- GSP’s cardio never seemed to be an issue in his prime, allowing him to dominate opponents and end his career on a 13-fight win streak.
- Cruz’s impressive cardio allows him to control the pace of the fight and win the majority of his bouts, making him one of the best bantamweights in MMA history.
- Nate Diaz’s cardio is always on display, as he consistently goes the distance in his fights and rarely slows down, even when taking significant damage.
For a lot of MMA fans, there’s nothing worse than watching an exciting fight devolve into two men gasping for air as they take slow, wild swings at each other. Fighters that don’t have impressive cardio are at a serious disadvantage at just about every level of MMA, and that extends to every style of fighting.
If a fighter can’t stand and trade blows without getting gassed, they’ll stand little chance if they’re taken to the ground. One of the most tiring portions of a fight can be the exchanges that take place on the ground as one fighter looks for a submission to get the finish. There have been plenty of incredible fighters over the years, but only a few can call themselves the fighters with the most impressive lungs.
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When it comes to competing in the octagon, a fighter must be ready for anything and everything. Conditioning is key, no matter what a fighter’s style or background may be. If you don’t have the proper conditioning in terms of cardiovascular conditioning, you are only setting yourself up for failure. With that said, these fighters have shown that through all the punches, kicks, takedowns, and submission holds, going round to round is a simple cakewalk compared to fighters who lack conditioning and endurance. Hold your breath as we examine some of the best MMA fighters who have mastered cardio conditioning!
10 Georges St-Pierre, A Two-Division Champion
St-Pierre Would Destroy His Opponents Thanks To Proper Conditioning And Endurance
- St-Pierre has only lost two fights in his career, one in a shocking upset against Matt Serra in 2007.
- He announced his official retirement from MMA in February 2019.
- One of the few fighters who incorporated various fighting styles (Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Kickboxing, Boxing, Wrestling).
For a guy who was literally given the nickname “Rush”, Georges St-Pierre seemingly never got tired. In his prime, GSP’s cardio never seemed to be an issue thanks to how quickly he could dominate most of his opponents.
While most fighters tend to get a bit more worn out toward the end of their careers, it’s worth pointing out that GSP ended his career on a thirteen-fight win streak, nine of which ultimately went to the judge’s decision. It took a rare breed of fighter to even hope to wear GSP down inside the octagon.
9 Dominick Cruz Has A Cardio Intensive Fighting Style
An Impressive Fighter With Equally Impressive Cardio
- Cruz holds the UFC record for most title defenses (Batamweight Division).
- He loves to study his opponents by exploiting all their weaknesses and controlling the pace of the fight, making him one of the most feared analytical fighters in the MMA world.
- Cruz became the Batamweight Champion after returning from a four-year layoff by defeating T.J. Dillashaw in 2016.
Though people have had rather mixed opinions on him for some less than stellar excuses for losses, it’s hard to deny just how impressive Cruz’s cardio is. He’s competed in twenty-seven unique bouts and came out on the winning side twenty-four times. Sixteen of those wins ended up going to the judges.
He’s competed in some absolute wars with some other fighters with impressive endurance, but it’s rare to see Cruz in a state of exhaustion. There’s a reason that he’s regarded as one of the best bantamweights of all time, and his cardio is a big part of that.
8 Demetrious Johnson Ruled The Flyweight Division
A Fighter That Loves To Go The Distance To Tire Out His Opponents
- Demetrious Johnson has won twelve championships throughout his MMA career.
- He is an avid video gamer and loves to stream his gaming sessions on Twitch.
- Johnson was also nominated for a couple of awards, including the ESPY Award for Best Fighter and the World MMA Award for Fighter of the Year.
Most people agree that the only reason the flyweight division even managed to continue existing was thanks to Demetrious Johnson and his incredible reign as the champion. He consistently outclassed his opponents in just about every respect in all of his bouts at the time.
He’s had plenty of bouts going to the fifth round, and most of the time, Johnson looked like he could go for five more. It’s clear that even when he may appear tired, he’s ready to close in on a win as he has one of the latest UFC finishes of all time.
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7 Michael Bisping Fought With One Eye
Bisping Is A Fighter That Utilizes Cardio By Taking Damage And Comes Back For More
- Bisping is one of the best strikers in the MMA world, known for his precision and knockout power.
- He has written an autobiography about his life and career called, “Quitters Never Win”.
- Bisping sustained various injuries throughout his career, with the worst being a detached retina which sidelined him from the octagon for a lengthy amount of time.
Bisping was the kind of fighter who could absorb serious damage, with his cardio aiding in his durability. He’s had plenty of bouts go the distance with the best of the best, and he rarely looks as if he’d just been through one of the most hard-fought bouts in UFC history.
His lengthy bout with Anderson Silva is a match most people point to as a great example of Bisping’s incredible cardio. Not only did he absorb enough damage to be gushing blood, but he still looked as ready to brawl in the fifth round as he looked in the very first.
6 Kamaru Usman Started As A Wrestler
Kamaru Loves To Go The Distance
Despite how impressive Kamaru Usman is in the octagon, people seem to somehow not realize that a significant majority of his UFC bouts have gone the distance. The power with which he strikes leads his knockouts to appear rather emphatic, which may be the culprit.
Regardless, Usman is a fighter that not only consistently ends up at the judge’s decision, but he often doesn’t look like his fight was that big of a deal. When some fighters are gasping for air during their post-fight interviews, Usman delivers his interviews calmly and collected.
5 Nate Diaz Runs Out Of Rounds
Nate Diaz Went The Distance Several Times Against Conor McGregor.
- He is the younger brother of UFC fighter, Nick Diaz.
- Nate Diaz is endorsed by various sponsors, including Reebok, Monster Energy, and CBD.
- As noted, his wars with Conor McGregor inside the octagon are among some of the most entertaining fights in UFC history.
Everyone knows that when one of the Diaz brothers are lined up for a bout on a UFC card, that card is bound to have a fair share of brutal fights. Nate Diaz has never been afraid to take on the best that the UFC has to offer simply because he loves to fight.
While he has certainly been in trouble in more than a few bouts, Nate Diaz pretty much always showed off his impressive cardio, regardless of the length of a bout. Both of his bouts against Conor McGregor are great examples of his cardio. He took plenty of damage, but barely ever slowed down.
4 Nick Diaz Enjoys Triathlons
Nick Diaz Has Mastered Cardio Conditioning Through Intense Training Regimens.
- He has competed in various leagues, including Pride FC, Strikeforce, and UFC.
- Nick Diaz was suspended numerous times throughout his career due to failed drug tests and disciplinary actions.
- Diaz has expressed an interest in crossing over into the boxing world.
While his fights have been a bit rarer than his brother, Nick Diaz definitely has an incredible gas tank as well. Training videos from both brothers have popped up on the internet over the years, each showing off some serious cardio strength.
Even during his time in Strikeforce, Nick Diaz was constantly battling against some of the hardest hitters the promotion had. Despite taking some heavy shots, he’d always manage to rebound and regroup quickly in order to secure a win, whether that be by knockout or submission.
3 Frankie Edgar Never Got Tired
Edgar Used His Cardio As A Factor To His Success In MMA
While he has had a harder time picking up wins in his bouts recently, most MMA insiders acknowledge how talented a fighter like Frankie Edgar was in his prime. His skills led him to victory over some of the biggest names in MMA, and his cardio is likely a big contributor to his success.
He stopped BJ Penn in two lengthy title bouts and managed to pick up the win in a third meeting as well. Despite Penn’s legendary status, it’s likely Edgar’s impressive cardio that gave him the competitive edge in all of their bouts.
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2 Tony Ferguson Never Runs Out Of Gas
Ferguson Likes To Use His Endurance To Earn Awards
- Ferguson began his career while working at a bar.
- He broke his opponent’s jaw in his second UFC bout against Aaron Riley.
- Ferguson suffered his first TKO in 2020, approximately twelve years after his MMA debut, which is an astonishing feat.
While he is one a six-fight losing streak as of 2023, it’s worth acknowledging that even in his losing efforts, he still managed to remain competitive. Ferguson is often awarded the fight of the night or the performance of the night, and it’s not hard to see why that’s the case.
Almost every round he fights looks like his first, regardless of how much damage he’s taken. When it looks like a bout is ready to come to a close, Ferguson seems to be able to pull out incredible submissions exactly when he needs them.
1 Alexander Volkanovski Goes The Distance
Volkanovski Used His Cardio To Survive A Tight Submission Hold
- He broke the record for leg kicks thrown in a single fight, throwing approximately 75 significant leg strikes against Max Holloway.
- He was also a former rugby player for a (Semi) Professional Rugby League.
- Volkanovski won a National Wrestling Championship at the age of twelve.
Anyone who has watched Volkanovski survive Ortega’s tight guillotine choke knows just how incredible his cardio is. Taking some big hits is one thing, being locked in a submission hold for an extended period of time is a whole different thing.
Not only did Volkanovski manage to escape the hold, but it barely looked like he was bothered by it in the first place. He consistently shows off his incredible cardio by launching into each round with the speed and ferocity of someone who has just stepped into a fight, regardless of what round it is.