‘Rush’ to judgement: An exclusive interview with UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre
It’s impossible for mixed martial arts fans to agree on who is the best fighter in the world. But one thing they can agree on is that UFC welterweight champion Georges “Rush” St. Pierre is on the very short list of names for consideration.
At 16-2 and just 27 years of age, the Canadian phenom has already been through a meteoric rise and fall - and subsequent rise in the annals of UFC superstardom.
“There were problems” the champ tells me when I ask him about the difficulties in his past, including his loss to Matt Serra. “But part of growing up is recognizing what is wrong and then doing what is right”.
St. Pierre had the unenviable task of growing up in the public spotlight. And in that spotlight, sometimes you’re only as good as your last fight.
Yet that seems to be an approach that ‘Rush’ has embraced heading into his fight against Jon Fitch at UFC 87. No more looking back on what he’s done. Conversely, no more looking ahead to what he might do.
“Jon Fitch is my focus right now. Nothing else.”
I spoke to the St. Pierre at 35,000 feet, en route to Minneapolis for his August 9 showdown with Jon Fitch at UFC 87: ‘Seek and Destroy’. We covered everything from training in Brazil to a possible showdown with Anderson Silva.
And what about all that talk from BJ Penn about gunning for a rematch?
Check it out.
Jesse Holland (MMAmania.com): Georges, first and foremost thank you for taking the time to talk with us again at MMAmania. Let’s get the requisite health question out of the way. How are you feeling physically?
Georges St. Pierre: I am 110%. I am in the best shape of my life.
Jesse Holland (MMAmania.com): How good does it feel to have the two Matt’s (Serra and Hughes) finally behind you?
Georges St. Pierre: It is a relief and it is good for my health, but I cannot relax because there are still so many challenges ahead of me. There is no resting anymore.
Jesse Holland (MMAmania.com): On Saturday you’ll be facing Jon Fitch who trains with Josh Koscheck - one of the few fighters that took you to a decision. Does that put you at a disadvantage coming into this fight?
Larson Wants Rematch with Condit Next
At this past weekend’s WEC event, Minnesota native Brock Larson made his case for getting a rematch with current promotion 170-pound champion Carlos Condit by scoring an impressive win.
In what was supposed to be a tough test against highly regarded Carlo Prater, Larson came out aggressively and put Prater down and out for the count in just 30 seconds.
“It went better than I assumed it would,” he admitted. “I thought it would be a little tougher than that.
“Prater’s the real deal, it just worked out that I caught him with the first shot that I threw and I followed up with many more.”
To be sure, it was the kind of win that Larson needed, especially after his last fight – against John Alessio in March – ended in controversy.
“That was my goal; to go out there and do it quick and make everyone open their eyes again and let them know that I’m back and that the last two fights were kind of flukes,” he said.
“I’m the real deal and I’m ready for Condit.”
According to Larson, the rematch of his title fight with Condit from August of last year appears to be what’s on the horizon next, as long as a deal can be worked out between everyone involved.
“I’m ready for it, so it’s just a matter of getting (Condit) to agree, but (the WEC) definitely wants it to happen,” he commented. “It’s up to Condit’s camp to figure out what it wants.”
Normally Larson would look to stay active, but he explains that he’s not willing to put his title shot on the line should it take longer for a fight with Condit to get worked out and scheduled.
“I’d like to fight as often as possible, but the way it’s looking, this is the fight I want to wait for,” he said. “I don’t want to risk anything like I did before fighting Condit the first time.
“I was supposed to fight him when I fought Kevin Knabjan two months before, and I think I peaked too early for that. It’s hard to peak twice in two months, so if it comes out that way, that’s the way I’m going to have to take it.”
When the rematch does take place, Larson feels that it will be a much different fight the second time around.
“My confidence level is as high as it can be,” he exclaimed. “I’ve always been really confident in my ground game, but now with my hands I’ve been doing a lot of sparring, and I’m confident everywhere now.
“I don’t feel like I have a huge hole anywhere. It’s going to take a pretty tough dude to bury me. I think that right now I’m doing the best that I’ve ever done and I’m ready for it.”
With a three-fight winning streak in tow and only two losses in 26 fights, it would be hard to imagine anyone in the WEC other than Brock Larson getting a title shot against Carlos Condit any time soon.
“I want to thank Warrior Wear and Bowtech for taking care of me,” he closed out. “Everybody out there, fans of mine, I appreciate the support.
“Keep watching and you’re going to see more explosiveness from me and that belt around my waist.”
Herring confident of success
Heath Herring will head into the Octagon against Brock Lesnar at UFC 87 on Saturday with no sense of fear.
Former WWE star Lesnar is looking to get his UFC career up and running following his defeat to Frank Mir at UFC 81, but he has been pitched in at the deep end against veteran Herring.
Herring, known as The Texas Crazy Horse, will not underestimate Lesnar but feels he has come up against better fighters during his career.
“I’ve fought bigger guys than him and better wrestlers than him,” Herring told ufc.com. “My experience is definitely a major advantage for me.
Emerson: I have the edge
Rob Emerson believes he has a psychological advantage over Manny Gamburyan ahead of their meeting at UFC 87.
The pair will meet at lightweight on the undercard to Goerges St-Pierre’s bout with John Fitch in Minnesota on August 9.
Gamburyan is a former national junior judo champion and is likely to fight on the inside and take the bout to the floor.
Emerson is aware of Gamburyan’s tactics and feels their sparring sessions on The Ultimate Fighter 5 give him the edge.
“Prior to the (TUF 5) show, we did go against each other in the tryouts and he couldn’t take me down,” Emerson told ufc.com. “I think that got to him.
Chris Wilson Looks To Prove His Worth At 87
Fighting on short notice and going against a red hot Jon Fitch isn’t exactly a dream scenario for an MMA fighter making his Octagon debut. Five months ago at UFC 82, Chris Wilson was placed in that exact predicament. After surviving three rounds against arguably the second best welterweight in the world, Wilson knew he officially belonged in the UFC. This Saturday at UFC 87, the former Sportfight welterweight Champion looks to rebound and get his first UFC win when he faces American Top Team member, Steve Bruno. MMARated.com’s Jeffrey Lee recently caught up with “The Professor” to talk about his loss to Fitch, preparing for Bruno and his place in the UFC’s welterweight division.
Interview w/ UFC Lightweight Champ BJ Penn
Michael Moody had the chance to speak with UFC Lightweight Champion BJ Penn this past weekend in Long Beach, CA and he talked about numerous topics in this two part interview.
Some of the topics covered include, his greatest challenge, GSP Vs. Fitch, licking blood off his gloves, should fighters unionize, fighting for other promotions other than the UFC, his favorite movie, his diet and more.
Lee Murray/Securitas raid Being Made Into Movie
The story of former UFC and Cage Rage middleweight Lee Murray and his participation in Britain's biggest bank heist will be made into a movie.
"Breaking The Bank," will be the first film produced under the new partnership between Time Inc. and production companies The Collective and XYZ Films. The deal will turn articles out of Time Inc. publications such as Sports Illustrated, Time and Fortune into features and documentaries.
Murray was featured in a story by L. Jon Wertheim on the April 14 issue of Sports Illustrated.
On February 22, 2006, Murray took part in a robbery for £53,116,760 (or approximately $92.5 million US) at a Securitas Depot in Kent, England. Murray escaped with the money, but would be arrested four months later in Morocco.
IFL WW Jay Hieron Officially A Free Agent
Jay Hieron, the final reigning welterweight champion of the International Fight League, received his formal release from the organization in recent weeks and is a full-fledged free agent.
FiveOuncesOfPain.com learned of this news Wednesday afternoon while speaking with his manager, Monte Cox.
According to Cox, Hieron is considering offers from Affliction, Strikeforce, the AFL, and EliteXC. Thus far, the UFC has not expressed an interest.
At one point it was thought that Hieron could be a prime asset in a reported acquisition of select assets from the IFL by the UFC’s parent company, Zuffa. However, no official announcement has been made yet by Zuffa or the IFL regarding an acquisition. Cox stated that at one point it appeared several contracts were going to be transferred and that for some inexplicable reason, the IFL went ahead and released all of its fighters.
Adrenaline MMA targets October return
Adrenaline MMA is working to determine the best date for its second show, but a crowded fall fight calendar has presented problems.
The Midwest promotion launched June 14 with a Chicago-area event that was headlined by heavyweights Mike Russow and Jason Guida.
Adrenaline CEO Monte Cox told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) after the event that a Sept. 6 return to Illinois, specifically Moline in the Quad Cities area, was in the works. However, that was before the UFC scheduled UFC 90 in Atlanta on the same date.
A decision to move the Adrenaline event to the following Saturday was subsequently scrapped due to a conflict with the Iowa vs. Iowa State football game, which could siphon would-be ticket buyers. That's pushed Adrenaline MMA II to the following month, with either Oct. 18 or Oct. 25 the likely landing spot.
Explosive Dana White Radio Interview
Explosive Dana White Radio Interview
Dana White just got finished with an explosive radio interview on Hardcore Sports radio. I don't have a link yet, and I joined halfway, but here are some highlights:
--He is obviously very unhappy with Roger Huerta. He basically called him a moron for complaining and bitching about PR. Said he hasn't beat anyone to justify millions of dollars that he's demanding, but if he beats Kenny Florian it's a different story. (This week in the Observer, Dave Meltzer reported Huerta is asking for a bigger contract than BJ Penn has.)
--Rampage Jackson is "okay" now. After he was arrested, he was in psych evaluation, and they found there was no psych problem. It was exhaustion and dehydration that caused delirium, and he will be at UFC 87. He has legal problems, but he is physically and mentally better. From the sound of this, they are 100% behind him.
Champ Jamie Varner confident the WEC can find worthy contenders
Just days after his first successful WEC lightweight title defense, Jamie Varner (15-2) says he believes the organization is well-suited to attract top-level opposition for future bouts.
Varner discussed his desire to face elite-level competition while a guest of TAGG Radio (www.taggradio.com), the official radio partner of MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com).
"I have faith that the WEC is constantly growing," Varner said. "They're constantly recruiting new talent. They're going to be finding guys for me to fight. I trust that eventually a guy that they're going to bring in will be a top-five guy, a top-10 guy, and I'll have a true test."
Varner survived an early test from challenger Marcus Hicks this past Sunday night's WEC 35 event. But after overcoming the initial onslaught, Varner was able to blast back with a barrage of punches, kicks and knees en route to a first-round stoppage.
Varner was impressed by the courage of his opponent.
"I was definitely wondering when [Hicks] was finally going to (fall)," Varner said. "Either the corner was going to throw in the towel or he was going to take his final fall. That was definitely going through my head as I was hitting him. I was like, 'How is this guy still standing?' But eventually he did fall, and (referee Steve) Mazzagatti stopped the fight."
The win was Varner's fourth in a row. "The Worm" has lost just once in his most recent 15 official bouts.
Varner believes there are a few immediate obstacles for him to overcome. Once past them, he feels the responsibility will shift to the WEC to find him suitable challengers.
"I'd like to fight Richard Crunkilton, Donald Cerrone or 'Razor' Rob (McCullough) again," Varner said. "I think any of those three would be worthy opponents -- or even all three of them. I'm looking at those three.
"And if I win all three of those fights, I pretty much cleaned out my division. And then the WEC is going to have to find some new talent."
McCullough, who Varner defeated for the title in February, and Cerrone, an undefeated prospect, will meet in September at WEC 36 in Hollywood, Fla., Varner believes the winner of that bout will more than likely be tagged as his next foe.
"I haven't heard anything about my next fight," Varner said. "I just kind of assume that it's going to be the winner of 'Razor' Rob and Cerrone, the 'Cowboy.' Next Monday I'm going to start training for a right-handed kickboxer. Hopefully I'll end up with one of those guys."
Should Varner be able to register his fifth consecutive victory, the Arizona Combat Sports fighter trusts the WEC will continue to seek out the best available opponents.
"I think I should be fighting top-five guys," Varner said. "I trust that the WEC will be bringing me that kind of talent and that kind of competition.
"I'm 23 years old. I'm in no hurry. But my goal is to be the best fighter in the world, and I trust that the WEC will get me there."
Varner also discussed the possibility of a cross-promotional bout with the WEC's sister-company, the UFC, his training with Arizona Combat Sports, and his days before becoming a full-time fighter. To hear the full interview, download Wednesday's edition of "TAGG Radio," available for free in the TAGG Radio archives.
Razor Rob, Rampage, Tiki and the cops
From "Razor" Rob McCullough's latest blog:
"That night, I ended up being the sober driver for my boys, Rampage, Tiki and Ryan “Loco.” The nite ended up with us on the side of the road pulled over by the police for speeding. After getting a ticket, the cops were super cool and asked if they could take some pics with their camera phones. They shook our hands as we left. I suppose that could’ve ended up a lot worse."
Check out Razor Rob's entire blog here:
Texas Court Grants Zuffa LLC Motion
of the Ultimate Fighting Championship® (UFC®), has been informed by the Texas Court of Appeals that it has granted Zuffa’s Motion to Compel Randy Couture to arbitrate in the District of Nevada, thereby staying all further action by HDNet against Zuffa in the state of Texas.
Specifically, the Court of Appeals found that the lower court had engaged in “a clear abuse of discretion” by permitting HDNet to litigate claims relating to Mr. Couture’s contract in Texas, rather than in Nevada, where Zuffa is presently pressing a breach of contract action against Mr. Couture.
Upon learning of the court’s decision, Zuffa’s Las Vegas counsel, Donald J. Campbell, Esq., explained the significance of the ruling:
“The practical effect of the Court’s decision is to allow Zuffa to continue its prosecution of claims against Mr. Couture in the Arbitration presently underway here in Nevada without any regard to the flaccid claims of HDNet and its management. Based upon evidence uncovered during the interrogation of Mr. Couture during his deposition, we have every confidence that Mr. Couture will be held accountable for the serious and ongoing breaches of his contractual obligations to Zuffa.”
The successful appeal to the Texas Court of Appeals was achieved by Mr. Barry F. McNeil, Esq. and his partners at the Texas law firm Haynes Boone, LLP.
Ortiz Still a Free Agent
The drama surrounding the next home for embattled light heavyweight superstar Tito Ortiz continues to unfold as Affliction has still not signed the fighter, according to company COO Michael Cohen, who spoke to MMAWeekly.com on Wednesday.
I guess its not so official
alifornia State Athletic Commission on MMA
"The California State Athletic Commission takes a lot of heat for its handling of MMA affairs, on every topic from fighter licensing to drug testing."
They talk about strikes to the back of the head, point scoring in MMA, etc etc. I am surprised by his competency. I figured CSAC was full of people who ignored MMA.
Affliction Lands Horodecki
In a move that strengthens its roster outside the heavyweight division, the upstart Affliction promotion on Wednesday announced the signing of former International Fight League poster boy Chris Horodecki (Pictures). Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The once-beaten 20-year-old Canadian will make his promotional debut at Affliction “Day of Reckoning” on Oct. 11 at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. An opponent has yet to be named. Horodecki (12-1) last competed in April, when he earned a unanimous decision victory against World Championship Fighting veteran Nate Lamotte (Pictures) at an IFL show in East Rutherford, N.J. ...
Affliction Announces Lindland-Belfort, Nelson-Buentello
Matt Lindland (Pictures) will fight Vitor Belfort (Pictures) at the Oct. 11 Affliction event in Las Vegas, Affliction announced Wednesday at a news conference.
Belfort (17-8) is currently serving a 180-day medical suspension with the California State Athletic Commission following his July 19 knockout win over Terry Martin (Pictures) at Affliction’s debut event in Anaheim. An orthopedic doctor must clear him before he can fight Lindland.
Affliction also announced Wednesday that IFL heavyweight champion Roy Nelson (Pictures) will fight Paul Buentello (Pictures).
No-Show Ortiz: Let the Games Begin
Tito Ortiz (Pictures) knows it’s all about the timing.
Which is why most of the fight community tuned in to a news conference Wednesday in Las Vegas for the Oct. 11 Affliction 2 "Day of Reckoning" only to hear that the fighter would not only not be attending, but also that he has not yet been signed by the promotion.
Roger Huerta and UFC ‘far apart’ on contract extension
Roger Huerta is getting a ton of attention lately. And it appears to be for all the wrong reasons.
“El Matador” has perhaps his biggest test to date this weekend when he takes on Kenny Florian at UFC 87: “Seek and Destroy” at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minn., on August 9. With a win he will likely distinguish himself as the clear-cut number one contender in the division.
But he may never get to challenge for the title even if he does win if he can’t ink a contract extension, which is a very real possibility if things don’t change soon, according to Dave Meltzer at WrestlingObserver.com.
Here’s his analysis:
“Huerta, who has one fight left on his contact after the Florian fight, is far apart with UFC on terms for a renewal. Huerta, who has gotten a new agent, was asking for six-figures guaranteed per fight as well as points on the PPV, in negotiations that haven’t gone well for some time. That’s a better deal then [BJ] Penn, so he wasn’t going to get it. The UFC position is that they groomed Huerta and pushed him hard and were careful of his opponents, with the exception of Clay Guida….”
Kenny Florian: "I Have an Advantage Everywhere"
Following a dominant victory against Alvin Robinson in July 2007, Kenny Florian gave a warning to the lightweight division that he was looking to clear out all of the top contenders on his way back to a second shot at the title. He also let it be known that he was looking to finish each and every one of them just as he did Robinson.
Two more fights and two more finishes followed and at UFC 87, Florian faces another tough challenge as Roger Huerta now stands in his way of a possible shot at the 155-pound divisional crown.
Florian has been working hard alongside long time trainer Mark DellaGrotte, while focusing on all the things he needs to do to win his next fight. While Florian respects Huerta, he doesn’t believe there is one facet of the game that his opponent out matches him going into the fight.
“I really believe I have an advantage everywhere,” he said during a recent appearance on MMAWeekly Radio. “If I go in there and I fight a dynamic fight, like I can, he’s not going to be sure whether I’m going to take him down, whether I’m going to strike with him, whether I want to come with a knee or if I’m going to do a kick, a punch, an elbow; he has to be worried about a lot of things with me.”
Both fighters have always been extremely well spoken of each other in the past, but a now controversial interview with Roger Huerta produced by the UFC has spurned a little extra motivation in Florian.
“He’s got to go in there and be confident and know that he’s going to win and I’m the same way,” commented Florian. “Of course there’s a way to do it respectfully, but Roger’s saying it’s going to be a cakewalk. I don’t think he believes that and if he does believe it, he’s going to be in trouble.”
Regardless of hype, the real prize in this fight could be a shot at the UFC lightweight title, but current champion B.J. Penn has his sites set on a welterweight showdown with the winner of Georges St. Pierre and Jon Fitch. While titles are great, Florian is only focused on one thing right now.
“I don’t know first of all what B.J.’s going to do. Who knows what B.J.’s going to do tomorrow or the next day? Looks like he’s going to fight GSP at the end of December. That’s what I feel is going to happen. That’s what I’m hearing is going to happen,” Florian said. “One thing I know for sure is when I fight Roger Huerta, I’m going to have another tough fight. And that’s exactly what I want.
“The belt is great of course. I want that, great prestige, a lot of prestige with that and probably more money of course, but the main thing is me being able to fight the top guys.”
The Boston native will get a chance to take one more step towards that title shot when he faces Roger Huerta on Saturday night in Minnesota at UFC 87.