According to Tristar head coach Firas Zahabi, former UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre is likely to have sustained a concussion just two weeks out from his battle with Dan Hardy. Zahabi believes St-Pierre sustained this injury in a sparring session. Worried that ending this sparring session could diminish St-Pierre’s confidence, however, Zahabi allowed it continue — with a stipulation.
He explained on a recent appearance on the JRE MMA Show.
“There was one more round (of sparring), and he said to me ‘Coach, let me finish the round, I’m okay. Let me finish the next round,’” Zahabi said (transcribed by Milan Ordoñez for Bloody Elbow). “And I felt that if I pulled it, I would’ve killed his confidence, totally. So I said ‘Okay, you could do the next round.”
“I told the other guy he was sparring with, ‘Don’t land a single glove.’ I whispered it to him, ‘Not a single glove on him. Just take a mauling.’ And Georges went in that next round, not knowing that the other guy was not allowed to hit him at all.”
“The UFC was there filming,” Zahabi added. “So I had to go ‘Look, guys, that footage can never air. That footage has got to disappear.’ And they were like ‘Yeah, don’t worry, we understand the fight’s on the line.’
Zahabi continued, explaining that by the end of the sparring session, he was quite sure St-Pierre was concussed. In the end, however, the fight went ahead as planned, but with a game-plan that assured St-Pierre would have to take as little damage as possible.
“That’s why, [in] that fight, he was doing a lot of wrestling. We didn’t want to even chance – I was sure he had a concussion when he went in that fight.”
While Zahabi understands that his choice to let St-Pierre fight through is injury could be deemed controversial and even reckless, he maintains that it’s up to the fighter whether or not the fight goes ahead as planned.
“I just let the fighter decide now unless I really feel it’s urgent,” Zahabi explained. “Which is rare that I’ve had to actually intervene, because at the end of the day, when are you 100%? It rarely happens. There’s always something.”
“That left hook [from Hardy], if it would’ve touched Georges, Georges would’ve been out like a light,” he added. “He’s got a crazy left hook, plus, Georges was hurt two weeks before. Thank God it worked out well.”
What do you think of Firas Zahabi’s choice to let Georges St-Pierre fight through a concussion?
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 6/22/2018.