Fighter Profile – Noah Ali S01-E01

Noah Ali:
I’m here at the athlete’s factory for my morning strength and conditioning. Today’s focus is explosiveness. My name is Noah Ali.

interviewer:
Where are you from?

Noah Ali:
I am from Calgary, Alberta. Growing up I always played sports. I think most guys growing up want to be like a Ninja Turtle or something, you know, martial artist. So it was always kind of a dream of mine, but I never did any martial arts until I was 24.

Nick Gies:
Good, more hamstrings, every rep.

Noah Ali:
I have a military family. My dad was in the military for 12 years. I have two cousins who toured in Afghanistan, each three times. So we have a pretty strong military family. I was going to do that. One thing led to another, didn’t join the military. I knew I wanted to fight, so I just started fighting instead. Moved back in with my parents at 24 and slept on the computer floor for a bit. Computer room floor. Here I am now.

interviewer:
Your parents support you a lot, right?

Noah Ali:
Yeah, definitely. If it wasn’t for my parents, I’d probably be able to train half as much as I do now. Just having to pay regular bills and especially like Alberta right now is super expensive. I’d need a full time job, right? I just make enough to pay the bills, support my parents. They helped me, I help them and then I can just train full time.

Noah Ali:
The purpose of my exercises here at the Athlete’s Factory is basically just getting me better as an athlete overall. Being able to jump further, run faster, be more explosive with everything I do. Everything’s in a forward motion, just like in a fight. In a fight, everything’s not forward, but good posture, your lean forward, all of your drives are in a forward motion. Kind of the same thing as wrestling. You know, you always want to be aggressive going forward. You don’t want to be leaned back with your body weak and stuff. It just gets me a lot more explosive and faster. I do a lot of Olympic weightlifting explosion drills, jumping and a lot of speed drills.

Noah Ali:
So like by the time I hit the second my arms are so straight?

Nick Gies:
Yeah, they should be straight all the way through and then they’re starting to pull, right?

Nick Gies:
My name’s Nick Gies, and I’m a senior strength and conditioning coach of the Athlete Factory and I’m known as lead strength and conditioning coach.

Nick Gies:
So the stability in the set position, getting the shoulder blades, the hamstrings, the hip all engaged together. Then trying to sequence it as powerfully as he can. It’s going to transfer to his kicks, his grappling, his take downs, everything he needs in his fighting.

Nick Gies:
Working with Noah’s been great. He’s a really hard worker, really dedicated, really wants to get better. So training an athlete like that is quite easy if they want to put in the work.

Noah Ali:
My relationship with Nick actually is really good. He is always checking in on me, seeing what my heart rate’s at, how I’m feeling every day. If I’m feeling a little bit off, he’ll adjust it, and he really looks into the future with me. Six months from now, one year from now, three years from now where we want to be. He definitely is a coach that cares.

Nick Gies:
So this program, it’s not gospel. What’s written doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be done. It’s more of a guideline. Based on how he is today, based on the rest of the stuff he did in the week, we can adjust it based on what we need to get out of him that day.

Nick Gies:
So the core philosophy of the Athlete Factory is really based around acceleration [inaudible 00:05:00] mainly sprint and jump work. Getting an athlete to move more explosively, more powerfully, change direction better, and then translating that into their sport. So this training style helps Noah as a fighter by training him as a sprinter, getting him to move faster, more explosively, get his strength and body rate ratio up, and then translating that to change the direction of acceleration is going to help him in pretty much every aspect of his fighting. Whether it’s grappling, striking, even just the endurance of being in the ring for three rounds, it’s going to help him immensely with that.

Nick Gies:
The knee has to cycle.

Noah Ali:
Yeah, I didn’t even push off it.

Nick Gies:
Get a little bit air time. I feel like you’re punching into the air a little bit.

Nick Gies:
So, we prescribe a lot for Noah outside of the gym. He sees me about 3 to 4 hours a week, but he’s doing about 10 to 12 hours of conditioning on top of his fight training in the week. That is more lifting sessions, plyometrics, a lot of endurance work, as well. So it’s not just what he does with me. He wouldn’t get very good results, if that’s all he did. It’s been training him throughout the better part of the year that I’ve been working with him to do more on his own, make sure he’s competent in doing that. And then doing things like waking heart rate recovery sessions on his own to make sure he’s optimizing his performance.

Nick Gies:
I want you to like, power, come on. Get off the ground, get off the ground. Distance, now. More power. Punch. Get aggressive, get aggressive. Punch, punch! Come on.

Nick Gies:
His training’s always evolving based on how he comes in that day. When he first started, it’s learning the basic movements, getting the posture right, getting the right muscles firing, and then progressing that into what’s going to make him a better fighter. Lately we’ve been doing a lot of work on Olympic lifts, but even today I changed that a little bit from what I had written based on what I saw this week. He had a lot of wrestling and grappling early in the week, which has fatigued him for this session, which was meant to be heavier. But because we’re very adaptive, we can change that to get the most out of him in that session.

ring announcer:
Now we see Noah Ali coming down to the Hard Knocks cage.

Noah Ali:
I feel like my strength training at the Athlete’s Factory helped me in my fight against Lyndon because in the first round I did waste a lot of energy on the fence. But in between rounds I was able to recover and I didn’t feel tired going into the second. And many people say that the better your conditioning, the better, the faster you can recover from a shot. That spinning back fist he hit me with in the third was super strong. But I was able to kind of recover from it. I was still kind of rocked. But I think because my conditioning was really good I was able to stay on my feet. My feet stayed underneath me, and I didn’t fall, and I was able to recover pretty quick. From what I’ve heard, you can take…. the better your conditioning, the better of a shot you can take. So I think that’s probably why I stayed up.

ring announcer:
…these two gentlemen who come away with one heck of a fight here for these fans.

Noah Ali:
So, today at Teofista I just came in to work on some of my hands, a little bit of bag work, speed work, and a little bit of technical stuff with my coach Eric de Guzman. Just worked on using those straights down the middle. And then once we see them come in, angle change off to the side, maybe slip, make it miss, keep firing, and then either keep going around the corner or back to the middle. But staying in the pocket and able to keep hitting.

Eric de Guzman:
My name is Eric de Guzman. I’m Noah Ali’s boxing trainer and we’re here at the Teofista Boxing Gym. I’m going to be working with Noah on coming forward, staying busy, and not retreating when the guy wants to answer back. So, I think if Noah goes into his next fight, coming forward, being smart, not being, not taking unnecessary risks, but instead of coming in and having to reset and go back, he’s going to come forward and he’s going to sit, stay on top of a guy while he’s missing and eventually Noah’s going to mow him down and catch him with something big.

Eric de Guzman:
So, it’s jab, jab, 2-3-2

Noah Ali:
My coach Eric de Guzman, I started training with him about 2, 3 years ago. He’s the head coach here at Teofista. He’s a great coach. He really cares about his fighters. He goes the extra mile to help you for your fights coming up or just in your training. I really love training with him. I moved to Auburn Bay, so that’s literally almost an hour from here. So in order for me to come here in the morning and go back home, that’s a two hour commute. But it’s definitely worth it. I feel like Eric’s part of my family. I just love coming out here, training with him. He’s my coach, he’s a training partner, and he’s also a good friend of mine. So I really love this place.

Eric de Guzman:
My core philosophy when training Noah is, anything I tell him he, you got to be careful what you tell him because he really listens. He’s a student of the game. He takes a lot of notes and you got to make sure when you tell him to do something that you say the right thing because he’ll do exactly what you say. So you just got to be really cautious with what you try to teach him because he really absorbs it and really practices it. I can tell he takes it and practices it and he comes back the week after with it polished.

ring announcer:
Noah Ali getting set to take on Lyndon Whitlock here in the Hard Knocks cage at Hard Knocks 47 from Calgary.

Noah Ali:
I really love having Eric in my corner because he has a really calm energy, really quiet, and that’s how I believe you should be. You should be intense, ready to go, but also calm and relaxed. I wouldn’t want anyone else there for my boxing coach.

Eric de Guzman:
I’ve cornered Noah at least 2 times, maybe 3 times, now, and I find every fight we have something else to work on. But, there’s one thing in the fight game that you can’t really teach and that’s experience. Noah’s just starting to gain a little more experience in the game and I think when he feels a little more comfortable in there and gets some more fights, even, he’s fighting some top level guys. So I think once he gets a few more fights, everything that we’ve been working on over the past 2 or 3 years are going to start to click a little bit easier because he’s going to be a little more calm and relaxed in the ring. To be able to think and process, what we’re trying to show him in a fight situation.

Noah Ali:
My fight with Lyndon Whitlock is, we kind of noticed the way he would shell up when he would strike. He shelled up a little high in around the corner to his ears. So actually we were working on setting up combos and then finishing with big shots to the body and then also working to use straights to bring his hands down the middle because some of my strengths are my hooks and my overhands. So we wanted to use straights to bring his hands down the middle and then hit him up around the corner and vice versa. Hit him up around the corner and then come down the middle just because of the way he, we noticed he blocked. But once I got in there I kind of, for lack of better words, I kind of just [inaudible 00:12:53] the bed and kind of lost track of the game plan as far as the striking went.

Noah Ali:
And when I look back on the tape, everything that we had worked on was there, but I just didn’t do what we worked on. If I would’ve thrown any straights, I think I would’ve touched them a lot more. They’re all hooks and overhands and he’s good at blocking that way. So he was like blocking all of them. And I went to the body with a kick once and the plan was to do that a lot more, and so on. We had a really good game plan for him, but I just wasn’t able to execute so that was like my fault, for sure.

ring announcer:
The winner by unanimous decision, in the blue corner Lyndon Whitlock!

Speaker 5:
Lyndon Whitlock is your winner. He’ll be center of the cage, momentarily, with Jeremy.

Eric de Guzman:
Noah’s improved tremendously since he started. He is one of those guys, typical MMA guy that’s kind of scared, they don’t like to get hit. That’s why they’re usually in MMA. If you get hit in MMA, you can grab the guy and hold him. Where, in boxing, if you get hit you can’t touch the guy. You have to deal with what’s coming after you.

Noah Ali:
I wouldn’t say so much that MMA guys don’t want to get hit, but they’re trying to get hit a lot less because the gloves are a lot smaller. We can also get hit with clean, pure elbows, which have no padding on them on. We can get hit with knees in the face. So I wouldn’t say it’s so much we don’t like getting hit, ’cause if we didn’t like getting hit then we wouldn’t be striking at all. We would be strike, we would be grappling or wrestling. But I find it’s just you, you can’t afford to get hit as much. In boxing and Muay Thai you can get hit a bunch, get knocked down. They give you 8 seconds to get back up. In MMA, if you get knocked down and they’re going to finish you, you don’t get an extra chance. That one time you do get caught, you don’t get a second chance.

Noah Ali:
That’s why I find MMA guys don’t want to get hit because that could be the end of the fight right there for them. In boxing, if you don’t get KO’d and you’ve got hard and you’re tough, you get up in 8 seconds, you can keep going. Training for any martial art pure is necessary, and then you bring it into your mixed martial arts, and then you quickly learn what’s going to work and not work for you in the complete mixed martial art game. But I definitely think it is important to purely box with pure boxers. Same thing with pure grappling with grapplers. Same thing with Muay Thai and wrestling, and then bring everything together in the mixed martial arts.

Noah Ali:
Going into a pure sport really gives you that focus on what you need to do and you can just really hone in on one thing that you can work on instead of… ’cause mixed martial arts, there’s so many things you’ve got to worry about. So you can either work on everything just a little bit or come do the pure sport. Really focus on that, get better, quicker at that one part of your game and then bring it into your MMA game.

Noah Ali:
Hi, I’m Noah Ali and we are a Champion’s Creed Martial Arts in Calgary, Alberta, and this is my home away from home.

Chad Sawyer:
Even when I first came here, Noah was one of those guys that just trains hard all the time. So his conditioning was always on point. Like he’s always been a hard worker. The one thing I’ve seen evolve since I’ve been here is his confidence in the ring. He’s grown more and more confident in the ring and more confident when he’s sparring. He’s more comfortable with the techniques he’s been doing and the techniques he’s learning. His strikings become crisper. He’s just evolved, all around. He’s an all around professional fighter, now. He’s really earned it. I just try to keep up with him. At the level he’s at, he picks things up so quickly that I find I’m trying to, I’m learning myself trying to train him because he’s catching onto things that I’m showing him so quickly it gets… He pushes me just as much as I push him, I think.

Noah Ali:
There are definitely a lot of politics in martial arts, but you know, we’re pretty open with training with other gyms. We’ve trained with a couple of other gyms. Some guys come in and spar with us sometimes. Sometimes we go down spar with them. So there definitely are politics everywhere, even in MMA. But you know, I think it’s getting better all around. I think people are starting to realize that we just need to train together. We have the whole world to fight and only a few people to train with, so it’s a good thing to kind of get rid of the politics and just train together.

Chad Sawyer:
So, again, to start him off, okay, 1-2-3 hook [inaudible 00:17:53] hook. Then he’s going to step in, when he weaves, underneath. [inaudible 00:18:03]When I can, when I take Noah out as a demo and I do, every chance I get, I’ll use him to demonstrate things because he does the move correctly. If I was in better shape, younger, could do it, I would demonstrate myself. But I’m afraid that, I know that he can translate what I want to teach into the physical movements so the guys can learn about it.

Noah Ali:
As far as intensity for grappling, you can go a lot harder. No one will get hurt. You can take care of each other more, but as soon as you start adding the striking element to it, you make sure you take care of each other. It’s not about winning, giving each other brain damage. It’s all about getting better, not getting injured and be able to just save that all for when you’re in the cage or the ring. Having a Chad Sawyer, Eric de Guzman and Brice Willis in my corner for my fight against Lyndon, I chose those three because Chad and Eric are my striking coaches and they know me the best, and Brice is one of my good friends out of the gym and we kind of grapple the same way and have the same views on grappling, so it was really good to have them in my corner. They both have, or all three of them have really calm energies, so that’s really what I’m looking for before you go into that storm of fighting,

Noah Ali:
Okay, so heads in my chest, push to the side, I’m going to sit up…

Noah Ali:
Today, I’m working with kids ages 7 to 14 on their weekly mixed martial arts class. We are going to be working on strikes and cage work. The best part of coaching for me is being able to do what I enjoy for a job. I’m glad I was able to find something I enjoy doing every day. That’s the best part, is just being able to come in here and do what I enjoy, and make money doing it.

Noah Ali:
Coaching makes me a better fighter because when I teach some of the students our training partners techniques and they’re not getting it, it really makes me have to analyze what’s going on and figure it out. A lot of the times people don’t get things that I’m not getting, but as I get them to do the reps over and over, eventually you can end up figuring it out, what’s wrong and what works. But that only happens if you’re on the outside watching someone do it over and over. So in that aspect, I find coaching really helps you improve skillfully when you’re trying to help other people improve.

Noah Ali:
Yes, absolutely. So when you’re coaching, it actually helps you understand the techniques better because you will explain a technique to someone of how you know it, and then there’re certain parts that they don’t get that you didn’t explain. So now you got to kind of figure that out and how to relay that information to them.

Chad Sawyer:
It’s part of the learning process when you can help somebody else at the same time. I mean, I think that’s why instructing is probably a really beneficial thing for fighters. You know, it helps them translate into showing somebody else exactly what they need to do.

Noah Ali:
A good martial artist should always keep an open mind and they can learn from anybody. So from that guy walking in the gym for the very first day, all the way up to your biggest mentor, black belt coaches, stuff like that. It just made me have respect for people. It’s one of those things where, no matter who you are, you should definitely respect everyone around you. You should never judge a book by its cover is what martial arts kind of taught me.

Noah Ali:
If you want to learn more about me, check me out on my Hard Knocks Fighter page on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter @TheNoahAli

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