EXCLUSIVE (Part 3) | Daniel Cormier: AKA has to be considered the best camp in MMA – We are all home grown | BJPENN.COM RADIO
Cormier, winner of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix and a two-time US Olympic wrestler, carries with him more experience than most fighters making their UFC debut. In addition to these accolades, Cormier has trained for years with the elite MMA team, AKA. Boasting a team of top-level fighters such as UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez, Strikeforce middleweight champion Luke Rockhold, UFC lightweight fighters Josh Thomson, Gray Maynard and Takanori Gomi, and many more, AKA has long been a powerhouse of MMA.
As a team captain for the 2008 US Olympic Wrestling team, Cormier credits his success largely to the success of his team.
“It’s great, man. You know, it was because nobody ever lost track of the ultimate goal. It’s so easy for teams, people, to lose track when stuff starts to go sideways. We lost [Josh] Koscheck, a guy that had been there forever. Then [Jon] Fitch lost a couple fights in a row- our team captain for a while, but nobody let Jon hang his head, everybody was supportive. We had guys moving in: Gray Maynard, Tyson Griffin, Khabib Nurmagomedov, Thomson was getting ready for his big fight, myself, Rockhold’s going to fight in the main event in the UFC, obviously Cain’s the champion. You know, and that’s just our UFC guys. Those aren’t even our guys that are our up and coming guys who are in the gym every day working their tails off to get where we are today. It’s a great environment. No amount of negativity can break up a great training situation, and all of our guys are fully aware of that. There are more guys that want to come into AKA right now. Eventually we’re going to have to start turning them away.”
It is quality of the fighters that makes AKA such a great team, Cormier goes on to explain. Even though other gyms may have amazing coaches, he says the secret to AKA’s success is its ability to build some of the top fighters.
“People tend to not want to say AKA’s the best training camp in MMA, and I don’t necessarily understand why. I know [Greg] Jackson has a great camp. I gained a lot more respect for Greg Jackson watching the FOX show, because he broke me down as spot-on as anyone ever has in terms of me pacing fights, fight IQ. Man, I told Javier, ‘He’s good, man.’ But all of our guys are home-grown guys. Outside of Maynard, and all these new guys that came in- Velasquez, myself, Fitch, Thomson, Rockhold, all these guys- we all started as novices, no fight experience at AKA. That’s something special about that gym that most people kind of tend to ignore a little bit… Even BJ [Penn]! BJ, Frank Shamrock- Frank Shamrock was the man he was training out of AKA. Bobby Southworth was another guy, Strikeforce champ out of AKA. Kyle Kingsbury, Mike Kyle, all these guys were homegrown AKA guys that made it to the highest level of our sport.”
Be sure to check out the rest of Daniel Cormier’s interview where he talks about his UFC debut win over Frank Mir, he assesses his performance, and he opens up about his future in the UFC and the likelihood of fighting Jon Jones.