Firas Zahabi expects Georges St-Pierre to make full recovery, return to UFC for ‘mega-fight’
Georges St-Pierre’s longtime head coach Firas Zahabi thinks his pupil will make a full recovery and return to the UFC after a medical issue forced him to give up the middleweight title just 33 days after winning it.
St-Pierre (26-2 MMA, 20-2 UFC) vacated the UFC belt he won from Michael Bisping at UFC 217 in November after his was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. “Rush” said he wasn’t entirely sure what the future holds but is optimistic he can treat the condition since his case isn’t believed to be particularly severe.
The former UFC welterweight titleholder said the diet and weight-gain program he used to move up to middleweight for the first time was the cause of his colitis. As a result, he’s likely one-and-done at 185 pounds, meaning if he does compete again, St-Pierre will likely be fighting back at welterweight or lighter.
Zahabi, who spoke to TSN.com‘s Robin Black at UFC on FOX 26 this past weekend in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, said he expects St-Pierre to “come back for a big, exciting fight.” Naturally he targeted UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor (21-3 MMA, 9-1 UFC) as a potential foe, but also name-dropped undefeated boxing legend Floyd Mayweather (50-0 boxing).
“I think Georges is going to get better, get back in the gym,” Zahabi told TSN.com. “He’s going to feel his body out and see what he wants. What’s the most interesting, epic fight out there? Mayweather? McGregor? We need a mega-fight.”
After St-Pierre vacated the belt, interim UFC middleweight champ Robert Whittaker (19-4 MMA, 10-2 UFC) was promoted to undisputed titleholder and next fights Luke Rockhold (16-3 MMA, 6-2 UFC) at UFC 221 on Feb. 10. Many, including UFC President Dana White, believe St-Pierre never had any intention of defending the belt, though he was contractually obligated to do so.
Zahabi defended his fighter from the critics. St-Pierre may have become the first fighter in history to vacate a UFC belt on two separate occasions, but Zahabi said the French-Canadian’s contributions to the sport far outweigh that footnote.
“I always tell people if you’re criticizing Georges, do what he did,” Zahabi said. “Do what he did first. Then criticize him. It’s not easy to do what he did. He defended the title over and over again. Lots of guys had their chance. Get in line. Make their way the way he did it. And when he did it, he never complained about nobody. He did it without complaining about anybody.
“Has he helped grow the sport or hurt it? He’s helped grow it,” Zahabi continued. “A lot of guys making bigger paydays and bigger purses, bigger bonuses. Why? Because the company and the great fighters – not just Georges. All these great fighters and the company. It’s a relationship. We’ve got to respect the company. We’ve got to respect all the fighters. You’ve got to respect all these big names making the way. You’re going to see, in the future, these guys are going to sign rookie contracts, first year in the UFC, million-dollar contracts. But why? Because of all the greats that came before.”
This story Firas Zahabi expects Georges St-Pierre to make full recovery, return to UFC for ‘mega-fight’ first appeared on MMA Junkie.