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SportsMixed Martial Arts

Gregor Gillespie makes weight two weeks before a fight, then does it again for UFC fight week

Gregor Gillespie celebrates his victory over Andrew Holbrook

Gregor Gillespie celebrates his victory over Andrew Holbrook at UFC 210, Saturday, April 8, 2017, in Buffalo. Photo Credit: AP / Jeffrey T. Barnes

Gregor Gillespie hates cutting weight just as much as the next guy.

It’s the first battle for any fighter — a grueling test of body and mind to get to the contracted weight limit, often combining strict diet and severe dehydration methods to achieve the desired results.

But Gillespie takes an unconventional approach to his cut to ease the burden — he does it twice.

“Out of all the guys in UFC, even boxing, I’d be shocked if there’s five guys that do that, I really would be,” said Keith Trimble, Gillespie’s coach at Bellmore Kickboxing. “Nobody likes making weight, so if they don’t have to, I don’t think they’re going to be doing the exact weight cut. He does the exact weight cut.”

LI’s Gillespie is continuing his unorthodox strategy ahead of his lightweight bout against Vinc Pichel on Friday at UFC Fight Night 131 in Utica.

The former national champion wrestler said he adopted the strategy when he began fighting professionally. After a stretch of zero weight cuts from 2011 to his first pro fight in 2014, Gillespie decided, “I’d like to practice getting down once.”

Gillespie said he did his first test cut three weeks ahead of his professional debut. That went well enough to try two test cuts ahead of his next fight. He eventually settled on one test cut, which he completes the Thursday night two weeks out from his fight.

“I’ll be close the first day, I’ll be on weight the second day,” Gillespie said. “I obviously go back up, I don’t hang out there, but after a workout I’ll be close to weight. Then the last night, I’m at weight and I don’t eat or drink as much and I’m only one [pound] over when I go to bed, because weigh-ins would be the next morning.”

Gillespie said there are multiple benefits to his strategy. With the knowledge he’s already made the cut once, Gillespie said he doesn’t get anxious or obsessive about his weight leading into the actual cut.

“I’m not a slave to the scale because then I’ll obsess about it and I’ll go off my diet, which is a perfect diet. It keeps me exactly where I need to be, but then I’ll start cutting back on my diet which doesn’t need to be cut back on yet,” Gillespie said. “You don’t need to check it all the time. I know about what I weigh, I’m between 166 and 170. Probably the heaviest I get is 170 and a day when I sweat a lot, I could be 162, but I don’t know and that’s that.”

Gillespie also said going through a full cut and recovery helps him better prepare for the actual process.

“I know I don’t feel good the first time I do it,” Gillespie said. “If you do it one time, your body is in shock and it doesn’t soak all the nutrients up like it should. It’s just like anything — you practice and you’ll get better at it. I’ll be able to put the weight back on much quicker and much more healthily than most guys can because I’m used to it. If you cut a ton of weight, especially when you dehydrate yourself and then you try to stuff tons of food back in you, typically you won’t absorb it, it’ll just sit in your stomach. So I’ve got my own system down and I do it that way and it seems to work.”

The extra cut also provides a unique training scenario.

With his body still recovering the next day, just as it would be during a typical fight week following an actual cut, Trimble will put Gillespie through various situations to simulate live action in that mindset.

“Sometimes it’s sparring and sometimes it’s my drills we do with wrestling, grappling and striking where you’re all over the place like a fight,” Trimble said. “It’s very exhausting on the body so he knows it’s like the fight, he knows what he’s going to feel like.”

Trimble said he doesn’t know of anyone else using this strategy, but he isn’t trying to change how his pupil operates.

“Gregor’s set in his own ways about stuff and you’ve gotta let Gregor do his things,” Trimble said. “Certain things I’ve gotten into his head to change up a little bit, but certain things he’s got, it’s OCD or whatever you want to say, he’s gotta do what he’s gotta do.”

It works for Gillespie (11-0, 4-0 UFC), but would he recommend his methods to other fighters? Nope.

“I don’t think the way I do it is good for really anybody,” he said. “I typically over-train and I’m run down quite a bit, but I’m just used to that, that’s how I train. I would never say that’s the right way for anyone else to do it. There’s no cookie-cutter training program.”

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