"Gym Chemistry" In MMA

Promoted To Frontpage From Fanpost Section By Kelvin Hunt

What is "Gym Chemistry" and why is it important? In Bill Simmons' "The Book of Basketball", Simmons goes in depth about team chemistry in basketball and how the right chemistry effects a talented team. Simmons uses the '89 Pistons as an example of good team chemistry:

"Team chemistry was off for the '89 Pistons, it had nothing to do with talent." Chuck Daely needed to give Dennis Rodman more playing time, only Andrian Dantley wasn't willing to accommodate him. And that was a problem"..."They quickly swapped Dantley for Aguirre, a similar player that wouldn't start trouble."

Now why am I bringing up basketball on an MMA blog? Because "gym chemistry" effects the way fighters progress. Gym chemistry greatly effects the way fighters preform, quick name 5 of Fedor's training partners. You can't can you? Arguably Fedor is the best fighter on the planet and he is not training with "world class athletes". So how and why has he become so great? There are many reasons why Fedor is great and I believe good gym chemistry is one of those reasons. He surrounds himself with "role-players," training partners that know what there role is. They know not to go to hard when sparring, they know not to overwork and overtrain Fedor. They communicate well with each other and they all know how to get the most potential out of each other.

Why do so many fighters flock to Greg Jackson? They don't do anything different than other major camps. Every fighter that has trained at Jackson's Submission Academy for a long period of time always says there is a sense of comradery.(Besides Diego Sanchez. We will get to him later.) Everyone that trains at Jackson's is part of the Jackson family.  At Jackson's there is perfect gym chemistry. Having good gym chemistry allows the fighters that train their to maximize their potential. How else to you explain Keith Jardine? Without Jackson does Jardine maximise his potential? I don't think so. It was clear 5 years ago Rashad Evans had talent, but without Jackson does he become the UFC Light heavyweight champion?

The '89 Pistons had an obsticle to climb before they could reach good team chemistry, same as the Jackson camp. The '89 Piston's obsticle was Andrian Dantley, Jackson's Submission Fighting was Diego Sanchez. When GSP started training with Jackson in 2006 Sanchez felt slighted. He said in an interview with MMA Mania

Jesse Holland ( He’s now with Greg Jackson and you’re not. Based on what you’ve said thus far I’ll assume that’s more than just a coincidence?

Diego Sanchez:I have so much respect for the Jackson camp. Keith Jardine, Nate Marquardt, all those guys, they’re still my boys. My loyalty was very strong. But GSP could have gone to any camp he wanted. He knew that place was my home, my dream. That took a little something out of my heart. He’s training in the cage that I bled in, that I sweat in and cried in.

Jesse Holland ( Did you feel pushed aside when he arrived?

Diego Sanchez:Put yourself there for a minute. You’re an undefeated fighter coming off two of the biggest wins of your career (Parisyan/Riggs). Now they’re bringing in the champion of your weight class to train with your guys? For three months I was telling Greg that my heart wasn’t feeling it. Greg kept telling me "Trust me, trust me, you guys are going to make each other the best" but I kept feeling like their true intentions were to make me go down to 155. I mean most of the Jackson fighters cut a lot of weight and that’s not me. I wasn’t going to do it. I wasn’t bowing down to Georges St. Pierre. I ain’t riding nobody’s coattails. I’m Diego Sanchez and just because I had two decision losses - one while I was sick and one controversial to a top five welterweight - does not mean that I’m gonna give up on my dream, my dream to be welterweight champion. Maybe me and GSP will throw down in Albuquerque somewhere in the future. Dana told me there is going to be a show in Albuquerque. I don’t want to fight him unless it’s for the title. I want him for five rounds.

With Sanchez unwilling to listen to Jackson (like Dantley  wouldn't listen to Daley with the Pistons) both men went their separate ways. Sanchez wanted playing time so badly he left his team to go play minutes for another team. Greg Jackson's record in the UFC before Diego left: 17-7-1 zero UFC champions. After: 31-17-0 two UFC champions.

In Simmon's book he also describes what he calls the "disease of more":

"A team wins it one year and the next year every player wants more minutes, more money, more shots. And it kills them."

With the success of Pat Miletich achived in the UFC put Bettendorf, Iowa on the map. Miletich Fighting Systems had many successful fighters such as Robbie Lawler, Tim Sylvia, Jeremy Horn, Jens Pulver, and Matt Hughes. Soon Miletich Fighting Systems caught the dreaded "disease of more." Horn left and opened up his own gym. Hughes and Lawler left and opened up their own gym. Pulver left to Matt Hume's gym. Only Sylvia stayed. With the continual splintering of MFS, it made it difficult for fighters to maximise their potential. When the entire team was together, they had good gym chemistry and increased the quality of the fighters that trained their.

Why has American Top Team not had great success in the UFC with it's extensive roster? It is a super team and yet all the team has to hang it's hat on is Mike Brown. My guess is that ATT does not have the correct gym chemistry. ATT has world class trainers, and world class athletes. So why is ATT not dominating MMA?

Why is Nova Uniao such a fantastic school? Of course the gym is loaded with talent, but that alone does not mean success. (See "Kid" Yamamoto) It is because everyone at the gym enjoys training with each other. They all have one goal and that is to make it big in the U.S. Therefore they want each other to get better and have success. They all are working towards the same goal. They don't treat every sparring session as a fight. (See Drew McFedries) Nova Uniao correctly prepares their fighters for obstacles they will encounter in the cage.

BJ Penn, Brock Lesner, Lyoto Machida, I could go on and on. It is no coincidence that all these great fighters come from great camps that have good team chemistry. This is a case for teammates not to fight each other. It would ruin the chemistry the camp has work so hard to build.  It is difficult for fans to measure gym chemistry.What happens when fighters don't get along? We have heard of "green lighting" at Extreme Couture. The interactions between fighters in training interests me. I believe it effects how much a fighter will progress in his or her carrer. Gym chemistry is a factor believe it or not. 

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