My Take on MMA (repost)

“So I am not going to claim to be a fighting expert by any stretch of the imagination but I have a set of balls, two fists and can grow a mustache so by default I am 17.6% expert on the topic and because of that I am going to talk about this for a minute…”


In the last twenty years we have seen the sport of mixed martial arts explode in the United Screen Shot 2012-04-12 at 11.57.52 PMStates after the inaugural UFC event was held in Denver Colorado, and since then we have seen many great athletes rise to stardom. For a few the sport is too gruesome for others it is a display of perfected techniques and power, and yet for some its a thrill a minute fantasy that makes up for their general lack of self esteem and self worth. Whatever category you fall into {and you know who you are} the reality is that the sport is growing fast. Gyms all over the country and the world are providing the opportunity to learn how to fight, train and hopefully kick ass. The problem is, that with this many cooks in the kitchen the quality of ingredients are often not all the same for every dish and the outcome of the meal is inconsistent. So what is solution?

That is the question,there are  coaches claiming that  conditioning is the ultimate factor in the preparation of the fighter. Others will claim that power comes from the core (silly bastards) so everything they do involves the conditioning of the “abs” while others again rachel guy (man)imalwill emphasize movements to try and mimic the factors represented by the sport.  All of which are right and all of which are wrong depending on the individual and the situation. Now I know that a lot of people read similar statements and say “yeah of course..” but that is the problem, the majority of people that see the above statement and understand it…are not spending their day developing the future of the sport. In fact the majority of fighting coaches come from a fighting background and they continue to coach the way they were coached. This is not a slight on fighting coaches it is the reality of all developing sports… Strength and conditioning didn’t become a point of authority in college football until Boyd Epley in 1969 at the University of Nebraska and they are still fucking it up on a daily basis…true story. So if they are the standard that we look to for guidance we will continue to have some work to do.

The key to developing fighters off the mat isn’t all about bodyweight exercises and core stability, its about developing all the factors that they need to be successful, and doing it in a manner that gets them ready for the competition. Unless there is a last minute change we always know when the bout is going to occur. There is no mystery, the fight didn’t just sneak up on you the way it would at the local watering hole. So training shouldn’t be erratic either with a dash of this and a touch of that.  In fact over the course of preperation the key is to develop the lacking systems in order of importance from weakest to strongest as the fight gets closer trying to improve them as a whole. If strength is their need then strength needs to be a bigger part of their prep, and it needs to be done in a way that doesn’t confuse the system. For example you wouldn’t do six triples in the snatch followed by 150 Screen Shot 2012-04-13 at 12.03.24 AMkettle swings followed by five sets of four in the  squat. It just doesn’t make sense to the body or the nervous system from a chemical or psychological perspective but that is how a lot of people train.  Fighters need to block their training better so that there is a start and conclusion to each session. Your anaerobic capacity work cannot be done with your maximal strength work because the increase in lactate decreases contractile properties of  fast twitch muscle resulting in poor  effort based on the principals of a 1rm continuum.  Or  lets look at the inverse, you cannot train your capacity system with maximal load because the muscular system will fail repeated efforts long before the desired training state is achieved.  So coming from a grueling mat session straight into a strength session without any break is a waste, any success they are having, while  doing this will ultimately fail in compression to what they could achieve if there was more thought to the structure of their training day. Especially professional fighters that have gotten to a point of living that allow them to organize their day around their training.

Screen Shot 2013-01-11 at 2.36.57 PM“Dave Mazany, Former College Decathlete now MMA Fighter”

In my opinion and in the end that is really all this is… Most fighting coaches need to take a moment and study the training habits of other sports where  conditioning, strength, speed and flexibility are requirements. The vertical integration of Charlie Francis would be a  good place to start and the structure of sports like decathlon would help a lot, because they have been improving performance of sport with proper programing for sometime . Master the complexity of new skills while simultaneously maintaining conditioning and strength. Utilizing all seven days of the week to master ten events, improving the one end of the scale (shot-put) while maintaining the other end (1500m). They also deal with the athletic imbalances of the individual, those that excel at power those that excel at endurance and they find a way to blend their skill sets until it all balances out creating a successful athletic platform for the individual.

Categories: Written Word

2 replies

  1. I saw your opening paragraph and thought uh oh, here’s another strength coach giving his opinion on getting fit for fighting, but it seems your manly moustache has served you well. A huge problem seems to be the lack of knowledge of fundamental periodisation principles. I’ve seen guys doing hypertrophy work 2 weeks out from a fight, and I’ve seen guys trying to maintain strength 2 days out. Anyhow nice post!


  1. Viikon polttavat # 20 | Supersets

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