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Midnight Mania! UFC Performance Institute study: MMA ‘inherently creates poor posture and muscle imbalances’

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MMA: UFC 200-Mousasi vs Santos Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports

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The UFC Performance Institute released a review of “over 30,000 data points” that attempted analysis of everything from the winning-est performance metrics to the best training and weight-cutting practices. Billed as “part analytics and part educational,” the study identified some problem areas for UFC fighters and established benchmarks for athletic performance, as well as advice for balancing training with enough rest and recovery to avoid overtraining.

There were several unsurprising findings such as the rise in fight pace; strikes thrown per minute has doubled since 2002, no doubt partly because of advancement but also the inclusion of lighter weight classes in that time. Average fight duration has risen as well. This was attributed, with unintentional irony in an era of blatant money-grab fights, to “greater parody in matchmaking,” among other factors. Heavyweights throw less, but knockou their opponents more frequently than flyweights.

There were some more revealing paragraphs a bit further in, including some findings on how UFC athletes stack up to athletes in mainstream sports. Part of this analysis was on what injuries fighters were predisposed to suffer from. One thing to note in terms of injury data: most of the injuries documented by the UFC PI were reported, 77 percent, were in-fight injuries, meaning training injuries were underrepresented in the sample. This was an issue the study acknowledged.

The study found that many fighters have flat feet, which negatively affects several aspects of their performance. They also tend to have poor hip extension due to tight hip flexors. This leads to anterior pelvic tilt, where the hips are tilted forward, leading to poor posture and back pain when standing for extended periods. But, that wasn’t the worst of the imbalance: Mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters tend to have “very poor” shoulder and neck mobility. This seems to be from keeping hands high and shoulders hunched to avoid taking damage in sparring and in fights. However, that restricted range of motion can hurt striking performance as well as make injury more likely.

As for the culprit, the study blamed the sports directly, stating that these imbalances are a natural result of spending a lot of time training and competing in MMA.

Training and competition for MMA inherently creates poor posture and muscle imbalances. Postural correction should be the starting point for any remedial approaches when not training MMA. Many fighters have habitual anterior pelvic tilt that is coupled with very poor levels of glute or lower abdominal strength and control.

The study may prove to be an important tool not just in diagnosing frequent problem areas in the sport and with athletes, but in the best ways to counter those problems and establish a resource for best practices in fighter training and physical preparation. As Forrest Griffin, the Vice President of Athletic Development, said in the introduction to the study, the goal is “sharing best practices for performance optimization with athletes and coaches around the world.” For athletes, smaller gyms, and coaches charting their own course in a still-nascent sport, this ought to prove a valuable resource.

At least the $12 million facility is being used for more than arbitrary measures of punching and kicking power.


Brian Ortega vs. Max Holloway is going to be a battle for the ages.

Cesc Fabregas didn’t make Spain’s World Cup squad so he’s changing sports entirely:

Only my first training session. Need to work on that technique...

A post shared by Cesc Fàbregas (@cescf4bregas) on

Chael Sonnen training for his next Bellator bout against Fedor Emelianenko!

Focus on the 80%...

A post shared by Chael Sonnen (@sonnench) on

The world is a stupid place and it’s not getting any less stupid ...

Andre Fili listed his father figures and well, we all can relate.

Shoutout to the dudes who raised me. #fathersday

A post shared by Andre Fili (@touchyfili) on

Cody Garbrandt and his old time family:

Old Time Photos with @kai_garbrandt & @pimsanguan #OldSacramento

A post shared by Cody Garbrandt (@cody_nolove) on

Urijah Faber posted this throwback to the most epic leanback since the Matrix came out:

Instincts #mothernature #birdman

A post shared by Urijah Faber (@urijahfaber) on

Bellator kickboxer Kevin Ross painted this of Gina Carano:

Anderson Silva is right: this will never be duplicated ... at least not intentionally:

This video of drills being used in fights is pretty awesome, because it shows how much specific work goes into each spectacular moment for many fighters:

Valentina Shevchenko responds to Nicco Montano’s verbal fight offer.

Slips, Rips, Chokeout Clips

Some punches, knees and kicks for you!

Might not deserve this many caps, but that’s a solid KO:

Honey badger don’t care!

Old school:

Random Land

In honor of Father’s Day:

Dads everywhere be like #HowBowDah #TheRealHeroes

A post shared by Jeremy Foster (@jeremyfoster) on

In honor of our neighbors to the south beating Germany at association football:

Mexico vs Germany...

A post shared by Black Jaguar-White Tiger (@blackjaguarwhitetiger) on

Stay woke, Maniacs! Follow me on Twitter and Facebook @Vorpality