10 of the BEST UK MMA Gyms you should be visiting in 2019
As part of what I do with the Warrior Collective I get to visit an extraordinary amount of the best UK MMA gyms and clubs each month on a regular basis. This allows me a great insight into which places would make ideal places to visit for off the cuff training, different sparring partners or for an alternative viewpoint with regards to coaching/teaching methods.
The rise in popularity of Mixed Martial Arts across the world in the past two decades really is something to behold. From it’s humble beginnings coming together as a legitimate rule set within both the Shooto organisation in Japan and UFC promotion in the States, it has changed massively within this time.
If the competition side of MMA has changed dramatically then the evolution of both its training and the gyms coaching it is something akin to a cataclysmic event. There can be no harder rule set within combat sports to train for. To be a successful athlete in MMA you essentially need to be training at a high level in a multitude of different areas, including those of striking, wrestling and grappling.
This has resulted in the need for gyms to no longer be one discipline focused schools, but to be fully functioning centres of excellence covering all ranges necessary for the encounters to be faced (or work within a tight network of linked specialist instructors). It has also meant that coaches training fighters for MMA need to manage intelligently the training schedule of each individual in order to both fully develop their potential and ensure they don’t have gaping weaknesses in their game.
What then makes an awesome gym to join/visit for someone who is wanting to or already training in MMA? I had to have a think about this as I am a huge fan of all the MMA gyms / coaches that I visit so could well just have ended up listing each one I have ever been to ha ha! I have made this list though by focusing on the following; quality of facility, experience of instruction, amount of training available to a member or visiting athlete, level of sparring partners available and history of success within MMA competition. After much deliberation, here are the 10 that I recommend to those wanting an extraordinary gym to visit in 2019;
AVT MMA – Leeds
Anyone who has been following the UK MMA scene for any length of time at all will no doubt have come across the name Danny ‘Cheesecake’ Mitchell. The UFC vet, Combat Base BJJ black belt and highly regarded professional fighter has been making waves internationally at the highest level for years. He is a multiple time European and British champion in MMA, and was twice crowned the Prizefighter UK boxing champion before retiring to concentrate on coaching at his gym AVT MMA.
Having recently relocated into what can only be called a super gym, the facility at AVT MMA is second to none in terms of space and equipment. This is put to great use by Danny as the timetable there is both extensive and varied. Elite fighters and athletes from a whole range of combat sports regularly drop by to train in order to take advantage of this.
AVT MMA also has a truly exceptional roster of UK coaches across a multitude of different disciplines. With it’s repeated successes at the highest level of international competition, it is an easy gym for me to recommend!! Check their website out today at www.avt-mma.com.gridhosted.co.uk to see for yourself why I have included this in my 10 of the best UK MMA Gyms to visit in 2019 list and for further information on all their training, private lessons and how to contact them to arrange a visit!
SBG – Various UK Locations
SBG is quite unique on this list for more than a few reasons. One of the primary ones is that it is not just one gym or one location. The SBG motto of ‘One Tribe, One Vibe’ succinctly explains their ethos of strength in unity, having elite coaches running their own gyms all over the country (and world in the wider sense) but still working closely together in everything for the benefit of all. The original SBG gym is of course SBG Manchester (alternatively known as SBG Mainline) and was founded/opened by the legendary MMA coach Karl Tanswell.
Karl was one of the original trailblazers on the UK MMA scene and was both highly regarded and actively involved before his untimely passing in 2018. Most gyms would have ended with that kind of a tragic occurrence. Not SBG. Matt Inman has since successfully taken over the reins of SBG Manchester and alongside fellow SBG coaches (including the likes of Alex Enlund, Martin Stapleton, Casey Jones, Glyn Powditch, Jason Tan and Chris Coltrane), SBG UK has gone from strength to strength.
Obviously, each facility has its own strengths, as do each of it’s main instructors. I am fortunate to have spent time with most of the SBG UK coaches and can categorically state that no matter which SBG you train out of, the instruction is consistently very strong. SBG keeps its standards exceedingly high in every respect and like I said above, when you train at or join SBG, you access the equivalent of an MMA hive!! Check their website out today at www.straightblastgymuk.com to see for yourself why I have included this in my 10 of the best UK MMA Gyms to visit in 2019 list and for further information on all their locations, training, private lessons and how to contact them to arrange a visit!
Higher Level MMA – West Lothian
Higher Level MMA in Scotland has at it’s helm one of the hardest working coaches in all of Mixed Martial Arts. James Doolan, owner and founder, has taken 3 fighters to the UFC, as well as to multiple world, european and domestic titles over the years. The BJJ black belt and former MMA champion coaches all the disciplines at the gym and is the key figure in it’s place as Scotland’s Number 1 MMA Team.
James’s highly cerebral approach to coaching sessions, training fighters and running fight camps ensures that the standard of athletes bearing his gym’s stamp are all consistently high. His tight knit team of instructors now have a truly phenomenal gym to coach out of, as they have recently moved into a 4,500 square foot purpose built training facility. It’s great timetable is bolstered by a hugely packed mat stacked with the cream of the crop of Scottish talent on a daily basis.
I am lucky to have been up to Higher Level MMA on a number of occasions over the years and know first hand just how fantastic both James and the gym is!! Check their website out today at www.higherlevelmma.com to see for yourself why I have included this in my 10 of the best UK MMA Gyms to visit in 2019 list and for further information on all their training, private lessons and how to contact them to arrange a visit!
HAMMA – St Helens
Liverpool has a long history of producing great fighters across all combat sports. As such, there are a ton of awesome gyms scattered about throughout the city and it’s surrounding areas. One that stands out amongst all these though is the Huyton based gym HAMMA and it’s founder/owner Sean Martin. I have known Sean for many years and his enthusiasm for MMA is only matched by his unparalleled ability in producing great young fighters.
A lot of gyms are sometimes known for developing athletes that have relocated to them after already having gained success elsewhere. HAMMA and it’s in-house Youth Academy however buck that trend entirely and have developed consistently successful amateur young fighters time and time again. Like any youngster though, these individuals grow up. As such, they are currently enjoying riding on the back of this commitment to coaching juniors as they have a ridiculous amount of fighters active both nationally and internationally on a weekly basis.
Sean is an exceptional coach and his facility in St Helens is excellent. Couple this with a mat full of young killers and you have the perfect recipe for success! Check their website out today at www.hammagym.co.uk to see for yourself why I have included this in my 10 of the best UK MMA Gyms to visit in 2019 list and for further information on all their training, private lessons and how to contact them to arrange a visit!
Titan Fighter – London
Ok, I have to own up to the fact that Titan Fighter Gym would make this list just for having the outstanding UFC legend that is Brad Pickett as one of the main coaches. Thankfully, so I can justify its presence even more, it is without doubt a hugely successful and solid gym on its own merits. Head Coach Mickey Papas has an extensive background in both striking and grappling, putting both to great use when he originally founded the gym back in 2004.
With connections to the renowned American Top Team, this gym sees its mats regularly stacked with talent from across all the major MMA promotions including that of the UFC, Bellator, BAMMA and Cage Warriors. Athletes based at this gym (or visiting) have access to some of the best wrestling/grappling for MMA in the UK today.
A great gym with fantastic pro team scheduled sessions pretty much daily, this gym should definitely be on your list to visit if you want access to killer training with exceptionally talented athletes. Check their website out today at www.titanfighter.com to see for yourself why I have included this in my 10 of the best MMA Gyms to visit in 2019 list and for further information on all their training, private lessons and how to contact them to arrange a visit!
Next Generation MMA – Liverpool
I have had the distinct pleasure of having been over to the Liverpool centre based Next Gen MMA a good few times now over the past 4 years. Paul Rimmer, BJJ black belt and head coach/founder of this highly regarded gym has a consistent history of producing elite level fighters time and time again. The likes of Cage Warriors standout Paddy Pimblett and UFC fighters Chris Fishgold and Molly McCann have all found their home here.
Hugely popular with every level of student from novice to world level, this gym manages to fulfil the needs of everyone that is fortunate to train here. Known for it’s exceptional jiu jitsu, it is not uncommon to see the Next Gen name atop any of the national level grappling comps for highest achieving team. Paul has managed to create a gym that not only does everyone love but manages to ensure everyone fulfils their potential no matter what background they come from.
Over the past 18 months Next Gen have moved into a much bigger, better equipped facility to train out of. They had great looking academy before but now they really do have a truly outstanding gym to call their own. Couple this with their phenomenal coaches and high level athletes, and you have the perfect recipe for ongoing success!! Check their website out today at www.nextgenerationmma.co.uk to see for yourself why I have included this in my 10 of the best UK MMA Gyms to visit in 2019 list and for further information on all their training, private lessons and how to contact them to arrange a visit!
London Shootfighters – London
London Shootfighters is a gym pretty synonymous with the rise in popularity of MMA within the UK. The gym (in different locations) has been around for years and has cemented itself as one of the consistently brilliant places to train at within the London area. It is hard to pick out individual coaches when you have a team as comprehensively talented as the Shoot crew, including the likes of Marios Demetriades, Alexis Demetriades, Michael Page, Ashraf Uddin, Alfie Davis and many more.
Currently continuing to make waves in world level MMA, Bellator in particular, this gym is well known for it’s high level striking and wrestling. Athletes based here talk about the high intensity of their fight camps, arduous sparring sessions and second to none talent pool of partners to train with. Fighters and athletes from across the world regularly make a beeline for London Shootfighters when they are in town, which in itself is a testimony to its standing within the global MMA community.
Another gym that has recently changed locations into a much bigger and more modern facility. Alongside this positive move, the timetable is huge, varied and stacked with high level instructors from their existing fight team. What more could you ask for!!! Check their website out today at www.londonshootfighters.com to see for yourself why I have included this in my 10 of the best UK MMA Gyms to visit in 2019 list and for further information on all their training, private lessons and how to contact them to arrange a visit!
Team Kaobon – Liverpool
Team Kaobon was one of the first UK based gyms to send fighters to the world’s largest MMA promotion, the UFC. This tradition has not changed and you can still elite fighters such as Darren Till and Mike Grundy flying the flag on there to this day. A gym with a crazy amount of talent both in it’s fight team and it’s coaching staff, expectations are always high when anyone walks onto a competitive arena bearing head instructor and founder Colin Heron’s stamp.
Colin’s original background was firmly in Muay Thai and he had huge success in this discipline before expanding out into MMA, Luta Livre, Wrestling and BJJ. There has always been an air of mystery about Team Kaobon as it’s closed door sessions for it’s fight team have drawn a lot of curiosity over the years from those unsure as to the recipe for it’s consistent excellence. No matter what you attribute it to, it cannot be argued that Colin has not done an exceptional job in making his gym one of the best in the UK for Mixed Martial Arts. Nowadays he also has a whole host of great affiliated gyms also flying under the Kaobon banner, including the likes of the massive Kaobon Wigan (owned and ran by Wrestling standout Mike Grundy).
Possibly the original super gym, the facility at Kaobon is second to none, with it’s extensive training area, ring, cage and onsite visiting fighter accommodation, you could not really ask nor want for more! Check their website out today at www.kaobon.com to see for yourself why I have included this in my 10 of the best UK MMA Gyms to visit in 2019 list and for further information on all their training, private lessons and how to contact them to arrange a visit!
Tillery Combat MMA – Blaina
I have to admit, Tillery Combat MMA is one of only two gyms featured on this list that I have not personally ever visited. That is something I want to change as soon as possible though as their continued success at producing top quality talent across both MMA and BJJ is not something you can ignore.
Head instructor and founder Richard Shore has now managed to get two of his fighters into the UFC, Jack Marshman and son Jack Shore. This alongside having elite BJJ athletes such as Ashley Amos under his club, has ensured his gym standout amongst a number of high level Welsh gyms. A success story built on the foundations of hard work, exceptional coaching and phenomenal leadership, I for one am excited as to see who else this fantastic gym is going to produce next!
Although it may not be the largest gym on this list, what it lacks for in size, it makes up for in talent. Great open mat space filled with a selection of awesome athletes to train with, you are definitely not going to want for in that department here!! Check their Facebook page out today at Tillery Combat MMA to see for yourself why I have included this in my 10 of the best UK MMA Gyms to visit in 2019 list and for further information on all their training, private lessons and how to contact them to arrange a visit!
Renegade Jiu Jitsu & MMA – Birmingham
The second location on this list that I have not visited yet but that is not for want of trying. The gods of fate have been playing against me so far on the organising of this trip but I will get there soon! I have to!! Whilst some of the gyms on this list have been known for a long time, Renegade by comparison seems to have come on to the radar all of a sudden. It has come about though because of it’s combination of exceptional coaches, phenomenal fighters and it’s filling of a real need for a brilliant location in the midlands. In this sense, it ticks all those boxes.
The hugely experienced BJJ black belt Chiu Kwong Man and current UFC fighter Tom Breese lead a great team of instructors, and between them have attracted a who’s who of the best talent based within that area. Standout fighters including the likes of Fabian Edwards, Leon Edwards and Yannick Bahati now all call this place home. It feels like exciting times within this mix of individuals, Team Renegade are definitely looking to continue making waves globally in the world of MMA.
A great looking gym with an excellent timetable filled with brilliant instructors, all hugely experienced in what they do. Couple this with an assortment of the best UK talent dotted across the training sessions and what more could you ask for?! Check their website out today at www.teamrenegadebjj.com to see for yourself why I have included this in my 10 of the best UK MMA Gyms to visit in 2019 list and for further information on all their training, private lessons and how to contact them to arrange a visit!
It was actually pretty hard not to make this list containing my thoughts on 10 of the best UK MMA Gyms to visit bigger as there were a good few others that could have easily been on it! What do you think of these gyms? Are there any others that you think I should have included???
If you enjoy this article then you may well love 10 of the Best UK Muay Thai Gyms you should be visiting in 2018 or 10 of the Best Dutch Kickboxing Gyms you should visit in 2018 as already featured on this site.
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