If you’ve watched any of the UFC events 2022, just know that once the fighters get to the octagon, most of the work is already done. Fight camps are six to eight weeks long, and all the training, diet, and studying from that time determines how the bout will play out in the cage.
Many fighters say that consistency is the key to their training. Dwayne’ the Rock’ Johnson has said, “Success isn’t always about greatness. It’s about consistency. Consistent hard work leads to success. Greatness will come.”
This begs the question, can a fighter be healthy if he’s not consistent? Here are some areas where mixing things up a bit can improve training during a fight camp.
Fighters must stick to a very strict diet to make weight for their fight. If a fighter misses weight, their opponent can approve a match at catchweight, or they can refuse altogether.
If the fight does occur, the person who missed weight is fined 20%-30% of their show money. Making weight is part of a fight contract.
Fighters need a healthy balance of carbs, fats, and proteins to give them the energy they need to train. Do they always have to stick to meals that are healthy for them, though? Judging by what different fighters prefer during their training, the answer would be “no.”
Some fighters prefer leaner meats like chicken and fish to get their proteins and fats, while others prefer steak and bacon. All fighters drink a lot of water for hydration and recovery, but others will still add coffee, tea, and milk.
Nate Diaz is a vegetarian, but Jorge Masvidal is fond of Taco Bell and McDonald’s – even while in camp. Daniel Cormier was famously a huge fan of Popeye’s Chicken, but as a heavyweight, it was also less important for him to make weight.
Some fighters like the routine of getting up at a certain time, doing workouts in order, like strength, then cardio, then fighting. They will then take a break before having an afternoon or evening session in the same consistent order.
Conor McGregor has said that he “trains when he feels like training,” and his reason for that made sense. McGregor stated that if you force yourself to the gym when you don’t feel like being there, your mind is not there, and you risk injury.
It should be noted that McGregor used the carefree approach more frequently in his earlier days but has since gotten into a more consistent training regimen.
In his first loss to Diaz, McGregor moved up to 170 pounds, and he has stated that going up in weight allowed him to eat whatever he wanted, which led to more energy and overtraining. That raises a good point that a fighter doesn’t need to train constantly to have success.
McGregor now cycles in his fight camps, working out three days and then having an off day. Working out for three weeks and then taking a week off.
While it is important to obviously focus on the fight, it’s also not healthy if that’s the only thing on a person’s mind. Many fighters would say that downtime and recovery is the most important part of their training because it helps them reboot and recharge.
In McGregor’s three weeks on and three weeks off cycle, on the week off, McGregor is not just sitting around watching TV; he is rock climbing, doing yoga, and fishing – a balance of staying fit but also clearing his head.
Ultimately it seems that the most successful fighters are consistent – in being inconsistent. A healthy fighter thrives on balance, focusing just as much on the work of a camp as on enjoying the downtime and recovery.
If they have to hit Taco Bell or McDonald’s on a rare occasion, that might be the inconsistency they need to help with that balance.