Firas Zahabi, who is the head honcho at Montreal’s Tristar gym, is renowned as one of the finest coaches in mixed martial arts. Given that he’s the man behind dominant forces like Georges St-Pierre and Rory MacDonald, and the teacher of talents like Joanne Calderwood, Joe Duffy, Nordine Taleb and Zach Makovsky, that reputation should come as no surprise.
In addition to being one of MMA’s finest coaches, Zahabi is also an astute analyst. On Monday, Zahabi flexed his analyst muscles, sharing an interesting breakdown of Conor McGregor and Eddie Alvarez’s November 12 lightweight title fight. You can watch that video above.
Perhaps the most interesting point of this 55-minute video is when Zahabi weighs in on the cardio issues that appeared to trouble McGregor over the course of his two record-breaking 2016 scraps with Nate Diaz.
In this segment (transcribed by Bloody Elbow), Zahabi speculated that McGregor will not have enough time to correct these cardio problems before he fights Alvarez.
“I personally think it’s too quick of a turnaround [for McGregor],” Zahabi said in the video. “Because in his last fight against Nate [in August], he showed he has a lot to fix, still.”
“In round 2 [of the first Diaz fight] he completely faded,” he continued. “The same kind of thing happened in the second fight. He found a second wind and came back, so there’s improvement, but his cardio still isn’t bullet proof. His composure still isn’t bullet proof. His ability to fight 5 rounds, for me, I still think needs a lot of work and needs to be addressed. And I don’t think he has the time to address this in his fight.”
“He won’t have time. Expect his abilities to be pretty much the same, his cardiovascular abilities.”
Given that he expects McGregor to enter his bout with Alvarez with a cardio deficit, Zahabi believes the Irishman should go for the kill from the opening bell, rather than attempt to pace himself as he did in the Diaz rematch.
“I think he would be wise to try and knock out Eddie in the first round. Don’t try to pace yourself with Eddie,” Zahabi explained.
“I don’t think he is going to be able to slow down the pace against Eddie Alvarez,” he continued. “It’s going to be a hard, punishing fight in rounds 3, 4, and 5. If they go to rounds 3, 4 and 5, the pace will be high and it’s will be Eddie pushing the pace.”
“I think if he does win this fight, it’s how he always wins his big fights.” he said. “Early. He needs to get back to that, and forget about pacing. Do or die, rounds 1 or 2.”
“It’s all happening for McGregor in Round 1 and 2,” Zahabi continued. “That’s where his talent is. That’s what brought him to the top. That’s what made him famous.”
Do you agree with Zahabi’s assessment of McGregor’s chances? Sound off, PENN Nation!