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St. Pierre: I've Trained Like Hardy Is Most Dangerous Man In the World

NEW YORK -- One of the things that makes UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre so beloved as a fighter aside from his ability to whip almost anyone in his path is his willingness to admit vulnerability.

Unlike other combat sports masters like Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson or even more contemporary stars like Floyd Mayweather, St. Pierre has no problem admitting his anxieties about competing and performing. He says he has problems sleeping before a fight, that he gets uncomfortable in the hours before, that he gets nervous, and yes, even sometimes scared at the possibility of failing. He's even admitted in the past to seeing a sports psychologist.

But all those things, he says, are tools to ensure that he's at his best when he steps in the cage to go to work.

To combat some of those feelings, St. Pierre takes a scientific -- he says "mathematical" -- approach, breaking down film, noting opponent tendencies, visualizing, etc.

This, he feels, gives him the cerebral understanding of his opponent and prepares him in a way that makes him feel as though he's already sparred with his next foe. But even this, he knows, can not fully prepare him for any possible eventuality. Because humans can change and improve, there will always be a variable for which he cannot account.

And to that end, he ran his UFC 111 training camp with the implied belief that Dan Hardy is the hungriest, most talented fighter who he's ever had to face.

"There's an X-factor, and that is, I don't know how prepared he is," St. Pierre said. "I know I'm the most prepared and strongest I can be. I've done everything I need to do. There's a component of the fight that anything can happen. The unexpected happens sometimes. I have to be sharp. Just like it's not always the best team that wins in football, it's the team that plays the best. So I have to bring my A-game if I want to win."

St. Pierre has been considered an overwhelming favorite since the moment the fight was announced, and that perception has yet to waver. In fact, the last time St. Pierre had an opponent with longer odds, he was shockingly knocked out by Matt Serra.

Lesson learned, St. Pierre staged one of the longest camps of his career, effectively canceling the Christmas and New Year's holidays to make sure he completely recovered from a groin injury and to give himself ample time to prepare for Hardy's best weapon, his standup.

To do that, St. Pierre worked with his usual trainer Firas Zahabi and coaches Phil Nurse (Muay Thai) and Howard Grant (boxing).

"Georges is very good in his own right standing," Zahabi told MMA Fighting. "He did very well with Thiago Alves, and he did very well with Jon Fitch. Throughout his entire career, he's never had any bad striking exchanges except the one fight with Matt Serra. It happens sometimes."

In the leadup to the fight, Hardy made mention of his belief that St. Pierre was not as dynamic as he used to be and focused on more conservative methods of victory, but insisted it was just an observation and not meant to goad the champion into a striking battle.

"You cant be like that with GSP because he's not that kind of guy, he doesn't react to those things," Hardy said.

St. Pierre agreed, saying he would only focus on what he could control and that he didn't care about Hardy's strategy, who he was working with or anything that might come out of his mouth.

"I'm not good at talking trash," St. Pierre said. "I don't get involved in it. I'm a martial artist, I respect my opponents. I won't cross the line even if you do. I have respect for him; he had to go through obstacles in his life like me. My English isn't very good. If I get into a trash-talking war with him, I'm going to finish second."

Words, as he knows, are worthless weapons the second the referee motions the pair into action. Then, they'll have to fall back on their preparation, and St. Pierre believes his professional approach to octagon problem-solving will again be validated.

"Some people I've ran into, they say, 'Oh, it's just Dan Hardy,' but I've trained like he's the most dangerous man in the world," he said. "And to me, he is."

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