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‘I Was Doing Georges Better Than Georges’

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Kamaru Usman never had the chance to step inside the Octagon with UFC Hall of Famer Georges St-Pierre, but that didn’t stop the ‘Nigerian Nightmare’ from trying to become him.

During a recent appearance on the Pound 4 Pound podcast, Usman (who hosts the show alongside former two-division champion Henry Cejudo) revealed to St-Pierre that he was Johny Hendricks’ main training partner ahead of Hendricks’ epic encounter with ‘Rush’ at UFC 167 more than a decade ago.

Georges St-Pierre vs. Johny Hendricks

Going into the fight, Hendricks had won six straight and was looking to end St-Pierre’s dominant reign over the welterweight division. Usman, who had just kickstarted his own mixed martial arts career on the regional scene, was brought in to mimic GSP throughout Hendricks’ training camp.

“I actually studied you a lot even before I was actually, I think, in the UFC,” Usman told St-Pierre. “I studied you because when you fought — I don’t know if I told you this — when you fought Johny Hendricks, I was brought in, I was his main sparring partner at one point. I was brought in to mimic you. So I watched you a lot going in to help Johny Hendricks. … I had to commit.

“I thought I was doing Georges better than Georges. I’m throwing the Superman-low kick, I’m throwing all these things out. I’m shooting on him, I’m trying to take him down, because I knew you would try to take him down. It didn’t matter what his credentials were, Johny Hendricks is a [wrestling] champ, but I knew you would try to take him down. So I’d been studying you for a while” (h/t MMA Fighting).

To Usman’s credit, Johny Hendricks gave St-Pierre one of the toughest tests of his career. Hendricks came up short via a razor-close split decision. More than a decade later, pundits still argue that Hendricks did more than enough to unseat ‘Rush’ and claim the 170-pound crown.

Georges St-Pierre vs. Johny Hendricks

However, Hendricks would go on to win the welterweight title four months later following St-Pierre’s first retirement from the sport.

Kamaru Usman Praises Georges St-Pierre

Over the years, St-Pierre’s historic reign has been compared to that of Kamaru Usman, who took the belt off Tyron Woodley at UFC 235. Usman never came close to matching GSP’s still-standing record of nine straight title defenses, but Usman does own the record for most consecutive wins in the division at 15 — a streak that ran from July 2015 to August 2022.

Kamaru Usman

The ‘Nigerian Nightmare’ praised St-Pierre during their time together, noting the similarities in their pre-fight rituals. Specifically, the act of isolating themselves before a fight to focus on being mentally prepared.

“That is so surreal that you say that because I’ve never heard you say that, but I’m like — and I wasn’t taught these things — I do almost similar,” Usman said after listening to St-Pierre talk about his process before fighting. “Unfortunately, I lost the fight, Edwards, the second fight, because that fight I just had a lot of stress on me. But I was in the bathroom and I’m in the mirror and I was walking back and forth. I’m looking at the mirror because I’d look and I put myself in the scenario, and I’m talking to myself, but even before that, I do do that in my faceoff.

“That’s why most people, when they bring you back in, because most of us were main events for our last few fights, I’m sitting there, I’m crouched over, I’m talking in my head. They don’t hear me, but I’m talking in my head and I’m talking to the guy in my head, and then we back up and then it’s time to go. But it’s a mental process and I’m in this process the whole time and I think a lot of it has to do with preparation. It comes from preparations.”

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