Zahabi believes genetics play a role in McGregor defeats
You may believe a couple of beers in on the couch that with enough work, that could be you, too, with a UFC belt. Unfortunately, talent and genetics matter.
Fast-twitch (or Type II) muscle fibers generate far more power and strength than doSlow-twitch or Type I muscle fibers, but they fatigue much faster and recover more slowly. All humans have a combination of the two, but in differing proportions. Marathon runners are mostly Type I and wouldn’t do well in a strength competition. When Roger Bannister became the first man to break the four-minute mile, he couldn’t do two push-ups. Powerlifters are mostly Type II, and can’t finish a marathon.
Former UFC featherweight and lightweight champion Conor McGregor has won via a series of stunning knockouts. And he has lost to Nate Diaz and Floyd Mayweather after fatigue left him looking like a shell of what he was.
“The first eight minutes of the fight was easy,” said McGregor after the Diaz fight. “Let’s be honest, I slapped the head off him. Once the gas tank went, that was it. I drowned.”
Fans have suggested that McGregor’s conditioning is suspect, that he may not have put enough time into his cardio. However, during a recent appearance on the JRE MMA Show, top coach Firas Zahabi suggested that McGregor’s muscle fiber balance and more may play a central role.
“It think it’s partly genetic,” said Zahabi, as transcribed by Milan Ordoñez for BE. “I call it the touch of death. He’s got that left hand, it’s the touch of death. That touch of death comes at a cost.”
“How do you have the touch of death? Where does power come from? Number one on the list, number one, is where your muscle is attached to the bone. It’s genetic. So, Mike Tyson, he has a powerful left hook not because his coach taught him how to hit a left hook. He could have hit a left hook like that if he had a mediocre trainer.”
“It has to do with the leverage of his bones. So, for instance, imagine a really heavy pole that weighs a hundred pounds, and I want to stand it up. Well, depending on where I grab it, I’m gonna have more resistance or less resistance. If I grab it near the end, I have more leverage. So where your muscles are attached to the bone is gonna dictate how much leverage you get out of it.”
“If you have a fast-twitch muscle fiber, you can hold less oxygen, but it can twitch faster. Hence the name. So, if you’re a slow-twitch muscle fiber guy, you can metabolize more oxygen, but you can’t twitch as fast. So, there’s a give and take.”
“So you have a guy like Nick Diaz who needs to knock you out with volume. He can’t knock you out with one shot. Look at B.J. Penn. If round one, he doesn’t knock you out, the likelihood of him knocking you out in round two is less. Diaz is the opposite. The likelihood of him knocking you out in round three is higher than round one, because of the cumulative attack.”
“McGregor, look at his stats. It’s all round one knockout, round two knockout [via] his fast-twitch, high-leverage left hand. If you take him into deep waters, his fast-twitch muscle fibers cannot metabolize with Mayweather. Mayweather’s so smart, he let McGregor work for three rounds.”
“’I knew you’re getting excited, keep working. And when you have nothing left, I’m gonna put you out.’ That was such a brilliant strategy.”
McGregor’s next fight may be vs. new lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov. ‘The Eagle’ is relentless with seemingly limitless endurance. If Firas is right, McGregor is likely to win early, or Nurmagomedov late.
On a big strength exercise like the bench press or back squat, load the bar to 80% of your one-rep maximum (1RM). For example, if your one-rep max on the bench press is 200lbs, then use 160lbs. Then, do as many reps until you fail or your technique gets really bad.
If you are curious about your own Type I/Type II balance, you can have a muscle biopsy, but it’s not free and it hurts.
A less precise but simpler method can be done at no cost. Put 80% of your one rep max bench on the bar. Then after a thorough warm-up, do as many reps as you can:
• 10+ reps = Slow Twitch dominant
• 7-9 reps = Type I/Type II are balanced
• <7 reps = Fast Twitch dominant