Fighting Fit: Paul Redmond prepares for his Battlezone title fight.
MMA fighters are held in high esteem by fans for various reasons. For some it’s the bravery of stepping in the cage.
For others it’s the execution of ancient fighting systems such as wrestling, boxing, muay Thai or Judo. But all of us
should be inspired by MMA fighters’ dedication to physical fitness. When all other aspects in a fight seem equal, a
fighters conditioning can separate him from his foe. JOE followed Paul Redmond for a day as he prepared for his
lightweight title fight at Battlezone 5.
The life of a fighter sounds fantastic. Paul explains he usually gets up around 9.00am and has breakfast (scrambled
eggs or muesli), the first of his 6 meals that day. He also tells us he’s not finished with the ‘leaba’ as he’ll be back
there for an hour or so in the afternoon. Sounds like the dream job so far. However, Paul is just about to start the
day job and its not for the faint hearted, literally.
Gentle morning run
Its just gone 10.00am and the first task is a 10 kilometre run to Team Ryano in Baldoyle, where he trains 6 days a
week. He could drive it quicker on a route that’s much less than 10 kilometres but that wouldn’t do much for his
cardio. Paul started training at Team Ryano in 2008 really just for fitness. “I’m actually surprised that its gone so well
because I was pretty terrible at most sports when I was growing up – football, GAA, everything. I just started doing
the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu classes and then gave the MMA a try. I started off in the MMA League that Mark Leonard runs
and I just loved it. I had 10 amateur MMA fights and decided to turn pro.”
Its coming up to 11.00am and Paul has arrived at Team Ryano where head coach Andy Ryan will put him through his
paces for 30-60 minutes of strength and conditioning work depending on his work load later in the day and how
close he is to fight day. When you walk into Team Ryano you’ll see the customary gym mats and punch bags you’d
expect to see in a combat sports gym. Glance to you right and you’ll see a tractor tyre and a sledge hammer. On your
left is a thing called a TRX. Looking down through the gym you start to notice a set of gymnastic rings, a 25 foot rope
dangling from the ceiling and a crash mat against the wall beside it. The tools of the modern day fighter go beyond
the gloves, hand wraps and gum shield.
A warm-up for some is work-out for others
The strength and conditioning session is varied every day to ensure the whole body gets worked over and to keep
the session from turning into mind numbing drudgery. The warm-up is dynamic as opposed to just stretching, so its
4-5 minutes of shadow boxing, star jumps, sit-ups, press-ups, sprints, squats and sprawls. For most of us this IS the
work-out rather than just the warm-up.
Exercises are bundled together and performed in rounds. For example, squat jumps on the crash mat, kettle bells,
Olympic weight bar and pounding a tractor tyre with a sledge hammer are grouped together. Paul does a set of each
exercise for a minute and does multiple rounds of the exercise group. This is still early in the work-out and is an
extension of the warm-up to limit chance of injury and open the lungs for when the session really takes off.
Over the course of the next 30-40 minutes all manner of exercise occurs. If the exercise doesn’t involve lifting his
own body weight there’ll be someone pulling out of Paul to make sure he’s moving their weight too – sprints and
bear crawls take place with someone pulling Paul back to create resistance during the exercise. The TRX is the
ultimate piece of body weight exercise equipment. It looks real simple but can be more effective than weightlifting
as it requires your body to use muscle sets together. The session finishes with a few trips up the 25ft rope and some
lunges on the gymnastic ring. Just watching the work-out will give you a wheeze and a dry burning thirst.
Lunch and the Leaba
With the conditioning work done, its home for some lunch and a rest at 1.00pm. Lunch is a combination of fish or
chicken with boiled vegetables and maybe a sweet potato or rice. Then its back to the ‘leaba’ for an hour or so. As
we’re leaving the gym Andy reminds Paul ‘if you’re not training or eating,then your’re resting, asleep!’
The fighters’ diet is varied, with smaller portions than you’d expect and more frequent sittings. “I’d never sit down to
a big feed. Its like a lunch size portion, about 6 times a day. I do eat carbs even though you hear people saying there
so bad for you. You need them for fuel but you cant overdo it. I’d have a soft spot for sugar but 4 weeks out from a
fight everything sweet has to go.” Needless to say alcohol and takeaways don’t feature in the discussion, not even on
the ‘cheat’ day.
Paul fights Tom McGuire from Spirit MMA (Kerry) for the Battlezone lightweight title this Saturday (24th March). Its
not his first shot at glory as he is the current Chaos lightweight champion. Paul recalls “I was very nervous going into
that fight. I probably lost the first round and back in the corner Neil Seery was telling me to turn it on. So, I went out
and landed about 4-5 big takedowns and landed some heavy shots from the top and the ref stopped it.”
After another meal or 2, Paul is back at Team Ryano by 5.00pm for some of the evening classes. Through-out the
week you can train in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, wrestling, muay Thai and judo. There are MMA classes on nearly every
evening as well.
Irish MMA comes to American Top Team
Being used to training twice a day would have stood to Paul during his time training at American Top Team last
September. Himself and team-mate John Donnelly spent 4 weeks training in Florida with some of the top names in
MMA. “It was like here, training twice a day – sparring and strength work in the morning and then doing the classes
in the evening. The big difference was obviously who you were training with – Thiago Silva, Thiago Alves, Mike
Brown, Liugi Fiorovanti, Hector Lombar – about 15 or so lads that are fighting in the UFC, Strikeforce and Bellator.”
Once his own training is finished Paul then starts his gents and ladies fitness classes that run from 9.00 to 10.00pm
most days of the week. “Fighting might not be for everyone but I’d recommend the training for everyone, it’s the
best type of fitness you could do. I’ve taken some of the conditioning drills I do and turned them into a class for
people who’ve no interest in fighting. So far the take up has been pretty good.”
Paul gets home around 10.30pm. The final meal of the day is followed by some down time before hitting the pillow.
A pretty tough grind 6 weeks days a week. So far the pay-off has come in the form of the Chaos title. After Saturday
there could be another belt but either way Paul Redmond is building a solid base for a long future in the sport of
You can check out Paul’s fitness classes here or contact Battlezone for tickets for his title fight here.
Fergus Ryan, March 2012.