Being a professional athlete requires plenty of discipline, especially when getting prepared for the next competition. Former UFC champion and current ONE Championship flyweight Demetrious Johnson, who resisted the temptations of lobster mac and cheese and the dessert table before his interview with B/R Live, knows that better than most.
For a mixed martial artist of Johnson's caliber—who still owns the UFC record for most consecutive title defenses with 11—a strict diet and training regimen is paramount to his success and making weight for the the 135-pound flyweight limit in the ONE Championship, the Singapore-based promotion he joined last October.
After defeating Tatsumitsu Wada this month, Johnson has turned his attention to preparations for the ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix final against Danny Kingad on October 13. In fact, this will be the shortest amount of time Mighty Mouse will have between matches since 2010 while with the World Extreme Cagefighting.
The winner of the tournament becomes the No. 1 contender to the title held by Adriano Moraes. Johnson, however, is still erring on the side of caution when it comes to his body throughout the upcoming training camp, especially after a grueling three-round match against Wada that went the distance.
"The first part to my training is getting my body healed," Johnson told B/R Live. "There's no point in me going into training camp if I'm not healthy enough."
Although he's considered one of the best mixed martial artists ever, even the 33-year-old admits he must control himself when getting ready for the next challenge.
"That's the biggest thing in my career, when I look back on it, is I think I trained too hard sometimes. I don't need to be training as hard as I was," he said. "I have a little bit of muscle atrophy at the moment because I'm not lifting weights as of right now, but the muscle will come back quickly once I decide to start again. Since the next fight is so close, I won't really get out of shape if I decide to take my time getting back into it."
Once he begins his training camp, a plethora of conditioning workouts await him. The goal is simple: push his heart rate and increase his longevity in what can often be long, tedious matches such as his bout with Wada.
The exercises include long runs, sprints, rowing and sled work. If Johnson wants to build muscle, he'll add weights to his routine. However, don't expect him to be working toward personal bests for pushups or pullups.
"We aren't really focused on that," Johnson said. "It's kind of outdated."
Training-camp nights typically include the meat of his martial art preparations, where Johnson works on his wrestling mat drills, grappling and pad work. With that comes a video study of past matches and upcoming opponents. Most importantly, though, he and his team base their training on how his body is feeling that day.
Another aspect of Johnson's training is his diet. Although the Kirkland, Washington, resident has always committed himself to clean eating throughout his career, it was news from doctors a few months ago that forced him to restrict it even more.
Doctors diagnosed him with SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth), which happens when good bacteria can't keep up with the overgrowth of harmful bacteria. It can cause abdomen pain, fatigue and bloating.
Due to this diagnosis, Johnson avoids an array of carbohydrates that are hard for him to digest. His diet is inspired partly by his wife Destiny, who tells him to "try to eat the colors of the rainbow."
"She always tells the children the same thing too," he said. "What can I say: It's great advice."
Of course, we're all human. Johnson occasionally submits to his cravings just like he submits his opponents in the cage.
"I do love Pop Tarts and doughnuts," he admitted. "And all I drink is water, beer and Zevia. That's all you really need.
"I was talking to my doctor, and he said beer's actually healthier for you than soda. I said, 'Hey, man!'"
You heard it here first. Want to be a world-renowned mixed martial artist? Eat Pop Tarts and drink beer—in moderation.
Demetrious Johnson faces Danny Kingad in the ONE Championship Flyweight World Grand Prix final at ONE: Century on Oct. 13.