20 Best UFC Coaches of All Time – Real Legends

A reliable coach is like a shadow man who gives you opportunities to unlock your martial potential. He should be like a third parent, with authority characteristics, and it benefits you like a wind at your back. A coach is a person who observes your progress from a different angle, notices mistakes, and corrects them during training together with you. Many UFC fighters, with all their qualities, share their success with their coaches, without whom they would not be where they are today because having him as a guiding star is the blessing of knowing that you never go into battle alone.

Firas Zahabi

Firas Zahabi was born in 1980 in Quebec, Canada, and has Lebanese roots. Zahabi is the owner and head coach of the famous Canadian Tristar MMA gym, which he bought in 2008 and is still considered one of the best in the world. Firas’ training system emphasizes more frequent but lighter training sessions with specific attention to sufficient time for rest.

He is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under the tutelage of John Danaher. Firas is also decorated with knowledge of Thai boxing, where, as an amateur, he became the Canadian champion, and he is a participant and winner of many grapple competitions. He advocates for high cardiovascular performance and flawless execution of the technique to reduce body fatigue as much as possible.

Zahabi believes that to build strength in MMA fighters, they must be able to control and master their body weight. This does mean lifting weights, but in a more intelligent way that won’t hurt your MMA performance. He believes that first, you need to bring technique and cardiovascular performance to a quality level to be able to devote yourself to strength training.

Famous champion fighters such as GSP, Robert Whittaker, Vitor Blefort, Rory McDonald, Kenny Florian, Miguel Torres, and many others passed his tutelage in past years with envious results.

Trevor Wittman

Trevor Wittman was born in 1974 in Denver, Colorado, USA. Wittman did not experience immediate success as he previously owned T’s K.O. Fight Club, which he closed, and became the owner of ONX Sports Equipment Company and the head trainer at Grudge Training Center, which he opened in 2009.

But even that GYM Trevor closed in 2016 after deciding to fully devote himself to the work and prosperity of ONX Sports and works only with selected fighters. He comes from a wrestling and boxing background, where he had to end his career after being diagnosed with a hyperinflated lung.

Whittman is a top boxing trainer, and on his face, we can see the delight every time he corners his fighters during a match, whatever the outcome. Three times, he has been awarded as a coach of the year with over 27 years of experience in sports. With his fighters, he always tries to sharpen his hand techniques, especially the jab, and like every boxing trainer, he forces fluid footwork and distance management.

Trevor is a master at finding holes in the opposing team, creating the perfect game plan for his fighters by exploiting the opponent’s mistakes. His philosophy, positivity, and calmness while cornering give bonus success, improved focus, and confidence in his fighters.

Greg Jackson

Greg Jackson was born in 1974 in Washington D.C., United States, and is the owner and trainer at Jackson Wink MMA Academy, through which sports greats such as Jon Jones, Holly Holm, Diego Sanchez, Carlos Condit, Andrei Arlovski, Donald Cerrone, and many other champions and famous fighters have gone through and some still train with him.

Greg and his Gym have been awarded multiple times, and his gym is the proud owner of the highest winning percentage in MMA. His training methods strive to produce as complete fighters as possible while mastering all segments of the fight, whereby he uses a variety of mixed approaches to prepare fighters for every possible scenario.

He has yet to try many things in martial arts, and his goal is to pass on all the knowledge he’s gained to his fighters. Greg says that the quality of training is much more important than the quantity. Like any wise trainer, he pushes for cardiovascular performance. However, he gives a slight advantage to specific boxing and wrestling training. As for strength training, explosiveness is his recipe. Jackson is also a big supporter of quality cuisine and healthy weight cuts because he believes there is a bigger fight at the dining table than in the cage.

Javier Mendez

Javier Mendez was born in 1970 in Mexico and comes from a kickboxing background as an ISKA World Champion. Mendez is the founder, owner, and head trainer at the American Kickboxing Academy MMA Gym. Many world MMA champions and fighters such as Khabib Nurmagomedov, Islam Makachev, and the rest of the team from Dagestan, Cain Velasquez, Daniel Cormier, BJ Penn, Luke Rockhold, and others passed and stayed under his coaching baton.

Surprisingly, just last year, Javier received the first Coach of The Year Award and continues to do his job well, which is why he is one of the best coaches in the world. In his gym, Mendez tries to create a family and supportive atmosphere where everyone is equal and helps each other. He encourages mental preparation, deep conversations, and healthy communication.

He is always happy to step into the manager role and stand before his champions. Javier values loyalty, honesty, and respect, which is the reason why many Muslim fighters prefer to train under his banner. His always smiling face and positive attitude promise hard work under the best possible conditions. You can count on him to be someone who has a deep understanding of all his fighters, which is a big reason why he is the leader in the production of championship material.

John Hackleman

John Hackleman was born in 1959 in New York City, New York, USA. As a young man, he practiced various martial arts such as Judo, Shotokan Karate, BJJ, Kung Fu, and other Eastern arts. He is a Golden Gloves winner and a member of the Army Boxing team, having won over twenty boxing matches.

John is the founder, owner, and head trainer of The Pit MMA club from California, founded in 1986, where he practiced his hardcore Hawaiian Kenpo to make serious fighters. In this association, Chuck Liddell, Tito Ortiz, Tim Kennedy, Glover Texeira, Jake Shields, and many other UFC fighters came to prominence.

His work system is, like we said, Hawaiian Kempo, which uses a mix of judo, jiujitsu, karate, wrestling, and boxing with a big emphasis on CrossPit, which is CrossFit adapted for his training purposes. Hackleman tries to increase the physical fitness of his fighters and constantly pushes basic techniques to perfect the initial movements.

John is a true lover of all existing combat sports, so he uses a mixture of strikes and movements from all sports adapted to cage fighting and even realistic confrontations on the street. Hackleman is a recognized nurse and one of the best creators of exercise programs in the world.

Richard Perez

Richard Perez was born in Sacramento, California, on May 1, 1966. Over the years, Richard Perez has worked with numerous professional boxers, honing their skills and guiding them towards success. His coaching style is known for its emphasis on technique, strategy, and mental preparation.

One of Perez’s notable achievements as a coach came when he started working with former world champion Robert Guerrero. Under Perez’s guidance, Guerrero achieved significant success in his career, winning multiple titles in different weight divisions. Their partnership showcased Perez’s ability to develop personalized training programs tailored to each boxer’s strengths and weaknesses.

Another of his successes was the famous Diaz brothers, Nick and Nate, whose cardiovascular abilities he used to turn them into MMA fighters with hellish boxing techniques. Overall, Richard Perez embodies the qualities of a helpful, gentle, patient, and friendly coach committed to bringing out the best in his boxers.

Through his mentoring, he empowers his students to pursue their boxing goals while fostering important values such as respect, resilience, and sportsmanship. Perez creates a positive and supportive environment for his students, helping them feel at ease and motivated during their training sessions. Richard understands that boxing requires discipline and hard work. Still, he also believes in nurturing a sense of camaraderie and teamwork among his boxers.

Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov

Abdulmanap Magomedovich Nurmagomedov was born in 1962 Sildi, Dagestan, Soviet Union, Russia. Unfortunately, he died in 2020 due to complications with COVID-19. Still, he left an envious legacy that will live on through his Dagestan sons. Like all Dagestanis, he started with freestyle wrestling, from which he became a Master of sports in the USSR, and in the Soviet Army, he also practiced judo and sambo.

Abdulmanap was the honored coach of Russia and the senior coach of the national team from the Republic of Dagestan, who led Abasgadzhi Magomedov to the World title and Magomedkhabib Kadimagomedov to silver at the Olympics in freestyle wrestling. But his fighters, such as Khabib, Usman, Umar Nurmagomedov, Islam Makachev, Zubaira Tukhugov, Sultan Aliev, and other members of the killer squad from Dagestan, with his tutelage together with Javier Mendez, excelled in the sport of MMA, which they continue to do even after his death.

Abdulmanap’s training approach was varied and comprised a wide range of complex exercises designed to improve impact, endurance, and strategic thinking skills. His fighters are known for their relentlessness and physical endurance, as well as for packing as many amateur matches as possible for a better professional career. Blood, suffering, and sweat were the price of his training, so his fighters got perfect MMA careers.

André Pederneiras

Carlos André Pederneiras de Castro was born in 1967 in Rio de Janeiro and is the founder of the Nova Uniao Academy in Flamenco, Brazil, where he coached MMA and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, from which he left in 2018 to found the original Academia Upper. He earned the 7th-degree Coral belt under the legendary Carlson Gracie and has a black belt in Judo.

Oederneiras was the national champion in BJJ six times and the Japanese champion in Vale Tudo. Andre did a couple of MMA matches, and these successes proved to be a quality foundation for training other fighters. Jose Aldo, BJ Penn, Renan Barao, JDS, and Leonardo Santos are UFC champions who went through his lessons, and grapplers Robson Moura, Vitor Ribeiro, and João Roque, whom he repeatedly brought to the world IBJJF championship.

His dedication is said to be a master class, as is the production of championship material with his deep knowledge of the sport. His Nova União Academy has proven to be one of the best Brazilian martial arts camps. Despite his grappler competition and coaching background, most fighters developed ruthless punches and kicks under his work. He tried to develop good conditioning and explosiveness in his fighters, and all his qualities can be seen through the fighters he produced.

Rudimar Fedrigo

Rudimar Fedrigo was born on December 25, 1965, in Curitiba, Brazil, and started his martial arts journey at a young age. He initially trained in traditional martial arts such as karate and taekwondo before transitioning to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Fedrigo earned his black belt in BJJ under Master Carlson Gracie, one of the most respected figures in the history of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Together with his brother Rafael Cordeiro, Fedrigo started the Chute Boxe Academy in the early 1990s. The gym immediately became well-known for its distinctive method of developing fighters of the highest caliber. Fedrigo’s coaching style emphasized combining grappling abilities from Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu with striking techniques from Muay Thai, boxing, and kickboxing.

Chute Boxe was unique in that it strongly emphasized physical preparation and mental toughness. Fedrigo thought that to handle the demands of MMA competition, athletes needed to be both physically and mentally prepared. This strategy contributed to developing fighters renowned for their relentless speed, aggressive striking, and never-say-die attitude.

Wanderlei Silva, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, Anderson Silva, and Jose “Pele” Landi-Jons are a few of the most well-known figures connected to Chute Boxe. These competitors became well-known for their thrilling fighting techniques and abilities to win matches.

John Kavanagh

John Raymond Kavanagh was born in 1977 in Churchtown, Dublin, Ireland, and is the head coach and founder of Straight Blast Gym Ireland and president of the Irish MMA Association. John is a battle-tested MMA fighter with a 4th-degree black belt in Jui Jitsu under Matt Thornton, a 2nd-degree black belt in Kenpo Karate, and one of the world’s best coaches who was named Coach of the Year in 2017.

He is best known for producing Conor McGregor, as well as Gunnar Nelson, Johnny Walker, Kiefer Crosbie, and Brad Katona. Kavanagh allows lighter and more frequent training with constant activation of brain cells. When it comes to a healthy and properly functioning body, he forces exercises that involve the whole body.

He tries to transfer his training program to lifestyle because he says that, for competitors, just going to the gym is not enough. He advocates a playful approach to training and allows his athletes more mental than physical rest. The training under John Kavanagh is always interesting and fun, without room for boredom in his classes, which is a great way to keep the fighters’ full attention on the task at hand, of course, with hard work. His mission is to show the world that anyone can train and become a champion.

Ray Longo

Ray Longo was born on October 16, 1957, in North Babylon, New York. He began his martial arts journey young, training in various disciplines such as karate and kickboxing. Ray’s passion for combat sports eventually led him to pursue a career as an MMA coach. Together with former UFC welterweight champion Matt Serra, Longo established the Serra-Longo Fight Team in the early 2000s.

The squad immediately became well-known for developing elite competitors who excelled in the UFC and other top promotions. The combination of technical skill improvement, physical training, and mental preparation are key components of Longo’s coaching approach.

Chris Wiedman, Al Iaquinta, Aljamain Sterling, and Merab Dvalishvili are the results of his deep knowledge of MMA and superb coaching. Ray strives to create fighters who are physically fit and mentally strong, which is the key to his philosophy. He knows how to connect with his fighters on a high mental level, thus instilling a hard work ethic and discipline in them, and he discovered his love for what he does long before he got paid for it when few people were coaching.

The motivation of fighters and constant learning is another of his coaching qualities, and Longo believes in the power of adapting and adjusting strategies to stay ahead in the ever-changing world of mixed martial arts.

Eugene Bareman

Eugene Bareman was born in 1979 in Auckland, New Zealand, and has Dutch and Samoan roots. As a young man, he practiced kickboxing and Muay Thai and is a multiple champion of New Zealand in several categories. He competed in professional MMA, and as a grappler, he won several national tournaments in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

All these competitions made him a top trainer who, in 2007, found and established City Kickboxing Gym in New Zealand. Champions and UFC fighters, such as Alexander Volkanovski, Dan Hooker, Israel Adesanya, Kai Kara-France, and others come from his gym. Although his original goal of opening a gym with Doug Viney was to be able to dedicate himself more to his training, the wind of fate took him to coaching waters, where he has achieved excellent results so far.

Especially in recent years, he has been awarded multiple times as Coach of The Year and City Kickboxing as the Gym of The Year. In addition to the UFC’s killer fighters, Eugene has coached several quality boxing champions such as Junior Fa, Baby Nansen, and Hemi Ahio, leading them to national boxing titles.

His two-decade-long fighting and coaching experience prefers striking, and he gives his fighters the correct vision of a coach by training with them and by focusing on making complete MMA fighters and becoming a complete coach himself.

Matt Serra

Matthew John Serra was born in 1974 in East Meadow, New York, United States. Long before he became a coach, he honed his craft in various fighting arenas and has 18 MMA matches to his name, 5th-degree black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu under Renzo Gracie, ADCC champion, winner of the Pan American Championship, UFC Hall of Famer, Welterweight champion and Ultimate Fighter 4 winner.

With these qualifications, he began to build his coaching career with Ray Longo in the Serra-Longo Fight Team, which includes famous former champions and great UFC fighters who, with their knowledge, always took victories whenever they were underdogs. His positive attitude is responsible for developing incredible communication with his students, achieving enviable loyalty, and building a family environment for his beloved team.

His fighters are known for their quality grappling, as they come from a wrestling background that has come to an even better expression in Serra-Longo Gym, where they have developed superb striking along with well-conditioned bodies ready for a 25-minute fight in which you will hardly see fatigue on their face and performance. He has a great relationship with Ray Long, where the respect for the profession is mutual and maximally supportive. This can be witnessed every time you see them together, as they complement each other.

Matt Hume

Coach Matt Hume was born on August 24, 1966, in Kirkland, Washington, United States, and his home is AMC Kickboxing & Pankration, the founder of which in 1988 and head coach. This gym is probably familiar to you because it produced great fighters and champions such as Josh Barnett, Rich Franklin, and Bibiano Fernandez.

There is also Bob Sapp and Jens Pulver, as well as the legendary and one of the best fighters of all time, Demetrious Johnson. Matt is experienced in MMA matches, where he has recorded ten appearances with five wins, and he is no stranger to professional submission grappling competitions.

His Pankatrion Gym also hosted nine fighting events from 1999 to 2008 and is also the oldest MMA Gym in North America and the second oldest in the world. Matt is known as a wizard, which perfectly describes his coaching abilities, as he strives to make complete fighters in all fields of MMA ready for any situation.

Precisely because of this thinking, he managed to create not only MMA champions but also champions in individual sports. Matt is globally recognized as one of the game’s greatest minds, the mastermind of his team’s “military operations,” and a genius at his job, who rose from being a fighter and top coach to the position of head official of ONE Championship.

Tim Welch

Tim Welch was born in 1990 in Montana, US, and has a vast knowledge of the MMA sport; he is known as the head coach of the current champion, Sean O’Malley, with whom he also has a friendly relationship and understanding, which is one of the big reasons for Sean’s success. Sean said that his favorite thing was being able to be himself next to Tim.

Owner of BJJ blackbelt and seasoned in MMA fights with a perfect finishing rate in 14 won fights; he is the ICF belt winner in his eight-year-long career. His MMA background, knowledge, and undeniable passion for the sport make him one of the best in the business. He gained knowledge by traveling to various gyms and trying to collect and learn as much information as possible.

Tim is a true master of boxing techniques adapted for MMA. He was intelligent in the ring, and his fighting IQ came to the fore when he started watching the fight from a coaching angle where he could see all the holes in the opposition and use it to benefit his fighter. The team knows how to break the ego of its fighters tolerably and is always there to motivate them to train and improve in a sane way.

Rafael Cordeiro

Rafael Cordeiro was born in 1973 in Curitiba, Brazil, and is the owner and head coach of his Kings MMA Gym, which opened in 2010 and was an instant success. Top champion figures such as Lyoto Machida, Anderson Silva, Fabricio Werdum, Mauricio Rua, Rafael Dos Anjos, and many greats of the welter and middleweight categories come from his martial arts gym, whom he managed to bring to all major MMA world titles.

Several times awarded as Coach of the Year, winner of the IVC Lightweight Vale Tudo Championship, a black belt in jiu-jitsu, with experience in wrestling. Cordeiro is also an experienced Muay Thai fighter with a black belt, three national championships, and an MMA fighter with six appearances. Rafael is also an experienced boxing trainer whose classes the legendary Mike Tyson went through.

He is a producer of top MMA strikers, putting much work into those segments, and his motivation for coaching was the desire to help young fighters. His fighters had to master every striking segment, including all eight limbs in standup and on the ground, using his Muay Thai knowledge transferred to the cage. Rafael forces ways to finish fights, aggressiveness, and fighting in close contact, such as clinch and dirty boxing, striving to create merciless power in his students ‘ gameplans.

Danny Castillo

Daniel Alfonso Castillo was born in 1979 in San Francisco, California, United States. Along with Urijah Faber and Chris Holdsworth, Daniel is one of the head coaches at Team Alpha Male in Sacramento, California. He is a black belt in jiu-jitsu under Fábio “Pateta” Prado, a retired MMA fighter with 27 appearances, of which he recorded 17 victories, and a veteran of the WEC and UFC organizations.

In Alpha Male, he trained as a fighter back in the days when Duane Ludwig was present, and after becoming a fighter, he joined his gym as a trainer. Castillo concentrates on honing tactics, enhancing combat plans, and advising potential athletes as part of his role as a coach. The depth of Danny Castillo’s professional fighting experience underpins his skill as an MMA coach.

His comprehensive knowledge of different fighting stances and methods enables him to offer his trainees insightful advice. In addition, Castillo has a distinct perspective on grappling and takedown defense due to his experience as a competitive wrestler. To assist boxers in reaching their maximum potential, his coaching technique emphasizes discipline, hard effort, and mental toughness.

His contributions to the sport as a competitor and a coach have had a long-lasting effect. By imparting his wisdom and expertise to the upcoming generation of fighters, he continues to influence the direction of MMA.

Marcus Silveira

Marcus “Conan” Silviera was born on September 28, 1969, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He started his combat sports journey in a Brazilian jiu-jitsu class as a young boy. After that, he transitioned to MMA, where he is experienced as a fighter, a coach, and a well-known pioneer of the sport in Brazil.

He is one of the head trainers and founders of American Top Team. He gained his reputation as a well-rounded fighter competing for PRIDE, WEC, and UFC. He ended his career with six wins and four losses and dedicated himself to coaching. With other main gym heads, he made ATT a club known for producing great fighters and champions such as Robbie Lawler, Tyron Woodley, Jorge Masvidal, Dustin Poirer, and many others.

The goal of Silviera’s teaching style is to develop competitors who are well-rounded and excel in every MMA discipline. He emphasizes the value of mental toughness and discipline and the significance of having excellent foundations in striking, grappling, and wrestling. Numerous boxers have seen remarkable professional success while being coached by Silviera.

Through his teaching, they were able to realize their full potential and excel in various enterprises. Silviera’s skill at customizing his training techniques to each fighter’s unique strengths and limitations has been crucial to their success.

Eric Del Fiero

Eric Del Fierro is the head coach and co-founder of the MMA Alliance Gym, where he played a major role in producing great fighters at the highest level of the sport. As a coach, he has extensive knowledge of all aspects of sports. He can create top training programs and adapt different techniques and styles to his students.

Del Fierro played a crucial role in the rise of Dominick Cruz, a former bantamweight champion of the UFC and one of the world’s greatest fighters, and under his tutelage are Ross Pearson, Jeremy Stephens, and Phil Davis. He focuses his work system on basic techniques and fundamentals that are repeated repeatedly.

Eric favors discipline and hard work while emphasizing mental toughness and body conditioning. Not a single detail can escape his coaching attention, and he showed his strategic abilities through his incredible analysis of fights, which led to his and his student’s success.

Eric also transfers his knowledge outside the gym through seminars and is one of the best MMA mentors in the community. Del Fierro has contributed to the sport beyond teaching, as he has also worked to plan and publicize events. He is one of the sport’s well-known coaches due to his commitment and influence on the MMA community.

Henri Hooft

Henri Hooft was born in 1969 in The Hague, Netherlands. He is a former coach of the Blackzillians team, where he spent six years, and then in 2017, Hooft established the Kill Cliff Fight Club, where he still operates today. From a young age, he was devoted to kickboxing, participating in various competitions, and competing over 100 times.

Henry further improved his striker skills after moving to Thailand, training in the art of the eight limbs. From his knowledge, Hooft produced his striking system, including a mix of Thai boxing and Dutch kickboxing. World-famous fighters like Rashad Evans, Eddie Alvarez, Vitor Belfort, Kamaru Usman, Jake Shields, and Luke Rockhold have gone through his classes.

Henry pays attention to intense cardio workouts that create mentally and physically strong fighters. As an advocate of Dutch kickboxing and Muay Thai, he also considers hellish body conditioning required. As for technique, Hooft always strives for the perfection of fundamental skills and then advanced techniques, forcing the development of a high Fighting IQ in his fighters.

One of his greatest qualities is creating awareness among fighters about the importance of adapting to the situation and the ability to create intelligent strategies even in the hottest of battles.

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Gregori Povolotski

I have been practicing martial arts since 2007. For as long as I can remember, I have always had a huge passion for combat sports, especially Muay Thai and boxing. Helping people on their martial arts journey is what drives me to keep training and learn new things. Read More About Me

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