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Firas Zahabi comments on Georges St-Pierre-Nick Diaz hand wrap spat


Throughout UFC 158 fight week, Nick Diaz and his camp tried to get into Georges St-Pierre's head.

The games didn't stop on fight night. Before their welterweight title bout at Montreal's Bell Centre, a representative from Diaz's corner, Jake Shields, attempted to stir a controversy over St-Pierre's hand wraps.

Ultimately, the ploy didn't work, as St-Pierre cruised to his 11th straight victory and eighth straight successful title defense. But on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour, the champion's lead trainer, Firas Zahabi, went in depth with the Tri Star camp's side of the dispute.

"I was outside, when [Tri Star fighter] Mike Ricci was fighting," Zahabi said. "So right when I came in, I saw Jake Shields waiting at the door, so I said hello to him. I didn't know what he doing there, and when I walked into the room they were like ‘hey, they're not letting us, they're interrupting us.' I was more than happy, but they told me they already did come in and check the hand wraps, so I said, you know what, not more than that, because it will never end."

Zahabi knew if he continued to let Diaz's camp question St-Pierre's hand wraps, things had the potential to spiral out of control.

"Then it will be checking his cup," he said. "Then it will be checking his shorts, then, what else, we're warming up here, you don't have infinite time to warm up. We're going to go through a routine, we're not going to be interrupted, the commission came in and said ‘please do check it again.' The referee came in and checked the gloves and I said ‘you know what, bring NASA, if someone from the NASA office is out there, bring them in and let them check anybody who wants to check anything, you can have the hand wraps after the fight. You can have the gloves, send them to any laboratory you want, bring VADA in here right after, before, during, after.' But I don't want them to call the shots. I don't want them to tell me when we're warming up and when we're not warming up."

Now that the fight's out of the way, Zahabi isn't afraid to admit that Diaz did, in fact, get under his fighter's skin sometimes, although they end up playing all the distractions up for laughs.

"He was annoyed, I won't lie," Zahabi said. "But then the annoyance turned to laughter. We kind of started making fun of the whole situation. We're kind of laughing at the whole dialogue. Both of them don't understand each other. Both of them crack jokes and make fun of them, what a crazy fiasco it all was. We kind of tried to lighten up the mood. At the end of the day, it was just that they both didn't understand what the other was saying. It's just a mind-boggling conversation, one guy's talking street and the other French Canadian English you need a really unique interpreter to explain it all, it's incredible."

With the fight out of the way, Zahabi and St-Pierre now consider everything that went down water under the bridge.

"Georges is a very forgiving guy, he lets it go," Zahabi said. "He's one of those guys who, he doesn't like to hold a grudge, he doesn't like negativity. Even if Nick called him names after the fight, Georges is the kind of guy who, he has a tremendous respect for anyone get in there and made it that far. Georges had respect for everybody. If you're going to make it that far, it wasn't easy getting there, and Georges has a lot of respect for the guy who trains that far hard and gets that far."

St-Pierre, who Zahabi said was running a slight fever on the day of the show, wasn't able to finish Diaz, which meant the champ went to his seventh consecutive decision. Zahabi, though, turns the criticism back around on the critics.

"You try to finish Nick Diaz, you know?" he said. "When was he finished? When was Carlos Condit ever finished? Hendricks is a great finisher, he couldn't finish him. Don't get me wrong, he won the fight, but he couldn't finish him and neither could Georges. I'm not saying he couldn't next time, but these guys are hard to finish? Is it easy to do? No, it's extremely hard. Sometimes it's not within your capacity. Georges was not able to finish him. He's going to go back to the drawing boards, and we're all going to try to do our best for the next fight. At the end of the day if you can finish the guy, and not go to the judges, you do it."

The champ will take a break after tough back-to-back title defenses against Condit and Diaz. But the talk has already begun about GSP's next challenger, Johny Hendricks, and whether Hendricks is the toughest challenge St-Pierre has faced to date.

"Hendricks does really well with his left hand, he does beautiful," the Montreal-based trainer said. "If Georges can neutralize left hand, he can do well with him. It's all a matter of styles. It could be, it could be Goerges' toughest fight. I always consider the next fight the toughest fight, but until it happens, I'll tell your after. For now, Jake Shields was the toughest fight, let's see if Hendricks can do better than Jake."

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