When you say the words diet or nutrition in relation to this sport and its athletes, one name springs to mind before any other, and that's Mike Dolce. As a professional, he's seen both sides of the coin, fighter and coach, and has seen wild success for his efforts as the latter. Working with the top athletes, his schedule is often booked 6 months in advance, and over the last year he has grown into a full blown corporation complete with a staff of registered professionals. He has also recently launched his UFC Fit program, is putting the finishing touches on his latest book and his wife is 30+ weeks pregnant with their first child. Life is good for Mike Dolce.
Among all those bright and shiny words lurks a darker, sharper edge. Detractors that question his methods and background have spurred him to open up a bit about some of the credentials his company (and entities within) has, as well as the legal vetting process he had to complete in order to move forward with the UFC Fit deal. Dolce went on to detail the business partnership proposal that he says George Lockhart approached him with last year, and discussed some current hot topics in our fair sport right now such as Cris Cyborg, optimal body fat percentage for heavyweights (Cain Velasquez), effects of the Reebok deal and how he's preparing for impending fatherhood.
Thoughts on George Lockhart's statements
I was completely shocked to read the comments from Mr. Lockhart, considering that he had contacted me on July 30th of 2013, and offered for me to be a partner in his new, fitness-based website that details diet plans for athletes. I had subsequent conversations with Mr. Lockhart, discussing the website and a possible working relationship. I declined to move forward, feeling that our philosophies didn't mesh very well. I wished him the best and I moved on with my life. I was absolutely shocked to see his statements as they were in direct contrast to what he told me via e-mail, texts and phone conversations I received from him.
* I have been requested not to post the e-mail, however, I can verify the contents of the e-mail to be exactly as he described, since Mike forwarded it to me.
The Dolce Diet is a Las Vegas corporation that employs a team of registered dietician nutritionists, licensed by the state of Nevada, which is the only legal representative allowed by law to prescribe meal plans. If you are not a registered dietitian nutritionist, or if you do not employ a registered dietitian nutritionist, it is illegal for you to prescribe any meal plan. My company meets that threshold and even further, we have members on our team, members that hold master's degrees in exercise sciences to ensure the blend of nutritional science and exercise physiology. We have world class, battle tested experience related results. I don't know of any company, any coach, or any trainer in this industry that has the credentials that myself and my team have.
It may be hard to find anyone else in our industry that has had as much peer reviewed analysis of their work. As the creator of UFC FIT, I personally wrote the entire 12-week training program as well as the complete nutritional manual. Every word, repetition and recipe was vetted by a massive team of lawyers representing our company's interests and an opposing team of lawyers from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), as well as members of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to ensure public safety and accuracy of our weight-loss claims. My work was proudly accepted and approved by all USA based agencies and has been further accepted and approved by the governing bodies in Australia, Canada, Mexico, Japan and the United Kingdom. To further strengthen the scientific merits of my work, the UFC FIT program has achieved the advanced distinction of being an approved training system by the NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SPORTS MEDICINE (NASM), the global leader in providing advanced certifications for fitness professionals. These are facts, unlike many of the statements I have read lately.
Effects of Reebok Deal
I personally see the Reebok deal as a beneficial thing for the fighters, even though it will affect the operating procedures of my brand. Everyone knows at the weigh-ins, my fighters are known to wear the Dolce Diet shirts. I don't have outside sponsors. My own company is my sponsor. That said, I have no problem supporting the athletes in wearing a blue chip company's gear with Reebok. It's a great day for MMA to have a global sponsor like Reebok, especially seeing what they've done to propel Crossfit into the mainstream. I see a huge upside here.
I understand Urijah Faber's conflict because he runs a clothing company. I understand Greg Jackson's, as well. I've turned down offers from supplement companies in order to promote my own brand, but I don't have any real conflict like those guys might. I'm familiar with the contract to a degree, and I do believe it's going to help the middle and lower level athletes on the roster. The higher level ones might not make as much money off the sponsorship, but the younger kids will, and I think that's going to be a benefit.
I was solicited almost two years ago to work with her and I flew out to Huntington Beach and had coffee with her, just she and I. I found her to be a very sweet girl, but also someone that was training in a very archaic fashion. She was training with too much intensity, too much volume and she was following an unhealthy nutrition and supplement program, in my opinion. She was 162 pounds on the day that I sat down with her.
Ronda Rousey walks around very close to that weight at certain points in her off season. She has walked around in the mid to high 150's and makes the cut to 135 look easy. Based on a size comparison between Ronda and Cris, they're very close to the same body weight. Ronda makes the weight, no problem. Why can't Cris?
In my opinion, Cris has been grossly mismanaged at certain points in her career. She should be fighting in the UFC. She never should have fought anywhere else. Unfortunately, her team opted to take an alternate route, instead of focusing on her health.
It doesn't have to be with me. I've said this all along. There are other great dietitians, nutritionists and programs in the industry that can help someone like Cris get her weight into a manageable fashion to make 135 pounds.
A lady of Cris' potential does not need to walk around with that much muscle. That's one of the things I discussed. It's very easy to shed the body of non-functional muscle mass, as she does have, in my opinion. It's no different than non-functional body fat. She doesn't need to be that heavy, especially if she'll have her prime, money-making years at 135, and she has said that she is fighting for the money.
She fights for the money. I read a recent article from her saying that she has bills to pay. If that's the truth, then her biggest paydays are at 135 pounds. Why not make the lifestyle modifications to walk around closer to that weight class? She's had a long time off, why not change her body type like many of us have done?
Look at Daniel Cormier. He went from being a dominant heavyweight to being a dominant light heavyweight. Ronda did the same thing. She came down to 135. They made lifestyle changes to do what was best for their careers.
I think Cris Cyborg could do this in very short time. Now, I haven't seen her or been in her presence in almost two years, but in one of her recent Invicta fights, she was on weight at 145 pounds the day before the weigh-ins, tweeting how amazing she felt. If she's at 145 pounds the day before her weigh-ins, feeling amazing, why would she not be able to make 135 pounds a few months later, with a little bit of lifestyle modification?
It seems like a no-brainer. I don't understand what the conflict would be. She's had over two years now to make the lifestyle modifications to bring her body weight down. Why has this not happened? That's what's baffling. That's why I have to question whoever is guiding her. I'm not a manager, but to me, it just doesn't make sense.
Heavyweights and body fat
Brendan Schaub joked around about my statement that heavyweights should be fighting below 12% body fat. I don't believe any athlete should compete with accepted levels of body fat. That's no different than carrying a backpack filled with sand when you go out and try to fight. Just because you don't have to cut weight to stay within the weight class limit doesn't mean to go out and have chocolate shakes and cheeseburgers and walk around above that 12%.
Personally, I think all combat athletes should be competing in the 8-10% range. Heavyweights don't want to hear that. Guys like Cain (Velasquez) that are extremely dominant, because he's such a genetic freak, I can still say, and any sports science person in the industry will agree, he's not competing at his optimal body weight. He may have good results with his competition performance, but truly, that's not an optimal body weight.
You cannot convince me that carrying around 20, 30, 40 pounds of subcutaneous adipose tissue or non-functional body weight is going to make you a better fighter in the modern era of the UFC. It absolutely will not, just like it won't on the basketball court or the soccer field. These athletes have a much higher physical demand than any other athlete on the planet. Carrying around that extra weight just does not suit itself for this career.
The prospect of parenthood for Brandy and myself is the most joyous possible occasion in our lives. We've been together for 15 years, which is pretty astounding. I'm so happy and in love even more every day. Now that we have a little girl that's due to be born on Valentine's Day, it just fills our hearts with joy.
Our lifestyle has become even more dedicated and focused because now we're living healthy and organic and we're exercising, not just for our own personal vanity or business, but to bring a healthy, viable little girl into the world. We're doing everything in our power to give our growing child the best possible nutrients and atmosphere so that she may succeed in life.
Brandy has motivated the Hell out of me to be even more consistent with my training, be more diligent with the nutrition that I take in, the rest that we get, and to really manage our stress levels to keep this home a happy environment.
The one craving she has had, I have to take credit for [laughs]. I was in between fight camps and home for about two weeks, so I went on a Sopranos binge and watched all the seasons. Right about Season two, Brandy just stopped in the kitchen one day and said, ‘I need a meatball parm.' It was as if Tony Soprano was right there. I hadn't heard her say that since we lived in New Jersey and that was nearly a decade ago.
We went down the street and got her a meatball parm. The next night, ‘I need another meatball parm.' Then it became, ‘The baby needs a meatball parm.' For quite a few days that month, we made more trips than I will admit to the Italian place down the road so we could get her and the baby their meatball parm [laughs].
Just as abruptly as it started, a few weeks later, the craving stopped. For a while though, we were eating way out of our cook book.
You can follow Mike Dolce via his Twitter account, @TheDolceDiet