UK’s Elite: The Top 10 MMA Gyms You Need to Know About

September 12, 2023
From: Spartacus
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Yearning to ascend the ranks of mixed martial arts and etch your name alongside the greats? Look no further. This meticulously crafted guide unveils the Top 10 MMA gyms across the United Kingdom — sacred spaces where neophytes are transformed into seasoned warriors and where pros refine their lethal skills. 

Why does the gym you choose matter so much? A first-class facility provides more than just equipment; it offers a community of like-minded individuals, elite coaches who can pinpoint your weaknesses and sculpt them into strengths, and the sort of atmosphere that motivates you to push beyond your limits.

And in the age of digital advancements, platforms like Spartacus serve as vital supplements to your physical training, offering a wealth of information and real-time updates to enrich your overall fight knowledge. The right gym, supplemented by top-notch digital resources, forms the backbone of any successful MMA career.

#10 AVT MMA – Leeds

Situated in the heart of Leeds, AVT MMA has emerged as a titan in the UK’s mixed martial arts landscape. The gym owes much of its reputation to its founder, Danny ‘Cheesecake’ Mitchell, a former UFC competitor and decorated Combat Base BJJ black belt. Mitchell hung up his gloves to concentrate on coaching, transforming AVT MMA into a haven for aspiring fighters and seasoned professionals alike. 

The gym recently underwent a significant upgrade, moving into a sprawling, ultra-modern facility that could easily be termed a ‘super gym.’ This new setting is equipped with top-of-the-line resources and ample space, setting the stage for a wide variety of training regimes.

The diversity in the training schedule caters to athletes from different backgrounds in combat sports, from boxing to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and beyond. Additionally, the coaching staff at AVT MMA boasts exceptional expertise across a multitude of disciplines. Their coaching prowess is evidenced by the gym’s standout performance in national and international competitions, cementing its status among the UK’s premier MMA gyms.

Although specific names of other fighters who have trained there aren’t publicly listed, the quality of training has consistently attracted high-calibre athletes in various combat sports. 

#9 SBG – Various UK Locations

SBG, or Straight Blast Gym, presents a unique model in the MMA gym landscape with its multi-location approach. This gym chain operates under the motto ‘One Tribe, One Vibe,’ signifying the unified ethos that binds its various branches. SBG originated with a gym in Manchester, known alternatively as SBG Mainline, founded by the late but forever influential MMA coach, Karl Tanswell. Despite Tanswell’s untimely passing in 2018, the SBG brand has flourished, thanks to the seamless transition of leadership to Matt Inman and a roster of proficient coaches.

Each SBG gym is distinguished by its own strengths and specialties but is united by the commitment to delivering consistently high-level instruction. Whether you’re training under Alex Enlund‘s meticulous eye at one SBG location or honing your skills with Casey Jones at another, you’re guaranteed an exceptional training experience. This unity in diversity has propelled SBG into becoming a significant force in the UK’s MMA community.

Although SBG is relatively private about its current roster, the gym’s remarkable standards and collaborative training environment have historically produced a series of fighters who have made their mark in international competitions. Before his death, Karl Tanswell had mentored numerous upcoming talents, and that tradition continues with current coaches like Matt InmanAlex Enlund, and Casey Jones, keeping the SBG flag flying high in the world of MMA.

#8 London Shootfighters, London

For years, London Shootfighters has been a cornerstone in the UK’s MMA landscape, continually churning out talent and garnering international acclaim. Located in the heart of London, this gym has become synonymous with high-level MMA training. With a coaching staff featuring stalwarts like Marios DemetriadesAlexis DemetriadesMichael PageAshraf Uddin, and Alfie Davis, the gym offers unparalleled expertise across various fighting disciplines.

Known for its rigorous training regimens, London Shootfighters provides athletes with an intensive, holistic approach to MMA. The gym places a strong emphasis on striking and wrestling techniques, setting it apart as a premier facility for honing well-rounded skills. Fight camps at London Shootfighters are not for the faint-hearted; they are characterised by their high intensity, gruelling sparring sessions, and a demanding yet rewarding learning environment.

The gym’s influence extends beyond the UK, attracting international fighters and athletes who specifically visit London just to train at this esteemed facility. Such a trend speaks volumes about the gym’s standing within the global MMA community.

Recently, London Shootfighters upgraded its premises, moving into a more expansive and modern location. This new facility boasts state-of-the-art equipment, allowing for a broader and more specialised training timetable led by their top-notch coaching staff. Fighters like Michael “Venom” Page have honed their skills here, further solidifying its reputation on the world stage.

#7 Higher Level MMA, Scotland

Higher Level MMA in West Lothian is more than just a gym; it’s a testament to the tenacity and hard work of its founder and head coach, James Doolan. A BJJ black belt and a former MMA champion, Doolan’s meticulous approach to coaching has made this gym the leading MMA training centre in Scotland.

Doolan has an impressive track record, guiding fighters to a range of titles at the world, European, and domestic levels. He has even mentored three fighters all the way to the prestigious UFC stage. His comprehensive approach covers all the bases—be it striking, grappling, or wrestling—ensuring that athletes receive well-rounded training.

What sets Higher Level MMA apart is Doolan’s cerebral coaching methodology. Every session, every drill, and every fight camp is carefully planned and executed, which guarantees that athletes are always competing at their best.

Fighters who bear the Higher Level MMA insignia are not just skilled; they are strategically prepared and mentally tough. The gym has produced standouts like Danny Henry, whose success in the UFC is a shining example of the calibre of fighters that train under Doolan’s tutelage.

#6 Next Generation MMA – Liverpool

Located in Liverpool, Next Generation MMA stands as one of the premier MMA gyms in the UK, thanks to the leadership of BJJ black belt Paul Rimmer. The gym has a long-standing history of nurturing exceptional fighters, consistently reaching the pinnacle of elite-level combat sports. UFC standouts like Paddy Pimblett and Molly McCann have honed their skills under the tutelage of the highly skilled coaches at Next Gen MMA.

What sets the gym apart is its adaptability to cater to a wide range of athletes, from novices to world-level competitors. The gym is particularly known for its prowess in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, often dominating national grappling competitions. A few years back, Next Generation MMA upgraded its training facility, providing an even more advanced environment for fighters to develop their skills. The combination of top-notch coaching and an impressive roster of athletes creates an optimal setting for continued success in the MMA realm.

#5 Ultimate Training Centre, Birmingham

Located in the energetic city of Birmingham, the Ultimate Training Centre, commonly known as UTC Birmingham, has established itself as a must-visit destination for serious MMA athletes. The gym boasts top-of-the-line facilities, including state-of-the-art training equipment and expansive mat spaces, ensuring a conducive environment for rigorous training. The instructors at UTC Birmingham bring with them a wealth of experience in martial arts, spanning from boxing to judo, making it a comprehensive training centre for all facets of MMA.

What distinguishes UTC Birmingham from other gyms is its unique approach to fighter development. Each athlete receives personalised attention, tailored training programs, and mental conditioning, elevating their skills to an elite level. This level of detail has resulted in the gym producing remarkable talent. Fighters such as Leon Edwards, a standout in the UFC’s welterweight division, and his brother Fabian Edwards, making waves in Bellator, have been nurtured and developed at UTC Birmingham. The success of these fighters serves as a testament to the gym’s high-quality training and its vital role in the UK’s MMA ecosystem.

#4 Team Kaobon – Liverpool

Another powerhouse in Liverpool’s MMA community is Team Kaobon, renowned for being one of the first UK-based gyms to send fighters to the UFC. Fighters like Darren Till and Mike Grundy continue this legacy, showcasing the gym’s high standards on the world stage. Head instructor and founder Colin Heron built his gym on a foundation of Muay Thai expertise before expanding into other areas of MMA, including Luta Livre, Wrestling, and BJJ.

Team Kaobon is shrouded in a certain mystique, primarily due to its closed-door sessions, which have piqued the curiosity of many. But there is no mystery about the gym’s record of excellence, a testament to Colin Heron’s exemplary work. The gym’s facilities are unparalleled, featuring a spacious training area, ring, cage, and accommodation for visiting fighters. Team Kaobon also extends its brand through affiliated gyms, such as Kaobon Wigan, helmed by wrestling standout Mike Grundy.

#3 ASW, Manchester

From its early days as a part-time operation in a rented room, ASW in Manchester has now metamorphosed into a premier, full-time MMA training facility with classes running six days a week. The gym’s meteoric rise can be overwhelmingly attributed to its founding coach, Kameron Atakuru. Unlike many Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu coaches, Atakuru brings a multidimensional skill set to the table, informed by his background in MMA, Catch Wrestling, and Freestyle Wrestling.

Kameron Atakuru’s coaching approach integrates his in-depth understanding of Jiu-Jitsu with his high fight IQ, culminating in an educational environment that fosters both mental and physical agility. He’s become an integral part of ASW’s identity, making the gym a hotbed for top-level talent. A multitude of elite fighters make it a point to drop into ASW for their training sessions, drawn both by the excellent facilities and the unparalleled coaching. This cross-pollination with other high-calibre athletes makes ASW a thriving ecosystem for MMA skills development, enhancing its standing in the competitive world of UK MMA.

#2 Team Renegade MMA & BJJ, Birmingham 

Team Renegade MMA & BJJ may be a relatively new addition to the UK’s MMA landscape, but it has rapidly gained attention for its top-notch facilities and high-calibre coaching staff. Located in the Midlands, an area that was sorely lacking in premier MMA training centres, Renegade fills a significant geographic and skill gap.

Under the astute guidance of seasoned BJJ black belt Chiu Kwong Man and UFC veteran Tom Breese, Renegade has succeeded in attracting a who’s who of British MMA talent. The gym serves as the training ground for UFC champion Leon EdwardsFabian Edwards, and Yannick Bahati, among others. The combined expertise of its coaching staff, who have years of experience across multiple fighting disciplines, and its high-profile fighters make Renegade a critical centre of MMA development in the UK.

The gym itself boasts a state-of-the-art training area, complete with advanced equipment and a wide-ranging timetable to accommodate fighters of all levels. The calibre of instructors and the quality of training have set Renegade on a trajectory to become not just a regional powerhouse but a recognized name in global MMA.

#1 GB Top Team, London & Manchester

Emerging as recent but impactful additions to the UK’s top MMA gyms in 2023, GB Top Team in London and Manchester Top Team form a symbiotic alliance that has quickly gained traction in the world of Mixed Martial Arts. The London facility is notably helmed by Brad Pickett, a name that resonates with MMA aficionados as a UFC legend. Pickett’s unparalleled experience and fighting acumen make him an ideal mentor for aspiring athletes. On the other side, the Manchester arm is led by esteemed UK MMA coach Carl Prince, whose reputation for expertise is widespread.

These gyms maintain a strategic relationship with the globally recognized American Top Team, thereby setting the stage for a vibrant exchange of talent and techniques. Athletes training at either GB Top Team in London or Manchester Top Team find themselves in an environment that’s rich in expertise, not only from the home-grown talent but also from international fighters who frequent these facilities. This creates an incredibly enriching training ground, a melting pot of various fighting styles, tactics, and strategies.

It’s not unusual to see fighters from top MMA promotions such as UFC, Bellator, BAMMA, and Cage Warriors gracing the mats at these locations. This attests to the gyms’ ability to not only attract top-tier talent but also to cultivate it. Access to high-quality coaching in both wrestling and grappling ensures that athletes get the best of both worlds, thus making these gyms some of the premier locations for wrestling/grappling for MMA in the UK today.

The strategic alliance between the London and Manchester facilities further amplifies the breadth of expertise available, enabling a more well-rounded training regimen for fighters. Whether they are training for regional bouts or preparing for international competitions, athletes at GB Top Team and Manchester Top Team benefit from an ecosystem designed for excellence, one that lives up to the reputation of its American counterpart.

Conclusion

There it is—the ultimate catalogue of the United Kingdom’s premier MMA gyms, each uniquely equipped to propel your fight game to stratospheric heights. From the high-energy atmosphere of London’s elite gyms to the serene yet intense training environments in Scotland, this list embodies the crème de la crème of martial arts training in the UK. Whether you’re an MMA novice eager to learn the ropes or a battle-hardened fighter searching for fresh perspectives and challenges, these gyms are your gateway to unparalleled growth and achievement. 

To maintain your edge and stay ahead of the curve in this fast-paced sport, don’t forget to tap into Spartacus’ exhaustive array of resources—from live fights and exclusive PPVs to quick, insightful ‘Kicks’ clips. The journey toward becoming an MMA legend is fraught with challenges, but with the right gym and digital tools at your disposal, the path becomes a thrilling adventure. Your odyssey towards fighting greatness commences now.

FAQs

What factors make a gym “first-class” for MMA training in the UK?

A “first-class” gym for MMA training in the UK typically offers a myriad of critical elements: state-of-the-art facilities, a diverse range of expert coaches, comprehensive training programs that include striking, grappling, and wrestling, and strong connections with MMA promotions. These gyms often have a track record of producing high-level fighters, thus enhancing their credibility. The ambiance, hygiene, and quality of equipment also play pivotal roles.

What unique feature distinguishes AVT MMA in Leeds?

AVT MMA in Leeds distinguishes itself with its focus on individualised training. Unlike cookie-cutter programs, AVT tailors training regimens to each fighter’s strengths and weaknesses, thereby promoting a more holistic development.

How does SBG’s multi-location approach affect the quality of training?

SBG’s multi-location approach brings the advantage of shared knowledge across various gyms, elevating the quality of training. The network facilitates high-calibre sparring partners and cross-training opportunities, making each location stronger through collective wisdom.

What sets London Shootfighters apart in terms of training regimens?

London Shootfighters stands apart in terms of its rigorous training regimens that include not just MMA-specific skills but also an intense focus on conditioning and mental resilience. This exhaustive approach is designed to create well-rounded fighters equipped to excel in any environment.

How has Higher Level MMA in Scotland gained its leading position?

Higher Level MMA in Scotland has gained its leading position through its stellar coaching staff and its integration of modern sports science into training methodologies. The gym has also benefited from producing fighters who have gone on to compete at high levels, thus establishing its reputation.

What is Next Generation MMA in Liverpool known for?

Next Generation MMA in Liverpool is particularly renowned for its exceptional BJJ training. With several accomplished Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu practitioners on staff, the gym has become a mecca for those looking to improve their ground game.

How does UTC Birmingham approach fighter development differently?

UTC Birmingham takes a more academic approach to fighter development, employing analytics and video study to dissect both their fighters and their opponents. This data-driven approach allows for targeted improvement and strategic planning.

Why is Team Kaobon in Liverpool considered a powerhouse?

Team Kaobon in Liverpool is considered a powerhouse due to its history of producing world-class talent. The gym’s reputation has been built on a robust coaching team and the integration of various martial arts disciplines, creating a comprehensive training environment.

What contributes to ASW Manchester’s unique coaching approach?

ASW Manchester’s unique coaching approach lies in its openness to innovation. The coaching staff is committed to staying abreast of the latest techniques and training methods, thereby ensuring that their fighters are always a step ahead of the competition.

How does the strategic alliance between GB Top Team in London and Manchester Top Team benefit fighters?

The strategic alliance between GB Top Team in London and Manchester Top Team offers fighters a broader range of resources and expertise. The partnership enables cross-training opportunities and shared coaching staff, resulting in a more well-rounded skill set for athletes affiliated with either gym.

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