MMA gyms are popping up all the time, but it’s no easy task to be considered among the elite, top level fighting destinations. There are several ingredients in the recipe for a quality fight team that include but are not limited to:
- Good coaching staff
- Plenty of bodies in the gym for sparring, rolling
- Quality training facility
- High caliber fighters
The Blackzilians fight team was formed in 2011 and seemed to have all those ingredients from the start. It saw several high-profile fighters immediately on board: Rashad Evans, Anthony Johnson, Michael Johnson, Gesias Cavalcante, Matt Mitrione, Thiago Silva, and even Bigfoot Silva was a member until Alistair Overeem decided to use the the gym for a brief stint (rumor was that team owner Glenn Robinson paid Overeem $500K to call the gym his home base). The team trained in a great facility and there wasn’t a shortage of bodies to suit their needs.
There was a world class coaching staff in the beginning that consisted of Henri Hooft, Jorge Santiago, Pedro Diaz, Jake Bonacci and Mike Van Arsdale. Inside a year, Van Arsdale was out and Mario Sperry was in to head up the team. It would only take 8 months for Sperry to leave, and in early 2013, another high profile coach, Kenny Monday, would join the team. A year later, Monday was fired. The team was constantly in the news because of the seemingly endless stream of trainers coming and going through the revolving door in South Florida. Respected wrestling coach, Neil Melanson, was hired in mid-2015, and was the last elite level coach to join the Blackzilians.
The Boca Raton-based camp recently dissolved, as announced by founding member Rashad Evans. Other insiders have also detailed the dissolution of the team, and the constant in all this is that there was trouble in paradise for quite some time. “High school drama,” lack of communication, manager interference and basic hostility were cited in interviews conducted by our own Tim Bissell.
There is something else could also be a major contributory factor in this whole shakeup, though. This past July, Glenn Robinson filed a Chapter 11 reorganization on his Iron Bridge Tools company. According to this report, the company’s debt exceeded their assets, leading to the filing.
“Fort Lauderdale attorney Craig A. Pugatch, who represents the debtor, said he expects Iron Bridge Tools to have an easy exit from bankruptcy because it projects to have enough cash flow to repay its creditors. It filed Chapter 11 because a vendor won a judgment and was seeking to garnish its accounts, so the company wanted to put all of its creditors on even footing, he said.
Iron Bridge Tools’ largest unsecured creditors include $9.9 million in trade debt to China-based ZheJiang Everpower, $2.8 million in trade debt to China-based Everpower Group, $490,805 in trade debt to Chicago-based True Value and $1.3 million in trade debt to Meridian International Co. In a motion for relief, the company said it owed $1.2 million to OTX Logistics for managing its intake and inventory warehouse and the company asked the bankruptcy court to let it continue using those facilities until a deal can be reached with the creditor.”
Rumors of financial issues have been swirling for some time, with Robinson even stating that he was open to the sale of his apparel brand, Jaco, but wouldn’t be leaving the sport. In November 2016, he denied rumors of the team disbanding, stating that he had sold the gym’s current location when the rent became too high, as reported by MMA Fighting:
“However, Robinson said he made the decision to sell that location when the rent became too high “and didn’t make financial sense.” Robinson is currently in the midst of building a new “state-of-the art” facility “unlike anything in MMA,” however, he wouldn’t disclose where in Florida it will be located at this time.”
H/T to Luke Thomas for the Chapter 11 link. Stay tuned to Bloody Elbow for more on this story as it continues to develop.
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