Last week, Jan Blachowicz fought Magomed Ankalaev for the UFC light heavyweight championship. The two warriors had a tough battle, resulting in a draw. As a result, neither fighter was able to claim the light heavyweight championship, leaving the division without a champion.
To add more controversy to this event, UFC President Dana White stated that Glover Texeira (ranked number 2 in the light heavyweight division) would fight for the title next against Jamahal Hill (ranked number 7). This means that neither Blachowicz or Ankalaev will be eligible to fight for the championship next, despite their previous title bout ending without a champion.
Looking at this strange situation in the light heavyweight division, fans can’t help but wonder, how did this division end up in such an odd predicament?
Jiri Prochazka’s Devastating Injury
Less than one month ago, the light heavyweight division had a champion: Jiri Prochazka. After a tough four-round battle against former champion Glover Texeira, things weren’t looking good for Prochazka. He was losing on the judges’ scorecards, and it seemed like Texeira would remain champion at the end of the bout. However, in the last round, Prochazka was able to secure a devastating rear naked choke to end the match, and solidify his place as the division’s champion. Going into Prochazka’s first title defense, fans were hoping to see a rematch between Texeira and Prochazka, which the UFC set for UFC 282. But after a devastating shoulder injury, Prochazka was out of the bout and had vacated his place as the light heavyweight champion.
Dana White had a lot to say about the injury on Paddy Pimblett’s podcast. “That night when it all went down and we had our doctor look at him, the doctor literally said in all the years of the UFC, this is the worst shoulder injury we’ve ever seen. So it’s pretty nasty,” White said. White continued to state that Prochazka wanted to keep fighting but the UFC President intervened. Looking back at TJ Dillashaw’s horrific shoulder injury against Aljamain Sterling at UFC 280, it’s clear that White made the right move. However, with both of these high-profile shoulder injuries occurring during training, Precision Boxing and MMA has put together their top 5 ways to make sure that you stay safe on the mats!
- Start Strength Training
Following a proper strength training routine will do a lot more for your martial arts skills than just prevent injuries. It will help you feel stronger and more athletic on the mats as well! Additionally, studies show that strength training is one of the most efficient ways to reduce injuries. Lifting weights strengthens your muscles, ligaments and tendons, which makes it easier to use them for athletic performance. This means your muscles become more powerful and more durable, making it much harder for them to tear. If you’re unsure about how to start strength training, or where to get a proper strength training routine, ask your coach! They’ll be able to guide you in the right direction.
- Start stretching before and after training
The studies are a little more conflicted on the benefits of stretching for injury prevention. However, by stretching your muscles, they become elongated. This increases your range of motion, which is your body’s natural ability for movement. This prevents pulling and straining muscles, by allowing your body to go past its natural limit. As a martial artist, developing a good stretching routine will also increase your flexibility. This makes it easier to get those high kicks, get into your rubber guard, or do the splits like Jean Claude Van Damme.
- Make sure you’re getting plenty of rest
Taking time off of training may seem like a counter-intuitive way to improve as a martial artist, but the benefits of getting proper rest will help you feel better on and off the mats. When you begin your martial arts journey, it’s normal to admire the athletes you see training two times a day, six days a week. It might seem like they’re just tougher than you, and able to endure so much more training than you can. Especially when you’re rolling with them, and you’re huffing and puffing while they seem like they can go on for another two hours. But it’s important to remember they didn’t start that way. At some point, they were beginners, just like you! Right now, you might be struggling to do classes two or three times a week, but with time, your body will get used to the training, and you’ll be able to increase the amount of time you spend on the mats. Until then, listen to your body. If you feel like you’re at your limit, don’t be afraid to take a rest day. By resting, you give your muscles time to heal themselves, which will allow them to grow stronger. It’s better to take a day off of training to rest and recover, than to be forced to take two weeks off to heal from an injury.
- TAP EARLY
This is a big one. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and it’s much easier to prevent your body from getting injured than it is to fix yourself up after an injury occurs. When you start feeling pressure on a joint, and you realize you’re unable to escape, don’t be a tough guy and let yourself get injured. It may seem cool when you see fighters refuse to tap in the UFC but remember, they’re fighting for a world title and plenty of money. When they’re in the training room, they’re making sure they tap early so they can keep their body healthy. This is especially true when you’re going against an opponent who is stronger than you and a little more excitable. You can’t control their actions, and you don’t know how hard they’ll rip a submission, but you can control how early you tap, and an early tap can mean the difference between going to sleep with a bruised ego, or going to sleep with a serious injury.
- Leave your ego at the door
Training martial arts helps you create plenty of relationships. There is the teacher-student relationship you develop with your coach. There is the sibling-like relationship you develop with your training partners. But there is also the competitive relationship you can develop with your teammates, especially those you see as a rival. When you’re rolling with one of your rivals, and they catch you in a submission, it can be tough to put your ego aside and tap. But it’s important to remember that we’re all training partners, wanting to help each other get better. We’re not fighting our mortal enemy for the UFC title, even if it can feel like that sometimes during a roll. It’s alright to tap and admit that your training partner got the better of you this time. Maybe next time, you’ll be the one who catches them in something, and by tapping and leaving your ego at the door, you create opportunities for rolls that are more enjoyable and less scary. No one wants to feel like they’ll be going face to face with Death every time they have to roll against you.
Training in a gym that has a healthy culture and coaches that care about your well-being will also help keep you safe, and allow you to stay on the mats longer without any injuries. If you’re looking for a gym that will give you exceptional martial arts training, while keeping you safe, come check out Precision Boxing and MMA, the Hudson Valley’s premier MMA gym. Call us at (845)-392-8495 or click HERE to get started today!
About the author:
Daniel Olmo is a lifelong martial artist, and a student at Precision Boxing and MMA. He has been studying martial arts since he was four years old, and has learned styles like Karate, Muay Thai, and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. He currently resides in Fort Myers, Florida, where he continues to train mixed martial arts.