As MMA has become big business, so have the gyms that produce the fighters who perform at all levels of the sport. And while a good pro team can help a gym grow, sometimes that growth can come at the cost of the team itself.
It is with that issue in mind that some of Colorado’s top fighters such as Cat Zingano, Brandon Thatch, and Nate Marquardt recently joined with The Ultimate Fighter 16 Team Carwin coach Leister Bowling to form the Elevation Fight Team.
“First of all, it’s not a gym, it’s a team,” said Bowling. “The difference is someone’s representing a gym; they’re representing someone’s business.
“The thought process behind this is that these guys are professional MMA fighters. Nate Marquardt should be in the Nate Marquardt business, not trying to help build somebody else’s gym. So a lot of the guys were looking for a new team that was more focused on the fighters and asked me if I’d be the head coach and start the team.”
Training out of the MusclePharm and Easton Training Centers, the Elevation Fight Team allows fighters to still be involved with their current gyms, but gives them a haven to focus on their own development without having the hassles of business affect their training.
“There are a lot of good guys in Denver, but because of gym politics, not all the best guys are necessarily training together,” Bowling told MMAWeekly.com. “This way they can still represent a gym all they want and still be part of this team.
“MusclePharm is a 100-percent private only gym. If you don’t have an invite, you can’t train there. So you don’t have to worry about a cardio kickboxing class going on while you’re trying to train for a UFC fight.”
Having been a head coach for individual fighters, running a whole team is a different experience for Bowling, but he tries to keep the same mentality when applying his coaching technique to a larger group.
“It’s definitely more time consuming, for sure,” he said. “I was head coach for Brendon Schaub, Nate and Cat before, but a whole team, I’m just trying to keep it structured. I come from a wrestling background, so I understand how you have to run a team based on individual performances.”
With an emphasis on the fighters, Bowling is confident that Elevation – with its coaching staff of Eliot Marshall, Mauricio Zingano, Mark Beecher, Christian Allen, Loren Landow and Eric Telly – will produce great performances out of its athletes in the coming years.
“It’s a fighters-first team and we really emphasize that,” he said. “I’m fortunate enough to have a lot of guys who believe in me enough to be their coach, and we have a great team of guys whose results will speak for themselves.”