MONTREAL — Georges St-Pierre let the cool facade slip Thursday, revealing a rare glimpse of what he truly thinks about challenger Josh Koscheck.
The UFC welterweight champion has ignored Koscheck’s jibes and trash-talking ahead of UFC 124.
But as the pre-fight news conference ended Thursday at a Bell Centre restaurant, the 29-year-old from Montreal made his feelings known.
Having defeated Koscheck already at UFC 74 in August 2007, St-Pierre said a second win would knock the brash American well down the 170-pound ladder.
And he made it clear that out of sight would be out of mind.
“So I’m going to beat him Saturday night and it’s going to be the end of it,” St-Pierre said forcefully. “I’m not going to talk about him for a long, long time and I’m going to feel very happy.”
St. Pierre’s forceful words were followed by silence, before Koscheck tried for the last word.
“You like me that much?” he said in a comeback that fizzled.
UFC president Dana White said St-Pierre has a point.
“What Georges is saying is true: ‘I beat you this time, you go away. I don’t ever have to ever look at you again, listen to you again.’ Believe me, (Koscheck) is sitting over there, listening to this (garbage) and he knows that it’s true.”
St-Pierre (20-2) usually keeps his emotions in check, a practice that was tested by Koscheck during six weeks of filming of The Ultimate Fighter when the two served as rival coaches on the reality TV show.
Koscheck (17-4) continues to insist he has got inside St-Pierre’s head.
“Yeah I think I have. And I think that Georges has a lot of pressure coming into this fight,” he said. “He loses to a guy that talked a lot of trash, a guy that isn’t very well liked around here. So there’s a lot of pressure on him to come out and put me away.”
St-Pierre, dressed in a stylish suit, dismissed the suggestion that fighting in his hometown was more of a hindrance than help.
“Wherever the fight is, it’s always the same Octagon, the same thing. The only thing that has changed is my opponent,” he said.
“Of course in Montreal it’s going to be something special for me but I’m ready to do it. I’m at my best when I’m under pressure and I can’t wait for Saturday night.”
White warned fans not to write off the 33-year-old Koscheck.
“I think people aren’t giving Josh Koscheck enough credit for this fight. I think this fight’s going to be a war on Saturday night with 23,000-plus people who hate him and 23,000-plus people who love Georges St-Pierre.
“The atmosphere’s going to be insane here on Saturday night.”
But not criminally insane.
White said Koscheck, who riled the Bell Centre crowd in May at UFC 113 when he promised the Penguins would beat the Habs (they didn’t) and he would dethrone St-Pierre, would not need extra security fight night.
“MMA fans are not like that,” White said. “I don’t see MMA fans attacking Josh Koscheck when he’s walking into the Octagon.
“He’s going to get booed and yelled at and people are going to say some mean things to him, I’m sure, but I don’t think anyone’s going to physically try to harm Josh Koscheck. That’s not mixed martial arts and that’s not what our fans are about.”
Koscheck can expect some debris thrown his way, judging from his last outing here, although the prospect doesn’t seem to faze him.
“This is a great situation,” he said of Saturday’s storyline.
“You have U.S. versus Canada, you have the good guy supposedly versus the bad guy.
“I get to come into his hometown where I pissed them off in May so bad that they were throwing beer, and popcorn and spitting on us and throwing stuff at us on the way out of the arena.
“I get the opportunity to redeem myself and piss them off again.”
Saturday’s fight (available on pay per view and at select Cineplex theatres) is expected to set a record for North American attendance for an MMA show with 23,000-plus and a world record gate for MMA in excess of US$5.4 million.