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The Sport: MMA. The Hype: UFC 228 Championship. The Visionary: Darren Till.
Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is all about the individual, but a UFC Champion is forged from a strong camp where family is paramount.
Let's start with the basics...
MMA is formed from a range of core disciplines: Brazilian JiuJitsu (BJJ), Muay-Thai, Wrestling and Boxing.
Often, MMA fighters excel in one particular discipline or possess a certain attribute that makes them stand out in the Octagon.
Take for example, Till: his strength: BJJ / Muay-Thai.
His weapon, is his strike.
“You’ve got to use your weapons, lead your opponent into a position where he’s vulnerable and force him to make a decision. You make sure that he makes the wrong decision.” - Owen Roddy
With the UFC 228 naming Tyron Woodley as Welterweight Champion last month and McGregor's fight due to take place this weekend, the social media hype around the sport has become stronger than ever.
So, we thought we'd jump on the conversation and round up the best MMA gyms to train at. Worldwide.
Even if you don't have the intention to step into the Octagon, take part in a white collar event or spar with a complete random stranger in attire that looks rather a lot like pyjamas, you'll want to read this.
1. SBG | DUBLIN, IRELAND
Home to "The Notorious One", SBG (Straight Blast Gym) in Dublin, Ireland has since been touted as an MMA powerhouse.
The reason why? Most would say that it was due to the skilled-set combination of John Kavanagh and Owen Roddy.
Over the years, they've cultivated some serious talent with fighters such as Gunnar Nelson, James Gallagher, Artem Lobov and Aisling Daly to name but a few, all of which are currently signed up to the UFC.
Need more convincing?
Look no further. We spoke to Conor McGregor's coach: Owen Roddy last year for a little more insight into what it's like to train the man himself at.
Read the full interview here!
2. Gracie Barra | Worldwide, Literally, They're Everywhere
"UH É GRACIE BARRA AHA UHU".
BROTHERHOOD | INTEGRITY | DEVELOPMENT
It's a simple philosophy, but one that continues to serve both coach and pupil well.
Think of it as a training camp for those who want to learn the fundamentals of the sport. Targeting both beginners and pros, Gracie Barra offers a range of programs from Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai boxing to specific MMA training.
Promoting the mentality that training shouldn't be a chore, but instead a way of life, the GB community are able to train at any Gracie Barra gym worldwide.
3. Kings MMA | Huntington, CA
You visit Kings to learn from the king himself.
Rafael Cordeiro has a strong claim on the title of most experienced coach - in the history of MMA. A Muay Thai and Vale Tudo competitor in his own right, Rafael hung up his gloves in 1999 in order to focus on training the increasingly impressive stable of fighters that called the original Chute Boxe home.
Known for his consistent evolution, Wanderlei Silva, Mauricio Rua and Anderson Silva are some of many who have benefitted from Cordeiro's instruction and we doubt that it'll stop there.
Having moved to Southern California in 2007 for the subsequent opening of his own gym, Kings MMA, Cordeiro has continued to revamp his style of training and coaching in response to the ongoing trends within the sport.
4. Alliance MMA | San Diego
San Diego's Alliance MMA has established itself as one of the top camps in the sport. Founded by former UFC heavyweight and light heavyweight: Brandon Vera and trainer Eric del Fierro, Alliance has attracted boatloads of talent and done well to produce and hone the games of numerous UFC-quality fighters.
Whilst Vera himself never reached his full potential, his gym has grown into a powerhouse, and had Cruz not lost most of the last four years to a series of injuries, its reputation would be even more sterling.
Excelling in it's domain with a focus on sought-after component skills, its teaching emphasis lies with powerful takedowns and in-and-out movement at range.
Welcome to the Alliance.
5. Tiger Muay Thai | Phuket, Thailand
Finding your inner MMA-fighter whilst travelling the world has never been easier.
Headed up by Brian Ebersole and Roger Huerta, Tiger Muay Thai started off with a vision to bring quality and authentic Muay Thai training in Thailand to people of all levels.
Now, the camp has become a home away from home for both enthusiasts and professional athletes all over the world with varying goals.
Accepting all levels of fitness and fight experience, from holiday-makers, vacationers, adventure junkies, fitness enthusiasts to professional athletes who come to improve technique, it's a get-your-head-down-and-learn kind of environment.