How Philadelphia thought of the hotbed of MMA fighting genius from UFC afterwards


The seed began 21 years ago, in a dimly lit basement in the Frankfurt district of Philadelphia, a group of close friends. You know the situation, you enter through the rusty double trap street cellar door, and your metal ring trips you a thousand times, along the small, creaky wooden steps you hope will not collapse under your feet Go down.

After a day of cement work with Stephen Haigh, Eddie Alvarez will build the foundation of a “battle factory” there. It introduced Philadelphia to the thriving new sport of mixed martial arts along with Phil and Rick Migliarese.

Those freshman moments in the dark are former UFC stars Paul Find and current competitors Sean Brady and Chris Daucus, and rising star Pat Sabbatini. Alvarez was a North Catholic All-Catholic League wrestler at the time, and later won the Bellator and UFC lightweight championships, but he didn’t know what he was starting.

Philadelphia has long been known as the “City of Boxing”, and to a certain extent, it is still so. The great Bernard Hopkins in history rang the drums of “Philadelphia”, and former world champion Daniel Garcia still important. The new generation has produced junior lightweight world champion Stephen Fulton and budding welterweight superstar Jalen “Boots” Ennis is currently carrying the Philadelphia torch.

It now appears that MMA, previously exiled to Philadelphia Underground Sports, is taking over the deepest and most talented fighters of all time, many of whom are from the Cage Fury Fighting Championships in Atlantic City, which is a smaller promotion. Chairman Rob Haydak serves as various supporters of UFC and regularly organizes competitions in the Philadelphia area.

Twenty years ago, Alvarez and his fight factory team had to train from a boxing gym to a gymnasium like a tramp. There are more than 20 gyms in the Philadelphia area. Anyone can find high-quality gyms there. MMA work.

“Today there are quite a lot of UFC players, including me, Pat and the Daucus brothers [Chris and Kyle] Our gym started in 2013,” said 28-year-old Brady, who works at the Renzo Gracie Philly Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Academy on North America Street. “We started with a few people and we got bigger and bigger over time.Now only me and Pat have left our gym [in the UFC], But eventually many people will go [to the UFC].

“Philadelphia is a difficult city. I know boxing here has always been important, but the MMA training and coaching here are really great. There are many good wrestlers on the East Coast, mainly Pennsylvania, who came to this city. And train here.”

Brady said that across the country, Philadelphia enjoys the same reputation in the mixed martial arts world as in the boxing world—it’s a gritty town.

110816_Alvarez-Workout-1Matt Mullin/Voice of Philadelphia, file

Eddie Alvarez gasped during a workout break at the Media Day at Joe Hand Gym in Philadelphia.

“Eddie [Alvarez] It’s the Bellator champion and UFC champion. It started with Eddie. His success began to make people like me think about entering MMA,” Brady said. His record is 14-0, which is the 14th welterweight UFC ranking. “In the past two or three years, Philadelphia’s Reputation has really risen by 100% in the MMA world. It’s like all ships are rising.

“It’s growing. I think Paul [Felder] The rankings are very high. Eddie won the UFC Lightweight Championship but didn’t get the respect he deserves in Philadelphia-which made me very angry-and made many people in the MMA world take notice of Philadelphia. I like training in Philadelphia, I have been training in Philadelphia, and I will always train in Philadelphia. “

Five years ago, Daniel Gracie, who ran Gracie Academy and came from the legendary genealogy of MMA pioneers, admitted that every time he heard about Philadelphia, it was about boxing. Gracie thinks this is a good place to build an MMA gym.

“I’m going to a space full of pure boxing,” Gracie said. “There are some fighters from Philadelphia, but everyone hears Eddie Alvarez, Eddie Alvarez, Eddie Alvarez, that’s all. Five years ago, the best fighter , The most complete boxer, from Brazil.

“Today, the fighters are looking for a big camp. We like to build fighters from scratch. The fighters come from some large facilities in Las Vegas, Florida and New Mexico. Fighters from all over the world will join the camp.

“That’s why I’m here. We have fighters; we have talent. That’s why I want to invest time in this field. In my eight years in Philadelphia, this is the greatest talent, the most talented talent. Ku. Paul Feld started, after Paul, UFC matchmakers will listen.

“Now, if I said the name of the Philadelphia UFC, they would listen. Eddie is the only one. Now, Philadelphia has become one of the most popular fighter cities.”

For evidence of this impact, just look at the number of major MMA events taking place in this city. After holding several UFC PPV cards in South Philadelphia, the last time was in August 2011. The city experienced no battle for eight years, until the biggest sports promotion returned to Battle Night Card in 2019. Although they have many names from Philadelphia, including some of the top 10 teams, as well as the lightweight champion Alvarez who has been promoted over a period of time.

Unfortunately, when they returned to the city, Feld, who had already retired, was sidelined due to injury, and Alvarez Has moved to a different promotion, Leave the card No philadelphia fighters.

As the talent pool continues to grow, it is certain that they will not make the same mistake the next time they bring the card to Philadelphia. Especially if the number of UFC fighters from the city continues to grow at the current rate.

Chris Daukaus, 31, has been fighting for 10 years. He is currently the 10th UFC heavyweight player with a record of 11-3. He is everywhere. As a North Catholic graduate, the Philadelphia police officer drove past a mixed martial arts arena every day and was attracted by what he saw.

Daucus-MMA_063021_usatChris Unger/Handout photo from USA TODAY Sports

Chris Daukaus reacted after defeating Russian Aleksei Oleinik at Tseung Kwan O at the UFC Fight Night in February.

“Now is actually the best time for Philadelphia in mixed martial arts,” Chris said. “Philadelphia is a city of battle. Five years ago, the Philadelphia MMA got nothing. We and Eddie Alvarez were a single horse town. Five years ago, if you told anyone that you were from Philadelphia, you would Get a mocking look.

“Philadelphia is known for boxing, wrestling, or football states. People will tell me that they don’t even know that MMA is popular in Philadelphia. I don’t think people at MMA today have any reason to question this. Be part of the next wave that is coming. It all started with Eddie. We all grew up watching him and his achievements, and we wanted the same things.

“He opened the door.”

Alvarez himself admitted that he did not intend to become the “Godfather of Philadelphia MMA” who initiated the movement.

However, he did it.

“I’m pretty sure that Sean Brady will become the welterweight world champion, and I saw a lot of me when I was Sean’s age. Nothing can stop me from becoming a champion. This attitude is difficult to stop,” Alvarez said that he is now 37 years old and is looking for his third championship in his third different exit, Singapore’s ONE Championship. This is Is currently marching towards the U.S. audience Thanks to people like Alvarez and Demetrius Johnson. “Sean will be the next champion from Philadelphia, as well as one of the Daucus brothers.

“You live in Philadelphia; life in this city is very difficult. You have to have a little advantage, and in competition, the city will not pat the athletes on the back and say,’It’s okay, you will get it next time. This is not the way we treat each other, nor the way we treat the athletes. Go to fk and win! If you don’t, and we are close enough to you in the stands, we will spit on you. This is how I describe the Philadelphia fans-and I have seen it.

“They are loyal, it is a hard love. But it has shaped you. You have the backing of the whole city, and you better be prepared to fight for them. I won’t say that the seeds were planted with me. They started 10 years ago. We are only just beginning to see the results of it now. Sean Brady started 10 years ago, all his work and the Daucus brothers, you start to see where these people are And what they were doing paid off.

“They will all become world champions. I am very happy that what I did has inspired these people. If this is what I did, then damn it, yes, I am proud of it. I am proud of our players, my It means’our player’, our’Philadelphia player’.”

They don’t come out of the basement anymore.

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Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sports writer in the Philadelphia area. He has been writing for PhillyVoice since its establishment in 2015 and is the president of the American Boxing Writers Association. He can follow on Twitter: @JSantoliquito.





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