British MMA and UFC champ Arnold "Almighty" Allen shares with us at Gymbox what have been his career highlights to date, and why strength training is crucial to his regime. "It's a big part of my training" he says, "getting a little extra strength to assist my technique has been very beneficial". We meet him.
Hi Arnold, what has been the highlight of your career so far?
Winning my UFC debut was the best feeling ever! Taking on the fight with just a few days notice, and then being able to battle through adversity to get the win was an unexplainable feeling.
What inspired you to get into MMA?
My brother and I have always been very competitive, and also fans of martial arts and professional wrestling. We were always trying moves or fighting each other! Then one day our dad, who was also an athlete, made the transfer from strongman to mixed martial arts, so seeing him do that inspired me to take on a short stint as an amateur boxer. After that I wanted to learn more than just boxing – I wanted to learn everything.
What would you life have been like if you had taken a different path?
My dad has always pushed me to do what I wanted, and to avoid working a normal life-draining job, so I'm sure it would've been chasing another dream, rather than working in an office.
What interests do you have outside of MMA?
I love watching BMX and MX. I used to ride a BMX when I was younger, but I have to admit I wasn’t very good at it. Don’t tell anyone!
Take us through your training schedule working up to a fight
I try and train hard all year, but little things change when I'm prepping for a fight. It’s important that I clean up my diet as the intensity goes up in training, and I focus on tactics and a game plan. During the eight weeks leading up to a fight I also add sprints to my training for extra conditioning. I also include specific drills which I think might present problems in the fight. Basically it's all about losing weight, conditioning and sharpening my tools.
Do you get nervous just before a fight?
A fight is the ultimate sporting test there is, so you have to learn to control your nerves, and make them help you, rather than hinder your performance.
What are your mantras to get you through a fight?
I like to visualise my perfect performance and my hand raised. You should try it!
On your rest days, what do you like to do?
I usually get a massage so my body is feeling ready to go for the next week of training, and of course I eat. I love eating!
How important is strength training as part of your regime, if so, what would you recommend?
I’ve been working with William Wayland who's been my strength and conditioning coach for the majority of my professional career. It's a big part of my training – getting a little extra strength to assist my technique has been very beneficial. We do a lot of compound lifts like squats bench RDLs for strength, I find it very helpful for injury prevention, which also assists stability and mobility.
Tell us about your diet leading up to, and after, a fight
Before a fight my diet is very clean – I like to stick to a simple low carb, high protein diet. I cut out a lot of sugars and omit bread. The bulk of my diet is chicken, fish and vegetables. After a competition I like to make up for the food I didn't eat whilst I was dieting! So I will literally eat everything for a couple of weeks, it's a nice way to reset the body. Cutting out bread is the hardest thing, but it pays off.
How important is mobility as part of your training?
Mobility is very important to me – not only does it help prevent injuries, but being mobile also makes it easier to perform techniques like high kicks.
What are your future goals?
My ultimate goal is to be the best at my sport. I will continue to give it everything I have.