UFC fighting stars train Pocket-lint to the point of collapse
To those who have not yet come across the gory spectacle that is the Ultimate Fighting Championship, here is a brief summary: The sport pits two muscle-bound fighting machines in a caged ring together, who then proceed to slowly pummel each other to pieces. It's bloody, violent and very real; UFC at times seems almost gladiatorial.
So, when Pocket-lint was asked to come along to try out the new UFC Trainer game by THQ, available on Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii, we were understandably apprehensive, especially given some of the fighters themselves would be there. Thankfully, we survived, emerging sweaty but unbruised from the ordeal.
Pocket-lint was greeted by former Cage Rage British world champion Brad "one punch" Pickett, who, at just 5-feet 6-inches, you would be forgiven for thinking would be relatively unintimidating. Not so, with plenty of scars and a nose that had clearly seen better days, Pickett is most definitely a fighter.
"You're going to struggle in those trousers," he said. Looking around the room at other journalists it became immediately clear that gym kit was a necessity, and perhaps a thick flannel shirt was a bad idea.
Unlike most motion capture fitness games, UFC Trainer is seriously hard-core. Fans of the sport will enjoy the authentic trainers and branding, but those who want to get in shape at home will also find it seriously useful.
Whilst warming up we asked Pickett about what sort of technology he was into: "When I'm not training, I play World of Warcraft," he said. This immediately took the edge off things, having something geek-relatable helped us forget he regularly punches people in the face.
"Workouts can be tailored to different levels of fitness and for different muscles," he told us about the THQ game we were about to throw ourselves into. Naturally, he chose the toughest setting.
The game loads and the jumping about begins. The trainer works using either the Kinect, PlayStation Move or Wiimote to check that you have done the necessary motions for the exercise, and they have to be repeated a set number of times and under a timer. Pickett was determined to make sure we got straight A's for every exercise, this meant doing leaps and jumps far more times than we felt necessary.
Then began the punches, which felt wholly pathetic compared to those of Pickett, who could clearly knock down a brick wall if he wanted to.
"That first elbow alone would have knocked me out," he said jokingly. "I wouldn't like to take you on." At least he was trying to make us feel better.
By this point, we were getting seriously tired and start working out ways of distracting Pickett from his intense training regime. He mentions that he trains himself and that much of the UFC game is similar to what he would do, apart from obviously beating people up.
Once things are mercifully over, we got to have a brief chat with Pickett and newly-signed UFC fighter Jason Young about the sort of technology they use to train. Young informs us that they regularly wear gas masks which control the amount of oxygen to their body, building red blood cells.
"I'll go get it," says Young.
It must be said that it's not easy to conduct an interview when a 5-feet 9-inch man wearing a gas mask and with arms the size of trees is sitting next to you.
We approached the topic of injuries, expecting to hear horror stories of broken limbs and trips to hospital. Pickett explained that he has gotten good at getting punched: "I see some sixteen year old kid skating on a half pipe and there is no way I would do that," he said. "You get hit a lot in training, your body gets used to that sort of impact, same way as in skateboarding you get used to falling over a lot.
"A lot of injuries are superficial, just cuts and bruises which heal up in a matter of days," he said, speaking through a nose which clearly hasn't been injured superficially.
High level UFC fighters like Pickett usually fight three to four times a year, training for ten weeks prior, in order to build their bodies up for a match. We asked if he thought ten weeks with UFC Trainer might get us ready for a bout.
"I'm not going to lie, its not the same as going to a fight. But there is a lot less risk in terms of getting injured, and you will get fit."
The game has been developed by Heavy Iron Studios and includes real life professional trainers Mark DellaGrotte, Greg Jackson and Javier Mendez - all of which are equally as adept at putting your body through punishment. Enough punishment, in fact, to constitute a genuinely viable alternative to the gym.
Do be warned though, without someone there to tell you how to warm up and warm down in person, strict adherence to the games instructions is thoroughly advised.
UFC Trainer is not the leisurely jog in the park that is Wii Fit, it is what seems to be a proper fitness alternative, endorsed by one of the most physically demanding sports out there. Whilst its not quite the same as getting smashed to pieces in the the UFC's "octagon", expect a fair few muscle aches afterwards, as Pocket-lint discovered...
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