The nature of training is different for every fighter heading into a big bout in the UFC.
One staple throughout MMA in recent years, however, has been the explosion of the “super camp” featuring a number of top fighters all working together under one roof, and one set of coaches to get ready for upcoming competition.
Recently, however, more top fighters are shying away from the “super camp” atmosphere because, for all the rave reviews about the great coaching and training, there seems to be something lost when it comes to personal attention when preparing for a fight.
Brian Stann recently admitted that he felt that a little bit when working with the team at Greg Jackson's facility in New Mexico, and while he still has nothing but love and respect for his coaches and teammates, he needed a little more personal attention and focus heading into a fight.
The same can now be said for UFC on Fuel TV 6 headliner Cung Le, who has worked for years with the coaches and team at the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, Calif. It was his last full camp there in preparation for his bout against Wanderlei Silva in his UFC debut that forced Le to re-evaluate things a little bit.
“In my camp against Wanderlei, with King Mo (Lawal), it took a lot out of me, wore me out, and sometimes you need that person who manages everything to say, ‘you're not working out tonight.' I didn't have that for that camp,” Le told MMAWeekly Radio.
American Kickboxing Academy head coach Javier Mendez works with a huge number of A-list fighters, including former UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez, Strikeforce Grand Prix champion Daniel Cormier, Jon Fitch, Mike Swick, and several other top names who work at the gym.
While he'll always be a part of the team, Le admits that to really get ready for a fight, he needed someone to focus on what he was doing right or wrong, and point him in the right direction. He just couldn't be another cog in the machine anymore.
“Just being in the UFC, it was one of my dreams, and for my fight against Wanderlei, I didn't have the best camp. It was very unorganized, and that's why I brought Scott Sheeley out for my second fight, and now Scott Sheeley just manages my whole training camp,” Le revealed.
“Javier Mendez is just too busy. He's got too many fighters and I can't have him holding pads for me two or three times in one camp. I've just got to focus on my fight, not going over and being a part of this awesome team and being everyone's workout partner.”
Prior to being his head coach, Sheeley was also a past opponent of Le's in the ring, and he's taken over the former San Shou champion's training on a daily basis and the results have shown. Under Sheeley's direction, Le defeated Patrick Cote at UFC 148 to pick up his first win in the Octagon, and he hopes to duplicate that success this weekend in China against Rich Franklin.
“For my last two camps, I feel like things are starting to flow and starting to feel like my old self,” said Le.
Sheeley not only knows how to train and prepare Le, but he's also very familiar with his next opponent, former UFC middleweight champion Rich Franklin. Sheeley has worked for years with many of the Ohio based fighters that trained and sparred with Franklin, and his knowledge will obviously come in handy for the fight.
The results are what matters most, and Le believes he's getting them with a head coach dedicated to one thing, and one thing only… ensuring Cung Le is ready to win.
“I love all the guys over there and we're tight, but it just comes down to they're not the ones in the cage,” Le said about his friends at American Kickboxing Academy.
“You're the one in the cage. You're the one fighting. You have your own style. Everyone's got great opinions, but in the end you've just got to focus on you and your opponent.”
Listen to Cung Le's entire interview on Monday's edition of MMAWeekly Radio