GSP Focused on Hardy at UFC 111
Story by Brady Crytzer
Photo by Chris Cozzone
Georges “Rush” St. Pierre is enjoying a wild ride. Considered one of the best pound for pound fighters on the planet, as well as one of the best athletes in any sport, the man affectionately known as GSP takes being the best one day at a time.
Although he hasn’t fought since July of 2009, St. Pierre now readies himself for his third title defense against an opponent with very little upside. Dan “The Outlaw” Hardy is relatively unknown to the sporting world, and GSP knows that a win over a fighter of his caliber is just what the doctor ordered to make a zero into a hero.
“A lot of people underestimate Dan Hardy and that’s a big mistake” St. Pierre warned. “He’s very well-rounded. He is a smart fighter, a thinking fighter. He is a great counter-puncher. These guys are the most dangerous guys. The worst thing I can do for this fight is underestimate him. I learned from my mistake before. I am the best Georges St-Pierre for this fight. I trained to fight an army of men.”
While training to fight an army may be unbelievable for most fighters, few would doubt that St. Pierre is joking when he says it. Since regaining his world welterweight title in 2008, the Quebecois has reconfigured the modern perception of physical fitness by pushing himself through some of the most grueling training camps ever seen. Spanning the globe, St. Pierre trusts in his background to keep himself focused.
“I call myself a martial artist because I come from a different background,” St. Pierre said. “When I am going to fight, I am not going to make a brawl. I want to win a beautiful fashion.”
“When somebody who doesn’t know this sport watches, he knows I use a beautiful variety of techniques.”
There is a downside to consider when fighting an opponent like Hardy. Although Hardy is rarely considered among the top of his weight class (a group which St. Pierre has handled with ease), he is known for his ability to turn any fight into a brawl, and capitalizing on it in a big way. If there has been a critique of GSP it’s been his chin, and that’s a potential recipe for disaster for the reigning 170 pound titlist.
Can he take a punch from the UK’s baddest banger at UFC 111?
“There is only way to find out. I take a lot of shots when I’m training. When I lost to Serra, I got hit behind my ear and lost my equilibrium. After I lost my equilibrium, I got hit by five full range punches before falling. I’m not worried about me getting punched at all.”
GSP has made a career for stepping up to the plate when it counted most. Over his last three fights, St. Pierre dismantled a who’s who among the welterweight division including Jon Fitch, BJ Penn, and Thiago Alves. In other words, pressure will not be an issue come Saturday night.
“I have a lot more pressure than Dan Hardy, of course,” St. Pierre explained. “That’s good thing. All the fights I had a lot of pressure: BJ Penn, my rematch against Matt Serra. Matt Hughes. In all those great fights I was under pressure. When I’m under pressure I’m more nervous, more awake. So that’s a good thing for me.”
With fewer and fewer legitimate challengers left in the welterweight division, St. Pierre has considered moving up in weight. A win over Hardy means one thing, the sky is the limit and the limit is 185 pounds.
“I’m bigger than I was before,” St. Pierre said. “I am a good five pounds of lean muscle bigger. When I fought (Thiago) Alves, he was walking around at 215. I walked around at 185. I felt he was big. I am much bigger and more powerful than before. I’ve never had a problem cutting weight. It will be harder this time, but I have a program. It’s very important to have a protocol to follow.”