April 18, 2008
Them's fightin' words!St. Pierre, Serra turn up hostilities
By JOSE RODRIGUEZ -- Sun Media
MONTREAL -- There's no disguising the disdain Georges St. Pierre has for his so-called 'interim' champion status.
"That belt's in my closet. It means nothing to me," said the 26-year-old Montrealer as the UFC paraded him and opponent Matt Serra before the media in advance of tomorrow's card here at the Bell Centre.
"The real champion is over there," he added, pointing to Serra.
"On Saturday, I'm going to be wearing the real belt."
St. Pierre won an interim welterweigtht title last December after an injury forced Serra to withdraw from his scheduled title defence against Matt Hughes.
With Serra unable to defend, the UFC took the unusual step of making the Hughes/St. Pierre fight a title bout with an 'interim' belt on the line -- something that didn't sit well with Serra.
"Lat time I checked, I never lost the belt," he said at the time.
After St. Pierre beat Hughes, he refused to put on the 'interim' belt and hasn't worn it since. Saturday night's UFC 83 will unify the titles with the crowning of an undisputed 170 lb. champ.
Some have questioned St. Pierre's decision to keep his training camp in Montreal, saying it may pose too many distractions for the UFC vet.
But St. Pierre says that will have zero baring on his fight readiness come showtime.
"The distractions are always there," he said. "I just turn my cell phone off and it's like I'm not even here."
He says he doesn't feel he has more at stake than Serra -- even if he is fighting before 22,000 hometown fans.
"If he loses, he'll have to work his way back up, and I'm not sure he's going to be able to do it," said St. Pierre. "If I lose, I can come back up, I'm 26 years old. I'm young. But I don't plan to lose."
The hype for the UFC's first foray into Canada is surpassed only by the Montreal Canadiens run for the Stanley Cup.
But St. Pierre says even the Canadiens are paying attention to event.
"On my way in, I saw (Canadiens players) Steve Begin and Guillaume Latendresse and they both wished me luck and I did the same," he said.
St. Pierre will be bringing more than luck into the Octagon. He's been training with the Greg Jackson camp in New Mexico -- home to (Sugar) Rashad Evans, Nate (The Great) Marquardt and Keith (Dean of Mean) Jardine.
He flew former Pride star Dennis Kang in for sparring and his Montreal-based training partners including former UFC middleweight contender David (The Crow) Loiseau will be cageside for the main event.
Serra, the consummate funnyman, knows he's in hostile territory.
He's told his supporters to "wear Serra shirts at your own risk. If you want to go undercover wearing a GSP shirt for your own safety, I won't cry about it."