LAS VEGAS -- It wouldn't be a UFC welterweight championship weekend without an update on the division's all-time most famous athlete.
As Robbie Lawler (26-10) prepares to meet Carlos Condit (30-8) at UFC 195 on Saturday at MGM Grand Garden Arena, semi-retired former champion Georges St-Pierre is reportedly undergoing a "test training camp," which he will use to determine whether or not he wishes to compete again in 2016. St-Pierre, 34, hasn't fought since November 2013.
St-Pierre's longtime head coach, Firas Zahabi of Tristar MMA, is in Las Vegas to corner UFC lightweight Joseph Duffy. Zahabi took a moment to speak to ESPN.com regarding St-Pierre's current status.
Hall of Fame boxing coach Freddie Roach (whom St-Pierre has worked with previously) recently spoke about St-Pierre wanting a six-week 'test camp.' Is this taking place right now?
Georges is in Montreal right now. He's getting his body in shape and we're going to explore options in the near future. I don't put any pressure on Georges. I don't ask him if he wants to fight. He tells me whether he wants to fight or not. I sit there and listen to him. I think personally, these are not his words, there is more fight in him. I think he loves the sport and he gets excited about the idea of fighting again. I see him in practice all the time and the guy is incredible. He's still the best. I think Georges is going to make a splash soon.
What does this test camp entail, exactly? Who oversees it? What is Roach's involvement?
Georges doesn't need anybody to watch over him. He's been training his entire life. When he's out west, he trains with Freddie. When he's home, he trains with me. He'll train with (grappling coach) John Danaher if he's in New York. He travels a lot but his No. 1 business is training. It's always been that way. Of course, when he's doing fights, I'm his MMA trainer and I oversee everything. The six-week camp is just to see what his body feels like. (UFC president) Dana White has said people don't do things like that and it's bulls---, but Georges does that. He will go through the pain of a six-week camp just to see where his body is. You don't want to sign up for a fight and four weeks in, your body isn't holding up. He's enjoying it right now. If he continues to enjoy it, he'll keep doing it.
But it is a relatively structured camp? What changes from what he's already been doing day-to-day?
It is structured, but how many camps has Georges done? He doesn't need me there with a pen and paper, calculating everything he's doing. He knows what he's doing. I just give him comments on how to perform better. It's not something you sit down and talk about. We've been doing it for so long, I have several guys in training camps right now -- I don't want to use the word automatic, but there is an automatic portion of it. You do enough camps you just know, it's not something that's real formal. You focus on performance more in sparring, how to optimize things.
Whatever was weighing St-Pierre down in 2013, whatever persuaded him to step away from the sport -- is that resolved now?
All I can say is I've seen Georges a lot more up in spirits since he took a break. I think he's been a lot happier. Listen, if you overwork somebody -- and I'm not saying the UFC overworked Georges. I think Georges overworked Georges. He's very difficult on himself. I'll tell Georges he's had enough and he'll say, "please, just one more thing," and that will turn into another two hours of training. He's very disciplined. I think over time his batteries drained and he needed time off. Now, he's one of the happiest people I've ever met. And what makes him even happier is competing and that's why I think he'll want to take it to the next level. Remember, Georges never had a personal life. I go home to my wife and kids, go to family get-togethers -- Georges was always preparing. Now he's balanced and I think he's better for it.
Does he ever mention any specifics of a comeback? For example, UFC 200 is on July 9 in Las Vegas. Do you ever talk amongst each other, "that's a date that would make sense?"
Georges will mention things and I just listen to them. I believe his management, the UFC and Georges will come to a decision. I train fighters. I don't talk about those things. I just want to know who we're fighting, a time and place. There are so many factors at play, but those three groups will decide. Just give me a time, place and name of a guy and I'm very confident Georges will come out on top. He's that good.