The greatness seen in UFC fighters is a product of both the mixed martial artists themselves and their coaches. A solid gameplan is fundamental to ensuring a fighter's success inside the octagon. This is especially true if a fighter is facing an opponent who presents a stylistic challenge.
Great fighters are typically paired with great coaches. Often-times, the most well-known coaches in the MMA world were once fighters of little to no renown. However, some coaches were prominent enough during their fighting careers to have once been members of the roster.
While some of them were average fighters, others were mixed martial artists of exceptional skill. As more fighters retire and transition into coaching, this list compiles a list of five fighters who have become great coaches.
#5. James Krause, Glory MMA
James Krause is one of the few coaches who is under 40 years of age. The second-degree Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt enjoyed a fairly successful career with 28 wins and only eight losses. It was a career that came to an end only two years ago.
However, upon the end of his career as a professional fighter, James Krause found new life as the head coach of Glory MMA. While his recent ban from Miles Jones' corner due to a betting scandal has cast a shadow over his name, 'The James Krause' has earned a reputation as a fantastic coach.
Perhaps the American's most well-known pupil is Brandon Moreno, who recently joined Glory MMA and captured the interim flyweight title from his guidance. Other fighters under his guidance include the surging Jeff Molina and at one point, he even trained one-time women's featherweight contender Megan Anderson.
#4. Bob Cook, American Kickboxing Academy
One of the most prominent coaches at the American Kickboxing Academy, Bob Cook has been instrumental in the gym's championship run. Under his guidance, AKA produced multiple UFC champions like Khabib Nurmagomedov, Islam Makhachev, Luke Rockhold, Daniel Cormier and Cain Velasquez.
However, what many might not know is that 'Crazy' Bob Cook was once an MMA fighter himself. In fact, the AKA trainer was a UFC fighter. He competed at welterweight but his stint as a mixed martial artist was brief. He mounted a single UFC win before retiring with an undefeated record of five wins and no losses.
#3. Duane Ludwig, Ludwig Martial Arts
Long before he was a member of Team Alpha Male's coaching staff, Duane Ludwig was a fighter in his own right. He was both a kickboxer and MMA fighter with several fights in the UFC and even Strikeforce. Unfortunately, his run as a mixed martial artist was less than successful.
Despite once owning the record for the fastest KO in UFC history, 'Bang's' career ended with a 21-14 record. Upon becoming a coach, Duane Ludwig was instrumental in transforming T.J. Dillashaw from a wrestler into one of the finest strikers in UFC history.
He guided him towards championship success before the two broke away from TAM and settled into 'Bang's own team, Ludwig Martial Arts.
#2. Andre Pederneiras, Nova União
Andre Pederneiras is one of the best MMA coaches to have ever emerged from Brazil. The man responsible for introducing the world to the legendary José Aldo has coached a series of exceptional fighters. Under his tutelage, Renan Barão captured the undisputed bantamweight title.
Former heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos was also one of his students. 'Dedé' also guided Cláudia Gadelha into title contention. Prior to becoming a coach, he enjoyed a brief and unsuccessful stint as an MMA fighter. The legendary coach once fought at UFC 21, where he suffered a TKO loss.
Sadly, his career ended with only one win, one loss and two draws. However, as a coach, 'Dedé' found his feet and earned global renown.
#1. Khabib Nurmagomedov, American Kickboxing Academy
Khabib Nurmagomedov's story is well-known to most modern-day MMA fans. The Dagestani legend is an undefeated phenom who retired as the undisputed lightweight champion. His dominance has been unlike anything anyone has ever seen. His one-of-a-kind success as a fighter seems to have translated into a coaching run.
Now working as a coach at AKA, 'The Eagle' has been instrumental to the team's success. He revatilized Belal Muhammad at UFC 280, guiding the Palestinian to his first finish in three years. He is also credited with cornering his cousin Usman Nurmagomedov into capturing the Bellator lightweight title.
Similarly, Islam Makhachev realized his destiny and became the lightweight champion under Khabib Nurmagomedov's leadership. The legendary Dagestani's grappling knowledge has proved invaluable, enabling him to walk his fighters into winning sequences on the mat.