When we watch some of our favorite fighters, especially our champions and top 5 guys, one trait they all seem to share is an almost super human gas tank. Fighters like Clay Guida are known for keeping an unreal, bouncing pace for rounds and rounds, often frustrating and exhausting his opponent. John Dodson is always being complimented on his amount of cardio and how after three rounds he can still attempt multiple black flips until he gets it just right. Cain Velasquez shows himself as a reigning king of stamina, able to last into championship rounds over and over again and seeming like he barely broke a sweat.
Well according to quite a few coaches and fighters, that sort of physical fortitude is a finely tuned skill, not just something you’re born with. Daniel Cormier explained the phenomenon that is Cain Velasquez’s stellar stamina.
“It’s not that he doesn’t get tired. It’s that he’s built himself to the point where, when he’s exhausted and fatigued, he knows you’re a lot further along that path than he is. He understands that, so he’s willing to go there, because he knows you’re going to break first. And it really is mental. It’s not physical.
“The thing about that sort of toughness, however, is that the people who possess it often never let you see it. That’s part of the skill to it, in fact. In Velasquez’s rematch with Junior Dos Santos,” Cormier said, “he appeared to be dominating with ease. What people didn’t realize is the extent to which he was being tested even while seemingly running away with the fight down the stretch.
“He told me that between the third and fourth round, walking back to his corner, he thought, ‘Well, I’m going to pass out.’ He literally thought he was going to faint right there, he was so exhausted,” Cormier said. “Then he went and sat on the stool and a minute later he got up and fought at the same exact pace. Nothing changed. That’s mental toughness.”