Iron Sharpens Iron: Carlos Condit and Austin Trout Bring Boxing and MMA Together
Mixed martial arts combines several different types of combat training to form one perfect weapon where any fighter really could be called a jack of all trades.
Long gone are the days when a fighter could just be a good wrestler or a great striker. Now, every fighter has to carry at least some element of all the martial arts to truly compete at the top level.
Still, working with a top-level competitor in one particular art form can truly shape and mold a fighter's game for MMA. High level, Olympic-caliber wrestlers are routinely used during MMA training camps. Kickboxers fly in from around the world to work with fighters as they look to improve their stand-up acumen.
In the case of UFC welterweight Carlos Condit, he had to look no further than his own backyard of Albuquerque, New Mexico to find a boxing champion that would come in and work with him on his hands, but also give him a unique look at what truly great punching looks like on the MMA canvas.
Undefeated WBA light middleweight champion Austin Trout, who hails from New Mexico, has been called upon a couple of times now to come in and work with Condit as he prepares for his upcoming bouts. Just ahead of his showdown at UFC 158, Trout came into Jackson's MMA to work with Condit, and the boxing champion was very impressed with the skills the former UFC interim champion possessed in his hands.
"We got to put in some work and throw them hands. The man is good. There's a lot of things I could get away with that I couldn't get away with if we were doing the full MMA thing, so I know he wasn't showing everything he could do. He has good hands," Trout told Bleacher Report ahead of Condit's fight this weekend.
"He's good at throwing them hands when he's standing up. I've watched Carlos fight quite a bit, and he's got some of the best hands in the game."
Prior to Condit's last fight against Georges St-Pierre, Trout came in and watched his fellow New Mexico fighter work with pads, but due to a cut he recently suffered in training they were unable to spar together.
This time around however, Condit and Trout strapped on the gloves and put in several sparring rounds and the benefits were exponential even though at the time they didn't know why.
When Condit and Trout sparred a few weeks ago, the UFC welterweight was preparing for a showdown against Rory MacDonald, but within days of their training session an injury occurred that then put him in the cage against top contender Johny Hendricks.
Hendricks is a rare breed in MMA in that he happens to be a left-handed southpaw in his stand-up game, and ironically enough Trout is one of the best southpaws in all of boxing. Needless to say, Trout's work and teaching came in handy for Condit's preparation as he got ready for Hendricks.
"Austin is incredible. He's undefeated, he's fighting Canelo (Alvarez), he's one of the best boxers in the division. He's extremely technical but he also has power. He throws combinations to hurt you. That mix is awesome especially when training for MMA," Condit explained when speaking to Bleacher Report.
"He's more technical than the guys I'm going to be striking with, but he also brings the heat. In another aspect it really gets me out of my comfort zone. I can't throw kicks, he's a southpaw, and it was kind of ironic I was sparring with him just a couple of days before I found out I was supposed to fight Hendricks. Very different styles, but I got a little work with a world-class southpaw."
The training was invaluable and Condit hopes the hard work pays off when he faces Hendricks this weekend. Trout, who is preparing for a late April showdown against WBC light middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez, says even though he doesn't train MMA and Condit isn't a boxer, the work they put in will help him in many ways as well.
There's no substitute for work and training with another world-class fighter, and whether it's boxing or MMA, both Trout and Condit definitely fall into that category.
"Iron sharpens iron," Trout explained. "We keep New Mexico strong helping each other out. He's a good dude, I really like him as a person. Helping someone I like it's not a job at all."
Trout will be cheering Condit on from home in New Mexico as he prepares for his own fight in April. Condit faces Hendricks in the co-main event at this weekend's UFC 158 card in Montreal.
Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report and all quotes were obtained first hand unless otherwise noted.