While Las Vegas MMA Gyms have become the hub of mixed martial arts over the last few years, there are fewer places than Florida that has helped produced some of the most notable fighters in our sport. Be it champions or contenders, the southern state has the mixed martial arts scene by the throat with savage fighters that hail from the unassuming new mecca.
As a purveyor of the sport over the last couple of years, it’s been enjoyable to witness the changing of the guard and transition that our sport has come across. With said change, have come factions within our community. Factions of gyms that have since become synonymous with the phrase “super camps”, yielding elite level fighters.
American Top Team is perhaps the greatest example of just that. The award winning gym has housed the likes of Antonio “Big Foot” Silva, “JZ” Cavalcante, Thiago Alves, Thiago Silva, Mike Brown, and Din Thomas–just to name a few. The headquarters reside in the humble surroundings of Coconut Creek, just 20 minutes away from the coast. Headed by Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu masters Ricardo Liborio and MMA fighter Marcus “Conan” Silveira, the two established the academy in 2001 and in just 10 years time, it has grown to be unarguably one of the most recognize schools in the country–if not the world. Outside of the headquarters, the ATT umbrella has branched out to include nearly 70 schools in total (affiliation) with gyms extending themselves overseas and into the United Kingdom. No other gym can boast that claim. If there is any knock on ATT, it’s that their HQ houses too many people as it is, but that’s okay, because if you go to any neighboring gym in the state you will find fighters such as UFC vets Wilson Gouveia, aforementioned Din Thomas, or Ben Saunders heading the facilities more than adequately.
Imperial Athletics, though, is beginning to give ATT a run for there money, at least as far as local awareness goes. Beginning as a humble gym lead by Jiu-Jitsu practitioners in Profesor Patrick Dongo and Master Marcus Aurelio–a PRIDE and UFC veteran who holds a notable submission victory over former champion Takanori Gomi–the school has now attracted the likes of several other notables. Antonio Silva made his pit stop here before heading back to Brazil, but he caught the attention of former UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans along the way, who left his longtime stomping grounds of Greg Jackson’s in order to make the Boca Raton gym his new home. Anthony Johnson, a former protege of ex-Strikeforce middleweight champ Cung Le, has also made Imperial his new home, bringing his devastating array of strikes and wrestling to the table. But what’s perhaps the most intriguing aspect of Imperial, beyong Rashad and Johnson (two accomplished wrestlers) is the equally accomplished Tyrone Spong, a world ranked kickboxer, who took 4th place at last year’s prestigious K-1 World Heavyweight Grand Prix, falling short to eventual winner Alistair Overeem in the quarter-finals. Trained under the tutelage of legend Ernesto Hoost, Spong is no man to be messed with.
Check out our full listing of MMA Gyms in Florida on our gym directory and find the best gym for you.