I’ve already talked about what my diet looks like during fight camp and the weight cutting process. If you missed that, go back to my other fight camp post. Now I’m going to dive in to what the last two weeks of training camp looks like and how to recover after cutting weight. Both of these topics are very important and are crucial to the outcome of the fight.
Two weeks before the fight should be your hardest week of fight camp. You’re not learning new skills or trying new techniques. Outside of fight camp is the time to try new stuff. This is the time to finalize details of your game plan for the fight. You should never go in to the fight without a game plan. If you have done research on your opponent, you should have an idea of what their strengths, weaknesses, and tendencies are. That should be done at the beginning of fight camp with you and your coach. There should be no doubt in your mind that you know what your game plan is and how to put it into action.
Hone in on your strengths and use them to your advantage. It’s important to work on fixing your weaknesses, but just as important to build up your strengths more. Know what your strengths are and use them to their full potential. Also, be aware of what your weaknesses are to not expose them. Every time you train, it should be relative to what you will do in the fight. Everything else can be worked on outside of fight camp. Put yourself in every bad position possible and drill escaping from those positions over and over again until they are muscle memory. Practice escaping mount, back control, side control, being pushed against the cage, and defending take-downs.
Conditioning and cardiovascular training is also huge during this time. You should be doing intense cardiovascular training every day in the form of sprints, long distance runs, swimming intervals, Jacobs ladder, and HIIT conditioning workouts. This should be combined with several rounds of sparring and rolling. Two weeks before the fight, you should be able to do a minute longer round than what your fight will be. So if your rounds are 3 minutes long, you should be training with 4 minute rounds. This should be the most challenging aspect of everything you are doing and your goal is to blow out your lungs every single time. Make it so incredibly grueling so that when you get to the fight, it will seem easy because you’ve already been through the worst part. If you can outlast your opponent, you can beat them. Your game plan goes to hell if you get too tired and have no energy.
Here’s a sample workout that I would do for conditioning;
Warm up – Jump Rope for 3 rounds of 3 minutes.
Dynamic stretches – Shoulder rolls, forward and back leg swings, side to side leg swings, and twisting torso rotation
Super set round 1 – 3 rounds total
Thrusters – Find a weight that is challenging you – 10 reps
Torso landmine twist and press – 45 pound bar add 10 or 20 pounds- 10 reps each side
Warrior rope – 1 minute
Super set round 2 – 3 rounds total
Plank row – 20 or 30 pound dumbbells – 10 reps each side
Jab- Cross – Burpee – 15 reps
Weighted get up slam – if you struggle with these, don’t use weight. 20 pound ball – 15 reps
Super set round 3 – 3 rounds total
Reverse lunge with box knee step up – 20 pound ball holding at the chest – 10 reps each side
Plyo pushup to a one arm snatch – 20 or 30 pound dumbbell – 15 reps
Swiss ball balance punch – 1 minute
Sprint as fast as you can for 20 seconds then rest for 20 seconds. Repeat that 10 times. You can do this on a treadmill or outside.
Finish the workout with 3 rounds of 5 minutes of shadow boxing
If your game plan is to push the pace and be aggressive in your fight, then that’s what you should be doing in your training. How you train is how you fight and many times, sparring becomes too casual and not realistic. Make your rounds as realistic as possible and implement your game plan every time. It’s important to have training partners that will give you similar looks to what your opponent is going to possibly do. But they also need to be able to train hard without hurting each other or letting egos get in the way. It can be hard to find good training partners, but when you do, it makes all the difference.
We reduce the intensity of training the week leading up to the fight. We still train, but no hard sparring or rolling. This is the time to work on drills, do some mitt work, and continue with light cardio so we keep our endurance up and to also help us cut weight. Stay safe and avoid injury during training. Do lots of stretching and mental preparation such as yoga, meditation, and visualization. I visualize myself walking up to the cage, entering the cage, and how the fight will go. I mentally put myself in every scenario that could happen and go through how I will react. Sometimes I’ll listen to motivational podcasts and do some writing. Mental preparation is just as important as physical preparation. You have to know that you will win the fight. There can be no doubt in your mind. Every fight I ever lost was because I didn’t have enough confidence in myself. Your opponent isn’t going to let you win, you have to take the win yourself and be the aggressor. This is the focus for the week leading up to the fight mentally and physically.
Once we’ve cut all the weight and weighed in, it’s time to recover. If you only cut a couple pounds, recovery isn’t as big of a deal. But some fighters cut 15-20 pounds and recovery is very important for them. Personally, I cut around 5 pounds of water weight. Some fighters use Pedialyte or Gatorade as their recovery drink. I use Pedialyte mixed with water to dilute it a little bit. A more natural option is coconut water. I don’t like coconut water so I choose Pedialyte. All of these options are better than just water because they have electrolytes that you need to replenish that water alone doesn’t provide. You should drink at least 24 ounces of one of these options immediately after weigh ins. If you typically use Amino Acids as a supplement, it would be a good idea to use a serving of that as well. But don’t introduce something new if you’re not already using them regularly.
In addition to that, you need to refuel with food. A good balance of all the macro-nutrients is needed to replenish your body’s energy systems. Pick a complex carbohydrate or two such as a sweet potato and quinoa. Pair it with a lean protein like chicken, sirloin steak, or fish. Add some veggies for more vitamins and minerals. Lastly, add a healthy fat source. Three of my favorite fat sources are avocados, olive oil, or peanut butter. All of your meals leading up the fight should consist of these components. You can also incorporate a few servings of fruit throughout the day as well. Be sure not to overeat and make yourself sick. This is not the time to try new foods or supplements. You should have a pretty solid routine and nutrition plan already in place so stick to what has been working for you already. Wait until after the fight to splurge on whatever you want and celebrate!