MMA Supplements: Beat Down

7:20 PM Posted by: Toshi O. 0 comments

It was the mid-1990s and the Ultimate Fighting Championship was doing great business by promoting its events as the “bloodiest, most violent fighting you will ever see. Skeptics referred to the mixed-martial arts battles as “human cockfights.”

Switch back to 2004, and the UFC has slowly but surely created a niche for itself. Sure, it’s probably still the bloodiest fighting you may see, but now it’s ready to go mainstream.

When the UFC began in 1993, it was a plan to make some bucks on pay-per-view in which fighters from different fighting disciplines all fought in one tournament to see who was the best and answer the age-old question of “who would win a fight between a boxer and a wrestler?”

“It was such a hit on pay-per-view it was making money, but one of the big problems they faced was in the matchmaking and the way they marketed it,” said UFC president Dana White. “That did the job of selling pay-per-view, but it created a negative image. It wasn’t a bad idea, but they never expected this to become a sport.”

Still, to the untrained eye, mixed-martial arts fighting can often have the look of two men in an octagon-shaped cage trying desperately to rip one another’s arms off and beat them with the bloody stump. While this perception may cause conniption fits for UFC purists. Even most UFC fighters will readily admit that they are drawn to the sport for its competitive violence.

“Basically it’s just a never-ending battle,” welterweight Robbie Lawler said. “I just do it because I enjoy it. It’s who I am. If you knock someone out you definitely feel it.

While eye-catching (and eye-dislocating) knockouts are always the big draw for any fight fan, UFC fights can often descend into a virtual scrum, with the fight becoming a test of wills and conditioning.
Because of this, mixed-martial arts fighters generally have training routines that incorporate several different methods. Weight-lifting, running and other cardio work, wrestling and sparring all have their place for ultimate fighters, with each fighter finding a routine that not only increases endurance and strength, but also helps his individual fighting style.

Most fighters will train according to their fight schedules. Weight training becomes a pariah when a fighter gets closer to a scheduled fight, as fighters look to maximize strength, cardio and flexibility.
Randy Couture, is one of the UFC’s most popular fighters (and at 40 one of its oldest) uses both tried-and-true and modern training methods to prepare for a fight, as well as a year-round routine that includes running and weight training.

“I like to have about eight-to-10 weeks before a fight,” Couture said. “I’ll train twice a day for three hours, running sprints, doing plyometric exercises, weight training. I like to taper 10 days out, no lifting or sparring.”

Weight training for mixed-martial arts fighters tends to be a fine line. Power and speed go hand-in-hand in the octagon, and most fighters train for strength and conditioning rather than size.
Pure strength will always play a role in MMA fighting, but one needs only look at a recent fight card for one of UFC’s competitors, K-1. Former sumo grand master Akebono came into the ring at nearly 500 pounds to take on former NFL star Bob Sapp.

An imposing figure himself at 6-foot-7, 344 pounds, Sapp quickly figured out how to avoid the 6-foot-8 Akebono’s powerful rushes then quickly beat Akebono to the canvas for a first-round knockout.

“I trained hard for two months,” said Akebono after regaining lucidity. “I had no idea how strong Bob was, but tonight I was able to experience his strength.”

A typical weight training routine for an MMA fighter can include power cleans and snatches, bodyweight and jump squats. Lower reps are the norm and extra bulk could mean trouble making weight. Still, fighters like former UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia, who tips the scale at 275, will spend hours in the gym working on bulk when they have no fight scheduled.

For a fighter like Lawler, speed is the key, so he must contain his inner drive to bulk up in the weight room.

“Before I was kind of a power lifter, scrunt guy,” Lawler said. “Now with weights I work mostly on my back and trunk, which is where a fighter’s power comes from.”

Where MMA fighters get the majority of their training, however, is in the cage. Both Lawler and Sylvia train in Davenport, Iowa under the watchful eye of Pat Miletich. Having several competitive fighters working together is an added plus for most fighters.

“It’s hard to get a big head around here because we all just beat on each other,” Sylvia said. “I’ll go 12 (three-minute) rounds a day and then work on my grappling.”

Like most modern athletes, MMA fighters have incorporated nutrition into their workouts. Most will use supplements such as creatine as well as diets created specifically for them.

“At my age, it’s all about recovery,” Couture said. “I take a super-green powder called LightForce three times a day that gives you all the power from green vegetables. You can only sit around and eat so much salad.”

While most UFC fighters will downplay the use of steroids in training, most will admit there are fighters they know who will go that route.

Last year, Sylvia tested positive in a post-fight drug test for the steroid Winstrol. Sylvia, who was UFC heavyweight champion at the time, admitted to using the steroid and was suspended for six months. Instead of being viewed as being a negative, however, White and crew look at it as a success of the new UFC.

“He’s a real good kid, he made a mistake, he knows it, and he knows I don’t condone it at all,” White said. “The athletic commissions do all the drug tests for us now. We wanted to be regulated and it’s paying off.”

Sylvia has since returned, and the 275-pound heavyweight said his foray into steroids was a mistake. And while Sylvia said he has a love for training, he’s in the UFC for one reason – to knock people out.
“The first time I ever fought in an MMA tournament I had to pay $25 to get in,” Sylvia said. “ I knocked the guy out in 12 seconds. It was worth a few bucks to have that feeling.”

Nickname: The Natural
Age: 40
Style: Wrestling
Achievements: An Olympic Greco-Roman wrestling alternate for the U.S. in four Olympics. Has done several commercials and also had a recurring role as a corrections officer on HBO’s “Oz”. “I told my mom the first time I was on, she ended up watching it and calling me ‘What kind of show is this, do you have your clothes on?’ I said ‘Mom, I’m a cop on the show, I keep my clothes on.”

Views on steroid use: “Coming from the background I come from, it’s not only frowned upon it’s hard to get away with. I knew on occasion my opponents were rumored to be using something but it never really bothered me. Most of those guys tended to get tired very quickly. My opinion is they aren’t going to win fights. I never saw the need to take shortcuts, they just want to avoid the hard work.”
Nutrition: Uses a variety of supplements. “I use joint compound, multivitamins, recovery drinks, a pretty wide selection.” Couture also takes Light-Force, a supplement that gives you a high dosage of nutrients from green vegetables. “It handles a lot of the acids you get from working out,” Couture said.
Workout Routine: Geared specifically for the sport. Couture does a lot of reps on metabolic-type circuits for his shoulders and back, hip areas, usually twice a week. He also incorporates Olympic-type training, with squats and presses. Road work, on varying levels, is always part of the routine and Couture trains year-round, keeping his weight down. Couture also thanks a higher power for his physical prowess. “I’ve been blessed with pretty good genetics, no joint problems which is pretty much unheard of in this sport.

Nickname: The World’s Most Dangerous Man
Height, Weight: 6-foot-1, 205 pounds
Age: 40
Style: Submission Fighting
Standing: Heavyweight contender
Record: 6-3-2
Achievements: The UFC’s most recognizable name, Shamrock competed in UFC’s first event, The Beginning. Defeated Dan “The Beast” Severn by submission with a guillotine choke just 2:14 into the contest in 1995 to be crowned the first UFC Super Fight Champion. Shamrock spent a year with World Wrestling Entertainment before returning to mixed-martial arts fighting. “It was a great experience for me. It was taxing with all the traveling you have to do. My hats are off to those guys. They are true warriors.”

Views on steroid use: Dabbled in steroids as a younger athlete, but avoids them now. “When you take steroids, they will make you stronger, but it’s going to take its toll on you, it’s a false strength. Everybody is pressed to win, new fighters are young and there is a lot of pressure on winning.”
Nutrition: Shamrock is one of the few UFC fighters who doesn’t use much in the way of supplements. He has concerns that Creatine may cause cramping. “I wouldn’t use a meal replacement. In training, I try and eat a lot of chicken, turkey, egg-whites, plain vegetables, anything that I can steam that’s not frozen. I also drink lots of water.”

Workout Routine: Shamrock works with weights up to three weeks before a fight, focusing on high reps. Closing in on a fight, cardio becomes the key. He will run, spar five, five-minute rounds, jump rope and work on his grappling. “I cut out the weights the closer it gets to a fight,” Shamrock said. “I’ll do sit-ups and spar five-five minute rounds, and really work hard on my cardio.”

Nickname: The Maine-iac

Height, Weight: 6-foot-8, 265 pounds

Age: 27

Style: Miletich Fighting Systems

Standing: Former heavyweight champion

Record: 18-0-0
Views on steroid use: In October 2003, the Nevada State Athletic Commission fined Sylvia $7,500 and suspended him four months after being tested positive for Winstrol. “After I fought Rico I had a little bit of body fat that I wanted to take off. Everyone said ‘this is water based, it will go right through you.’ I didn’t see any results, so I stopped using it, but it showed up on the test,” Sylvia said.
Nutrition: Sylvia uses amino acids, Creatine, Hydroxy Cut and other supplements in his training. Sylvia came into the UFC at 337 pounds, and has done a solid job at the dinner plate as well as the ring. “I try to only do one cheat day a week. Six to eight weeks before a fight I’ll have a cup of carbs every three hours. No candy bars or any type of sugar. It’s part of the career, part of the job,” Sylvia said.
Workout Routine: Prior to fights, Sylvia works one body part a day on weights, does minor roadwork and works on his fighting skills up to six hours a day. “Two weeks before, it’s really hard. You’re breaking down and crying. It’s balls to the wall. Sparring 12 rounds straight, everything.”

Nickname: Ruthless

Age: 22

Height, Weight: 5-foot-11, 170

Style: Miletich Fighting Systems

Standing: Welterweight contender

Record: 4-1-0
Views on steroid use: Doesn’t use them, and adds that steroids won’t help what a fighter needs most. “I think that’s just a way to make up for a lack of hard work. If you get punched steroids aren’t going to help.”
Nutrition supplements: Uses Creatine, Protein, Amino Acids, Cytomax and recovery drinks. “The supplements just help me recover.” While his youth allows him a bit more flexibility in his nutrition, Lawler still pays attention to what goes in his body. “Right now I’m eating three-to-one carbs to protein, which I’m doing for a more lean body. I started doing more running.”
Workout Routine: Works weights hard up to three weeks before a fight, concentrating on his back and shoulders for a good power base. Lawler is now working to get more lean and quick, after spending his high school days pounding away at the bench press. “I love working out, because there’s so many variables. I do alot of timed.

About the Author: Dane Fletcher is the world's foremost training authority. He writes exclusively for, a leading online provider of Bodybuilding tips and Anabolic Steroids. For more information, please visit
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Ah yes, some of the legends of mma.
Randy Couture, the natural, takes mma supplements, I think the natural is the non-steroid use of mma supplements.
Ken Shamrock was quite clear about using steroids, but now uses mma supplements. He is still in great shape and his brother is still an active fighter.
I do believe that Tim Silvia was caught up in a steroid controversy, not sure what the outcome was, but I do think he just went back to mma supplements and opted out of the steroids.
Not sure what happened with Robbie Lawlor, I do know he takes mma supplements, but not sure about steroids.
All in all I think this was one of the better mma fighter profiles.

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