Don't misunderstand him, he's glad he went through it, he said. He's also glad that it's over. While some fighters dislike the reality show coaching gig because it takes them away from home and disrupts their normal routine, for St. Pierre the problem wasn't so much the atmosphere as the company.
"I was with Josh Koscheck, so that was hard," the UFC welterweight champ told MMA Fighting. "He's very arrogant and I don't like to be close to this guy. But I didn't have a choice. It was a few weeks where I had to be there close to him."
But while being alongside the brash challenger made St. Pierre's coaching job considerably more irritating, there were some upsides to being forced to see Koscheck's smirking mug in the gym.
"To train to be successful in a fight you have to know yourself and know your enemy. This experience made me know my next opponent better than I did before, so I could exploit those things that I learned," said St. Pierre. "I learned the traits of his character. I learned that I can manipulate him better than I thought as far as fighting and game plan. I learned a lot about his personality. I'm very good at analyzing people and I kind of know better who I'm dealing with now."
And yet, normally St. Pierre says he doesn't like to get to know his opponents personally before a fight. The danger is that the more time he spends with them, the more he talks to them and becomes friendly with them, the greater the chances that he might actually start to like them.
"Then it's hard," he said. "Because let's say in the fight you have a good position on him to hurt him, you know, to put him away and really hurt him. It's harder to do. That's why I like to be away from my opponent."
But with Koscheck? Let's just say the risk that he and GSP would gradually become friends over the course of the filming was minimal at best.
That was no accident, according to Koscheck. When told that St. Pierre regarded the time spent with him as the hardest and most unpleasant part about filming this new season of TUF, his reply was somewhat predictable.
"That's awesome ... you just made my day," he said when I spoke to him for SI.com earlier this week.
The way Koscheck tells it, GSP may be the champ, but he's boring. He's boring as a person, and as a fighter. He takes people down. He lays on top of them. He tries to outpoint them.
It's a criticism St. Pierre's been hearing more and more lately, and unlike Koscheck, he's not going to claim that it doesn't matter to him what fans think.
"I do care, because it's my fans. I want my fans to be happy," St. Pierre said. "[As champion], the only people I haven't put away have been [Thiago] Alves and Dan Hardy and [Jon] Fitch. But I put away Matt Serra. I put away Matt Hughes. I put away B.J. Penn, because he didn't [answer the bell], so I put him away. The thing is, you can't always go through a guy and beat him like that."
But it's not just that the guys he's facing are better now, St. Pierre added. It's that he comes in as a heavy favorite in each fight, and people simply expect him to run through each challenger. What they don't realize, he said, is that these guys are actually pretty tough.
"Like Dan Hardy, he's a lot better than people thought. He's much better than people think he is. He's very good. I think they're going to be surprised, because I think he'll come back strong and show that he is a top guy in the world, and people will have more respect for him."
Regardless of what you think of St. Pierre's competition over the last few years, the fact that he's facing Koscheck again, with another fighter he's already beaten, Jon Fitch, seemingly on deck, that tells us something about the state of the division. St. Pierre has so thoroughly dominated his weight class that he's heading into a series of reruns. Maybe that's why fans keep asking about a possible move up to middleweight, where at least he could find fresh challenges.
One day he just might do it, said St. Pierre. At the moment he still thinks there's work to be done at welterweight, but a move to 185 pounds is not out of the question. The question in his mind is, would he ever come back down again?
"It's very easy to put weight [on]. Gaining the weight is not the problem. The problem is coming back down after. If I go up, I might not go back down. That's the thing. I don't know how to say this, but, you know, I do things right. I never took steroids in my life and I never will. So to gain weight or lose weight with your body the natural way, it's very hard. It's hard on your physique. I can do it, but the problem would be coming back down after you put the weight [on]. If I go up, I'm going to stay up."
That might not be the worst news for the other welterweights in the UFC. But for now they've still got GSP at the top of the food chain to worry about, and he's got Koscheck to deal with.
Of all the problems he might face when they step into the cage together again, at least a reluctance to hurt his reality TV co-star won't be one of them.
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