UFC 129 Fight Card Preview: Notes, Quotes, Predictions, Thoughts and More
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UFC 129: St-Pierre vs. Shields takes place on Saturday night from the sold-out Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. A UFC-record crowd of 55,000 will witness two UFC Championship bouts, headlined by Georges St-Pierre, who will defend his UFC Welterweight Championship against Jake Shields, who brings a 15-fight win streak into the bout.
In addition, UFC Featherweight Champion Jose Aldo will make his first title defense since the UFC absorbed the WEC, taking on Canada's own Mark Hominick.
The card will also see the retirement bout of UFC Hall of Famer Randy "The Natural" Couture. The five-time UFC Champion is looking to retire on his own terms and has said that his matchup with former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Lyoto "The Dragon" Machida will be the last of his decorated career.
Keep an eye on this space from now until Saturday night for thoughts, predictions and notes from the upcoming card.
As UFC 129 fades into the distance, there's no doubt that it would have been a nice story had Randy Couture managed to defy the odds one more time and find a way to beat Lyoto Machida in their featured bout.
The way things happened, however, it's fair to say that the Randy Couture vs. Lyoto Machida fight had a utilitarian ending: that is, it did the greatest good for the greatest number.
Machida, obviously, needed a win, and scoring it in spectacular fashion via a jumping front kick, certainly helps his cause. It reminds us of just why Machida is such a dangerous man. For the first time since Machida won the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship at UFC 98, we truly saw the unique style that had observers declaring that fight the beginning of the "Machida Era." With one kick, Machida reasserted himself in the light heavyweight division. While he'll need another win or two to get the opportunity, it's possible that Machida presents the most intriguing matchup for champion Jon Jones of anyone on the UFC's 205-pound roster.
For Couture, meanwhile, it certainly would have been nice had he been able to ride off into the sunset victorious - or at least with all his teeth - but the reality is that Couture had nothing more to prove. Sure, he wasn't able to truly hang with an elite fighter like Machida at the age of 47, but that would be too much to ask of anyone. Most importantly, as impressive as Machida's knockout was, Couture was able to get up off the mat relatively quickly, embrace Machida in the Octagon, and get the sendoff he deserved from Joe Rogan and the 55,000 in attendance. As final images in the Octagon go, Couture definitely got the upper hand on Chuck Liddell, whose forced retirement at the hands of Rich Franklin was an influence for Couture's decision to call it quits.
The UFC gets the best of both worlds. If Couture had won, it would be a nice story, but they'd be left with a former champion on a three-fight losing streak, the last coming at the hands of a retiring legend. Needless to say, Machida is a much more valuable asset now. At the same time, it wouldn't have been a good send-off had Couture needed to be carried out of the Octagon. It wouldn't have been a PR nightmare or anything, but it was certainly best that Couture leave under his own power, soaking in the cheers of the 55,000 fans at the largest UFC event in history.
It remains to be seen what Machida will do with the surge of momentum that his stunning knockout win has given him. However, for now, it's hard to imagine an ending to the fight that would have been as good for all parties involved.
There were very few mysteries at the end of Jose Aldo's UFC Featherweight Title defense against Mark Hominick on Saturday night at UFC 129. Hominick had acquitted himself well, dominating the fifth round after taking a beating in the middle of the fight that raised a grotesque hematoma on his forehead. However, when the final horn sounded, and Aldo had successfully avoided the finish, there was no doubt that he'd done enough over the first four rounds to have won the fight.
When the judges scores were announced, however, there was a new mystery: how could one of the judges have scored the fight 50-43, as announced by Bruce Buffer following the bout?
There was no way to score the fifth round as anything but a win for Hominick. The only question was whether the appropriate score was 10-9 or 10-8. Thus, when a 50-43 score was announced, it was a major source of confusion as to how Aldo could have won the fifth round.
The answer is that he didn't. According to the report posted on Sherdog, judge Douglas Crosby scored the fight 48-45, not 50-43. If the last round was scored 10-8 for Hominick and accidentally written down or read wrong, a 48-45 win for Aldo could become 50-43.
It's uncertain at this point where the mistake was made, but it was clearly a clerical error, and not a cause for another long diatribe about MMA judging.
For a man who popularized the phrase "not impressed by your performance" among MMA fans, Georges St-Pierre showed Saturday that he holds himself to the same high standard that he holds fighters like Matt Hughes to.
GSP told Joe Rogan Saturday that he wasn't happy with his own performance against Jake Shields, although given the fact that Shields hadn't lost a fight in six years to anyone, being able to beat him with a badly injured eye in the latter stages of the fight is very impressive. What's more, the win was a great example of what makes so many consider St-Pierre the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.
While the modern mixed martial artist is proficient in all aspects of the sport, St-Pierre trains at the highest levels in both his stand-up game and his ground fighting, and is equally capable of winning with either, depending on what the situation requires. Against Dan Hardy last year at UFC 111, that meant using his wrestling and jiu-jitsu to ground "the Outlaw" and not give him a chance to win standing up. Against Josh Koscheck at UFC 124 and against Shields last night, that meant keeping the fight standing up and taking away the ground game.
Of course, St-Pierre reminded us how good his own wrestling is during the fight with Shields, taking the world-class grappler down on multiple occasions. However, he let Shields up rather than engage him on the ground, denying Shields his best chance to win the fight. It might not have produced the thrilling finish St-Pierre seemed to promise when he told fans, "Don't blink" in his post-weigh-in interview with Joe Rogan on Friday, but it did what no one (including Dan Henderson) has been able to do in six years.
Short of a freak "anything can happen" occurrence like Matt Serra's overhand right at UFC 69, the fighter who finally ends GSP's reign as champion (provided he doesn't end it himself by vacating the title and challenging Anderson Silva at 185) is going to have to able to truly challenge St-Pierre both on the ground and on the feet. To that end, the name who has been most mentioned as GSP's most likely future challenger at 170 - Strikeforce welterweight champ Nick Diaz - may be the most intriguing matchup, as he possesses both the striking to finish an elite-level striker like Paul Daley and the Cesar Gracie jiu-jitsu game that St-Pierre was so keen to avoid on Saturday night.
With Dana White heading out to Stockton to talk to Diaz, it'll be interesting to see what comes out of that discussion.
If momentum means anything on a fight team, Georges St-Pierre is getting some help so far at UFC 129.
Two of the UFC Welterweight Champion's teammates from Montreal's Tristar Gym - John Makdessi and Ivan Menjivar - have won their preliminary bouts at UFC 129 with devastating first-round stoppages, defeating The Ultimate Fighter alumnus Kyle Watson and WEC veteran Charlie Valencia, respectively.
Matched up against H.I.T. Squad jiu-jitsu coach Watson - himself a former protégé of GSP during his time on TUF - Makdessi was successful in keeping the fight standing during the first two rounds, then fought off Watson's attempt at a clinch in the third round before finishing him off with a highlight-reel spinning backfist off of a faked kick.
Menjivar, meanwhile, made the most of a clinch with Valencia early in the first round, creating space with his left hand before shattering Valencia's nose with a short elbow strike, dropping the American to the ground before finishing with punches from the top.
If there is any momentum from these early wins with Tristar coach Firas Zahabi in the corner, the next (and possibly best) indicator will be Rory MacDonald. MacDonald will take on TUF 5 winner Nate Diaz - who just happens to be a teammate of Jake Shields at Cesar Gracie's academy in San Francisco - in one of the live Spike TV prelims.
As UFC 129 nears - and with it, Georges St-Pierre's UFC Welterweight Championship defense against Jake Shields - a good chunk of the discussion centers around whether this will be GSP's last fight at 170 pounds, and if he will move up to middleweight to challenge Anderson Silva should he beat Shields Saturday night.
However, it's worth asking whether we're considering the right fighter to move up to 185.
St-Pierre has never seemed to be champing at the bit to go up to 185 to fight Silva. At a Q&A session with fans on Friday, UFC President Dana White discussed Shields' teammate, Strikeforce Welterweight Champion Nick Diaz, as a potential opponent for GSP should he choose to remain at 170.
Shields, on the other hand, has been a champion at 185 pounds in Strikeforce, and as many have noted in the weeks leading up to this fight, was dominant in his fight last year against current Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion Dan Henderson, much more so than he was a few months later against Martin Kampmann. Shields has spoke often during the buildup to this fight about how long he has wanted to fight GSP, but should he be unsuccessful on Saturday night - and should GSP be uninterested in moving up to 185 - it might be worth considering whether Shields is the right man to fight Silva.
In his unsuccessful bid for Silva's title this past August, Chael Sonnen may have given the blueprint for how to beat Silva, when he used his wrestling-based attack to put Silva on his back, and dominate him with ground-and-pound. Given that Shields' primary strengths are his wrestling and his jiu-jitsu, which suggests that he could be well-suited to follow that blueprint without giving up the late triangle choke submission that Silva was able to use to retain his title against Sonnen. Given that Shields' resume includes wins over Dan Henderson - the last man before Sonnen to win a round with Silva - and Silva's next challenger, Yushin Okami, it may be that Shields is in the wrong fight if he wants his best chance at UFC gold.
Whenever he comments on a Rich Franklin fight, UFC color commentator Joe Rogan says that even though "Ace" was the UFC Champion at 185 pounds, he's much better at light heavyweight. While it's far too early to count Shields out against GSP, he might be the more likely challenger to Silva out of tonight's main eventers.
The odds say that Randy Couture is unlikely to win at UFC 129 on Saturday night, when he takes on Lyoto Machida in a fight that the UFC Hall-of-Famer says will be his last.
Short of a successful UFC Welterweight Championship defense for their countryman, Georges St-Pierre, in the evening's main event, the crowd of 55,000 at the Rogers Centre will likely want nothing more than for Couture to beat those odds and win.
However, win or lose, the significance of the "The Natural" stepping into the Octagon with "The Dragon" cannot be ignored. In a way that last year's fights against Mark Coleman and James Toney were not, Couture stepping into the Octagon and performing well against Machida will be one of the great examples of athletic longevity in recent memory.
Last year, Chris Chelios, a three-time former Norris Trophy winner as the NHL's best defenseman, played 46 games for the Chicago Wolves, the top minor league affiliate of the NHL's Atlanta Thrashers. In those games, Chelios - who is 18 months Couture's senior - scored five goals, assisted on 17 more, and was a plus-34 for the Wolves (Chicago scored 34 more goals at or below even-strength with Chelios on the ice than it allowed). He also played seven games for the Thrashers in the NHL, where he was held without a point and was a minus-2. While Chelios being competitive as a professional athlete at 48 is impressive under any circumstances, the difference between his performance against major-league competition and minor-leaguers is notable.
So too is it the case with Couture. While Couture was impressive in his wins over Coleman and Toney, they did not represent elite opposition, due to both advanced age (Coleman), or being a fish out of water in the Octagon (Toney, who is also no spring chicken), To find an example of Couture defeating a younger opponent in his competitive prime, you have to go back to November 2009, when he beat Brandon Vera at UFC 105.
Machida, despite his current two-fight losing streak, is far superior to anyone Couture has faced since his loss to Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC 102. At this time last year, he was the UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, and at 33, is still very much a player at 205 pounds. Couture stepping into the Octagon against him at 47 is on the level of Chris Chelios playing in the NHL at 48.
When the cage door closes, we'll see whether Couture can handle that level of competition any better. For now, though, it's worth taking a moment to appreciate the rare caliber of athlete that will step into the cage on Saturday night.
As UFC 129 approaches tonight in Toronto, time appears to be running out on the UFC career of Randy Couture. The UFC Hall-of-Famer has said that tonight's fight against Lyoto Machida will be his last, saying that he doesn't want to find himself in the same situation as longtime rival Chuck Liddell, who heard - and ultimately answered - calls for his retirement following his knockout loss to Rich Franklin at UFC 115.
However, that might well be the reason why UFC 129 winds up not being Couture's last fight.
After suffering back-to-back losses to Mauricio Rua at UFC 113 and Rampage Jackson at UFC 123, it's amazing to see how far Lyoto Machida has fallen in the estimation of MMA fans. This is still a man who is two years removed from back-to-back knockouts of Thiago Silva and Rashad Evans, and a fighter who, as Dana White once told Esquire magazine, "throws feet like they're hands." If those feet find a home on Couture's skull tonight, Couture's "retirement" fight could end with the former five-time, two-division UFC Champion lying on the mat unconscious, and that's not the way anyone wants to remember him.
At this point, Couture certainly believes that tonight will be his last fight, win, lose or draw. However, there may well be a difference between a knockout or TKO loss and a decision or submission loss that no self-respecting fighter should be considering right now.
Do you think tonight's fight ends in a knockout? If so, do you think it will change Couture's retirement plans? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.
No fewer than 10 Canadian fighters will do battle tonight at UFC 129, and nine of them will step into the Octagon to take on Americans. Given that the event will be the first UFC event to take place in the province of Ontario, and will take place in front of a North American record 55,000 fans, that would seem to make the Canadians heavy fan favorites, and their opponents (especially the Americans) natural heels heading into Saturday night.
After watching the fighters weigh in on Friday, however, one wonders if that's truly going to be the case.
With the exceptions of UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St-Pierre, UFC Featherweight Championship top contender Mark Hominick, and preliminary fighter Jason "The Athlete" MacDonald, the Canadian fighters weren't much better received than their American counterparts, although Jake Shields was greeted with loud boos, and Nate Diaz' reception wasn't much better. The weigh-in crowd is a smaller sample than will be in the Rogers Centre tonight, but it's worth asking how much of an impact the crowd will have.
Certainly, as he's trained to face GSP in the main event for the UFC Welterweight Championship, Shields has prepared himself with a "me against the world" mindset, and as a fighter whose style isn't conducive to being a fan favorite, Shields is used to putting the crowd out of his mind. Diaz will likely be the same way, and overall, the fights will be about the two men in the Octagon at any given time, rather than the 55,000 watching.
The crowd factor should be most interesting at the margins: the fighter who finds a little extra second wind late in a fight, the stand-up war that intensifies at the encouragement of the crowd, or - if we're unlucky - the controversial judges' decision that gets an even louder vote of disapproval.
The stars of UFC 129 - Georges St-Pierre, Jake Shields, Randy Couture, Jose Aldo, Mark Hominick and Lyoto Machida - didn't exactly make waves at Friday's weigh-in. All six came in on weight, although Hominick initially weighed in a quarter pound above the 145-pound weight limit (although all still appears to be on track for his UFC Featherweight Championship opportunity against Aldo). However, the fighters further down the card made things a bit more interesting.
TUF 12 Semifinalist Kyle Watson - who will take on John Makdessi, a Tristar Gym teammate of GSP - looked to entertain with his choice of boxer shorts, which read "PULL DOWN" on the front, with a pair of arrows in the appropriate direction. With his having made weight, however, those instructions proved unnecessary for the time being.
Ben Henderson, on the other hand, couldn't be helped by losing his shorts - or even by turning off the music in the arena - and needed to take extra time to make the lightweight limit of 156 pounds after initially weighing in at 156.5. It's a bit puzzling, given that Henderson has had to make 155 on the nose for his last four fights, but with Henderson officially on weight now, it's a dead issue and shouldn't affect Saturday's fight against Mark Bocek.
Also, in the latest in a series of surreal moments since Zuffa purchased Strikeforce, color commentator Joe Rogan acknowledged Nick Diaz as the Strikeforce Welterweight Champion when he seconded his brother Nate Diaz, who made weight for his bout against Rory MacDonald during the Spike prelim show. However, Rogan did not announce the presence of actor Steven Seagal when he accompanied Machida to the stage for his weigh-in against Couture. Then again, he's not an active fighter in a Zuffa-owned promotion, so there you go.
Finally, while nine fights on the card pit an American against a Canadian, the crowd in Toronto was generally receptive to the fighters from south of the border. Shields was the most notable exception, although his Cesar Gracie Academy teammate Diaz was not warmly received, either. It'll be interesting to see whether that trend holds up when UFC 129 gets underway on Saturday night.
That was the advice given by Georges St-Pierre when the UFC Welterweight Champion was interviewed by Joe Rogan after weighing in for his UFC 129 title defense against Jake Shields on Saturday night.
The direction was an odd one coming from St-Pierre. As great as he has been over the course of his career - particularly in his current eight-fight win streak, which has seen him win 30 straight rounds - GSP is not known for finishing opponents quickly. To find his last first-round finish, you have to go back to UFC 54, his fourth fight in the promotion, when he submitted Frank Trigg with a rear naked choke. A fight against a man with a 15-fight win streak over the last six years and change doesn't seem like an opportune time to predict a quick finish.
That said, a matchup with an accomplished grappler like Shields seems like the kind of fight where St-Pierre would want to rely on his stand-up game, where he clearly outclasses Shields. Even then, though, GSP's use of his stand-up skills at UFC 124 translated to a lengthy dissection of Josh Koscheck, turning Kos' eye into hamburger over the course of the first three rounds.
But then again, maybe GSP has something special planned, a move that - whether it leads to a quick victory or not - will have fans talking for days and weeks to come. Fellow UFC 129 fighter Ben Henderson - who missed weight by half a pound - can certainly attest to that possibility, as he was on the receiving end of a "don't blink" moment in the fifth round of his last fight, when Anthony Pettis landed the famous "Showtime kick" en route to winning the WEC Lightweight Championship. It's unlikely that GSP will try running up the side of the cage, but then again, no one expected him to use his open workout for a kata demonstration and a staged disarming of a knife-wielding attacker.
What do you make of GSP's "Don't Blink" advice? Do you think he's planning a quick finish of Shields, a rare "Did He Just Do That?" move, or something else all together?
As noted by Mike Chiappetta at MMA Fighting, the attention that Jose Aldo has received during the buildup to this Saturday's UFC 129 is not quite befitting a UFC Champion and one of the top five pound-for-pound fighters in the world.
Of course, it's not hard to have that happen when fighting on the same card as Georges St-Pierre.
The UFC Featherweight Champion - who will defend his title in Saturday's co-main event against Canadian Mark Hominick - went 40 minutes without being asked a question during Wednesday's pre-fight press conference, with writers more focused on GSP's UFC Welterweight Championship bout against Jake Shields and Randy Couture's retirement fight against Lyoto Machida.
Aldo has said he doesn't mind the lack of spotlight, and it just might be because the lack of attention could be the best thing for him in terms of making UFC 129 a landmark moment in his career.
Let's be honest: As much as the MMA media celebrates St-Pierre's greatness - and rightly so - Aldo and Hominick are much more adept than the main event fighters at producing the kind of stand-up pyrotechnics that make an impression on the widest audiences. If the 145-pound and 135-pound divisions had been part of the UFC all along, it's highly unlikely that Aldo would be relegated to co-main event status. As it is, the Aldo-Hominick bout has a Fight Night bonus - be it "Fight of the Night" or "Knockout of the Night" - written all over it.
It won't be a shock to dedicated MMA fans when that happens, but for the casual fan, there will be an element of surprise. Whether they're leaving the Rogers Centre, their friends' house or their local sports bar, they'll walk out talking about Jose Aldo.
All the more so because they walked in talking about Georges St-Pierre, Jake Shields and Randy Couture.
One of the things that the UFC has always done well in the Zuffa era is promote its fights. Whether it's using The Ultimate Fighter to build up its biggest matchups, or giving its fighters the freedom to use social media in ways that would make major team sports promotions cringe - or the kind of matchmaking that creates intriguing fights in the first place - the UFC is great at making people care about fights, and especially good at making fans remember that anything can happen once the cage door closes.
It's hard to imagine a better example of that than Saturday night's UFC Welterweight Champion matchup between Georges St-Pierre and Jake Shields.
In recent weeks, between the UFC's Countdown show for UFC 129 and the UFC Primetime: St-Pierre vs. Shields series, we've seen Jake Shields train with the likes of Nick Diaz, Gilbert Melendez and Phil Davis. We've seen him spend time with his family, and we've been reminded of the fighters he's beaten over the course of his six-year-plus, 15-fight win streak.
Well, except for Martin Kampmann.
To be fair, when a fighter's résumé includes wins over the likes of Dan Henderson, Yushin Okami, Carlos Condit, Jason Miller, Robbie Lawler and Paul Daley, a win over Kampmann doesn't necessarily get much attention. However, the win over Kampmann at UFC 121 back in October is the only fight Shields has ever had in the Octagon, which one would think would ensure a fair bit of attention in the UFC's buildup to the fight, except that the absence of the Kampmann fight from the buildup has helped the UFC promote the idea that Shields can beat St-Pierre on Saturday night. .
The honest truth is that Shields was less than impressive at UFC 121, pulling out a split decision over a solid welterweight fighter. Looking back at UFC 121, it's hard to believe that the fighter who lost the fight on one judge's scorecard is a threat to beat a fighter who hasn't even lost a round since 2007.
Of course, we know that Shields blamed his lackluster performance on the weight cut after fighting at middleweight for over a year, and there may be some truth to that. Furthermore, Shields knows as well as anyone else that if the guy who fought Kampmann in October shows up at the Rogers Centre on Saturday, the UFC Welterweight Championship is staying right where it is. However, the UFC has done everything it can to show us the other guy.
The guy the UFC has shown us holds his own on the mat with a main-event caliber light heavyweight like Phil Davis. The guy the UFC has shown us fought above his natural weight class and beat a former two-division world champion in Dan Henderson. The guy the UFC has shown us hasn't lost a fight in more than six years, and that guy has us wondering deep down, in the backs of our heads if he can beat Georges St-Pierre.
Randy Couture is saying that his fight with Lyoto Machida at UFC 129 will be his last fight, but it's hardly a surprise that people who have heard that before have their doubts, particularly Dana White.
In an interview with MMA Fighting's Ariel Helwani, the UFC President cited Couture's competitive nature as the reason he doubts that Couture will be done for good after he fights Machida on Saturday.
"As long as the guy's healthy and able to compete," White said, "I think he's always going to be looking for challenges, and it's hard to walk away when you're a real fighter like he is, and like Chuck. Couture's a competitor, and I think whenever there's a time where he thinks he wants to go out and compete against another human being, he's going to come out and do it."
Of course, that drive to compete was what brought Couture out of retirement in the first place, when he defeated Tim Sylvia to become the UFC Heavyweight Champion at UFC 68. However, it's a bit different this time around.
When Couture retired the first time, he was coming off of a title fight - against Chuck Liddell at UFC 57 - and he came back to another one. With Couture having turned down a fight with UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon "Bones" Jones, it's clear that he knows his days of fighting for titles are behind him. Since losing to Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC 102, Couture has fought a fellow aging veteran (Mark Coleman), a good-but-not-great light heavyweight (Brandon Vera) and a boxing great who was clearly out of his depth (James Toney). Machida presents a greater challenge than any of those three men, but by turning down the fight with Jones, Couture has shown that he knows that he's not in the title picture.
If you're not fighting towards the title picture, then you're probably fighting to fight, and for Couture, who has so much going on outside the Octagon, it's not hard to see how that can get old very, very quickly.
One shouldn't write off a Couture return completely - the attraction of fighting at 50 might hold some interest - but Couture's mindset now is different than it was four years ago.
You may have heard by now that Jake Shields' coach, Cesar Gracie, isn't happy with his cousin, Renzo Gracie, for training Georges St-Pierre to fight Shields in Saturday's main event at UFC 129.
In an interview on Sherdog's The Savage Dog show - later recapped on Cage Potato and elsewhere - Shields' longtime coach said, "I did have a talk with Renzo and I said, “Renzo, you’re training a guy that doesn’t represent your academy, he represents another academy, to fight against a Gracie Academy. It doesn’t make sense to me.'"
Of course, as you may know from having watched Countdown to UFC 129, Renzo isn't the only Gracie that St-Pierre has been training with lately, as GSP trained with Roger Gracie in London as part of his preparation for the fight with Shields. Cesar might have a point when it comes to Roger, since St-Pierre rarely trains in the U.K. however, the relationship between GSP and Renzo goes back for years, and trips to New York to train at Renzo's academy are a regular part of GSP's regimen.
One major element of teammates' reluctance to fight one another is the fact that by necessity, at least one fighter is forced to disrupt his training regimen. Andre Winner and Ross Pearson split up Rough House trainers before their TUF 9 finale fight. Evan Dunham took a leave of absence from Xtreme Couture when he fought Tyson Griffin, because Griffin had been training there longer. However, there are too many Gracies and too many Gracie-trained fighters to disrupt training regimens when there's no direct conflict.
When I spoke to Matt Serra for an UltimateFighter.com interview last year, Serra said that there's a difference between preparing someone to fight a good friend and preparing someone to fight a good friend's associate, and that while he'd never fight the now-retired Ricardo Almeida or train someone else to fight him, GSP's association with Renzo Gracie didn't stop him from working with Dan Hardy before Hardy's UFC Welterweight Championship opportunity at UFC 111.
It's safe to say that that's how it ought to be, and as GSP prepares to face Shields this Saturday at UFC 129, that's how it is.
During the UFC 129 Press Conference on Wednesday afternoon in Toronto, UFC President Dana White praised Georges St-Pierre not just for his performance in the Octagon and as an ambassador for the sport, but for the UFC Welterweight Champion's never-ending desire to improve.
"I think Georges St-Pierre - and you'll find very few people to argue - is a special individual," White said. "One of the things that I love about Georges St-Pierre, too - and he says it all the time, 'I've achieved this, I've achieved that' - but he never stops working. He's a hard worker, because he keeps striving to be better than he was last time. He wants to be the best, and I respect that so much from a guy who's had the belt, who's done things, who's made a lot of money. He's done everything you can possibly do but he keeps working this hard because that's who he is. He's an incredible champion, and he wants to be the best."
It's that continued will to challenge himself that would likely be one of the driving forces behind the much-talked-about superfight between St-Pierre and UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva, should that matchup happen. Should he beat Shields on Saturday, GSP will be very close to running out of ways to challenge himself at 170 pounds, and a move to middleweight to challenge Silva could certainly be the logical progression.