Q&A with Rafael Alejarra

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MMAWeekly's Ivan Canello recently caught up with Wanderlei Silva's personal strength and conditioning trainer, Rafael Alejarra. Besides Silva, he has or does also train the likes of Antonio Rodrigo and Antonio RogerioNogueira, Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza, Robert Drysdale, an Phil Baroni, among others.

Alejarra discussed the recent performance of Jacare at the DREAM Middleweight Grand Prix, where he won his opening round bout, Silva's upcoming fight with Keith Jardine at UFC 84, training mixed martial artists, and more.

MMAWeekly.com: What did you think about the Jacare's fight in the DREAM Middleweight Grand Prix?

Rafael Alejarra: I think Jacare is a complete athlete, even without too much experience in big events. But I am sure that he came to stay. About the fight, everything went exactly how we predicted. Thanks to God, Jacare was strong, explosive and with his technique at a very high level. Because of this, it happened exactly the way we wanted.

MMAWeekly: How was the preparation? Was there anything special to this fight since the opponent changed a few days before the fight?

Alejarra: No, in fact, we don't train for this or that opponent. We train for any kind of opponent, and we had to be well prepared for all situations possible in one fight. Fortunately, we had a positive result.

MMAWeekly: Will Jacare keep the relationship going with you and during Wanderlei's training?

Alejarra: Yes, he'll go to Brazil to see his girlfriend and soon he will come to Vegas and will join us to start the training again and help Wanderlei for his next fight.

MMAWeekly: Talking about Wanderlei, he is going to face a bigger opponent on May 24 in Keith Jardine, maybe a stronger opponent. How do you see that?

Alejarra: To be honest, Jardine is taller, but I don't think he is stronger than Wanderlei. When a fighter is bigger, it doesn't always mean that he is stronger. Wanderlei has good training partners and some excellent sparring, some of them even taller then Jardine. We have planned well.

MMAWeekly: Some time ago, we heard that Wanderlei could drop weight and fight at 185 pounds, is this a possibility?

Alejarra: We are waiting for the natural process. We cannot say anything about that yet.

MMAWeekly: The MMA media has been talking about you training several MMA athletes. Who are the athletes that are working with you?

Alejarra: I am training Phil Baroni, Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza, Robert Drysdale, and soon I will start Gabriel "Napao" Gonzaga's workout, and of course Wanderlei's preparation, which is the reason for everything that has happened in my career.

MMAWeekly: The workout for MMA is getting more and more scientific and some new coaches are entering the sport. What do you think is necessary to be a good conditioning coach, to be better than the others?

Alejarra: He will need to study every single day, open his eyes to new techniques and, on top of this, search new ways of training. Even if the training looks odd in the beginning, if they use scientific fundamentals, it will be efficient in MMA. All the training must have, besides the practical, the physiological basis.

MMAWeekly: You have been in Cuba recently and in a few weeks you are going to Russia. How was it in Cuba and how did you decide to go to Russia?

Alejarra: Wanderlei is always searching for the best training, and by that he wants the best for me. So he said to me that I will always travel to places where I can learn something to add on to his training. I am very happy to have a boss like him. By that, I have the opportunity to grow as a sport scientist.

Today, I am studying a new training called HIPOXIA, which consist in a few words in a hard training with low demand of oxygen. This kind of training is developed in other sports and I am bringing it to MMA. It's a very hard type of training because the athlete must tolerate a huge quantity of lactic acid in the blood.

I have made some tests with Wanderlei and brought it to Brazil and presented to a board with Masters of Exercise Biochemistry and the results of the study were that the athlete had a great increase in conditioning of the aerobic and anaerobic (energy systems).

MMAWeekly: Recently you started a new website. Do you plan to use this website to be in touch with athletes, trainers and fans?

Alejarra: Of course, the website is to spread the basis of training in MMA and also to be in contact with athletes, trainers and MMA fans. It will be a honor to talk to everyone. I will try to respond as fast as I can. Please visit http://www.mmaconditioning.net/ and feel free to send me messages.