GSP’s Head Games


Phil Nurse is a muay thai kickboxing legend, and the owner of Wat, Manhattan’s premier muay thai gym. Nurse trains St-Pierre in his striking.

MF: Do you guys work on any kind of mental preparation for fights?

Nurse: We sit down and talk in depth about fights. We go over scenarios and how to get this to work and that to work. When we’re training, I’ll push him until I know he’s wiped and then I’ll tell him to pick me up 50 times. And sometimes he’s so tired he’ll say he can’t. That’s when I’ll use a scenario. I’ll say, “Georges, imagine that someone you care about walked in here and the air conditioner fell on their head. You wouldn’t say I’m too tired right now. You’d pick it up and get them out.” And then he’s like, “Let’s go.”

So it’s just about putting the seed in his head at the right time. Other times I’ll tell him we’re going to do 25 of something. So he starts thinking “ok, I only have to get to 25,” but I won’t let him stop at 25. We’ll get there and I’ll have him keep going. He keeps thinking of numbers in his head that he thinks I’ll let him stop at. When we get to 50, he stops thinking about the number and he’s just going to do whatever I say. I keep pushing the boundaries. And 25 suddenly doesn’t seem so tough anymore. I’ll bring that up in between rounds in a fight. If he’s tired, I’ll say, “Remember when I had you do that in the gym and you thought you couldn’t? You did it. Find that same energy right now.”

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