As was reported this week, welterweight champion George St. Pierre’s long-time trainer and friend, Firas Zahabi, has hinted that “Rush” might have retirement on his mind.
At the heart of his comments lay the issue of St. Pierre’s motivation and its possible waning.
To this point, a case might certainly be made.
GSP has been champion of the welterweight division since 2008. He’s on an incredible eleven fight winning streak, with eight title defenses (nine if we take into consideration his interim belt) and in pursuing this tally, he’s not only defeated, but generally made look bad, every quality fighter that he’s faced. He is, hands down and without a doubt, the most dominant welterweight in UFC history.
Further still, he’s climbed the highest peaks of the sport in terms of financial success. He is the UFC’s biggest cash cow and the promotion’s poster boy. He is replete with endorsements, business opportunities and even movie roles. In short, he’s amassed millions and as such, perhaps is no longer as hungry as he once was.
In considering the first two points, it can easily be argued that St. Pierre has neither anything left to prove nor anything left to gain.
Of course, there’s also the issue of a family. GSP has stated for years that he wants to retire early enough to get married and have children, and at age 32, perhaps that time has come or is coming soon. To compound that, Rush has also stated that he wants to retire with his health intact and after 27 professional fights, Johny Hendricks being the 27th, then perhaps that time has come, too.
Finally, his retirement would also accomplish two things and regarding his friend and teammate, Rory MacDonald. First and foremost, it would clear the path for MacDonald and his ascent to the welterweight throne. Second, it would explain why Rush has never worried about fighting “Ares”, because he's know all along going that he'd be gone by the time MacDonald had earned the shot. On this point, perhaps GSP feels that moment has come, as well.
Put it all together and there’s good reason to put weight and value behind Zahabi’s words.
However, there is another possibility and another case that could be argued, and that is of rouse.
In preface, let’s remember that GSP is the same guy that played Josh Koscheck for a fool on The Ultimate Fighter, when he famously let Kos “spy” his ranking list, prior to fighter selection.
In synopsis, Rush is a brilliant strategist and tactician, both in and out of the ring, and Zahabi’s comments could well be nothing more than a ploy by GSP and his camp; something to lull Hendricks into beliving that the champ has lost his willingness and passion for fighting.
For whatever advantage that might be sought, it could be that simple.
In examining the case, it does seem odd that Zahabi would make such a statement, publicly and particularly four weeks out from one of the toughest fights of Rush’s career. One would have to figure, that if true, that it would be a closely held camp secret and not something to be blurted out in an interview.
The realities of Firas’s comments are that GSP is going to be hammered with the question of his retirement from now until November 16th, at UFC 167. As such, it could easily prove to be a distraction and a topic that emboldens his opponent.
So, on the face of it, this could easily be seen as a significant slip-up on Zahabi’s part. However, as Firas is not stupid a man and Rush not only his biggest client, but also one of his closest personal friends, the whole thing does seem a tad odd or off.
More particularly and of late, anytime we’ve seen St. Pierre in media appearances he seems to be buoyant and stoked for his upcoming bout. He doesn’t seem like a guy who’s struggling with his camp or has any issues with motivation.
Further, as he just spent a year rehabbing his knee and has only fought twice, since, to now call it quits after three fights seems like a waste of a lot of effort and very unlike St. Pierre.
Lastly, as GSP made mention in a recent interview with “Showdown” Joe Ferraro a few months back, he’s working on something “special” for the Hendricks fight and something that he says he should’ve been doing a long time ago. If true and the new tool proves’ formidable and decisive, then again, it would seem like more wasted effort on behalf of the 32 year old and odd, if the tool’s bounty gives him a solid win over Johny Hendricks.
In crux, if GSP has suddenly developed a 3.0 version of himself that has KO power or some wondrous submissions game, it would seem very un-Rush to use it once and then retire.
Concluding, although plausible that Rush will be retiring after a Hendricks win or loss and re-match, it could also be possible that this is nothing more than a GSP rouse and one meant to play with Johny Hendricks’s mind.
LowKick leaves with an apparently happy and motivated GSP working out at the TUF gym, this past July.