Firas Zahabi is best known as Georges St-Pierre’s long-time coach, guiding him throughout his decorated UFC career, and it seems that he didn’t take it easy on the superstar in training.
“I would bring in these young kids, and I would be like, ‘Listen, guys.’” Zahabi told Joe Rogan on his MMA Show podcast this week. “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.”
By the sounds of things, even with that added incentive GSP’s sparring partners still struggled to cope with the former welterweight and middleweight champion, but he does admit that there was one time when he did get rocked.
“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.”