WEDNESDAY TOP FIVE: The Top 5 Teams & Training Centers in MMA – From Team Alpha Male to Jackson-Wink

By Jared Dodds, MMATorch contributor

Urijah Faber (artist Grant Gould © MMATorch)

(5) Team Alpha Male

The team and gym created by former WEC Featherweight Champion Urijah Faber suffers slightly from the fact that it never really created a UFC champion (some would argue that T.J. Dillishaw was an Alpha Male fighter, but I would counter that he truly became the champion he was with the Elevation Fight Team and Dwayne Ludwig). However, you cannot argue with the overall results that have come from the men and women that fight out of the Sacramento camp. Standouts like Urijah Faber, Chad Mendes, Cody Garbrandt and Paige van Zant all train with Team Alpha Male, and there is no doubt that they will produce and keep a UFC champion soon.

(4) Nova Uniao

In my opinion the great Brazillian MMA gym has to be Nova Uniao. One simply has to look at the dominance that their two key fighters, Jose Aldo and Renan Barao had in their divisions for so long to know that the training as well as the training partners at this gym are second to none. Other brazillian standouts such as Hacran Dias, Claudia Gadelha and Junior Dos Santos also train here, and many of the dominating champions in recent memory, especially in the lighter weight divisions, have come from Nova Uniao.

(3) American Kickboxing Academy

If you want to see one of the largest collections of MMA champions in the world, you need look no further than San Jose, California inside the AKA gym. Former heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez, former UFC Middleweight champion Luke Rockhold, current WSOF Welterweight Champion Jon Fitch, and current UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier all call this gym home, and have for many years. Add to that crew former UFC standouts like Mike Swick and current lightweight number one contender Khabib Nurmagomedov, and you have a murderers row of fighters to train with at AKA.

(2) Tristar MMA

This Montreal based gym is run by arguably the greatest MMA coach of all time, Firas Zahabi, and has bred an impressive selection of MMA fighters from both inside and outside of Canada. The most obvious and successful product of Tristar is former UFC Welterweight Champion George St. Pierre, with other fighters like Rory MacDonald and Kenny Florian also benefiting from Zahabi’s mastery of the sport. Other gyms train great boxers, great wrestlers or great grapplers, whereas Zahabi separates himself by training great MMA fighters. He combines the disciplines better than anyone, and has created a strong stable because of it.

(1) Jackson-Wink MMA

If Zahabi is not the greatest trainer of all time, then there is no doubt that it is either Greg Jackson or Mike Winklejohn. So when you consider that they have combined forces, there can be no doubt that their gym in Albuquerque, New Mexico is the location of the greatest MMA gym of all time. Standouts like Jon Jones, Holly Holm and Donald Cerrone all call Jackson-Wink MMA home, either in the main location or on Cerrone’s ranch. They are so good at what they do that even die hard fighters for other camps, like George St. Pierre and Anthony Pettis, will spend a portion of their training camp just to learn from the two masters as well as have them in their corner come fight night. They are the best of the best, and no one has come close to toppling them.

NOW CHECK OUT YESTERDAY’S TOP FIVE: Top 5 Finishes from UFC Fight Night 96 fighters in history including Marquardt vs. Maia at UFC 102


 (Jared Dodds of Mississauga, Ontario has been a passionate MMA fan since he was 13 years old after he stumbled upon his dad watching Mintauro Nogueira vs. Frank Mir at UFC 92. He follows UFC, Bellator, Invicta, and even non-MMA productions such as Glory kickboxing. He wrestled in high school and has spent time outside of school learning specific techniques that are important parts of MMA. He hopes to fill the shoes of Jamie Penick, who once helmed the Daily Top Five List, and credits Jamie with helping him acquire more knowledge and passion for the sport of MMA.)

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