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Firas Zahabi: I was sure Georges St-Pierre had a concussion entering the Dan Hardy fight

According to Firas Zahabi, Georges St-Pierre entered the Dan Hardy title fight with a concussion, after being dropped in training.

Recently, Tristar Gym head coach Firas Zahabi revealed one of his unorthodox training methods with Georges St-Pierre. One of them was encouraging training partners to knock out or put the two-division UFC champion on his back, in exchange for $5,000.

Apparently, one of those training partners did drop St-Pierre pretty badly during training, but the wager was not on the table at the time. However, it did leave GSP with a concussion two weeks out from his UFC 111 title defense against Dan Hardy in 2010.

During the most recent episode of the JRE MMA Show, Zahabi recounted that moment during training when he admitted that he was close to ending that particular sparring session. But thinking that doing so would dampen St-Pierre’s confidence, he instead opted for another solution.

“There was one more round (of sparring), and he said to me ‘Coach, let me finish the round, I’m okay. Let me finish the next round,’” Zahabi told Joe Rogan. “And I felt that if I pulled it, I would’ve killed his confidence, totally. So I said ‘Okay, you could do the next round.”

“And I told the other guy he was sparring with, ‘Don’t land a single glove.’ I whispered it to him, ‘Not a single glove on him. Just take a mauling.’ And Georges went in that next round, not knowing that the other guy was not allowed to hit him at all.”

Towards the end of that practice session, Zahabi was certain that St-Pierre was concussed, when the latter did not know what day it was at the time. This has led to major adjustments for the fight itself.

“The UFC was there filming,” Zahabi recalled. “So I had to go ‘Look, guys, that footage can never air. That footage has got to disappear.’ And they were like ‘Yeah, don’t worry, we understand the fight’s on the line.’

“That’s why that fight, he was doing a lot of wrestling. We didn’t want to even chance – I was sure he had a concussion when he went in that fight.”

Zahabi was aware of the possible criticisms that could have been thrown at him for letting St-Pierre enter a five-round title fight with a concussion. But in the end, he left it up for his fighter to decide.

“I just let the fighter decide now unless I really feel it’s urgent,” Zahabi explained. “Which is rare that I’ve had to actually intervene, because at the end of the day, when are you 100%? It rarely happens. There’s always something.”

“That left hook (from Hardy), if it would’ve touched Georges, Georges would’ve been out like a light,” he added. “He’s got a crazy left hook, plus, Georges was hurt two weeks before. Thank God it worked out well.”

St-Pierre ended up defeating Hardy via unanimous decision, marking his fourth title defense since unifying the UFC welterweight title against Matt Serra two years prior.