Tomorrow Georges St-Pierre (GSP) defends his UFC Welterweight Championship for the sixth time. Regardless of the outcome GSP is and will continue to be known as one of the best pound-for-pound mixed martial artists on the planet. What can he teach us that can help us be our best? Here are some of his top secrets. Learn them and you may someday follow in his footsteps.
Focus—GSP is a master of Zen-like focus
When asked about fighting UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva, St-Pierre said “I don’t even think about this right now,” at a press conference before his fight with Jake Shields on the 30th of April. “I never thought about it. I always live in the present moment, and my biggest problem is Jake Shields”. It is a characteristic of all great champions to focus on the task at hand, and never overlook the current challenge.
Fear—GSP lets fear drive him to victory
“I’m always scared,” said St-Pierre. “I’m scared to lose. I’m scared to let my training partners down by losing”. I’m scared that I’ll make a mistake and I’ll lose”, he said recently in an interview with UFC Australia Magazine. This fear drives him to bring his best to the cage. It also illustrates that it is natural to be afraid.
Work ethic is the key
GSP has one of the toughest work ethics in the business. He is known as the world’s hardest working fighter for a reason. Having grown up on a farm outside Quebec, Canada, GSP knows hard work. His father set an example as a very hard worker that GSP was determined to follow. GSP wants success bad enough to put in hours upon hours of work in the gym.
Thirst for knowledge
GSP stops at nothing to learn what it takes to stay on top. He has trained with the best including boxing trainer Freddie Roach, MMA legend Greg Jackson, trainer Firas Zahabi, New Zealand grappling expert John Danaher, Muay Thai trainer Phil Nurse, and BJJ expert Renzo Gracie. St-Pierre has black belts in BJJ, Kyokushin karate, and Jackson’s Gaidojutsu. He has even trained with the Canadian Olympic Wrestling Team.
“I always train with better wrestlers than me, better boxers than me, better jujitsu guys than me,” Georges St-Pierre says. “When you train with people who are better than you, it keeps challenging you”. This thirst for knowledge has taken GSP all over the world in an effort to train with the best.
Respect for his teachers
GSP shows the utmost respect for his coaches, according to sources close to him. He listens intently to what he is taught, absorbs it, then drills it over and over until he is ready to use it. The mark of a great champion is this ability to respect the judgement and experience of the teacher and take on their advice. This respect carries over to his opponents, as we saw above.
“There isn’t a better style — that’s a lie. There is better person but not a better style,” said GSP. This shows his respect for all martial arts.
Rituals are important
GSP is known to post photos of himself on the wall of his dressing room before fights. He wrote on the photo before the last fight, “On the 27th of March in New Jersey, I will beat Dan Hardy and remain the champion”. He has done this before every fight.
Fans saw how important visualization was during the 29-year-old’s tenure as coach on “The Ultimate Fighter 12”. Many thought it was an act when he made his understudies role play the next day’s fight activities, even going as far as arranging an entrance walk while team-mates cheered. GSP did the exact same thing just hours before the biggest fight of his career.
Goal is to reach the top
Underlying each of the secrets listed here is his desire to be the best. It drives him in every way, from his work ethics, respect, focus, and fear. What does it take to be a UFC Champion? “A desire to turn your name into a legacy,” says George St. Pierre
GSP is up-front about his goal; to be the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. He is nearly there.