5 MMA fighters who can lift insane weights
When a 77 kg Royce Gracie toppled a line of giants like dominoes at UFC 1, it marked the first of several groundbreaking evolutions in MMA. All of a sudden, people were awestruck by this unheralded but deadly art called Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and size was knocked off its pedestal by technique.
Then came the era of the wrestlers who broke people with their physicality and toughness, swinging the spotlight on strength and conditioning. Since then, it has become a mainstay in any MMA fighter's training regime, except in the lighter weight classes where putting on muscle can be a detriment.
But in heavier weight classes, strength and power are a calling card and many times, life savers. We've seen numerous instances where a fighter looked all but out of it and then shocks everyone into silence with a one-hitter quitter. But like Kendrick Lamar says, there are levels to this and even amongst the giants, there are those who stand out because of their truly inhuman strength and power.
Let's take a look at a few of them:
5: Tank Abbott
MMA fans who scoff when their hallowed sport is compared to pro-wrestling should rewind to the dark ages, namely the first UFC events. And to narrow it down further, the case of one David Lee Abbott, or as he's more famously known, Tank Abbott. A prominent high school and junior college wrestler who later learned to box, Abbott once beat an unruly customer in the liquor shop he worked at and wound up behind bars for six months.
He soon gained notoriety as a bar brawler/street fighter and caught the eye of the UFC, who added him to UFC 6: Clash of the Titans. Taking a leaf out of pro-wrestling, he was billed as "Tank" Abbott,(after Tank Murdock, a character who's a street fight legend in the Clint Eastwood-starrer "Any which way but loose") a Californian "pit fighter" who had been in over 200 street fights and could bench press 600 lbs or 272 kg.
Abbott also had a stint in WCW, where he was supposed to feud with Goldberg but it never materialized. The veteran who retired in 2013 now hosts his own podcast, "The Proving Ground with Tank Abbott", and also penned his autobiography, "Bar Brawler", a few years ago. While it's difficult to verify his street fighting record, here's a video of Abbott bench pressing 600 lbs, which is the same as a large adult grizzly bear:
4: Jon Jones
During his infamous suspension in 2015 following a hit-and-run incident, Jon Jones posted videos where he was powerlifting mind (and bar) bending weights. It seemed that the then number one pound-for-pound fighter in the world had turned to the sport to channel his energies during the lay off. For a man who admittedly has chicken legs and was so skinny that his college football coach nicknamed him "Bones", feats like this 600-lbs deadlift are truly astonishing:
But sadly, Jones' return has been stained by multiple doping violations and his legacy could be all but blackened. He was recently fined $205,000 and had his fighting license revoked by the California State Athletic Commission until he is cleared by USADA.
3: Shane Carwin
Shane Carwin is without a doubt one of the most monstrous Heavyweights to compete in the UFC. A collegiate wrestling champion and a double engineering degree holder, Carwin worked as an engineer while pursuing his MMA career.
The giant from Colorado soon became a force to reckon with in the sport, finishing all his opponents violently before beating Frank Mir to become the UFC Interim Heavyweight Champion. His hands have given fans some of the most vivid knockouts, which include him hitting Christian Wellisch so hard that his mouthpiece went flying across the octagon and of course, the "six inches of death" that anasthaetized Gabriel Gonzaga.
Carwin retired from MMA in 2011 because of several injuries, but faced pro-skateboarder Jason Ellis in a freakshow fight in 2016. Carwin had one had tied behind his back but still knocked out Ellis in the 2nd round. Here's a video of Carwin deadlifting 220 kg for reps when training to face Brock Lesnar at UFC 116:
2: Oli Thompson
A prodigy in the world of strength sports, Oli Thompson broke his local gym's record of a 260 kg deadlift at just 19. Having found his calling, Thompson won many regional strongman competitions en route to becoming Britain's Strongest Man in 2006.
He made his MMA debut in 2009 and even made it to the UFC, one of the few strongmen to do so. Thompson now fights in Bellator. Here's a video of him deadlifting 260 kg for reps:
1: Mariusz Pudzianowski
Those who follow the World's Strongest Man competitions will instantly recognize this name. The only man to ever win the holy grail of strongman 5 times, Mariusz Pudzianowski actually started training in kyokushin karate at age 11, before he discovered strength training. His passion for the latter took over and it paid off unimaginably, with him carving his name above all who have ever competed in the World's Strongest Man.
After a record 5th WSM title in 2008 and placing 2nd in 2009, the Polish behemoth retired from strongman to pursue MMA. He has spent the majority of his fighting career in his homeland's promotion KSW and holds wins over James Thompson, Oli Thompson, Bob Sapp, Sean McCorkle and Pawel Nastula.
Pudzianowski is a bit of a renaissance man - he holds a masters in international relations, has a school for training bodyguards, is a real estate investor, owns a trucking company and has even lent his voice to his brother's band, Pudzian.