Picture it: Among a wide range of hungry applicants, you're one of thirty-two welterweight fighters chosen for the opportunity of a lifetime. After this rigorous selection process, you're faced with an opponent. You face him down, touch gloves, and throw leather.
It's not easy. You sized these guys up when you walked in, and you know there aren't any chumps. And you take your lumps, but you work your game your way, and you win. You've made it. Now you're one of the sixteen fighters to advance to the next round. You're on your way to the cash, the tournament slot and the title of Fight Master.
But your work is far from over. You have more fights ahead of you. Your opponents are, like you, the hottest free agents, undiscovered talents, and rising stars at 170. Grappling experts, vicious strikers, and wily veterans are all primed to take this opportunity away from you. And they've all just sent another hopeful packing, same as you.
Even with all that on the line, the real pressure comes when you have to make the single most important decision of your career to this point: Who will be your coach on this big stage? Which man has the tools best suited to make you your best? Who will guide you to your destiny and help you become Fight Master?
There isn't any one answer. The best coach for one fighter might not be the right fit for another. It all depends on knowing yourself and your skillset, strengths, and weaknesses. And you could make an intriguing argument for each coach.
Why you should choose: JOE WARREN
He knows grappling. Specifically, MMA grappling.
If you have amateur grappling experience but need to transition it to contemporary MMA, there's no better guy in this field to help you on your way than Joe Warren. Very few fighters were able to transition from amateur wrestling to MMA as quickly as Warren, who within just a handful of fights was already among the top fighters in his weight class.
He's cool under pressure.
Here is a complete list of things cooler than Joe Warren:
1. A block of ice in a cooler set to zero degrees Fahrenheit.
2. A cucumber that has just been purchased by Fonzie.
That's about it. You can't rattle the man's cage.
He's the baddest man on the planet. Just ask him.
In all seriousness, that sort of confidence isn't something you just turn on for the cameras. It's brought into the gym, and it's something that separates competitors from champions.
He's the only one with Bellator tournament experience.
Each of the four coaches in Fight Master are legends in the sport with a lot to bring to the table, but Warren is the only one with first-hand experience in the toughest tournament in sports.
Why you should choose: FRANK SHAMROCK
He's a pioneer in the sport.
Frank was one of the first of what we now consider the complete MMA fighter. At a time when the sport was still mostly guys who excelled in one area fighting against other guys who were skilled in others, Frank was an all-around great fighter with a deep toolbox. He was ahead of his time, and in a very real way he helped shape what MMA became.
He's a master of self-promotion.
Although it may not help you win your fight, there's a lot a fighter can learn about putting your best foot forward in front of the media and fans. Frank Shamrock made a career out of not only being the better man in the cage, but also maintaining an intriguing aura. That's the sort of thing you just can't put a price tag on.
He faced down and beat bigger, stronger guys.
There was a time when the 205 pound weight class was considered Middleweight, and during that time, Frank Shamrock was the best there was. Yet he was, realistically, what we now consider a Middleweight (185) facing off against Light Heavyweights (205) and beating them soundly.
Why you should choose: RANDY COUTURE
For years Randy has owned and operated his own gym, Xtreme Couture, which has produced some of the best fighters in MMA.
He's the greatest of all time.
Among MMA legends, Couture stands out as a guy who has accomplished pretty much everything there is to accomplish. He's won championships in two weight classes, fought the best of his era, and appeared on the biggest stages.
As a guy who fought at both Light Heavyweight and Heavyweight for fourteen years, Couture has faced every type of fighter there is and found a way to win.
The thing that made Randy a great fighter wasn't necessarily aggression or heavy hands, it was the fact that no matter who he was facing, he was always the smartest guy in the cage. Even when facing larger opponents, Couture found a way to outpoint them and would even use their strengths against them.
Why you should choose: GREG JACKSON
He's The Trainer of Champions.
More than any other trainer in the sport, Greg Jackson has had a huge influence on the direction MMA has taken over the last decade. Jackson's Submission Fighting and MMA in Albuquerque is arguably the most renowned facility in the world, producing not only champions but also fighters who regularly appear on the pound for pound rankings.
It's a nickname that may make people giggle, but it's said with reverence. In the same way that Yoda helped shape young Luke Skywalker into a Jedi, Jackson has taken plenty of fighters with raw talent and transformed them into master strategists.
He thinks outside the box…or cage, as it were.
Being the only coach that wasn't a fighter might seem like a detriment, but it's probably a big part of what's made him such a good coach. Sometimes you need an outside perspective to find out how to improve your game. After all, not every great coach in the NFL was a former player.
Now that you have a little background, you're still staring these four men down. Maybe you learned something that put it all into focus. Maybe your brain is more rattled than when that left hook got a piece of your chin in the second. Clear the cobwebs, buddy. It's time to make your choice.