Interview with British Pro MMA fighter, Jamaal Lake.

With a 7-0 amateur record to his name, Jamaal Lake came onto the pro curcuit with style. Now 3 fights into his pro career with a record of 2-1, we catch up with the beast named ‘godzilla’.

EK: Hi Jamaal, firstly, many thanks for taking the time to speak to us, it’s a pleasure to have the opportunity for delve into the world of a mixed martial artist and shed valuable info to our viewers.

JL: No problem, it’s great to be part of such an awesome site!!

EK: Okay, let’s get things started. How and when did you get involved in MMA and tell us a little about your career thus far?

JL: Well, I was always into sport! But not long after leaving school I spent years eating junk food and lazing around until I found myself as a 22 stone lazy security guard eating pizza watching MMA, thinking “those guys are crazy!!” One day a friend said I should try it and I haven’t looked back since! I had my first semi pro fight in November 2008 and stormed through 7 fights, all finished in less than two minutes. I made my professional debut in June of this year beating Deivydas Banaitis (10-5-1) via submission in less than two minutes on Adrenalinfc. The following October I beat the fellow undefeated Scotsman, Rab Truesdale, via submission (again in under two minutes) on cage warriors, which was aired live on premier sports.

With so much success I made the fatal mistake of becoming complacent, so when I had a shot at the vacant Bushido European heavyweight title my preparation was minimal, and after a grueling 15 minute war with a very tough and strong polish heavyweight, I lost by a unanimous decision. I gassed majorly trying to finish the fight as quickly as possible and he coasted his way to what some call an unfair decision but I make no excuses he did what he had to. It will NEVER happen again!

EK: Sounds like a great start to a career, even with some tough lessons learnt early on! You have made my next question a bit redundant but ill ask it anyway…Who has been your toughest opponent so far?

JL: Yea definitely Daniel Omielanczuk, the polish guy I lost to. I honestly believe my skill set was better than his but he just had a little more in the tank than I did that night and he’s the only guy to ever take me to a decision !! (Despite surviving the beating I gave him in the first round!!)

EK: Fair play to him for surviving the beating, I know from even when you were a youngster you packed a punch! Anyway, following on the discussion about opponents, are there any other fighters out there in particular that you would like to have a match up with?

JL: I’ll fight whoever they put in front of me to be honest. The U.K. heavyweight pool is pretty shallow at the moment. Even at the semi pro level I was smashing pros.

EK: Ha ha nice! Let’s get down to training. Strength/power, conditioning, mobility and pre-hab work are all essential to athletes. How do you find the optimal blend of all these components in your training programme?

JL: It’s very difficult to be honest. I have a young family and was unfortunately made redundant earlier this year. I decided to make the leap and begin training full time. But as you can imagine as a pro just starting it’s very difficult to cover the bills… the punch bag doesn’t pay you! Since the loss I aim to do my metabolic conditioning three mornings a week, strength training twice a week and use all other slots for technique drills and sparring. That said, if the odd couple days of work comes I have to take it. At times keeping on top of my daughter’s nursery bills are a killer!!

EK: Wow some heavy commitments but just as much drive to overcome and succeed it seems! Keep on your grind and soon these tough days will be a memory to chuckle about! Following on, outline for us what your current training schedule looks like.

JL: Monday – AM metabolic conditioning PM – mma/grappling.

Tuesday – AM at home PM – combo training or BJJ

Wed – metabolic conditioning & combos PM – wrestling & cage control

Thurs – combo & strength work PM – MMA/grappling.

Fri – rest.

Sat – metabolic conditioning PM – strength or BJJ.

Sun – rest

EK: When it comes to preparing for a fight, how does your training tailor to enable you to peak at the right time?

JL: This is a new aspect as before I just trained and fought but now I’m taking it a lot more seriously. My metabolic conditioning consists of 5x5minute rounds with one minute rest. Every week 15 seconds is knocked off the rest time until shortly before the fight I’m doing 25 minutes work with no rest. When I have this level of conditioning surviving 15 minutes with 3 minutes rest in the ring is a breeze! In terms of resistance training, about a month before the fight the focus is heavily on power over strength, but the sessions are finished with heavy sled pulls and rope work as not to loose my muscular endurance.

EK: Well it certainly appears that the strength training is in order judging by this video you have supplied us with!

EK: Okay, on to nutrition. What would the average day look like in terms of food for ‘Godzilla’?

JL: I was given a strict diet for my pro debut. Breakfasts were porridge with protein or lean omelets with a wholemeal bagel. Lunches were chicken with brown rice or sweet potato. Dinners were chicken or turkey with vegetables, red meat once a week and oily fish twice a week with a high calorie meal replacement and fruit in between meals. I felt a bit too light for that fight so since then I’ve been adding a few more carbs in the evenings and that was when I brought the weight training into the picture.

That said, I don’t usually have to cut weight per say. I decide what sort of weight I wish to fight at based on how I feel at that weight and what my opponent weighs in at.

EK: Recovery, as with all sports, is a massive part of MMA, both from the demands of the exercise and the physical wounds from combat. What does your recovery protocol look like in the immediate aftermath of a fight, in order to get you ready to hit training again as soon as possible?

JL: It depends on my mentality, as I said, I rarely got out of two minutes so more often than not I would just take a week off for some junk food and family time or get straight back to it. After my last fight I had a few bumps but I put my body through total exhaustion so when I went back to the gym on the Monday it was a bit soon but I’m back in the swing of things now. I know for next time that if I go the distances to simply take a few extra days off and start back in the gym with nothing to extreme.

EK: At Elite Kinetics we are big on inspiration. Who was and or is your biggest inspiration?

JL: I think watching Fedor  Emelianenko inspired me the most but now I’m a student of the game, every fight I watch, I am inspired by and learn from.

EK: High level sport and training is taxing and often involves the athlete to endure a certain level of pain. As an MMA fighter you regularly have to deal with facing pain and intimidation from opponents. What practices do you adopt to mentally prepare for a combat scenario?

JL: I think the best thing to do is focus on what you are about to do to your opponent instead of what he can do to you. That way you don’t have any intimidating thoughts in your head. The anxiety of what can happen to you is what causes the adrenalin dump. Usually I handle it well but in my last fight I felt like a weak old man when that bell rang!

EK: Selective attention and optimal cue utilisation is key to the success in all sports. During a fight what goes through your head and how do you focus on only the relevant bits of information needed to beat you opponent and not get overwhelmed?

JL: If I’m totally honest I couldn’t tell you what I’m thinking it’s literally as simple as action and reaction until someone’s action finishes the fight! I can’t tell you any thoughts that I have had really during a fight. The training just kicks in and its autopilot until the fight ends.

EK: Right, let’s look to the future. Outline for us your future goals, thinking both short term and long term.

JL: I want to get to the top of the sport and beat both the best domestic and international fighters until I’m holding every recognized title around. That’s it in my opinion there is no point competing if you don’t plan to conquer it all, and I will.

EK: Nice! Very true words. For any of our readers out there who are interested in starting MMA or maybe just those who wish to stay up to date with MMA in the UK, are there any particular websites/forums/online communities that are useful?

JL: Well, the ‘cage warriors’ forum is very current and addictedmma.com is the best website around for exclusives, interviews and information. ‘Born to be fitness’ is an online magazine similar to Men’s Health but specific to MMA.

EK: Well, you gave us some awesome stuff there! Once again, thank you for taking the time to speak with us and we wish you the best of luck in the future. We look forward to following your progress in MMA, and hopefully we will see you on the big screen soon! Before you go please feel free to give any shout outs that you may have!

JL: Thanks having me I’m a great fan of your work! I’d like to thank everyone at the Combat Sports Academy and everyone who has showed me support and had faith in me, In particular, my coaches Lee Johnstone and Lee page as well as all my training partners.

A mention of my sponsors:

Solo Supplements offer great quality and affordable supplements as well as nutrition advice. The Better Body Shop is an awesome strength and conditioning facility who have written out some of my training programmes. The Injury Therapist is a fantastic Sports Physio Therapist and Sweet Sweat offer great tools for weight cutting or warming up muscles.

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Inspiration 10/04/11

It’s Sunday again, so it’s time for your weekly dose of inspiration. Enjoy.
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How does Kai Greene keep pushing himself? Where does his energy come from? The answer lies in the power of rage
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George St. Pierre gives us another insight: the Battle of Champions
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Lance Armstrong shows us what it really means to be ‘Driven’.
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And finally – The moment you’ve been waiting for
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 Train Hard. Train Smart. Stay Strong.

Building a Bad Ass Fighter – by Ben Coker

I have numerous associates that are involved in fighting sports and resultantly I am frequently asked about training programmes to help develop ‘specific conditioning’ for a fighter for upcoming fights. The physical demands of professional fighting are intense. Muscular strength, power and endurance are all crucial to success. It is clear that training must be aimed to increase all of these. How do we develop all of these at the same time? Well it isn’t as daunting as it first appears as I will explain.
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I don’t want to go into strength training in this article as the area that causes most confusion lies in developing ‘specific conditioning’ for a fight a.k.a. the muscular endurance. A side note: In terms of pure strength training for a fighter I feel success is obtained in just the same way it is for any athlete: include all the main compound movements; Squat, deadlift, row/chin up variation, overhead press, bench press. Do them heavy and do them fast, this means pure strength days and speed days.  ‘Specific conditioning’ is achieved by mimicking a fight by doing the anatomical movements that occur in a fight separated by no or short rest periods to develop the oxidative capacity of the muscles involved as well as developing cardiovascular and pulmonary systems. Cutting to the chase here are the exercises that i consider to give a fighter in training ‘bang for his buck’.
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Tornado ball
This exercise works all of the stabilising muscles of the torso as well as developing power from the hip. This movement mimics that of punching from the hip, developing the power in the legs and hip and then enabling it to be transferred through the torso by strengthening its stability.  (Hulse’s reference to it not being a conditioning exercise is in the context of the exercise alone. Used as one exercise in a circuit it can be used for conditioning whilst developing power).
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Renegade rows
This exercise would benefit a fighter who has mounted an opponent in an attempt to ‘ground and pound’. Through developing sagital, horizontal and frontal stability, this exercise will allow a greater transfer of power through the torso and thus delivery through the arm to the opponent.
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SA T-bar jerk press (1st exercise in video)
The first exercise shown here offers a unique movement that develops power in the arms, shoulders and especially the legs and hips. A great exercise to develop punching power using a straight arm…no ‘windmilling here’.
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Sandbag or Turkish get ups
Get ups are fantastic at strengthening and stabilising your body as you move from supine to standing. Lets face it no fighter wants to be stuck on his back and not have the strength and stability to be able to stand up when there is a external force attempting to pin him down.
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Barbell glute bridges
Glute bridges are a great exercises for developing power in hip extension which is key for developing punching power but more specifically enhancing the ability to throw an opponent of off you if you are supine and they get some wise idea about attempting to pummel your face in. Train this movement heavy and fast and you’ll be amazed at how easily you’ll be able to throw an opponent off of you!
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Burpees
This grandad of exercise still has its place. It develops eccentric strength and concentric power in the chest and triceps as well developing muscular endurance. It strengthens the core musculature of the torso and develops power and muscular endurance in the legs and glutes. If you can bang these out effortlessly even when weighted then you’ll have no problem springing up off the mat repeatedly, crucially getting to your feet quicker…which is where the fight is won.
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Battle ropes
This  fantastic exercise and its variations works the entire upper body strength, endurance and stability.There is a strong focus on your core, arms, grip, anaerobic and aerobic systems whilst remaining non impact. Even the legs and glutes can be worked when performing larger movements. These are also great for developing the rotator cuffs which are crucial for shoulder health when shoulder is exposed to extreme velocities
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Farmers walks
This exercise is overlooked for the many benefits it provides to the whole body in terms of strength, stability and conditioning. I wont delve into the exercise in further detail as it is the focus of an upcoming article. Just trust me when i say they are a must!
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Towel/ rope chins
Grip strength for a fighter is crucial when it comes to grappling! Not only will farmers walks help with that but towel/rope chins are fantastic at giving you an iron claw. For those who think outside the box try Towel T-bar rows too as an alternative.
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Sled Rows
These are great for developing grip, upper back strength and muscular endurance.They also force you to tighten up your complete abdominal and lumbar musculature to provide a stable platform. These are key to strong grappling.
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Bear hug carries
It’s all well and good having strong biceps, pectorals, lats, legs and glutes but they need to put to practice and trained in a functional way. Bear hugging a heavy bag or other large object and carrying it over a distance will have your arms and grip screaming, your back and chest pumping and your lungs burning! For the grapplers and wrestlers out there this is a must.
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Wrap up
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This is no means an extensive list but it gives exercises that I feel are great for developing a formidably conditioned fighter. Stay tuned for upcoming articles that delve more into further conditioning ideas. As an idea on how to create a decent circuit consider the following:
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Towel Chin ups – failure
Farmers walk – 25m
Renegade rows – 8 reps per side
Bear hug carry – 25m
Burpees – 20reps
Barbell glute bridges – 10reps
Tornado ball – 10 secs
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Remember these aren’t meant to be easy. Choose as many exercises as you wish, perform as many reps as you wish, rest as little as you can. Don’t get lazy. Push your limits. Enjoy.
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