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 — he hopes to put to rest the lingering questions over his mental strength.
"I’ve been saying forever that I think he’s the most talented athlete in the sport," says Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White.
"So my question is: ‘Is the old Georges St. Pierre going to show up for this fight or is it the Georges we saw against Matt Serra?’"
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 Montrealer’s mental fortitude.
"There were obviously some mental holes in his game in the last fight. He wasn’t the same guy," says White.
"I’ve seen him fight many times. He’s very confident and very athletic and he didn’t seem that way before that fight. I went back to the dressing room before the fight started to talk to him and he just wasn’t himself.
He was nervous and he just didn’t seem like Georges St. Pierre."
The 26-year-old former champ says he doesn’t want to make any excuses for his last performance.
"Like my sports psychologist said, in football or baseball, it isn’t always the best team that wins the game, it’s the team that plays better," said St.Pierre .
" I truly believe I’m 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 wasn’t 100% and his personal problems — including his father suffering a brain ailment and his cousin in hospital in a coma, — wreaked havoc on his training.
A highly publicized falling out with Serra followed, after St. Pierre said he didn’t see Serra as much of a threat.
Since then, St. Pierre has a new manager, new entourage and an entirely new training regimen — in part because he isn’t allowed to train at the Renzo Gracie Academy in New York anymore because Gracie protégé Serra won’t allow it.
For the past five months, change seems to have been the only constant in St.Pierre’s 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.
"It’s not the old Georges St. Pierre that’s going to show up it’s 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.
"I’m glad that everything is good in Georges St. Pierre’s life and he’s healthy," says Koscheck.
"I want to fight the best Georges St. Pierre. I don’t want to fight the Georges St. Pierre that fought Matt Serra.
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