When Miletich Fighting Systems opened its doors in 1997, Bettendorf, Iowa, quickly became THE PLACE for mixed martial artists to train. On any given day, you could find as many top-level athletes working out at MFS as you would playmates at Hugh Hefner’s birthday parties. In fact, at one point, three of the five UFC titleholders were training at MFC, including Matt Hughes, Tim Sylvia, and Rich Franklin.
The only problem…you had to go to Bettendorf, Iowa.
As gyms continue to pop up on a daily basis across America, a fighter no longer has to travel hundreds of miles to work out with the top athletes in the sport. Even in smaller cities, local facilities are offering state-of-the-art equipment and boasting fighters with professional experience ranging from the UFC and Strikeforce to Bellator and DREAM.
Inside MMA and FIGHT! Magazine will take you Inside America’s Gyms, previewing some of the finest facilities in the country. Tune in to HDNet for the rest of the story and visit www.hd.net/insidemma.html for more info.
Tapout Research and Development Training Center
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Founders/Owners: Scott Ence and Kekoa Quipotla
Fighters Who Train at Tapout
• Vitor Belfort: UFC Middleweight
• Sam Stout: UFC Lightweight
• Mark Hominick: WEC Featherweight
• Chris Horodecki: WEC Lightweight
• Vinny Magahlaes: M-1 Global Light Heavyweight
• Kevin Randleman: Strikeforce Heavyweight
What You Don’t Know
• Along with a stacked roster of 36 professional mixed martial artists representing Team Tompkins, TapouT offers one of the best kid’s training programs in the country and currently has approximately 100 children enrolled in judo, wrestling, BJJ, and MMA classes.
• TapouT Vegas has more than 800 members.
What Separates Tapout From Everyone Else?
“I’ve seen some kids roll through here at four years old who are pulling off double-leg take downs and armbars that I’m still not getting!”—Shawn Tompkins, Head Coach
MMA Premier Fitness/Team Wildman
Location: Centennial, CO
Founder/Owner: Nick Lopez
Fighters Who Train at MMA Premier Fitness
• Thomas “Wildman” Denny: Former KOTC Welterweight Champ
• Bryan Baker: Bellator Heavyweight
• Chris Camozzi: UFC Middleweight
• Armando Montoya: King of the Cage Middleweight
• Brandon Thatch: Ring of Fire Welterweight
What You Don’t Know
• After Thomas Denny moved Team Wildman from California to Colorado, team member and Bellator heavyweight Bryan Baker was diagnosed with leukemia. Baker believes the move saved his life because the high altitude triggered his anemia and forced him to see a doctor. Both Denny and Baker believe God put them in Colorado for a reason.
What Separates Premier From Everyone Else?
“This is the kind of place where you’re going to come in and see some wild hairdos and crazy tattoos, but you’re going to see some guys who literally care about each other and love one another—like one big happy family.”—Thomas Denny, Head Coach
Premier Combat Center
Location: Omaha, NE
Founder/Owner: Ryan Jenson & Kurt Podany
Fighters Who Train at Premier Combat Center
• Ryan Jensen: UFC Middleweight
• Jason Brilz: UFC Light Heavyweight
• Jake Ellenberger: UFC Welterweight
• Chad Reiner: UFC Veteran
• Joe Ellenberger: Victory Fighting Championship Lightweight
What You Don’t Know
• After hitting hard times and finding himself homeless, mixed martial artist Vern Harrison was invited to “live” at the gym by owner Ryan Jensen. Two conditions: He train everyday and he represent the gym in a positive way. He is also Premier’s nighttime security guard. Not surprisingly, he has earned the nickname “The Blindside.”
What Separates Jackson’s From Everyone Else?
“The things I try and instill in the guys are family, teamwork, and leadership. If anyone hits hard times, we help them out as much as we can.” —Ryan Jensen, Premier Combat Owner
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