Matt Brown doesn’t train like other UFC fighters. He does his strength and conditioning with legendary gym Westside Barbell, which has produced more elite-level powerlifters than any other training facility – but he doesn’t do much squatting and benching. Louie Simmons, the owner of the Westside, explains why this means the top ten-ranked welterweight is much, much stronger than he looks.

The problem with MMA training

I see a lot wrong with MMA. I mostly see fighters being trained by other fighters. If you want to be an expert weight trainer, you have to have an expert weight trainer coaching you. If I wanted to learn how to beat somebody up, I wouldn’t go to a powerlifter – I’d go to a fighter.

Arms aren’t everything

The most common mistake I see fighters making is training their arms to increase punching power. If you want to punch harder, it does no good to strengthen your arms. A good fighter throws punches with their whole body, so I get them to build up their hips and their legs and abdominals to develop that rotation.

Getting specific

I get Matt to do long, gruelling five-minute rounds with one-minute rest periods, because that’s what he does in fights. It’s called exercise specificity. If he fights a 170lb [77kg] man, we have to have him train with a mass and resistance equivalent to 170lb. It’s about building muscular endurance.

Hard work pays off

In terms of specific exercise, I’ll have Matt pulling heavy sleds or pummelling while wearing a weighted squat belt – anything that forces him to maintain that workload with that kind of equivalent resistance. I once watched [former UFC lightweight champion] BJ Penn preparing for a fight, and his coaches were getting him to throw punches holding 5lb [2.3kg] dumbbells to build muscular endurance. What happened in his next fight? He ran out of muscular endurance. His opponent weighed 155lb [70kg] – that’s the kind of resistance he should have been working with.

Forget the cardio

We don’t do any specific cardio. A true fighter maintains his cardio through doing jiu jitsu, wrestling, Muay Thai and so forth.

UFC Fight Night: Brown vs Silva takes place on Saturday 10th May. Early prelims start at 11:30pm exclusively on UFC Fight Pass and continue from 1am live on BT Sport

For more from Louie Simmons, click here