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UNLV Basketball Coach Visits UFC Performance Institute

Freshly hired UNLV basketball coach T.J. Otzelberger gets an MMA lesson from Forrest Griffin

Newly minted UNLV men’s basketball coach T.J. Otzelberger and his staff visited the UFC Performance Institute, where UFC Hall of Fame member put the coach through a short mixed martial arts workout. 

Otzelberger has spent some time connecting with the different sports franchises in Las Vegas since his hiring in late March, and his experience at the UFC headquarters carried the unique chance to interact with a mixed martial arts legend.

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“That was awesome,” Otzelberger said afterward. “Forrest is clearly a pro. This is an unbelievable facility, and some of the top athletes in the world train here, so it was awesome to get an inside look at some of those exercises and the things that they do on a daily basis to be successful.”

Though Otzelberger said he isn’t the most knowledgeable when it comes to the UFC, he said he is “very aware” of Forrest’s accomplishments.

“We want to study the best athletes in the world,” Otzelberger said. “It’s something that’s important to me, and shoot, we don’t need to look a lot further than right here.”
 

The new coach went through a few different workouts, including a cardiovascular workout in the PI’s altitude room, a short grappling lesson in the Octagon and a test of his punching power.

“He looked like he was trying to throw a baseball,” Griffin joked. “Still punched it as hard as I did.”

In his own defense, Otzelberger said it’d “been a while” since he had thrown a punch, something he’d like to keep that way.

Going forward, the Runnin’ Rebels coach hopes to implement a few things he learned at the Performance Institute with his team as they prepare for the upcoming college basketball season.

“They talk a lot here about reaction time (here) and quickness and how the best athletes learn to physiologically react quicker,” he said. “That’s something that definitely stands out to me from this experience and something we’ll take back with us for sure.”

Griffin observed that while the basketball players on UNLV are younger, they’re also bigger than most UFC athletes, and learning how to effectively improve cardio fitness without damaging the body is key as is improving their reactionary strength.

As a whole, the visit was to connect two major sports entities in Las Vegas to each other.

“It’s more about representing this city,” Griffin said. “This is my home. I’m here. My daughter was born here. I’m claiming layman’s status here, so I’m always happy for new coaches and new kind of people moving to Vegas.”

Zac Pacleb is a writer and producer for UFC.com. You can follow him on Twitter @ZacPacleb.