>> Be sure to look out for the December issue of M&F, on newsstands October 27, where we take an exclusive look inside of the lives and training regimens of the inhabitants of The Ultimate Fighter house in Las Vegas. Also, one editor gets a jiu-jitsu lesson from Frank Mir.

After 53 professional mixed martial arts fights, Rich Clementi knows how to get his body ready. And with each passing training camp, he’s only getting better at it. Clementi, who will do battle with wrestling expert Gray Maynard at the highly-anticipated UFC 90: Silva vs. Cote this Saturday (October 25), is one of the hottest fighters in the Octagon right now, having won his last four UFC fights – two of them via rear naked choke. In Gray Maynard (5-0, 1 KO), aptly nicknamed “The Bully”, Clementi is up against an undefeated opponent lauded for his ground skills. But “No Love” Clementi isn’t worried. A self-professed jack-of-all-trades, Clementi doesn’t anticipate that he’ll encounter anything with Maynard he hasn’t seen before.

Nonetheless, the continuously evolving veteran fighter is training hard, even though he’s sure he’ll be the underdog in the strength department. Clementi, who hasn’t scored a knockout on a UFC card, think that Maynard may help him put an end to that streak. M&F chatted with Clementi about the fight, his training and what he expects will happen this Saturday in the cage.

M&F: I’ve read that you don’t weight train very much. Is that true?
Rich Clementi:
Well, I don’t do hard weight lifting any more. I am one of the only guys to have fought in every weight class that the UFC holds. When I started, I was a heavyweight – I was like 225. I thought that to get competitive, I had to drop down to my old wrestling weight, which was 160. And that’s when I started being really successful. I only fought one fight at 225. But I fought every weight down to 155.

M&F: What exactly do your workouts consist of?
I’m kind of unfortunate in that I’m in Louisiana and up north they have great wrestling camps and coaches. So I had to see what the south had to offer and that’s football programs. So I started getting involved with that. So now with every fight, two weeks prior to the start of the training camp, I spend two weeks training with a guy named Lyle who trains guys for the NFL Combine. And then Josh Rafferty, who was from Season 1 of The Ultimate Fighter, handles all my strength and conditioning and sets up all my programs and has been doing that for my last five UFC fights. I’m really big into plyometrics. I’m up with him in Cincinnati and have been for over a month preparing for Gray Maynard.

M&F: When you’re training with the football guys, how do you match-up?
You know, what’s crazy is that I’ll be right next to some of these guys that are like 300 pounds and I’ll be using the same weight for some things which kind of surprised me. Lyle mixes western and eastern training philosophies. In Russia, for example, they’ll train hard all year long but unless you really know what you’re doing you can overtrain guys. The way we do it in America is that we train for a specific sporting event. You try to hit it on the head for one day. He sort of combines both. I think it’s neat because my body was never really broken down. And me being 30-plus and trying to keep up with all these young bucks, that’s a concern of mine.

M&F: Other than plyos, are there any specific things that you’re focusing on these days?
I’ve actually really changed things up and reevaluated my career the past few years and turned things around. And there are really two main reasons for that. One, I’ve started managing my diet – I’ve learned how to cut weight better. Also, I’ve switched from weights to doing more plyometric and explosive exercises and a lot more core and balance work. A lot of young guys think that they need to do things 100% all the time, but with the recovery that we need to keep up with all the things that we do (in MMA) – boxing, wrestling for hours – I found that pushing the weight training 100% all the time was just breaking me down. Now, I do things that are not as taxing and have seen a really good increase in my performance because of that.

M&F: Mixed martial artists have to be good at so many different things. How do you find balance with all of those things and maintain your strength and stamina?
I think that’s what’s made me successful. I’m not necessarily an expert at one thing. But I’ve had fifty-something fights. I’m a pro boxer. I’m a pro kickboxer. I wrestled through high school and have done jiu-jitsu for 14 years. So that’s where I’ve been beating people. A lot of guys now are concentrating on specifics with boxing on one day or jiu-jitsu on this day. So where I’ve been catching guys is just by being a well-rounded mixed martial artist.

M&F: So how do you balance the various disciplines?
I make sure that I split it up. A lot of guys blast the hardcore training all the time but I like to take it back to 30-40% scale, flowing with it and realizing what I’m doing instead of sparring 100%. I think you miss things like that going so hard all the time. I’ve been beating great athletes in the UFC on their mistakes with technique. It’s a fine balance between athleticism and knowing your mixed martial arts.

M&F: What kind of shape are you in for this fight?
I’m in the best shape that I’ve ever been in. I know a lot of guys say that. (laughs) But what’s cool is that I’m not stuck in my ways which is why my career has taken a leap the last few years. I was good before but with learning all this stuff it’s taken me to the next level. A few minor changes have helped. I’ll be ready to go.

M&F: What is your diet like when you’re preparing for a fight?
I’ve just gotten a lot more scientific with it. In high school, I did that harder cut for weight like a lot of high school guys do it when really, that’s not it at all. My last poor performance was the time I didn’t cut weight correctly and after that I really did a lot of research. Now I eat every three hours. I don’t cut out water anymore. I used to put my body into starvation/survival mode and it just wouldn’t give up any weight. It was stupid. Learned a lot and fixed that problem so that’s a huge thing for me.

M&F: Do you use any supplements or vitamins?
Not really. I take branched chain amino acids and protein shakes to keep those levels up. But I don’t take too much other stuff.

M&F: How does your background in the Navy help you in training and during fights?
I don’t know that it does, to be honest. I’ve always been a hard-nosed guy so it wasn’t something that the military brought out of me.

M&F: Will strength be a factor in this fight?
I think I’m going to be highly underestimated. But I’m 5’10” and there’s not much room for any more muscle to be packed on to me. I cut down from about 185 to hit 155. I consider myself one of the biggest lightweights in the division. But to be honest, in MMA, I think height matters a lot more than weight does.

M&F: All of your wins on UFC cards have come by submission or decision. Do you think Maynard is the kind of guy who could leave himself open to a knockout?
Yeah, for sure. My last four opponents in the UFC have been some of the best strikers in the division. There’s a reason I take those guys to the mat and submit them. I’m a smart, cerebral fighter and I have a game plan and I stick to it. Two guys that I’ve fought in my past that are similar to Gray, one I knocked out with a jump knee, the other I put to sleep for about eight minutes with a head kick. So this is a nice fight for me, too, when people get to see that side of me. They really haven’t seen that side out of me lately but I’m going to be looking to put a hurtin’ on him on my feet.

Rich Clementi
Nickname: No Love
Height: 5’9″
Fighting Weight: 155 lbs.
Birthdate: March 31, 1976
Hometown: Slidell, Louisiana
Birthplace: Edison, New Jersey
MMA record: 40-12-1, 14 submissions, 10 KO
UFC record: 5-2, 3 submissions
On the Web: http://www.myspace.com/noloveent

For more on UFC 90: Silva vs. Cote – including ordering information for this weekend’s fight, headlined by middleweight champ Anderson Silva – or Rich Clementi, visit www.ufc.com. For the official event site, go to 90.ufc.com.