Trainer Firas Zahabi has been with Georges St. Pierre for years.
He knows how hard the UFC welterweight champion works, and in a recent interview with the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Cheap Seats” show, Zahabi explained why GSP’s preparation can’t be sustained for several more years of competition.
The trainer also discussed the use of the jab in MMA and more.
On whether St. Pierre is less likely than other champs to be fighting when he’s 35: “I think so because his training camps are not sustainable forever. His training camps are very difficult. I’ve done a lot of training camps. I could tell you the energy, time and money and hours spent doing a GSP training camp is ridiculous. It’s borderline insane. There’s a lot of effort going into preparing him for his fights. Can he live this lifestyle for another four or five years? I don’t know. Because it’s not a balanced lifestyle. It’s not a balanced lifestyle for him.
“He’s giving up a lot of free time and leisure time and experiences he could be having in life to maintain his title, to maintain this excellence. It’s a difficult thing to do. He’s going to have to make that choice one fight at a time. Does he want to go through another training camp? Right now at this time, yes, for sure. There’s no doubt in my mind he wants to do another one, but down the line, two or three more training camps, is he still going to want to do it? That’s up to him. Does he still have the fire and the passion? We’ll see.”
On the idea of St. Pierre cleaning out the welterweight division: “They always say that. They’ve been saying that since the B.J. Penn fight at UFC 94. ‘There’s nobody else, there’s nobody else.’ There’s always a guy that pops up. Jake Ellenberger looked great, and then there’s going to be another guy. There’s Demian Maia. Demian Maia’s on a win streak. There’s always an up-and-comer. You can’t forget that every time there’s a show, the deck gets shuffled. That’s why I don’t really believe there’s nobody else. Look at Robbie Lawler, for instance. He had a tremendous win. Very impressive win. That guy can hit you with one punch and it’s over. Same thing with Jake Ellenberger, same thing with [Johny] Hendricks.
“There are so many studs out there. Tomorrow, when you run out of them, the next day you’ll find a new guy with a great performance, like Erick Silva, for instance. I’m sure he’s going to go on a winning streak. He just lost to Jon Fitch. I wouldn’t be surprised if he wins three, four fights in a row. I wouldn’t be surprised at all. It wouldn’t shock me the least bit, and he could become a No. 1 contender. There’s always going to be another guy. There’s too many good guys out there. I think it’s a myth that the division can be cleaned out.”
On the jab in MMA: “Everybody kind of thinks they know how to jab, but they really don’t. A lot of times you show them the real jabbing mechanics, different types of jabs for different types of situations, and I haven’t come across many MMA fighters that are familiar with the system of jabbing. … It’s very complex. It’s not that simple. When to jab, how to jab, the context. When can you jab without paying for it? Without getting clipped? Without getting countered?
“You saw Georges jab [Nick] Diaz beautifully. It was a good punch to keep Diaz on his heels. Diaz, once he gets going with two-, three-punch combinations, then it becomes an avalanche of flurries and you can’t stop him. Once he gets going like that, you can’t stop him. Georges used the jab not to even let him get going. He cut him off, just like he did with [Josh] Koscheck. Sometimes the jab is called for, and sometimes it’s not. The biggest weakness to a jab is the kick. If a guy’s a powerful kicker, it’s hard to jab. Like [Carlos] Condit is a little bit harder to jab because he has such a powerful kick. A round kick could beat a jab, but any punch will lose to a jab. If you throw an uppercut and I throw a jab correctly, I’ll beat your uppercut. I’ll beat your hook. I’ll beat your overhand right. If I jab correctly, a jab should cut off any punch.”
Listen to the full interview (beginning at 1:06:56).