Time-motion and biological responses in simulated MMA matches

Simulated matches are a relevant component of training for mixed martial arts (MMA) athletes. This study aimed to characterize time-motion responses and investigate physiological stress and neuromuscular changes related to MMA sparring matches. Thirteen athletes with an average age of 25 ± 5 years, body mass of 81.3 ± 9.5 kg, height of 176.2 ± 5.5 cm, and time of practice in MMA of 39 ± 25 months participated in the study.

The fighters executed three 5-min rounds with 1-min intervals. Blood and salivary samples were collected and physical tests and psychometric questionnaires administered at three time points: before (PRE), immediately after (POST), and 48-h after the combat (48h). Statistical analysis applied analysis of variance (ANOVA) for repeated measurements.

In biochemical analysis, significant changes (p<0.05) were identified between PRE and POST (glucose: 80.3 ± 12.7 to 156.5 ± 19.1 mg.ml; lactate: 4 ± 1.7 to 15.6±4.8 mmol/dL), POST and 48h (glucose: 156.5 ± 19.1 to 87.6 ± 15.5 mg/mL; lactate:15.6 ± 4.8 to 2.9 ± 3.5 mmol/dL; urea: 44.1 ± 8.9 to 36.3 ± 7.8 mg/mL), and PRE and 48h (CK: 255.8 ± 137.4 to 395.9±188.7 U/L).

In addition, time-motion analyses showed a total high:low intensity of 1:2 and a effort:pause ratio of 1:3.

In conclusion, simulated MMA sparring matches feature moderate to high intensity and a low degree of musculoskeletal damage, which can be seen by absence of physical performance and [CK] decreases.

Results of the study indicate that sparring training could be introduced into competitive microcycles to improve technical and tactical aspects of MMA matches, due the high motor specificity and low muscle damage.


J Strength Cond Res. 2016 Jan 22. [Epub ahead of print] Time-motion and biological responses in simulated mixed martial arts (mma) sparring matches. Coswig VS1, de Paula Ramos S, Del Vecchio FB. 11Superior School of Physical Education, Federal University of Pelotas 2Faculty Anhanguera of Pelotas 3 Biological Sciences Center, Londrina State University 4Combat Sports and Martial Arts Research Group, University of São Paulo.


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