Saturday, Jan. 31, 2009 | 2 a.m.
Sun Special Section
- Lesser-known fighters ready to put on big show (1-29-2009)
- Bonnar glad to be back in Octagon (1-28-2009)
- UFC to open line of gyms for regular folks (1-26-2009)
- TV show, trash talk fuel next weekend’s megafight (1-26-2009)
- Hype is fervent ahead of rematch (1-24-2009)
- White offers big plans beyond next week's big fight (1-23-2009)
- UFC confirms bouts for UFC 94 (1-9-2009)
- UFC 94 to feature Penn vs. St-Pierre (11-11-2008)
Tonight is personal for Georges St. Pierre, and it has very little to do with B.J. Penn.
“For me when I compete, I compete against myself,” said the UFC’s welterweight champion, who goes into tonight’s superfight at the MGM Grand against the lightweight champ sporting a 17-2 record.
“Last time I fought B.J. Penn I won in a decision. This time if I want to do better I need to finish him out.”
But there’s more to St. Pierre’s motivation than beating Penn again.
“I also want it for a legacy, for a personal challenge. I want to be the best fighter in the world,” St. Pierre said. "I want to be known as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. And to do so, there is this guy B.J. Penn who's there and I need to beat him to be able to do that."
St. Pierre did that three years ago by utilizing a well-executed plan revolving around takedowns. After suffering extensive damage by Penn’s stand-up game in the first round, St. Pierre was able to neutralize Penn’s strong strikes and jiu-jitsu by closing the distance with takedowns and mounts.
Much like Penn has said, the native of Montreal, Canada, says the first fight means little because of the advanced training methods of each fighter.
“I’m not afraid to take B.J. standing up. I’m not afraid to take him on the ground,” said the 27-year-old St. Pierre. “I’m not afraid to fight B.J. Penn everywhere. I have changed my training since the last time I fought him. I’m not the same guy in anymore.”
St. Pierre credits trainers Firas Zahabi and Jonathan Chaimberg as well as a talented camp of MMA fighters like light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans, Nate Marquardt, Keith Jardine, Donald Cerrone, and David Loiseau. Former Canadian Olympian boxer Howard Grant, Gracie jiu-jitsu black belts Bruno Fernandes and John Danaher, Canadian Olympic wrestler Cleo Ncube and British muay thai champion Phil Nurse also have pitched in.
"I'm a lot more well-prepared than when I fought him the first time," St. Pierre said. “I've changed my training regimen dramatically. Before, I was training hard, but I was not training as smart as I am now, with good, quality training partners. I'm a much-improved version.
“I trained myself to fight an army, so one guy will not be able to break me."