MONTREAL -- After spending some time around UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre and listening to his words, I can't say I have any great insight into how he's feeling about his UFC 154 title defense against Carlos Condit. St-Pierre has admitted he's nervous and excited, and said he's trying to enjoy the process more than he has in the past. That said, during event week he still sounds like the same guy who mostly spouts pre-packaged answers and only gives a small glimpse into his true self.
It's the people around him who provide the context into the champion. His jiu-jitsu coach John Danaher said they trained GSP this time with the idea of peaking him later in the camp to reduce the possibility of burnout. He believes it worked, saying that he's seen more of the "young, fresh-faced GSP of years ago."
But attitude can only carry you so far, and the questions surrounding his surgically repaired right knee will remain until fight night. Meanwhile, with the many storylines floating around GSP (his knee, his return and Anderson Silva among them) Condit remains a bit under-the-radar, though insistent that he's about to spoil the party in St-Pierre's hometown.
GSP on his new attitude
"I believe I’m different than what I was. I'm a more improved version, because I changed my schedule. My last fight was my worst fight. I was kind of burnt out mentally and physically. Now I don't feel that way. I’m happy to be here. I have a smile on my face. If you used to see me before my fight, oh, God, I was tired. I wanted to get to the end right away. Now, I try to appreciate every second of everything. Whether I'm doing the weigh-in, the media, the fight, I want to appreciate every second of it. Because I appreciate how important it is for me and I won't be able to live and feel that forever.
Carlos Condit on GSP's toughness
"People have questioned Georges' heart before and his mental toughness. Honestly from what I've seen, I don't think that's the case. I think he's a warrior through and through, and I think he's going to be there as long as he's standing. Until the ref pulls me off him, he's going to be there."
GSP's jiu-jitsu coach John Danaher on Condit's likely strategy
"One of the strange things about Carlos Condit is he’s one of the very few people who can either follow a very concise game plan or he can fight from total chaos. I believe he will go more for the chaos option in this fight. He knows Georges is a rhythm-based fighter and he fights with broken rhythm. He'll be strongly looking for a messy, scrappy, hard-nosed fight which tests the physical resilience and condition of both athletes. He’s a guy who's never been out-conditioned in a fight and he’s coming up against a guy who hasn’t been in a fight for well over a year. His whole thing will be to create chaos, create exhaustion, and then his attempt will be either to knockout or submit an exhausted Georges St-Pierre."
Johny Hendricks on quick finishes
"I don’t want to finish the fight in the first round. Second and third I’ll be looking for it but first round, I always like to have fun. I train so hard that if I finish in the first round, I feel like I’m cheating myself."
Patrick Cote on fighting Alessio Sakara
"Stylistically it’s a great fight for the crowd, for the fans, a great fight for me. He’s a former pro boxer like me. I think I have the advantage in power. Especially I have a better chin than him. He’s been stopped a couple of times. He’s very accurate. 70 percent of his fights almost end in the first round win or lose. He’s going there. For him it’s only one way, forward. I’m planning to go forward too. Push the pace, put a lot of pressure on him. Somebody is going to get knocked down and I’m not planning on it being me."
Mark Hominick on the lasting impact of his fight with Jose Aldo
"To tell you the truth that was the culmination of the last 15 years of my life. I felt like a 15-year overnight success. You fight almost in obscurity for so many years and you get that one opportunity. You can relate that to musicians, artists or anyone who does something they’re passionate about. All it takes is one moment, one part of your career to take off. That was it for me. And now it’s my responsibility to carry that momentum forward."
Georges St-Pierre on women in the UFC
"For the women fighters, it's good for [them], but me personally, I have a hard time watching the girls fight. It's my heart. Maybe it's the way I grew up, maybe, my mentality, I'm different, old-school, but I have a hard time watching girls fighting. It's hard for me. I've never really watched a women's fight but I know some women are pretty good. I know Ronda Rousey is very good, but for me it's hard watching the girls fighting, even though it's a full contact sport. It's good for women they can make a career."
Tom Lawlor on Ronda Rousey coming to the UFC
"That's a fight that I'd like to have, basically because she's got a lot of hype behind her. It would put me on the map … It's fine. It doesn't bother me at all. I wouldn't want to fight a woman, but that has nothing to do with the fact I don't think they should fight. It's got something to do with the fact that I don't want to see a 185-pound woman in a sports bra and shorts for the most part. As long as they keep it in the lower weights, I'm more than happy to watch."
- Georges St-Pierre's 568-day injury layoff is the longest in UFC history for a champion who wasn't stripped of the belt. It's also longer than the title reigns of 32 men who at one time held UFC belts.
- Martin Kampmann could be one win away from becoming the welterweight division's No. 1 contender despite little belief in him along the way. Amazingly, Kampmann has been considered the betting underdog in seven straight fights. The last time he went off as the favorite was when he fought and defeated Jacob Volkmann back in January 2010.
"I don't worry too much about the odds," he told MMA Fighting. "In my mind, I'm always the favorite."
- Patrick Cote is attempting to snap a four-fight UFC losing streak. If he loses, he will join Steve Cantwell and Joe Stevenson with five straight defeats in the octagon. The record for most consecutive UFC losses is six, held by Phil Baroni and Elvis Sinosic. Like Cote, both men had multiple tenures with the organization.
- Carlos Condit has spent 27.3 percent of his UFC fights on his back, a number that is expected to come into play against St-Pierre, the all-time UFC leader in takedown percentage at 77.3 percent.
- Surprisingly, Martin Kampmann historically has better takedown defense than his opponent, four-time All-American wrestler Johny Hendricks. Kampmann has stopped 77.8 percent of tries against him while Hendricks has stopped 69.6 percent, according to FightMetric.
- Tom Lawlor is the only middleweight in UFC history to have both a knockout and submission win in less than one minute. He pulled off a 55-second submission in July 2009 against CB Dollaway, and added a 50-second KO of Jason MacDonald last May.