On a night of major surprises, it was the main event that led to one of the biggest stunners of UFC 217.
After a lengthy hiatus, Georges St-Pierre came back to the sport in a division he had never competed in for a title fight many thought was unwarranted. But he made the most of the opportunity before him, and a lot of the credit goes to smart cornering from his team.
Lead coach and Tristar founder Firas Zahabi, along with legendary boxing coach Freddie Roach, both provided their expertise and led St-Pierre to become the fourth UFC champion to hold gold in two divisions. That part we know, we saw it with our own eyes. Yet how it happened is important, and we’re here to break down what was said between rounds to ensure St-Pierre would elevate his status beyond merely one of the best. Below, we’ve provided a transcript of what was said to topple former middleweight champion Michael Bisping.
[Round one ends, St-Pierre takes a seat]
Firas Zahabi: Georges listen to me: he doesn’t see the mawashi (mawashi geri), left side. With your left leg, your left leg. He doesn’t see it. But only when he’s backing up, only. Not when he’s coming forward. Keep him guessing, variety. One shot, two shots at a time. Not more. Don’t go in the pocket. Freddie?
Freddie Roach: Be selective. Use your feints a little bit. Use your feints a little bit.
Zahabi: You hit him two times with the overhand right already. You hit him two times. And a jab. [Continues in French, resumes in English] Keep his feet moving. Let’s go. Keep his feet moving.
[GSP is now off the stool, ready for the next round as cornermen leave the cage]
Zahabi: Thank you Freddie. Great job. I was 100% for him, for sure. 10-9, that round.
[After the horn for round two, Zahabi and Roach had seen some openings that they wanted to exploit]
Zahabi: Georgie, right over here. Round three is coming up. OK, sit down. Look at me. Look at me... [to someone else] give me the towel...? Water is coming, OK? Water is coming. Georges, look at me - when you need to make space, go southpaw. When you need to make space — ‘cuz you’re circling towards the right. His best shot, the only shot he has is the right hand. Water’s coming, OK? Freddie... The only shot he’s got is the right hand.
Roach: [Unintelligible at first] Throw the hook and then the right hand behind it, then you're outta there.
Zahabi: Go southpaw if you need to, OK? if you need space and time. When you southpaw, throw the hook kick, the lead hook kick. He’s gotta go southpaw sometimes, he’s getting too much in an inside fight. He needs to create distance.
After that, St-Pierre’s mouthpiece was put back into place. History was then made in the third, when St-Pierre dropped Bisping and eventually finished him via submission.