Georges St. Pierre is no stranger to pressure. At the young age of 30, the Canadian is already considered an Octagon legend after having fought for the UFC belt eleven times in his decade-long career. Despite being criticized for a perceived lack of focus early on, St. Pierre has become a rock of mental stability since losing to Matt Serra at UFC 69. Yet nothing could prepare him for one of the biggest disappointments of his fighting life.
"I'm not going to lie, I cried," St-Pierre admitted to the Sportsnet. "I had a ton of pressure falling off my shoulders, because for the last few days I was in the mindset that I was nervous for the fight. I was excited for the fight but I was also nervous to know if I was going to be able to fight."
St. Pierre of course is referring to the injury heard around the MMA world -- a last second "moderate ligament strain" to the medial collateral ligament (MCL) in his knee that immediately derailed UFC 137. However, according to the champion, the MCL issue was actually the first injury he incurred and directly resulted in the second.
After the initial damage St. Pierre still had every intention of fighting, albeit with a much lighter camp workload. But those plans were put on hold on Tuesday when he injured his opposite hamstring compensating for the MCL. According to trainer Firas Zahabi, the harm came when St. Pierre sprawled away from a takedown attempt from a sparring partner. With debilitating injuries in both legs, St. Pierre had no choice but to relent to the wishes of his doctors and management team calling for a withdrawal.
"I knew (the injury) was bad but I thought I had the chance to be 100 percent the night of the fight if I trained light and conserved myself," St-Pierre thoughtfully explained. "But the reality was I was not able to recover (fast enough)."
Now that the damage has been done, St. Pierre has every intention of allowing the injuries to heal fully before returning to training. Luckily for the UFC, their pound-for-pound standout won't be on the shelf for too long. St. Pierre plans on sticking close to the original timetable, aiming for a return in early 2012.
"The recovery I want to do it well, I don't want to do it too fast. Because now I had an injury and I tried to train on it and maybe made it a little bit worse," he explained. "I would say maybe end of January, possibly the beginning of February ... Super Bowl, around this time."