At UFC on ABC 1, Max Holloway turned in an exemplary performance in his victory over Calvin Kattar, where he set a new record for significant strikes and put on a clinic for other fighters to follow as a blueprint. After providing a visual for fighters to model, Holloway decided to throw in some additional advice: ditch the sparring. This advice was delivered with the revelation that Holloway had not sparred at all leading up to his fight against Kattar.
Beneil Dariush Thinks Lack of Sparring Could Be Hurting Tony Ferguson
After hearing this suggestion, Beneil Dariush was at once intrigued and bemused by Holloway’s words and committed to rethinking his own commitment to sparring. After his latest victory over Diego Ferreira at UFC Vegas 18 and the role sparring played in the outcome, Dariush is done thinking about it. He has concluded that sparring is not only essential but a lack of sparring could result in a downfall the likes of which fellow lightweight Tony Ferguson is experiencing.
“I don’t know what Tony’s camp is like. I keep hearing rumors, ‘Oh, he doesn’t have the same people. He doesn’t have sparring partners. He doesn’t have this.’ I don’t know. I can tell you this, though: If I didn’t have my team and I didn’t have my sparring partners, I would look horrible,” Dariush said in an ESPN interview. “I don’t know if I could even make it through a round in a fight: timing, conditioning, just the mental game. You get all of that from (sparring).
“It’s weird. Max Holloway’s just a strange guy if he doesn’t really spar. I hope he’s just joking about that. But everything you need you get out of hard sparring, at least from me. All the things I need in a fight I get out of hard sparring: the timing, the movement, everything.
“So I hear a lot of stories about Tony not having that in his camp anymore. And I know he does these long practices or whatever, and I’m sure they have some benefit. But for a fight, man, iron sharpens iron. You need the best guys in the world.”
Tony Ferguson most recently lost to Charles Oliveira at UFC 256 via unanimous decision. Ferguson has long been known for his eccentric training habits, but unless these sessions contain a sufficient dose of sparring, Dariush does not see Ferguson’s luck changing for the better. As it happens, Dariush is currently lined up to fight Tony Ferguson at UFC 262 in May. So if it is true that Tony Ferguson does not spar, this bout could serve as a leading experiment to determine the essentiality or overvalue contained in sparring.
Do you agree with Beneil Dariush that every fighter should spar? Or should experienced fighters follow Max Holloway’s advice and save their brain cells?