Over the last few weeks, I’ve packed in more travel miles in a short time period than ever. During the course of my career, I’ve only fought inside the continental United States, and have only been outside the country three times, and two of those I don’t remember because I was a small child traveling with my parents.
In the span of just three weeks, I’ve traveled to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Florida, Canada and New Jersey (yes, I know New Jersey isn’t that far from New York, but I’m tossing it in there anyway). I’ve met some great people and been able to train along the way at some amazing gyms, and that’s the kind of experience I’d like to get more of.
It’s exciting to visit other gyms to see how other athletes train. Getting tips and techniques from coaches or fighters you admire to add to my own repertoire is something I haven’t really done much of. I train under the best coaches in the world, but it was neat to be in the position to be able to bring back what I’d seen and go over it with my team.
I started my travels in Los Angeles as part of a media tour for FOX, but didn’t stay long enough to get in any training. My foot was pretty jacked up after my fight, so I decided to rest it, anyway. I flew back home for a day, then went to Florida for the next leg of the tour.
While I was there, I got to train at ATT with former WEC Champ, Mike Brown. He worked with me in some flow wrestling and BJJ drilling, which got me very excited to train there for the rest of the week, with him and the other guys on the team. Conan Silveira showed me around the ATT facility and was very welcoming. I also had a day to do some amazing pad work with a retired boxer named Carmine Tufano. It was really nice to do something different, because most of my striking is adapted for MMA. Working with him, I was doing pure boxing. I’ve never trained the sweet science exclusively like that, and it opened my eyes to some new techniques.
When I was in Canada, I trained at a gym in Ottawa with Stevie Ray and Zach Makovsky and another guy that I stayed with, his name was Lachlun. Lachlun took us over to another facility—I forget the name—but they were really nice people and allowed us to come in and use the mat early Saturday morning where we got in several hard rounds of training. It was great to get some different looks at the grappling there, especially from a strong 55er like Stevie Ray and a lightning quick wrestler like Makovsky.
I then trained out of Grant’s MMA & Boxing Gym in Toronto under Ryan Grant and a boxing coach named R.G. I observed so many different philosophies there, because they don’t really have a set daily plan. They just come in every day and everything is just different. I don’t know how else to describe it. One day we did light sparring and sparring touches and then another time, we’d do defense moves off the wall or offensive takedowns. We did some ground defense practice and some positional work, as well. It was a neat mix of a lot of different stuff.
Something really cool that they did there was a grappling session from off the knees. You had to keep both knees on the ground and you couldn’t stand up. You had to try to take your opponent down, try to hit arm drags, snap-downs and things like that. I like the idea of improving your skillset by strengthening weak positions like that.
I’m a dedicated fighter, and I want to grow my skillset as much as I possibly can, so this was like a dream training tour for me. I highly recommend taking some time to visit other gyms, if for nothing else than to get a change of pace. If you’re not in a position to do a broad scale tour, try visiting whatever gyms are in your area. It might be exactly what you need to take it to the next level, or it might just make you appreciate your own gym that much more.
For me, it was a combination. I loved the new stuff I was exposed to, especially that I could take this new data back to my own gym to share and analyze with my team. One thing is certain, it’s great to be back in NY. There’s no place like home.
*Be sure to catch my next feature where I review Canada’s people, food and night club scene.*
(Image via MMAWeekly.com)