For Georges 'Rush' St. Pierre, it wasn't the long, arduous climb to the top that yielded the most lessons -- it was the abrupt and painful plunge.
That sudden fall from the UFC pinnacle cost the 26-year-old Montreal brawler his welterweight belt, his reputation and his training partners.
"I made a mistake. I apologized and now I'm moving on," St. Pierre told Sun Media this week.
Last April, St. Pierre was expected to mop the mat with challenger Matt 'The Terror' Serra -- who had earned his title shot through The Ultimate Fighter reality TV show.
In one of the biggest upsets in UFC history, Serra walked out of the cage following a first round TKO with the belt around his waist.
What followed, was something St. Pierre wishes he could take back.
"I was graceful in defeat that night, but later on I wasn't," explains St. Pierre.
Long considered one of the nice guys of the sport, St. Pierre went on radio shortly after his loss and talked about how, despite an injury and a short training period, he didn't see Serra as a legitimate challenge, so he took the fight.
"If I were fighting (former champ) Matt Hughes, I would have never taken the fight, but I told myself, it's Matt Serra, I could beat this guy easily," St. Pierre told Toronto's FAN 590.
Those comments didn't sit well with Serra.
Both fighters trained jiu-jitsu out of the Renzo Gracie Academy in New York.
Serra, who was a Renzo Gracie protege for years, had St. Pierre booted from the school.
The new champ, riding a wave of underdog popularity, also went on to criticize St. Pierre in interviews painting him as a shadow of the respectful individual he once was.
Even UFC president Dana White questioned St. Pierre's mental strength.
St. Pierre says personal problems, of which he refused to detail, cost him the fight against Serra.
"I don't want to give any excuses for my last fight but a lot of stuff happened to me and if I put anybody in the situation that I was in, they would probably not perform well," he said.
Since his fall from grace, St. Pierre has been training with the Greg Jackson camp in Arizona. He has a new boxing coach and he says he's sorted out his personal problems and, more importantly, his mental resolve.
The only thing on the Quebecer's mind these days is his Aug. 25 fight against Josh Koscheck.
"I made a mistake and now it's time for me to climb back up the mountain," says St, Pierre.
"I conquered that mountain before and I'm going to conquer it again."
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