Sayif Saud didn’t expect Fortis MMA to become this successful so early on.
Saud, who used to be an MMA fighter and trained at JacksonWink MMA, became a coach due to injuries limiting his pro career. After coaching around at various gyms, Saud, alongside former NBA player Deron Williams opened up Fortis MMA in 2017.
Since opening up the doors Fortis MMA has become a mainstay at any UFC event with notable fighters like Uriah Hall, Geoff Neal, Diego Ferreira, and Macy Chiasson among others. But, what has been impressive is the fact they have five UFC fighters ranked in the top-15 after not having any fighters on the roster just a few years ago.
“This is big for us. Ryan Spann 14, Uriah Hall 10, Geoff Neal 11, Diego Ferreira 10, Macy Chiasson 12. We have five ranked fighters now. That is a big deal for us to have five ranked fighters in five different divisions,” Saud said to BJPENN.com. “Lightweight, welterweight, middleweight, 205, and women’s 135. Those are some of the deepest divisions as well. To go from opening the gym in 2017 to having five fighters ranked in 2020 is incredible.”
Although that is a fantastic feat, Saud knows the work is far from done. He wants more ranked fighters and champions very soon in the gym.
One name that many believe is a future title challenger is Geoff Neal at welterweight. He’s undefeated in the UFC and someone the likes of Kamaru Usman and Joe Rogan are talking about.
Yet, the problem is, it has been hard getting Neal fights until recently when Vicente Luque called him out, which Saud likes.
“Geoff will fight anybody. We have a lot of respect for Vicente because he’s a tough guy. They’ve fought some of the same guys in Niko Price and Mike Perry where it was close fights for Vicente and Geoff handled them pretty well,” he explained. “Geoff isn’t scared of anybody but I want to see Geoff get towards the belt. Joe Rogan is even saying Geoff Neal is the dark horse of the division.”
Someone else who is climbing the ranks is lightweight Diego Ferreira. The Brazilian is coming off a massive submission win over Anthony Pettis at UFC 246. Although he and Saud were hoping to build off that win, it has been tricky due to Ferreira’s own personal gym being shut down by law enforcement.
Even though his gym is shut down, Saud says Ferreira will be back soon and they hope to rebook the Drew Dober matchup, especially after his TKO win over Alexander Hernandez.
“Diego is doing a lot of things on his own and getting his weight down. He was supposed to fight Drew Dober,” he said. “Diego is a guy who will take a chance and fight unranked guys and we respect Drew who is a tough guy. I think Diego vs. Dober makes sense.”
Fortis MMA will no doubt become a mainstay gym in fan’s eyes, and Saud couldn’t be prouder. He knows there will be more ranked fighters soon, and one name he can’t wait to see back is Abdul Razak Alhassan.
“Abdul-Razak is pound-for-pound one of the hardest hitting athletes in MMA. He has 10 first-round knockouts. His power is scary. Look at what he did to Niko Price,” Saud said. “He hits so hard. What a tragedy he lost two years of his career but we are happy he can resume his career and his life again as a human being. We look forward to getting him back in the mix.”
In the end, Saud knows this is just the beginning. He expects only more of his fighters to be signed by the UFC and eventually have multiple champions.
This article first appeared on BJPENN.com on 5/18/2020.