TJ De Santis
I started watching mixed martial arts in 2002. In 2004, I was covering it for fun, and by 2007, MMA allowed me to pay my bills and some of the debt I’d incurred while messing around. Since that time, the sport has gone from a novelty to a subject I hear people talking about every day...
Every movement in history had a hotbed. The Romans had the Coliseum, hippies had Haight-Ashbury, and today, the North American mixed martial arts scene has southern California.
Nowhere else in the United States can you find as many high-quality MMA gyms as you will in Los Angeles, San Diego and Orange County. Fighters from all over the world visit and move to southern California in an effort to become better-rounded mixed martial artists.
In other regions of the world, the distance between the best available striking and grappling instructors can be a substantial train ride, or a car ride long enough to only allow for only one training session per day. In Los Angeles and the surrounding area, fighters can find world class wrestling with Dan Henderson’s Team Quest Temecula, then head up to Bas Rutten’s academy for expert kickboxing instruction. Fabricio Werdum is also a stone’s throw away, meaning one’s Brazilian jiu-jitsu game can get the attention it needs at the drop of hat.
Given the old adage that “iron sharpens iron,” it’s no wonder high-level mixed martial artists are so abundant in southern California: this part of the “Golden State” is truly MMA’s iron range.