Aiemann Zahabi on Joe Duffy: “I call him The Irish GSP”

Brother of legendary Tristar head coach Firas Zahabi, Aiemann Zahabi, will make his long-awaited UFC debut tomorrow night in Halifax when he takes on TUF Brazil winner Reginaldo Vieira.

The youngest Zahabi brother has become one of Joe Duffy’s key training partners over in Montreal, and according to the UFC debutant, the Donegal man has come on leaps and bounds since his first promotional loss to Dustin Poirier last January.

“Joe loves Montreal, I think he wants to move his whole family out here,” said Zahabi. “He really likes the lifestyle and he likes the training.

“I was only telling him this week that if the Joe Duffy that fought Dustin Poirier fought the Joe Duffy of today, the older version of Joe would get eaten alive. That Joe Duffy is garbage compared to what we’re looking at now.”

Although Duffy is primarily known for his striking skillset, Zahabi highlighted that the Irish lightweight’s grappling has improved so much that he is now referring to him as ‘The Irish GSP’:

“I actually call him ‘The Irish GSP’ in the gym now. When he first came he wasn’t really taking people down. He came in from that boxing background and we saw how amazing his hands were early on, but ever since the Poirier fight his progress with wrestling has been amazing.

“He’s taking everyone down. I don’t want to name names, but it really is incredible to see his improvements. Joe is one of the guys that truly works tirelessly on his weakest areas, and we’ve been blown away by his progress. We’re all very happy with how he’s done.”

Duffy will contest the last fight on UFC contract when he meets Reza Madadi at UFC London on March 18. As far as Zahabi is concerned, Duffy belongs among the best 155 lbs fighters in the world.

“I think he’s proven that he belongs in the UFC. Three of his four fights have ended in first round stoppages. One of them lasted about twenty seconds. He’s lost one fight against a guy that’s been in the UFC for years, that’s beaten a lot of big names and Joe only lost to him by decision.

“Joe would do very well with a lot of the top ten guys in that division and as I said, the Joe Duffy of today is way better than the Joe Duffy who fought Poirier. He deserves to be in there against the best in the world now more than ever.

“It really comes down to negotiating the right amount of money for the right amount of fights. It’s risk versus reward.”

@PetesyCarroll

Peter Carroll is Severe MMA’s lead feature writer. He has been featured in many top publications and some rubbish ones too. He also writes for the Irish Daily Mirror and Vice’s Fightland.