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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Cardio is King

Let me start by saying- if you've never been through the training and an actual 5 minute round of fighting, let alone multiple rounds, you'll never know what it takes. It's the most grueling thing I've ever done, as measured by the exertion per second, and I used to be a competative swimmer. If you're fighting all out, one minute seems like 10. One must also understand that MMA is different than any other fighting, too. There are pure Jiu Jitsu guys who can go multiple 8 or 10 minute rounds, but put them in front of a heavy bag, and they are tired after one minute of kicking. Same goes with a kickboxer who can fight up to 10 rounds, put them on the mat with a wrestler and watch how fast they lose steam. Putting everything together in MMA is the ultimate test of skill and muscle endurance. Cardio has made champions, and it has taken them out. It doesn't matter how good one is at Jiu Jitsu, Muay Thai, Judo, kickboxing, wrestling, or a combination... if the gas tank is small, it will likely be exploited.
As a fan, one of the worst things to watch is someone gas out during a fight. When they are unable to do all the things they should be able to do because of a lack of cardiovascular endurance, it's almost sad. When two competitors both gas out, it's borderline embarassing for the viewer. Recalling Season 10 (Heavyweights) on The Ultimate Fighter, we saw multiple fights where big guys had their hands on their hips...in the middle of a fight. The 3 round "fight" between Matt Mitrione and Scott Junk highlighted the lack of MMA cardio for the entire season. Mitrione, winning by a large margin in the 3rd round, even put his hands on his hips when he was on the attack. Just this past weekend, Jason "Mayhem" Miller's cardio was the biggest factor in the main event. Mayhem beat Michael Bisping in the first round, and then was exhausted. Bisping was able to pick Miller apart, and finish him in the 3rd round. While Miller looked quite in shape and had a long and good training camp, he wasn't prepared for the pace of the fight that Bisping brought to him. Mayhem is no slouch, he was the first person to ever submit Kazushi "The Gracie Killer" Sakuraba, and he has gone all the way to a decision 9 times. The first of which was against Chael Sonnen! Miller has been fighting professionally since 2001, bringing the question of: How? How at this point in his career, does Mayhem gas out in a fight? Could be that he's in the middle of filming a movie with his corner man from this weekend's past fight, Kevin James. Could be his appearances on MTV and Jason Ellis' Sirius radio show, the movie, The Ultimate Fighter reality show and his rumored raucous nightlife are cutting into his A.M. running time. Whatever the case is, he has been put on notice. Dana White, the president of the UFC, said at the post-fight press conference that he was unsure if Miller would even be offered another fight in the UFC. Brutal.
It's 2011, going on 2012. Kids these days are training in MMA, not just Jiu Jitsu and adding boxing. Not just Muay Thai and working on wrestling. Everyone's all around games need to be better, and they are getting better. The closer matched the technical skills are, the more that cardiovascular endurance determines the winner. There have been many times when I've been on the mat, waiting for my opponent to tire, so I could take advantage of that element. I actually won my first Jiu Jitsu tournament because I knew I tired my opponent in the first round of the final. I closed him out shortly into the second round. If anyone saw the instant classic that was Dan Henderson vs. Shogun Rua two weeks ago, I bet you've caught yourself wondering what would have happened if there was one more round..... or conversely, if there were only 3 rounds in that fight instead of the 5, what would your current opinion be? Line up Hendo with Anderson Silva! Right? Of course, Hendo gassed against Anderson last time and was submitted. Soon, very soon, the question will go from "Who has the skill to beat _____" to "Who has the skill and endurance to beat _____" in every Championship situation.
This video preview of the Mayhem vs. Bisping fight is decent, but I'm posting it for the replies at the bottom on youtube. It's all about Mayhem gassing out. It's all people are talking about from that fight.


  1. I agree completely on the endurance issue that has been a decisive determining factor in many fights. Mayhem Miller gassed out quickly and just became Bisping's punching bag for the 2nd and 3rd round. Especially when there is a size differential...stamina is a key factor to winning. I am a perfect example of how size and stamina can prove to be advantageous in many cases. I am about 5'7", about 138 with almost no fat (building muscle to get to about 145-155). My disciplines do not allow for long fights...main reason why they are not allowed in UFC.
    Depending on the styles utilized...stamina is part of the equation for victory. If the UFC begins to allow other disciplines into their arena...fights will go even quicker! This will not happen since many styles promote breaking or disabling limbs and joints but I said this to make a point. Not all styles of fighting require stamina...but the vast majority of proper implementation truly utilize stamina, speed and power equally.
    I have had the luxury of sparring with BJJ fighters in the past and it never lasts very long bc I am not allowed to target joints and extremities aggressively. Without a doubt, endurance and stamina are becoming an integral part of the MMA culture and will only become more prominent as the field expands and diversifies. Going to be interesting to see who jumps to the forefront to begin a new chapter in MMA.

  2. wow, this blog is spot on. A good example of this is Nick Diaz...not the most physically intimidating guy but if you watch most of his fights his opponents always get gassed out. I mean the guy does triathlons!

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