Said Condit: “He does have very good standup and he gets you thinking ‘Hey, we’re having a standup battle’ and then as soon as you kind of switch out of takedown defence mode, bam he’s in on your legs and he takes you down. He mixes it up very well and his timing is great. I have to be wary of that.”
While Condit compliments St-Pierre’s ground game and says his pace is relentless, he also believes the Canadian’s technique sometimes goes by the boards because he is pushing so much.
Like a Fortune 500 corporation, St-Pierre has the best of everything when it comes to coaches and training. In addition to normal MMA training, his workouts range from gymnastics to sprinting with top track runners.
He has used sports psychologists and talked plenty about the mental side of the game this week.
Turns out simpler is better.
“I’m going to go there this time and not think too much,” he said. “Let my instincts and my reflexes take care of it because that’s how you fight better. ... If you think too much, you overanalyze.
“I want to go there and let it flow.”
Condit says he spent most of his camp fine-tuning his game rather than worrying about St-Pierre’s. He has been working with Caio Terra, a five-time no-gi jiu jiu-jitsu world champion to tighten up his ground game.
“I feel like I just have the ability to threaten with finishes from any position, whether we’re standing, whether the fight’s on the ground,” said Condit. “I try to finish from my back if I get out there which I think is a big difference from some of the contenders he’s fought in the past.”
St-Pierre (22-2) has revamped his training camp, bringing people to him rather than going to them. He says it has made training more fun and reinvigorated him.
“I had the mentality that more is better but I realize it’s wrong,” he said. “Smarter is always better.”
Four other fighters from Montreal’s Tristar gym are on this card and they report a hive of activity in recent months, with the training at the highest possible level thanks to the influx of talent.
“There were tons of guys in from out of town,” said lightweight Mike Ricci, who is a member of Season 16 of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality TV show. “Everyone was just so sharp ... The gym was just full, talent coming out of everywhere.”
That’s important for the 31-year-old St-Pierre, who in the past has fought only as well as his training went. A good camp and he is flying when he enters the cage. A poor one (see his title loss to Matt Serra at UFC 69 in 2007) and all bets are off.
He has not made that mistake since.
“I’m a guy who fights smart,” said St-Pierre. “I don’t use drugs. My body is in good shape. I don’t overuse my body. I’m in good shape, the only bad injury I’ve had is this one.
“It was the worst injury of my career and now I’m back 100 per cent. My knee feels like it never happened.”
He can thank the surgeon who operated on Tom Brady and months of mind-numbing rehab for that.
Cote, who has come back from his own knee surgery, says ring rust will be a factor for St-Pierre. The layoff will hurt.
“Ring rust is going to hit him for sure, 100 per cent sure,” said Cote. “Everybody thinks that they’re over that, it’s not true. This thing happened to me in (UFC) 113. I had the same layoff, time out of the Octagon, I had the same injury.
“The first minute’s going to be very fast for Georges, he’s going to have to be careful and for Condit I think if he wants to win the fight, it’s going to be in the first two, three minutes of the first round.”
Cote says no matter how hard you work, training is different than fighting.