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“Top of the Food Chain Series” Volume 8: Best Cardio

Derek Bowe



Cardio, the all important factor of maintaining energy throughout the fight. A fighter can posses all the skills in the world, but if they exhaust all resources in the first few minutes of a fight, those skills are no longer any good to them. Cardio, or lack there of can be a major detriment to a fighter, as it can take away the frightening power which makes them the dangerous fighter they are. Speed will be gone, grappling technique thrown out the window, and the overall mentality and fight IQ will not be at the pinnacle of effective operation. In short, not possessing a high level of cardio can force a fighter to become a shell of what fans, and themselves are accustomed to seeing. For those fighters which do own an expendable gas tank, it is a weapon, one which is not overshadowed with skill, seemingly getting stronger as the fight continues in some cases. This list compiles the machines, the fighters who can seem super-human in their energetic output, and ability to maintain such an output over the course of their contests. The best cardio in mixed martial arts.

#5 Rafael Dos Anjos, Lightweight, UFC

4 years ago, it would have been very hard to imagine Dos Anjos would be sitting wrapped in UFC gold at this very moment. Dos Anjos looked like a solid fighter, good standup, good jiu jitsu, and average wrestling, yet certainly nothing to jump on the horn about. This was when Dos Anjos decided to make a change, a change that would eventually lead him to the path of the newly minted champion oft the 155 pound lightweight division. Dos Anjos changed everything, changed the where he trains, changed how he trains, what he eats, and even where he resides after coming stateside in a complete reinvention of his life. Dos Anjos has looked completely changed and has displayed a relentless pace in his bouts enroute to the title, as well as his title winning bout. Dos Anjos has used his pace to overwhelm his opponents, as well as execute his precise, and refined technique over the course of his bouts. A transformed man, a transformed fighter, now the lightweight champion of the world.

#4 Nick Diaz, Welterweight, UFC

Ask someone about Nick Diaz, and it is likely you will receive a plethora of separate opinions on the welterweight from Stockton, California. Some positive, some negative, some confused by the polarizing figure. One consistent opinion which is likely to be unwavering among the masses, Nick Diaz has great cardio. Diaz is an interesting character, sometimes he will flat lay down in the cage, as seen against Anderson Silva his last time out, yet when he does come to fight he is relentless in his pursuit of his opponent, with a very high output of punches from his boxing style of striking. Diaz is a triathlete in his downtime, competing in regular events in the sport.The degree of energy to complete such an event is held in high regard in the form of cardio energy as it requires biking, swimming and running multiple miles. Diaz’ participation in these such events ensures that he can operate at the pinnacle of physical conditioning, a perfect candidate for this list.

#3 Fabricio Werdum, Heavyweight, UFC

Fabricio Werdum exemplified just how essential being able to maintain your energy level throughout a fight can be, especially when placed against the elements of seven thousand foot altitude in his heavyweight title bid when he won via submission in the second round over another fighter who can be made an argument for inclusion in this list, Cain Velasquez. Fabricio Werdum has looked outstanding since being back in the UFC, he has gone undefeated in his return, and as previously mentioned, is the newly crowned heavyweight champion of the world. At the heavyweight division, much success is based on the ability to land the huge power strike, which at this weight, they all possess, yet Werdum goes about his dominance slightly different. Werdum employs a very high output style which is also very technically precise. His Muay Thai attack on the feet is very high volume and sets up his bread and butter, his jiu jitsu ability. Fighters often succumb to the pressure on the feet, then attempt to take the fight to the floor, exactly where he enjoys his best ability. Werdum’s high output style is only made possible by his abundance of cardio, a rare sight for a man his size.

#2 Dominick Cruz, Bantamweight, UFC

Dominick Cruz is known for his exceptional movement in his navigation of the cage. He frequently moves in to land strikes, then out of range, dipping and dodging any potential threats simultaneously. It truly is a sight to see. The frequent nature of his movement is what makes him so unpredictable, he just does not stay in front of his opponents. What makes this movement possible however, is his cardio. Cruz, while moving constantly, never seems to grow tired, keeping his output in line with what it was from the opening bell, to the end of the fifth round. Cruz’ speed never takes any sort of noticeable dip, thus keeping the effective nature of his striking game at its premium potency. Cruz could be made an argument for the top spot of his list, though his injury stints have not made him available for competition as the fighter who holds the top spot.

#1 Demetrious Johnson, Flyweight, UFC

Another champion makes this list, and it is hard to argue his spot. Demetrious Johnson has made his title defenses look like a glorified sparring sessions, seeming only to ever break a sweat in his fight against Dodson, also the fight which gave the best example of his extraordinary cardio, Dodson came out early and fast, matching the champion Johnson in most aspects of the bout, even knocking down Johnson two times. It was in the later rounds when Johnson came alive, each intermission between rounds seemingly emerging a new fighter coming out for his first round of action. it overwhelmed the challenger Dodson, (also Johnson’s upcoming opponent) and left him without an answer in rounds four and five. Johnson has been able to break his opponents with his flawless technique, speed, and pressure. The champion’s cardio may possibly be his very best asset.

Honorable Mentions: Frankie Edgar, Cain Velasquez, Uriah Faber, TJ Dillashaw, Rashad Evans, Jon Jones

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Fight Announcements

Aldo vs. Lamas 2 and Ponzinibbio vs. Perry Added to UFC Winnipeg

Harry Davies



The UFC has added Jose Aldo vs. Ricardo Lamas 2, and Santiago Ponzinibbio vs. Mike Perry to their UFC Winnipeg card on December 16th.

The two fights were announced as official today on the UFC’s Twitter account.

Aldo (26-3) last fought at UFC 212 in June, where he lost by third round TKO to Max Holloway. After being promoted to the undisputed 145-pound champion last November, he was looking to make the first defence of the title against Holloway.

Lamas first faced Aldo back in 2014 at UFC 169. Aldo, who was again featherweight champion at the time, defeated Lamas with ease winning by unanimous decision (49-46) on all scorecards. Lamas is on a two-fight winning streak after defeating both Charles Oliveira and Jason Knight with impressive finishes.

Since his last UFC loss to Lorenz Larkin back in 2015, Ponzinnibio (25-3) has won five consecutive fights. His most recent victory was a upset win over Gunnar Nelson in July at UFC Glasgow. There was some controversy after the fight, as replays seemed to show a short grab and several eyes pokes from Ponzinnibio before knocking out Nelson in the first round.

Mike Perry has taken the UFC by storm since making his debut for the promotion last August. Picking up four wins all by knockout, the only loss ‘Platinum’ suffered was too Alan Jouban by decision. Ranked at #9 in the welterweight division, a win over Ponzinnibio could definitely propel Perry into the top ten at 170-pounds.

With the additon of these two fantastic fights, the lineup for UFC Winnipeg is as follows:

  • Robbie Lawler vs. Rafael dos Anjos – Welterweight bout
  • Glover Teixeira vs. Misha Cirkunov – Light heavyweight bout
  • Antônio Rogério Nogueira vs. Jared Cannonier – Light heavyweight bout
  • Tim Elliott vs. Justin Scoggins – Flyweight bout
  • Chad Laprise vs. Galore Bafondo – Welterweight bout
  • Alessio Di Chirico vs. Oluwale Bamgbose – Middleweight bout
  • Vitor Miranda vs. Julian Marquez – Middleweight bout
  • John Makdessi vs. Abel Trujillo – Lightweight bout
  • Nordine Taleb vs. Sultan Aliev – Welterweight bout
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Why the UFC Needs to Introduce 165 and 175-pound Weight Divisions



  • The debacle that were the UFC 216 weigh-in last Friday further highlighted current weight cutting problems in mixed martial arts.

More specifically in this case it was in the UFC’s lightweight division. A fight between Nik Lentz and Will Brooks was pulled due to Lentz having ‘medical issues’ according to a UFC statement, hours before he was due to weigh-in.

Title challenger Kevin Lee then took to the scale seconds before the deadline and was over the limit by a pound. Fortunately he made weight after being given an extra hour. But these are not isolated cases, especially at 155-pounds.

There isn’t necessarily a solution to this problem but there may be a short term fix in the form of new weight classes approved by the ABC (Association of Boxing Commissions and Combative Sports) in July 2017. These include 165 and 175-pound divisions.

While not specific to the lightweight division, the problems with weight commonly occur there. In March this year, Khabib Nurmagomedov was rushed to hospital during fight week when cutting down for his title contest with Tony Ferguson. Subsequently the UFC 209 main event was cancelled. Khabib has been regularly discussed as a title challenger but he’s often struggled to make weight and failed on numerous occasions.

With drastic dehydration it is still unknown what health implications may effect him and other mixed martial artists in the future.

Some top ranked fighters such as Donald Cerrone, Jorge Masvidal and Rafael Dos Anjos have moved up to the welterweight division to preserve their health from these strenuous cuts, and have all been relatively successful.

Former UFC lightweight Donald Cerrone has looked spectacular since making the move up to 170-pounds.

However, many fighters are still reluctant and insist on dropping 10-20% of their bodyweight in the hours and days leading up to a bout. For example, Kevin Lee was rumoured to be 19 pounds over the day before he stepped on the scales.

At 170 pounds, welterweight is fifteen pounds more than lightweight which is a noticeable difference between relatively low weight classes. Especially when you consider that the divisions increase ten pounds from as low as 115 up to 155. There are many fighters who find themselves too big to be a lightweight, yet too small to compete at welterweight.

The incidents last Friday should hopefully be a wakeup call to the UFC, who can also set an example for other organisations such as Bellator, One FC, and Cage Warriors.

So far in 2017 the UFC has lost 14 fights in 48 hours or less before they were due to take place. That is one fight every two cards. While weight cutting is not always to blame, more often than not it plays a big role. These situations leave the UFC at a loss, fighters without opponents and a pay check, and fans disgruntled. Not to mention the health implications for the athlete involved.

The UFC must recognise these common patterns, remove the 170 pound welterweight division and create 165 and 175 pound rosters instead. Some may see an additional weight class as devaluing UFC titles even further but this would not be the case.

The UFC’s official website only lists four fighters in the women’s featherweight division.

Recently the women’s featherweight title was created without having a roster of women to fill it. However, the difference with lightweight and welterweight is that they are comfortably the two deepest, most talent stacked divisions in the organisation.

Admittedly, there is a lot of history attached to the welterweight title since Pat Miletich first won it back in 1998. The likes of Matt Hughes and Georges St Pierre have also added prestige to the belt over the years.

Even so, the sport has changed since then and it’s in a transitional phase. We are in the era of USADA, the era of banned IV drips and certain commissions tightening their regulations on how much they allow fighters to safely cut. Everyone is accountable and aware of the dangers, yet steps still need to be taken.

The athletic commissions and the UFC in particular must act by introducing super lightweight (165lbs) and super welterweight (175lbs) divisions. Perhaps from a fighter’s perspective it seems like a no-brainer that their health should be the main priority.

From a fans point of view there is plenty of talent that could be used in those two divisions. The novelty of fighters blending into these classes would also have the feeling of a superfight. The likes of Nurmagomedov, Lee, Masvidal, Cerrone and Dos Anjos would certainly fit well into a 165 pound division.

Similarly, at 175 pounds, Tyron Woodley could transition from welterweight champion to super welterweight champion. Top talents such as Robert Whittaker, Stephen Thompson, Demian Maia and Robbie Lawler would be perfect matches for this weight.

Could we see the current welterweight champion Tyron Woodley compete at 175-pounds in the future?

If this was a success then super middleweight (195lbs) and cruiserweight (225lbs) divisions could be an option in future too.

As previously mentioned this won’t necessarily fix the issues of weight cutting but it gives martial artists another option and is a positive step towards fighter’s safety. Currently there has been no mention by the UFC about introducing these new divisions.

However, with fighter safety being of upmost importance these new divisions must be given serious consideration.

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James Gallagher out of Bellator 187 in Dublin due to injury



Irish fans will have to wait a little longer to see James Gallagher fighting on home soil after Gallagher suffered a knee injury in preparation for his main event fight with Jeremiah Labiano in Dublin next month. This bad news was first reported by

The 20-year-old from Strabane co. Tyrone who trains in the famous SBG gym with Conor McGregor and Gunnar Nelson among others has set the featherweight division alight since joining Bellator in 2016.  James “The Strabanimal” Gallagher has gone 3-0 with all three of his wins coming by rear naked choke.

After submitting Chinzo Machida, the brother of former UFC light heavyweight champion, Lyoto Machida in Madison Square Garden Gallagher has become a budding star for Bellator.

Due to the youngster’s attitude and potential, many comparisons between Gallagher and UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor have been made by the fans and media which has made Gallagher one of Bellator’s most recognizable names. This notoriety has ultimately led to the young Irishman getting a chance to headline in Dublin this November but this injury has delayed his rise for the time being.

Gallagher on social media Thursday stated that he has suffered an injury to his PCL and LCL in his knee and would be out for the remainder of the year. He has assured fans we would return next year and carry on where he started with “The Jimmy show.”

His longtime rival AJ McKee, who has engaged in a Twitter war with Gallagher after his last fight, will now headline Bellator 187 in the 3 Arena in Dublin on November 10th against Gallagher’s SBG teammate Brian Moore. Moore will be making his third appearance for Bellator in this featherweight clash.



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