A group of fighters including UFC mainstays Ryan Bader, Aaron Simpson, and C.B. Dollaway will open a new gym later this year in Arizona, hoping to bring in more top competitors to work with.
Previously training at Arizona Combat Sports, the group of fighters saw an opportunity to pursue a dream that many mixed martial artists have and that is to open a gym of their own.
Along with Washington Wizards’ guard Mike Miller, the group is currently working on a facility opening later this year that will be the home to their training, and hopefully more top fighters in the sport as well.
“Bader and I and C.B. and our manager, we’re all kind of working on opening a top notch facility out here,” said Aaron Simpson when speaking with MMAWeekly Radio. “A state of the art facility that really hasn’t been done before, especially in Arizona.”
The key to opening the gym, according to Simpson, was the relationship that the fighters have formed over the years between fighting and their roots as wrestlers at Arizona State University. At the end of the day, they see the new gym as a great venture, and everybody sees the benefit in that.
“We’re all close enough, and there’s no egos or anything, there’s not going to be any issues with something like that,” said Simpson. “We’re just excited to have a place that we call home, and get everything in one spot. From strength training to physical therapy to actual boxing, wrestling, jiu-jitsu, everything we can do right in one spot.”
The gym will also focus on kids programs, as well as a kids wrestling team to help further their grappling roots in the community. It’s been no secret that college and high school wrestling programs have suffered under the weight of financial strain lately. Simpson and the other members of their team hope to rebuild the sport that helped them get their start.
Other fighters have already begun flocking to Arizona to work with the new team. Robbie Lawler spent his camp preparing for Renato “Babalu” Sobral in Arizona, and other fighters like Jesse Forbes, and NCAA wrestling champion Eric Larkin have also been training with them.
The move has been the stuff dreams are made of, but Simpson makes sure to give credit to the Lally brothers at Arizona Combat Sports for what they did to get them to this point, but now it’s time for the students to become the teachers.
“Nothing to take away what we had at Arizona Combat Sports, but we just had an opportunity to do this, and it’s something in the future we can hope to grow, and really obviously make it one of the top gyms in the world,” Simpson stated.
The team worked with Lawler and Simpson for their upcoming fights. Teammate Ryan Bader has been recovering from hand surgery, but hopes to return later this summer or early this fall. MMAWeekly.com will have more information about the new gym opening when it becomes available.