But as the old saying goes, absence makes the heart grow fonder.
During his lengthy hiatus, part of which was a result of surgery to repair a torn ACL, he managed to rediscover his love for MMA.
St. Pierre, who will face interim champ Carlos (Natural Born Killer) Condit in a welterweight title unification match at UFC 154 in Montreal Saturday, said he regained his love for the grind while preparing for this fight.
“Now I don’t feel that way any more,” St. Pierre began. “I am happy to be here. I have a smile on my face. If you used to see me before a fight ... I was tired. I wanted to get to the end right away. Now I appreciate every second of every day.
“I won’t be able to do this forever.”
With his fire back, St. Pierre just wants to put on an exciting fight. He admitted the first step is to refrain from over-thinking once the cage door shuts.
“When you think too much, you over-analyze and you miss opportunities,” St. Pierre said. “I want to let it flow.
“Getting the victory is more important, of course. (Between) getting the victory, or looking good and losing — you don’t want to lose. Wining is the ultimate goal. You try to win in impressive fashion — it’s an entertaining sport. The critics are there. I listen to the critics because it makes me a better martial artist. I want to be more opportunistic.
“I don’t feel the need to get the knockout because when you want the knockout, it doesn’t happen ... When the fight is over, no matter the outcome, I want to look him in the eyes, shake his hand and tell him I did my best, that I left everything in there.”
Of course, putting Condit away is easier said than done. Though he has suffered three submission losses in his career, the New Mexico native hasn’t been stopped in over six years. Since then, he has won 13 of his last 14 fights, including a TKO victory over St. Pierre’s training partner, Rory MacDonald. Condit has also never been knocked out in 33 professional fights.
St. Pierre said he has the ability to hand Condit his first KO loss. “It’s a tough task, but I work hard and there’s always a first time for everything,” St. Pierre said. “But Carlos is a very tough challenge. That’s what I train for.”
Condit didn’t even need to respond to St. Pierre’s comments. His ear-to-ear grin expressed more than words ever could. Condit said if the bout stays standing, it’s his for the taking.
“That’s the beauty of the sport, you’re really walking on the razor’s edge,” Condit said. “You come extremely prepared, having done your homework on your opponent, and then just take a punch. Just like a soldier can train and be the most elite soldier on the battlefield, he can step out and something happens immediately that is out of his control.
“He’s one of the best guys who’s ever competed in this sport. He does have this status, but he’s a man. He eats, breathes and puts his cup on one leg at a time like everybody else. I have the skills to beat Georges. I just have to go out there, fight smart, fight to the best of my ability and implement my game plan. You never know what’s going to happen, but I feel confident.”
Though Georges St. Pierre and Carlos Condit have 57 combined fights, they have only faced three common opponents.
— Lost unanimous decision to St. Pierre
— Won unanimous decision over Condit
— Lost unanimous decision to St. Pierre
— Lost via KO to Condit
— Lost via submission to St. Pierre
— Lost via submission to Condit
SPOILING THE HOMECOMING?
Carlos (Natural Born Killer) Condit admits he’s more comfortable stepping into an opponent’s backyard rather than fighting in his own.
The UFC interim welterweight titleholder is no stranger to ruining fighters’ homecoming parties, most notably putting away B.C.’s Rory MacDonald in Vancouver and knocking out England’s Dan Hardy in London. At UFC 154 in Montreal Nov. 17, he hopes to extend the same courtesy to 170-pound champ Georges (Rush) St. Pierre.
However, when Condit successfully defended his WEC strap against Carlo Prater in Albuquerque, the New Mexico native admitted the whole experience just didn’t feel right.
“The travel, the hotel — those are all kind of part of the lead-up to the fight,” Condit said at a news conference Wednesday. “It’s something I’m used to. Not having that is a little bit odd. In addition to that, I felt a lot of pressure having my entire hometown attending the fight. I felt pressure having to be the headliner in my hometown and having to represent.
“That’s my experience. I can’t speak for Georges or how he feels.”
NO SILVA LINING
It appears Anderson (The Spider) Silva is only in Montreal to catch the fights.
During a recent appearance on SporTV in Brazil, the UFC middleweight champion said he has no plans to challenge welterweight kingpin Georges (Rush) St. Pierre at UFC 154 Nov. 17.
“I’m on vacation from fighting,” Silva said. “I think I will return only (at) the end of the next year. I have personal projects ongoing. I’m embarking to Los Angeles to attend the arrangements of the academy we’re setting up there.
“I will go to Los Angeles and then I will go to Canada for UFC 154. I’m going to stay there to film an action movie that me and Lyoto will participate in (with Steven Seagal). But it is not my character to step in there and call somebody out.
“So I think this won’t happen. I fact I don’t just think, I am sure!”
Since Silva could be out for an entire year, middleweight contender Michael (The Count) Bisping has lobbied UFC president Dana White to make his upcoming bout with Vitor (The Phenom Belfort) an interim-title fight.
“@danawhite if Anderson wants to take time off to be a movie star make me and vitor for the interim title????” tweeted Bisping, who meets Belfort at UFC on FX 7 in Brazil Jan. 19.
GRUESOME INJURY SITS HIPPO
Anthony (The Hippo) Perosh has been forced out of his scheduled bout with Joey (The Mexecutioner) Beltran.
The two were set to meet at UFC on FX 6 in Gold Coast, Australia, on Dec. 14, but Perosh suffered a gruesome toe injury during training. While attempting a routine takedown, his big toe became wedged between two mats, causing it to break.
Adam Ireland from Australian television’s Channel 9 posted a gory photo of the injury on Twitter (You’ve been warned: tinyurl.com/peroshtoe). Ireland also reported Perosh underwent surgery and hopes to be back in training within four to six weeks.
As for Beltran, he will now face Igor (The Duke) Pokrajac.
Both fighters are looking to get back in the win column. Pokrajac was riding a three-fight win streak before suffering a submission loss to Vinny Magalhaes at UFC 152 in Toronto Sept. 22. Beltran’s last outing saw him drop a unanimous decision to James Te Huna in July. The bout won fight of the night honours.
TWEETING NAM PHAN GETS HIS WISH
Nam Phan has stepped in to replace Eddie Yagin against Dennis Siver at UFC on Fox 5 in Seattle Dec. 8.
Phan lobbied for the bout over Twitter on Tuesday night and UFC officials confirmed the booking Wednesday.
Yagin was forced off the card after suffering a head injury during training.
He was subsequently hospitalized due to swelling on his brain, but is not expected to undergo surgery.
Phan will face the German kickboxer on the undercard of UFC on FOX 5, which will be headlined by a lightweight title fight between Benson Henderson and Nate Diaz.
Also, Alexander Gustafsson takes on Mauricio (Shogun) Rua and Rory MacDonald meets B.J. Penn.
Phan looks to string together consecutive wins for the first time since 2008.
His last outing saw him earn a split-decision victory over Cole Miller in August.
Siver aims to pick up his second straight win since dropping to featherweight. He won a unanimous decision over Diego Nunes this summer.
OVEREEM’S SUPER WEEKEND
Alistair (Demolition Man) Overeem will return to the octagon against Antonio (Big Foot) Silva on Super Bowl weekend.
UFC.com reports Overeem and Silva have verbally agreed to meet at UFC 156 in Las Vegas Feb. 2. The stacked card will be headlined by a featherweight title fight between Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar. Also, Dan Henderson will clash with Lyoto Machida and Rashad Evans is set to face Antonio Rogerio Nogueira.
Following a first-round TKO victory over Brock Lesnar late last year, Overeem was pulled from a May card — he was scheduled to challenge heavyweight champ Junior dos Santos — after failing a surprise pre-fight drug test two months earlier and was suspended for a year.
The 2010 K-1 world grand prix champion is eligible to apply for a fighter’s licence on Dec. 27.
Silva recently picked up his first UFC victory, stopping Travis Browne with punches in the main event of UFC on FX 5 last month.