The sum is always greater than its parts. It’s true with women and it’s true with fighting. Every fighter needs heart and talent, but without the proper guidance it’ll be impossible to realize his full potential. With Fight Night 20 about to air free on Spike January 11 at 9pm/8c, let’s take a look at the matchups and see what kind of training each fighter is taking into their bouts.
Gray Maynard vs. Nate Diaz
Born: Phoenix, Arizona
Trains: Las Vegas
Legion: Gray “The Bully” Maynard trains at one of the most prestigious fight schools in the world, Xtreme Couture. With his elite wrestling background, Maynard quickly felt at home in the gym founded by Olympic wrestler and UFC legend Randy Couture. He currently trains closely with Forrest Griffin and even served as Griffin’s wrestling coach on The Ultimate Fighter: Team Rampage vs. Team Forrest.
Born: Stockton, California
Trains: Stockton, California
Legion: The self-proclaimed “Pride of Stockton,” Diaz and his brother Nick have long-trained at Cesar Gracie Jiu-Jitsu in Pleasant Hill, California. Cesar Gracie, son of Carlos Gracie, has groomed Diaz to become one of the UFC’s most dangerous grapplers.
Efrain Escudero vs. Evan Dunham
Born: San Luis Rio Colorado, Sonora, Mexico
Trains: Tempe, Arizona
Legion: Escudero trains mostly under Drew Fickett at Southwest MMA, where he continues to hone his transformation from elite wrestler to champion fighter. Sporting a record of 36-13, few fighters can offer Escudero the breadth of knowledge and experience that Fickett can. With his help, Escudero is on the road to becoming a top mixed martial artist.
Born: Eugene, Oregon
Trains: Las Vegas
Legion: Another veteran at Xtreme Couture, Dunham walks into the cage with the backing of countless champions and world class trainers. His background in wrestling makes him a perfect fit at the hard-nosed gym and his flawless 9-0 record makes him a big test for The Ultimate Fighter winner Escudero.
Tom Lawlor vs. Aaron Simpson
Born: Fall River, Massachusetts
Trains: Orlando, Florida
Legion: Along with Seth Petruzelli, “Filthy” Tom Lawlor runs The Jungle MMA. In the Southern Florida hotbed of MMA, Lawlor and Petruzelli offer classes to professional fighters and beginners alike. They hone their skills by teaching others and pushing themselves to be ready to answer the next bell.
Born: Gunnison, Colorado
Trains: Phoenix, Arizona
Legion: Along with fan favorite Ryan “Darth” Bader, Simpson trains with the team at Arizona Combat Sports, which has been gaining prominence along with the rise of stars like CB Dolloway, Steve Steinbeiss, and Jamie Varner.
Amir Sadollah vs. Brad Blackburn
Born: Brooklyn, New York
Trains: Las Vegas, Nevada
Legion: Though he trains mostly at Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas, Sadollah will truly be at home at Fight Night 20 in Fairfax, Virginia. Raised in Richmond, Sadollah’s hometown is just down the road and he should be fighting in front of the biggest legion of fans on the card.
Born: Los Angeles
Trains: Olympia, Washington
Legion: A real journeyman, Blackburn has trained all over the globe, including camps run by kickboxing and MMA legend Maurice Smith, but he is now settled in at Victory Athletics amongst the likes of Denis Hallman, Joey Guel, and female sensation Miesha Tate.