This week the UFC gets back into the mainstream their latest event in the New York metropolitan area, a May 6 card at the IZOD Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The card which will feature rising stars Nate Diaz and Jim Miller, will be the next in a series of major metropolitan area spectacles for the promotion, the last of which drew record numbers to Phillips Arena in Atlanta just a few weeks ago.
However one of the UFC’s most popular and marketable stars remains on the sidelines with a knee injury, although he is steadily rounding back into form. He is Georges St-Pierre, the reigning welterweight champ. St- Pierre has yet to fight in 2012 after suffering an ACL injury in 2011, but will retain his title until he is cleared to fight in the fourth quarter of 2012, against an opponent still to be determined.
In the meantime, the French Canadian is starting light workout, using gymnastics to stay fit and limber and is beefing up his business work, helping MISSION Athletecare launch their new ENDURACOOL fabric this past week in New York. It is not the same as being in The Octagon for the wildly popular fighter, but being involved in a product launch with the likes of Serena Williams, Sergio Garcia and Dwight Howard shows that he is still a top draw even while getting ready to compete.
We caught up with St-Pierre to talk MMA, UFC, Olympics and all things in between.
How is the knee?
It is coming along for sure. I can do some things but the goal is to start full training this summer, with hopefully a fight in November. It has been frustrating but I know it is all for the best and we have to take the right course to make sure all goes right.
The UFC now has their deal with Fox and has seen record attendance and interest in recent places like Toronto, Atlanta and of course your home town of Montreal. Yet it is still not legal in New York. Why?
It’s a tough question for me, especially since New York City is really my second home, and I train here as often as I can and the fan support is amazing. We did an event at Sports Authority on Thursday and all these people stood out in the rain it was impressive and shows that the UFC is healthy here. I think it will come, especially as we as a sport continue to show that we are quality athletes who work and train hard and it’s not what some people think it used to be. It is just a matter of time, and it is still a dream for me to compete in a place like Madison Square Garden.
Speaking of New York, we heard you have trained with Russell Martin of the Yankees as well?
Yes we are friends from Montreal, and he, like many athletes, use MMA has a way to stay fit in the offseason. That’s one of the beauties of the sport is the way it keeps you in competitive shape and gets you to be limber and flexible. It’s why so many people train in one form of MMA or another, no matter what the age.
With the Olympics coming in London, there was talk of you trying to wrestle for Canada. Any truth to that?
No not now. My focus is on getting healthy and fighting again in 2012. I love the Olympics and there are many disciplines of MMA that are part of the programme…wrestling, tae kwon do, etc…they all make up what we do. It would be an amazing experience to be part of the Olympics but for me I don’t see that happening. It would be too long a commitment and I want to continue to compete in the UFC.
This new product, ENDURACOOL, is part of your training now. Why?
A big part of what I am doing now is about recovery and getting things in focus and shape. This product, it is a towel that you wet and then it drops in temperature and stays there, to about 59 degrees. The fabric is cold and it immediately helps regulate your body temperature if you are overheating or if you have an injury. It is so much better than ice or towels that will warm up. It is amazing technology that I hope can bring to The Octagon when I’m ready, but in the meantime it is helping move along my recovery.
Can you use such a product in a fight now?
The Octagon is very heavily regulated as to what you can and can’t bring in I don’t know. I am sure there will be talks to use the towel because it will benefit everyone and I am hopeful it will be approved. It will change the sport, like it will every sport where you run the risk of overheating.
Is the November event at The Bell Center your choice, and do you know who your opponent will be? Carlos Condit has been mentioned.
If all goes well when we start full training in the summer, that is a possibility for the place but it is too soon to say. The same with the opponent. I think there are several mentioned but MMA is such a tough sport that anything can happen between now and then. This has been difficult for me as you can imagine, but I think it will be for the best.
You have been involved in a few new businesses as well as your work with MISSION. Are you enjoying the time away from fighting?
I have always had a lot of other interests. Many people don’t know how much I love paleontology for example. I love it almost as much as competing. I have an interest in music and other sports as well. And yes I really enjoy working with MISSION Athletecare in developing this and other products, but my passion is competing. It has been tough not to compete, and it will be strange going back and maybe even being the underdog in my next fight, but that is the way the UFC goes. You have to fight to stay on top, and you have the chance to succeed. So yes all these things are good but I am really focused on getting back to full training and then back into a title defense. That makes all the other things I like to do that much better.