When it comes to breaking down a fight, who better to ask than a world-renowned film junkie and MMA trainer who has prepared fighters for both of the competitors? That's why Connor and Pat asked Firas Zahabi, head of the world class Tristar Gym and trainer of such men as Georges St-Pierre and Rory MacDonald, to analyze the main event of UFC 181, a welterweight title clash between Johny Hendricks and Robbie Lawler.
Zahabi cornered Rory MacDonald against Robbie Lawler last year, a fight which Lawler ultimately won, sealing his claim to a shot at the belt. Before that, Zahabi prepared then-champion Georges St-Pierre for now-champion Johny Hendricks, a bout that would prove to be GSP's toughest, and final title defense. Firas was kind enough to break down both fighters for us today.
On the subject of Robbie Lawler, Zahabi believes that he has seen a great deal of improvement as Lawler has aged and matured.
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"Robbie Lawler . . . has added a lot of new things to his game recently," Zahabi told us. "Early on in his career he was just a big puncher who would sprawl . . . but the fight with Ellenberger there was an incredible amount of kicking. Butterfly guard against Koscheck--things he didn't do in the past that, you know, made wins easy for him."
Zahabi thinks that this rematch could play out very differently from the first fight, which was a front-runner for 2014's Fight of the Year. "Two things," the Tristar boss began. "One, Lawler's been very busy, Hendricks has been injured--who knows what that's going to look like? And two, these guys both punch really hard. I wouldn't be surprised if it ended in round one . . . it's just too unpredictable."
As for his own fighters, Zahabi believes that Rory MadDonald will be better than ever before when he faces the winner of Saturday's title scrap. On who he'd rather pit his star fighter against?
"I honestly don't have a preference," Zahabi said. "Obviously when you're fighting for a title you have to fight the best guy. So whoever is that guy, let Rory fight him."
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