Even on hiatus, Georges St-Pierre captures the attention of the MMA world like few others.
The former UFC welterweight champion recently attended March 5's UFC 196 event in Las Vegas, turning heads and causing many to question his involvement. According to head coach Firas Zahabi, St-Pierre's attendance is easily explainable.
"If [UFC featherweight champion Conor] McGregor had won [against Nate Diaz at UFC 196], McGregor is just such a, he’s just such a guy, he stirs the pot, obviously, like nobody else," Zahabi told Ariel Helwani on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour. "It could have been crazy if he called out Georges. It could have been crazy if Nate called out Georges.
"Anything could have been motivating to Georges. I think it could have happened. Nothing happened. He went in there just to watch the fights. McGregor was supposed to fight [UFC lightweight champion Rafael] dos Anjos, don’t forget. He was supposed to be the first man to carry two belts if he wins. So Georges wanted to be there for that momentous occasion, not necessarily just for Conor, but also [Tristar teammate] Nordine [Taleb] was fighting. We talked about going to the show, plus maybe McGregor might win two titles, that’ll be huge…It’s a huge thing when somebody tries to win outside of his category. We’re fans of the sport as well."
While St-Pierre may have shown up just to potentially witness history and to support a teammate, Zahabi said the mere presence of the Octagon may have given the Canadian superstar the itch to compete once again.
"He told me, he did tell me when he was close to the Octagon, he felt that feeling again," Zahabi said. "I personally believe he has a lot of fight left in him. He’s phenomenal. The guy is still an incredible athlete, as usual. When he does come to training – he was in training today – his performances are amazing.
"He’s still the best in the world, in my opinion. If he chooses, if he feels like going into the Octagon, it’s if he has the right motivation, if he has that feeling, I think he’ll show the world he’s still the best."
St-Pierre took an indefinite hiatus from the sport of MMA following a controversial split-decision victory over Johny Hendricks at UFC 167 in December 2013. The win was St-Pierre's 12th straight and ninth consecutive title defense. Overall, St-Pierre's professional record sits at 25-2, and he later defeated both men – Matt Hughes and Matt Serra – who own a victory over him.