Georges St-Pierre wears tight shorts, his Twitter account is run by his handlers and he’s pampered.
Nick Diaz — whose rough upbringing in Central California has reached near-mythical proportions — knocked St-Pierre for those things days before their welterweight title fight at UFC 158 in Montreal on Saturday. But St-Pierre told FOXSports.com that his dark place — somewhere he goes to in his mind to get extra motivation — isn’t manufactured and can be traced back to a turbulent childhood.
“There are people who think they know me and about my life,” St-Pierre said. “But I had some hard times. I had some difficult things in my life. I remember when I grew up we didn’t have a lot. During my childhood, I had problems. A lot of people around us did.”
St-Pierre, in soon-to-be published autobiography "The Way of the Fight", details some of those hardships: being bullied as an undersized child, growing up in a rough area of a Montreal suburb and working as a garbage collector. It’s certainly not the image many have of a prim, unflappable fighter who has been one of the most dominant in UFC history.
“He grew up in a tough neighborhood like a lot of us,” said Greg Jackson, St-Pierre’s former trainer. “He wasn’t pampered or coddled or anything. He grew up tough.”
St-Pierre is seeking to defend his welterweight title, one that he has held since defeating Matt Serra in the same arena that will house this weekend’s card, Bell Centre, in 2008. St-Pierre avenged his only loss in his last 17 fights — one of only two in his career overall — with a second-round TKO.
The first loss to Serra in 2007 cost St-Pierre his initial stint with the 170-pound belt, one he earned a year prior by knocking out Matt Hughes. His training for that first Serra fight was severely lacking due to injuries and family issues. The Canadian Press reported his father was seriously ill and a cousin was in the coma after a car accident in the weeks leading up to that loss.
St-Pierre went to a sports psychologist to get his mind right and ever since, he’s been unstoppable. That doesn’t, however, mean St-Pierre has been an automaton.
“Let me tell you something uneducated fool, listen to me,” St-Pierre sniped during a conference call with reporters last week after Diaz called him pampered. “You don’t know anything about me man. You think I’m born rich, I (was) not my friend.”
Granted, this was on a conference call and whether St-Pierre takes the bait in the Octagon remains to be seen.
“I’m not really thinking about all the trash talking,” St-Pierre told FOXSports.com. “I’m already motivated enough. This isn’t the first time an opponent has tried to talk trash.”
Carlos Condit — who has faced both St-Pierre and Diaz — told FOXSports.com that he could see St-Pierre losing if Diaz goads him into a brawl rather than a more technically sound fight. St-Pierre has used a superior ground game to win his prior five fights by decision.
“You have to stay emotionally unattached,” Condit said. “You can’t get into a schoolyard fight. That’s Diaz’s forte. He talks trash and wants you to stand there flat-footed and throw down.”
Diaz apparently did more than talk trash before the first time the two were scheduled to fight at UFC 143 in February 2012. (The fight was derailed when St-Pierre tore his ACL in training.) After Diaz beat B.J. Penn at UFC 137 in October 2011, he apparently attempted to confront St-Pierre.
“He was chasing Georges around the hotel,” UFC president Dana White said on ‘The Jim Rome Show’ on Wednesday. “He was yelling at him and stuff. Georges thought he was going to fight him in the hotel . . . it really pissed Georges off.”
White added that St-Pierre thinks Diaz is a bully. It was his reaction to bullying as a child that first drove St-Pierre to karate, which, in turn, led him to MMA.
“I would do it all over again,” St-Pierre said. “But still, it wasn’t easy for me or my family.”
His official response to his latest tormentor will be known Saturday evening.