Interview: Georges St. Pierre on Staying at 170, Why Koscheck Crossed the Line

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Interview: Georges St. Pierre on Staying at 170, Why Koscheck Crossed the Line
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Georges St. Pierre is kind of a big deal.

He’s arguably the top pound-for-pound fighter in the sport of mixed martial arts and the current UFC welterweight champion.

Furthermore, he transcends the historical framework of the sport like few have, becoming a mainstream sports commodity.

He has major sponsorship deals with Gatorade and Under Armour.

He’s appeared in three films and was also the co-subject of a recent documentary entitled The Striking Truth 3D.

If you sat through the Patriots-Jets Monday Night Football game on ESPN yesterday, you would have seen his SportsCenter commercial that has been airing periodically.

At this point, he cannot travel far in his home country of Canada without being recognized or approached by fans.

These are likely some of the same folks who will be invading the Bell Centre in Montreal this Saturday, as St. Pierre puts his title on the line in a rematch against Josh Koscheck.

“The pressure is there, but I am better under pressure. I am very nervous, excited, and anxious. All those things,” said St. Pierre.

The Bell Centre has already played host to the two highest attendance totals in the history of the UFC.

UFC 97 holds the record with 21,451 attendees. Not far behind is UFC 83 at 21,390, which was the record at the time.

Who headlined UFC 83?

You guessed it – Georges St. Pierre.

It is quite possible 20,000-plus will once again line the seats on December 11, as many are anxious to support their countryman and express their verbal distaste for his curly-haired opponent.

Both men were rival coaches on the recently completed twelfth installment of The Ultimate Fighter on Spike TV.

Throughout the season and in related media, viewers and readers were bombarded with the proverbial “good vs. evil” dichotomy.

Koscheck, a terminal antagonist, has gone out of his way to verbally spar with St. Pierre in an attempt to disrupt his mental fitness leading up to the rematch.

“He will do everything possible to take away my focus of my training. The thing is, when he does that, I am even more focused on training because I want to beat him even more,“ said St. Pierre.

“My strategy is simple. I fight at what I’m good at. I am not good at trash talking, so I don’t fight with trash talking. It is not my thing.”

When asked to quantify how “annoying” Koscheck was on a scale of 1-10, St. Pierre responded by saying, “He’s very annoying. Probably close to ten. One of the most annoying human beings I have to deal with, but it’s okay.”

The vast majority of Koscheck’s rhetoric has been within the typical pre-fight trash talk framework that we have all grown accustomed to leading up to big fights.

However, St. Pierre does believe there was one instance over the past few months where he felt the line was clearly crossed.

“When he said I was taking steroids and stuff. He accused me of that. That is something wrong because you get personal when you say something like that. If you want to promote the fight, promote the fight, but this is something wrong.”

Briefly shaken, but clearly not stirred.

This is not St. Pierre’s first high profile rodeo, nor the first time he has had to deal with cheating accusations or trash talk.

As for the first matchup between the pair, you have to travel back in time over three years ago to August 25, 2007.

That evening St. Pierre won a unanimous decision over Koscheck at UFC 74 in Las Vegas.

Both men have improved tremendously since they first locked horns.

“I have evolved a lot more than he did. There’s only one way to find out. That’s why we’re fighting together,” said St. Pierre.

UFC 74 also marked the last time St. Pierre lost a round on the scorecards in the UFC.

Judges Adalaide Byrd and Jeff Collins both gave the opening frame to Koscheck, mainly due to his ability to get up after St. Pierre’s early takedown, and also for a single leg takedown of his own with about 1:30 left in the round.

What many had not forecast was St. Pierre clearly establishing his grappling dominance over the former four-time NCAA All-American wrestler.

St. Pierre does not have a formal wrestling background. He has learned the trade on the job ever since he became an MMA fighter.

Nevertheless, St. Pierre recorded takedowns in rounds one and two. He was also productive in controlling Koscheck from top position for various lengths of time in all three rounds, while landing elbows and attempting multiple submissions.

Does St. Pierre believe Koscheck will try to prove a point that he is indeed the superior wrestler in the rematch?

“Yes, probably. I am ready if he tries to take me down. I think my wrestling is better than his. He comes from a wrestling background, but I’m not scared. I respect him, but I’m not scared. I’m ready to go for everything.”

He added, “I think I am better than him in every aspect of the game, but I need to be there and fight my best fight. I am ready for twenty five minutes. I don’t think it will go (the distance), but I am ready to go twenty five minutes in a very intense war.”

Not only are fans on the edge of their seat anticipating the rematch, but many are just as curious to find out where St. Pierre goes from here if he is victorious.

From time to time, there is demand for him to move up to the middleweight limit of 185 pounds for a potential showdown with champion Anderson Silva.

If he dominates Koscheck again, the intensity could be ratcheted up another level.

It would be MMA’s version of the potential boxing "superfight" between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather, Jr.

Is it possible this could be St. Pierre’s last fight at welterweight?

“No, I am going to fight other fights at 170 pounds,” he bluntly stated. “If I want to fight at 185, I think I should be closer to 200 pounds. I would have to put more weight on.”

According to him, he currently walks around at or near 188 pounds.

All this talk is meaningless if he cannot complete the task at hand, which means sending Koscheck back to the United States with another blemish on his record.

Be sure to clear your schedule for Saturday night.

_______________

Derek Bolender is a freelance MMA writer who has contributed to CBSSports.com, MMAmania.com, and FIGHT! Magazine (in addition to BleacherReport.com). Follow him on Twitter at @DerekBolender

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