Over the past few months, we have seen many UFC fighters adopt a new style of training, movement training. Conor McGregor’s decision to bring movement coach Ido Portal on board raised a lot of eyebrows but McGregor insisted he has never felt better. Carlos Condit has also brought in world renown movement coach Erwan Le Corre. So what are the benefits of movement training? How beneficial is it to athletes? To tell us more, we caught up with MovNat founder and movement coach Erwan Le Corre.
COF: So how did you get involved in movement training and how long have you been in this line of work?
Erwan: “My whole life I’ve been training diverse movement disciplines or sports, learning techniques or efficiency principles from diverse sources. Looking back I realize that what they all had in common was practicality, which means that what you train for, even as sports, can be useful in the real-life. That is exactly what my current approach to movement training is about today.
Specifically, what I’ve been working on, defined and popularized since 2007 is called “Natural Movement” which is a movement, fitness and physical education training. It covers a wide range of evolutionary movement skills such as running, jumping, balancing, crawling, climbing, lifting, carrying, etc.
My method for teaching, learning and training Natural Movement is called MovNat. It is rooted in over 300 years of Physical Education history (links to MN articles) in Europe. Since 2009 it has received a lot of attention from major health & fitness magazines (links) and has become world-renowned, with close to 4000 certified trainers worldwide. Fundamentally we teach techniques and efficiency in these natural movement skills, as well as the strength and conditioning associated with them. We consider ourselves as a school of real-world physical competency and preparedness. This being said, the benefits of the MovNat method start to be recognized beyond the fitness community, including sports coaches (MMA, hockey, basket ball), military and LEO’s, or health care practitioners. You can read more here (link to my profile page on movnat.com)”.
COF: What benefits can athletes and fighters in particular gain from movement training?
Erwan: “We probably want to first ask ourselves what is “movement training.” Defining the concept, which is so far still very vague to most people, it can be a bit tricky because “movement” is a very vast realm.
First off I want to establish that in my opinion all MMA coaches, including Muay Thai, judo, wrestling, grappling/BJJ, boxing, striking or even S&C coach are “movement trainer” of their own. Their job is to teach and then to constantly improve particular movement skills in their students, or to develop the strength and conditioning necessary for performing such skills at the highest level possible. Each of these coaches works on a segment of the overall movement arsenal required for fighting, as clearly MMA is made of highly diverse and technical forms of movements. Obviously, this is the bread and butter of MMA training, the foundation. Recently though a new type of MMA coach seem to be emerging, which is the “movement trainer.” Movement training I believe will become one of the pillars of this foundation in the future, when more people understand what it is and its benefits.
- Benefit 1: stay injury-free and keep body and mind relaxed and sharp before the fight:
What most people know of movement training today is the example of Conor McGregor and his movement coach Ido Portal. Most people mocked it because they missed the point. People looked at some of the movements shown in diverse videos wondering “how could those help in an actual fight”, without understanding the real purpose behind it. The purpose has never been to assimilate new and complex movement patterns days before the fight, which would be silly. What looked like non-specific, even random “play” was in fact a no-impact, low-intensity practice designed to help him stay loose and injury-free, to keep both his body and mind relaxed, yet sharp. It wasn’t magic, and no “secret move” made Conor win. However it did participate in placing him in the best physical and mental state possible before the fight, so he could maximize the use of his existing fighting skills and conditioning during the fight. It had to be done at a very specific time of the preparation, during the few last days, after all the hard work had been done already. For the public and even for many MMA professionals it was highly unconventional approach, a breakthrough in fight preparation, where the usual approach is to keep the fighter’s aggression very high until the fight. Clearly both Conor and Portal knew exactly what they were doing regardless of what people thought.
- Benefit 2: stimulate motor-skills between camps:
This kind of training can be beneficial in between camps also. In which case movement training could be anything from a particular sports, capoeira, ballet dancing or any other movement discipline. The idea would be to expose the fighter to new movement patterns, demands, and variables, to stimulate and improve their overall motor-skills and competency, to support recovery etc…In this case again, any teacher in any specific movement disciple may turn a “movement trainer.”
- Benefit 3: improve and maintain fundamental function and conditioning during the whole fighter’s career:
This being said, movement training is not limited to the last days of preparation before the fight, or to be an accessory training in between camps. The movement trainer can be more helpful than that because the overall movement demands of an MMA aren’t restricted to just fighting techniques. There is a whole spectrum of movement patterns that take place in between the striking, wrestling, or submission attempts, so the most competent in a wide range of natural movements the better the transitions in term of speed, range, accuracy, timing etc…I like to say that those movements are like the “glue” that chains specific fighting techniques together. It is usually assumed that those seemingly secondary transitional movements and positions are easy. But they aren’t necessarily so, and the apparent easiness can be highly deceptive.
For example, if a fighter lacks mobility and stability in the lower body, his lower body mechanics is inefficient. If he can’t deep squat, or kneel comfortably, or get up and down fast, in diverse ways and from diverse start positions, and with ease, balance, relaxation, and accuracy, then all transitions from stand-up to ground or the other way around during a fight will be slow and sloppy. If the body isn’t optimally functional and adept in fundamental movements, it won’t be optimally functional and adept in even more complex and adaptable movements such as fighting techniques. That’s especially true when fatigue kicks in.
So the question is, what makes a fighter better at those transitions? Is it something “natural”, innate, or can it be trained, and how? Movement training ensures that the fighter is very comfortable and competent with any of those fundamental movement patterns, as they matter as much as the more specific fighting movements.
General “natural movement” training like we do in MovNat, by improving overall movement competency, will help improve many aspects of movement in fighting even though it is not seen as “actual” fighting training. That’s because the body doesn’t categorize movements the way we do. It is the same body that squats, balances, tiptoes, climbs, crawls, jumps, then kicks, strikes, steps in any direction, grapples, etc.
For example, by training specific balancing drills, you will improve foot strength, ankle and knee mobility and stability with a direct gain in your footwork, striking and kicking. Your feet are your base, your foundation in the stand-up, so make them stronger and more agile and the benefits will show higher up the “line.” Some climbing drills we do on thick horizontal bars will improve grip and upper body strength which will make your clinch stronger, or help your grappling etc…
This kind of general movement training was a significant part of what we trained with Carlos in the beginning, and it boosted his knee injury recovery and helped him become physically much looser and balanced.
- Benefits 4: Fight preparation and performance:
The benefits to fight performance stem directly from improving movement performance. We’ve seen that routine, general natural movement training is already a great help. Clearly if a fighter is more comfortable, fast, smooth, balanced in such transitional movements than his opponent, that’s a huge advantage. First he can re-position himself faster than his opponent where he needs to be for the next move. Secondly, when you’re struggling with your movements, even in a minute way, that’s not just a matter of wasting time, loss of power, accuracy or timing, that’s also simply much less attention to and clarity about what your opponent is doing. When you are “surviving” movement to begin with, say you are struggling to recover your base, then what’s left for situational awareness, i.e making sense of what your opponent is doing and what you should be doing next? The more in control of his movements, the more effectively the fighter’s brain can focus on fight strategy and decisions even when they’re unconscious.Last, but most importantly, you want to look at the particular movement deficiencies and inefficiencies that negatively impact a given fighter’s performance, and that the specialized martial art or MMA coach may not notice, or may notice without having a solution. This is in my opinion the most important part of what “movement training” for a fighter, and as a matter of fact for athletes of any specialized sports, should be. To me the “movement trainer” is a “movement optimizer.” His job isn’t to randomly expose the athlete to unfamiliar movements, though it can be useful in particular cases, but to optimize efficiency in the movement techniques or movement demands he or she is already familiar with. It has to be fully customized to each athlete. When I approached Carlos Condit early 2015, I told him the issues I had noticed in his movement that I believed could significantly improve his performance if they were fixed. Mainly his stance was to high and too square, making him not as fast and stable on his feet as he could be. He told me that that’s exactly what his coaches had been telling him for years. So you’d wonder how come that he, or they weren’t able to fix the issue. That’s because not everything that seems obvious is actually easy improve. Maybe his coaches were too busy. Maybe they didn’t get why Carlos wouldn’t make the change on his own. Maybe himself was OK with his usual style and may not really see what difference it could make since he was pretty successful even while being aware of what his coaches were asking him to change. So it was left unaddressed until Carlos and I started to work together specifically on this problem with a customized movement program I designed for him. None of the drills we used looked like anything typical to martial arts training. It included tons of kneeling, squatting and get-ups transitions, tons of balancing movements, tons of low-impact bu jumping and precision landing variations and many more movement drills. None of those drills were ever picked randomly, they all served the particular purpose of making Carlos lower, faster, and more stable on his feet.
Then within a short time his coaches, training partners and, of course, himself started to notice the significant difference in footwork, stability and speed during striking and sparring sessions. It gave Carlos and his world-class striking coach Brandon Gibson a boost in creativity and training effectiveness that made them super excited about the new potential.
It takes a movement trainer who understands movement principles regardless of the specific sport, but also who understands the specific requirements of fighting movement performance to achieve that. The movement trainer first analyzes movement behavior and performance to identify issues that lower efficiency. Then he needs to be able to teach new, optimally efficient movement patterns. The process can be long and challenging, especially with athletes who’ve been repeating the exact same movement patterns for many years; the existing motor patterns are so deeply ingrained by many thousands of repetitions that it takes a very mindful and dedicated practice to override the old, inefficient or suboptimal patterns until new, efficient patterns are acquired to the point they become automatic, reflexive the same way the old patterns were. In the process of replacing old patterns with new ones, secondary complications arise that stem from modifying the previous movement patterns, and that need to be spotted and fixed. For instance, when we worked on the position of Carlos back foot, which we wanted to point forward (as opposed to being perpendicular to the front foot as in a typical Thai boxing square stance) to allow him to move forward or laterally faster, he would often end up with both his feet in line, which is highly unstable. So we had to work on the width of his stance as well to correct the issue generated by the adjustment of the back foot position. We have worked on multiple details like that so we could ultimately obtain the stance and footwork we wanted ahead of his fight with Thiago Alves. Then we had to address many other details in movement and position patterns ahead of his fight with Lawler, because we chose for that camp to focus on kicking efficiency. As you can see, we’re real far from anything random. It was all highly specific and involved programming and progressions, and constant adjustments of the program during the camp as improvement were made, or new issues exposed.”
COF: You have been involved in Carlos Condit’s last two training camp’s. What would a usual training session between you and Carlos consist of?
Erwan: “For each camp we had agreed on a particular area of improvement that we would almost exclusively focus on. The reason is that the duration of a camp is relatively limited, so you have to choose your battle when it comes to what you want to work on priority. What we agreed on were the aspects of this movement that would best serve the strategy devised by his coaches for a given opponent. So the training we did for the fight with Alves and with Lawler was very different except for the warm up. Warm up was always made of ground movements, lots of get-ups, done slowly, with control. Overall, each session was made of relatively low intensity and low impact movement practice. It was a lot about mindfulness, focus, breath control, postural integrity, efficient positions and transitions. First thing Carlos wanted to do after each session was to go take a nap, because of how stimulated his brain was. Think about it, when you put all your mind in performing movements very accurately, it becomes more a mental practice than a physical one. This being said, intensity was also part of it. Our objective for the fight with Alves was to allow Carlos to fight in a lower stance to make him more stable, and also to make his footwork much faster in any direction. We’ve used a lot of balancing, jumping and landing moves, and stepping drills to achieve that objective. I would also give him exercises to do every day or so in between each session together. With every session, we would build up on difficulty and accuracy. We did achieve this lower stance and much faster footwork, and Carlos says that it is his ability to move forward much more explosively that made him catch Alves with an elbow.
For the fight with Lawler, the game plan was to keep Robbie at a distance where he was unable to strike Carlos in the head. We decided that he would use his kicks more to take advantage of his size and reach. We drilled tons on every aspect of kicking, deconstructed his kicking patterns to find flaws that made him unstable. We had two concerns with a higher volume of kicks, first was to throw him off balance, secondly was that he would land at the wrong range with every kick attempt. There are so many details involved with this work, but let’s say we mainly worked on single foot position and balance and hip rotation so he could pull his leg back fast to the correct range immediately after kicking and while staying very stable. We also worked a lot on “cleaning” his kicking pattern from a variety of superfluous micro-moves that let the opponent read what’s coming, which helped make these kicks less predictable. Out of the extraordinary volume of strikes landed by Carlos on Robbie, a significant part were kicks. The main objective was to prevent Lawler from being as aggressive and confident moving forward he normally is, and it really worked.
Again, there wasn’t really anything “usual” in our sessions except the warm up, since we were constantly adapting the training to the progress made.”
COF: More fighters seem to be adding movement training to their schedule, do you think all fighters should add movement techniques to their training?
Erwan: “I think so. I have described above the diverse benefits that can be brought by movement training. A relatively broad movement regimen made of natural movements is already a great help for most fighters for general preparation and conditioning. But obviously, movement training is ideally customized to the particular needs of a fighter. If movement training is part of a fight camp, then it need to be customized to a particular game plan, and at a particular time of the fight camp. Just adding non-fighting related (or seemingly not at least) movement training randomly in term of movement patterns involved or timing (when the training is done) may not bring much, if anything at all. Even with the few “movement gifted” fighters some areas can be found where benefits can be gained. The difference is that the fighter with glaring movement issues will be addressing blatant deficiencies with very significant and noticeable improvements, whereas the “natural” mover is working on minor issues with less spectacular improvements, but improvements nonetheless.
You need to find an ad equation between the fighter’s needs and the movement trainer’s ability and experience. There’s a lot of professionals and experts out there who may not label themselves as a “movement trainer” but yet who can help a great deal. Some of them are therapists who will optimize your body so you can move better. It’s a passive yet effective way to improve your movement. I think that there are diverse backgrounds and a tool that can help. It’s got to be a good match. Again, the movement trainer has to be able to address problems that traditional coaches cannot help with, or can’t even see in the first place. Credentials matter but results matter the most. The proof is in the pudding. Last but not least, it is essential that there is an understanding and agreement of what is being done between the movement trainer and the rest of the fighter’s team. Fight preparation is big time team work.”
COF: What are your thoughts on Conor McGregor’s movement techniques and what do you make of the techniques he has been shown by Ido Portal?
Erwan: “McGregor has tremendous control of range/distance and timing. The tools he uses to achieve such control is a mix of stance and footwork to rapidly but also accurately move in and out or switch angle and kicks to push his opponents in the direction, or at the distance he wants. The control of distance means that he is in the right place at the right time to strike, that it is offensively, or countering, or counter-attacking. It is very karate like, similar to Lyoto Machida, Steve Thompson, or Michael Page. Having a karate background myself, I am very familiar with this style.
As for the movements shown to him by Ido Portal, I have explained earlier what it was all about. In this particular case, the movements themselves didn’t matter as much as the purpose they served. If you don’t understand the purpose, you don’t understand the context in which they’re done and you won’t understand the relevancy of the movements. Understand the purpose and you will understand their value. That’s why what Conor has trained with Portal and what Carlos has trained with me is very different even though we’re both movement coaches. It’s really about the context and goals. Who is fighting who? When? What’s the game plan, and what are the issues and demands the fighter has to deal with in relation to the game plan? What are other coaches working on, and how does movement training fit in this collaborative work?
Answer all these questions and you will design a movement training program that may be radically different each time.”
For more information on Erwan’s work check out his website www.movnat.com. For all your latest news in the world of MMA make sure to follow MMA Latest News on Facebook and Twitter.
Brad Pickett, “I owe a lot to this sport, it’s helped me out so much”
As Saturday looms closer, a new championship belt lies in waiting. Not just a new title, the first title bestowed from a young and growing promotion. Rise of Champions hosts its fifth event Saturday, in which new amateur and pro champions will be crowned.
Saturday is a great opportunity for the young promotion. Co-owner and former UFC veteran, Brad Pickett doesn’t look to compete with the bigger promotions like Cage Warriors or ACB, let alone the UFC. To his luck, Rise of Champions 5, doesn’t have to. While the UFC does have an event scheduled for the upcoming weekend, it happens to be the somewhat rare occurrence of a Sunday night show. Though, it does make sense, with the North American market free from the anaconda like stranglehold the NFL (American football) maintains for nearly 5 months of the year. Nonetheless, the Sunday night cards are strewn from the norm. Which is essentially what ROC looks to provide.
The regional circuit in Europe holds a good portion of quality promotions and Pickett wants to add ROC to that list. “I just want it to be a really recognizable name. Like for (people to say), ‘Oh, that’s a good show’. You hear that name and go, ‘that’s a really well worked, a really good show’.” It seems for the retired UK MMA legend, he couldn’t be happier. In describing what it meant to run a promotion, he said, “I just feel great to be a part of it. I owe a lot to this sport, it’s helped me out so much, and I just like to put back what I’ve learned over the years with my coaching but then also later, run a promotion, give guys a good platform to grow and showcase their skills. For me, in a way, I feel it’s my duty to do something like this and stay within the sport”.
The other co-owner, Mickey Papas and he began the promotion together, while Pickett still competed in 2015. Papas and Pickett have a long-standing relationship stemming from early in the former Bantamweights career. “My relationship with Mickey started off like this; I remember when I was fighting in Cage Rage back in the day, I knew nothing on the floor really. I was just like a stand up fighter. I knew a little bit but I was unversed, and then I remember going to do some Jiu Jitsu and then also bumping into Mickey. Mickey was more Pankration, which I thought back then, the wrestling side of MMA was more important than just Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in the gi… he’s been one of my coaches ever since, even when I (went) out to America, I trained in America for a lot but also I’d come back in and train here. I had two teams, I had ATT and Team Titan.”
Upon further discussion of his promotion, Pickett revealed an aspect of his promotion which separates ROC from the rest of the popular regional promotions. “I like the fact when I have a pro main card of 4-5 fights and the rest of my card is amateur fights. Where shows like Bamma and Cage Warriors are predominantly only pro fights.” He continued, “I want to keep to my emphasis of young talent. And also in my pro fights people like Mike Ekundayo (an undefeated fighter coached by Pickett at Team Titan) who is the main event… I’m still trying to promote younger, unbeaten talent to help build themselves”.
Through his MMA journey, the retired fighter took many personal experiences while competing and coaching under a litany of promotions. He depicted one odd story in which, “I remember one of my fighters fighting on the show getting quite a bad cut on his eye. I remember seeing it backstage where I had other guys fighting on the show, later on the card, (guys) that I’m cornering. He’s just sitting back there and I said, ‘What’s going on, are you going to get stitched? The doctor going to see you to get you stitched up?’ He goes,
‘No, no, they gave me these steri strips’.
‘What do you mean they gave you steri strips?’,
‘They gave me steri strips to do it myself’. And I’m like,
‘You’re taking a piss’…
I went and complained, and they said, ‘Oh no, there’s one doctor, he’s by the cage side. He can’t come back and do the stitches. There’s a hospital just down the road why don’t you leave and go there?’ and I’m like you’re expecting one of my fighters to leave your show looking like he does with a massive gash on his face? It’s just like loads of things like that, it always happens.”
Having experience in the regional circuit, at the time that he did, Pickett was exposed to a lot. When asked about the preliminary conception of Rise of Champions, he explained it as so, “I’ve been to a of lot good shows in my career and I’ve been to a lot of bad shows. I’ve been to the best shows in the world as well. So for me, I knew that I have a very good insight on how a show should run, in front of the camera and more importantly behind the camera, because you get a lot of promoters who know how it should look for the camera but don’t know how to treat the fighters backstage or how things should run. Me (having) competed at the highest organization for many years, I know what that means.”
Pickett continued, “And it’s not a case of always about having money, it’s about proper organization, doing things well and at the end of the day knowing that, the fighters are the stars of the show. Where at some shows, they’re treating the fighters like cattle. (They treat them) like, go in fight and see you later, who’s next? For me, I am very much against that. Also, I felt the emphasis of my shows is to try and help grow and nurture, young developing talent… when I was doing it, it wasn’t really a career path for anyone, but now it’s a legitimate career path for young and aspiring athletes to be able to go out there and earn life changing money.”
As a self-critical person, Pickett believes ROC’s first four events turned out well, although he sees room for improvement. “I do believe they always can get better. One thing I can’t complain with, is the fights. The fights have always been really good, and at the end of the day that is what matters. There is no point of having this glitz and glamour, and spending thousands and thousands of pounds on lights, cameras, and just having complete dud fights.” Without much of a pause, he continued, “I do all the matchmaking myself. I do believe I know what are good fights and I put on some really good fights on my show. That’s what I am happy with. If the show keeps growing, then I can add a bit more glitz and glamour. A bit more on the production and things.”
One aspect he wishes translated better to the broadcast, is the ROC fighter ceremonies. “I do like a Pride thing, where there’s a ceremony before the start of the show where all the fighters come out in front of the audience, (all the fighters) on the under card. Then midway through the whole event, there’s a pause, a break and then we have another ceremony for the main card fighters.” In this certain structure, he believes the ceremonies not only add to the spectacle of the event but excite audiences for the fights to come. “It gives the (fighters) a bit more time in front of the crowd. And where, you may go (to) see Joe Blocks fight, but then you just see these two other guys come out and think, ‘Man, these two guys look like they’re gonna have a great scrap. I wanna watch that fight as well’… if you can get people interested in other fights on the card, it’s a win. That’s why I’m trying not to just make a good fight, I’m trying to make a good event where people go, ‘this is good, I would love to come to this show next time no matter who’s fighting’.”
While ROC does not occupy all his time, the hectic nature balancing multiple jobs earned Picketts attention as soon as he retired. He claimed, “Its weird, I’ll be honest with you, it was so much easier when I was a professional fighter. All I had to do is concentrate on myself, get up in the morning, train for a couple (of) hours, relax, (then) train a couple of hours in the evening and that’s it. It was so much easier. Also, I earned great money when I was fighting towards the end of my career. But now, I have to go back to the hustle… it’s not always about being financially rewarding but that obviously is important, I have a kid. I’ve got a house, a mortgage to pay. So that is important but, it also is to try to do what I like doing as well”.
It is evident, even from afar, that retirement hasn’t worn out the rugged mentality training and fighting gave him. Besides co-owning a promotion with his friend and business partner, Mickey Papas, Pickett hosts a weekly podcast (The One Punch Podcast), has a beautiful family (with an adorable son you can catch on his Instagram account), coaches fighters, trains average citizens, and travels for seminars. Yet, he finds time for all of it.
I imagine it would be hard to find another human like Brad Pickett. His youthful exuberance, tough mentality, and pragmatic nature make him an impossible character to clone. Speaking to him and feeling those qualities, only magnified the respect and admiration I had for the man. The MMA community is lucky to have Brad Pickett, and even luckier to keep him inside of it.
Rise of Champions 5, takes place this Saturday, February 16th at the Brentwood Leisure Centre, in Brentwood, England.
Jonas Magard, “This is all I do. I don’t have anything else”
In the late hours of this upcoming Saturday night in the Greenwich Mean Time Zone, a new Bantamweight champion will earn his crown. A little over 300 feet from the A12 in Brentwood, England, inside the Brentwood Centre, is where it will all happen. The medium sized venue will host Brad Pickett and his Rise of Champions promotion, for their fifth event and second with the venue.
An important event, ROC 5, represents something greater to a few different people involved with Saturdays show. For the promotions co-owner Pickett, it represents an opportunity to capture American audiences on a UFC-less Saturday while being broadcast exclusively on the world-leader’s streaming service, UFC Fight Pass. Although the former UFC contender has a lot riding on the success of his shows, ROC 5 may mean less to the owner than to both his main event fighters. Currently, the ROC 5 main event is set to determine the promotions first ever champion when Denmark’s Jonas Magard takes on London’s own, Mike Ekundayo.
Both young, talented, and riding unbeaten streaks, this main event represents a major stepping stone in their careers. In the case of Jonas Magard, “It’s just a new opportunity to do something, to put my mark on things. With or without the title I just want to fight. He’s in my way to something bigger”. His words echoed his demeanor. While the Danish Amateur MMA Champion, wanted to behave excited for the opportunity, fighting under the ROC banner, his attitude simply would not allow him. “I can’t wait to see how they put on the show and stuff, I think it’s going to be fun. But again it’s just me and him, it’s not about the show… I have not been training to fight at that event. I’ve been training to fight that guy and if it’s that’s event or if it’s in the backyard, it’s the same for me”.
Not only was the young Danish fighters’ mentality impressive but his record as well. At 8-3, Magard owns 7 stoppages, 6 by Japanese neck tie. The same submission he defeated Michail Chrisopoulus, with a little less than half of the opening round remaining, in his most recent appearance at ACB 75. And the same submission in which he holds the record for most finishes.
His journey to this point could not be described by the meager word, easy. After training for a year and two amateur fights in his home of Jutland, Denmark, Magard decided to make a change. “I went to Copenhagen to try to train there, in one of the bigger gyms and they just opened their arms and welcomed me. So, I thought why not move? I was 19 at the time. I didn’t really know anybody in Copenhagen”. He continued, “the first couple of times I was over there, I would live with some of the guys from the gym. I would have an amateur fight coming up, so I’d stay there for a month… I would still have my address and live back in Jutland, but I would just go over there do my training and my training camps”.
Magard travels quite a bit for his MMA training. In his current situation, Magard splits time between Rumble Sport in Copenhagen, Denmark and All Powers gym in Manchester, England. “I think a lot of fighters, they get too comfortable in their own little circle of fighters and in their own gym, where I like to just go out, get the best training work whether it is in Denmark or wherever. I don’t care about traveling or getting pushed as much as I can”.
He’s made a routine of being uncomfortable, something he does not think can be said of his opponent, “I think he hasn’t been battle tested, the same way as I have. Yeah, he’s a good opponent, he’s a guy I have to beat. He’s undefeated… but you know, I don’t think he’s been battled tested as he’s going to be now, with me (in) this fight, it’s just different”.
“I’ve seen his opponents and his opponents are okay but, they didn’t have a lot of fights either like he don’t. Not even as an amateur. As an amateur, I fought the guy who just fought for the Cage Warriors title, Alexander Jacobsen, he had like 125 boxing matches… I fought the guy who is going to fight for the Cage Warriors flyweight championship, Sam (Creasey)… I had the hard fights as an amateur, I don’t think he had the hard fights, that’s the difference about over here in Scandinavia. We get battle tested,” he continued to elaborate, “in amateur, people don’t get built up, people are getting hard fights. I had two fights the same day, for the Danish MMA amateur championship… I’ve been facing guys who I know come there to win, who’s just not there to be food… this is all I do, I don’t have anything else, I don’t have a day job I’m going to everyday and that’s the difference. I’m a professional, I live off this, I live for this, this is all I do. He has not met anybody like me before, who has the experiences I have.”
Magard believes the experience he earned through his MMA journey is what separates himself from his opponent. Outside of MMA, the Dane fought two shoot-fighting matches and one professional boxing bout. “He is a good fighter, he is a good strong fighter but I know the guys over here, there stronger side is not the ground. The wrestling in England, people want to punch each other in the face they don’t want to wrestle. I come from a place where people like to wrestle. And during this fight camp, I’ve been training with the (Danish) Greco Roman Olympic silver medalist [Mark Madsen]. I’ve been training with Martin Kammpman the former Danish UFC fighter… I eat I sleep I breathe MMA every day and I don’t want anything else. That’s going to be the difference in this fight one hundred percent”.
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