All the great fighters in the UFC and elsewhere have great MMA coaches to thank. As fans of the sport, we often get fixated on the superstars in the cage and sometimes forget that it takes an entire team to put together a training camp.
Behind every champion and contender are MMA coaches who watch hours and hours of film, spend weeks crafting a game plan, and oversee an entire training program. Without the guidance of great MMA coaches, many fighters wouldn't be able to come into a fight fully prepared for the challenge ahead.
With that said, let's take a look at some of the best MMA coaches who have been mentoring some of our favorite cage fighters.
5 best MMA coaches in the world today:
#5 Ray Longo
Ray Longo is a true martial arts lifer. Since his early days in the 70s, Longo has trained in several different disciplines. In fact, he's among the few MMA coaches who are also certified instructors of Bruce Lee's Jeet Kune Do philosophy.
Longo was a long-time trainer of former UFC welterweight champion and Hall-of-Famer Matt Serra. After Serra retired from cage fighting, he teamed up with his former MMA coach to establish the now-popular Serra-Longo Fight Team.
Not only is Longo one of the best MMA coaches today, but he also is one of the most creative minds in the sport. During Serra's UFC Hall of Fame speech, he recalled some of Longo's bizarre training methods that included pushing cars down the street and running up the hills.
In recent years, Longo has helped a couple of UFC fighters obtain the most prestigious prize in MMA. He trained Chris Weidman for a history-making performance against Anderson Silva at UFC 162. Longo is also the head coach of controversial UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling.
#4 Javier Mendez, AKA
Former kickboxing champion Javier Mendez is a pioneer in the MMA world. Along with Dave Camarillo, Mendez founded the world-renowned American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) in 1985.
But it wasn't until the 90s before Mendez became one of the top MMA coaches. In 1997, his star pupil Frank Shamrock became the first fighter to win a UFC title under his tutelage. But Shamrock won't be the last.
Mendez has served as the head MMA coach of elite UFC fighters, including recently-retired former champions Daniel Cormier and Khabib Nurmagomedov. Mendez has also trained former UFC titleholders Cain Velasquez, BJ Penn, and Luke Rockhold.
#3 Rafael Cordeiro, Kings MMA
Rafael Cordeiro fought professionally, but his work as an elite MMA coach at the legendary Chute Boxe Academy in Brazil is what brought recognition to his name. Cordeiro guided several Brazilian superstars to reach the top of their respective divisions in the UFC.
Rafael dos Anjos, Fabricio Werdum, and Lyoto Machida validated Cordeiro's status as one of the best MMA coaches when they won UFC championships at different points in their careers. Cordeiro was also given credit for developing the stand-up games of octagon legends Anderson Silva, Mauricio 'Shogun' Rua, and Wanderlei Silva.
Cordeiro currently trains UFC middleweight standout Kelvin Gastelum and surging star Marvin Vettori at Kings MMA. The latter earned a title shot against Israel Adesanya after scoring five wins in a row in the octagon.
If 'The Italian Dream' could avenge his loss to Adesanya in a rematch at UFC 263, he'd be Cordeiro's first non-Brazilian student to win UFC gold.
#2 Greg Jackson, Jackson Wink MMA
Greg Jackson is the godfather of MMA coaches. That's because several fighters have blossomed into championship-caliber mixed martial artists under his care.
Unlike some of the MMA coaches on this list, Jackson boasts no professional fighting experience. However, his superior knowledge of the game and his ability to analyze fighters allowed him to emerge as one of the top MMA coaches in the world.
Jackson is the head trainer of former longtime UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones. Not only did he help 'Bones' capture the title at the age of 23, but he also helped him reign as the octagon's light heavyweight king for a long time.
It's worth noting that Jackson achieved his accolades as an MMA coach with a lot of help from his partner Mike Winkeljohn. The duo produced an abundance of talented UFC champions, including the aforementioned Jones, Rashad Evans, Holly Holm, and Andrei Arlovski.
#1 Trevor Wittman, Grudge Training Center
Trevor Wittman kickstarted his combat sports career as an amateur boxer. However, Wittman's journey as a fighter came to an end when he was diagnosed with a serious lung injury.
After retiring, Wittman founded the T’s K.O. Boxing Gym in Colorado, which eventually evolved into the Grudge Training Center in 2009. A few years later, he would become one of the most successful MMA coaches in the world.
Wittman is known for being a very detail-oriented trainer. In fact, he does not train very many MMA fighters because he gives each of his students a high level of attention.
The recently-concluded UFC 261 pay-per-view is a testament to Trevor Wittman's claim as one of the best MMA coaches today. Two of Wittman's proteges got the job done in their respective title fights.
In the co-main event, 'Thug' Rose Namajunas recaptured the UFC strawweight crown by knocking out Zhang Weili. Kamaru Usman, on the other hand, defended his UFC welterweight title by putting Jorge Masvidal to sleep in the main event.