Jeremy Horn: The Time is Now

Aug 18, 2005
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — The soundtracks backing the battles of the UFC and PRIDE, and the constant commentary of Joe Rogan and Bas Rutten (Pictures), infiltrate to the core of the clash. Play-by-play assumptions and wisecracks have become synonymous with pay-per-view mixed martial arts as much as bad hair has linked to the WWE.

The opportunity to watch Jeremy Horn (Pictures) grapple in his warehouse-style gym, in his steel cage, with his friends brings a sense of raw purity to MMA that is unobtainable in the bright lights of the Octagon.

Backed by a simple soundtrack of Audioslave, System of a Down, and Tool, the drone of the gym’s timer is allowed to drown-out everything else as it counts down six-minute rounds and 30-second breaks.

The camaraderie of the gym is impressive. Horn scraps it out with Joe Riggs, and Travis Wiuff (Pictures). His face is pure concentration as he goes his six minutes with Riggs, takes just enough time to re-tape up a gnarly gash in his thumb, and then go straight to Wiuff.

Barely breathing heavy, Horn heads to the side of the cage to allow Wiuff to work it out with Riggs. Riggs gets a look of inspiration as he tears off his board shorts to reveal a pair of Tapout fighting shorts underneath.

“Oh, oh,” Horn joked, “he’s looking to get slippery, now.”

Elite Performance Gym is a thing of virile charm. A warehouse garage turned professional MMA studio: cement floors, exposed ceilings, Olympic-style weight set, an octagon steel cage, two handmade-by-Horn boxing rings, a sprawling wrestling mat, and Fairtex Muay Thai equipment galore. Garage doors that once opened to a loading dock, now serve to ventilate the sticky, leather-scented humid air.

Horn’s premier business endeavor is a lot of work.

“It’s incredibly hectic,” Horn said. “I had no idea I’d be putting the time into it that I have. I don’t get to spend anytime at home.”

And while Horn said it is a hard balance with home life, business ownership is not affecting his training — he just spends all of his time at the gym. Horn has brought out Rich Franklin (Pictures)’s strength and conditioning coach Billy Rush, to help him get in first-class shape for his upcoming battle for the UFC light heavyweight belt against champion Chuck Liddell (Pictures) at UFC 54: Boiling Point.

At Elite there is a universal agreement that if Horn beats Liddell for the second time, he will finally gain the popular standing he deserves. With a career, it seems, riding on one fight, Horn has pulled out the big guns.

Horn explained he is trying a whole new training regimen.

“I’m actually training for this fight,” he smiled. “A lot of my fights in the past I have gone in with minimal training or just skill and not put any effort into any other physical aspect of training and this time, I have.”

Horn’s days begin at 7 a.m. with a combination of cardio and weight lifting for an hour. He then teaches class from 10 a.m. to noon. Depending on who shows up for class, Horn will potentially spar with some of the stronger guys to get in a little more training. He takes a break for the afternoon, running errands or cleaning-up the gym — he is constantly picking-up, fixing, adding additions, tweaking things — then at 6 p.m. it is back to work.

From 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. he again teaches a consistently more crowded class. Finally, from 8 p.m. till about 8:30 p.m. he does some more conditioning. Elite is closed and Horn takes off Fridays and Sundays.

On this particular Monday morning Horn is training with Wiuff and Rush is orchestrating. The gym is tranquil at 7 a.m. and the usually chipper pair is sedate. Wiuff and Horn slowly lace up their wrestling shoes, while Rush lists the routine for the day.

The guys warm-up on treadmills for five minutes at an easy jog pace. Rush walks between the two adjusting settings and pushing buttons.

The session begins with a solid three-minute hard run on the treadmills. Horn and Wiuff quickly jump off and, two times each, carrier one another fireman-style back and forth across the large wrestling mat.

Rush is waiting with Thai kick pads and each gives three powerful kicks. For 30 seconds they do rapid air punches. Then Rush has them drop, sprawl and do push ups. Finally, Horn and Wiuff spar for three full minutes.

The whole ordeal takes a full, timed, eight minutes. They rest for one minute and begin again on the treadmills for another hard run. They repeat this drill for a total of four times.

During the second round the guys switch it up and pass a 60-pound medicine ball. Horn is visibly worn by the third bout. As he and Wiuff grapple, Rush shouts, “Got to get up Jeremy, C’mon, work, work, work!”

With a minute and 15 seconds left Horn gains control and is able to hold it. However, he loses his breakfast in a nearby trashcan at the end of the third round.

Horn bites the bullet and completes the fourth quarter strong. He explained the worst part for him about training is the diet Rush has him on.

“The reason I started fighting, the reason I started doing any of this is because it’s fun,” he said. “So all the stuff that is not fun, I don’t want to do. I don’t mind the running or the lifting — it’s the dieting.”

Horn admits that he should really be fighting at the 185-pound limit, but chooses to fight at the 205- or 265-lb. limit.

“I want to eat what I want to eat,” he said. “I’ve always been a little chubby, because I like to eat.”

If anyone expects to see a spare tire or the time-honored rotund-ness of Horn’s physique, they’ve got another thing coming. He is below 10 percent body fat, at 205 pounds, and his abs are clearly emerging.

Eight weeks ago Rush started Horn on a diet of 60 percent protein, 30 percent carbohydrate, and 10 percent fat, and has adjusted it accordingly. He eats every three to four hours — a total of six times a day — including two daily meal replacements of Parrillo Performance.

Horn’s hunger for sweets, still, teases him often. He has grumbled over everything — from a pack of doughnuts a little girl brought to the gym to “tease” him to “a pound of ice cream” he splurged on throughout an off day.

“People will bring a jug of water to the gym, he’ll bring a big bottle of Mountain Dew … and he drinks that,” said Jennifer Howe (Pictures), MMA virtuoso, Horn’s significant other and the main reason for his recent Salt Lake City residency. “He won’t drink water.”

There are a lot of folks around, though, to keep Horn’s hankering in check. Rush has been out here for two months; Tim Sylvia (Pictures) arrived on July 23rd; Matt Hughes (Pictures) rolled in to town on the 25th; and Rich Franklin (Pictures) will be out in mid-August.

As well, Horn promised Rush that he would take the training and diet seriously.

“He has been so dedicated, which was part of the deal when I decided to fly 2,000 miles,” Rush said. “He said that he would never back talk, never question anything, and never cheat. And he hasn’t. The guy has been true to his word. He has never complained … he has done everything 100 percent.”

It has been said that Horn is the most underrated fighter in MMA. Yet, those in the know seek out his abilities and knowledge.

“Just being around Jeremy Horn (Pictures) is … just a comforting thing for me,” Sylvia said. “The two times I did not have him around I lost. It may be a superstitious thing, but he just knows so much about MMA.”

Sylvia is looking to help prepare Horn for Liddell’s heavy hitting. “I’m just going to be punching him in the face,” he laughed. “If he can take the punches from me, then he should be doing good as far as Chuck.”

As for whether or not Horn will have the stand-up game to knock Liddell out … everyone seems uncertain. However, the general consensus is that Horn will be coming home with the belt.

“Jeremy’s stand-up is much better than he has ever gotten credit for,” Rush said. “Everybody knows his jiu-jitsu is as good as it comes, and his wrestling is really good.”

Rush explained that Horn has always been so naturally talented that he has allowed himself to be lazy.

“He will tell you that the only thing that has cost him many of his fights is that he has been lazy,” Rush said. “The biggest fights he has lost, to date, are just from being lazy. Now, you are going to see a different Jeremy, where he will be able to go 100 percent through all five minutes through all five rounds. We are all seeing it in the gym and we are all just, ‘wow,’ because the guy is incredible.”
<h2>Fight Finder</h2>