The two rivals sat on stage flanked by their championship belts. But fans hoping for fireworks between Georges St-Pierre and Carlos (Natural Born Killer) Condit will have to wait for Saturday night in the cage.
On Wednesday, all the two welterweights did was look good and try to kill their opponent with kindness at the UFC 154 news conference.
Condit called St-Pierre “a benchmark” of mixed martial arts.
“I’m honoured to have the chance to compete against Georges,” said the 28-year-old native of Albuquerque, N.M., who admits to weeping when offered the bout. “He is someone I’ve admired as a fighter for a long time. But he’s where I want to be, he’s the top guy in the sport, top guy in the division. He has cemented a legacy as the best welterweight in the world and that’s what I want.
“So all admiration aside, I’m coming to take that from him.”
St-Pierre, who has been sidelined for 18 months due to reconstructive knee surgery, says Condit is the ultimate test in his comeback.
“I have something to prove to myself,” said the 31-year-old Montreal native.
“I want to prove to myself that I’m still the best guy in the world and I believe the best guy right now is Carlos. So it’s up to me to come prove it, that I’m better than him, but well see Saturday night what’s going to happen.”
In terms of fashion sense, Wednesday’s lunchtime meeting at a local nightclub was a draw.
St-Pierre, the current champion, wore a taupe suit and blue open-neck shirt. Condit, who holds the interim title, came in a black suit and matching open-neck shirt.
St-Pierre (22-2) was lively when answering questions. But when Condit (28-5) was talking, the local favourite looked wooden — as if someone had removed his battery.
Condit, meanwhile, managed to look laid-back and intense at the same time.
The two fighters put on their game face when it came to a photo op, but wrapped up with a respectful handshake.
Condit, while sporting a shiny belt of his own, says St-Pierre is the champion “until somebody beats him, until I beat him.”
The bookmakers have made St-Pierre a 3-1 favourite to win their Bell Centre battle.
“There is no certainly in mixed martial arts,” countered St-Pierre. “The only thing you can do is work hard and try to flop the odds in our favour.
St-Pierre’s history is he is only as good as his training. He insists he is on point this time when it comes to preparation.
“I did all my homework. I’m the best I could be,” he said. “There is nothing I can tell you I should have done to be better. That’s where confidence comes from. I controlled everything that I can control and I did everything.”
St-Pierre has defended his title six times and not lost in more than five years. But he was unimpressive in his last outing, a cumbersome if comfortable five-round decision over Jake Shields at UFC 129 in April 2011 at Toronto’s Rogers Centre.
St-Pierre admitted he had gone stale prior to the knee injury, both physically and mentally. Now he brings people to him rather than go to them while in training camp and says he is reinvigorated.
“I’ve found the fire, like a new fire that I didn’t have before. I appreciate what I have more and I’m more pumped up than ever.”
Condit has won his last five and 13 of his last 14 since June 2006. The former WEC champion has never been knocked out and looks better with every outing.
St-Pierre says there is no storyline here, other than who has their arm raised Saturday.
“We’re two competitors that want to be the best at what we do and that’s why we’re fighting,” he explained.
There are eight other Canadians on the Bell Centre card, which has yet to sell out. Still the UFC has cause to celebrate in that GSP is its premier pay-per-view draw.
Condit seems unfazed at fighting in St-Pierre’s backyard.
“Ultimately it’s going to be Georges and myself in the cage,” he said. “His fans, his home town, I’m sorry to say, but they can’t go in there with him.
“Ultimately it comes down to who’s better prepared, who can implement their game plan and who can impose their will.”