Firas Zahabi, Georges Saint-Pierre’s coach is the ultimate master in the ancestral art of building his fighters’ confidence, even if he has to manipulate them a bit. As part of a special MMA podcast with Joe Rogan, Firas explained how he tricked GSP when he wasn’t doing so well when sparring in training, two weeks before a world title fight.
“Have you ever had anyone knock him out in practice and take that money?”
“No, he’s been dropped once in practice pretty badly. And it’s a funny story 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, two weeks before his fight. I was sure he was concussed. And I said ‘Georges, I’m pulling the round’, there was one more round. He said to me, ‘Coach, let me finish the round, I’m okay. Let me finish the next round.’ And I felt that if I pulled him, I would have killed his confidence totally.
So, I said ‘Okay, you can do the next round. And I told the other guy he was sparring with, ‘don’t land a single glove,’ like I whispered it to him. ‘Not a single glove on him. Just take a mauling.’ And Georges went in the next round not knowing that the other guy is not allowed to hit him at all. And he just crushes the guy right. He just mauls him. And I was really really grateful for the other guy, he was a pro. And I was very very grateful that he took the beating that we asked him to. Georges after he was like, ‘Man, I know it went bad in Round 4 but in Round 5 was amazing, I was on fire in Round 5!’ And I said, ‘You were, you were.’”
A little white lie never hurt anyone.