MMA Coach Of The Year, Greg Jackson

MMA Coach Of The Year, Greg Jackson

Fresh off of his two wins at the World MMA Awards Ceremony, one for Coach Of The Year and the second for Best MMA Gym, Greg Jackson remains one of the hardest working individuals in the sport of MMA. Greg operates Jackson's Submission Fighting out of New Mexico and also founded a new martial art, Gaidojutsu, which combines wrestling and basic judo locks.

Reports from states fighters from Jackson's camp have a winning percentage of 81%. Greg also coaches a 'who's who' of UFC stars (including Canada's own Georges "Rush" St.Pierre, former Light-Heavyweight Champion "Sugar" Rashad Evans, Nate "The Great" Marquadt, and Keith Jardine) but remains incredibly humble. Obviously deserving of his accolades, Greg remains modest in insisting that his success is because he is surrounded by great athletes.

We know there’s more to it than just that.

Despite his busy schedule (and just finishing up another successful win in the octagon with Rashad Evans getting the decision over Thiago Silva at UFC 108), I got to spend a little time with Greg to get some insight on what it's like to work with some of the best talent in the UFC, his path into the world of Mixed Martial Arts, his relationship with Muscle Pharm and how Mixed Martial Arts fits in the world of fitness.

Can you tell us about your fighting school? (History and evolution)

I started my school in 1992. Back then, it was a school strictly for self-defense; we didn’t do any competitions. In the mid 90s, some of my students talked me into coaching them in some grappling competitions. We won some of those and some early bare-fisted vale tudo tournaments. As we kept winning, more people came and to make a long story short, here we are today!

You are obviously keeping busy with such high profile names. Can you tell us what it is like to work with such big names as GSP, Rashad Evans, Nate Marquadt, Joe “Daddy” Stevenson and Keith Jardine?

It is a real pleasure to work with such amazing athletes. It is a great feeling watching them grow and evolve; becoming stronger and stronger. I’m very lucky they keep me around, haha!

I heard you have developed your own form of Martial Arts. Can you explain more of it to us? How did that come about?

I had to teach myself most of my martial arts, because there was nobody around New Mexico doing jiu jitsu or MMA. I think that having to figure out so many things on my own allows me, even now, to stay on the cutting edge of techniques and different aspects of MMA. The great thing about grappling tournaments and MMA fights is that if the ideas don’t work consistently, you can throw them out; you have a laboratory with the evolution of ideas that can be guided.

How much bigger do you see MMA, as a sport and popular culture, growing?

MMA is the fastest growing sport in the world. It is already out-performing most other major league sports. I think as our sport continues to gain mainstream acceptance, more fans will be exposed and fall in love with it.

With the growth in popularity, what is the biggest difference in your life and work as compared to 10 years ago when MMA was in its infancy stages?

It has gotten bigger than ever dreamed possible. The intensity of my schedule can sometimes get out of hand, and I have to play a constant juggling act between work and family. The bright side is, I can actually make a living at this and I love it so much I wouldn’t want to do anything else with my day!

Your sponsor, MusclePharm, is all over the UFC. What kind of company are they?

MusclePharm’s staff are very approachable and knowledgeable at the shows. Even more so, they seem to be one of the more progressive sports nutrition companies out there. MusclePharm is very successful because they are always on the cutting edge of sports supplementation. They are an amazing company and we have been working together nearly since their inception. They sponsor so many athletes, because athletes know their products are the best. The staff is dedicated to making the best products and taking care of the athletes the best way that they can. What more could you ask for?

Fitness/Bodybuilding shows like the Olympia and Arnolds have seen increased UFC presence in each of their shows. Do you think there are synergies with MMA and Fitness/Bodybuilding?

I think that athletes of any nature can learn from each other and help each other progress. These two particular styles of athletes look at a lot of the same supplements to help them along their journeys. Muscle growth and recovery, for example, are facets these two sports share. Even though the training methods are different, the nutritional needs can be similar.

I know a lot people are reluctant to still step foot in an MMA school for their fitness needs. What advice can you give someone that feels intimidated to use MMA as a part of their fitness regimen?

Most people do MMA just for fun. The great thing about it is that you learn a practical life skill, in addition to getting incredibly fit and in shape. There are few other sports that can offer you something so practical and good for you at the same time. Your life shrinks or expands in accordance with your courage. My advice is to go for it!

Congratulations on winning “coach of the year” at the MMA Awards. That must be such an honor. How does it feel to be recognized with such a prestigious title?

I am truly humbled that so many fans voted for me to win this prestigious award. My wife and kids are super supportive, and all my fighters and the coaches that help me are the ones that this ward truly belongs to.

Thank you so much for your time, Greg. We look forward to seeing your fighters continue their success in the Octagon and catching up with you later this year. All the best in 2010!

–Reprinted with permission