Tristar head coach Firas Zahabi says that when former UFC middleweight and welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre was at the peak of his MMA superstardom, his training partners would often become star-struck by him, and dial back their sparring with him as a result. To ensure that St-Pierre got more aggressive versions of these star-struck training partners, Zahabi would offer $5,000 to anybody who could put the champ down.
“We reach those high intensity levels periodically through the year, and we have to do it a certain way so that it’s fun,” Zahabi told Joe Rogan on The JRE MMA Show (transcribed by Mike Bohn for MMAjunkie). “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.”
What do you think of this strategy from Georges St-Pierre’s coach?
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 6/20/2018.