Friday, February 3, 2012

UFC 143: Nick Diaz discusses mental advantage over opponents with his superior conditioning

By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief

One of the less talked about aspects of Nick Diaz's overall game is his superior cardio, a byproduct of his other passion in life for triathlons. The UFC 143 headliner has said in the past that he'd be a full time triathlete if it paid him like fighting does, and his work ethic on that front gives him an edge on most of his opponents in the cage.

It's something Diaz doesn't think most fighters work on enough, but his conditioning is never a concern to him when he steps into the cage. His ability to go as hard at the end of 25 minutes as he does in the first round is often what allows him to overwhelm opponents as the fight wears on, and it makes for a serious advantage.

"Fighters are afraid of conditioning, they are afraid of getting tired, but I don't want to have anxiety or be afraid of anything," Diaz said in an interview with the Huffington Post. "I can go 100 percent out there and never have to worry about getting tired. Everybody says fighting is 90 percent mental, and it's true. Knowing you can go 15 minutes or 25 minutes without any problem can help you sustain that mental advantage over your opponent."

Diaz says he just enjoys doing what he does, and unlike most he continues to keep working and keeping his conditioning on point even after a fight or a triathlon itself. For Diaz, it's necessary to keep himself moving.

"I just like to race," he said. "It gives me something to build for. During the triathlon season, I'll probably race every two weeks. I get stronger and stronger when building up to the race. After a race, a lot of people will crash and take their foot off the gas, but I'll keep building and building until I have to fight. I have a reason not to crash, and I try to keep the ball rolling until fight night."

"Doing the races keeps me in shape. By the time a fight comes around, I'm already in shape and ready to go. I don't have to get in shape for fights. When I am in the gym, I train mixed martial arts, I don't need to train to get in shape. I am already in shape. If I'm not running, I'm going to go for a swim or go on a bike ride. I don't like being stationary at any point during training."

Penick's Analysis: Diaz's ability to go as hard late in a fight as he does early on is a huge part of why he's able to keep his opponents on the defense late. The fight with B.J. Penn is a prime example, as Penn actually won the first round, but then Diaz wore him out with a vicious onslaught in the second and third rounds that would not stop. The longer the fight goes with Carlos Condit on Saturday night, the more it will play into Diaz's favor. And, if he can get past Condit, that conditioning will allow him to hang with Georges St-Pierre through a five round fight as well.

[Nick Diaz art by Grant Gould (c)]


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