With a worldwide pandemic bringing an end to sport, for now, the UFC is attempting to keep the beacons of Gondor lit for fans around the world.
MMA’s premier organisation has scheduled three cards over the space of seven days starting on May, 10 with the interim lightweight title fight between Tony Ferguson and Justin Gaethje kicking off proceedings next weekend.
It's happening!! 🙌
— UFC Europe (@UFCEurope) May 2, 2020
However, with the majority of the world on lockdown and the United States being the epicentre of the coronavirus, training for these high-level fights on such short notice presents huge challenges.
American Top Team [ATT] is arguably the biggest fighting stable in the world with its head gym in Coconut Creek, Florida home to a plethora of UFC fighters including Yoel Romero, Jorge Masvidal, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Amanda Nunes and Dustin Poirier to name just a small few.
Mike Brown is one of the head trainers at ATT and the former WEC featherweight champion sat down for an in-depth chat with MMA Junkie’s Danny Segura last week.
Brown spoke of the challenges facing the fighting stables amidst the current crisis claiming that as a trainer he’s had to be present at the gym even more so they can adhere to the rules on social distancing.
“Yeah, I mean it’s tougher, obviously, it’s not ideal,” said ATT coach Brown to MMA Junkie’s Danny Segura over social media.
“There’s a lot less people, a lot less training partners but we have so many athletes down here that we make do.
“Scheduling is tougher and instead of having everyone meet at one time, now we (coaches) have to come in a lot more often and spread the people out so there’s only a couple of fighters in the gym at one time but we’re still getting solid training in.
“They’re in shape, they’re prepared. I mean, it’s not ideal, they’re not getting what they’re usually getting.”
Brown continued by admitting that the biggest disadvantaged faced with today’s ongoing struggles is the lack of variety available to fighters who are stuck training with just one or two partners throughout the entirety of their camp.
“The biggest thing we’re missing is variety,” said Brown.
“Usually, you’d get a good variety of partners which I think is important but now we’re sticking to one training partner, two training partners etc.
“You can still get to where you need to go but it’s not ideal, not perfect but they’re all in shape and ready to go.”
He did, however, admit that with fewer people around, it allows coaches to focus all their energy into those preparing for an upcoming fight.
“I mean the gym is empty because there are no general students so you don’t have that. There’s a lot less clutter, a lot less distraction. You can kind of focus on who’s got a fight because the only people in the gym are those who have a fight coming up in the next month or two.
‘And we’ve got a big gym, there’s usually a lot of people there so right now, it’s never been so quiet, never been so dead and in some ways, that’s nice, it’s good, you know?
“It’s more focused for those people that are fighting. They’re getting more attention from the coaches. It’s all laser-focused on them, there’s not as many distractions going on.”
Brown continued by claiming, however, that the ATT facilities in Coconut Creek also acts as a home for many of its fighters which presents its own challenges in these strange times.
“But there’s also people living there, we have dorms so there are people living there full-time.
So that’s another kind of strange twist were even when things were really getting locked down and people aren’t training but people are literally living at the gym, that’s their home so it makes for a strange time.”