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Trainer offered $5,000 reward for knockout of Georges St-Pierre during sparring sessions

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Georges St-Pierre has never been knocked clean out throughout his storied mixed martial arts (MMA) career, much less during training sessions. But it wasn’t for a lack of trying from some of his sparring partners, as they had thousands of reasons to do so.

5000, to be exact.

That’s the prize money head trainer Firas Zahabi offered to training partners if they scored a knockout over the former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight and Middleweight champion of the world.

“We reach those high intensity levels periodically through the year, and we have to do it a certain way so that it’s fun,” said Firas during a recent appearance on The Joe Rogan Experience podcast (via MMA Junkie). “Georges was on your show, and he was saying I was trying to kill him in the practice room. He’s right, but I do it so rarely. I do it so periodically. I make it a joke,” he added.

“I brought the guys in a room, and I was watching them spar with Georges, and they don’t want to touch his face. This is when he was like a mega-star, when he was the champ. Nobody wants to try to double leg him; nobody wants to try to hurt him. They’re like, ‘I’m not going to come here in his house and try to show him.’ There’s a respect thing. They’re starstruck, these young kids.”

To light a financial fire under them, Zahabi reached into his pockets and offered them a large sum of coin if they took it to “Rush” and manage to land a knockout blow.

“I would bring in these young kids, and I would be like, ‘Listen, guys.’ I would give them a speech: ‘The first guy to double leg him, the first guy to put him out, I’ll give a $5,000 reward. If you knock Georges out, I’ll give you 5,000 bucks,” he added. “If you put Georges on his back, if you take him down, put him on his back, I’ll stop the whole practice and praise you for 20 minutes in front of everybody in the gym.’”

“And students don’t get praised by me very often. Georges would be like, ‘Oh my God, these guys are coming after me!’ So he would get riled up. I would do this periodically. We’re talking about world title fights, stuff’s on the line. I need these guys to show me where Georges is missing something. Because when you’re having this ‘perfect practice,’ and you win all the time, what do you work on? Nothing went wrong, there’s nothing to fix. So there were times I would really red-light him,” he concluded, before saying he never had to pay anyone the prize money.

That said, he did admit St-Pierre was once rocked very bad and may have suffered a concussion two weeks prior to his world title fight against Dan Hardy at UFC 111.

“He’s been dropped once in practice pretty badly. But the money wasn’t on the line that time. There was no prize for that. One time he got dropped in practice, and I wanted to pull the plug. It was for a world title fight. He was fighting Dan Hardy”

I can only imagine how much more tense the sessions would've been had it been St-Pierre’s money on the line. Now that’s motivation.