Head trainer and TriStar chief Firas Zahabi was a guest on this week's MMA Hour, fresh off St. Pierre's announcement last Friday that he will be relinquishing his title and stepping back from the sport. The mentally-exhausted St. Pierre indicated that he will be taking time off to live a "normal life," following a special media conference call set up by Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) -- moments before his autograph signing in a Quebec City mall.
Zahabi, who has been at the center of St. Pierre's career for years, shed some light on St. Pierre's decision, which was almost set in stone months before the former welterweight kingpin made the announcement.
"I think before the (Johny) Hendricks fight, he had mixed feelings," said Zahabi.
There were flirtations leaning towards retirement on St. Pierre's side even before his latest fight, dating back to the fight against Carlos Condit at UFC 154.
"Before the (Carlos) Condit fight, he had mixed feelings. He went back-and-forth. But the problem is, I was always cutting him off, because I didn't want to talk to him about it in camp."
After the Condit fight, St. Pierre's former manager, Stephane Patry, had raised eyebrows when he said that St. Pierre would fight Nick Diaz at UFC 157, and if he got past the Stockton native, his plan was to fight Hendricks and Anderson Silva, then call it a day.
Despite those rumors getting shot down shortly afterward -- along with a "super fight" that was never even close to being materialized, the rumblings of retirement kept arising, with St. Pierre's mentor and former fighter, Kristof Midoux, hinting that the superstar would possibly retire in the cage if he defeated Hendricks at UFC 167.
"The guy has been fighting for too long, missing too many birthdays, too many weddings, too many life experiences," Zahabi continued. "He wants to balance his life out. If you were to spend a day with Georges, you'd be exhausted. There is so much going on it's ridiculous. It's crazy."
The head of Montreal, Quebec, Canada's premier gym does not rule out an eventual return for his top athlete, however for the time being, fighting is not part of the plan for "Rush."
"I'd love for him to come back," confessed Zahabi. "If he finds something he's really passionate about, if he finds something else, plays another sport, or whatever, he may get addicted to whatever and I could see him jumping into something. But he's not going to be happy watching TV. He needs a lot of action. But he also needs some down time."
It is a trainer's dream to work with a competitor like St. Pierre, and having all those accolades and accomplishments under his belt, it must be euphoric for a trainer and a fighter of St. Pierre's caliber to work together everyday.
However, Zahabi shed some light on the former champion's current standing as of today, and says that despite St. Pierre always being a humble and incredibly respectful individual, he is happy to see a giant smile on his number one student's face.
"Georges is right now the happiest I've ever seen him. His mood is better. He's sleeping better, he's gaining weight, muscular weight, not fat."
After an eventful night in Las Vegas, Nevada, at UFC 167, St. Pierre confirmed to the media at the autograph signing in Quebec City that he was told by UFC officials not to attend the post-fight press conference. This controversy was shot down by Dana White at UFC on FOX 9's post-fight press conference, and although it was not exactly the best way to close out the chapter, it may not matter at the moment for all parties involved.
The most important facet is that St. Pierre has now found peace with his long-awaited decision.
"The stress was making him weaker, miserable, he was suffering," Zahabi concluded. "He didn't have peace. He had too much stress in his life. Now we're doing jiu jitsu and wrestling for fun."