Firas Zahabi is one of the most well renowned coaches in the sport of MMA. He is known for training many UFC fighters and turning them into championship caliber warriors. However Zahabi is specially known for being the coach of former two-division champion and one of the greatest of all time in Georges St-Pierre.
The St-Pierre-Zahabi, partnership is known for their dominance throughout the entire welterweight division. However behind the glamour are some gruesome training sessions put by St-Pierre. Zahabi said he offered money to St-Pierre’s training partners to go hard at him. Zahabi explained his training philosophy when he appeared on Joe Rogan’s ‘JRE MMA Show’ Podcast.
“We reach those high intensity levels periodically through the year, and we have to do it a certain way so that it’s fun. Georges was on your show, and he was saying I was trying to kill him in the practice room. He’s right, but I do it so rarely. I do it so periodically. I make it a joke. I brought the guys in a room, and I was watching them spar with Georges, and they don’t want to touch his face. This is when he was like a mega-star, when he was the champ. Nobody wants to try to double leg him; nobody wants to try to hurt him. They’re like, ‘I’m not going to come here in his house and try to show him.’ There’s a respect thing. They’re starstruck, these young kids.
“I would bring in these young kids, and I would be like, ‘Listen, guys.’ I would give them a speech: ‘The first guy to double leg him, the first guy to put him out, I’ll give a $5,000 reward. If you knock Georges out, I’ll give you 5,000 bucks. If you put Georges on his back, if you take him down, put him on his back, I’ll stop the whole practice and praise you for 20 minutes in front of everybody in the gym.’ And students don’t get praised by me very often. Georges would be like, ‘Oh my God, these guys are coming after me!’ So he would get riled up. I would do this periodically. We’re talking about world title fights, stuff’s on the line. I need these guys to show me where Georges is missing something. Because when you’re having this ‘perfect practice,’ and you win all the time, what do you work on? Nothing went wrong, there’s nothing to fix. So there were times I would really red-light him.”
Zahabi also recalled the time when St-Pierre got rocked badly but the money was not on the line.
“He’s been dropped once in practice pretty badly. But the money wasn’t on the line that time. There was no prize for that. One time he got dropped in practice, and I wanted to pull the plug. It was for a world title fight. He was fighting Dan Hardy.”