The tricks of training camp according to Chael Sonnen

The concept of ‘peaking’ is vital in sports. Learning how to train at what period of time is as important as the way an athlete trains.

In team sports, it’s often not the club that dominates the first part of the season or the middle stretches – but the club that heads into the post-season on a roll. Teams try to manufacture their training regime, their practice schedules, workouts etc. to ensure everyone is clicking physically and mentally.

Individual sports are no different. Chael Sonnen, in a wide-ranging interview with Jonathan Snowden of Bleacher Report mentions how his own training camps have often peaked too soon and left him frustrated heading into fights.

Sonnen used conversations he had after a training session with Georges St. Pierre to highlight this point, specifically in regard to GSP’s experiences with legendary boxing coach Freddie Roach. GSP told him that Roach noticed his prized pupil, Manny Pacquiao, was a fighter who trained everyday, so he was at his peak five or six weeks into an eight-week camp and then would decline. GSP altered his training camp as a result of his work with Roach.

Sonnen has not made the same adjustments yet – the conversation with GSP came during his current training camp for the Rashad Evans bout – but noticed he had similar problems as Pacquiao, in which he would peak too soon. In fact, Sonnen says it’s the reasons he often volunteers for short-notice fights.

“…when there is a short-notice fight, I always raise my hand. I always say, “I’ll do it.” And I always get all this credit. All this street cred for being such a tough guy who’s willing to fight at any time. But the reality is, I do it out of selfishness. I believe I’ll be better if I take it on short notice.”

Clearly, training regimes are different for everyone. Some fighters probably feel they do better with long camps while some prefer short. Some fighters want higher intesnity while others want less. Sonnen is one of the more cerebral fighters in the game and knows that the way one trains will always fluctuate and change.

“As soon as you think you’ve got it all figured out, it changes with age. You get a little bit older and that number of workouts, that number of days in training, changes. So there’s no perfect answer.”

 

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UFC 167, Chael Sonnen, and the issue of promotion

You know when Chael Sonnen opens his mouth (or gets his typing fingers going a la Twitter), something interesting is going to emerge.

Cue Mr. Sonnen. Via MMAMania.com, Sonnen spoke on TapouT Radio on SiriusXM yesterday and commented about the job his bosses at the UFC have done promoting UFC 167:

“…outside of my fight and St. Pierre’s, I don’t know who else is fighting that night.  The card as a whole has not been promoted. I think when you have Georges St. Pierre on a card, that at times they view that as enough. And it appears that that’s the case.”

Sonnen makes a great point. But without the strength of a union, it is a moot one for most fighters.

This is nothing new for the UFC. They often leverage the power of a single fighter for PPV cards. It is the individual fighter who people are there to watch. If the UFC felt a huge name such as GSP, Anderson Silva or Jon Jones is all it takes to win the derby, then they ride that horse. In the case of UFC 167, the UFC appears to think GSP is enough to sell it.

Conversely, this top-heavy tactic is often use by the UFC to promote weak cards, leveraging a name fighter to draw in the PPV numbers. Check the cards that Jones had headlined in the past and you will notice how incredibly weak they are. So in a way a lot of less known fighters benefit when a big name like Jones headlines their card because he draws them in.

The issue is this tactic is more often a disservice to the other fighters. The individual brand of each fighter who isn’t promoted suffers without the hype the UFC can provide. Fighters raise the issue about the lack of visibility they earn for their sponsors all the time – and this is directly tied to how well the UFC can promote that individual, as well. The FD thinks Sonnen is coming from. He says as much.

While it appears Sonnen is railing for his own purposes, he is voicing a majority concern. Sonnen – unlike most fighters – is a master of self-promotion. Not being given the chance to do his thing to its full potential irks him. Except he has a great ability to do it without the UFC anyways. Most other fighters do not have his charisma and self-promoting powers.

It is certainly an issue how a fight card is promoted. While it can be used to help a lot of fighters get eyeballs on their fights, it more often stunts their potential exposure through pre-fight hype. Unfortunately, it’s another thing for fighters they cannot control.

For your perusal, here is a look at how stacked the UFC 167 card actually is:

MAIN CARD

Georges St-Pierre vs. Johny Hendricks – for welterweight title

Rashad Evans vs. Chael Sonnen

Robbie Lawler vs. Rory MacDonald

Josh Koscheck vs. Tyron Woodley

Ali Bagautinov vs. Timothy Elliott

PRELIMINARY CARD

Donald Cerrone vs. Evan Dunham

Ed Herman vs. Thales Leites

Brian Ebersole vs. Rick Story

Edwin Figueroa vs. Erik Perez

PRELIMINARY CARD

Jason High vs. Anthony Lapsley

Vaughan Lee vs. Sergio Pettis

Cody Donovan vs. Gian Villante


Chael Sonnen goes noble

It’s funny to think this will be my first post on Chael Sonnen. With all the vitriol that comes out of his mouth, Sonnen is constantly making headlines (at least when in front of the cameras).

In any case, Sonnen is no dummy. The man has carved a historic place for himself in the history of MMA – once termed by former UFC vet Brian Stann as starting ‘a paradigm shift in mixed martial arts’. He talks fast, loose, and backs it up in the octagon (don’t fool yourself, look at his resume). Sonnen is a showman, not a jester.

So it comes as a surprise when Sonnen takes a stance on issues that don’t pertain to disliking Brazilians. Recently, he’s been vocal about his disdain for how the Junior Dos Santos v. Cain Velasquez fight played out – particularly in how JDS took incredible amounts of punishment.

MMAWeekly.com reports that Sonnen notes that the doctor had to stop the fight to check on JDS twice. He believes the amount of punishment JDS took, “…knocked years off of Junior’s life and career.”

Ultimately, while he faults the referee for not stopping the fight sooner, he blasts JDS corner man with a remarkably pointed statement, “That was beyond wrong what he did.”  JDS jiu-jitsu coach Yuri Carlton contended their corner never thought about it, hoping JDS could pull out a fight-ending knockout.

MMA is a violent sport. It’s athlete sign up knowing they will get hurt. Like the evolution of the NFL in trying to steer its game down safer avenues (cough, because of money), MMA needs to do the same. We’ve seen referees stopping fights quicker – for instance, when a fighter goes limp on their feet before hitting the mat – and the sport needs to strive to continue this.

It’s reassuring to known Chael Sonnen isn’t always sticking to his shtick and thinks so, too.