Thursday, September 8, 2011
St. Pierre, Condit to proceed sans Jackson
By Josh Gross
Don't bother craning your neck to catch a glimpse of Greg Jackson agonizing his way through Georges St. Pierre's UFC welterweight title defense against Carlos Condit Oct. 29 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
He won't manage either corner. As a matter of fact, the respected trainer doesn't plan on being anywhere near the building after he's done handling Donald Cerrone earlier that evening.
Jackson, of course, has cultivated a well-deserved reputation for his role as the chief voice and key strategist for some of the biggest names in mixed martial arts. He's long been a staple of St. Pierre's camp, and in the last year he helped corner Condit to three stoppage victories as well.
With the deep reservoir of talent that circulates through Jackson's Albuquerque, N.M., gym and its affiliates in Denver, New York and Montreal, this is bound to happen more often. Jackson wasn't prepared the first time, but lessons learned from the saga that played out between Jon Jones and Rashad Evans helped the trainer and his brain trust formulate a contingency plan the next time two of the camp's stars faced one another.
St. Pierre-Condit isn't nearly as polarizing to the camp as Jones-Evans. Neither fighter has trained much (if at all) with the other. And Condit has never worked with Jackson's East Coast contingent, including New York-based John Danaher or Montreal-based Firas Zahabi.
Still, Jackson refuses to be involved in any aspect of the fight. From game planning to coaching to fight week prep and cornering, he doesn't want to touch any of it. It's just easier this way.
As far as changes go, St. Pierre may not head to Albuquerque at all now. That means more time training in with Zahabi and Danaher.
It shouldn't hinder him in any kind of way, Danaher said.
"Game planning has always been a collaborative affair since the beginning of [St. Pierre's] career, the majority of which is done in Montreal, so this too will be unaffected," Danaher suggested. "Both athletes are very professional and will be ready for action on Oct. 29."
Condit's focus shifts from B.J. Penn to St. Pierre with the help of Mike Winkeljohn and others in New Mexico.
Jackson knows he'll be asked many times between now and the fight about the pair's strengths and weaknesses. He's already crafted a simple response that touches on the virtues of both men, and finishes with how little he's looking forward to the bout.
Danaher can afford to be less political, though he remains nonetheless effusive in his praise of Condit.
"He presents a very real danger due to his ability to end a fight at any moment throughout the duration of the match," said the New Zealand-born jiu-jitsu instructor.
Danaher referenced Condit's success against several of the same opponents St. Pierre faced in recent years and summed up the fight like this: "A fascinating match-up of the consummate finisher versus the super-skilled tactician."
The fallout at Jackson's might just be as interesting to analyze.