Fight Camp: A Day in the Life of Ricky Jackson, MMA Fighter

It’s one thing to study war and another to live the warrior’s life.
–Telamon of Arcadia, mercenary of the 5th Century B.C.

Countless days, nights, hours, and minutes are spent on crafting, shaping, and modeling a fighter’s body to Caligulian excesses for a mere 15 minutes of fighting. Although it is one of the most physically tasking things a human being can purposefully subject themselves to, the difficultly is compounded by the stress of training camp and the knowledge of a fight looming in the near future.

It is Monday, July 23. Ricky Jackson will wake up this morning after a midnight workout session at the 24 Hour Fitness down the road from his home. He is not a fan of crowded gyms, and purposefully goes later to avoid all of the people. If you are insomniac like I am, you may have seen one of his status updates: “Clearing my head and putting in work. Living for Aug. 18th.”

He will check his weight and prepare his gym bag, which typically contains six to eight shirts, two pairs of shorts, and a variety of snacks for the many training sessions he will have. The largest meal of the day, breakfast, will be made; something like 3 eggs, turkey bacon, oatmeal and a shake made of fruits and vegetables. Time flies up until his first sparring session of the day.

Sparring sessions are normally 6, 5-minute MMA rounds, with a fresh training partner each round, or every two and a half minutes. These practice fights are not “light contact.” Sparring is always coordinated to avoid the overuse of muscles and injuries, but an injury-free session is never guaranteed.

Ricky should be exhausted afterwards, but there ain’t no rest for the wicked. A small snack break and then it’s back to work again, at which point his training regimen typically consists of more striking, wrestling, or other technique-driven exercises, although it may vary depending on the day.

Jackson's third professional fight is scheduled for August 18th in Oakland.

It is paramount to Ricky’s success as a fighter that he has stamina that resembles a crack-addled toddler. To boost his endurance, his right-hand woman, Lori Henderson, developed a whole periodization schedule that I cannot discuss in detail, since it is a vital part of Body Architecture’s training camp. However, the schedule is tailored to Ricky specifically to maximize his strength and minimize his injuries and includes high altitude training.

Altitude training, also known as hypoxic training, involves exercising in, living in, or otherwise breathing oxygen-reduced air, for the purpose of improved athletic performance. Since San Jose isn’t exactly located at a high altitude, he gets hooked up to a machine which provides air with metered oxygen, and with Lori’s schedule, the process helps Ricky increase his blood cell count and oxygen to blood exchange at the capillary level in his lungs. Lori is also able to monitor Ricky’s cardio with a dosimeter to ensure he has proper oxygen levels and heart rate throughout the process.

But tonight, there will be a small deviation in training plans. Sparring will be held at the Combat Sports Academy, in Dublin, California. The session will be supervised by head trainer, Kirian Fitzgibbons of CSA, who in 2008 was selected to be Head Coach of the U.S. National Muay Thai Team that competed at the World Championships in South Korea. Kirian is always able to give valuable information on Ricky’s technique and how to improve certain aspects of his game. Ricky is able to absorb that information and adapt it to his own personal fighting style.

After working on the more technical aspects on the tradecraft of legal assault and battery, Ricky will hit the weights one last time late at night. He will rinse, wash, and repeat the next day.

There is a large, sloping hill in the middle of San Jose that overlooks Silicon Valley when one stands at its peak. It is a hill that serves as a beacon for fitness freaks, health addicts, and soccer moms alike. It is known as Communications Hill: 233 steps of near insufferable pain where its incline seems near vertical while running it.

Communications Hill also just happens to be conveniently located adjacent to Body Architecture Gym, and as if he thinks everything else he does isn’t enough, you will find Ricky Jackson there at least 3 times a week; training furiously like there is something more to accomplish, like there is another level of competitiveness he must reach.

This lifestyle is not an easy one. It takes years to build up the mental and physical fortitude to be competitively successful. Many people underestimate how much effort is concentrated towards a fighter’s preparation for a bout. To them I say: It is one thing to observe the process, but it is an entirely different thing to live.

Eric Bates writes for TheFanManifesto. Visit Ricky’s Facebook page here.

The entire FanMan team can be followed on Twitter at @TheFanManifesto, or liked on Facebook by clicking here.

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