Road to UFC 242 “Year of the Diamond”

6 straight fights and 6 straight victories.. I’ve been working with Dustin Poirier for over 4 years now and each camp he seems to get better each and every time. Now we have the biggest task ahead of us a man who’s never been defeated, a man that some say is unbeatable. This is the same man that wrestled bears as a young boy in the mountains of Dagestan. The same man that dismantled the best fighters in the UFC 155 pound division. And a man that most fighters seem to just give up when he puts the pressure on them.

Unfortunately for him however that’s how DIAMONDS are made! 

Now before I dive any further into this, let me introduce myself for those who don't know me yet. My name is Phil Daru (@darustrong) and I'm the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach for American Top Team. I've spent the last 8 years of my life training the top MMA fighters to become world Champions. I've worked with Jr. Dos Santos, Frankie Edgar, Amanda Nunez, Andrei Arlovski, Edson Barboza, Tecia Torres, Jorge Masvidal, Colby Covington, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, and obviously Dustin the Diamond Poirier...

road to ufc 242

At the start of this camp with Dustin we were riding high fresh off a tremendous win over one of the pound for pound best and 145 pound champion Max Holloway. All that was put in the past the moment we got the call. Now while DP is back in Lafayette I send him an off camp General Physical Preparedness (GPP) Program. This is designed to help him build back structural integrity and overall muscle that’s functional and allows him to get his mind and body ready for the riggers of camp. Through higher volumes and multiple movement patterns with some aerobic capacity work to help increase readiness for when he makes his way back to Att.

Once he arrived in Florida we hit the ground running, structuring the schedule and training methods he would be using from both the skills and physical preparations. Mike Brown, Dyah Davis, and myself work together to formulate the best overall program designed for this particular fight to allow for ultimate success.

8 weeks out is when the official start of camp begins, getting baseline testing down weeks prior and past knowledge I have on his abilities the program was set to give us the best overall outcome from a performance perspective. We knew that he was going to be grappling two to even three times more than he usually does and this was going to play a huge role in recovery and training frequency.

So in order to make sure we sustained the amount of strength and muscle needed for camp going further, the first 3 weeks of what I call in camp stage 1 was predicated towards getting him as strong possible. Through several base compound movements, Isometrics and quasi-Isometrics. And improving on stability, mobility, and aerobic power. This was done as a two day a week split due to the other skills training that needed to be done throughout the week. He does his road work mostly for clearing his mind and mediation but also we get a huge aerobic response from it. This is primarily done on Sunday’s before the week starts to give him a jump start psychologically for the week ahead. 

road to ufc 242

Starting stage 2 in camp (4 weeks out) skills practice has picked up tremendously, working more Grappling than ever. Sparring now consisted of stopping shots or starting in bad positions with fresh guys on you every round. This put a huge stress on his nervous system and with that requires me to look more into recovery over all things.

Looking for ways to structure and autoregulate my training so that he can finish the week. Using recovery methods such as ice baths, sauna, massage, yoga (light stretching meditation) and of course just simply getting quality sleep and spending time away from the gym with his family. This allows the mind and the body to recover and refuel giving him more drive to work as hard as possible to get what he’s been working his whole life for, a chance to be a Champion and stamp his legacy.

The focus has shifted to more speed, power and overall repeated explosive efforts. Taking him out of the gym and getting in the elements implementing stadium stair runs in the south Florida heat. This is something that I did growing up as a Highschool/Collegiate athlete and as a professional fighter myself I’ve always found it to be helpful in many ways. From a physiological view it increasing aerobic and anaerobic capacity, muscular endurance and the ability to repeat bouts of effort through time. This is all dependent upon the protocols of course, but highly effective nonetheless. From a psychological view it allows him to push past a breaking point, do things that make him feel accomplished and confident and provides solid real time feedback on how he’s progressing from how much more efficient he gets the laps done each week.

The second day of s&c consists of restoration training and mobility. We do a ton of joint work, moving each joint through its full range of motion and loading the joints to allow for better overall functionality. A lot of neck, upper/low back, hips/glutes, and hamstring work. This allows the body to heal and still remain strong for the fight.

Now closing in on September 7th we look to get one more push before he leaves for Abu Dhabi. This will be our final week of training and the set point of what is the culmination of an entire career. Be sure to stay tuned in to watch history unfold itself and whatever happens may the best man win!!

PS. Make sure you check out my channel for those who want to learn more and see exactly how I trained Dustin for this Camp:

- Phil Daru (@darustrong)

James Davis

Hi there! I'm James, chief editor at MMA I've been fascinated by martial arts for years and have spent the majority of my life training a number of different disciplines. I and a panel of specialists have made it our mission to bring our followers the best, most accurate information surrounding MMA.

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