On first sight, Brian Shaw and Dustin Poirier might appear ill-matched. One is a 6’8″, 400-pound, world-class strongman, the other a lean, 5’9″, 180-pound professional fighter currently at the top of UFC’s lightweight ranking. But size and raw strength aren’t everything, as Poirier (the only UFC fighter to beat Conor McGregor via knockout) proved in a recent video on Shaw’s YouTube channel where he challenged the strongman to a bout in the octagon and choked him out.
In their latest collaboration, Shaw attempts to balance the scales somewhat by proposing a “strength war”: a series of CrossFit-inspired exercises which will test their cardiovascular fitness as well as strength.
The contest begins with a set of 10 reps of ball-to-shoulders. Poirier’s medicine ball weighs 80 pounds, while Shaw’s is 125. For each rep to count, they have to lift the ball up onto their shoulder, and then hold it there using just one hand. Straight out of the gate, Poirier is quicker in his reps than Shaw, and makes it to 10 first: which makes sense given that he is both lifting a lighter load, and the ball has a shorter distance to travel. “I’m just getting warmed up,” he says after his win.
The next round is the tank push (a version of sled training where the wheeled trolley can be adjusted to provide additional resistance). “I’m playing catchup, but I’m pretty confident about this,” says Shaw. He’s right to be, completing his two laps in 16.28 seconds, compared to Poirier’s 19.49. (Poirier attempts to justify Shaw’s victory in this event by saying “you’ve got a lot more gluteus maximus than me.”)
The third event and tie-breaker consists of 30 ground-to-shoulder clean jerks. In other words, Shaw says, a cardio session. The first to 30 reps wins the entire challenge. Shaw is lifting 90 pounds on his barbell, while Poirier is lifting 50. And this is where Shaw’s strength pays off; he cranks out 30 reps more quickly than Poirier, making him the winner, although both of them are gasping for breath and drenched in sweat by the end of the third round.
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