Q&A with Georges St. Pierre
With the two big events in the rearview mirror, it's time to focus on EliteXC next weekend and on the next major UFC event, UFC 87. UFC Welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre, widely recognized as one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the world, will defend his title against Jon Fitch. St. Pierre recently took some time to talk about the fight and a variety of different topics in the MMA world.
MMA STOMPING GROUNDS: How did you get started in martial arts?
GEORGES ST. PIERRE: I fought karate first. I was 7 years old. I was a big van of Jean Claude van Damme in the movies and I saw all the Arnold Schwarzenegger movies and I always wanted to be a martial artist. I didn't know what I wanted to do for living but when I saw the first UFC with Royce Gracie I knew that's what I wanted to do. I've been very inspired by Royce Gracie and I knew the sport was going to be big.
MMA STOMPING GROUNDS: How tough was it to get started in mixed martial arts?
ST. PIERRE: Well I was a karate guy first but then my teacher of karate died at about the same time so I decided to do Brazilian jiu-jistsu and from there I started wrestling and boxing and then I became more well-rounded and fought complete.
MMA STOMPING GROUNDS: Did you have to work in other areas when you got started or was fighting enough to pay the bills?
ST. PIERRE: Oh yeah. There was a time when I started my career that I was working three jobs at the same time. I was also studying at school and I was training for my fights and I was living in a very bad apartment. I didn't have a lot of money but those days are finished. I'm glad when I think about it because it was a very tough time for me but I knew at the time the hard work would pay off.
MMA STOMPING GROUNDS: What types of jobs did you have to work?
ST. PIERRE: I did a lot of jobs. First, just to give you an example, to pay for my study I didn't have a lot of money so to pay for my studies, my books and everything for the university, I became a garbage man for six months because it's a lot of money. So I worked full-time and I was training really hard and then I started studying and then switched to other jobs. I was working as a bouncer at a night club on the weekend and teaching government programs and I was working in recovery at a store and it was very tough.
MMA STOMPING GROUNDS: How did those struggles help you?
ST. PIERRE: When I see some people in the sport say "Oh, I don't have time to do this" and they complain and not only in the sport but in their life I laugh because I know I've done a lot. When you want something, you can go get it, you just have to use the tools and sometimes it's hard and you need to struggle hard for a couple months or a couple years sometimes like I did, but at some point if you do it well and keep going you will see the light at the end of the tunnel.
MMA STOMPING GROUNDS: Did you look up to any fighters when you first go into the sport? Do you look up to any now?
ST. PIERRE: Gracie is the best one. I really look up to many people. Royce Grace, Matt Hughes I used to look up to Randy Couture. Right now, I really like Houston Alexander.
MMA STOMPING GROUNDS: You mention Matt Hughes; how much do you think he has left in him?
ST. PIERRE: It all depends on Matt Hughes. No one else can answer that but Matt himself. If he wants to keep doing this for a long time he knows what he has to do. If he wants it and if he is still hungry and will sacrifice I think he will be very dangerous.
MMA STOMPING GROUNDS: What's the game plan for Jon Fitch?
ST. PIERRE: When you play cards, you don't want to show your hand. I have a great game plan but I think he's the best fighter that I've fought so far and it's a great challenge for me.
MMA STOMPING GROUNDS: There's a rumor of a potential fight with B.J. Penn on the horizon. Is that something you would be interested in?
ST. PIERRE: Of course, but right now all my focus is on Fitch because he's the most dangerous man right now.
MMA STOMPING GROUNDS: If you could fight anyone in the sport, who would it be?
ST. PIERRE: I think I would like to fight Jon Fitch, because he's the No. 1 guy for me. He's the guy to beat and after Fitch, I don't know. Maybe we'll see what happens depending on the outcome of all the other fights.
MMA STOMPING GROUNDS: Have you ever had any crazy interactions with fans?
ST. PIERRE: Well, there are always some crazy fans. Something will happen where you see a fan who has been drinking or stuff like that sometimes, it's a little bit different and they ask you weird stuff. One guy asked me to hit him as hard as I could and I said no, you could sue me. I don't think it was a bright thing to do but he really insisted and wanted me to punch him.
MMA STOMPING GROUNDS: What's been the highlight of your career so far?
ST. PIERRE: Winning the belt in Montreal. That was my No. 1. I was fighting in front of my hometown fans for a world title. I couldn't have wished for a better scenario. Hopefully it's not the last time I get to fight there.
MMA STOMPING GROUNDS: Where do you have the most fans? Is it in Canada or the U.S.?
ST. PIERRE: The biggest fan base I have is probably the West Coast of the United States.
MMA STOMPING GROUNDS: What was the most frustrating part of your career?
ST. PIERRE: When I lost to Matt Serra. I was humiliated and it was the worst moment of my life but I think I went true like a man and it made me a better fighter and a better person, too.
MMA STOMPING GROUNDS: How long did it take you to get over that fight?
ST. PIERRE: I was fighting on a Saturday night, I came back Sunday and Monday morning I was in the gym pissed off. I didn't want to talk to nobody. For a couple days I wasn't in zone but then I thought about it and said you know what, it;s just a step back and let’s move forward and I put all the puzzle together and was better off for it and have been doing very well since then.
MMA STOMPING GROUNDS: How important is it for you to be recognized as one of the top pound-for-pound fighters?
ST. PIERRE: It's important for me. I want to be recognized as the best before I retire but for now I focus on my fights as the most important thing. I don't have a lack of challenge right now so I don't have to think much about what I need to do, there are so many challengers and I love it.
MMA STOMPING GROUNDS: Would you ever consider moving up to middleweight and going after both titles?
ST. PIERRE: Maybe one day, yeah, if it's good. But for right now, I'd never fight and my friend Patrick Cote is going for the title. If the way is clear and the timing is good, I would do it.
MMA STOMPING GROUNDS: How do you think Cote will fare against Anderson Silva?
ST. PIERRE: I think people will be surprised. He's very, very good and he's a way, way better version of what he was the last time he lost. He's an amazing fighter and I'm very glad he came from far. He didn't have an easy time but I'm glad all the hard work he's done has paid off and I'm very happy as a training partner and friend. It couldn't happen to a better person.
MMA STOMPING GROUNDS: What do you like most about the sport?
ST. PIERRE: I like the sport in general. It's like a chess game. It's very technical, you need to use all your tools and that's what I like.
MMA STOMPING GROUNDS: If you could change one thing, what would it be?
ST. PIERRE: I don't know. Maybe I would not put any rounds, it would be like 25 minutes or a time limit but no rounds. I'd also allow knees on the floor and that's pretty much it.
MMA STOMPING GROUNDS: What's one thing you want people to know about you that they might not already know?
ST. PIERRE: Fighting is not my life. Fighting is what I like to do in my life and it's part of my life, but it's not my whole life.
MMA STOMPING GROUNDS: What do you like to do away from fighting?
ST. PIERRE: I'm a very intellectual guy. I like to study about things like philosophy, archaeology and things like that. I'm a big fan of movies, too. I go to movie theater every week, sometimes twice a week.
MMA STOMPING GROUNDS: Who is your favorite actor?
ST. PIERRE: It's … damn, what's his name? Forrest Gump … Tom Hanks. That's it.