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New Year's Eve will become an annual "garden party" for Lance Palmer as the featherweight event takes place on December 31 in Madison Square Garden's second consecutive tournament finale in the Professional Fighters League.
Winning a PFL tournament is not an easy task as players have to fight twice in a day to reach the quarter-finals and semi-finals. Palmer had no problems in this section and effortlessly won both fights on the way to his 2018 championship win. "The Party" reiterated its success in the quarter-finals and 2019 semi-final and is in the best position to take home another $ 1 million belt and prize when it comes to Daniel Pineda in this year's final.
Whether it's one or more opponents in one day, Palmer is used to playing tournaments. A four-time US wrestler and former Big Ten Conference champion at Ohio State University, Palmer is familiar with the PFL format for his extensive wrestling background.
"There are wrestling tournaments where I played eight matches in one day," Palmer tells Muscle & Fitness. "The playoffs were nothing new for me. You get tired and things like that, but then you start training, "he adds. "You are somehow hardened to train and be prepared when it happens."
The featherweight defender, who fought a 10-win winning streak against Pineda, has consistently trained at the championship level throughout his MMA career. Palmer trains under coach Mark Henry of New Jersey with Frankie Edgar and Eddie Alvarez, both former UFC champions.
"I have all these people pushing me every day, and we push each other to get better," says Palmer. "It's like seeing world championships every round."
Whether in the gym or on a televised battle map, conditioning, according to Palmer, is the key to performing like a champion. During a typical day at Combat Camp, Palmer runs in the morning before participating in two morning and evening workouts, usually consisting of sparring, jiu-jitsu, or mitt work with his boxing trainer. In addition to his usual training five days a week, Palmer works with a dietitian and a strength and conditioning trainer, who impose a "rigorous plan" to ensure that his body "burns on all cylinders."
"It's a kind of strength training on the bike and then it's going to work with the treadmill," says Palmer, who performs strength and endurance training twice a week. "Then it will either come to some sort of metabolic strength training or some form of heavy strength training, depending on which part of the batt camp I'm in."
Palmer owes his improved conditioning to his recent victories, including his third TKO victory against Luis Rafael Laurentino in the second round of the PFL featherweight tournament this season in July.
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"I finished the guy in the third round and he broke clearly as the fight went on," says Palmer. "You can tell he's not that fast with his punches, kicks and combos. And then the third round was the round he wanted to do, so much of the conditioning was related to the pressure you can or should exert on your opponent. "
Recovery is as important to Palmer as conditioning, especially now that he is in his thirties. These days, "The Party" makes sure you take a break twice a week, once a week and once a weekend, to recover from the rigors of the workout.
"Two days off a week are perfect, and these days are spread over the week," says Palmer. "Some guys will train hard for five consecutive days and take two days in a row. But that's not the way to do it scientifically. "
"Your body can not recover so quickly during this time," he adds. "It's better to spend a few days on a heavy workload and then relieve it for a rest day and then spend another few days on another heavy workload and another rest day. That's exactly what I've implemented in recent years and it definitely helped a lot. "
Hoping to start the new year with a bang, Palmer is confident that he will take his second tournament title home in a row.
"I feel safer than I've been in a long time," says Palmer. "I know that I have done everything I can and I am best prepared for what I will ever do. And that is exactly what gives me the certainty that I will win this second season. "