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Firas Zahabi: One head trainer, five fighters competing at UFC 129 in Toronto


Firas Zahabu, who runs Tristar Gym in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, has his hands full this weekend.

Overflowing, actually.

The 31-year-old "philosopher-coach" has to prepare UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre for his main event fight against Jake Shields at UFC 129, as well as four other fighters competing at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on April 30.

John Makdessi, who fights Kyle WatsonRory MacDonald, who fights Nate Diaz, Yves Jabouin, who fights Pablo Garza, and Ivan Menjivar, who fights Charlie Valencia, have all enlisted the services of the former Canadian Muay Thai champion.

Talk about a tall order.

But Zahabi takes it all in stride, telling The Canadian Press at a recent promotional appearance on behalf of Gatorade, that the energy level inside his gym is the best its ever been.

Here's a snip:

"Luckily for me I have a lot of good coaches ... because I can't be everywhere at once, that's the reality of it. But the good thing is that when you have five guys competing on one card, the energy level and the competitiveness in the gym is greater than you've ever seen. You spar differently when you have a fight than when you're just helping someone out. So the intensity's been extremely high...."

Those coaches include Peter Sisomphou, Eric O'Keefe, Gia Sissaouri, Bruno Fernandes, John Danaher, Phil Nurse and another guy who you may have heard of before, Greg Jackson.

Not a bad a support system. At all. But even with all that All-Star talent, Zahabi still feels the pressure to perform:

"It's stressful, because I feel responsible for my fighters and I feel responsible for their preparation, so I really like to seem the succeed. I care for them. You spend a lot of time with somebody, you want to see them succeed."

Easier said than done ... especially when you have the hopes of 55,000 Canadian faithful fans resting on your shoulders. At least 50 percent of it, anyway.

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