‘My gym is better than yours’. You show me a mixed martial artist that doesn’t share these feelings and I’ll show you a fighter that desperately needs a change of scenery.
With the sport of MMA growing at a break-neck pace over the last five or ten years, so have the high level super gyms catering to professional fighters. In recent years gyms such as Xtreme Couture, Arizona Combat Sports, American Top Team, Greg Jackson’s and countless others have cemented themselves as premier training grounds for many of today’s elite mixed martial artists.
With the emergence of numerous top level gyms spanning all over the United States, and the world for that matter, it’s impossible to refrain from speculating on which gym is, well, the best. While that answer may forever continue to be impossible to determine with so much talent spread throughout countless training facilities all around the world, one way to size up the results of training at any one of the top level mixed martial arts dojos is to take a look at the athletes they have produced. And what better way to take a look at those athletes than to pit them up against one another in gym rivalry match-ups?
Season nine of The Ultimate Fighter is the first in a global showdown, so why not feature two different gyms going at it. Or maybe even an event with nothing but two gyms fighters heading off with one another. Obviously, I don’t know where I’m going with this, so for now allow me, or I should say come along with me as I take a look at some of the best talent from the top MMA gyms and match them up in grudge matches with one another in a new ongoing feature exclusive to FiveOuncesOfPain.com.
First up I’m throwing the smashing machine’s from over at Minnesota Martial Arts Academy, which is run by Greg Nelson, up against the boys from San Jose, the American Kickboxing Academy, which is spearheaded by gym owner Javier Mendez and Crazy Bob Cook.
So without further ado, let’s get this party started right and kick things off with the big boys..
Chris Tuchscherer (MMAA) vs. Daniel Puder (AKA)
This fight just has fireworks written all over it. Tuchscherer is a two-time NCAA Division II All-American wrestler, while Puder was the first ever winner of WWE’s Tough Enough show.
Puder has shown himself to have a solid submission arsenal and a set of heavy hands and Tuchscherer has been able to transition his wrestling game to MMA seamlessly, finishing most of his fights by good old fashioned ground and pound.
I feel as if Tuchscherer’s wrestling background and countless hours spent on the mat with UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar will give him the slight advantage in this one.
Winner: Chris Tuchscherer - Unanimous Decision
Jacob Volkmann (MMAA) vs. Mike Swick (AKA)
Volkmann is an up and coming welterweight out of Minnesota Martial Arts Academy that is a complete monster on the wrestling mat. The difference in this bout is that Swick is far from an up and comer anymore. He is incredibly explosive since coming down to 170 pounds and although Volkmann is going to be a force in the future, Swick is a force right now.
It wouldn’t be ‘Quick’, but Swick ends up winning this one by “Swickatine’ off of a Volkmann takedown attempt.
Winner: Mike Swick – Submission
Nick Thompson (MMAA) vs. Josh Koscheck (AKA)
“The Goat” has good hands, strong wrestling and a vast submission arsenal at his disposal. He has shown time and time again that he has what it takes to derail some of the top talent that the welterweight division has to offer with victories over the likes of Eddie Alvarez, Josh Neer and most recently, Paul Daley.
Sure, Koscheck is coming off a major sour note in the form of a shocking upset loss at the hands of UFC newcomer Paulo Thiago, but that is exactly the reason why I expect him to come back even more focused and dangerous than ever before.
This would undoubtedly be a bad thing for Thompson as I feel that Koscheck holds a decided advantage in the wrestling department over Thompson, and if he decided to utilize it this time around there’s no reason as to why he shouldn’t come out of this one with his hand raised at the end.
Winner: Josh Koscheck – Unanimous Decision
Brock Larson (MMAA) vs. Jon Fitch (AKA)
These guys are nearly mirror images of each other as far as well roundedness is concerned. Both are strong wrestlers with well versed submission games and solid striking. Both are incredibly strong for 170 pounds, and neither fighter is known for getting tired during the course of battle.
The bottom line in this match-up is that everything that Larson is good at, Fitch is just a tiny bit better. As far as welterweight’s are concerned, Fitch is second only to the man that holds the last defeat over him, UFC champion Georges St. Pierre. Larson’s a stud, no doubt about it, but Fitch is a complete animal.
Fitch would dominate this fight with takedowns and tenacity as he has in many of his other victories inside of the octagon.
Winner: Jon Fitch – Unanimous Decision
Co-Main Event – Sean Sherk (MMAA) vs. Josh Thomson (AKA)
Sean Sherk showed much improved stand-up in his most recent fight with Tyson Griffin, and if these two wound up trading leather for a bulk of the bout it would be nothing short of spectacular. I wouldn’t count Sherk out if it turned into a slugfest, but I also feel that Thomson’s greatest chance at coming away with the win lies in the stand-up portion of this contest.
I just don’t see that being the game plan that “The Muscle Shark” would bring to the table against Thomson. If either fighter has any type of significant advantage over the other it would definitely be Sherk’s advantage in the wrestling department. Thomson is far from a slouch with his wrestling game but there aren’t many, if any lightweights that would be able to hold Sherk on the canvas.
I would expect for this bout to unfold a lot like Sherk’s bout with Kenny Florian. He would utilize his superior takedown ability to control the pace of the fight from the top position en route to a grueling decision victory.
Winner: Sean Sherk – Unanimous Decision
Main Event – Brock Lesnar (MMAA) vs. Cain Velasquez (AKA)
Being that both of these not so gentle giants base is their wrestling game, the first thing we should consider when looking at a potential match-up between these towering heavyweights is how they match up on paper in the grappling department.
You can throw the fact that Lesnar defeated The Rock at only twenty five years old to become the undisputed WWE heavyweight champion right out the window. As a matter of fact, you can disregard the fact that the powerhouse from Minnesota ever wrestled for the WWE at all. What we need to take a look at in regards to how he will match up with Velasquez was what he was doing prior to his stint with the largest professional wrestling organization on the planet, which was decimating his competition on the wrestling mat during his years in college en route to becoming one of the most decorated Golden Gophers in the history of the University of Minnesota’s illustrious wrestling program.
I’ll let Brock’s wrestling stats do the talking. Lesnar was a two-time NJCAA All-American, a 1998 NJCAA Heavyweight Champion, a two-time NCAA All-American, a two-time Big Ten Conference Champion, and the 2000 NCAA heavyweight champion with an overall record of 106-5 during his four years of higher learning.To anyone that knows what those credentials mean, the resume is extremely humbling. Quite frankly, Brock is without a doubt one of the most prestigious wrestlers to have ever made the transition to mixed martial arts.
As most of you are fully aware, Velasquez is far from a dummy when it comes to imposing his will on his opponents on the wrestling mat either. The proud Mexican-American is a two-time All-American wrestler for the Arizona State Sun Devils. He is a Pac-10 champion and was named the 2005 Pac-10 Conference Wrestler of the Year.
Perhaps the most telling bit of information between the two is the fact that Cain placed fifth in the NCAA championships where Brock placed second and then first in his two years of NCAA competition. The edge on the mat will go to Lesnar, not to mention that Velasquez will most likely be giving up at least twenty five pounds to the UFC heavyweight champion.
However, fighting is not wrestling, as both Brock and Cain are fully aware of. While both men are complete beasts in the cage, both are relatively green as far as the number of fights they have put under their belts. This makes it just a little more difficult in attempting to gauge how they compare in some of the other elements of mixed martial arts, such as submissions, boxing, Muay-Thai, etc.
Based on what I’ve seen out of the two, I would have to give an edge in the Muay-Thai to Velasquez based on his strong clinch work and leg kicks in his bout with Denis Stojnic, but I would give Brock the advantage in the boxing department based on his brutal knockdowns of Heath Herring and Randy Couture. The submission department would have to be a wash as neither man is known for their flying gogoplatas.
I think the most significant and consequential difference in this bout will undoubtedly be the size differential. Size can be overcome by skill every time, but when you have two guys are extremely comparable as far as their skill levels, yeah, size definitely matters. While I don’t think this fight is a shoe in for Brock by any stretch of the imagination, I definitely feel as if the scales are tipped slightly in his favor. I’d expect for Brock to use his size and wrestling advantage to grind out a very hard fought decision in a bout where Velasquez ends up winning a round or two of his own.
Winner: Brock Lesnar - Unanimous Decision
Minnesota Martial Arts Academy battles to a draw against American Kickboxing Academy with a final score of 3-3 in this edition of ‘Gym Wars’.