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Firas Zahabi believes Georges St-Pierre could return in 2016: 'I think he cannot stay away'

It's not a Joe Namath-type guarantee, but it still perks the ears.

Speaking with Ariel Helwani on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour, Tristar Gym head coach Firas Zahabi commented on the future of UFC welterweight legend Georges St-Pierre, saying that the former 170-pound king could potentially come back in 2016.

"I personally think, if you ask me my own personal opinion, I think he cannot stay away," Zahabi said. "I think he’ll eventually get bit by the bug and he’ll eventually do something spontaneous. That’s just Georges."

Forced to pick – yes or no – Zahabi chose the option that will most delight fans across the globe.

"I would say yes [GSP will return in 2016], if I had to venture," Zahabi said. "Keep my comments in context. If I had to venture, I would say yeah, he comes back in 2016. Again, it’s no guarantee. I’m not confirming that...I think he’s a motivated guy, I think he’s in shape, I think for him it’s just the fight that excites him. That’s all that he needs."

That last part seems to be the key. Throughout the chat, Zahabi reiterated the fact that the deciding factor in St-Pierre's return will be the man standing opposite him inside the Octagon. While St-Pierre continues to train and polish his skills regularly, it will take a special matchup to really pull him back into the UFC for at least one more fight.

"Any fight [can] happen," Zahabi said. "It’s really up to what motivates Georges. That’s the only thing. Georges has won many titles, he’s been in many fights. There’s nothing for him to gain. He’s got plenty of money. There’s nothing for him to gain other than to do it for fun, to do it for the sheer pleasure. So if he finds something that’s fun and pleasurable, and he’s excited about doing, that’s what’s going to pull the trigger."

For many, it might seem odd to watch St-Pierre compete without a title on the line. The 34-year-old fighter held UFC gold from April 2008 until he announced his hiatus in December 2013 – a stretch of 10 fights and nine title defenses – but Zahabi is not sure the title will need to be part of the equation should St-Pierre compete again.

"I don’t know if that [a fight against current welterweight champion Robbie Lawler] motivates Georges," Zahabi said. "Lawler has lost to guys that Georges has already beat. Georges, I don’t know if he wants to be champion. I haven’t asked him, ‘Hey, do you want to be champion again? Do you want to have to defend your title over and over again?’ I don’t know if he wants to do those things. We didn’t really talk about that.

"It could be, I don’t know. Honestly, I haven’t talked to Georges about it."

In the end, the decision is 100 percent on St-Pierre. Zahabi will not force him or encourage him one way or the other. If the timing and the matchup is right, St-Pierre might pounce.

"It’s all on Georges’ motivation," Zahabi said. "But Georges, to say that, he’s a very spontaneous guy. I wouldn’t be surprised if tomorrow he calls me up and says, ‘I want to do this.’ It wouldn’t surprise me, because he’s a very spontaneous guy, so I think it’s just that motivation, that one fight that he’s going to be motivated to train for, the one training camp that he’s going to be excited to do, he’ll do it."

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