St. Pierre opens up about UFC 94 victory and controversy
Georges St. Pierre said he "can't believe" the allegations against him
B.J. Penn's corner claims the welterweight champ used Vaseline on his back
Still, St. Pierre said Penn is the most skilled fighter he's faced
Less than two days removed from his successful welterweight title defense, Georges St. Pierre is already in the throes of another battle. Only, this one revolves around Vaseline.
B.J. Penn's corner alleges St. Pierre's trainers greased his back in between rounds, and SI.com learned earlier today that Penn's camp plans to file a formal complaint with Nevada State Athletic Commission.
St. Pierre sat down with SI.com to tell his side of the controversy, discuss his scientific gameplan and his thoughts on B.J. Penn.
SI.com: Was this the best fight of your career?
St. Pierre: Yes, for sure. Without a doubt. It was my best training camp and my best fight.
SI.com: What do you make of the Vaseline controversy? I just received word from B.J.'s camp, it seems like they're going to move forward with the complaint. What is your reaction to all this?
St. Pierre: I just can't believe it. I don't know. I'm just surprised. I'm not a cheater. What happened is my trainer, my Muay Thai coach, he put Vaseline on my face and then put his hand on my chest and back. But that's a technique we use for breathing. It's good. It's used in Muay Thai. I use it in many of my fights. If you look at my previous fights, it's not the first time he does that. Then B.J. said he put Vaseline and rubbed my back. Anyway, I think it's an excuse. I have nothing to hide. I'm not even afraid to go into court and fight that.
SI.com: Do you feel upset at all that maybe it's taking away from your victory?
St. Pierre: Not at all. I haven't seen the fight yet, but I remember at some point something happened and the athletic commission was complaining. They used a towel to wet my back and wipe it off. I don't mind. I didn't put Vaseline on myself and I'm not a cheater.
SI.com: The Penn camp says their approach to the fight was to go to the ground with you and work the guard, the rubber guard. And they said they first felt concerns in the second round. They saw B.J. trying to work the high guard and his legs were slipping down. Were you doing anything to make his legs come down?
St. Pierre: Of course. I was training that. I was training when his legs come up to posture up. And when he got the position to keep my head always over his head. By staying in a vertical position his leg was naturally going to go down. If I stayed flat, he would have been able to bring his leg up. But I stayed in a vertical position.
SI.com: Do you have any interest in fighting B.J. again?
St. Pierre: I don't mind. If it's what he wants and the UFC wants, I don't mind. For that fight I'm going to train just as hard and even harder, and get even more prepared and better than I was.
SI.com: Is there any concern of overtraining?
St. Pierre: No, I train really hard but I train smart, most importantly.
SI.com: What's the fine line? Will you take time off if you feel your body is responding negatively. Are you always listening to what your body is telling you?
St. Pierre: Yes, I do. And I also train in a way that every time I gain experience and become better at what I do. And I train with better training partners all the time and keep improving all the time.
SI.com: I thought the way you approached the fight, specifically working on B.J. and making blood rush to his shoulders, was really smart.
St. Pierre: B.J. Penn, you were talking about his guard, he has very flexible legs. Another thing is, because he has very flexible hips, it made his thoracic cage more susceptible to being weak. That's why I was working a lot of elbows to the body. On the ground I was putting my elbow in his stomach to make him tired. And a lot of knees. It was my game plan.
SI.com: The scientific approach that you've taken, is that something you developed based on how you've seen fights over the years, or does that come from how your trainers approach fights?
St. Pierre: It's coming from all of us. Not only from one person, it's coming from me, from Faris Zahabi, from Greg Jackson, from John Danaher and Phil Nurse in New York. We use a very scientific approach all the time. We fight to make the best game plan possible.
SI.com: You found weaknesses in B.J.'s strengths. A lot of people felt his flexibility was a strength, but you found weakness there. Who was the one that first said we can take advantage of that?
St. Pierre: I know a lot of doctors. It's a fact. When somebody has flexible hips, normally he has a weak thoracic cage. His bones are weaker. It's science. And with B.J., that's the case. He has very flexible hips, so his core is weaker than somebody who has normal hips. That's why I was attacking the body a lot. People, when they fight B.J., they try to hit the head. But B.J. has very thick skin and he moves his head very well and his reaction time is very fast. He can move his head standing up, but his body never moves. I was targeting the body a lot.
SI.com: You've fought B.J. twice. You've been a part of two promotions with him. You've heard him talk about you and your camp. And now post-fight, with the Vaseline issue, what's your opinion of B.J. Penn?
St. Pierre: To tell you the truth, I think it's normal to have a winning attitude in life. When I lose, I always try to figure out why I lose. But the problem with B.J., he tries to figure out why he loses, but he doesn't focus on himself. He focuses on the other person. When I lost the fight I focused on what I did wrong. I didn't focus on what I cannot change. B.J., instead of focusing on things he can change to make himself better, he tries to focus on things he doesn't have any control over, and tries to find some excuse that it's not up to him. It's really an excuse. He should focus on things that he can change about himself in the fight to make himself better. That would be a better approach for him.
SI.com: Of the fighters you've faced in your career, where would you rank B.J. as a challenge to you?
St. Pierre: He's the best guy that I've fought.
SI.com: He's better than Jon Fitch and everybody else?
St. Pierre: Skill-wise, he's the best.
SI.com: But in terms of bringing a fight to you and testing you, was he the toughest?
St. Pierre: Probably. But the thing is every fight is so different. You can have a good day, a bad day. It's hard to say. But I think he's probably the best guy.
SI.com: How are you keeping your level-headedness at this point? People now say you're probably the best fighter in the world. Or at least you're mentioned alongside Fedor Emelianenko, and that's a pretty big compliment -- I know you've said Fedor is the best. How do you weather all that and not let it get to you?
St. Pierre: It happened to me once. I lost. I was acclaimed as one of the best in the world [then] I lost to Matt Serra. When I lost, everything went down. So I don't want that to happen again. It's experience. You talk about being the best pound-for-pound, this thing can change in a second.
SI.com: Your next challenge looks like Thiago Alves. Very dangerous striker. Big welterweight, probably as big if not bigger than you. What do you think of Alves as a challenger?
St. Pierre: It will be a very tough fight, probably the toughest fight of my career. I look forward to it. But now I need vacation.
SI.com: Where are you going on vacation?
St. Pierre: I'm going to France to see some of my old friends who came to train with me for my training camp. I'm going to see them and maybe to have some vacation in the south of France also.
SI.com: Nice is nice.
St. Pierre: Maybe Nice, but I have to go to Paris first.
SI.com: How long will you take off before getting back in the gym?
St. Pierre: I go back to Montreal tomorrow, so maybe I'll train Thursday. I'm always training. I do that not because I have to. I do that because it's a lifestyle for me and I love it.
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