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Former NCAA Wrestler Turns Himself Into MMA Coach (Exclusive)

Former NCAA Wrestler Turns Himself Into MMA Coach (Exclusive)

Ridge Kiley’s decision to open a gym located in the heart of Nebraska is already paying off.

Kiley’s Team Unrivaled recently took part in a show and posted an 8-1 overall mark, including a victory by Livingston Lukow that netted the camp their first title.

The owner and operator of Unrivaled Sports Performance, Kiley is the leader of the pack – even though he is younger than some of his fighters.

“They still call me ‘Coach,’ which took me a while to get used to,” said Kiley, during a recent interview with FightLine. “I didn’t expect everyone to be on the same page and put their trust into the implemented training system. The guys and girls I work with are teachable, hard working and never complain.”

While he was competing as a member of the Nebraska Cornhuskers wrestling team, Kiley took to the “Dolce Diet,” made famous by Mike Dolce. He continues to stick to the formula, and has developed a relationship with Dolce.

“I listen to “The Mike Dolce Show” to hear about his advice on nutrition, strength and conditioning and more as often as I can,” Kiley said. “I learned a lot of different coaching techniques, both mental and physical, from Mark Manning and other wrestling coaches I had at Nebraska that I apply in the gym.”

Before opening up his own gym, Kiley trained at Premier Combat Center in Omaha alongside Ryan Jensen, Cody Land and Anthony Smith, along with coaches Kurt Podany and Danny Molina.

“I learned a lot from Premier by working out there and seeing what they did on a daily basis that made them successful,” he said. “My gym is a big melting pot of ideas mixed together.”

The Three C’s

Kiley described his first time walking a fighter out to the cage for action as “a fun experience.

“I was calm, cool and collective on the outside, but was having a blast on the inside. Seeing all the time and effort the guys put into the gym…and then seeing them win is a great feeling. I tell my team everyday that we work harder than our competition, so it’s great to see the fighters outwork their opponents.”

Kiley’s gym boasts a number of fighters and coaches, including Aaron Quintana (boxing), Stacey Miller (Muay Thai), Kiley (wrestling) and a pair of jiu-jitsu coaches.

“Most of the fighters are amateurs, including Livingston,” Kiley said. “Jason Windham is an amateur heavyweight who won via first round TKO recently and will be fighting for an amateur heavyweight title this spring.

“Russell Batista, Nate Maas and Justin Weaver all won (at Dynasty Combat Sports Season’s Beatings on December 6), while Charlie DuBray won the 135-pound Dynasty Combat Sports title and earned a TKO recently, while Robert Rojas also won by TKO. They are both on the verge of making it to the big leagues.”

A Star In Lukow

Lukow, who owns a 7-1 amateur record that includes three submission and three TKO finishes, attended the Bellator MMA tryouts in Philadelphia over the weekend.

“Livingston fought on a Friday night and was right back in the gym on the following Monday morning to continue his strength and conditioning program,” Kiley said. “His title-winning fight was just a great experience for myself, Aaron, the team and especially Lukow.

Lukow started competing as an amateur in 2012 and won his first three fights. Since a submission loss that year, he has won four in a row, including two for titles.

“He’s a great leader for the team and does all the right things to be successful,” Kiley said.

What’s In Store

Kiley stated that many fighters under his guidance are “at least another month or two away from competing,” but he does have a pair of fights lined up.

Casi Lee will be competing for the second time in January, while Lloyd Chase is set to fight for the Dynasty Sports Combat amateur title alongside her on January 11.

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