Do you have a question about the UFC Performance Institute?
In this article, we’ll look at what the UFC Performance Institute is, why it was built, what features it has, how it helps athletes and whether it’s free for them to use, whether it’s open to the public, whether UFC Performance Institute internships are available, and where the various UFC Performance Institutes are located.
- What Is the UFC Performance Institute?
- What Does the UFC Performance Institute Feature?
- How Does the UFC Performance Insititute Help Athletes?
- Is the UFC Performance Institute Free for UFC Athletes?
- To Conclude
What Is the UFC Performance Institute?
The UFC Performance Institute is the promotion’s headquarters and revolutionary center for research, innovation, training, and recovery.
The UFC PI is based in Las Vegas, Nevada, and was first opened in May 2017. It was built with UFC athletes in mind and is an investment in them, the UFC, and the sport of MMA.
The UFC PI cost around $14 million and has a total area of 30,000 sq ft, situated inside the UFC’s 184,000-square feet campus.
The UFC Performance Institute is open to all UFC athletes and can be used at any time. As it’s based in Las Vegas, it’s mostly used by fighters during training camps, off-season, and upcoming UFC events in Las Vegas (UFX Apex or T-Mobile Arena) or neighboring states.
The UFC Performance Institute is the global leader in performance for MMA athletes, with nothing else coming close.
Before its development, the UFC conducted a lot of research. They visited the best sports facilities in the world, such as the NFL, Premier League Football, the Olympics, and various colleges – and took the best from each facility and customized it specifically for MMA.
These are sports much bigger, more developed, and with a lot more money than MMA and the UFC, so there was a lot they could learn and take from these sports as they’ve invested heavily in athlete performance and recovery.
The UFC could develop the best of the best because other top sports don’t see the UFC as a competitor and were willing to help them choose the best technology and equipment regarding everything athletic performance.
What Does the UFC Performance Institute Feature?
By late 2020, the UFC said 85% of its athletes had used the institute at some point, which has the following features:
The training room features:
- Full-sized boxing ring
- Full-sized octagon (30 feet) – the only difference is a vinyl canvas which is easier to clean
- Competition lighting and Vicon cameras over the octagon for live imitation, 3D motion capture, and live video footage
- Suspension frame
- Huge open mat, mostly used for jiu-jitsu and wrestling
- Punch bags
- Assault fitness stationary bikes and treadmills, weight racks, ladders, row machines, ropes, and free weights
- Punch and kicking power tester (Powerkube)
Just next to the training room, there’s also an indoor turf track and impact wall, and outside of the training room and building, there’s a sprint track and multi-purpose area mostly used for cardio and conditioning work.
The hypoxic chamber is a high-altitude room, mostly used by UFC athletes in the last couple of weeks before a fight as it allows them to perform cardiovascular work without putting a lot of strain on their joints.
Remaining injury-free while cutting weight and being able to improve their cardiovascular is essential for fighters before a fight.
The hypoxic chamber is able to simulate elevation up to 22,000 feet, which can reduce an athlete’s oxygen by 50%. This prepares them for any event location and the most grueling fights.
The room also has an AlterG anti-gravity treadmill, which is top-of-the-line technology for high-altitude training.
Dedicated Recovery Zone
The dedicated recovery zone is used by athletes to keep healthy and recover from any injuries, especially post-fight. The room features:
- Cryosense cryotherapy chambers
- Novothor laser light therapy pods (removes lactic acid)
- Hydrotherapy unit – hot and cold contrast plunge pools
- Hydrotherapy underwater treadmill with cameras inside (Hydroworx pool) – used by athletes with lower body injuries
- Steam rooms
Dedicated Physical Therapy Suite
The physical therapy suite is 1,100 square feet and is headed by Heather Linden, a former physical therapist of the United States Olympic Committee and now director of physical therapy at the UFC PI.
Any UFC athlete can head to the physical therapy suite if they need help with injury and rehabilitation.
The work provided to the athletes is overseen by HSS (Hospital for Special Surgery), a hospital specializing in orthopedic surgery, consistently ranked as number one in the United States.
The suite features:
- Pilates reformer
- Dry needling and cupping
Nutrition Consultation Suite
The nutritionist has their own suite, where fighters can go to have their nutrition data tested.
This is done with:
- DEXA machine – a $100,000 piece of equipment that scans the body in order to diagnose bone-related health issues and also provide body composition, such as muscle mass and body fat percentages
- Metabolic carts – perform resting metabolic rate (RMR testing) and caloric expenditure tests, as well as provide indications of an athlete’s overall health – especially effective when advising on weight cuts and calories needed
Nutrition Station and Cafe
UFC athletes can use the nutrition station for post-workout shakes and there’s also a cafe where athletes can socialize and have their dietary needs catered to.
Fighters can use the relaxation lounge at any time but mostly use it between training sessions. For example, a fighter may have an 11 am session and a 4 pm session, so they can relax, prepare, and refuel in the time between.
While so much of the UFC PI is about physical improvements and recovery, the relaxation lounge allows fighters to recover mentally – which is also a massive requirement for a fighter to be at their best.
The Relaxation lounge features:
- Nap Pods
- The ability to watch back footage from the octagon in the training room
- Movies and gaming (Xbox)
- Chairs, couches, tables
The media room features:
- Seating for 60
- 4 translation booths at the back
- Video camera platform
- Retractable LED video board
- Curtains that can be opened onto the training room octagon so an audience can gather to watch sparring
- Work desk for fighters to use – similar to a lecture hall
Media Holding Lounge
The media holding lounge is a little room with coffee tables, chairs, and TVs mostly used for outside media but also used by staff and athletes for discussion and relaxation.
Used by staff and fighters to communicate and discuss what’s needed for a fighter to heal and progress. Fighters with upcoming UFC events are given priority and catered to the most for a week or two before an event.
How Does the UFC Performance Insititute Help Athletes?
The UFC PI was developed solely with UFC athletes in mind. It aims to help fighters recover better, avoid missing weight, develop skills, and ultimately perform their best on fight night.
Everything inside the facility is free to use for all UFC athletes, as the UFC is paying 8 to 12 full-time employees to aid fighters with anything they need.
While the UFC PI isn’t a profit-making machine, it’s an investment in the fighters, the UFC, and the sport, which helps the UFC produce better events and make more money in the long term.
The UFC Performance Institute is open 6 days a week:
- Monday to Friday: 9 am to 5 pm
- Saturday: 9 am to 1 pm
- Sunday: Closed
The UFC Performance Institute helps athletes in the following ways:
There are 8 to 12 full-time employees who are paid to do one thing: help the athletes. The various staff and roles are:
- Business & Logistics operations (VP: James Kimball)
- Nutritionists (Director: Clint Wattenburg)
- Performance Nutrition Coordinator (Nicole Alai)
- Physical therapists (Director: Heather Linden)
- Strength & condition coaches (Director: Bo Sandoval)
- Strength & condition coordinator (Kyle Larimer)
- Athlete development coach (VP: Forrest Griffin)
- Performance coaches (VP: Dr. Duncan French)
- Sports Scientists (Director: Dr. Roman Fomin)
- Sports Psychologists (Dr. Heather Thanepohn)
While these are the full-time staff and staples of the UFC Performance Insititute, they bring in other staff, coaches, and experts as needed during the busiest periods.
Also, while 8 to 12 full-time staff doesn’t seem a lot for a roster of over 700 UFC fighters, it allows for very effective communication between the staff rather than too many people being unnecessarily involved and reducing effectiveness.
Note: These are some of the known staff hired by the UFC PI, but as the staff isn’t updated by the UFC it’s possible that staff may have changed, so this can be used as an example of the type of roles available at the UFC PI.
More specifically, fighters have access to:
Any fighter who needs help with nutrition and getting in the best shape of their life has access to industry-leading nutritionists who can provide them with individualized nutrition plans for whatever goal they have.
Whether it be cutting weight before a fight, adding size, or maintaining current levels, there’s a plan for anything they can think of.
Fight Camp & Fight Week Nutrition
The UFC PI partnered with Trifecta – a company providing all-organic meals, to introduce the nutrition program called the ‘Trifecta Fight Prep’.
This program provides food to UFC athletes having their fight camp and fight weeks at the UFC Performance Institute in Las Vegas.
They also provide post-weigh-in rehydration protocols so that fighters can execute them perfectly and get as close to their optimal condition in the 36 hours between weigh-ins and their fight.
Trifecta communicates and works alongside the athletes’ in-house nutritionist so that the exact foods and amounts are given to each athlete as per their individualized nutrition plan.
The UFC Performance Institute also has a media room that provides educational classes for fighters regarding various training such as how to handle media interviews, social media, life skills, business skills, and anything else fighters may request.
If there are enough requests for a certain topic, the UFC can hire someone to come in and teach a big class.
The UFC PI also has a research team working alongside the above-mentioned staff, focusing on the research and development of optimum athletic performance.
The UFC PI welcomes athletes from other sports to cross-train so that the UFC can position itself as a leader in human performance.
In 2021, the research conducted at the UFC Performance Institute culminated in volume 2 of ‘A Cross-Sectional Performance Analysis and Projection of the UFC Athlete’ – a comprehensive study of MMA looking at methodologies that influence MMA fighters in terms of their performance and health.
Nothing else like it has ever been produced in MMA. The UFC see volume 2 of the journal as a one-stop resource that can be used by athletes and coaches any time they need information regarding MMA.
Is the UFC Performance Institute Free for UFC Athletes?
Yes, the UFC Performance Institute is free for all UFC athletes to use whenever they please during the open hours, 6 days a week.
The only expense athletes have when using the institute is travel and lodging, but the UFC has managed to get athletes discounted lodging prices locally, as well as provide shuttle services to further decrease the athlete’s costs.
Because athletes have to pay for their own lodging and travel, indirectly it’s fairly costly for an athlete to have a fight camp there for a couple of months, unless they live in Las Vegas or within a reasonable distance.
If they live further away, visiting the UFC PI consistently isn’t really a possibility.
How Many UFC Fighters Use the UFC Performance Institute?
As the UFC Performance Institute is free to use for UFC fighters at all times, many of them take advantage of this perk.
In 2019, Vice President James Kimball revealed that around 175 fighters, or one-third of the UFC roster use the UFC PI on a monthly basis.
By 2021, 600 UFC fighters, or 85% of the roster have at some point used the UFC Performance Institute. The UFC fighters who haven’t used the UFC PI are international fighters not based in the US.
Is the UFC Performance Institute Open to the Public?
No, the UFC Performance Insititute isn’t open to the public and is exclusively for UFC athletes.
Even professional MMA athletes from other promotions aren’t allowed in the UFC Performance Institute.
Can You Tour the UFC Performance Institute?
Tours are not available for members of the public and are usually reserved for the various MMA media outlets.
The reason tours aren’t available is the institute is busy with a roster of over 700 fighters using the facility.
Where Is the UFC Performance Institute Located?
The UFC Performance Institute is located in Las Vegas, Nevada, and was first opened in May 2017.
With its success, in 2019, a UFC Performance Institute was opened in Shanghai, China, known as the UFC Performance Insititute Shanghai.
The UFC opened a second PI in China because they’re looking to further develop their presence throughout Asia, which includes an increased scouting effort for the best Asian fighters.
The UFC is looking to open a third Performance Institute in Mexico, with Dana White taking to Twitter asking for advice on its aesthetics.
In late 2021 while on the Pardon My Take podcast, Dana White also said he wants to open a UFC Performance Institute in Puerto Rico or Africa.
He said, “It’ll be a place where kids can go in and train for free, learn how to lift weights the proper way, learn how to cut weight the proper way, and even if everyone that comes out of the performance institute doesn’t become a professional fighter, they’ll probably become a coach or start teaching jiu-jitsu or training or you know, just impact the sport 5,10,15 years down the road.”
Overall, the UFC Performance Institute headquarters is located in Las Vegas, Nevada, but there’s one in Shanghai, China, and more on the way in various locations such as Mexico and Africa.
Are UFC Performance Institute Internships Available?
Yes, UFC Performance Institute internships are available.
The UFC is expanding and they post available jobs and internships online here. The UFC is currently offering a spring 2023 internship, starting January 23, 2023, and finishing April 28, 2023.
Some of the internships include consumer products finance, performance nutrition, corporate communications, government relations, sports science, and event development.
Although many of these internships are not UFC Performance Institute specific, they’re on offer and can be found.
Some internships may last up to a year or more, and if successful, an intern can land a job with the UFC.
Overall, the UFC Performance Institute is the promotion’s revolutionary center for research, innovation, training, and recovery – exclusively for its fighters.
The UFC PI has various features and between 8 to 12 full-time staff which both cater to UFC athletes in helping them succeed and progress.
The UFC Performance Institute is free for its athletes, and it’s not open to the public. However, in the near future, the UFC is looking to build Performance Institutes that are open to the public and free for kids to train and learn martial arts.
In this way, the UFC is continuing its expansion of MMA across the globe.
Lastly, UFC Performance Institute internships are available and will likely be for the next few years as the UFC builds more Performance Institutes.