"Oh – you want me to talk s--- about Miguel?" Tristar gym owner Firas Zahabi asks, a smile on his face. "I can do that!"
Zahabi is most famous for the work he does with St-Pierre, the UFC welterweight champ, but in the last 10 months, Zahabi has taken on a new challenge – revamping the fight game of former bantamweight kingpin Miguel Torres.
Zahabi has helped Torres earn back-to-back wins over Charlie Valencia and Antonio Banuelos, after he lost his WEC 135-pound title to Brian Bowles in August 2009, and followed that up by tapping for the first time in a bloody loss to Joseph Benavidez. Those were his first career loss via knockout, and first via tapout.
"I still think he's got a lot of potential left, and it's going to take some time to reach that," Zahabi said. "But I don't think he's anywhere near where he's going to be in the future."
"It's definitely his wrestling – I'll admit to that. I have no problem – I like to say the truth," Zahabi said. "But I'll tell you one thing: He's working very hard on that, and he's not going to be easy to take down. He's going to be even more difficult to hold down, and it's going to be very hard to stop his submissions. So I'm confident for this fight."
"He hasn't told me anything like that," Torres said. "Everything he tells me is pretty much negative – and that I'm garbage – so I can get better. But I feel like I'm getting better every day. When I came here, I saw what I was lacking in my game. I knew how much more I could pick up and how much better I could become."
"When I fought Benavidez, I had no wrestling skills whatsoever. Now it's been a year, and all I've been doing is wrestling. Every training camp involves wrestling. Every fight I go into involves wrestling. I'm very confident in my ability to stop takedowns and use counter-shots to take people down."
"Johnson shooting on me is the game plan. I want the guy to try to shoot on me. My whole strength is developed to hit guys – to force them to have to shoot. They can't touch me, they can't strike with me – the longer we stand, the more I win. The longer we stand, the more he has to shoot to win the round. So as he shoots, as he comes in to try and touch me, he's either going to get hit or he's going to get sprawled out. Once he gets sprawled out, he's going to give up his back or his neck. So for me, Demetrious shooting, him engaging me in a shot is going to result in me being able to use my full offense that has developed in the past year with Firas."
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Miguel Torres fights Demetrious Johnson fight on the prelim card of UFC 130 on May 28 from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The fight will air Spike's live prelims broadcast, which starts at 8 p.m. ET. PPV begins at the new start time of 9 p.m. ET
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