The longtime head coach of Georges St-Pierre and other notable names in the MMA space was a viewer — like 1.8 million others — of the UFC’s most recent pay-per-view event, which saw Poirier earn a doctor’s stoppage TKO win after McGregor suffered a broken tibia in the closing seconds of the opening round.
Heading into the trilogy fight, and in the event’s aftermath, things got ugly when it came to McGregor’s thoughts and comments about Poirier. Zahabi has been around long enough to know there’s a fine line between fight promotion and taking it too far.
“If [McGregor] has a single true friend in this world, that true friend is going to take him behind closed doors and tell him, ‘Look, the way you’re behaving, it’s stupid. ‘You’re making yourself look bad. You’re embarrassing us, your family, your friends,’” Zahabi said on the Tristar YouTube Page. “It’s just a humiliating way for a true martial artist, a warrior, to behave.
“He’s going after kids now. If that was anybody else, if that was a guy on a prelim card, we would all be like, ‘Kick this guy off the roster, kick this guy out of the UFC,’ but because it’s Conor McGregor, you can’t say that. It’s Conor McGregor, he’s the poster boy, he’s the one who sells all the tickets. No! There’s no pass for that.”
McGregor has now been finished in two straight fights, and three of his last four. The UFC 264 press conference saw a fired up McGregor hurling insults at Poirier to try and rattle his opponent — even using Poirier’s wife as a tool for his verbal warfare — which is something Zahabi was not fond of.
“I was really grossed out,” Zahabi stated. “I don’t know how you guys can be fans of this man. I respect him as a fighter. I respect his skills, I can’t deny that, but the way he behaved at the press conference was just horrible.”
With a 2-1 lead in the series over McGregor, Poirier is now expected to face Charles Oliveira later this year for the lightweight title. “The Diamond” will look to find success in his second opportunity to become an undisputed champion after suffering a submission loss against Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 242. Poirier also has stated that at some point, he and McGregor will fight again.
In Zahabi’s eyes, McGregor’s antics didn’t stem from gamesmanship, but from jealousy.
“Whatever beef you have there, you can’t take it and start threatening to kill each other and then start threatening each other’s children, team members and whatnot,” Zahabi explained. “That’s just animal behavior. Then to say what he said about Poirier’s wife? It’s disgusting.
“He’s so angry and jealous of Poirier. He will say and do anything to try and insult Poirier, try to take away this moment off Poirier. Listen, Poirier has beaten you, he’s a better fighter than you. He will be remembered as a better fighter than you.”