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GSP: In His Own Words

"I have a goal in my head that when I retire I want to be known as the greatest fighter in the sport of MMA of all-time." - Georges St-Pierre, 2009

UFC welterweight champion Georges St-PierreOn November 17, UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre will step into the Octagon at the Bell Centre in his home city of Montreal to defend his crown against interim titleholder Carlos Condit in the main event of UFC 154. It’s the latest chapter in GSP’s storied career, one that you can read about in his own words below.
On his first fight with Matt Hughes (2005)
“I gave him too much respect. I was going into that fight to survive, but I have no excuses - he beat me fairly and squarely. Next time it’s going to be a different story because I’m a different fighter now.”

On early perceptions of MMA in Canada (2005)
“We’re in a very rough sport, and a lot people, especially in my country, don’t consider me to be a real athlete. They look at us as street fighters or brawlers. So it’s important for us to give a good image of the sport and to be gentlemen outside of the Octagon. This way we show the teenagers a good image and we’re role models for these people. It’s important to walk the straight line.”

On training in his home country (2005)
“It’s very cold and when I do my sprints and it’s raining I have no choice but to do them. Some of my workout is outdoors, so even if it’s snowing or raining, I still do it. When the weather is very bad outside and I do my sprints, I have a hard time breathing, I have to deal with the cold, the ground is not solid and it’s full of water so I slide and slip sometimes. But when I go into the Octagon, it’s a beautiful place.”

Origins (2005)
“When I saw Royce Gracie in the first Ultimate Fighting Championship, it was like the Super Bowl of mixed martial arts. You can be a karate champion, judo champion, or jiu-jitsu champion, but when you’re the ultimate fighting champion, you’re the champion of everything all mixed together. And when I saw Royce Gracie beat everybody and he was one of the smallest guys in the entire competition, I decided that that was what I wanted to do for a living.”

On his job (2006)
“I love my job. It’s the best job on Earth, and when I’m going to fight, I really like my job. The only time I didn’t like it was when I fought (Matt) Hughes. It was too stressful and it was not fun. But if you talk to some of my training partners, they’ll tell you I like to laugh and I like to make jokes in training, because I really like my job. For sure it’s a little bit stressful because it is a full contact sport, and there is a lot of risk when you go in to fight, but I try to forget it and just think about the fact that I’m doing what I like to do and just do my thing.”

More thoughts on the first Hughes fight (2006)
“The first time I fought him, I was fighting my idol. It was the first time I had done something like that, he was in front of me, and for me in my mind, it was impossible to do anything to him because he was too good.”

On the first round of the first BJ Penn fight (2006)
“That first round (against Penn) was the worst round of my life. Actually, if you look at my career, I had never lost a round against anybody. Even when I fought Matt Hughes, the judges thought I was ahead – I asked them if they would have given me the round. So this round (against Penn) was the only round I lost.”

Coming back from adversity in the Penn fight (2006)
“It just proved to everybody that I’m a lot stronger mentally than when I fought Matt Hughes. I’ve been able to come back after a beating and get the victory. I think that’s the difference between a champion and a guy who will always be tough, but will never be a champion. You can be as skillful as you want, but if you don’t have the mental toughness, you’re not going to go anywhere, and in our sport, sooner or later, you’ll need that to win a fight.”

On being a martial artist (2006)
“I consider myself a martial artist, and it’s like being a doctor – a doctor keeps studying all his career, and it’s the same thing for me. Even if I reach a good level of fighting, I have to keep my mind open, keep studying and keep learning new stuff.”

On going five rounds (2007)
“I’ve never been five rounds, but the way I train, I train with the best boxers and the best wrestlers in my country, and I train for a long-distance fight. I’d be ready to do ten rounds if I needed to. The reason why I always keep working hard is that you can win the title but you can not win the respect – you earn the respect. Right now, I won the title but I didn’t earn the respect and I need to earn it. When I do, I’ll have to challenge myself with something else.”

On winning the title (2007)
“It was a dream coming true. My mom helped me so much in the beginning of my career so it was very important for me that she was there for the biggest night of my life. She knew that I made a lot of sacrifices and she told me she was very proud of me.”

Skill’s not enough (2007)
“There is something to have the skill, but I think you have to have more because skill is not enough. You need to be ready to sacrifice. I think that’s what helped me – I was very skilled and athletic, but I’m also ready to make the sacrifices that it takes to reach the top.”

On experience, in and out of the Octagon (2007)
“If I was more experienced in fighting and in life, I would not have made the same mistakes I made. I don’t think it’s a mental weakness, it’s more a lack of experience in life. I’m 26 years old and I’ve learned from the mistakes I’ve made. I only have 17 fights and I’m almost always fighting guys who are over 30 years old and most of the time have over 30 fights. Of course those people have the edge in experience on me. So I have to be smart and use my athleticism and my skills to beat those people because in experience, I always come short because they have more fight and more life experience.”

On life before the first Matt Serra fight (2007)
“It’s tough. I had a lot of issues in my life, and people had no idea what had happened in my life. I got through a lot of stuff and a lot of bad stuff happened all at the same time. And when these things happen, you feel like you can’t explain it. I didn’t want to do it, because I respect Matt Serra and I want to give him all the props that he deserved. He beat me and beat me well; I was humiliated.”

Post-Serra (2007)
“A lot of people let me down when I lost that fight, but the only person to blame for that mistake is myself. I lost, I don’t have any excuses, and I got beat that night by a better man. I’m a human being. I made a mistake in my life, I made bad choices, I forgot who I was and my number one priority, and I lost that fight. I paid for it, and now I’m back on track and better than ever. Right now, I’m not even close to how I was that night – I’m a way better fighter.”

On the belt (2007)
“I’m not a material guy at all, and the belt is just a symbol. Yes, it’s very precious, but all the memories of when I won the title and all the people who helped me to get there, that’s inside of me.”

On giving back (2008)
“It’s important for me because it’s time for me to give back to society. I want to use my name, my credibility, and my stature as a professional athlete in mixed martial arts to help the young kids. I’m going to focus on the kids and the teenagers because growing up I had problems, and if I can help somebody who was like me when I was young, it will make their lives better. We’re also gonna help the sick children and be involved in a lot of causes. My foundation will not just be for something in particular; we’re going to be global and we’re gonna give to a lot of causes.”

On being a role model (2008)
“It’s important for me to show a good example and it’s part of my job as well, so I consider being a role model very important. Plus, in life you should not be selfish. When you have an opportunity to give, you give. By giving to people, you will get back so much more, so it’s a good exchange. You attract what you are. If you’re a selfish or negative person, you will attract negative and selfish people to you.”

On winning the title a second time (2008)
“It will be way more important because I know what it takes to be champion and I know what it takes to stay champion, and I’m going to stick to it.”

Looking back at his first reign (2009)
“When I beat Matt Hughes, I didn’t realize what I had in my hand. I was champion and I became a victim of the fame a little bit. I was pretty young, and I was too young to have that kind of fame and power. So what happened was, everybody was telling me how great I am, so there was this delusional box around me that made me think I was different than the other fighters and that nobody could touch me. But the thing I had forgot was that no matter how great you do, or how great of a fighter you are, you make one mistake and you can lose the title. That’s what I learned when I lost to Serra.”

A lesson learned (2009)
“I will never underestimate my opponents. I always want to feel like the guy that I’m fighting is the most dangerous guy that I’ve fought in my entire career. And that’s how I’ll take every one of my fights.”

On his first teacher, Jean Couture (2009)
“He told me to always respect my opponent. When somebody in my school tried to be arrogant, he got kicked out. He also influenced me to always work hard, to never give up, and to always work to do what I want to do.”

Talent vs Work (2009)
“I think everybody has a talent. Everybody in the UFC has a talent. Just to be able to fight in the UFC, you have to be one of the best in the world. I don’t think I have a particular talent more than others – I just work hard to make my mark, and that’s what I do best. That’s my mentality – that’s how I grew up and those are the values I’ve been attached to.”

Pre-fight jitters (2010)
“I’m afraid, like it’s the end of the world. Of course, I get nervous. I always have doubts, I’m always afraid, but that’s what makes someone courageous, when he does something when he’s afraid. When you do something when you’re not afraid, it’s not courage.”

On trash talk (2010)
“If he says bad things about me, I’m gonna answer, I’m not a victim. But I always respect my opponents. It’s my mentality that to do this job you have to go through a lot of obstacles to reach where you are right now, and I have a lot of respect for that.”

On working with Manny Pacquiao and Freddie Roach (2010)
“He’s obviously the fastest boxer that I’ve seen in my life and he’s the best boxer that I’ve seen in my life as well that I’ve been able to interact with. He gave me some tips, and I learned a lot from (Pacquiao trainer) Freddie Roach and I can’t wait for my next fight. I think it’s gonna be great. I’m going to be able to use some of the things that I learned from them and put them into practice.”

On being a fan (2010)
“Being a fan depends on how you look at it. For me, it’s to recognize the work of someone and appreciate the work, and try to learn from what he does best and try to incorporate that into your game. Of course Manny Pacquiao has a lot of stuff that I want to bring into my game, like Anderson Silva does, like BJ Penn does, like Matt Hughes does, Like Shogun (Rua), like (Lyoto) Machida, like Fedor Emelianenko. I’m a fan of all these guys.”

TUF 12 with Josh Koscheck (2010)
“If I don’t want to break, you’re not going to make me break. Koscheck was trying to be arrogant with me, but it was not smart the way he was doing it. He didn’t get into my head; he just wasn’t fun to be around. I was disappointed in his personality, but that was a good thing because it just made me train harder.”

On life in the spotlight (2010)
“It’s hard. The bigger it gets, the more work I need to do and there are some periods where I wish I could go back and be like a normal guy. There are some good things and some bad things about being a celebrity, but I can assure you that the principal reason why I’m doing this is not because I want to be a celebrity. I spent so many years without money and without fame and I kept doing it. Today, the money is there the fame is there, and I can build up my security for my family in the future with it, so it’s a good thing and I take it as a positive.”

On motivation (2010)
“When I step into the Octagon I imagine the guy in front of me is trying to put me back into the situation that I was before, and I need to take him out, to break him, and to not go back there.”

The ultimate goal (2009)
“I have a goal in my head that when I retire I want to be known as the greatest fighter in the sport of MMA of all-time. That’s how I want to be known and I want to be known as the guy who made the difference, not only in the Octagon, but as a spokesperson (of the sport). To reach that goal, I have to beat some of the best guys in the sport.”