iconic coaches, mma history

5 iconic coaches in MMA history

MMA is a combat sport that is like nothing else the modern age has seen before. It is a sport that demands an exceptional blend of skill, strategy and dedication. There is a level of technicality to the sport that many may well miss on first glance, and while fighters are the ones who step into the cage, behind every successful fighter is an equally brilliant coach. These coaches not only serve as mentors but also play a pivotal role in shaping their fighters’ careers and indeed the sport itself. In this article, we will be exploring some of the most iconic coaches in MMA history who have made significant contributions to the careers of their fighters and the wider sport.


Greg Jackson


There are many who deserve a place on this list, but Jackson certainly does not have to fight hard to make it on here. The name Greg Jackson is synonymous with the elite-level coaching happening behind the scenes in MMA. Based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, he has coached some of the biggest names in the sport, including Jon Jones, Georges St-Pierre and Holly Holm.

Jackson’s main strength is his strategic brilliance. He has a phenomenal ability to adapt game plans on the fly and has led his fighters along the path to numerous championships – you can check the best online sports betting sources to get yourself updated on the current favorites. Jackson’s brand of MMA has become a powerhouse in the sport, and his impact on the fighters he has coached is undeniable. Further, it is worth acknowledging Jackson’s unique fighting style, cultivated from a mix of catch wrestling, Muay Thai and judo techniques, that is taught in his school.


John Kavanagh


John Kavanagh, hailing from Ireland, is renowned for being the head coach of SBG Ireland and for mentoring Conor McGregor. Kavanagh is a powerhouse of the sport with a level of expertise that is difficult to trump. It is not only the fighters he mentors that have a reputation – Kavanagh himself was the first Irish man to be awarded a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Furthermore, he competed in some of the earliest MMA circuits, notoriously brutal places where a different class of old-school fighters was forged. Kavanagh’s relentless dedication to his fighters and the sport of MMA has been the key to his success. He has not only shaped McGregor’s career but has also helped put Irish MMA on the map.


Mike Winkeljohn


Of course, in MMA, the old debate on striking or grappling still rages on. Mike Winkeljohn, Greg Jackson’s long-time coaching partner, has spent his career honing the art of striking. Winkeljohn is a phenomenal powerhouse of kickboxing himself and has had a significant influence on many MMA fighters’ careers. Fighters like Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone, Jon Jones and Holly Holm have benefited from his striking expertise. Winkeljohn’s ability to combine his striking techniques with Greg Jackson’s strategic thinking has been a winning formula for many fighters over the years.


Matt Hume


Matt Hume may not be as widely recognized as some of the other coaches on this list but his contribution to the sport should not be underestimated. As the head coach of AMC Pankration in Washington State, Hume has mentored a plethora of legendary fighters like Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson. His technical expertise and focus on fundamentals have been key in his fighters’ success. Hume also had a successful MMA career himself across the years, and won a submission wrestling match against Olympic gold medal wrestler Kenny Monday. He is certainly a coach with the record to back his strategies.


Rafael Cordeiro


Rafael Cordeiro, the head coach and founder of Kings MMA, has played a pivotal role in shaping the careers of numerous fighters, including Fabricio Werdum, Wanderlei Silva and Rafael dos Anjos. His recipe for fighting follows the classic combination of Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. His style has made Kings MMA a well-rounded training ground for a huge range of fighters over the years.




These iconic coaches in MMA history have not only helped numerous fighters reach the pinnacle of the sport but have also contributed significantly to the evolution of MMA as a sport. Their dedication, knowledge and ability to adapt to the ever-changing landscape of MMA has solidified their places in the annals of the sport’s relatively short history. As MMA continues to grow and change, these coaches and their legacies will continue to inspire future generations of fighters and coaches alike.



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