Firas Zahabi, the head trainer for UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre, sees the light at the end of the tunnel for his fighter – should he continue at the same pace.
Outside of spending time on the sidelines due to his recent knee issues, St-Pierre hasn’t taken much time off. He is a known workout warrior, and has even thought about trying out for the Olympics to represent his country.
However, all of that is taking a toll on the body of GSP, as evident by his knee surgery. Zahabi, in an interview with Sherdog.com, talked about what changes could be in store for St-Pierre down the road.
“He’s giving up a lot of free time and leisure time and experiences he could be having in life to maintain his title, to maintain this excellence. It’s a difficult thing to do,” he continued. “He’s going to have to make that choice one fight at a time. Does he want to go through another training camp? Right now at this time, yes, for sure. There’s no doubt in my mind he wants to do another one, but down the line, two or three more training camps, is he still going to want to do it? That’s up to him. Does he still have the fire and the passion? We’ll see.”
So, is GSP working too hard, or is this the kind of time that needs to be devoted to be one of the best in the world?
Firas Zahabi, the head trainer for UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre, does not believe his fighter can move up in weight to face Anderson Silva.
Instead, Zahabi wants to see Silva, the UFC middleweight champion, come down to 170 pounds for the one-off fight. Zahabi explained his reasoning during a recent appearance on The MMA Hour.
I wouldn’t want (GSP) to move up. I don’t know if Anderson can make 170 or something close to that. If Georges goes up, I know he won’t be able to come back down. He’s told me many times if he goes up he won’t go back down, and I believe him.
St-Pierre just recently unified the UFC welterweight title by defeating Carlos Condit. After looking at the division and not seeing many viable contenders, several have emerged, including Johny Hendricks.
The GSP-Silva talk is still in the infant stages, but UFC president Dana White has promised to make the match happen.
UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre doesn’t like to sit on the sidelines. With his current rehab from knee surgery progressing slowly, GSP head trainer Firas Zahabi gave MMAjunkie.com Radio a cloudy answer in regards to his return.
“I won’t be confident to (give a time table) until I see him in the gym and moving around and live sparring,” Zahabi said. “A little jiu-jitsu (St-Pierre is doing now). It’s technique now, nothing live and nothing with contact. Just some light moving around the going over the moves he usually does and reviewing the playbook.”
St-Pierre (22-2) had his ACL repaired following issues while training for a fight earlier this year with Nick Diaz. Upon his return, GSP will likely face Carlos Condit, who claimed the interim UFC welterweight title over Diaz.
Zahabi did mention this fall as a possible return time for St-Pierre, but added that preventing any future issues with the knee is a top priority.
While that is Zahabi’s take, the UFC has went ahead and started to plan for St-Pierre’s return, as UFC president Dana White said during the recent UFC on FX 3 post-fight interview that UFC 154 is the targeted date for a bout with Condit.
For me, it would be easier to go down than to go up. The reason is my weight, I walk around between 185-190 but the thing is, I don’t want to go to lightweight because I don’t want to get smaller as a human being, as a man. I want to be bigger as possible, you know? I’m good as what I am as a welterweight right now. People want me to go up and we’ll see, one day if the timing is good and the person maybe I will but it will take time. Changing weight, it’s hard to do. People ask me this question sometime so we’ll see what’s gonna happen.
I don’t like the whole cut process now. I don’t like to play with my health. I could do it. I could do it, seriously, I could really do it but I don’t believe, I don’t want to lose too much weight. I don’t think it’s healthy and outside of performance, the most important thing for me is my well-being so I want my well-being to be my first priority and I don’t think it’s good for the body to lose that much weight.
Georges has been answering questions about his weight for a long time, and while he has always left the door open for it, it doesn’t really seem like he wants to to move to a different weight class.
I guess you can’t really blame him. He is the long-reigning champion of the UFC welterweight division and continues to enjoy all the fame and fortune that goes along with that. Why risk losing that by moving to a different division when you’re so easily dominating the weight class you’re in? I can’t speak for Georges, but considering how risk adverse he is, I’m sure that’s the question he asks himself every time these questions come up.
As the saying goes, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.
“Well to be honest with you, I have recommended to Georges, you know…the only reason I don’t recommend it now is because Frankie Edgar is the champion, but I’d want him to move down to 155 if Frankie was not the champion. Obviously we’re part of the Renzo Gracie team and we’d never fight Frankie Edgar, because obviously we’re all Renzo Gracie fighters. But if it wasn’t the case, you know, I’d rather him go down to 155 because Georges is not a very big welterweight. People might think he is, he’s actually not very big. And him making 170 is extremely easy for him… Honestly, it’s probably one of the easiest weight cuts from all that I coach, and I coach a lot of professional fighters. Georges making 170 is getting a little too easy for him, so I’d recommend to him in the future, who knows what the cards hold, but if we don’t have a team member that’s champion or anything like that, I would recommend him to go down first before going up… Georges’ body type, he’s actually ectomorph, he’s very lean. He doesn’t put on a lot of muscle unless we make do a lot of lifting, and I do make him do a lot of lifting. That’s one of the reasons why I wanted him to start doing Olympic lifting, and just a high volume of weightlifting is what will keep him muscular. Because Georges doesn’t really put on fat and muscle very easily, and I really think he could lose a little bit of muscle. He doesn’t have much fat on him, and a lot of water and a lot of electrolytes. Just doing the weight cut from like 175, he would make it down to 155 quite easily.”
— Georges St. Pierre’s trainer Firas Zahabi on Sherdog Radio (transcribed via BE) explaining why he thinks GSP should move down to lightweight instead of middleweight
Well, that’s interesting. While the rest of the MMA community has been calling for Georges St. Pierre to move up to middleweight, his lead trainer has been telling him he should do the opposite.
Maybe that’s what is best for GSP, but does anyone actually want to see GSP fight a bunch of guys smaller than him? I mean the whole point of him moving up to middleweight was to see how he would do against opponents he wouldn’t be able to manhandle as easily as he does in the welterweight division. He’d run into faster guys in the lightweight division, but theoretically at least, he’d have an even easier time holding them down and dominating them. I don’t know about you, but that’s not something I can get excited about.
What do you think? Is there anyone at 155 that could give GSP a run for his money?
The buzz for a title unification bout between UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre and Strikeforce welterweight champion Nick Diaz is definitely building. Outside of Osama Bin Laden, it’s all anyone seems to be talking about today in the MMA community. Not everyone is crazy about the idea, but if you ask me and lot of others it’s the fight that makes the most sense right now for Georges St. Pierre, Nick Diaz and the UFC.
• Diaz is never going to be more red-hot. After dispatching Paul Daley April, Diaz’s stock is at an all-time high. The time to put him in against GSP is now. Are you going to wait for him to make a defense against, say, Tyron Woodley, or some other wrestler that might give Diaz’s stock a hit with a boring fight or even a loss? Diaz is perfect, right now, and GSP is badly in need of a viable challenger.
• Diaz has the right style to bring excitement. Let’s face it — nobody in MMA is going to outwrestle St. Pierre, not at 170 pounds. Thus far, in his second reign as champion, GSP has picked apart challengers coming in on the wings of a dream: that they would be able to plant him on the mat, backed up by modest striking. Josh Koscheck, the best banger of the bunch, never landed more than a glancing blow or two. GSP manipulates distance and angles masterfully. Diaz violates all that and would force confrontations. His high-volume style would, for once, possibly take the play away from GSP on the feet and force him into exchanges or to shoot for takedowns. Diaz’s defensive guard and incredible resilience would serve him well here. He might get wrestled and controlled positionally, but at the beginning of each round, he would be right back up pressing and pushing ahead, tossing punches and cusses and scowls. Diaz is as durable as anyone in the game, and he never quits. He would either force GSP to beat him down or risk another five-round snoozer, at which point public consensus would be well-justified to pack GSP’s bags for 185.
• Diaz sells — something the welterweight title definitely needs. GSP has summarily scuttled the marketability of all his top contenders. It would be a difficult proposition to sell rematches against Fitch or Penn; ironically, both were injured and their rematch will not happen, which clears the welterweight title road for the time being. Alves is only slightly more marketable because he can bang, but he has a tough assignment in Rick Story at UFC 130. No guarantee there. It is getting to the point where any GSP defense against anyone not named Nick Diaz would have to be paired with another title bout — like UFC 129 — to make it viable.
I would add that GSP really needs an opponent that will get fans excited about seeing him fight again, because right now, I don’t think too many people clamoring to see GSP back in the Octagon like they are for other champs such as Jon Jones and Cain Velasquez. Deserving or not, GSP’s stock is slowly but surely falling. He’s been dominant ever since he lost to Matt Serra, but he’s becoming more and more boring to watch with each passing fight. It’s not all his fault, because it does take two to tango, but he fights safe and there’s not any denying that. Nick Diaz is the exact opposite, both inside and outside of the cage. Whether you love or hate either of them, that’s a must see fight, and you can’t say that about GSP vs. anyone else in the welterweight division right now.
So what’s the possibility it will happen given they are technically fighting for two different promotions right now? Well, Dana White said they can basically do whatever they want over the weekend, although there are Showtime contracts to consider. At the very least, he seems open to working on it. Georges St. Pierre’s lead trainer Firas Zahabi told Ariel Helwani today that he thinks the fight is a possibility as well.
“We haven’t sat down to talk about (what’s next),” Zahabi told Helwani. “I’m sure the UFC is going to want Nick Diaz. He deserves a shot. He’s put on great performances and his last fight was extremely exciting.”
“If Georges went up (to 185) right now, he wouldn’t have cleaned out the division because there’s still Nick Diaz there,” Zahabi said. “He’s champion, so you can’t say he doesn’t deserve a shot. I can’t confirm anything, but I see it as a possibility. They have two champions. It’s always exciting to see two champions go at it. He has a great style. He has beautiful boxing, great jiu-jitsu, and it’s very similar to his brother. It’s not easy to fight a tall, lanky guy like that. And he’s always very busy. It’s a whole different style than Jake.”
Cesar Gracie also thinks the fight makes sense, but reading between the lines, it sounds like they want big money to do it. From an interview with the Verbal Submission radio show, transcribed via Fight Opinion:
“I don’t know how bad is GSP’s eye, is he going to take six months off? And then why couldn’t Nick box and then go fight GSP, for example, that kind of scenario. Now, if the eye if not a really big problem and they want the next fight for GSP five months from now to be Nick Diaz, I mean obviously Nick would be, uh… he would be delaying quite a contract, a money-making contract in boxing so how would that, is he going to give up that all that money… I mean there’s so many questions right now and really the only (people) that has the answers to it are, you know, Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta, so I’m very much looking forward to meeting with those guys. Lorenzo’s a guy that I truly like the guy and Dana is a good guy, too, you know, a good businessman and we’re going to tell him our concerns and hopefully they have some answers for us and we’re waiting just like you guys.”
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On this week’s edition of Pro MMA Radio, Georges St. Pierre’s head trainer Firas Zahabi joined Larry Pepe to talk about GSP’s fight against Jake Shields this weekend at UFC 129. Additionally, Team Jackson pioneer Chris Luttrell stopped by to talk about all the teammate drama at Greg Jackson’s. Form Athletics president Mark Miller also joined the show to talk his company’s emergence in the MMA apparel industry.
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