MICHAEL CHANDLER IS the type of guy you’d want to have in your corner. The UFC lightweight fighter is one of the most electric athletes in his division, with multiple Fight of the Night wins for his slugfest matches. He’s also one of the coaches on the upcoming 31st season of the UFC’s long-running The Ultimate Fighter TV series—and is slated to face his rival coach, the resurgent Conor McGregor, in the Octagon after the show wraps.
Before that show kicks off on ESPN on May 30th, Chandler opened up his home in Nashville, Tennessee to the MH crew so we could check out his gym and fridge. The tour began in the kitchen, breaking down the contents of what he called “the most important part of the house for an athlete”—the refrigerator. Chandler’s fridge is obviously in heavy use, filled with reusable containers filled with leftovers and prepared food along with packaged goods. “I always have meat and vegetables in my fridge,” he said, pointing out ground elk, ground beef, free-range eggs, salmon, and prepared meals that he uses when he’s in a training camp leading up to a fight. Veggie-wise, Chandler pointed out spinach, broccoli, carrots, cucumbers, and roasted beets leftover from the meal his wife made.
Chandler called his pre-fight nutrition plans the toughest diet he’s ever tried. “If I work hard in the kitchen—pull the right things out of my refrigerator and the right things in my body—that weight cut is going to be easier and my performance is going to be better. That’s the most important thing,” he said. On the night before a fight, Chandler said he keeps his meals consistent. He sticks with the same high-protein, high-fat foods, along with sweet potato, rice, or gluten free pasta, to avoid introducing anything that might upset his stomach.
The lightweight isn’t a big breakfast guy, but said scrambled eggs, veggies, and bacon with his favorite sauce called “Ninja Squirrel,” a coconut sriracha concoction. When he does need to feel “like a normal human being,” pizza is his go-to comfort food. No athlete can resist outlining their favorite protein shakes, and Chandler is no exception. He likes a chocolate powder base, with frozen fruits, spirulina, and crushed nuts.
Diets change as athletes face different challenges and learn what works best for their bodies. For Chandler, that means that he’s shifted from eating carbs to mostly eating meat, fats, fruits, and veggies. He also uses supplements and credits them for his longevity.
But Chandler doesn’t only have one fridge. Just around the corner from the kitchen is his pantry—and in the pantry is his beverage fridge and coffee station. He uses an espresso machine to make black coffee, then adds espresso, coconut oil, and a non-dairy creamer. The beverage fridge is stocked with a huge range of carbonated waters, Monster Energy drinks (Chandler prefers the white and orange zero sugar options), kombucha, and lots of water.
Once the fridge tour is over, Chandler opened up his “suffering sanctuary”—the fully-stocked home gym that sits on his property. “I’m training mixed-martial arts every single day.” he said. The breakdown is intense: Monday and Tuesday is MMA training, Wednesday is strength and conditioning work, Thursday is more MMA drilling, and Friday afternoon is for strength training. “My fights are always explosive,” Chandler said. “I try to be as powerful as I possibly can. I’ve been trying to do that over the past 22 years, and that’s worked out really well for me.”
While Chandler said he focused on general strength movements when he first started lifting weights, he’s changed over the years to doing more functional, explosive exercises that will help him as a fighter. He also credits lifting weights to help avoiding injury, and is a big proponent of using a foam roller.
But when he doesn’t hit the gym, Chandler said he loves trail running. “Any day that you can get out in God’s creation out in the woods is a good day.”
After the gym tour, Chandler took on a series of rapid fire questions. To up the stakes, he changed the venue again. The fighter jumped into a barrel filled with 47 degree water for a cold plunge. He had answers to all the topics—including his dream training buddy—before bringing the tour to a close.
Brett Williams, a fitness editor at Men’s Health, is a NASM-CPT certified trainer and former pro football player and tech reporter who splits his workout time between strength and conditioning training, martial arts, and running. You can find his work elsewhere at Mashable, Thrillist, and other outlets.
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