How do Pro MMA fighters recover faster for the next fight?

Photo credit: Josh Hedges/Zuffa

Injuries are a part of the sport, especially in Mixed Martial Arts. Post-fight injuries hurt a lot. Serious wounds, cuts, and bruises on your face and body can put you on the sidelines for a long time. Your ribs and thighs also take damage in the fight.

But you may not have much time before you have to be back in the ring. Resting is an important part of the recovery process as it helps in the rebuilding of the muscles.

But you may also need to resort to alternative methods for better recovery. So, how do you speed up this process? Here are a few tips that can help you. Read on to know about them.

The psychological demands of an MMA fighter

MMA is both physically and psychologically demanding. The psychological factors also play a huge role in the fighter’s performance. Like the fight, the recovery process also requires discipline, bravery, and persistence.

As per a 2016 paper by the Department of Biology of Physical Activity at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland, although the training is more physical than mental, “but once you step into the ring, the mental becomes far more superior to the physical, some even claim a ratio of 90% mental 10% physical”.

For instance, although the pain threshold is more physiological as it is connected with the lactate levels in your bloodstream. But pain tolerance is more psychological, and both can be taught at the same time with high-intensity training.

An MMA athlete can learn pain tolerance either through mindfulness meditation or motivating self-talk.

When the match ends, the athletes enter the transition phase where he/she experiences physiological and psychological fatigue. As per Periodization Training for Sports by Bompa & Buzzichelli, although muscular fatigue disappears in a few days, the fatigue on the nervous system and psyche persists.

When the athletes are completely relaxed both physically and mentally, that’s when they come out of the transition phase to train and eventually fight again.

Importance of recovery in MMA

The MMA competition and even training regimen challenge your muscle tissues. Recovery gives your body time to heal itself. If you don’t give time to your body to build back the muscles, they will get weak over time putting an end to your career before time.

A 2019 study talked about the dangers of MMA in the development of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, a condition caused by a repeated blow on the heads.

It pressed on the importance of mandatory rest period for recovery for

the MMA athletes, especially after experiencing a head concussion.

Recovery helps restore lost strength and endurance. It helps recover both physically and mentally and prepares you for the next fight.

Top 5 ways to recover faster for the next MMA fight

You cannot afford to skip the recovery time if you want to make a stronger comeback. A strict recovery strategy is as important as your training regimen.

Apart from practicing the art of doing nothing, i.e. rest, here are a few ways that will help you bounce back faster into the ring:

Proper nutrition: Athletes are always advised to eat well and drink plenty of fluids. For the healing of muscles, it is important to ensure good nutrition.

As you sweat a lot during the fight, the water level drops in the body. Drinking fluids like coconut water will rehydrate your body. Have a balanced diet rich in proteins, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It will also strengthen your immune system.

Proteins: A protein-rich diet will help increase muscle mass and aid in faster healing of torn muscle tissues. It also prevents muscle loss after a big fight. Consuming protein before sleep stimulates protein synthesis to support overnight recovery.

Omega-3 fatty acids: These fatty acids are present in fish oils and flaxseed oils. Their supplementation has an anti-inflammatory effect on the body for better healing.

Zinc-rich foods help in increasing testosterone levels in the body for better performance in training and the fight.

Magnesium acts as a muscle relaxant and also supports protein and fat synthesis.

Sleep: When you sleep or at rest, your body gets adequate time to recover. The body releases growth hormones to reduce muscle soreness when you are asleep. It stimulates tissue growth and repairs muscles.

Not getting enough sleep can falter the progress of your recovery.

It increases the cortisol levels (stress hormone) which in turn reduces the production of testosterone.

A 2019 study states that “lack of sleep can expose athletes to detrimental effects regarding not only physical performance but also immune function, cognitive capacity, and psychomotor performance”.

CBD: When you enter a ring, it is almost impossible to come back without getting hurt. With wounds comes inflammation, that becomes unbearable at times.

To relieve this pain, you can go use Cannabidiol (CBD). It has shown promising results as an anti-inflammatory. It works as an analgesic to aid in pain management.

CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system that regulates pain, sleep, memory, and other functions in the body.

CBD can also help sleep better, which is important for MMA fighters for faster recovery.

Cryotherapy: It is a pain treatment where low temperatures are used to deaden or destroy an irritant nerve. Also known as cold therapy, this treatment decreases the recovery time in MMA fighters.

It reduces the inflammation and soreness in the bruised area. It also helps in relieving the pain and improves the immune function.

Many MMA fighters also use ice bath/ ice packs to treat the muscle swelling and pain after a fight. Like cryotherapy, it constricts the blood vessels to recover faster.

Drug detox: Whether you win or lose a fight, alcohol is part of your celebration and a way to drown your sorrows. It is also not uncommon for MMA fighters and athletes to indulge in drug and substance abuse at times. It may even start with prescription medication for the fight injury.

Not only does this slow down the recovery process, but you may have a serious problem here which can jeopardize your entire career. The first step towards recovery is to understand the need for it and go for drug detox or they can use fake urine products.

You can undergo detoxification treatment in a rehabilitation center. There are institutions that have a background of working with professional athletes to help them detox.


Post-match recovery is a crucial part of your MMA career. It requires a lot of patience and hard work much like your training regimen.

The above-mentioned tips will help you get quality recovery in less time. You can also indulge in deep massage therapy or use foam rollers to stretch your muscles. Besides this, it is recommended to avoid over-training during this period.

Aashay is the sub-editor at and a cannabis enthusiast. He writes in various niches like cannabis, health-wellness, etc in his free time and enjoys spending time with his cat Daisy. Contact:


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