Carlos Condit believes he has Georges St. Pierre’s number. | Photo: Sherdog.com
Carlos Condit pays no mind to the external factors. He expects welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre to be in prime form when the two men collide in the UFC 154 main event on Saturday at the Bell Centre in Montreal. St. Pierre has not fought in 19 months, forced to the sidelines by a serious knee injury and subsequent surgery.
“As far as Georges being out, I don’t see it being that big of a factor,” Condit said during a pre-fight media call. “I know Georges’ recovery ... from all reports from his camp, he’s better than ever, and that’s what I’m expecting.”
St. Pierre has held the welterweight crown for nearly five years. The 31-year-old Canadian avenged the only two defeats on his ledger -- a 2004 submission loss to Matt Hughes and a 2007 knockout loss to Matt Serra -- and will enter the cage having strung together nine straight wins, the longest such streak of his career. St. Pierre last appeared at UFC 129 in April 2011, when he defeated Jake Shields by unanimous decision in front of more than 50,000 fans at the Rogers Centre in Toronto.
Condit believes he holds the GSP antidote.
“I feel like I have a skill set and I’ve posed problems for a lot of opponents -- not just Georges -- that they don’t see from other guys,” he said. “I’m well-rounded and mentally strong. I’m not saying Georges’ other opponents haven’t been, but we’ll see how it goes. I’m very confident, and it’s an honor to compete against him. I feel ready. I’m as ready as I’ve ever been. I’m excited to go out there and do my thing.”
Though St. Pierre has never lost in nine appearances on Canadian soil, Condit sees the longtime champion shouldering the burden of expectation.
“When I fought in my hometown, I felt a lot more pressure,” he said. “Also, he’s coming back off an injury. This is a must-win fight for him. I feel like all the pressure is on him. He’s the man. He’s got the status. I’ve got nothing to lose. I can go in there and perform to the best of my ability and put on a good show.”
Both St. Pierre and Condit have flown the flag for the Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts camp in Albuquerque, N.M. However, with the two welterweights now forced to face one another, famed trainer Greg Jackson has elected to remove himself from the situation. St. Pierre trained with the Tristar Gym in Montreal, while Condit went to work under two of Jackson’s lieutenants.
“We switched it up since Greg isn’t involved,” Condit said. “I wouldn’t say it’s a huge departure from what we were doing before, but it’s kind of adding and supplementing what we’ve been doing lately. It’s not like I’m not on speaking terms with Greg or anything like that. I’ve been training with [Mike] Winkeljohn and Chris Luttrell for a long time. I feel I’m in good hands for the preparation.”
Condit has an extended layoff of his own with which to contend. He last fought at UFC 143 in February, when he executed a brilliant game plan and took a unanimous decision from Nick Diaz in a five-round bout for the interim welterweight crown. It was his fifth consecutive victory. The 28-year-old New Mexican has delivered a staggering 26 of his 28 professional wins by knockout, technical knockout or submission. Condit has reason to be confident.
“I’m going to walk away with the UFC title: undisputed, no more interim,” he said. “I’m going to be the UFC champion on Nov. 18.”
Familiarity Breeds Respect
Before St. Pierre and Condit throw leather, Martin Kampmann will meet Johny Hendricks in a co-main event to determine the man next in line for the welterweight throne.
Kampmann will enter the cage on a three-fight winning streak. The 30-year-old Dane has proven quite resilient in dramatic, come-from-behind victories against Thiago Alves at UFC on FX 2 in March and Jake Ellenberger at “The Ultimate Fighter 15” Finale in June. Those performances caught Hendricks’ attention.
“He is a tough fighter who is hard to put away, and he has also shown that he can come back from losing a fight,” he said in his pre-fight interview with UFC.com. “It’s always tough to fight someone like that.”
Hendricks has won his last four bouts, emerging as one of the sport’s premier welterweights. The once-beaten 29-year-old Team Takedown representative was a two-time national wrestling champion at Oklahoma State University. Kampmann knows the Oklahoman well, having trained with him at Xtreme Couture Mixed Martial Arts in Las Vegas.
“Johnny is a great wrestler with some heavy hands,” he said. “We used to train together, so we know each other quite well from back then. He is a tough opponent, but I am confident in my skills and that I will win.”
This & That
UFC 154 will feature eight former “Ultimate Fighter” cast members: Tom Lawlor, Constantinos Philippou, Nick Ring, Pablo Garza, Patrick Cote, Rodrigo Damm, Matt Riddle and Steven Siler ... Sam Stout has made 13 appearances inside the Octagon, earning “Fight of the Night” five times ... Russian newcomer Azamat Gashimov was 10 years old when his UFC 154 opponent, Ivan Menjivar, made his professional MMA debut in January 2001 ... Cyrille Diabate and Chad Griggs have suffered one knockout loss -- the Frenchman’s September 2006 defeat to Mauricio Rua inside Pride Fighting Championships -- in a combined 40 appearances between them.