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Firas Zahabi: GSP Already Back in Training, Should Face Jake Shields Next

Despite going five full rounds in another successful title defense at UFC 124 on Saturday night, UFC welterweight champ Georges St. Pierre isn't taking time off to savor the win. According to head trainer Firas Zahabi, St. Pierre is in New York this week to continue his training just days after defeating Josh Koscheck via unanimous decision in Montreal.

"We love the sport, we love what we do. Georges loves the sport. It's on our mind 24 hours a day," Zahabi explained to MMA Fighting's Ariel Helwani on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour.

"This is a vacation for him. This is a pleasure. It's not going to be training like we're training for a fight. It's not close to a fight, so training's going to be more pleasurable and more cerebral, maybe a little less physical since his body does need to rest. But it's still going to be physical and it's true enjoyment."

While Zahabi admitted that the coach in him can always find room for improvement, as a fan he said he found GSP's performance on Saturday "brilliant," adding, "I think he's really something special, one of the best that the sport has ever seen and will ever see."

However, that doesn't mean they don't still have some things to work on this week, said Zahabi.

"He did have trouble holding down Koscheck, and that's definitely something we're going to be working on in the next camp. Georges is actually back in training today working on those things, and we want to make sure that next time he takes somebody down he'll be able to hold them down at all costs."

As for his fighter's inability to finish his opponent, Zahabi chalked it up to a consequence of Koscheck's toughness – not a lack of effort from St. Pierre, as some might assume after the one-sided affair.

"Koscheck's a tough guy with a lot of heart. If anybody thinks that, let them go in the Octagon and try to knock out Josh Koscheck. It's not an easy feat. Sometimes things play out that way and sometimes they don't. It's just the chemistry between both fighters."

While the details regarding St. Pierre's next UFC bout are still uncertain, Zahabi made it clear that he'd rather see his fighter stay at welterweight and face former Strikeforce champion Jake Shields before considering a move up to middleweight to take on Anderson Silva.

"I think Jake Shields is more than deserving," Zahabi said. "He beat Dan Henderson in a heavier weight class. The guy's record is impeccable. His skill is impeccable. His jiu-jitsu is unbelievable. I'm very excited for that fight. I think that's going to be an incredible match-up."

Win or lose against St. Pierre, Zahabi added, Shields will eventually "go on a tear" in the UFC and get the respect he deserves. But for St. Pierre to leave the division without facing him first would be leave unfinished business in the welterweight class, according to Zahabi.

"I think he should fight Jake Shields, because Jake Shields definitely has his right. He's earned his spot as number one contender, whoever goes on to be champion in the welterweight division, it will always leave a gap there. It will always leave something undone. If Georges were to move up, it would be better for him to finish his business in the welterweight division, either clean the division out or have a loss."

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