When Canadian scrapper Georges St. Pierre steps into the Octagon next Saturday, he hopes to not only lay a beating on an up-and-coming welterweight ó he hopes to put to rest the lingering questions over his mental strength.
"Iíve been saying forever that I think heís the most talented athlete in the sport," says Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White.
"So my question is: ĎIs the old Georges St. Pierre going to show up for this fight or is it the Georges we saw against Matt Serra?í"
Following his title loss to ten-to-one underdog Serra last April, White and a bevy of mixed-martial arts pundits have been openly questioning the Montrealerís mental fortitude.
"There were obviously some mental holes in his game in the last fight. He wasnít the same guy," says White.
"Iíve seen him fight many times. Heís very confident and very athletic and he didnít seem that way before that fight. I went back to the dressing room before the fight started to talk to him and he just wasnít himself.
He was nervous and he just didnít seem like Georges St. Pierre."
The 26-year-old former champ says he doesnít want to make any excuses for his last performance.
"Like my sports psychologist said, in football or baseball, it isnít always the best team that wins the game, itís the team that plays better," said St.Pierre .
" I truly believe Iím the best fighter in the UFC but, that night, Matt Serra fought a better fight than me."
In the lead-up to the Serra fight, St. Pierre has said he wasnít 100% and his personal problems ó including his father suffering a brain ailment and his cousin in hospital in a coma, ó wreaked havoc on his training.
A highly publicized falling out with Serra followed, after St. Pierre said he didnít see Serra as much of a threat.
Since then, St. Pierre has a new manager, new entourage and an entirely new training regimen ó in part because he isnít allowed to train at the Renzo Gracie Academy in New York anymore because Gracie protťgť Serra wonít allow it.
For the past five months, change seems to have been the only constant in St.Pierreís life.
But he says he has little doubt over which Georges St, Pierre will step into the Octagon against Josh Koscheck at UFC 74 in Vegas, Aug. 25.
"Itís not the old Georges St. Pierre thatís going to show up itís a brand new version. A brand new better version," says St. Pierre.
But this will not be an easy comeback for the Quebecer who first took up marial arts to combat school bullies.
Koscheck is a decorated U.S. college wrestler with a heavy right hand, chiseled frame and a hunger to own the belt St. Pierre once had.
"Iím glad that everything is good in Georges St. Pierreís life and heís healthy," says Koscheck.
"I want to fight the best Georges St. Pierre. I donít want to fight the Georges St. Pierre that fought Matt Serra.
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