Georges St-Pierre has had a few dud jobs in his time, but the UFC welterweight champion looks back fondly at his five-month stint as a garbageman during university.

"I liked to take the trash because you go at your own speed," the mixed martial arts star said of the minimum-wage job, which helped pay for his books and tuition. "The faster you go, the more you get and the earlier you finish.

"Working in a supermarket, it was boring because they made me do a bunch of useless stuff."

The story speaks volumes about the 28-year-old from Montreal, who defends his mixed martial arts title against England's Dan (The Outlaw) Hardy on Saturday in Newark, N.J., at UFC 111.

St-Pierre (19-2) is not one to sit still.

"I like challenges, that's what drives my life, that's what I like about it," he explained. "I'm not good when I'm good. What I mean by that is I'm not good when I'm sitting home and I don't have any challenges.

"I'm good when I know I have stuff to do and I need to achieve something. That's where I'm at my best."

The bookies don't expect Hardy (23-6 with one no contest) to present much of a challenge, making the Canadian an 8-1 favourite. But St-Pierre, who was upset by Matt Serra - an even bigger underdog - in his first title defence back in April 2007 at UFC 69, is taking nothing for granted.

Hardy, says St-Pierre, is the most dangerous opponent he has faced. It's a line he uses before every fight.

Probe a little deeper and the champion speaks his mind.

"He's in trouble, I'm telling you right now," St-Pierre told The Canadian Press. "I don't know what he's doing and I don't focus on that, because these are the things that I don't control. But I know that I've never been so sharp in my life and I'm going there with my gun loaded."

St-Pierre, who won his title back from Serra at UFC 83 in April 2008, has looked dominant in successfully defending his 170-pound championship against Jon Fitch, B.J. Penn and Thiago Alves.

But he has not fought since July when he emerged from the Alves contest at UFC 100 with an adductor muscle torn in three places. St-Pierre, a workout fiend, was forced to stay out of the gym for a month.

St-Pierre, who describes himself as "obsessive," spent the time thinking about how he could make a new, improved GSP.

One area of improvement was nutrition. Because St-Pierre trains at different gyms in Montreal, he spends a lot of time on the road and acknowledges that leaving home early and returning late leaves little room for home cooking.

"I'm not going to lie," he told a fan question and answer session before UFC 105 in Manchester, England. "For me before eating well was eating Subway, Quiznos. I was eating bad. I just didn't have time."

St-Pierre, who has also confessed a fondness to McDonald's in the past, reached out to Toronto nutritionist John Berardi, who helps fuel athletes from the NHL to NFL. A local chef was brought in and St-Pierre now has meals delivered to him at whatever gym he is training at.

Alves, who shrinks from 205 to 170 pounds when he fights, demonstrated to St-Pierre that he could fill out his frame - as long as he did it safely.

St-Pierre, who has also added to his weightlifting, says he has since gained eight pounds of "lean muscle" and is stronger, faster, more explosive and more powerful.

"If I was to fight right now the Georges St-Pierre that fought Thiago Alves last time, I would beat him before the end of the fifth round. I would submit him or I would knock him out," he said. "I'm a lot better than I was back then."

St-Pierre used to walk around at 185-186 pounds. Now he is at 195-196, meaning his weight cut will be a bit more severe than usual. But then Hardy confessed he was tipping the scales at 202 pounds when he talked to fans before UFC 107 in December in Memphis.

St-Pierre says his groin injury is now history. "After a month I was good and now it's even better because I strengthened it."

In keeping with his desire to keep active, St-Pierre resisted the temptation to remain at home for the holiday season, "because I knew if I stayed in Montreal I would be tempted to party a little bit with my friends."

Instead he took jiu-jitsu coach John Danaher to Abu Dhabi, France and Monaco and trained two to three times a day for two weeks.

Back home, St-Pierre says he hasn't forgotten his days picking up the trash.

"I was surrounded by a lot of characters and it kept you in shape, you ran," he said.

St-Pierre says he always take care to ensure nothing sharp is sticking out of his garbage when he puts it out.

"I know how hard these guys work. I have a lot of respect for them."