20 Best MMA Gyms/Teams in the World (Surprise Entries)

Are you wondering what the best MMA gyms in the world are?

In this article, we’ll look at the 20 best MMA gyms in the world and the reasons why they’re the best.

20 Best MMA Gyms in the World

Before we get into the list, we need to establish what makes the following MMA gyms the best in the world. The best MMA gyms make the list based on:

  • Number of UFC, Bellator, Pride, and other top MMA promotion champions
  • Depth of quality fighters
  • Quality of coaches (are they former fighters, what success have their students had?)
  • Size of the gym and facilities available

The list is in alphabetical order.

Alliance MMA

>Founded: 2007 by Brandon Vera
>Headquarters: San Diego, California, USA

Alliance MMA has been the home of many champions across the biggest MMA promotions: the UFC, One, Bellator, WEC, and Strikeforce. Originally founded by Brandon Vera, Alliance continued to produce results despite a change of ownership to Eric Del Fierro who’s also now the head coach.

Alliance’s current champion is KSW heavyweight champion, Phil De Fries, while they’ve been home to Alexander Gustaffson, Dominick Cruz (former UFC bantamweight champ), Frank Shamrock (former UFC light heavyweight champ), Michael Chandler, Jan Blachowicz (former UFC light heavyweight champ), and Phil Davis (former Bellator light heavyweight champion).

The best coaches at Alliance are and have been Brandon Vera, Eric Del Fierro, and Lloyd Irvin (former co-founder). Alliance MMA has expanded and has 3 gyms in the USA and one in Quezon City, Philippines. The gym in the Philippines is where they produce a lot of their talent to fight in One Championship.

American Kickboxing Academy (AKA)

>Founded: 1985 by Javier Mendez
>Headquarters: San Jose, California, USA

American Kickboxing Academy is one of the longest-serving MMA gyms, having been active for nearly 38 years since 1985. With all this experience, it’s easy to see how AKA has been a name at the forefront of MMA gyms.

AKA has had many of the most elite MMA fighters of all time training there, and in 2015, AKA had 3 fighters simultaneously holding UFC belts. They were Cain Velasquez (heavyweight), Daniel Cormier (heavyweight), and Luke Rockhold (middleweight).

AKA was also home to Khabib Nurmagomedov, Josh Thompson, Jon Fitch, Frank Shamrock, BJ Penn, and more recently, Islam Makhachev (UFC lightweight champion) and Usman Nurmagomedov (Bellator lightweight champion).

Much of the success of AKA is owed to head coach and founder, Javier Mendez, who’s known as one of the top kickboxing and MMA coaches in the sport. Other great coaches there include Book Cook, Daniel Cormier, and Rosendo Sanchez.

AKA is very successful and well-known for taking great wrestlers and turning them into elite-level strikers and therefore very well-rounded MMA fighters.

American Top Team (ATT)

>Founded: 2001 by Dan Lambert
>Headquarters: Coconut Creek, Florida

American Top Team is the most decorated MMA gym in the history of the sport. The gym has won the Gym of the Year award 6 years in a row, from 2016 to 2021.

ATT has world-renowned coaches such as Mike Brown (head coach), Conan Silveira, and Steve Mocco. With its success, ATT expanded outside of Florida and currently has 40 affiliate gyms or academies throughout the USA.

While some gyms opt for smaller rosters as a way to offer them more attention, ATT has a huge roster and has large groups of elite-level fighters learning, sparring, and improving with each other. Because of ATT’s large session training style, the gym’s great for lower-ranked fighters as they can learn from the best.

Despite ATT having a huge roster of fighters, every fighter is provided with an excellent and personalized strategy for an upcoming fight – owing to the hard work, dedication, and large roster of coaches there.

The list of great fighters to have trained at ATT for long periods is extensive, but some of the names include Amanda Nunes (UFC double champ), Joanna Jedrzejczyk (UFC strawweight champ), Dustin Poirier, Tyron Woodley (UFC strawweight champ), Will Brooks (Bellator lightweight champion), Daniel Strauss (Bellator featherweight champion), Kyoji Horiguchi (Rizin and Bellator champion), Kayla Harrison (PFL champion), Jorge Masvidal (BMF title winner), Colby Covington, and Yoel Romero.

AMC Pankration

>Founded: 1991 by Matt Hume
>Headquarters: Kirkland, Washington, USA

Long seen as one of the best in the game, AMC Pankration has been under the leadership of founder and head coach Matt Hume.

AMC is located on the 65-acre campus of the Woodinville Sports Club in Washington but is modest in size because Matt Hume prefers to keep his space and roster smaller so that he can keep his focus and attention on the fighters there.

This is most evident with Demetrious Johnson, one of the greatest MMA fighters of all time. Also finding success at AMC are Bibiano Fernandes (former One bantamweight champion), Josh Barnett (youngest ever UFC heavyweight champion), and Rich Franklin (former UFC middleweight champion).

Some of the best coaches at AMC Pankration are and have been Matt Hume (Bjj), Tony Sablan (submission wrestling), Gabe Walton (striking), and Manny Michels (striking).

Black House MMA

>Founded: 2006 by Ed Soares
>Headquarters: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and Los Angeles, California, USA

Black House MMA is another great MMA gym that started in Brazil and has expanded to the USA after major success. They opened in Los Angeles, California, Gardena, California, and Miami Beach, Florida. More gyms are expected in the future as they’ve started an affiliate program.

Black House MMA has had several champions under their tutelage. In the UFC they’ve had Anderson Silva, Junior Dos Santos, Lyoto Machida, and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. 

In strikeforce, they’ve had Ronaldo Souza and Rafael Cavalcante, in Bellator the Freire brothers and Alexander Volkov, and Barb Honchak became the first Invicta flyweight champion.

Not only champions, but they’ve also trained Brian Ortega, Pedro Rizzo, Uriah Hall, Kelvin Gastelum, Glover Teixeira (who became a future UFC champion), and many more due to Black House’s open-door policy to elite-level fighters.

The best coaches at Black House have been and are Eduardo Pamplona, Kenny Johnson, Rogerio Camoes, and Sylvio Behring.

Chute Boxe Academy (CBA)

>Founded: 1978 by Rudimar Fedrigo
>Headquarters: Curitiba, Parana, Brazil and Sierra Vista, Arizona, USA

Chute Boxe Academy had huge success from the 90s to 2007. Three fighters from the gym captured world titles in the International Value Tudo Championship (IVC), Wanderlei Silva, Rafael Cordeiro, and José Landi-Jons.

The gym then dominated Pride’s middleweight division (205 lbs), the biggest promotion until it became defunct in 2007. This included Wanderlei Silva, Shogun Rua, and Anderson Silva (who left in 2003).

Wanderlei enjoyed a 25-win streak that saw him become Pride middleweight champion and Pride’s 2003 Grand Prix champion, and Shogun Rua would go on to become the UFC light heavyweight champion (205 lbs).

Chute Boxe has more recently coached Charles Oliveira (former UFC lightweight champion) and Cris Cyborg (former UFC and current Bellator Champion).

Some of the best coaches there are and have been Jose Landi, Rudimar Fedrigo, Rafael Cordeiro, and the current head coach at Chute Boxe Brazil, Master Andre Quiles.

The success of the gym has seen it grow across Brazil and the USA to roughly 10+ affiliates.

City Kickboxing (CK)

>Founded: 2007 by Eugene Bareman and Doug Viney
>Headquarters: Auckland, New Zealand

Founded in 2007, City Kickboxing started to find its feet as an elite MMA gym in around 2018, with many top fighters training there and dominating the sport for the past half-decade. It’s the go-to for elite MMA fighters in New Zealand and Australia.

By 2022, City Kickboxing had 15+ UFC fighters there, such as Kai Kara-France, Brad Riddell, Dan Hooker, Carlos Ulberg, and the two dominant UFC champions, Israel Adesanya and Alexander Volkanovski.

Some of the best coaches there are the two founders plus Mike Angove and Carl van Roon.

A big part of the success at City Kickboxing is the unity and togetherness between a close-knit group of elite fighters and the coaches, massively helped by how everyone there is either Australian or New Zealander. Even the stars like Adesanya and Volkanovski support the fighters who are early in their career.

Elevation Fight Team

>Founded: 2013 by Christian Allen
>Headquarters: Denver, Colorado, USA

Elevation Fight Team has its roster training at 1 of 5 different gyms, all owned by different coaches on the team. They have High Altitude MMA, Pound 4 Pound Fitness, Easton’s MMA, Vital Strength & Fitness, and the main headquarters in Colorado, MusclePharm Gym courtesy of a 2015 partnership.

The MusclePharm Gym is just over 30,000 square feet in size and only caters to elite-level MMA fighters competing in the top promotions. It’s a state-of-the-art facility that is only bettered by the UFC Performance Institute which is on a whole other level.

Despite being one of the newer MMA gyms/teams, Elevation is attracting and developing stars such as Curtis Blaydes, Justin Gaethje, Drew Dober, Cory Sandhagen, Neil Magny, Mohammed Usman, T.J. Dillashaw (former two-time bantamweight UFC champion), Clay Guida, Alistair Overeem, and Matt Brown.

A lot of the success is due to the combination of experienced coaches such as Christian Allen (striking), Cody Donavon (Bjj/grappling), Leister Bowling (wrestling), Vinnie Lopez (striking), and Elliot Marshall (Bjj) – as well as the different skills and diversity having 5 gyms offers.

Fortis MMA

>Founded: 2017 by Sayif Saud
>Headquarters: Dallas, Texas, USA

Formerly working alongside Greg Jackson of Jackson-Wink MMA, Sayif Saud founded Fortis MMA just 5 years ago (2017) and has already attracted many big-name fighters and earned a strong reputation. 

The gym has currently taken at least 13 lesser-known fighters into the UFC through Dana White’s Contender Series – making Fortis MMA already the most successful DWCS team.

Fortis MMA has a 7,000 square feet gym with three floors and everything elite athletes need – it even has a kitchen, sauna, and two outdoor terraces.

Fortis has many top upcoming fighters in the UFC such as Alonzo Menifield, Diego Ferreira, Macy Chiasson, Ryan Spann, Geoff Neal, Damon Jackson, Abdul Alhassan, Alex Morono, and Kennedy Nzechukwu.

Some notable coaches there are Mike Scaccia (strength and conditioning), Sayif Saud (head coach), Zach Ryan (Bjj), Damon Jackson (wrestling), and Darius Yancy (striking).

Overall, Fortis MMA is one the youngest MMA gyms around but is outpacing many of its competitors and becoming a force to be reckoned with.

Jackson-Wink MMA

>Founded: 1992 by Greg Jackson and partnered with Mike Winkeljohn in 2007
>Headquarters: Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA

Before they entered a partnership, Greg Jackson won the 2009 MMA Gym of the Year award with his gym, Greg Jackson Fighting Systems. After joining forces in 2007, Jackson-Wink MMA won MMA Gym of the Year in 2015.

In this period between 2007 and 2015, Jackson-Wink MMA developed 4 UFC Champions, Jon Jones, Rashad Evans, Holly Holm, and Georges St-Pierre. 

They also had great fighters like John Dodson fight for the UFC flyweight title and Carlos Condit become the UFC welterweight interim champion and challenge GSP for the undisputed welterweight title.

Many fighters flocked to Jackson-Wink MMA as they gained a reputation for excellent game plans that saw many of their fighters winning by so-called ‘point fighting’. This is winning via decision by outstriking or controlling an opponent, and not going for submission or knockout finishes because they’re riskier.

This style of fighting is evident with fighters who’ve trained at Jackson-Wink MMA and had very long careers such as Clay Guida, Diego Sanchez, and Donald Cerrone. They fight intelligently and avoid firefights, making them less likely to get knocked out or absorb a lot of damage.

Kill Cliff MMA (Formerly Sanford MMA)

>Founded: 2017 by Henri Hooft and Greg Jones
>Headquarters: Deerfield Beach, Florida, USA

Formerly Sanford MMA, the gym has now rebranded to Kill Cliff MMA due to a sponsorship deal with Kill Cliff, a CBD and energy drinks company.

As of 2022, Kill Cliff MMA is one of the most popular gyms for top-level fighters, with over 80 professional fighters there. This includes Gilbert Burns, Robbie Lawler, Michael Chandler, Aung La Nsang (former One champion), Vicente Luque, Shavkat Rakhmanov, Rafael Fiziev, Derek Brunson, and Volkan Oezdemir.

Kill Cliff MMA also developed Kamaru Usman to his first UFC title win in 2019, before he left to join Trevor Wittman in 2020. The gym has also trained former UFC champions, Luke Rockhold and Vitor Belfort.

The best coaches at Kill Cliff MMA are Henri Hooft, Greg Jones, Jason Strout, Kami Barzini, and Corey Peacock – and they’re the main reason Kill Cliff MMA has risen to the top so fast since 2017.

Since 2020, fighters have been flocking to Kill Cliff MMA because of their brand new state-of-the-art 10,000 square-feet-gym.

Kings MMA

>Founded: 2010 by Rafael Cordeiro
>Headquarters: Huntingdon Beach, California, USA

Founder and head coach Rafael Cordeiro has won MMA Coach of the Year twice and Kings MMA has been nominated for the best gym but never quite won it.

Many fighters have had great success under the Kings MMA banner – Fabricio Werdum became the UFC heavyweight champion and Rafael Dos Anjos secured UFC lightweight gold.

Also fighting at Kings MMA have been Cris Cyborg, Lyoto Machida, Beneil Dariush, Raphael Assuncao, Marvin Vettori, Kelvin Gastelum, and Giga Chikadze – many former UFC champions and great fighters.

Some of the best coaches at Kings MMA have been and are Rafael Cordeiro, Ricardo Testai, Leo Mafra, and Dione Barbosa.

Miletich Fighting Systems (MFS)

>Founded: 1997 by Pat Miletich
>Headquarters: Bettendorf, Iowa, USA

Although defunct in 2008, Miletich Fighting Systems goes down as one of the best MMA gyms of all time because of what it achieved throughout the 2000s.

Founded by the inaugural welterweight UFC champion with 4 title defenses, Pat Miletich, MFS created several world champions in a short period of time.

This included Jens Pulver becoming the inaugural UFC lightweight champion, Dave Menne becoming the inaugural UFC middleweight champion, Tim Sylvia becoming UFC heavyweight champion, and Matt Hughes as the UFC welterweight champion.

Another success was Robbie Lawler becoming EliteXC middleweight champion, as well as many others for a total of 14 MMA world champions.

The success was attributed to Miletich’s coaching and how it was one of the first gyms to focus on cardio and conditioning, so as to never get tired during a fight and ultimately outlast opponents. It was also the earliest gym to bring so many elite-level fighters together to learn and hard spar together.

Nova União

>Founded: 1995 by André Pederneiras
>Headquarters: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Nova União is one the best MMA gyms in Brazil, with a reputation as one of the best places to advance Bjj skills because of the hugely experienced and talented coaches they’ve had there over the years.

Nova União’s reputation started with its development of two dominant fighters, UFC champions Jose Aldo and Renan Barão. Jose Aldo is arguably one of the best UFC featherweights of all time and Renan Barão under Nova União lasted 35 fights unbeaten and became the UFC bantamweight champion.

The gym has also trained B.J. Penn, Junior Dos Santos, Gray Maynard, Claudia Gadelha, and Marcos Galvão (former Bellator bantamweight champion).

Nova União has expanded from Brazil and is now in Thailand, Australia, Switzerland, Canada, and the USA.

The gym’s best coaches are André Pederneiras, Wendell Alexander (co-founder), Andre Marola, Fabio Andrade, and Jair Lourenço.

Roufusport MMA Academy

>Founded: 2006 by Duke Roufus
>Headquarters: Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA

Roufusport has produced Anthony Pettis (former UFC Lightweight Champion) and Tyron Woodley (former UFC Welterweight Champion). Also training there has been and is Maycee Barber, Paul Felder, Ben Askren, Pat Barry, Ben Rothwell, Belal Muhammad, and Brendan Allen.

Roufusport is known for its intense striking-focused training and approach to MMA fights, evidenced by all of the great strikers on its roster who mostly keep fights standing.

Roufusport has around 30 affiliated gyms worldwide and is continuing to expand. Some of the gym’s best coaches are Duke Roufus, Anthony Pettis (now co-owner), Scott Cushman, and Craig Eckleberg.

Serra-Longo Fight Team

>Founded: 2001 by Matt Serra and Ray Longo
>Headquarters: Long Island, New York, USA

Ray Longo is one of the most experienced MMA coaches, having trained martial arts since the early 70s – and Matt Serra is a former UFC champion which makes them a powerful duo and the reason why the Serra-Longo Fight Team is one of the best MMA gyms/teams of all time.

Serra-Longo Fight Team has two gyms operating, Serra Bjj which was founded in 2001, and Longo-Weidman MMA which was originally founded in 1990 by Ray Longo. The two joined forces and have so far had 3 UFC fighters crowned champions, Matt Serra, Chris Weidman, and Aljamain Sterling.

They’ve also coached Al Iaquinta (UFC title challenger), Matt Frevola, and their current standout star outside of Sterling, Merab Dvalishvili. This shows how committed to the game Serra-Longo Fight Team is, as they’ve been consistently producing top talent for the past two decades.

Some notable coaches there are Matt Serra (Bjj), Ray Longo (striking), James Franco (wrestling), and Peter Sell (Bjj).

Team Alpha Male (TAM)

>Founded: 2004 by Urijah Faber
>Headquarters: Sacramento, California, USA

While still an active fighter, Urijah Faber founded Team Alpha Male and has helped create several UFC champions such as T.J. Dillashaw, Cody Garbrandt, and Deiveson Figueiredo. 

For its success in the lower weight class divisions, Team Alpha Male won the MMA Gym of the Year award in 2013 and 2014.

Other notable fighters to have trained at TAM are Song Yadong, Darren Elkins, Josh Emmett, Clay Guida, Chad Mendes, and Joseph Benavidez, just to name a few.

Some of the best coaches at TAM have been and are Urijah Faber, Duane Ludwig (2013 MMA Coach of the Year), Danny Castillo, and Chris Holdsworth.

Tiger Muay Thai

>Founded: 2003 by William McNamara
>Headquarters: Phuket, Thailand

Being one of the prominent muay Thai gyms, Tiger Muay Thai also offers MMA and is frequented by some of the best MMA fighters globally. Many of these fighters train there to improve their muay Thai skillset which is extremely useful in MMA.

In 2013, Tiger Muay Thai started offering muay Thai and MMA scholarships, which has developed fighters like Dan Hooker, Casey O’Neil, Loma Lookboonmee (the first Thai UFC fighter), Dave Leduc, and Kai Kara-France.

Tiger Muay Thai has also trained UFC champions Petr Yan, Valentina Shevchenko, Alexander Volkanovski, Israel Adesanya, and other top fighters Dan Hooker, Rafael Fiziev, Tai Tuivasa, and Justin Tafa.

In 2019, Tiger Muay Thai opened a gym in San Sai District, Chiang Mai, as it continues its expansion.

The main coaches in Phuket are Phet Chaimanee, Alex Schild, Rafael Fiziev, and Eric Uresk, but there are a total of 40 trainers to accommodate its many students and 103,300 square-feet total space – the biggest MMA gym in the world.

Tristar Gym

>Founded: 1991
>Headquarters: Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Long seen as the best MMA gym in Canada, Tristar Gym took off from 2007 onwards after Firas Zihabi bought the gym and became the head coach.

Tristar was famously the home of Georges St-Pierre from the time he lost his title in 2007 (UFC 69) until the time he retired in 2017 – a span of 10 years in which he won 13 fights in a row, captured the UFC middleweight title and never lost. 

Tristar also trained many other UFC legends such as Robert Whittaker, Vitor Belfort, Anthony Smith, Kenny Florian, Rory MacDonald, Miguel Torres, and more recently Arnold Allen, Johnny Walker, and Kevin Lee.

The main coaches are Firas Zahabi, Conrad Pla (former cofounder), Peter Sissomphou, Oliver Reynaud, Hercules Kyvelos, and Georges St-Pierre (occasional).

Tristar Gym is known for having very few injuries on its roster, due to the calculated and intelligent training there.

Xtreme Couture MMA

>Founded: 2006 by Randy Couture
>Headquarters: Las Vegas, Nevada, USA

Despite having great success as cofounder of Team Quest, UFC Hall of Famer and former six-time UFC champion Randy Couture founded Xtreme Couture MMA and produced further results.

Xtreme Couture MMA has had many UFC champions, such as Jiri Prochazka, Francis Ngannou, Vitor Belfort, Forrest Griffin, Miesha Tate, and Randy Couture himself. They’ve also trained Ryan Bader to become the Bellator light heavyweight champion and other legends such as Alistair Overeem.

Some of the gym’s notable coaches have been and are Randy Couture, Ray Sefo, Eric Nicksick, Dennis Davis, Tim Lane, Brian Keck (former coach), Robert Follis (former head coach, passed away), and Ryan Couture (Randy’s son).

The Xtreme Couture MMA gym in Las Vegas is the biggest of its kind, with a total space of 24,000 square feet. Due to its location in Las Vegas, which is also the headquarters of the UFC, Xtreme Couture is frequented by many UFC fighters who need short-term training ahead of an upcoming bout.

Best MMA Gyms: Honorable Mentions

Not quite making the top 20, here are some honorable mentions:

  • Blackzilians
  • Cesar Gracie Jiu-Jitsu
  • Lion’s Den MMA
  • MMA Factory
  • Team Lakay Wushu

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