If you have a strong interest in mixed martial arts and aspire to enhance your abilities, you may be curious about where to seek training. MMA is not solely focused on individual performance but also emphasizes team collaboration. You need to learn from the best coaches and train with the best fighters in order to sharpen your iron.
Thankfully, a multitude of MMA schools worldwide provide exceptional training and superb amenities for individuals aspiring to become or currently working as fighters. These gyms are capable of aiding you in accomplishing your objectives, regardless of whether you aim to participate in UFC or Bellator or simply wish to enhance your physical fitness and martial arts capabilities.
This article will introduce you to the most elite MMA training centers across the globe, chosen for their prestige, past accomplishments, exceptional trainers and athletes, and outstanding amenities. We will also tell you what makes them stand out from the rest and why you should consider training there.
1. American Kickboxing Academy (AKA)
Located in San Jose, California, AKA is one of the most successful MMA schools. Founded by Javier Mendez in 1985 as a kickboxing gym, AKA has evolved into a powerhouse of MMA, producing several UFC champions and contenders.
This MMA center provides courses in boxing, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, grappling, kickboxing, and Muay Thai for novices, informal combatants, and expert contenders. The facility is 27,000 square feet and features boxing rings, a hybrid cage room, over 50 heavy bags, and extensive strength and conditioning equipment.
Some of the current or former notable MMA fighters who train or have trained at AKA include:
Daniel Cormier: former UFC heavyweight and light heavyweight champion
- Khabib Nurmagomedov, a legendary MMA fighter, and former UFC lightweight champion, who is widely regarded as one of the greatest fighters in the sport’s history.
- Cain Velasquez: former UFC heavyweight champion
- Luke Rockhold: former UFC middleweight champion
- Josh Thomson: former Strikeforce lightweight champion
- Jon Fitch: former UFC welterweight title challenger
- Islam Makhachev: top UFC lightweight contender
- Umar Nurmagomedov: rising UFC bantamweight prospect
AKA is known for its intense and hard sparring sessions, which prepare its fighters for real combat situations. However, it is also known for its family-like bond among its members, who support each other through thick and thin.
2. American Top Team (ATT)
Another one of the top MMA schools in the world is American Top Team (ATT), which was founded by Dan Lambert in 2001. The team is so accomplished and famous that in addition to its home gym in Coconut Creek Florida, ATT has facilities in Atlanta, Indianapolis, Portland, Orlando, among many other cities.
Throughout its history, ATT has been the go-to destination for numerous global champions across different leagues, such as the UFC, and remains a highly sought-after training facility, attracting fighters from all corners of the globe. ATT provides classes for different levels of expertise in various forms of martial arts, such as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, wrestling, boxing, Muay Thai, judo, and MMA.
Some of the most elite MMA fighters who train or have trained out of ATT include:
- Amanda Nunes: current UFC women’s bantamweight and featherweight champion
- Dustin Poirier: current UFC interim lightweight champion
- Jorge Masvidal: current UFC BMF title holder
- Tyron Woodley: former UFC welterweight champion
- Robbie Lawler: former UFC welterweight champion
- Junior dos Santos: former UFC heavyweight champion
- Joanna Jedrzejczyk: former UFC women’s strawweight champion
- Colby Covington: former UFC interim welterweight champion
- Yoel Romero: multiple-time UFC middleweight title challenger
The school is famous for its diverse and well-rounded coaching staff, which includes former fighters and experts in various martial arts disciplines:
- Mike Brown: former WEC featherweight champion and head MMA coach
- Ricardo Liborio: co-founder of ATT and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt
- Conan Silveira: co-founder of ATT and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt
- Steve Mocco: former Olympic wrestler and wrestling coach
- Phil Daru: strength and conditioning coach
- Din Thomas: former UFC fighter and striking coach
- Katel Kubis: Muay Thai coach
ATT offers a competitive and friendly atmosphere, where fighters challenge each other to improve, but also respect each other as teammates.
3. Jackson Wink MMA Academy
Out of Albuquerque, New Mexico, comes the Jackson Wink MMA Academy, one of the best MMA schools in the world, with a long history of producing champions and contenders. Founded by Greg Jackson and Mike Winkeljohn in 2007, Jackson Wink MMA Academy is a merger of two successful gyms: Jackson’s Submission Fighting and Winkeljohn’s Kickboxing.
The Academy provides courses in a range of fighting disciplines, catering to both novice and advanced-level practitioners. These include BJJ, wrestling, boxing, kickboxing, Muay Thai, and MMA.
The establishment measures 30,000 square feet and comprises two enclosures, two areas with mats, a boxing enclosure, a room with exercise machines, an area for cardiovascular workouts, and a living area for competitors.
It has been one of the best stables of MMA champions and top UFC fighters for decades:
- Jon Jones: current UFC light heavyweight champion and one of the greatest MMA fighters of all time
- Holly Holm: former UFC women’s bantamweight champion
- Carlos Condit: former UFC interim welterweight champion
- Michelle Waterson: top UFC women’s strawweight contender
- Diego Sanchez: former UFC title challenger and The Ultimate Fighter winner
- Donald Cerrone: multiple-time UFC title challenger
- Alistair Overeem: former Strikeforce heavyweight champion
- Andrei Arlovski: former UFC heavyweight champion
They have an innovative and strategic approach to MMA, which combines various martial arts techniques and tactics to create a unique style. Greg Jackson, the co-founder and head MMA coach, is widely regarded as one of the best MMA coaches in history, with a reputation for developing game plans that exploit the weaknesses of his fighters’ opponents. Mike Winkeljohn, the co-founder and head striking coach, is also a highly respected coach who has trained some of the best strikers in MMA.
4. Kings MMA
Kings MMA has its base in Huntington Beach, California, and is considered among the top-notch MMA training centers with an emphasis on the art(s) of striking. Founded by Rafael Cordeiro in 2010, Kings MMA is a branch of Chute Boxe Academy, which was one of the most dominant and influential gyms in MMA history.
Kings MMA has a facility is 8,000 square feet and features a boxing ring, a cage, a mat area, and a weight room. Practitioners of all levels and interests in combat sports are welcome.
Fighters training out of this gym that you’ve probably heard of include:
- Rafael dos Anjos: former UFC lightweight champion
- Kelvin Gastelum: former UFC middleweight title challenger
- Beneil Dariush: top UFC lightweight contender
- Lyoto Machida: former UFC light heavyweight champion
- Wanderlei Silva: former PRIDE middleweight champion
- Mauricio Rua: former UFC light heavyweight champion
- Cris Cyborg: former UFC women’s featherweight champion
Kings MMA is well-known for its active and bold striking techniques, blending characteristics from various martial arts styles such as Muay Thai, kickboxing, boxing, and karate.
Rafael Cordeiro has established himself as an iconic mentor having honed the skills of numerous outstanding strikers throughout the history of MMA.
Cordeiro has a history of fighting in Muay Thai and MMA, having participated in several competitions such as PRIDE and K-1.
5. Sanford MMA
Located in Deerfield Beach, Florida, Sanford MMA comes with a modern, balanced, and comprehensive approach to MMA. Founded by Henri Hooft and Greg Jones in 2019, Sanford MMA is a partnership between two successful gyms: Hard Knocks 365 and Combat Club.
Located within a 32,000 square foot space, this gym boasts an array of different amenities, including two areas equipped with cages, two spaces devoted to training on mats, a professional boxing ring, a room for weightlifting, a designated area for cardio exercises, and even a facility for recovery purposes.
Some of the notable fighters who are a part of Sanford MMA include:
- Kamaru Usman: current UFC welterweight champion
- Gilbert Burns: current UFC welterweight title challenger
- Michael Chandler: current UFC lightweight title challenger
- Robbie Lawler: former UFC welterweight champion
- Anthony Johnson: former UFC light heavyweight title challenger
- Aung La N Sang: current ONE Championship middleweight and light heavyweight champion
- Martin Nguyen: current ONE Championship featherweight champion
- Vicente Luque: top UFC welterweight contender
Sanford MMA is known for its well-rounded and versatile style, which combines high-level striking and grappling skills. Henri Hooft, the co-founder and head striking coach, is a renowned coach who has trained some of the best strikers in MMA history. He is also a former kickboxing champion who has competed in various organizations, including K-1 and It’s Showtime.
Greg Jones, the co-founder and head wrestling coach, is a legendary coach who has trained some of the best wrestlers in MMA history. Jones, a distinguished wrestling athlete, formerly achieved three national championship titles in NCAA Division I.
6. Alliance MMA
Out of San Diego, California, Alliance MMA is a gym balancing wrestling and striking. Founded by Brandon Vera and Eric del Fierro in 2007, Alliance MMA is a collaboration of several MMA schools and coaches in the San Diego area.
Their facilities are 12,000 square feet and feature a cage room, a mat room, a boxing ring, a weight room, and a cardio room, open for use to all members.
Some of the current or former notable MMA fighters who train or have trained at Alliance MMA include:
- Dominick Cruz: former UFC bantamweight champion
- Phil Davis: former Bellator light heavyweight champion
- Alexander Gustafsson: former UFC light heavyweight title challenger
- Jeremy Stephens: top UFC featherweight contender
- Ross Pearson: former UFC fighter and The Ultimate Fighter winner
- Myles Jury: top Bellator featherweight contender
- Angela Hill: top UFC women’s strawweight contender
- Jessica Penne: former UFC women’s strawweight title challenger
Eric del Fierro, the co-founder and head coach, is a respected coach who has trained some of the best fighters in MMA history. Del Fierro is also a former wrestler and boxer who has competed in various tournaments. Brandon Vera, the co-founder, and fighter, is a former UFC fighter and current ONE Championship heavyweight champion.
7. Tiger Muay Thai
Located in Phuket, Thailand, Tiger Muay Thai is a prominent MMA gym in Asia that specializes in Muay Thai and other forms of striking arts. Established by William McNamara in 2004, the gym attracts martial artists and fighters worldwide seeking genuine Thai training and culture.
At Tiger Muay Thai, you can find an extensive range of classes, including Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, wrestling, boxing, kickboxing, MMA, yoga, fitness, and an assortment of others. The venue spans across 8 acres and comprises numerous sections to facilitate training such as a cage enclosure, a boxing arena, a gym fitted with weights, a cardio room, a swimming pool, a sauna, a dining establishment, and lodging amenities.
Some of the fighters calling Tiger Muay Thai home include:
- Valentina Shevchenko: current UFC women’s flyweight champion
- Petr Yan: current UFC bantamweight champion
- Dan Hardy: former UFC welterweight title challenger
- Brian Ebersole: former UFC fighter
- Roger Huerta: former UFC fighter
- Alex Volkanovski: current UFC featherweight champion
- Israel Adesanya: current UFC middleweight champion
Tiger Muay Thai is known for its authentic and traditional Muay Thai style, which incorporates elements of clinching, elbows, knees, and kicks. Tiger Muay Thai has a team of experienced and qualified Muay Thai trainers, many of whom are former champions and fighters. Tiger Muay Thai also has a team of MMA coaches, who specialize in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, wrestling, boxing, and kickboxing.
Tiger Muay Thai is very popular for its tropical and relaxing environment, where fighters can train hard and enjoy the beauty of Thailand. Tiger Muay Thai offers various activities and services for its guests, such as sightseeing tours, beach trips, massage sessions, nutrition plans, and more.
8. Team Alpha Male
Representing Sacramento, California, Team Alpha Male is a predominantly grappling-focused MMA school founded by Urijah Faber in 2004. Team Alpha Male is a team of fighters who share a common bond of being smaller in size but big in heart.
They have a state-of-the-art facility is 20,000 square feet and features a cage room, a mat room, a boxing ring, a weight room, a cardio room, and a recovery center.
The stables of Team Alpha Male contain some of these legendary small-sized monsters:
- Urijah Faber: former WEC featherweight champion and UFC Hall of Famer
- Cody Garbrandt: former UFC bantamweight champion
- TJ Dillashaw: former UFC bantamweight champion
- Chad Mendes: former UFC featherweight title challenger
- Joseph Benavidez: former UFC flyweight title challenger
- Paige VanZant: former UFC fighter
- Andre Fili: top UFC featherweight contender
- Song Yadong: top UFC bantamweight contender
Team Alpha Male is known for its wrestling and grappling style, which emphasizes takedowns, transitions, submissions, and ground-and-pound. The main coaches are:
- Urijah Faber: founder and head MMA coach
- Danny Castillo: wrestling coach
- Chris Holdsworth: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu coach
- Joey Rodriguez: boxing coach
- Master Thong: Muay Thai coach
Team Alpha Male is also known for its loyal and fun culture, where fighters train hard and have a good time.
9. Black House MMA
From Los Angeles, California, Black House MMA is one of the most modern MMA schools focusing on striking and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Founded by Ed Soares and Jorge Guimaraes in 2006, Black House MMA is a private gym that caters to elite fighters and celebrities.
The luxury facility is 10,000 square feet and features a cage room, a mat room, a boxing ring, a weight room, a cardio room, and a lounge area.
Some celebrities you can find on the mats in Black House MMA are:
- Anderson Silva, an ex-champion in the middleweight division of UFC and a legend among the MMA fighters
- Lyoto Machida: former UFC light heavyweight champion
- Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira: former UFC interim heavyweight champion
- Antonio Rogerio Nogueira: former UFC light heavyweight contender
- Jose Aldo: former UFC featherweight champion
- Glover Teixeira: current UFC light heavyweight title challenger
- Ronaldo Souza: former Strikeforce middleweight champion
- Fabricio Werdum: former UFC champion at heavyweight
Black House MMA has a team of experienced and respected coaches, who have trained some of the best fighters in MMA history:
- Ed Soares: co-founder and manager
- Jorge Guimaraes: co-founder and manager
- Rafael Cordeiro: striking coach
- Kenny Johnson: wrestling coach
- Ricardo De La Riva: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu coach
- Pedro Rizzo: Muay Thai coach
The gym is not open to the public, but only to selected fighters and guests who are invited by the owners or the coaches. Black House MMA is a place where professional, top-level fighters can focus on their MMA training.
10. Cesar Gracie Jiu-Jitsu
Finally, we have Cesar Gracie Jiu-Jitsu out of California, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and grappling gym with a keenness for boxing. Founded by Cesar Gracie in 1994, Cesar Gracie Jiu-Jitsu is a branch of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, which is one of the most influential and prestigious martial arts schools in history.
Cesar Gracie Jiu-Jitsu offers classes in all combat sports, in a facility that is 5,000 square feet and features a mat room, a cage room, a boxing ring, a weight room, and a cardio room.
Some of the most popular faces that strut around the mats here are:
- Nick Diaz: former Strikeforce welterweight champion
- Nate Diaz: former UFC lightweight title challenger
- Gilbert Melendez: former Strikeforce lightweight champion
- Jake Shields: former Strikeforce middleweight champion
- David Terrell: former UFC middleweight title challenger
These are just some of the best MMA schools in the world that you can train at if you want to become a champion or just improve your martial arts skills. A lot of other great MMA schools and schools around the world also offer quality training and facilities for fighters and martial artists of all levels.
If you have a keen interest in obtaining top-notch training in MMA, then visiting the gym’s website or reaching out to them for more details on their courses, timings, costs, and prerequisites would be an excellent way to begin.