“Johny Hendricks was the greatest challenge (to St-Pierre’s title), as advertised,” Zahabi said.
Still, he disputed UFC President Dana White’s claim after the event that the St-Pierre’s camp expected a loss prior to a split-call decision for the champion.
“No, I thought we won,” Zahabi said. “I thought Georges won (rounds) 1, 3 and 5. That’s why I put Georges on my shoulders. If I didn’t think he won, I wouldn’t have done that.”
Two of three judges awarded St-Pierre (25-2 MMA, 19-2 UFC) the fight by scores of 48-47 while a third judge dissented for Hendricks (15-2 MMA, 10-2 UFC), 48-47. The majority of media covering the fight, including MMAjunkie, awarded Hendricks the decision, 48-47.
At the post-event press conference, UFC President Dana White ranted at the judges’ decision and the Nevada State Athletic Commission, which oversaw the fight card at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Garden Arena.
St-Pierre shocked the audience when he said he planned to take time off the sport to address personal problems. Zahabi expected the post-fight speech and said the champ has to make some serious decisions about his future.
The trainer also declined to comment on a TMZ report that stated the French Canadian’s hiatus stems from an unplanned pregnancy and a gravely ill father.
“Georges has been having mixed feelings for a long time now,” Zahabi said. “He has his own personal issues that I can’t comment on, and he lives a certain lifestyle.”
A frustrated White said St-Pierre is obligated to the UFC, fans and Hendricks to fight an immediate rematch, but Zahabi said that decision can only be made by the champion.
“He lives like a soldier,” he said. “Every day is centered around training; he doesn’t have a well balanced life at all. His entire life is centered around performance, and he’s 32 now. He’s got to decide if he wants to live a life, maybe try to balance his life and have a regular routine, or does he have motivation to continue doing this fight style. That’s really up to him. I don’t think anybody can answer that but him.”
Zahabi said he won’t push the fighter in either direction about what he decides to do with his life.
“Nobody has put in more hours and more time in the octagon than him,” he said. “Nobody’s had more minutes; he set the record. How can I tell him that he didn’t do enough? I don’t think it’s my place to tell him anything. It’s his own personal choice.”
As for the champ’s current whereabouts, Zahabi said the fighter is resting at home after suffering “cosmetic damage” and a scratch to his eye that occurred when Hendricks punched him during a takedown attempt. Zahabi said the blow robbed St-Pierre of his vision for much of the fight.
After his initial outburst, White downplayed the severity of St-Pierre’s personal issues and felt confident the champ would return to fight Hendricks.
Undoubtedly, though, “Rush” will be much to reflect on in the coming weeks.
“Right now, he’s just resting,” Zahabi said. “Georges doesn’t like to think so far ahead after a fight. It’s very emotional during the fight and after the fight. You’ve got to let the storm settle, and you’ve got more of a clear head. When I think he has a more clear head, he’ll make a more serious decision.”