Last month, longtime UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre dropped a bombshell on the MMA universe: He’s had enough.
After nine consecutive title defenses and 21 total UFC fights, St-Pierre announced his retirement from the sport.
While the door wasn’t completely shut on a potential return, GSP is no longer an active mixed martial arts fighter, for the time being at least.
The once-dominant champion cited personal problems as his reason for stepping down. It wasn’t a huge secret. Following a controversial decision victory over Johny Hendricks at UFC 167, St-Pierre told Joe Rogan that he needed to get his personal life in order.
That was all the mainstream media needed to hear to launch a full-out assault on St-Pierre’s privacy.
In November, infamous media outlet TMZ reported that St-Pierre was retiring because he impregnated a woman and that his father was dying.
According to St-Pierre’s close friend and coach, Firas Zahabi, this was when they crossed the line.
“I can take [the media harassment] and so can Georges, but they went a little too far when they started running after people in his family,” Zahabi told Alchemist Radio on Sunday night.
“That was crossing the line. They started a rumor that his dad is dying and all these ridiculous crazy things. That was pushing the envelope. They went way too far with it.”
St-Pierre denied both of TMZ’s allegations.
At the end of the day, we may never know what’s going on in St-Pierre’s personal life. And that’s completely fine. The man is entitled to some privacy, and whether he decides to return or not, that is ultimately his decision.
St-Pierre was arguably the biggest blockbuster superstar in the entire sport. The decision to hang up the gloves couldn’t have been an easy one, but Zahabi is glad that he did it.
The Tristar head coach has known St-Pierre almost longer than anybody else in MMA. He’s been with him throughout St-Pierre’s entire reign as champion, and before it.
Yes, he’s GSP’s trainer, but at the end of the day, Zahabi is St-Pierre’s friend and he only wants what’s best for him. Since stepping away from MMA, Zahabi believes that the former welterweight king is beginning to find his smile again.
“He’s doing fantastic. He’s found a happy medium between training and living his life. He’s only training once a day now, which is something he would never do before—he used to train twice a day at the very least,” Zahabi said.
“It became too much for him and now he’s taking it easy. I think his body needs the rest; he needs this time off.”
While a future return to the Octagon hasn’t been ruled out, Zahabi doesn’t think that St-Pierre has anything left to prove. He’s broken seemingly every record there is to break and has beaten a laundry list of contenders in the welterweight division.
But if St-Pierre does return, it won’t be for a while. His body needs time to recover.
“The body has its limitations. He’s spent more time in the Octagon than anyone else. He broke the record in his last fight. If you think about it, most of his fights were title fights, so that’s a lot of mileage,” Zahabi said.
“I mean, look at a guy like Anderson Silva; he could have retired two fights ago. At the end of the day, you either give your body a break or it forces you to take one.”