Prior to hoisting the Vince Lombardi Trophy on Sunday night, Green Bay Packer Clay Matthews was hauling around MMA heavy bags. Despite making the 2009 Pro Bowl team as an NFL rookie, the 24-year-old refused to rest on his laurels by enrolling in Randy Couture’s MMAthletics this past off season.
Together with mixed martial arts veteran and Fox Sports writer Jay Glazer, “The Natural” developed a full-time training camp designed solely for athletes from other professional sports. Glazer spearheaded Matthews’ intense training regimen last summer.
With all due respect to their athletic counterparts, Couture and Glazer believe MMA fighters are the world’s best conditioned specimens. Mixed martial artists literally defend their lives in combat, so pushing their bodies beyond their breaking points on a daily basis is just par for the course.
Jared Allen paved the way for NFL players a few years ago when he started working at Arizona Combat Sports. One of the game’s best pass rushers claimed it was “the most important thing I did to help my career.”
According to Glazer, Matthews has significantly strengthened and increased the speed of his hand strikes – a more violent version of the hand slap. The technique dislodges offensive linemen’s arms from his body, allowing Matthews to maintain his momentum in order to get in the backfield to make plays.
In addition, MMA training has shown him how to maximize the leverage in his six foot three inch frame.
Matthews tallied 13.5 sacks this past season, the fourth highest total in the league. He tacked on another 3.5 sacks during the Packers’ playoff run.
Although Troy Polamalu beat him out for 2010 NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors by two votes, Matthews took home the only award that every athlete in any sport covets, a world championship.
Please click the media player to watch Matthews take his talents to the cage (Courtesy of FoxSports):