If it’s broke, fix it.

2016 has been a mixed bag to say the least, from the rise of Miesha Tate to the fall of Conor McGregor, it’s been a lot of ups and downs. One thing that has been an habitual downer however, is the plague of injuries. Since the year started there has been 11 main and co-main event injuries, which is right on track with the 42 in 2015. With the recent pullout of Daniel Cormier and Tony Ferguson from their respective cards (UFC 197 and UFC on FOX 19) Lorenzo Fertitta and the UFC knew something had to change. That  change seemed to involve a one year deal with Athlete training and conditioning  center “EXOS”. Maxhollowayworkout Exos is a state of the art, expansive 31,000 sq-foot training facility located in uptown Phoenix, Arizona. No stranger to big time athletes, the center trains athletes from the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, PGA, as well as the armed forces. Founded in 1999 by Mark Verstegen, a 15-year Performance Director for the NFL Players Association, the center has on-site specialists in nutrition, strength and conditioning, and physical therapy. The  training regimens are customized for each sport – with MMA being focused  on balance and functionality through circuit training. To kick off the partnership – UFC Director of Athlete Development James Kimball sent 4 UFC fighters (Max Holloway, Kelvin Gastelum, Kamaru Usman, and Paul Felder) to the world renown strength and conditioning camp for an all inclusive, 2 a day, week long boot camp. The first of many – Kimball is planning to host trips at least once a month with up to 6 fighters in order to keep the coach to fighter ratio in check. Rich Franklin was there to oversee the young fighters, weighing in on the new approach to training. “I was surprised,” admits Griffin. “Even a guy like Rashad (Evans), who’s been around for years and had access to great strength coaches his whole career, a lot of things were new to him. I was just surprised at his level — a champion, he’s had so many big fights in his career — he’s still newer to strength and conditioning than I would have thought. I think it’s just a difference of, you know, a lot of guys never asked why. Coaches told them to do something and they just did it.” “You’ve seen the circuits Wanderlei (Silva) used to do, right? They’re f*cking badass. They’re fun. They’re awesome. I love them. I still do them today. But it’s not good for you. It’s stupid. You’re going to take damage doing this sport. Why not keep the damage in the Octagon, as opposed to in the weight room? Guys getting hurt, torn up, beat up in the gym — that’s just dumb. You’re in there to get better at your sport.” onelegexos It seems like old school, grind it out, training is a thing of the past – a new streamlined and scientific approach seems to be the new direction of the UFC. While I’m all about new and innovative, there’s something to be said about the training of old. The thing about that type of training is that not only did it test your physical strength but also your mental. Men wanted to see how far their heart and spirit would take them when their bodies no longer would. They wanted to see how much pain they could take and still go on. A warrior’s spirit. This is why many of us still watch – not just to see the best skilled, but who can take adversity and endure. In a new era of highly skilled martial artists, the standouts will be the hybrids – the will of a Nogueira brother with the martial arts skills of a “Wonderboy” Thompson…now that’s scary. Chime in with your thoughts on the new EXOS training center below. Catch the full story at MMA Fighting.