Georges St. Pierre’s trainer Firas Zahabi isn’t against seeing his star fighter move up a division after his recent sixth straight welterweight title defense. He is, however, against seeing him pack on a ton of weight to do it.
According to Zahabi, St. Pierre (22-2) has probably added all the muscle his 5-foot-10 frame can athletically carry. If St. Pierre decides to vacate the 170-pound title and compete at 185, Zahabi says he’ll encourage him to remain close to the weight he is now.
“He’ll be very small for a middleweight,” Zahabi told ESPN.com. “If I balloon him up to over 200 pounds, it won’t do any good. There’s a point where you can have too much muscle and it’s not a good thing. I think he’s got the maximum amount you can put on his body without it starting to be detrimental.
“If he goes up [to 185], I would recommend he stay the same size. You don’t want Georges to go in there bulked up and unable to perform in the mechanical way that he does.”
Prior to his fight against Jake Shields at UFC 129, St. Pierre's camp said its target was for him to rehydrate 22 pounds, to an in-cage weight between 192 and 193 pound.
Another reason to not add a ton of muscle is it would be tedious weight for St. Pierre to shed if he ever chose to move back down. Zahabi did note, however, that in a proposed fight against Anderson Silva, he’d experiment adding as much as 10 pounds to St. Pierre to help keep the lengthy Brazilian down.
“I’d probably push him up to 200 pounds for that fight,” Zahabi said. “He still wouldn’t be as big as Anderson and it wouldn’t be natural, but it would be better. If you do get on Anderson Silva, having an extra pounds on you is a good extra 10 pounds.”
St. Pierre wouldn’t be the first to forfeit size in an effort to move up divisions. Notably, the only two fighters to ever hold titles at multiple weights did it. B.J. Penn has regularly weighed in under 170 pounds as a welterweight -- as little as 166.5 at UFC 63. Randy Couture weighed in nearly 40 pounds less than Tim Sylvia at UFC 68 when he recaptured the heavyweight title.
The move to middleweight for St. Pierre is far from official. A super-fight between he and Silva has been talked about in the media for years, but UFC president Dana White continues to refer to it as “a fantasy fight.”
Zahabi says his hope for St. Pierre’s next challenge is Strikeforce champion Nick Diaz, but denied any notion the camp is shying away from a Silva fight. If the Silva fight does happen, though, Zahabi believes it would work best as a catchweight fight.
“It’s up to Zuffa and George’s management to decide that. I’ll focus on preparing him,” Zahabi said. “But I think it would be wiser to be at a catchweight because it would be more fair.”
In regards to Diaz, Zahabi believes the Strikeforce champ has earned a shot at St. Pierre and is an intriguing matchup, stylistically.
“He’s proven himself, especially in his last fight [against Paul Daley], a really exciting fight,” Zahabi said. “He’s got a long reach and he knows how to use it. He probably has a longer reach than Georges. I haven’t measured it myself and you never know with the fluctuations in reach stats.
“He’s got a very good pitter-patter style and he’s hard to counter. Georges has never faced a guy like that.”