As a UFC fan, you can always hear people talking about the UFC Performance Institute, and see fighters visiting the center. You may wonder, what is the UFC Performance institute? How it benefits the fighters?
UFC performance institute is a technologically advanced facility located in Las Vegas, Nevada, build for research, innovation, and training with the mission to improve fighters’ performance and health. It spreads at 30,000 square feet and is designed to give fighters everything they need to maximize their potential.
In this article, we are going to bring you closer to what the facility has to offer, why it was built, its features, and how it benefits the fighters.
What Is The UFC Performance Institute?
The UFC Performance Institute is an MMA sports center that also serves as the company headquarters. Also known as the “UFC PI”, the institute is a revolutionary facility built for the innovation, training, and recovery of pro-MMA athletes. It is the first performance institute of its kind in the MMA world, and the best one.
The facility is located in Enterprise, Nevada, US. It is close to the UFC Apex center where UFC hosts competitive events. The total cost of the state-of-the-art center was around $14 million. This includes close to 184.000 square feet state of the art campus with 30,000 square feet of the training area. But above all, the UFC PI was designed and developed to the slightest detail to benefit the fighters and their needs.
The entire concept of UFC PI is based on the facilities you may find in other sports such as NFL, NBA, and even the Olympics centers. With MMA reaching mainstream status, the UFC wanted to adopt a similar concept. Their main goal was to further improve the health and performance of their athletes and the entertainment value and strength of their brand.
The final result was the performance institute. The facility is primarily utilized by UFC fighters looking to improve their performance in many different ways. All fighters under the contract with the promotion can come in at any time, and enjoy many of the benefits UFC PI has to offer.
Let’s look at how the facility is improving fighters’ performance in more detail.
What Does UFC Performance Institute Include?
The main goal of UFC PI is to improve every physical and mental aspect of pro-MMA fighters and their performance. They aim to achieve this through detailed physical and mental testing, and a methodical approach to educating the fighters.
The facility is open six days a week and the following are the working hours:
- Monday to Friday: 9 am to 5 pm
- Saturday: 9 am to 1 pm
- Sunday: closed
MMA training room
The key feature of UFC PI is the MMA training room, perhaps the best equipped in the world. It consists of a large area of open mats, mostly used for grappling practices such as jiu-jitsu and wrestling or other exercises. Next, there are lots of heavy bags fighters can work on, as well as other MMA workout tools. There is even a punching and kicking power tester known as a “power cube”.
Further, this part of UFC PI also features a full-sized boxing ring and a full-sized octagon. The same octagon UFC uses in the actual events. The only difference is that the one in PI is covered with 2-inch thick mats, while the one used in events is topped with canvas.
They thought about realism as well so there is authentic lighting above the cage. Again, the same as the one used in the competition. There are also Vicon cameras placed all over the cage giving you live footage of the action on the monitors spread all across the facility.
Strength and conditioning room
Next to the MMA training room is an area dedicated to strength and conditioning. Athletes have all the latest fitness equipment to work on improving endurance, stamina, and strength. The PI takes an innovative approach and follows the latest trends and the gym is always upgraded. The training room includes equipment such as:
- Stationary bikes
- Weight racks
- Row machines
- Jumping ropes
- Free weights
There is also an indoor turf track where athletes can do sprints and various other anaerobic workouts and conditioning work. Lastly, this training room has an impact wall with different numbers on it where athletes throw medical balls with the goal to hit a specified number. Apart from improving explosive strength, this unique exercise also enhances their cognitive abilities.
Nutrition diagnostics and consultation
Nutrition plays a key role not just in MMA, but sports in general. MMA athletes must pay extra attention to this segment as they compete in a specific weight division. Thus, they always need to maintain a healthy weight and know how to go through and recover from brutal weight cuts. And since different bodies respond to different things, they all need an individual nutrition plan to optimize their performance.
At UFC PI, experts use two different methods to test the athletes. They would then analyze the results and come up with a conclusion:
DEXA Machine — is an expensive piece of equipment. It scans the entire body and diagnoses muscle mass, bone density, fat percentage, body composition, and possible health issues.
Metabolic carts — measure the oxygen you inhale and the carbon dioxide you exhale while resting, after meals, or during specific exercises. It provides athletes with a detailed understanding of how many calories they need to take to lose weight, but still perform at the optimum level.
Hypoxic Chamber is one of the best features of UFC PI. It is responsible for enhancing fighters’ cardiovascular health and performance. The room also includes other aerobic and anaerobic equipment, and within 40 minutes, the air density could be set at any altitude you want.
This enables the athletes to run or do other exercises at higher altitudes where the air is thinner. This will trigger the body to produce more red cells responsible for transferring oxygen throughout the body. Once they are back at the normal altitude, fighters will still have an elevated number of red blood cells, which means better endurance. Most athletes use a hypoxic chamber two or three weeks before the fight.
Instead of traveling to the mountain areas, they can simulate the same thing inside the UFC PI.
MMA is a sport with the highest rate of injuries, both when it comes to training and competition. Thus, all athletes must know how to recover, prevent injuries, and keep their bodies healthy. The UFC PI recovery zone includes the following features.
- Laser light therapy — is a chamber that uses lasers to warm up the muscles to increase the blood flow without any movement. This reduces muscle inflammation, helps regenerate and repair muscle tissues after intense workouts, increases endorphin production, and overall, reduces pain.
- Cold and hot pools — enable fighters to quickly switch between cold and hot water which reduces inflammation and speeds up the recovery process.
- Underwater treadmill — is a unique and very expensive piece of equipment. It is basically a hydraulic treadmill that could be dropped below the surface of the water. This enables the athletes to do “running” sessions without much resistance and putting stress on the joints. It also includes multiple underwater cameras and live footage which helps the experts determine your recovery progress.
UFC PI includes experts from various fields, including the ones in physical therapy. Every day, these people are helping fighters to recover from intense workouts and injuries. This includes different types of massages or specific exercises. The experts further educate the athletes about how to adapt their training and lifestyle to prevent injuries and stay healthy.
UFC fighters often train three times a day ahead of the match, and these are all physically and mentally intense workouts. In order to keep their minds in place and motivated, they must relax, at least for a moment, and enjoy activities not related to fighting. And UFC PI relaxation lounge is an ideal place.
Fighters come to this room mostly in between the training sessions to relax and refuel for the next one. The lounge includes everything from Xbox and PlayStation, nap pods, and couches from which they can watch movies, and TV shows, or play video games. They can even watch the live footage from the octagon and boxing ring in the training room and observe other people training.
Overall, the purpose of the relaxation lounge is to provide an athlete with a distraction to release stress from training.
Fighters can come to the cafe at any time to take post-workout shakes, or just have a cup of coffee and hang out with other athletes, coaches, or UFC PI members. They can also fuel up their bodies with healthy meals and other nutrition needs.
The media room is quite spacious as it includes seating for 60 people, a large LED video board, work desks, and even translation booths at the back. It very much looks like a classroom in a university.
There is also another, smaller media room next to the main one used primarily by outside media members, but also by UFC PI staff, fighters, and coaches.
The meeting room is primarily used by UFC PI staff and athletes to discuss the results of testing, create further training plans, and overall, evaluate their stay at the performance institute. The room can also be used by PI members to evaluate their work as a team, what they can possibly do better to improve their work, or maybe discuss up-and-coming changes in innovation.
How UFC Performance Institute Benefits the Fighters?
The UFC PI is the leader in improving human performance in the combat sports industry. Every square meter of the facility is dedicated to athletes and improving their health, fitness, technical skills, nutrition, and overall performance. The benefits are huge and the following is a list of some of the major ones.
MMA Technical Skill and Fitness Improvements
At UFC PI, fighters can get a deep technical analysis of their overall skills. This will give them a look at the aspects of their game that seek improvement. They can learn how to adapt their training regimes and get specific drills to speed up their progress. And above all, develop all-around skills and fulfill all the holes in their game.
They can also undergo different tests to discover the areas where they can improve their fitness. This is crucial because they don’t have this type of advanced equipment in their regular gyms. As a result, fighters can get a unique and customized training plan to follow. The plan will maximize their performance, and improve cardio and strength in the shortest time possible. Much faster than without UFC PI testing and planning.
Next, they can enjoy sparring or simulating a match in a full-size octagon. This is notably beneficial for newcomers who are yet to compete inside the octagon and the UFC PI gives them a unique first-hand experience of what they may expect.
Nutrition support during fight camp and weight cut
Nutrition is one of the most important aspects of the fighting game, the one you don’t want to get wrong. Any UFC fighter looking to learn more about nutrition and how their bodies respond to certain foods and diets should come into UFC PI. They will be in the hands of the most experienced experts in this field.
These experts will do all the advanced testing and come up with a nutrition plan that suits you the best. Whether you are interested in learning more about the process of weight cutting, how to maintain a healthy weight, or add muscle mass, the UFC PI staff has your back.
The company also partnered with “Trifecta”, a brand responsible for producing high-quality organic meals. All UFC fighters who come to UFC PI to do their training camp will have their meals provided by Trifecta. Bear in mind that meals are based on the individual nutrition plan of each athlete.
In the week leading up to a fight, Trifecta experts will work with fighters’ nutritionists during the process of the weight cut. They will closely track their progress, and consult and adapt the nutrition diet so that the process goes as smoothly and as safely as possible.
The mental aspect is a big part of the fighting game. In fighting, all the best skills in the world mean nothing if you don’t have the ability to sustain the pressure of the moment, stay calm, and deliver on fight night. This is notably common among newcomers who are yet to make their debut. The UFC is well aware of this, so they are also focusing on providing them with psychological support.
Of course, UFC PI includes the finest experts in sports psychology. They talk with the fighters during their stay, and help them overcome the mental obstacles that come with being a pro fighter.
Every fighter is dealing with different inner battles. In combination with the pressure that comes with pro-MMA, this may have an impact on their performance on fight night. Thus, it is crucial for them to approach this aspect of the game the right way. Working on improving your mental health is equally important as working on your physical skills.
Education through advanced research
The UFC PI focuses on advanced research and testing. Experts from various fields would analyze the results, and come up with ways to improve fighters’ performance and health. They will also do their best to pass down the knowledge and educate the fighters on a specific matter.
For example, the PI released the “UFC Performance Institute Digital Journal”. The most comprehensive resource of information produced for the sport of MMA. The journal includes detailed studies, research, analyses, conclusions as well as practical solutions to each segment related to fighters’ performance, and it is free to use. Anyone can use this to improve their skill, nutrition, recovery, physical preparation, etc.
This shows you how much UFC cares about educating fighters and their coaches.
Last but not least, the full UFC PI experience allows you to learn more about your physical and mental health. And above all, how to improve your lifestyle, stay healthy, and prevent injuries and diseases.
Through different tests and analyses, you will get a comprehensive look at your body composition, strengths, weaknesses, underlying issues, and most importantly, a piece of advice on how to deal with all of this.
If you put the sport and competition aside, UFC PI enables you to learn more about yourself, and how to improve longevity and quality of life. Instead of spending months meeting different experts in different clinics, UFC fighters can do all the analysis under a single roof. That’s one of the most beneficial aspects of the entire facility.
Is UFC Performance Institute Free for All UFC Athletes?
UFC PI is open for all athletes who are under an active contract with the UFC. It doesn’t matter if the fighter is a newcomer yet to make their debut or a veteran, they can all come in whenever they want to.
Also, spending an entire training camp in a UFC PI is quite expensive if you are not living in Las Vegas. People from other states or countries would have to pay travel fees as well as accommodation to stay for two months or as long as the fight camp lasts. The UFC might provide them with some discounts, but they won’t cover their travel and accommodation expenses.
Most fighters prefer to visit the PI center for a week or two to get all the testing done and plan their nutrition and training regimes FOR FREE. And they would compensate for this through travel and lodging expenses.
How Many UFC Fighters Train in the UFC Performance Institute?
According to the UFC, 85% of their roster used UFC PI services at some point by 2021, or around 600 fighters in total. The ones who didn’t are mostly international fighters. Notably, the ones who need a visa to enter the US, such as those from eastern European countries. In 2019, the Vice president of the facility, James Kimball, stated that around 175 fighters use UFC PI services on a monthly basis.
In most cases, fighters visit the PI center a week or two before the fight. This is because most events take place in Las Vegas or UFC Apex center. So fighters booked on the card would come in a few weeks ahead of the match to get their final preparations done in the PI center.
How Many UFC Performance Institutes Are There?
The company has two UFC Performance Institutes. The main one is located in Enterprise, Nevada, US, while the other one is in China known as “Shanghai Performance Institute”.
Following the rise of the UFC on the Chinese market, the UFC decided to invest a lot of resources into building another performance institute in 2019. This one is almost three times the size of the original in Las Vegas and it includes very much the same features, if not even more. It serves as a training hub for Asian fighters who are slowly taking over the MMA scene.
According to Dana White, the company is planning to open two more facilities, one in Mexico and one in Puerto Rico or Africa.
Is the UFC Performance Institute Open to Public?
UFC PI is not open to the public. Or in other words, people not under the contract or associated with the UFC in any other way are not allowed to come to the center and use its services. There’s not even an option to pay for a visit or tour around the facility, nor can fighters from other MMA promotions come in and train.
On the other side, the PI is not “top secret” but rather a quite busy facility that has to handle around 700 fighters on the UFC roster. So there is no space, time, or other resources needed for the facility to be open to the public.
The bottom line
The UFC pioneered the modern MMA back in 1993, and they are doing the same in modern times. The UFC PI is the revolutionary center when it comes to research and performance improvement. And the first of its kind as far as the sport of MMA is concerned. The facility is non-profitable and entirely oriented toward fighters and their needs.
The facility is open to all active UFC fighters who can come in at any time and spend as much time in the facility as they want. But unfortunately, the PI is not open to the public yet.