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Firas Zahabi: I’d be surprised if Khabib ‘gets more than one takedown’ against GSP

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Firas Zahabi doesn’t think Khabib Nurmagomedov would be able to hold Georges St-Pierre down for long.

Georges St-Pierre Press Conference Photo by Don Arnold/WireImage

Georges St-Pierre retired earlier this year because the UFC wasn’t interested in booking a superfight against Khabib Nurmagomedov, but Tristar head coach Firas Zahabi just can’t get the fight out of his head.

Speaking to FightTips in a recent interview (h/t MMA Fighting), Zahabi gave an in-depth analysis of the match-up and explained why he thinks St-Pierre would have the advantage over Khabib. The Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt and MMA mastermind believes ‘Rush’ is the superior striker and would be able to stuff the majority of Nurmagomedov’s takedowns.

“I think so. I think it’s a possibility,” Zahabi said of the matchup. “Listen, I don’t want to talk for the guy but I don’t think he’s done. I just he’s so competitive that one day he’s gonna see a guy that everyone thinks is unbeatable and then he’s going to want to come back. Khabib’s one of those guys but it has to be like a 165 fight. Will the UFC do it? That’s the question.”

“There’s no way I can tell you I’m not biased,” Zahabi said. “I’m biased for sure. But I think Georges just his kicking ability alone, his kicking ability alone will bank him rounds. They’re both good jabbers. I think Khabib is a good jabber but defensively, Georges is far superior. His boxing is longer and better, more precise - if you look at it statistically, his numbers are better - and he has a superior kicking ability.

“Even if Khabib were to take Georges down - let’s give him the best case scenario - I think Georges is getting up, personally. He’s going to get up. Georges’ jiu-jitsu is impeccable. It’s impeccable. It’s not gonna be like holding down anybody in the 155 division today. It’s another level. Georges, even if Khabib gets him down - and I love Khabib, I’m a mega Khabib fan, as a person and as a fighter, I’m a huge fan of his - Georges’ ability to get up is incredible and I’ll be surprised if Khabib gets more than one takedown. It would shock me, it would surprise me to be honest with you. Georges is incredibly hard to take down. Look at his career, how many times did he get taken down? And when he was taken down, how long did he stay down? It was a fraction of a second. He’s always up. He’s a difficult human being to keep down.”

During his prime, St-Pierre was widely considered the best wrestler in MMA and one of the most well-rounded strikers in the sport. Nurmagomedov is a little more one-dimensional but the undefeated Dagestani is just as, if not more, dominant than the former UFC welterweight king.

Khabib will return to the Octagon later this year to defend his lightweight title against Tony Ferguson at UFC 249. The highly anticipated pay-per-view takes place on April 18 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.