April 2013

April 2013


Photo By Rick Lee

What inspired you to grow your epic stache?
It started because I tried to grow out this huge beard, but it didn’t really work. As a joke, I decided to keep the mustache and shave everything else. I thought it looked awesome, so I kept the mustache, and it just kind of grew into what it is now.

You also have a strong ink game working. When did you start getting tattoos?
I was probably 20 years old when I started, and I’ve been getting them ever since. Now it’s to the point where I know I’m just going to keep getting them. Next, I’m getting tattooed by my buddy who owns Newport Tattoo. He is going to be at the Musink Music Festival in a couple of weeks. I’m going to be hanging out, signing autographs, and getting tattooed. It should be fun.

Where did your popular “Uncle Creepy” nickname come from?
It came from my nephew. He usually calls me Uncle Ian, but he called me Uncle Creepy one night and it stuck.

Had your fighting career not taken off, what would you be doing?
I would probably be in the car business because my family has done that forever. I used to own a transportation business, where we would transport used cars to dealerships. Coming from that background and having a very business savvy family, I would probably be running some sort of car operation.

How do you keep your sanity and balance between training full-time and competing on the world’s biggest stage?
It’s all about my daughter. She is my inspiration to fight and the reason I try so hard. It’s all her. I have another mouth to feed, and I have to make sure she is taken care of. I have to do this.

You’re fighting out of Orange County, and a lot of people consider the Huntington Beach area to be the epicenter of MMA. What’s it been like to be a part of that scene and watch the sport blow up like it has over the past 10 years?
Don’t say Huntington, man. Huntington is a horrible place. I hate Huntington Beach. I live in Irvine now, but I’m from Dana Point—The Father Land. The sport is huge here. There are great fans and a lot of talented fighters. It’s just nice to have so many quality gyms in such a small area. Huntington isn’t even Orange County. I look at it as the Riverside of Orange County. I really have a huge distaste for Huntington Beach.

Why no love for Huntington?
Every time I go there, everyone is fucking mean and nasty. It just sucks, man. It’s the Detroit of Orange County

I know you’re friends with Joseph Benavidez outside of the cage. But in your last fight, he blasted you with a kick below the belt. Any plans on returning the favor to Joe when you see him next?
I haven’t watched the fight yet, but I know I didn’t fight like I should have. He dictated the pace the entire time and that’s not how I fight. I go out and dictate the pace. I need to kick and punch him and do a lot more work the next time I fight him.

When can fight fans expect to see Uncle Creepy return to the cage?
I’d like to get back out there as soon as possible. I’m already back to work in the gym. I’m looking to fight whenever the UFC asks me to. I could literally be ready in a couple of weeks. I just need to get my head straight. That’s been my biggest issue. I’ve been dealing with personal problems, and I let them affect me, which I shouldn’t have. But they did, and that’s my own fault. Next time, that won’t happen. When they call, I’ll be ready.


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Bellator ring girl Mercedes Terrell caught the eye of president Bjorn Rebney in 2009 when she sent in a funny, homemade video to the upstart fight promotion. Now, this Orange County, CA, beauty dazzles MMA fans every Thursday night on Spike TV with her curves, quick wit, and powerful t-shirt launcher. Take a gander and find out her favorite fighter (Alexander Shlemenko), when she’ll do Playboy (probably never), and why she was caught naked in a tub with Jade Bryce and Jimmy Smith (use your imagination).

 MMA fans love their ring girls. What’s been the weirdest fan experience you’ve had?
I don’t know if this is an MMA fan or not, but I have a strange stalker following me on my social media sites. A lot of people make fake profiles of me, and I’ve had several instances where—I don’t know if you’ve seen the show Catfish, but basically those same things are happening to the extent of I’ve had someone get engaged to someone who is pretending to be me. I’ve had someone who said they were dating me in person for like six months until they finally hit up my website and figured out it wasn’t me.

What do you tell someone who thinks they’ve been dating you—and then BAM, they figure out they’ve been duped?
Honestly, it’s kind of heartbreaking because they’ve obviously had this relationship built up in their heads. I just have to break it to them and say, ‘This is the only real page for me, and I’m sorry to let you down, but you have not been dating me, nor do I live in Texas and have three kids.’

I feel like there’s a reality show in the works here.
Maybe. Apparently, I have several clones out there. However, there’s only one me.

Who’s your favorite fighter?
I have a lot, but I have to say Alexander Schlemenko. He’s just so badass—he’s like the Russian Chuck Norris. He’s so entertaining to watch in the cage every single time. Before this, my dad wasn’t even a fan of MMA, but now that he’s watched Schlemenko, he’s hooked on it. He watches every show.

What’s the loudest moment you’ve ever experienced in a Bellator arena?
February 21, 2013, in Salt Lake City was legitimately the loudest Bellator crowd. It was amazing. Canada is usually the answer to that. We get some fights in the crowd. They get a little rowdy, and they are always really loud and participate a lot during the fights. In Salt Lake City, first off, the fights were amazing, so that helps. We had a knockout in almost every fight. The crowd was literally on their feet the entire time. They did not sit down one time. Salt Lake City’s crowd was the best.

I saw a picture floating around of you, Bellator ring card girl Jade Bryce, and commentator Jimmy Smith in a bubble bath together…naked. Care to elaborate?
We are on the road together—me, Jimmy, Jade, and the entire Bellator crew—most of the year and most of each week. I see these people more than anyone else in my life. We call ourselves ‘The Traveling Circus’ because that’s really what we are. We need to be able to entertain ourselves. We have a sick sense of humor sometimes. Maybe we get carried away with it, I don’t know, but as long as people enjoy it. We do these little skits. That week, we had a bubble bath in our room. First of all, Jimmy likes to do this douche bag skit. So we always figure out a way to incorporate me and Jade into Jimmy being a douche bag—it’s pretty easy. We got into the bathtub and Jimmy is basically talking about how there are so many risks being in the Bellator crew, so we always practice safe bath-tubbing, which means always bathing with a buddy. It might sound weird when I’m saying it now—you have to watch the skit.

 Are you aware of how much Jimmy talks about you girls on air?
I try to watch the shows. This last season, I’ve been begging for them to get us audio at our seats—me and Jade—because we sit cageside every week and watch the fights go down but we don’t get to listen to the commentary that Jimmy and Sean Wheelock are doing until we go back and watch the fights on TV. I don’t get to watch the fights on TV until the offseason. They did give us audio at the end of last season, but it’s based on the venue we are in. So no, I don’t get to hear what Jimmy says about us until I watch the replays, but I know Jimmy well enough I can probably figure it out.

I read somewhere that you never would pose for Playboy. Is there no price tag to your goods?
I never say ‘never’ to anything. However, I’ve been approached several times by them and…it’s not about a price tag. If I ever made the decision to do something nude, it wouldn’t ever be about the price. I’m a workaholic, and I have no problem working and making money, so that’s not the issue. I think it’s just that, why do I need to? I don’t. I think women are beautiful. I see why guys want to see them naked. I don’t want to have a reason to ever tell my boyfriend, for instance, ‘I didn’t leave something for you.’ It leaves something for mystery and something for the guy I’m going to end up with forever. I run around the house naked, but I don’t need to make that public. I think I need to save that for my husband [laughing].

Let’s do a little speed round or we’ll end up talking about you naked the whole time. Favorite booze?
Stoli Honey. I’ve literally mixed it with every kind of juice.

Worst pick-up line ever heard?
While I was signing posters, some guy in line told me he gets off to my posters. It was so awkward. What do you say to that? Security!

Dream pillow fight opponent?
My favorite movie is The Fifth Element, and I love Milla Jovovich in that movie. She’s the perfect being, right? She’s the supreme being.

Best feature?
I think my sense of humor.

Tips for working the t-shirt launcher at Bellator events?
First of all, everyone is so afraid of me. Bjorn sent one of our guys to tell me not to shoot so low because he’s worried I’ll shoot someone in the face. I’m an expert at the t-shirt gun by now, and sometimes people need to be shot in the face. If you notice every week, I’m the one who operates it because Jade is afraid of it.

Instagram: @mercedesterrell
Twitter: @mercedesterrell
Facebook: MercedesTerrellOfficial

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Photos by Paul Thatcher
Makeup by MARAZ
Wardrobe by Paulina Brand


By Mick Hammond // mmaweekly.com

Mixed martial arts is the fastest growing sport in the world. It garners more attention and new fans daily. The emergence of so many new athletes sometimes makes it hard for fans to notice some of the fighters on the verge of making it to the next level. MMAWeekly.com takes you deep inside the sport and presents you with some of the upcoming New Blood.

image descGraham Spencer
Record: 10-1
Key Victories: Shane Nelson, Mukai Maromo
Weight Class: 155 lbs.
Age: 29
Country: Canada

While last year didn’t exactly go how MFC featherweight Graham Spencer planned, 2012 was a successful year in which he won both of his fights and raised his record to 9-1.

“I only had two fights and would have liked to have been more active, but I had some family issues and stuff I needed to take care of,” says Spencer. “It would have been nice to get a finish against Shane Nelson, but he’s a tough guy who has only been finished once his entire career.”

Having taken steps to make fighting his sole focus, Spencer wants to be more active in 2013.

“Last year I quit my day job, so fighting is full-time for me now, and in order for me to keep that happening, I have to stay active,” he says. “I just can’t have two fights. I’d like to have four.”

No matter how many fights Spencer gets in 2013, he kicked off the year by submitting Mukai Maromo to capture the MFC Lightweight Title. Now, Spencer plans to fight for MFC at featherweight.

“I’m not going to be staying at lightweight,” says Spencer. “MFC didn’t really have any other featherweights for me at the moment, so I fought at lightweight. I know MFC president Mark Pavelich has some big plans for building the featherweight division, and I think I’ll be right up there and be—if not the top guy—one of the top guys in the division.”


Scott Holtzman
Record: 4-0
Key Victories: Jason Hicks
Weight Class: 155 lbs.
Age: 29
Country: United States
Nickname: Hot Sauce

Scott “Hot Sauce” Holtzman is a classic example of a fighter who was virtually unknown to start a year, only to become one of his promotion’s top young stars by the end of it.

“I got a shot to be on the XFC undercard when it came through Knoxville, Tennessee, and all I needed was the opportunity to go out there and prove myself,” says Holtzman. “They liked what they saw, and I got another shot and then another.”

image descThat added up to a breakout 2012 for Holtzman, kicking off his professional career in style, following a 5-0 amateur record. Holtzman’s success in the XFC in 2012 put him in a lightweight title eliminator match against fellow up-and-comer Jason Hicks to start off 2013.

Although he’s only been fighting professionally for 14 months, Holtzman has been able to keep things in perspective and not get overwhelmed. That served him well in the fight against Hicks. Holtzman had been able to finish his first three pro fights, but he had to dig deep with Hicks and go the distance en route to winning a unanimous decision.

“I don’t get too high or too low on these fights,” Holtzman says. “I don’t make them out to be anything more than they really are. At the end of the day, it’s still a fight. The cage is the same size, he puts on his gear the same way I do, and whether the fight was on the undercard, the main event, or a title fight, it’s still just a fight.”

After a stellar 2012 and the follow-up victory against Hicks, Holtzman is now prepared to live up to expectations in 2013 and become one of the XFC’s premier fighters.

“It’s always good to have goals,” says Holtzman. “I’d like to have a title belt in the XFC. I’d like to keep it rolling, get a couple more wins in the XFC cage, and continue to build my name and brand.”


Lauren Taylor
Record: 5-0
Key Victory: Jennifer Scott
Weight Class: 135 lbs.
Age: 29
Country: United States

Legacy FC 135-pound prospect Lauren Taylor knows that the fight game is a work in progress, and that’s fine with her, as her work ethic is one of her defining features.

image desc“The biggest thing about me that maybe other women don’t have is that I’m going to outwork every single one of them,” she says. “I’m going to outwork them in the gym, and if they beat me, it’s not going to be for lack of hard work or preparation.”

Taylor’s work ethic to continually get better not only comes through in the gym but also in her fights, as evidenced by her most recent win over Jennifer Scott.

“I’m not entirely thrilled that she was getting the better of me on the feet,” says Taylor. “I’ve watched the video of it a couple times, and once I started to relax, I started to do a little bit better. I’m a huge fan of throwing elbows on the ground. I don’t even punch when I’m on the ground. Throwing elbows just comes natural. Once I had her on the ground, I knew it was over.”

The TKO-victory over Scott pumped Taylor’s record up to 5-0, making her one of Legacy’s top female fighters. While she’s enjoying her position in the promotion, she ultimately wants to test herself against the best females in the division, which now means the UFC or Invicta FC.

“The 135-pound division is full of really talented females,” says Taylor. “I’d like to make a name for myself, and I think even with the toughest women out there, I can put on a good show and hang with them. I’m going to work on improving as fast as I can. While I might not always pull out a win, I guarantee it’s definitely going to be a fight everyone’s going to want to see.”


Daniel Cormier vs. Frank Mir
UFC on Fox 7: 4/20/13
San Jose, CA

Here’s a joke: How do you put an alligator in an armbar? Wait, we’ll get back to that.

image descWhen Daniel Cormier and Frank Mir square off at UFC on Fox 7 on April 20, the aftershock (265-pound pun intended) will be felt in both the heavyweight and light heavyweight divisions. Cormier—the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Champion—is perhaps the most lauded crossover from Strikeforce, and that’s saying a lot, especially when you consider that Gilbert Melendez, Luke Rockhold, and Gegard Mousasi have also paid the toll to Charon to be ferried from Strikeforce’s deceased to the UFC. Mir—the grandfather of UFC heavyweights—is a two-time UFC Heavyweight Champion, the longest tenured fighter in the UFC (since 2001), and the winningest fighter (14) in the UFC heavyweight division.

With a win, Cormier controls his own destiny: he can choose to fight the winner of Cain Velasquez vs. Antonio Silva (5/25/13) or drop to light heavyweight (belly permitting) and fight the winner of Jon Jones vs. Chael Sonnen (4/27/13). If Velasquez beats Silva, it’s unlikely Cormier will want to face his AKA training partner and friend, so a move to light heavyweight could be in the cards, if he can cut back on the Chinese food.

A win for Mir? Tack on a plus-one win over someone like Alistair Overeem or Fabricio Werdum, and boom—he’s back fighting for the UFC Heavyweight Championship. Mir is definitely in the upper echelon of UFC bigs. Calling him a “gatekeeper” is insulting, especially when you look at his résumé. In the heavyweight division, there are no gatekeepers. If you’re fighting for the title, you’re just one punch away from hoisting gold. Big trees fall hard.

Let’s Get It On

Cormier is a world-class wrestler, a commonly misunderstood distinction. He’s not a great wrestler (like Gray Maynard, Michael Chandler, and Chris Weidman). He’s not a badass wrestler (such as Phil Davis, Josh Koscheck, and Johny Hendricks). He’s a world-class wrestler (in the vein of Ben Askren, Joe Warren, and Sara McMann). According to FightMetric, Cormier’s takedown defense is 100 percent. When you couple that with Frank Mir’s takedown accuracy of 46 percent, it spells problems for the former UFC Heavyweight Champ. If Cormier doesn’t want to take the fight to the ground, there is a good chance it won’t end up there, at least not for very long. And the ground is where BJJ black belt Mir is most dangerous. Give him a toe, and you’ll hear Tank Abbott scream through the TV. Give him a knee, and you’ll hear Brock Lesnar scream through the TV. Give him an arm, and you’ll hear 196,655,007 Brazilians scream through the TV.

image descFor Mir to control his own destiny, he’ll have to utilize his 50 percent significant striking accuracy and 8-inch reach advantage against Cormier’s alligator arms. If Mir has one superior attribute (besides his BJJ pedigree), it’s reach advantage, not that it fared too well for Josh Barnett (+7 inches) or Antonio Silva (+11 inches) in their fights with Cormier. Mir will need to put on his skates and move, move, move inside the cage. Trying to punch Cormier from the clinch will lead to trouble.

What about Mir’s experience edge you ask? It’s true, he more than doubles Cormier in pro bouts, but I’m throwing that factor right out the window. If anything, taking pummelings from Brock Lesnar, Shane Carwin, and Junior dos Santos has made Mir’s melon more unstable than a Corvair. Cormier, on the other hand, hasn’t taken any real damage. He’s like a 34-year-old MMA spring chicken.

The eye test says Cormier is slicker on his feet, with superior hand speed, feints, and footwork. When he gets in trouble with his stand-up, he takes the fight to the mat. Having a world-class wrestling pedigree is a nice default mechanism to fall back on. However, if there is one place Mir should be feared, it’s on his back. He averages almost three submission attempts for every 15 minutes and owns nine career submission wins. He’s also a sweeping fool. Mir sweeps more than most heavyweights eat.

In 29 minutes inside the cage, Cormier has never attempted a submission. He’s never tried a sweep (mainly because he’s never been taken down). Heck, he may be unaware that submissions are legal. Once a wrestler learns to punch, it’s like Christmas every day. There’s no time for silly submissions.

While it’s fun to dissect the minutiae, we really won’t know until both men step inside the Octagon. Once the cage door slams shut, anything can happen, and I mean A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G. If you need a few recent heavyweight reference points, watch Frank Mir vs. Big Nog II, Antonio Silva vs. Alistair Overeem, or Mark Hunt vs. Stefan Struve.

Back to the joke. How do you put an alligator in an armbar? Very carefully.

Cormier will come chomping. Mir needs to be careful.


By Doug Balzarini

Bodyweight movements are effective and efficient exercise options, especially for MMA athletes. In a sport with weight classes, the goal of the strength coach is to help the athlete become as strong as possible for their respective weight class. We aren’t trying to add a lot of mass to their frame—we are improving their relative strength. Bodyweight exercises are a great way to accomplish that.

Benefits of bodyweight exercises include:

-No equipment necessary
-No gym needed—they can be done anywhere, anytime
-Easy to progress or regress depending on your ability
-Can be put together in a circuit for a great workout

Busy schedules and lack of time are common excuses that keep people from fitting in their workouts. Follow this bodyweight-only routine to get in, get results, and get on with your day.

1. Unilateral Lower Body Exercise: ROLLING PISTOL SQUAT
My favorite strength exercises for the lower body are the bilateral (2 legs at the same time) squat and deadlift. However, I feel that it’s imperative to incorporate single leg training into your routine as well. Correcting imbalances, challenging core stability, and improving coordination is just a short list of unilateral training benefits. While there are multiple pistol variations, I like this advanced version for my MMA athletes.

1. Begin in a seated position with your elbows between your knees.

2. Start the movement by driving through your heels and rolling back onto your shoulders.

3. Next, explosively reverse the movement by pushing your hands into the ground and throwing your legs forward. Use this momentum to come up to a standing position on one foot.

4. Use the momentum but keep the movement controlled throughout the exercise.

5. Pause at the top and then slowly go back down into the rolling position to repeat the movement. Perform reps on one leg for 30 seconds and then repeat on the other side.


2. Upper Body Exercise: PUSHUP WITH ROTATION
Pushups are one of the most effective exercises you can perform, and there are countless variations. This one involves a “sit through” drill that is a popular grappling movement.

1. Perform a traditional pushup. On the way back up, rotate your torso and sweep one leg underneath your body, extending it out on the opposite side. I make sure to cue my MMA athletes to keep their top elbow tight to the ribs at this point of the movement.

2.Pull the leg back through and return to the top of the pushup position. Repeat the pushup and perform the sit through drill on the opposite side. Alternate sides for 30 seconds before moving to movement number three.


3. Explosive Full Body Exercise: POP-UPS
Many folks think this is a lower body movement. Just try to perform it without using your arms—convinced yet? This is truly a full-body exercise that requires the coordination and sequencing of the upper and lower body working together.

1. Assume a tall, bilateral kneeling position.

2. Drive your arms up and bring your butt down to your heels.

3. Explode up by extending your hips and driving with your arms.

4. Land softly on the balls of your feet with one foot forward, a neutral spine, and your hands up. Repeat the movement 30-60 seconds while swithing lead legs.


4. Active Recovery Exercise: PLANK WITH ROTATION
I’m not a fan of wasting time during workouts. After you finish a set, do you watch the TV, check your phone, or maybe the girls on the elliptical? You’re at the gym to get better, so why not be efficient and utilize your time wisely? “Active recovery” movements are a perfect use of your time, and planks fit the bill. This particular variation includes a hip drop to slightly increase the challenge.

1. Begin in a traditional plank position with your elbows under your shoulders, your spine in a neutral position, and your toes tucked.

2. In a controlled fashion, slowly rotate your torso and drop one hip toward the ground.

3. Return to the neutral position and continue the movement on the other side.

4. Continue to alternate sides for up to 60 seconds.


Method To The Madness
You should always have a gameplan while training. Failing to plan is planning to fail. Workouts don’t need to be complex programs with percentages and variable tempos to be effective. Alternate between lower body and upper body movements, and put your recovery movement at the end. Here’s a quick recap of this 4-movement circuit that will target your entire body, build strength, and challenge your conditioning.

1. Pistol: 60 seconds (30 seconds per leg)
2. Pushups: 30 seconds
3. Pop Ups: 60 seconds
4. Planks: 60 seconds

Perform these movements in order, and then rest for 60-120 seconds (or until your heart rate reaches 120 BPM if you have a heart rate monitor). Start with 3 rounds and work yourself up to 5 total rounds. Include a quality dynamic warm-up before the circuit and a proper cool down after, and you’ll be in and out in 45 minutes. Train hard, train smart, and become better, faster, and stronger.

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About Doug
Doug Balzarini is the owner of DB Strength, which provides fitness training, education, and resources. He is also the strength & conditioning coach for Alliance MMA, where he works with UFC Champ Dominick Cruz, Bellator Champ Mike Chandler, as well as Brandon Vera, Travis Browne, Ross Pearson, and more. He has produced 2 DVD projects and was recently a coach on The Ultimate Fighter TV show. Visit www.DBStrength.com for more information.


Why are there so many leg attacks in MMA? Because leg attacks offer the highest percentage takedown. However, lowering your level for a double- or single-leg can still leave you vulnerable for a knee to the face or the risk of being flattened by an opponent’s sprawl. If you want less risk, look to the trip. The inside trip uses a common upper-body clinch and good positioning to open up a high-percentage takedown attempt that limits negative consequences.

In this MMA 101, former All-American wrestlers Chad Mendes and Lance Palmer show readers how to set up and finish a variation of the inside trip.

1. Lance and Chad square-off in orthodox stances.

2. Chad throws a one-two combo (right hook pictured) to close the distance. You can throw any number of combos to close the gap.

3. Chad locks in an over-under. Chad’s left arm overhooks Lance’s right arm (notice Chad’s grip on the triceps). Chad digs an underhook with his right arm. Chad’s right leg is forward and splitting Lance’s legs.

4. Chad shoots forward and sweeps his heel in a clockwise motion to trap Lance’s foot in the crook of his knee. Chad simultaneously moves his head to the right side and cinches his right arm (elbow deep) around Lance’s left thigh. Chad maintains a tight grip on Lance’s right triceps and uses his upper body to drive through Lance.

5. Chad finishes the takedown by driving though into Lance’s guard.

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Don’t play the fool with your diet this April.

Every day is April Fools’ Day for many food companies clamoring for your business. With clever marketing, they can trick you into thinking you’re eating something far more healthy than you really are. Don’t allow this to become a detriment to your health. If something seems too good to be true, do some research before making it a part of your daily routine, and watch out for these four common fooling foods.

Gluten-Free Bread


If it’s gluten-free, it has to be healthy, right? Wrong, and gluten-free bread isn’t the only culprit. Over the past few years, the variety of gluten-free products has increased, including bagels, donuts, and pizza. The gluten-free label sure does make it sound healthy, but commercially produced gluten-free breads and cookies are not made by magically mashing up brown rice and baking it with olive oil and cinnamon. Overly processed, nutrient-deficient, high-glycemic index flours and additives such as white rice flour and white potato starch are typically frontrunners in the mix. A steady diet of items like this can lead you down an unwanted path of blood sugar issues, weight gain, and inflammation.


image descNaturally gluten-free foods such as sweet potatoes, quinoa, beans, and brown rice have always been clean food choices and should continue to be your primary carbohydrate sources, along with fresh fruits and veggies. However, if you need that piece of toast sitting beside your organic eggs, choose 100-percent sprouted-grain breads. Food For Life’s Ezekiel breads are never processed into flour. True whole grains, with all their fiber and nutrients, are soaked and sprouted in water, and then slowly mashed and mixed into dough to be baked in small batches. If you are truly gluten sensitive or avoiding gluten for other reasons, the Ezekiel breads won’t be safe for you as they do contain wheat (albeit sprouted). Your best bet is consuming gluten-free foods in their whole form or making your own gluten-free breads from nutrient-dense, lower-glycemic index coconut and almond flours.

Almond and Coconut Milk Yogurts


If almond and coconut milks are low-sugar alternatives to dairy milk, then the almond and coconut milk yogurts must be healthy and low in sugar too, right? Nope. image descMost yogurts do seem like a smart choice with all those friendly probiotics (healthy bacteria needed for GI health and immune function), and unsweetened/original almond and coconut milks are top alternatives to cow’s milk, but their yogurts aren’t quite up to snuff. Fruit flavored coconut milk yogurts can have more than 21 grams of sugar per 6 ounces (25 grams of carbs total). The plain yogurt may be better with 7-12 grams of sugar (18 grams of carbs total), but protein ranges from 0-2 grams. Almond milk yogurt’s numbers are quite similar, with a slight bump in protein at about 6 grams, as some are infused with a few grams of vegan pea protein.


If cow’s milk is agreeable with your stomach, choose plain organic Greek yogurt with its 4-6 grams of sugar and a whopping 17 grams of protein per 6 ounces. Goat and sheep’s milk may be easier to digest if cow’s milk is questionable. Goat milk can taste a little strong in flavor to some people, but sheep’s milk yogurt is mild and closer to cow’s milk in taste. With only 3 grams of sugar and 10 grams of protein per 6 ounces, plain sheep’s yogurt from Old Chatham Sheepherding Company is a great alternative if cow’s milk yogurt is making you bloated and gassy, but you don’t want to go for the sugary alternatives. If all animal dairy is off limits, get your probiotics via supplement form or go for the live cultures found in the plain coconut milk by So Delicious.

Veggie Chips


image descVeggie chips…they’re pretty much dried vegetables in a bag, right? Definitely wrong. White potato is a vegetable, so should we start considering a tube of Pringles multiple vegetable servings? Not a chance. Even though veggie chips may contain some spinach or tomato (most likely in a processed powder form), they’re predominantly still white potato based. Worse yet, 90 percent of “chips” in most grocery stores—even in health food stores—contain that all too common dangerous mix of soy, corn, safflower, and/or sunflower oils. Even those nutritionally angelic sounding sweet potato chips are culprits of sporting these bad oils. Soy and corn will most likely be genetically modified—if not organic—and all are considered very unstable (turning rancid) at higher cooking temperatures.


If you want veggies in a bag, you should really just buy some carrots, celery, bell peppers, and broccoli, give them a wash and chop, and pack them in a baggie along with hummus for dipping. Other optimal options include using a dehydrator and making your own true veggie chips. No dehydrator? Kale chips can be made in the oven with coconut oil, salt, and pepper. Store bought kale chips are okay, too, just be careful of those with lots of additives. For an occasional splurge of actual potato chips, look into companies using only healthy, heat-stable oils like Honest Potato Chips (coconut oil) and Good Health Natural Foods (avocado oil).

Fruit Juice


As natural as it sounds, fruit juice is not something that should be part of your regular diet. With approximately 27 grams of carbs per 8 ounces (24 grams coming from sugar), it’s got pretty much the same sugar and carbohydrate content as 8 ounces of soda. Don’t be fooled by anything in that long grocery aisle filled with endless flavors of brightly colored sugar bombs. image descThe “100 percent fruit juice” label won’t even help you here. Both the 100 percent juice and “cocktail” version with added sugars and sweeteners give you few nutrients.


If you want 100 percent fruit, eat a piece of fruit. You can also throw fruit in a juicer along with organic greens. If you want a quick-grab beverage without all the sugar, hit the health food store and stock up on coconut water. Coconuts are technically classified as a fruit, so you’ll still be reaching for a “fruit juice,” but one with far more health benefits. Coconut water comes from the low-calorie, naturally fat- and cholesterol-free clear liquid of young, green coconuts (not to be confused with the high fat/calorie thick textured canned coconut milk). Boasting the potassium of more than four bananas, coconut water contains all five essential electrolytes (sodium, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium). It will not only leave you refreshed with its light, sweet flavor, but it will also replace electrolytes lost during workouts and help keep muscle cramps at bay. Its sodium content is a little lower than your typical sports drinks, but it’s nothing a sprinkle of sea salt can’t fix on particularly heavy training days when sodium losses may be higher.


The Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA) is ready to lead the fight to clean up MMA.

Alistair Overeem, Stephan Bonnar, Jake Shields, Cris Cyborg—those were just a handful of mixed martial artists who were busted and suspended for using banned substances in 2012. If you venture back pre-2012, many more fighters can be added to the list of dishonor.

image descFailed drug tests have been a black eye and a disturbing trend for the young sport, however, the UFC has been proactive in its attempt to clean up MMA. Recently, UFC vice president of regulatory affairs Marc Ratner announced the promotion was instituting its own drug testing at all international events instead of relying on independent facilities, and the UFC will no longer pay out end-of-night fight bonuses until drug test results come back clean. There’s no better way to deter a fighter from using PEDs than hitting them in the wallet.

Most state athletic commissions in North America, including the big three—Nevada, California, and New Jersey—continue to do their part, administering post-fight drug tests at events that take place in their respective states and, from time to time, pre-fight screenings. Since boxing and MMA commissions are state regulated and funded, the issue they continue to battle is limited funding for out-of-competition tests.

Overall, Nevada State Athletic Commission executive director Keith Kizer is satisfied with his commission’s current drug testing process, but he’s not resting on his laurels.

“We are always looking at ways to improve,” Kizer says. “We will continue to seek additional information and funding to do more. No drug testing program should consider itself 100 percent perfect, but we are doing more testing than we ever have—the biggest goal is to deter usage, then there’s nothing to test for.”

While testosterone replacement therapy, therapeutic use exemptions, and PED abuse in MMA has many fans and athletes calling for improved and more extensive testing, Dr. Margaret Goodman from the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA) is ready to lead the fight.

The Heavy Hitter

As a former Nevada ring physician and athletic commission member, Dr. Goodman has been around combat sports most of her life. The Las Vegas-based neurologist founded the independent, nonprofit organization VADA in 2011.

“We put together this organization because we felt that no one else was doing enough to try and stop PED use,” says Dr. Goodman. “The testing at athletic commissions was insufficient, it was disorganized, it wasn’t for enough substances, and the panels that test athletes were antiquated. It’s difficult to pass our program—if you’re dirty, don’t come to us. The athletes who are using out there know a heck of a lot more than the commissions do about performance enhancing drugs, and that’s just wrong.”

In an effort to promote clean sports, VADA uses effective anti-doping practices and programs utilizing some of the most stringent and technically advanced tests modern science has available. The organization arranges for their tests to be completed at UCLA Medical Center, and unlike the standard screenings being performed by athletic commissions, VADA does both blood and urine tests, routine blood counts that can show if an athlete is doping, and carbon isotope ratio (CIR) testing.

“CIR testing is typically done in an Olympic setting, and it is a way to detect if somebody is using synthetic or exogenerous testosterone, testosterone they’ve taken, as opposed to what’s in their body naturally,” says Dr. Goodman. “It’s hard for somebody abusing testosterone to escape our tests, and I think commissions need to start administering these tests as well.”

Another distinction with VADA is that they perform true unannounced testing, which means an athlete participating in the VADA program can be visited by a screener 24 hours a day, seven days a week in the eight weeks leading up to their fight. They must supply a blood and urine sample right then and there.

“Athletic commissions may do random testing, but they are giving an athlete 24 hours to show up,” says Dr. Goodman. “Short-acting testosterone can be out of your system, and unless you’re doing the CIR testing, you’re not going to pick it up. Lance Armstrong said he wasn’t getting caught because no one was doing unannounced or CIR tests—but VADA does.”

These high-tech tests are very expensive, and it’s up to the participants, sponsors, or donations to cover the costs. Depending on how many times a fighter is tested a year, the price tag can reach in the thousands of dollars.

Who’s Coming With Me?

The Voluntary Anti-Doping Association is exactly what their name states: Voluntary. Why would a fighter who is already subject to no-cost drug tests from the UFC and state athletic commissions want to sign up and pay for additional tests?

The answer is simple according to Dr. Goodman.

image desc“People say, ‘Why would somebody do that, why would they volunteer for testing?’ I think it’s to show they are for clean sport. I think PEDs can contribute to the dangers of MMA, and I think the most important thing an athlete can do by signing up with VADA is to show they are clean.”

Only a handful of fighters have felt that it was worth it. So far, BJ Penn, Rory MacDonald, Ben Askren, and Roy Nelson are the only mixed martial artists to have enrolled and participate in the program. Take one look at UFC heavyweight Roy Nelson’s physical appearance and your first thought is probably not going to be, “Wow, that guy has to be using steroids.” However, Nelson wants to make sure that he and his opponents are competing on the same playing field and that his opponents are not receiving an unfair advantage by taking PEDs.

“I was fortunate to have sponsors pay for the testing, so it didn’t cost me a thing,” Nelson says. “It’s important for fans to know you’re drug-free. Taking the extra step to do the VADA testing is like giving back to the fans.”

Rory MacDonald thought the experience was fine, but he isn’t sure he would participate again.

“I wouldn’t desire to—it’s just another thing you have to worry about,” says MacDonald. “You don’t really want to be taken out of your focus and be disturbed on fight week. The commissions have their drug testing, and I’ve already participated once in VADA and proved where I stand.”

“I have spoken to many fighters who complained about the risk of being cut because they didn’t want to take PEDs, while everyone around them was,” says Dr. Goodman. “It’s always been a problem in combat sports. You can look historically at the issue, and they are not going to go away, but it really comes down to the fighter, and VADA gives them a way to control their careers and do what’s right for the sport.”

The Next Steps

As a nonprofit organization, the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association is continuing to look for someone to help fund the costs associated with their testing. Dr. Goodman recently reached out to the UFC owners Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta to gauge their interest in VADA conducting the UFC’s tests. As of press, Dr. Goodman has not received a response.

While the UFC and Bellator, state athletic commissions, and the Association of Boxing Commissions all support what VADA and Dr. Goodman are doing in theory, they are not helping out financially. Moving forward, Dr. Goodman’s goal is to continue to educate both amateur and professional boxers and mixed martial artists, commissions, trainers, and public on the hazards of PED use.

“VADA needs to be a part of the sport,” says Dr. Goodman. “We have to continue to educate athletes about the dangers of PEDs and the side effects. They need to understand that they can compete clean.”


By Justin M. Norton

If you’re a 30- or 40-something with the right mindset, MMA might be the ticket to the best fitness of your life.

Former Marine Tim Miller was tubing on the Guadalupe River in Texas when he had the 21st century equivalent of a Charles Atlas moment. The water levels were low and Miller, then 350 lbs., got stuck on the rocks just before some college guys drifted by and said, “Check it out, we got a beached whale here.” It was one thing to say it aloud, but even worse, they said it in front of his kids.

He knew it was time to make big changes. Miller considered CrossFit but was instead lured by Ohana Jiu-Jitsu in San Antonio. Almost inconceivably, the 38-year-old started training mixed martial arts, concentrating on Muay Thai. His goal is to get to 260 lbs. and take an amateur fight within a year.
It hasn’t been easy. When Miller started training, his blood pressure was almost 200/100. After his first day of shadowboxing and heavy bag rounds, he vomited and was left shaking. “My trainer almost called 911, and the room was spinning,” he says. Undeterred, he kept going to the gym.

Miller’s story might be extreme, but it’s not a rarity—the mid-life conversion to mixed martial arts. The trend spawned the Kevin James film Here Comes The Boom, about a portly ex-wrestler/science teacher who fights to raise money to save the school band program. With life expectancy ever-increasing and limitless options for fitness and training, people are doing more than just watching fights on television. Instead, adults are opting to get hit, kicked, and submitted.

Part of the attraction might be that MMA is a sport where the middle-aged—at least a few of them—thrive. Randy Couture didn’t retire until 47, after he got knocked out by Lyoto Machida’s now famous “Karate Kid” kick. Dan Henderson is a viable light heavyweight at 42. Mark Hunt and Anderson Silva turn 40 in two years.

Looking at age alone is deceiving, though. Couture started MMA in his 30s but was an Olympic-level wrestler. All of these fighters started serious training when they were young, often when they were children. They know exactly how their body responds and how to make it work under duress, and have logged countless hours in rings, gyms, and cages.

The majority of middle-aged people showing up to learn MMA don’t have that training—some don’t even have an athletic background. “With MMA booming, there are more older people looking for a challenge. They want to know if they can really do MMA,” says Jude Ledesma, part of a team that opened Modern Combatives MMA in Berkeley, California, in 2002. The gym, the first in the area to offer an integrated curriculum of striking, clinch, and ground training, has since expanded, and Ledesma even had a student in his 70s.


It is possible to train smart in middle age, whether your goal is to fight or get in peak physical condition. Trainers and those that have been there say middle-aged converts should have realistic expectations. Preparing for a fight is possible, and no one without competitive drive enters an MMA gym, but too much focus on the end result could make your training counterproductive or get you hurt—likely both.

“You have guys who are 38 and don’t think they will be GSP, but do think they’ll do a bunch of amateur fights and win, or get one pro fight. These guys can get banged up pretty bad when they get in the ring or the cage,” says Matthew Polly, who wrote about his midlife MMA training journey and eventual fight in Tapped Out: Rear Naked Chokes, the Octagon, and the Last Emperor: An Odyssey in Mixed Martial Arts. “No one expects that they will just take up basketball and go in the NBA. People think that since it’s fighting, they’ll be able to just go do it. If you are middle-aged and compete, all it will be is a few times at the amateur level.”

Polly admits that the training regimen he followed and wrote about in his book wasn’t smart, even if he were in his 20s. He nearly passed out on the New York subway system after a tough training session. He sparred with younger fighters at Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas who were much faster and more agile. Along the way, Polly learned a few lessons about doing it right.

When Polly started training with Phil Nurse, all sparring was below the neck. Now that he’s no longer training to fight, he’s returned to that method. “If you aren’t training to actually be in a fight—just for self defense and fitness—I don’t think there’s a reason to go hard to the head. Hard sparring is for competition. You can work almost all your techniques and get pleasantly knocked around, but those shots to the jaw and noggin are a young man’s game,” he says.

A good path is the right mix of intense MMA training mixed with weight lifting, stretching, core work, and agility. Spending hours on end in the gym might improve your skills, but may also necessitate a long chiropractic contract.

Polly says mid-life converts should also consider emphasizing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, especially if competition is a goal. “Jits is in some ways the sport for middle-aged guys who want to fight,” he says. “You are laying down, you don’t need to take any strikes, and it works. You can stop someone. It’s not tai chi, which doesn’t work.”

Keeping your pride in check is crucial. There’s a good chance that the person teaching you will be significantly younger. What matters is learning from someone who can help you improve, regardless of age. “If the person is able to get you better, that’s what you are looking for,” says ModCom’s Ledesma. “The idea isn’t to earn a golden ring to put on a pedestal, it’s to get measurably better.”

Hydration, nutrition, and ample sleep are even more important now than when you were younger and were able to shirk certain elements of training. Injuries also need the proper time to heal. If you are older, that likely means it will be longer. A willingness to skip practice or amend training when the body isn’t responding can prevent some of those injuries.


The lure of an actual fight remains strong for many, especially those that survive the grueling training in the initial months of MMA. Lisa Creech Bledsoe, a 46-year-old mother of three in North Carolina, hasn’t picked up MMA, but became a competitive boxer well into her 40s (she’s 2-2).

It started when Bledsoe’s husband bought a heavy bag for their sons. The boys ignored it, but Bledsoe embraced boxing and hard sparring. She credits combat sports for helping her marriage, her business, and her health. “I’ve learned that if I’ve hurt something, to give it attention and give it rest,” she says. “And I don’t spar more than twice a week. Some of the young people show up to spar and say it’s their day off from training!”

The hardest thing for Bledsoe isn’t training—she’s learned to do it smart—it’s finding people her age to fight. “When you get older, there are just fewer people and that makes it tough,” says Bledsoe, who admits she is “compelled” by MMA but plans to keep her training to boxing.

Tim Miller still remembers that day on the raft when he’s hitting the pads. At the time of this writing, Tim has lost more than 50 lbs. and is down to 295. He’s willing to see where his training leads, but feels the urge to compete. “It would be pretty amazing if I could put my best foot forward and do a fight,” he says.

It’s Not the Age, (It’s the Mileage)
Here are five MMA training tips for those who have logged ample years and time on the road.

Be realistic
Fighting is a possibility, but see how your body adapts and adjusts to training. Place learning and proper technique above everything else, and honestly monitor progress with a coach.

Space your training
Five times a week of hard training might not work if you are older. Instead, space maximal efforts with lighter training and strength and flexibility work.

Recovery is crucial
Proper sleep, nutrition, and hydration are even more important to an older body. Eat protein right after tough efforts, and don’t overlook intangibles like vitamins and reduced stress.

Don’t tough out injuries
It’s always a good idea to see a doctor when something hurts. It’s even more important with an older body. If you are in pain, don’t train.

Listen and ask questions
Be an attentive, hardworking student like everyone else. Focus and pay attention to the people who know best, regardless of age. You have nothing to prove when you are older so don’t be afraid to ask for more explanation of a technique.