BEREA — It takes a beast of an athlete with maniacal training habits to put Browns defensive end Myles Garrett through a workout he considers grueling.
UFC heavyweight title contender Stipe Miocic fits the description.
Garrett's summertime mission to drop weight and become an even faster pass rusher led him to a favorite haunt of Miocic, Strong Style Mixed Martial Arts and Training Center in Independence. Garrett trained there regularly for a couple of weeks before training camp opened July 25. The sessions, combined with a stricter diet, helped the 2018 Pro Bowl selection lose 10 pounds on the way to what he deems a more comfortable playing weight.
"It was some of the most intense strength workouts that I've done," Garrett told the Beacon Journal/Ohio.com after Monday's practice at Browns headquarters. "Just being in the ring and having to do those rounds, just being consistent, always being on your toes, making sure that you're not lacking for a second, it kills your legs.
"But that's exactly what's going to happen in a game. The first thing that falls is your legs. Then your mind's going to go, so you have to make sure that you keep your wits about you, make sure you're able to retain your information and do what you're called upon to do.
"I was dropping weight quick during all this. It was very, very intense. Those workouts, they lasted maybe an hour, hour and a half, but the hour was completely full.
"I wanted to make sure that I dropped weight but kept my strength and that I beat up my legs so that they were ready for the grind of the season, that they wouldn't be worn down by however many plays or however many overtimes we have to go to — hopefully not too many this year."
Told the 6-foot-4 Garrett recently went from 272 to 262 pounds, Miocic, without hesitation, said, "He's still a monster."
"I think Myles is going to kill it, and I think the Browns are going to kill it," Miocic added last week during a phone interview with the Beacon Journal/Ohio.com. "I think they have the right mentality. They all want the same thing."
They want the type of glory Miocic has attained. The Cleveland native set a record with three successful title defenses as the UFC heavyweight champion before Daniel Cormier took the belt from him in 2018. Now Miocic is less than a week away from his highly anticipated rematch against Cormier in the main event of Saturday night's UFC 241 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California.
"I'm getting that belt back," Miocic said. "I'm bringing it back home."
As Miocic prepared for his upcoming bout, Garrett mimicked parts of the fighter's regimen.
"We did some pad work. He hits like a ton of bricks," Miocic said. "We did our belt squat machine. He loved that."
Garrett called the belt squat machine "the main torture device they used there for me" at Strong Style.
"I'm competitive. So [Miocic] was doing four plates — I have to do four plates," Garrett continued. "He was doing bands — I have to do bands. I couldn't do it the same amount of time, but I was like, 'I've got to start somewhere.' It was just fun to be able to try to match him and compete."
Miocic, about 6-4 and 240 pounds, said he could sense Garrett's desire to be great.
"He just wants to get better. That's what I loved about it," Miocic said. "He never questioned any of the things I did. He loved what I did. He just did it, and he was good at it.
"He's an athletic freak. I call him a specimen. He's just a good dude, too. I love his mentality.
"He doesn't take anything for granted. He just works hard. He deserves everything he gets because he's just such a hard worker."
Garrett and Miocic met in mid-June, when they participated in Jarvis Landry's celebrity softball game at Classic Park in Eastlake. Miocic recalled an eye-opening moment. When Garrett hit a groundball, he started to jog down the first-base line because he thought he would be thrown out anyway, but then he turned the jets on as soon as he realized the ball hadn't been fielded cleanly.
"The guy bobbled it, and [Garrett] took off in like 0.1 seconds, and he was like full speed," Miocic said. "It scared the crap out of me. I was like, 'Yeah, I'm going to get out of the way.' I was playing first base. I was like, 'I'm not even going to deal with that.' It was crazy how fast he nonchalantly picked up full speed."
As a result of his weight loss, Garrett is quicker now than he was then. MMA training contributed to his enhanced conditioning, but he's also convinced it polished the hand-fighting skills defensive linemen need in the trenches.
"It helps slow the game down once [the offensive linemen are] coming right at you, and you can have a plan of action of what you're going to do, where you're going to go," Garrett said. "It's pretty close to what it feels like in a game."
As a boy growing up in Texas, Garrett developed a love of boxing, and the sport's similarities to MMA piqued his interest in Miocic's workouts. Garrett's boxing fandom materialized when his grandmother encouraged him to watch a Muhammad Ali documentary. To this day, Garrett calls the late Ali his favorite athlete.
"No matter what anybody said, he was going to stick by who he was, and nobody was going to change that. He wasn't going to falter," Garrett said. "So that's who I aspire to be, and I aspire to have that level of greatness one day and hopefully have an impact on the world like he did."
Nate Ulrich can be reached at email@example.com. Read his Browns coverage at www.ohio.com/browns. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ByNateUlrich and on Facebook www.facebook.com/abj.sports.