Georges St-Pierre has confessed that he ‘wasn’t ready’ to face Matt Hughes at UFC 50 in October 2004 as the MMA legend looks back at his fighting career.
The former UFC welterweight champion won his first two fights with the promotion, registering back-to-back wins over seasoned veterans Jay Hieron and Karo Parisyan.
St-Pierre was subsequently given a title shot against the American MMA fighter in his eighth pro fight.
UFC president Dana White was left visibly disappointed after the inexperienced St-Pierre tapped out with just one second left on the clock in the first round.
But the 40-year-old, who was inducted into the Modern Wing of the UFC Hall of Fame in 2020, insists he wasn’t fully prepared for the opportunity at the time.
‘I was scared to death’
“In my third fight [in the UFC], I had to fight Matt Hughes,” St-Pierre told MMA Junkie.
“And when Dana White told me I was fighting for the title, I thought it was a joke. I didn’t believe it.
“And to tell you frankly, I didn’t want that fight. I was scared to death. I didn’t want to fight him. I knew I wasn’t ready.”
‘I realized my problem was just mental’
St-Pierre (26-2) was a fresh-faced 23-year-old when Hughes handed him that first defeat of his career.
However, he insists that defeat taught him a valuable lesson about himself.
“I fought him. I hung there a little bit until I got caught with an armbar,” he added.
“But after I watched the fight, I realized my problem was just mental. I went there to fight him not to win – I went there not to lose.
“After that fight, I said, ‘You know what? I can be there with the best guys in the world. I can beat anybody.’”
‘People sometimes don’t remember how scary Matt Hughes was’
St-Pierre believes he was terrified of Hughes because of his ‘crazy highlight reels’ including his KO finish of Carlos Newton.
“It was a nightmare for me,” he explained.
“People sometimes don’t remember how scary Matt Hughes was.
“He used to grab guys and throw them on their heads. He was a scary guy to fight. He had some crazy highlight reels.
“One of the pioneers of martial arts in Canada was Carlos Newton.
“He was the first [Canadian] champion in the UFC.
“For most martial arts people at the time, he was like a god.
“And Matt Hughes grabbed Carlos Newton from a triangle choke, stood up with him and slammed him and knocked him out – one of the most brutal knockouts in UFC history.”