Former UFC champion Georges St-Pierre says his knee surgery went well and the rehab that looms ahead won’t impact his decision on whether to return to mixed martial arts competition.
The 32-year-old Montreal fighter’s left knee was operated on Wednesday in Los Angeles. He had reconstructive surgery on the other knee in December 2011.
“I climbed Everest once before and I’m going to climb it again — if I want to,” St-Pierre told The Canadian Press on Thursday. “It’s not a problem for me. . . . Anyway I didn’t plan to come back to competition before 2015.
“And if I want to come back, when I want to come back, I’ll do it again. I’ll have all the tools to do it again. I’m not going to be less strong or less athletic — I’m going to be just better.”
“I’ll have two bionic knees,” he added.
St-Pierre (25-2) vacated his 170-pound title in December, saying he needed a break from the sport. He made the announcement just weeks after winning a controversial split decision over Johny (Big Rigg) Hendricks at UFC 167.
St-Pierre kept training and tore his anterior cruciate ligament during a recent workout. He was wrestling “a kid” and believes his knee caught in a mat and twisted.
“It was like someone hurt his back by tying up his shoes.”
Both knee operations were done by Los Angeles-based surgeon Neal ElAttrache, who looked after NFL star Tom Brady’s knee in 2009.
“I believe he’s the best in the world,” said the fighter.
St-Pierre plans to spend the next three months rehabbing in Los Angeles, using the same team as he did for the last operation.
While he is on painkillers in the immediate wake of the surgery, he said he was in good spirits.
“Perfect timing for me that I get hurt right now,” he said. “That’s the way to look at it.”
He expects to resume training in five months, with full sparring in six to seven months. St-Pierre fought 11 months after his first surgery, defeating Carlos (The Natural Born Killer) Condit at UFC 154 in November 2012.
His experiences after the first knee surgery will help him, he said.
“I know the way now. It’s going to be even better. But the thing is you can’t go faster than your body heals. I don’t want to go too fast.”
He said the ACL damage in both knees was the same.
The former champion believes the damage to his knees was bound to happen, given the pounding the ligaments have taken over the years.
“It’s like a rope. If you pull the rope every day as hard as you can — boom, boom, you pull it, pull it, pull it, pull it — one day it’s going to break. It’s the force of pressure. If you hit a wall at home in the same spot every day when you pass by, at one point you’re going to make a hole in it.
“And that’s what happened with my ACL. I’ve been training martial arts since I was nine years old and I’m a very explosive guy.”
He plans to add an expert in the science of mobility to his entourage, to correct his movements — from running to jumping.
“It’s never going to happen again,” he said. “The pressure will be on my bone and my muscle, not on my ligaments.”
St-Pierre says he has been told that the vast majority of ACL injuries are preventable.
“They happen over the course of time because people do the wrong moves,” he said.
If or when St-Pierre comes back to the UFC, he will do so as a welterweight.
He noted Hendricks, who went on to win the 170-pound title, weighed 215 pounds when the two did their press tour. GSP was 190 pounds.
He also reiterated that drug testing in the sport had to improve before he came back.
“It’s not personal to one fighter,” he said. “It’s personal to me. It’s something that has to be done, I believe.”
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