THE FIGHTER?S STORY
A DAY IN THE LIFE OF PHIL BARONI
By MICHAEL DISANTO
May 30, 2006 Article Image
The alarm sounds at 8:20 a.m. on Monday morning, certainly not an early wakeup for the majority of Americans working the hustle and bustle of a 9-to-5 job. But mixed martial artist Phil Baroni isn?t part of corporate America. In fact, prior to his debut with the PRIDE fighting organization 10 months ago, 8:20 would have been considered insanely early for the Las Vegas resident.
?When I was fighting for the UFC, I had to have a full-time job, too,? says Baroni. ?Las Vegas was the perfect choice for my home, because I could make good money working nights at Spearmint Rhino, Hush, Tangerine, Bikinis or the Empire Ballroom, and then train during the day. But that starts to wear on you after awhile. It?s tough to work from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., get enough sleep and still get in all of the proper training and food before I had to be back at work.?
After an eight-fight run in the UFC that was characterized by unfortunate results, Baroni?s fianc?e Michelle made it possible for him to quit working nights and focus solely on fighting, something that had to happen if he wanted to truly chase his dream of one day becoming a champion.
?If it wasn?t for her, I wouldn?t be fighting in PRIDE,? he admits. ?After I lost at UFC 51, everyone was telling me to hang it up. But my girl told me to stick with it. She made a lot of sacrifices, working overtime, working six or seven days a week, just to support me while I continued chasing my dream to someday become a champion.?
Now that competing in mixed martial arts is his full-time job, the ?New York Bad Ass? has nothing else in mind other than maximizing his day around pre-fight preparations. That means rising early and beginning a calculated, carefully planned workday 10 minutes later with breakfast.
Breakfast is an important part of Baroni?s day and he must make sure that his meals provide enough nutrients for him to be able to train properly. Baroni must keep his body a good 20 pounds below his normal ?in shape? bodyweight in order to make the 183-pound limit the day before the fight. Eating the proper foods in the proper amounts is paramount to his success.
?I cook one-half cup of oatmeal and eight egg whites for breakfast,? says Baroni. ?Then I take a bunch of different nutritional supplements ? about 50 to 60 pills in total, including glucosamine, chondrotin, amino acids, minerals, vitamins and other things. That?s the fuel for the morning training session.?
The quick breakfast only occupies 30 minutes of his morning. Afterward, he has about an hour to kill in his makeshift home for the four weeks preceding a fight ? a studio-style, extended-stay hotel in San Jose, Calif. Around 10 a.m. it?s off to the ?office? to down an energy drink and ?get the party started.?
Mondays are sparring days at the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, the site of Baroni?s training camps. On one Monday morning, he enters the ring around 10:45 a.m. for three rounds of work. First up is a 10-minute round with top UFC 185-pound competitor Trevor Prangley. The sparring is focused on kickboxing, but takedowns and ground work ? albeit minimized by the presence of 16-ounce, boxing-style sparring gloves ? are fair game.
After a short 60-second break, the pair resumes their battle for a second, shorter round of work. This time, it?s only a five-minute round, mimicking the natural progression of a fight under PRIDE rules. Once that round concludes, Baroni takes another 60-second break, and then it?s time for five more minutes with former ISKA kickboxing champion and K-1 veteran Travis Johnson, a southpaw known for his lightning-quick hands and powerful feet.
Javier Mendez, the head trainer at AKA and a former world champion kickboxer, likes what he sees. ?I?m really happy with Baroni?s progress since he started training here,? Mendez says. ?We?ve upped his punching power a little bit, but the biggest difference is that he?s not getting hit as much anymore.?
Next, it?s off to the grappling mats for several rounds of intense ground work with Josh Koscheck, Jake Shields and Prangley. The rolling sessions are solely ground-focused (no takedowns), so the group works on sweeps, transition jiu-jitsu, submission defense and scrambling back to the feet. Anytime one man succeeds in catching a submission hold, the pair returns to the starting position, taps hands and gets right back to work.
By the time the clock strikes 12:45 p.m., the team part of the training is done for the morning. Baroni takes a 10-minute break and heads back to the cardio room for a 30-minute stint on the aerodyne ? a stationary bike with movable handles that alternate in a rowing fashion. His cardiovascular routine includes a repetitive cycle of 60 seconds at maximum effort and 90 seconds cruising at a steady pace to keep his heart rate above a certain threshold.
Afterward, he downs a quick post-workout recovery drink and jokes around with his training partners for a few minutes before hitting the showers and heading to lunch.
Baroni eats several pieces of sashimi, tuna and salmon for lunch ? about 30 grams of protein. ?With every single meal, I take between 15 to 20 pills ? different nutritional supplements,? he says. ?I also eat a ton of greens with each meal. I do that for the alkalinity in my blood.?
Immediately after lunch, Baroni heads down the street to the SCORE Clinic for his chiropractic and wellness treatments. Dr. Ted Omura works on Baroni?s lower back with a cutting-edge procedure called the Graston Technique. Basically, Dr. Omura uses a series of stainless steel instruments to lengthen the muscle and break down the adhesions. Then, he uses his elbow and the weight of his upper body to further work the muscles using the Active Release Technique.
Both are designed to help keep Baroni healthy and increase his recovery time after intense workout sessions. ?This ain?t no damn massage, dude. Believe me. It?s no fun, but it works,? says Baroni.
Dr. Omura follows that up with deep, assisted stretching and traditional chiropractic work ? adjusting Baroni?s back and neck. The final procedure entails 20 minutes on the electro-stimulation machine, which uses electrical currents to contract and relax muscles to help flush out lactic acid as part of an active recovery protocol.
Feeling good after his session at SCORE, Baroni heads back to his hotel to relax and watch a little television. Baroni eats twice after lunch to retain energy and keep his metabolism up. The first meal usually consists of chicken breast and brown rice, then later, orange roughy and oatmeal for a protein and carbohydrate balance.
Baroni?s second training session of the day consists of more grappling work and another round of sprints on the aerodyne. He also extends his 30-minute cardiovascular session by 50 percent. He follows this with an energy drink and one last meal of the day. ?An hour after my evening workout, I eat some salmon, enough to give me about 35 grams of protein,? says Baroni. ?I also take a bunch of supplements, about 40 pills in total. Then, I relax and hit the sack.?
Before going to bed, Baroni reflects on his career and what it?s taken to achieve contender status in PRIDE.
?I pride myself in the fact that I?ve never ducked anyone, so my fight career is filled with world-class opponents,? he says. ?Almost all of the guys I?ve fought were top-10 fighters. Now, I?m getting ready for my fourth fight in PRIDE Fighting Championships over in Japan. If I win this fight, I?ll be in title contention.
?But more importantly, I?m set to make some good money over my next several fights now that I?m an established contender in PRIDE. So I can finally afford to give my fianc?e a nice wedding like she deserves. We?re going to get married back in New York where we?re both from. Then we?ll have a big, huge party to celebrate back in Vegas at PURE Nightclub,? says Baroni. ?PURE has been a big supporter and helps me get away and pays for my training camps. It means a lot to me to have the support of PURE and also 944 Magazine.?
But first things first: Baroni has business to take care of ? and more critics to quiet ? before he can start thinking about a wedding. ?All the mixed martial arts Web sites said I was done after I lost a few fights in the UFC,? Baroni says. ?But I?m not done, not even close. I went over to PRIDE and I?m back in the top 10 on InsideFighting.com?s rankings. Those are the only rankings that matter.?