(Courtesy of TapoutLasVegas.com.)
Dan “Punkass” Caldwell and Tim “Skyscrape” Katz are outsized characters in the MMA world but they are also deadly serious businessmen. The duo have come a long way from selling t-shirts out of car trunks with the late Charles “Mask” Lewis to opening the TapouT Training Center for Research and Development in Las Vegas, the first of what they plan to be a chain of training supercenters.
“It’s a natural part of our business,” says Caldwell of the slick, state-of-the-art facility washed in black and grey and bearing the TapouT logo on mats, walls and warehouse doors. “To not have this piece—its like you’re building a puzzle and that was a missing piece in the puzzle.”
Building TapouT facilities was always part of their plan, but the concept of MMA super gyms is relatively new, he explains, citing Xtreme Couture just around the block, and he and Katz felt the time was right time to pursue it.
The company has always supported fighters through sponsorships; now they can provide some of those fighters, and the public at large, a top-of-the-line training facility. And it’s no accident that the gym is located in Las Vegas instead of Southern California, where TapouT is headquartered.
“Everybody comes through Vegas,” says Katz. “UFC, WEC, whatever it is, fighters all come, why not give them another place to train at?”
Michael Bisping, Stephan Bonnar, Mark Coleman, Mark Hominick, Chris Horodecki, Sam Stout and a host of other top pros have worked in the new gym, however, TapouT insists it’s not strictly a fighter’s gym. In fact, it’s designed more to attract fitness enthusiasts who simply want to rub up against MMA, weekend warriors who wear TapouT rather than team jerseys.
The gym features Jointegrity, a unique strength and conditioning system likened to a high end Cross Fit, and if it flourishes, it could be dubbed the “TapouT Training System.” A small mat area with heavy bags and a quarter fence is a copy of the “TapouT MMA Club” concept found in certain Gold’s Gyms. The company may continue to grow that product while exploring new locations in Palmdale, Calif., Denver, Colo., Boise, Idaho, Salt Lake City, Utah, Boston, Mass. snd Connecticut.
“We’ve been talking to [Mark] DellaGrotte seriously,” says Katz. “He’s in a cubbyhole [in Boston], but its one of the most intense gym I’ve ever been in.”
Acording to Caldwell, the sport no longer has to be confined to sweat boxes in gang-infested territories. Preparation doesn’t need to take place in basement gyms like DellaGrotte’s—a gym so small Katz has to walk through with caution to avoid hitting his head.
“He packs…four or five guys going at it in that little ring and they’re going at it, falling on each other,” says Katz. “It’s the kind of situation where they can get hurt”
Katz clarifies its not that DellaGrotte’s isn’t world class. It is.
“There’s a good feeling there, but I think he as an instructor has progressed past that,” he says, citing Greg Jackson, another world-class trainer was in a similar situation years back and had to renovate his space to keep up with demand. “He’s not the same instructor he was years ago.”
The jetsetting duo are hands off, leaving 7Base Consulting to handle the niggling details of running the gym day to day, but are invested in the idea of providing world-class trainers with world-class facilities. It’s the same kind of thinking that helped make their brand “an expression of combat known worldwide.”