With just four weeks remaining until UFC 129 in Toronto, George St.Pierre is a busy guy. But the welterweight champ and mixed martial arts icon from Montreal took some time Wednesday to talk to Chris Doucette about, among other things, the fight that he believes will be the toughest of his career to date.
Looking back to five years ago, did you ever imagine the UFC would grow as much as it has or that GSP would become a household name in Canada and around the world?
ďI always believed the sport was going to be very popular and I had a lot of confidence in myself. But the thing that hits me is how fast it all became possible. Thatís what surprises me.Ē
Have you thought much about what it will be like to fight at the Rogers Centre on Apr. 30?
ďIím honoured to be part of this historical event and to be headlining the card.Ē
What do you think it will be like walking out in front of a record-setting 55,000 fans?
ďI donít know because Iíve never done that before. But I think it will be like Montreal (UFC 124) multiplied by two.Ē
How do you find the time to train and prepare for your upcoming fight while keeping up with your hectic schedule of public appearances and media obligations?
ďItís not the first time Iíve done this. So itís going very well. Iím used to this.Ē
But you do far more interviews and appearances than most other fighters, right?
ďYes, but thatís part of the game. Iím ready to make these sacrifices. It comes with the promotion and everything.Ē
Is it fair to say it takes a lot of sacrifice to reach the level of success you have achieved?
ďIt does, but itís my job and itís a choice that Iíve made. Every job come with positive and negative things. And for the most part, I try to focus on the positive parts of it.Ē
So you want to enjoy every day while it lasts?
Has your personal life suffered as youíve strived to be among the best in your sport?
ďItís very important for me to keep my personal life personal and my business life as business. Iím the fighter GSP, but I have also the personal side, the Georges St. Pierre side. Of course there are a lot of things in my life that I have to keep confidential. But as for my public image, things that regard only myself, I can say whatever I want.Ē
ďBut things that include other people around me, I donít want to talk about it because these people have a right to ... confidentiality.Ē
Fans know very little about the personal life of GSP, aside from the brief glimpse offered in your new movie The Striking Truth, so how hard is it to have privacy outside the octagon?
ďItís difficult, but not too much. I just donít allow everyone to step into my private circle. Thatís something you need to do.Ē
So there are times when you donít have cameras following you around?
Are you able to train while youíre on the road making your many public and media appearances?
ďI train every day! Every day is different, but I train at least once a day.Ē
Do you follow a specific diet of some sort to maintain your fitness level?
ďI donít really have a diet right now. I just eat healthy, I have good genetics and I train every day, so I donít get fat.Ē (laughing)
Have you been training with anyone noteworthy leading up to your fight with Jake Shields in Toronto?
ďOf course, all of my normal trainers and Roger Gracie, who is the best jiu-jitsu guy in the world. Heís been helping me a lot.Ē
Have you heard middleweight contender Chael Sonnen, whose UFC contract is currently on hold, is training Shields to combat your wrestling ability?
ďYeah, thatís good for him. Heís going to come very well prepared. I am happy for the challenge. Iím a proud athlete and I want to beat the best Jake Shields.Ē
Do you think some people are taking Shields too lightly?
ďTotally! Most people take him so lightly, they are looking past Jake Shields already. But Iím not making that mistake. Thatís why Iím focusing only on this fight. Seriously, even if you just look at his pedigree, for the past six years heís undefeated. He is the most dangerous threat that Iíve had since Iíve been champion.Ē
And itís mixed martial arts, so anything can happen on any given day?
ďYes, anything can happen. And this guy has also fought champions in the (weight class) above ours. So itís pretty remarkable what he has done.Ē
Are you concerned about Shields then or are you confident you will get the job done?
ďIím confident but Iím very concerned. Iím very scared and thatís why Iím training so hard.Ē
Did you have any heroes growing up?
ďMy heroes were just ordinary people actually. But in sports, Royce Gracie (MMA) and Wayne Gretzky (hockey) are guys that I tried to follow their path.Ē
Did you ever imagine you would one day be someone who kids would look up to?
ďYes, I already imagined that as part of my dream. But in terms of how things happen, itís always surprising to see how things go.Ē
Upon learning that competing MMA organization Strikeforce had been purchased recently by the UFCís parent company, Zuffa, were there any fighters you immediately thought of taking on?
ďI havenít really considered fighting anyone from Strikeforce. But actually Jake Shields is from Strikeforce originally.Ē (Shields was Strikeforceís middleweight champ until signing with UFC in 2010).
Are you tired of hearing questions about a superfight against Anderson ďSpiderĒ Silva after Shields?
ďI have not even considered it, to tell you the truth. But if it were to happen, it would be a complete re-invention of myself because Iíd have to move up in weight class. But Iím just focusing on Jake Shields and nothing else for now.Ē
Thiago Silva has now admitted he messed with his urine test after beating Brandon Vera at UFC 125 in January in order to hide the fact he had used banned substances because of a back injury. How do you feel about athletes who use performance enhancing drugs?
ďItís bad. I think someone who takes steroids is cheating.Ē