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Carlos Condit declares he’s ‘hungrier’ than Georges St. Pierre at UFC 154

Champion vs. interim champion set for next weekend in Montreal

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Carlos Condit raises his arms after being introduced before his interim welterweight championship bout against Nick Diaz Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. Condit won a unanimous decision and will likely face Georges St. Pierre in November.

UFC Primetime: St. Pierre vs. Condit episode 1

In Georges St. Pierre’s mind, he’s no longer the UFC welterweight champion.

He’d rather not have the golden UFC belt resting next to him in every photograph because he believes it signifies nothing. The moment the UFC booked an interim 170-pound title fight after St. Pierre tore his ACL nearly a year ago marked the end of his four-year reign as far as he’s concerned.

When St. Pierre takes on interim champion Carlos Condit Nov. 17 in Montreal, he’ll pay no attention to getting announced last and walking to the red corner. He considers himself the challenger.

“It’s a title shot against the champion, Carlos,” St. Pierre declared at a recent press conference.

That’s how St. Pierre is selling UFC 154, one of the most-anticipated events of the year. He says his motivation is at a level he hasn’t experienced since he beat Matt Serra in one of mixed martial arts’ most famous rematches in 2008.

Condit pays the declarations no mind.

“I’m hungrier,” Condit said. “I’m the one that’s been chomping at the bit to get this thing on. I haven’t fought competitively since February. I’ve just been training an sparring and preparing for this opportunity.”

While St. Pierre went to work rehabbing his knee, Condit slaved away in the gym with minimal time off. Condit wisely tried to avoid attention, but he heard the glut of negative voices.

Many mixed martial arts fans continued to argue the judges got it wrong and Nick Diaz actually beat Condit in their UFC 143 interim title fight. Even more people criticized Condit for his decision to wait for St. Pierre to recover instead of defending the interim belt.

“People are going to talk either way,” Condit said. “It’s making me a little antsy to get in there.”

Condit’s pre-fight mental routine usually mirrors most other elite fighters. He grinds through a grueling training camp and tempers the excitement until less than a month remains before fight time.

In the week or two immediately preceding the bout, he gets focused and intense — almost to the point of anger where all he can think about is the opponent. The last step came two months early this time.

Condit said it hit him when he first went to Montreal, St. Pierre’s hometown, to promote the fight. He’s had to remind himself not to get “overzealous” in training and take it easy at times.

The sensation sounds a lot like someone else.

“I changed a lot of stuff in my training and life,” St. Pierre said. “I’ve never been so pumped up to get into the octagon again.”

Vaguely arguing over who’s more motivated is uncommon for pre-fight discussion, but it’s understandable considering the delay. St. Pierre and Condit were first booked to fight 14 months ago.

Injuries to St. Pierre pushed the bout back this far. Neither Condit nor St. Pierre can imagine waiting any longer.

“I’m just ready to go, man,” Condit said. “A lot of stuff has happened between last October and now. To finally get a chance to fight Georges, I feel great.”

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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