St. Pierre has Bad Intentions
"Mixed martial arts fighter Georges St. Pierre is getting his title shot. Again.
The Montreal welterweight will meet UFC champion Matt Hughes on Nov. 18 at UFC 65: Bad Intentions in Sacramento, Calif. St. Pierre was to have fought Hughes at UFC 63 on Sept. 23 but had to pull out after suffering a groin injury in training.
B.J. Penn replaced St. Pierre and gave the champion all he could handle for two rounds before running out of gas and losing by TKO in the third round.
Hughes showed his killer instinct, taking advantage of Penn's fatigue by using his legs and left arm to pin the Hawaiian fighter's arms to the canvas. The champion then hammered Penn's unprotected head — as if tenderizing a 170-pound piece of meat — with 42 straight right hands and three elbows before the referee stepped in to end the carnage.
It was the same way Hughes finished off Carlos Newton, the only Canadian to hold a UFC title, at UFC 38: Brawl in the Hall in 2002.
In Hughes, St. Pierre is facing a champion at the top of his game.
The 32-year-old from Hillsboro, Ill. has a record of 42-4 and won 19 of his last 20 fights including a submission victory over St. Pierre two years ago. And Hughes has now avenged the lone blemish during that stretch, a loss to Penn at UFC 46: Supernatural in January 2004.
Hughes started as wrestler but is now an all-round fighter who enjoys the challenge of solving problems posed by talented opponents. Physically and mentally, he is teak-hard.
St. Pierre (12-1) is a talented fighter in his own right who is coming off his own win over Penn (UFC 58: USA vs. Canada in March). The 25-year-old moves like a dancer, his torso an inverted triangle of rippling muscle. He is athletic and graceful as he punishes the men he faces in the ring.
"Georges was and still is the No. 1 contender," Hughes said in an interview. "He's the guy that should have got that title shot before B.J.
"I'm at the point in my career where I'm not looking to fight people that I know I can beat. Now, it's kind of more of a challenge to see who matches up well with me, who's going to take me into the second, the third, the fourth, the fifth round. And Georges could be anyone of those.
"He could take me far into the fight or he could be a possible guy that could beat me. He's a very skilled fighter. But I really think that God has plans that I'm going to win that fight and I feel very confident."
St. Pierre has all the physical tools he needs to be a champion — and says he is totally fit after getting over a pulled groin tendon.
But St. Pierre admits he let the magnitude of the first Hughes fight get to him. The rematch will be his chance to prove he also has the mental side of the game down pat.
"He beat me fair and square but I respected him too much," St. Pierre said. "I thought for me it was impossible to do anything to him because he was Matt Hughes and he was kind of my idol in MMA. But now things are different right now and I am going to fight him like I fight everybody else."
And while both fighters say nice things about each other, the two sometimes rub each other the wrong way.
Hughes is a plain-speaking country boy who has got under St. Pierre's skin in the past. And St. Pierre angered Hughes when he entered the ring after the Penn fight, grabbing the microphone to tell Hughes and a worldwide pay-per-view audience: "I am very glad you won that fight Matt, but I was not impressed by your performance and I look forward to fighting you in the near future."
Hughes did not like the comments and pulled St. Pierre close to him in the ring to say so.
"I said 'Hey Georges, I've never been the type of guy to walk in this Octagon after somebody else has already competed and try and steal the show. You kind of just showed me who you were.' He kind of took that to heart. I think he felt a little bad afterwards."
St. Pierre, who blamed the exchange on a misunderstanding, went to Hughes's dressing room 20 minutes later to apologize. The Canadian fighter said he misheard Hughes's post-fight comments and thought the champion was insulting him when Hughes pointed at him.
"It was not very classy," St. Pierre said of his behaviour.
"Georges is a great guy. No doubt about it ... In all reality I would never talk bad about Georges," Hughes said.
While St. Pierre said he was sorry, he noted Hughes has taken swipes at him before.
"Matt Hughes said a lot of bad things about him me in the past and he always had a bad attitude when we talked to each other and when he did interviews," he said.
The verbal jabs included St. Pierre being Canadian and French-Canadian.
According to St. Pierre, Hughes told a Los Angeles station that "'Georges is French and the French didn't make the war with us. They don't have a real warrior spirit. They don't have any heart. So the fight is going to be easy. Georges is going to give up because of that."'
Said St. Pierre: "I think it's a racist thing and it doesn't have anything to do with the sport."
Not to mention that Quebec is not France.
"Matt is the typical American country guy. I'm not pissed at him but I'm going to have sweet revenge in the Octagon when I fight him in November," St. Pierre said.
Hughes says he was just teasing.
"That's the type of person I am. If I like somebody, I'll tease them and play with them and will sit and laugh the whole time. If I don't like somebody, I won't see them, I won't hear them, I won't speak to him, I don't know him. I like Georges and I like David (fellow Montreal fighter David Loiseau) and they happen to be Canadian, so I kind of tease them a little bit.
"(It's) just ribbing and I think they do know deep down inside that I do like them, because I do play with them and tease them."
Hughes beat a 23-year-old St. Pierre at UFC 50: The War of '04 in October 2004 when he forced the Canadian to tap out due to an armbar with one second left in the first round.
But St. Pierre fared well prior to making the mistake that cost him the fight. He stunned Hughes with a spinning side kick and avoided takedowns.
Like Hughes, St. Pierre has won all four of his fights since then.
Hughes knows he will have to be in top form to fend off St. Pierre again.
"I know I have to be in the best shape in my life to fight Georges because I think he's got a pretty big gas tank and when it gets into the fifth round, he's not going to tire like B.J. ... He might even get stronger as the fight goes on."
UFC 65: Bad Intentions - Official Site