Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald is one of the many NFL players who says he has benefited from training in mixed martial arts. But Cardinals fans need not fear Fitzgerald suffering an injury by stepping into the cage himself.
Fitzgerald told Loretta Hunt of SI.com that he considers MMA the toughest sport there is, and that working out with MMA trainers and fighters has been a big part of getting himself into peak physical conditioning.
“It’s awesome cross-training for me, a great high-intensity workout,” Fitzgerald said. “I can implement it into some of my offseason training to change it up. I do some of the hand work, foot quickness, ladder drills, some of the in-ring work to make me quicker and more explosive with my feet and in the hand battles I have to get into on the line of scrimmage. The cardiovascular conditioning and core work is just fantastic. I don’t do much of the sparring with guys hitting me, but I do shadowboxing and legwork like that, so I’m always left hurting when I leave the ring.”
Fitzgerald also regularly attends Ultimate Fighting Championship fights, but he said that spending a little time in the gym with former UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir made him realize that he would never actually fight in the Octagon, or even engage in full-contact sparring with professional fighters.
“No. It’s one of those things I admire from a distance,” Fitzgerald said. “I’ve watched Frank Mir break down grown men with leg kicks and thought that’s probably not where I should be. I’ll stick to my side of the cage.”
As Fitzgerald struggles through a frustrating season as a great receiver on a team with three bad quarterbacks, it’s probably good news for Ryan Lindley, John Skelton and Kevin Kolb that Fitzgerald is not a fighter.