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‘Philosopher’ Zahabi may be the best trainer in the game

Steve Cofield
Cagewriter

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If you think Georges St-Pierre is the most cerebral fighter in the game look no further than his coaches Greg Jackson and Firas Zahabi. They may be the best in the business and not because they understand the technique/physical side of things, but they're constantly trying to master the mental side.

Starting at 15 years old, Zahabi trained to be a fighter and then moved outside the cage as a trainer at 26. In between he went to Concordia University and majored in philosophy, which has a huge influence on how he handles his fighters.

"Philosophy's the root of all thinking. It's epistemology, learning how you know things. And I always thought it the fundamental building block of any science," Zahabi told Neil Davidson from the Canadian Press. "And I use philosophy every day. My training is always predicated on why. I cross-examine what type of reasoning is used to get to this conclusion. I think it's the key to success — proper, rational training methods. We do a lot of different, radical things that a lot of people don't do."

Zahabi is always looking to broaden his knowledge so he even listens to audio books on his daily ride to and from TriStar Gym in Montreal. Davidson says Zahabi's recent reads include: "A Short History of Nearly Everything" by Bill Bryson, "The 33 Strategies of War" by Robert Greene, and Plato's "Symposium."

What makes Zahabi so good and trusted by elite fighters like  St-Pierre, Kenny Florian and Miguel Torres is that he's also hands on. He's still a fighter at heart. Zahabi, 31, just earned his own black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.{ysp:more}

"The thing about Firas that makes his such a good coach is because he's always evolving himself. . . . He's not only a great coach, he's a great fighter. I always believed he would have been a great a fighter if he chose that route but he chose the coaching route," says lightweight John Makdessi.

Zahabi is going to be a busy man on Saturday night at UFC 129. He's worked with GSP, Torres, Makdessi, Yves Jabouin and Rory MacDonald leading up to the card at the Rogers Centre.

The GSP-Jake Shields fight should be the ultimate chess match in and out of the cage. It pits two great fighters from two very good game planning camps in TriStar versus Cesar Gracie.

You can watch UFC 129 on PPV (9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT) right here on Yahoo! Sports.

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