As one of boxing's premiere ambassadors, Freddie Roach's words carry a certain degree of authority, even in the realm in mixed martial arts.
It is with this knowledge that UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre sought out the legendary trainer earlier this year to help prepare for his ill-fated title defense against Nick Diaz. With St. Pierre now on the shelf for an undetermined length on time, Roach may have moved on to other pursuits, but he still had some words of motivation for his embattled friend.
"He'll let that heal up and then get back at it," Roach said to MMA Nation's Luke Thomas at Thursday's Khan vs. Peterson pre-fight press conference. "A year-and-a-half off anyone's prime is worrisome and a layoff that long is worrisome to fighters because activity is really good for them. But he's a very disciplined guy and mentally very strong. He'll come back."
Throughout the time he spent with St. Pierre in the lead-up to UFC 137, Roach was afforded a chance to study Diaz's stand-up game. While the Stocktonian is often credited with possessing the best boxing ability in MMA, Roach believes he may have found a few holes for St. Pierre to exploit.
"We had a game plan," he explained. "People tell me he is a good boxer. I tell them no, he's not a good boxer, he's good with his hands though. Boxers use footwork and so forth. He has no footwork whatsoever. He just fights in straight lines. He's very accurate with his punches though, so we had a good game plan. We were working on it in the gym for about two weeks and then the fight got cancelled because Diaz didn't show up to the press conferences. Dana got mad and put somebody else in there so we went and shifted gears and went in a different direction.
"It was a fight I was looking forward to because I know Diaz is a big challenge and a great warrior; a very resilient guy. It's hard to get him to tap out man, he's a tough guy."
That being said, if Diaz isn't the best boxer in MMA -- as B.J. Penn and others have proclaimed -- then who is? Roach was emphatic in his response.
"Right now, Anderson Silva," he declared. "He's had six pro fights in his home country. He knows how to measure distance and time really well. He's a little ahead of the guys on that. But sometimes he only fights to his ability, you know? Or he fights as hard as he has to, so sometimes he doesn't take guys out when he probably can and he should, but he lets them last a little longer."
For continuing coverage of St. Pierre's injury and this weekend's Amir Khan vs. Lamont Peterson fight, stay tuned to MMA Nation. Full video of Luke Thomas' interview with Freddie Roach can be seen below.