Georges St. Pierre is a popular guy in his native Montreal these days. The man was recently named the Canadian Athlete of the Year, and is UFC’s current reigning welterweight champion. In addition to his list of achievements and accolades, he was unveiled as the cover athlete for THQ’s upcoming UFC 2009 Undisputed.

How popular is GSP in Montreal these days? During a lacklustre main event fight at UFC 97 involving Anderson Silva and Thales Leites, the 20,000 fans at the Bell Centre chanted “GSP! GSP!” to show their disapproval at the disappointing display in the octagon. This was during an event where St. Pierre was not even scheduled to fight.

We were fortunate enough to have a sit down with man himself before UFC 97. Mere minutes before speaking to us, GSP picked up a controller and challenged the undefeated president of UFC, Dana White, and managed to win his rookie bout against the mighty White.

Andrew Sztein (GamingExcellence): Did it feel good to beat your boss at the game?

Georges St. Pierre: It felt great, he was so proud to say he was undefeated and I gave him his first loss. He has a lot of honour in that game. {laughs}

Shawn: Do you wish you were fighting in your hometown at UFC 97?

Georges: Not really, because it’s not good timing for me. I need some vacation. I will be there to support my two friends and training partner Denis Kang and David Loiseau.

Andrew: Seeing your picture on the cover must have been pretty cool.

Georges: I remember when I was a kid, I used to play video games with characters like Hulk Hogan and Bret “The Hitman” Hart, and I was looking up to those guys. Now I can play myself. It’s a little weird.

Andrew: How do you feel about your representation in the game?

Georges: It’s pretty accurate. A couple of months ago they put in a room with some sensors and asked me to shadow box. They asked me to do my special move. I can see that they really used it in the video game, because I did certain things like my special “superman” punch.

Andrew: How do you feel about the growth of MMA in Canada?

Georges: I’m very surprised at it. Here in Quebec, most of the reporters always thought we were a bunch of barbarians. Now, people get more educated about the sport, and it’s hard to change their minds. I think it was a lack of education in a way that they didn’t understand the sport. If you look in the past, Boxing had the same problems when it first came about. Boxing was a very brutal sport. It was a sport of barbarians. As time goes by, people become more educated about it, and it becomes a legitimate sport.

Andrew: How do you see the video game helping to educate people about the sport?

Georges: It will a little bit for sure. But time will get people watching the fights. The video game will help a bit. The people who play the game will likely be the biggest fans of the sport.

Andrew: Elaborating on that a bit, do you think that someone who knows nothing about UFC and rents the game, do you see the game as a gateway for getting into the sport and becoming a fan?

Georges: I don’t know. I think it’s the other way around. The fan will play the game. Maybe it will reach some people, I don’t know. That’s an interesting question. I have no clue.

Andrew: How many hours a day do you train? What’s your routine?

Georges: I train six days a week, twice a day, sometimes three times a day. I have a very versatile training. I train in different places and disciplines. I mix wrestling with jiu jitsu and boxing, muay thai. MMA sparring is all involved with things like knee, punch, elbow, takdowns. I mix in condition and sprints too. I run track too, 100 metre sprint. I mix everything together and I train in different places like New York, Albuquerque, I was in Paris, France, even Brazil in Rio de Janeiro. I have a very big variety of training partners.

Andrew: How much did you train on the game?

Georges: The game was my first time. {laughs}

Andrew: How much did Dana play it?

Georges: He played many times. {laughs} Maybe I was lucky. Maybe if we play 10 more times, he’ll beat me nine of them.

Andrew: Who would you pick the first time you play?

Georges: Myself! I want to play myself, but I would probably choose one of my friends or training partners.

Andrew: To be on the cover, does that give you a financial stake in the game?

Georges: Yeah, it’s part of my contract with UFC.

Andrew: How do you feel about the growth of UFC?

Georges: I think people are starting to appreciate it. It’s a very interesting sport with a lot of action. A very exciting sport.

Andrew: What are you looking forward to most at UFC 97?

Georges: I’m looking forward to seeing David Loiseau and Denis Kang. I have another friend, Cheick Kongo fighting from France. Of course, the Leites Silva fight as well. It’ll be interesting.

Andrew: Who do you think will win? (Silva won a five round decision)

Georges: If it stays standing up it will be Silva, but if it goes to the ground it’ll be Leites. I think Leites has a real chance to win. People think Leites is beaten already, he’s not.

Andrew: How popular are video games amongst the fighters in UFC?

Georges: I don’t know. I think a lot of fighters play games. Just me, I juts have so much going on, I bought a new apartment and my house. I haven’t had time to buy a video game and play. But I will! It’s very interesting stuff!

Andrew: Thank you Georges, it’s been a pleasure!

Georges: The pleasure is all mine!