For several years, MMAGOLD, a squadron in search of prosperity in mixed martial arts, has captured the attention of scouts throughout the Northern California region, as well as offered glimpses of the MMA gleam on global platforms, such as Invicta Fighting Championships or Bellator MMA. MMAGOLD, still in its infancy, has morphed from an outsider to a contender. On a daily basis, Jim West, MMAGOLD’s head coach imparts principles to rally the team’s trajectory that are similar to those scribbled out by Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outlier: The Story of Success (2008). Of course, the athletes must enter the cage and execute flawlessly to advance along in a game of inches, but West discussed the formula he and his coaching staff follow to produce winning results.
Ten thousand hours is the magic number of greatness.
When West cruises through the front doors of the gym, his laid back demeanor masks the intensity of his preparations. Luckily, the weight of being the head coach doesn’t slump West’s shoulders to the south; in fact, he admitted his surrounding cast of coaches share in passing enough grains of sand through an hourglass to fill a desert,
“When you put in thousands of hours, it actually makes it [communication between coach and fighter] really easy. I study a tremendous amount, not just for specific opponents, but all possible future opponents we may face. A lot of the fighters may not know this, but it’s not just me as a coach; I know Thomas Fallon [kickboxing coach] does it like crazy, Mike Guy [boxing coach] does it, Alex Grunder [wrestling coach] does it, Ryan Brown [jiu-jitsu coach] does it, and Joe [MF] Beck (muay thai/kickboxing coach) does it.” West exclaimed the threat of losing stirs a willingness to invest countless ticks off the clocks into his research, “I don’t ever want to be in the corner, look across the cage, and be like, ‘I’m not sure if I prepared myself enough for the athlete,’ because we put a lot of pressure on ourselves, too.”
Outliers are those who have been given opportunities—and who have had the strength and presence of mind to seize them.
The coaches at MMAGOLD analyze the game as ‘human chess,’ allowing them to see the checkmate long before the pieces were even set out. Barking orders from the corner, the fighter dances to their cadence, which were drilled into the muscles’ memory during practice. West discussed this syncing process,
“The athletes train everything consistently and equally, so they begin to learn the terminology: When I say, ‘I need you to get an underhook on the right side; I need you to cross-face; or I need you to give me shoulder pressure.’ It might be just little tidbits of what the technique is, but, just those tidbits is all you need when you train so often in all the different aspects.”
Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good.
If a mixed martial artist believes they’ve logged the prerequisite hours to attain mastery, West would suggest: punching a clock is only a piece of the puzzle,
“It’s not just the thousands of hours of work, it’s putting in the work during the times things are difficult: doing it when they’re hurt; doing it when they’re bleeding; and never questioning anything.”
Success is the result of what sociologists like to call “accumulative advantage.”
Placing MMAGOLD’s coaches and competitors in a colander, mixed with cherished memories and daily grind, trust sifts itself out. This bond allows for a smooth execution of each game plan going into a contest:
“If they throw a certain combination, this other combination is likely to be open for the counter. If you’re on the ground, it’s the same thing.” He elaborated on the knowledge engineering this dynamic, “All of the coaches have the ability to do that, and that’s what makes MMAGOLD, in my opinion, collectively so strong. I’m looking for the natural progression and being able to call ‘it’ out before it happens. That way we can kind of anticipate what it is.” It may all be a guessing game, but West promised, “The likelihood that we are going to get outsmarted by another coach is not very high, and that’s the approach we take.”
Don’t depend on heaven for food, but on your own two hands carrying the load.
No matter how concise and formulaic his plans are while working a corner, the onus, in the end, falls on the side of the fighter,
“At times, it [over planning] may not always be the best thing as well because: the athlete has to be able to react on their own, not just to a command every single time.”
The values of the world we inhabit and the people we surround ourselves with have a profound effect on who we are.
MMA’s popularity has soared in recent years, and places to enhance technique are as common as coffee houses. The coaches’ compassion paves each road to victory and, West would argue, differentiates MMAGOLD from other branded fight teams. The moment you cross the threshold at Urban Sprawl Fitness, West concluded: you’ll be toe-to-toe with sincerity,
“We do this from our heart, so it’s coming from a different place. People can tell. When you come to MMAGOLD, you see the facts of what happens behind the closed doors of MMAGold. We take care of our athletes, and it comes from the heart. The athletes can tell when they get here.”