Every fighter in the UFC trains hard—you’d be a fool not to. Yet even among these uncommon men, Phil “No Hype” Hawes stands out. Perhaps the only thing more impressive than his junior college national championship in wrestling and his 12-4 record in the UFC is his physique. The 34-year-old New Jersey native looks like an action figure. And while many in his sport—including the GOAT Jon Jones, a sparring partner who called Hawes one of his toughest opponents—have been tainted by accusations of steroid use, Hawes says he’s never touched the stuff (yet). Instead he’s carved himself with an impeccable work ethic, a Spartan diet, an understanding that time is precious, and an unyielding belief that his time is now.
Hawes fights Dagestan’s Ikram Aliskerov in Newark at UFC 288 on Saturday. Ahead of that bout, GQ caught up with him as he touched down in the U.S. after a long flight back from training camp in Phuket, Thailand.
For Real-Life Diet, GQ talks to athletes, celebrities, and other high performers about their diet, exercise routines, and pursuit of wellness. Keep in mind that what works for them might not necessarily be healthy for you.
GQ: Welcome back to the U.S.A. I want to get something out of the way before we begin. Are you the most jacked guy in the UFC?
Phil Hawes: I’m top three for sure! Frances [Ngannou] is huge but he is gone now. Paolo Costa is yoked up for sure. But the most jacked guy in the UFC? Yeah, that’s me—I’ll take that.
How’d that happen? Your workouts must be crazy.
My training is intense, especially in Thailand. That’s all they do: train. I wake up around 6:45 and run for an hour, then I hit the mitts with my boxing coach from 8:30 until 9:30. Next it’s jiu jitsu from 10:30 to 11:30. Then I go home and take a break and gear up for the rest of the day. We do super-intense MMA sparring with the team in the afternoon, and then after that I do more jiu jitsu.
That’s a lot. What about weights?
Weights are Tuesday, but I am trying to get quicker and be more cardio based. I do HIIT workouts: rowing, box jumps, ropes, that sort of thing. I used to be a real pick-you-up-and-slam-you-on-your-head-type of fighter, but now I’m focused on becoming faster.
So, to be clear, it sounds like you don’t really lift much.
Yeah, in high school I was about 240 pounds, when I played football. I used to love lifting weights. And then of course wrestling in college, they have you doing power cleans and stuff. I guess the muscle just kind of stuck around, because in general these days I am really tapering off weightlifting.
That’s unexpected. Let’s talk about steroids in MMA. They’re relatively prevalent, yeah?
I think steroids are super prevalent, but no one is popping [ED: testing positive], so there’s no proof. A lot of fighters say they should open the floodgates and make steroids legal, but I don’t like that idea because some guys couldn’t afford them. Some bigger-name fighters could go to other countries and get stem cells, but if you’re an entry-level fighter you may not have the means to do stuff like that which I don’t think is very fair. [Laughs] I mean not to be a baby, maybe I’m just complaining because I haven’t done them yet.