Mixed Martial Arts

St. Pierre says skill will win in title defence vs. Fitch

The Canadian Press
7/24/2008 11:25:55 AM
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MONTREAL - Georges St. Pierre says Jon Fitch is good, but not good enough to take away his Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight title.

"I believe that everything Jon Fitch is good at, I'm better than he is," St. Pierre said Wednesday after training at the Tristar Gym. "He's good all around, but I'm better in every single aspect of the game.

"But saying that, it's not always the best fighter that wins the fight. It's the one who fights the best. So I will have to be very well prepared and in good shape, with a good game plan, and take care of business."

St. Pierre and Fitch meet in UFC:87 on Aug. 9 at the Target Center in Minneapolis.

It is the Montreal fighter's first defence of the title he regained with a second-round victory over Matt Serra before an adoring hometown crowd at the Bell Centre on April 19.

While he is confident, St. Pierre can't let himself get too cocky, as he did after he first won the UFC title in November 2006. That time, he was beaten in his first title defence by Serra at UFC:69 in April, 2007.

He bounced back with wins over Josh Koschek and Matt Hughes, a rematch that earned him the interim title that he confirmed with the victory over Serra.

"Right now, I am exactly where I was a year and a half ago," St. Pierre said. "I'm world champion and I'm going for my first title defence, so it's a great challenge, not only because I'm fighting my most dangerous opponent so far, but also because I want to succeed where last time I failed.

"When I won the world title the first time, it was like a dream. I didn't realize what I had until I lost it. Then I went crazy. I made a mistake and I don't want to do that again. I said then that every time I step into the Octagon, I'm going to be 100 per cent ready, physically and mentally. I can't say I'll never lose again. No one is invincible. But I will never come to a fight unprepared."

Fitch cannot be taken lightly. His overall record is 21-2, but he's a perfect 8-0 in UFC bouts and is unbeaten in his last 15 fights. His latest win was a unanimous decision over Chris Wilson at UFC:82 in March.

The 30-year-old American is a former varsity wrestler at Purdue University who has grown into a strong all-around fighter.

A plus for 27-year-old St. Pierre is his strong wrestling skills, which he boosted by training of late with members of Canada's Olympic team, including 96-kilogram brute David Zilberman. He also recently returned from a month of sharpening his jiu jitsu skills in Brazil with specialist Gustavo Machado, who returned to Montreal to work with him in camp.

St. Pierre also works on boxing at a gym run by brothers Howard and Otis Grant.

"He's undefeated in UFC and he brings a lot more problems to the table than my other opponents," he said of Fitch. "He's not an old school fighter.

"He's in the new breed of mixed martial arts fighters. He's not coming from only one solid background. He's a good wrestler, he's good standing up and he's a black belt in jiu jitsu, which means he's very good at submission on the ground. That means I'm going to have to use a lot more tools than I have in the past."

Few are likely to bet against St. Pierre, particularly after he took apart Serra by deftly avoiding take-downs and finished him off by pounding his opponent with knees to the body.

"I respect Jon Fitch, but I'm not afraid of him," he added. "I watched every Jon Fitch fight in UFC.

"He's undefeated and he fought a lot of good guys. I would say he's not well known because he's not a trash talker. He's a nice guy. But I'm a nice guy as well. August 9th is all about business."

St. Pierre will fly to Minneapolis on Aug. 5, the same day his wrestling partners fly to Beijing for the Olympics.

Georges St. Pierre (Photo: The Canadian Press)


(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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