you.
GSP: Yeah, but I dont do that for the exposure. I want to use my name and my reputation to do some good things in the community. After the fight I will organize a fundraising dinner and all the benefits of the night will go to the Childrens Hospital or for cancer research.
MMARR: Thanks for your time Georges, and best of luck November 18th.
GSP: Thank you very much.