UFC News: Rashad Evans says the Blackzillians gym is splitting up due to drama worse than 'ten high schools put together'
What’s the story?
The ‘Blackzillians’ gym operating since 2010, in Boca Raton, Florida is now splitting up. That’s according to former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Rashad Evans, who expressed this sentiment during Monday’s edition of the MMA Hour. Evans, who is also one of the founding members of the Blackzillians gym, confessed that his gym has ‘splintered’.
The gym that is run by the owner of Authentic Sports Management, Glenn Robinson, who also represents individual fighters, is splitting up and being divided into smaller groups.
Evans has openly stated that the main reason behind this break-up of the highly successful Blackzillians gym is the irreconcilable differences, between Glenn Robinson and striking coach Henri Hooft. Robinson and Hooft being chief authority figures in the gym have recently had several differences of opinion in the recent past.
Evans, recently, said in an interview that Hooft wanted to introduce his own brand of Dutch Kickboxing centred training, while Robinson had a different setup in mind. As a result of the disagreements that followed, Hooft and a few other fighters, including Evans moved to Combat Club gym in Boynton Beach, Florida.
Furthermore, Evans went on to claim that even at their new gym, the Blackzillians team that moved with Hooft, ran into a few problems. This, in turn, has resulted in several members of the Blackzillians team moving from one gym to another in a nomadic fashion.
In case you didn’t know...
‘Suga’ Rashad Evans (19-5) was scheduled to face Tim Kennedy (18-6) at UFC 205 at Madison Square Garden in New York. However, the New York State Athletic Commission (NYSAC) forced Evans to withdraw from the bout due to a few issues in Evans’s pre-fight MRI scan.
Now, Evans has confessed that in the lead-up to UFC 205, his training camp was a mess due to the ongoing issues in the Blackzillians gym. Evans declared that all the gossip and one-upmanship going on in the power struggle at the gym, made it difficult for sincere members to train and prepare for their upcoming fights.
For several months, starting in early 2016, rumors were rife that the Blackzillians gym is headed for a split. However, top Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) stars fighting out of Blackzillians stated that such issues were non-existent and nothing more than rumors.
The aforementioned Blackzillians has served as a home front for several top MMA stars such as Matt Mitrione, Alastair Overeem, Eddie Alvarez and Vitor Belfort, among others.
The heart of the matter:
According to ‘Suga’, the two authority figures, namely Glenn Robinson and Henri Hooft, were responsible for this in-fighting and split of the well-known Blackzillians team. Evans stated that Glenn and Hooft didn’t see eye-to-eye on several issues, particularly in recent times, and this behaviour, eventually, trickled down to the individual fighters training at the gym.
Here what Evans had to say on the MMA Hour (courtesy: MMA Fighting)
“The truth of the matter is, the team is splintered, the team is fragmented. It just became a very hard thing for Glenn to kind of keep his grasp as far as keeping everyone together.”
Evans stated that there were certain people in the gym that allowed their ‘huge egos’ to get in the way of gym ethics. He claimed that, in recent times, all certain gym members did was gossip. In fact, Evans even went on to state that the drama in the gym, one of the top MMA gyms in the world, exceeded that of ‘ten high schools put together’.
He made a stand that, personally, his aim behind going to the gym was to train- nothing more, nothing less. However, certain other members who were merely interested in forwarding their business interests, rather than the training of the fighters, were spoiling training routines with their constant bickering and the resultant arguments.
‘Suga’ found all this drama to be extremely distracting and also claimed that this in-gym gossip threw him off his game.
As of now, Rashad Evans has decided to train with Henri Hooft. He along with a few other fighters like Anthony Johnson, Kamaru Usman, Michael Johnson and Gilbert Burns, have left the original Blackzillians camp, run by Robinson, and have decided to continue training with renowned Dutch striking coach Henri Hooft.
Evans is not all too happy about this split, especially, considering the fact that he was one of the founding members of the gym.
As far as the future of the Blackzillians brand is concerned, it seems to have taken a huge hit, as of late. Rumours of a split have been rife since early 2016, and now, the gym has been divided into several small factions.
Regardless, of why this separation took place, this is not a good look for the Blackzillians. Currently, it seems like the Blackzillians’ reputation as a top MMA gym has been shattered, at least temporarily, if not forever.
Rashad Evans has had a long and illustrious career which includes a UFC world title as well. He is on the verge of retirement and has been dependent, if only to a certain extent, on the Blackzillians gym as a source of income.
Evans has had very few fights in the past 3-5 years and with retirement knocking at the door, this split of his team couldn’t have come at a worse time. Currently, Evans seems to have two options.
On one hand, he could let go of the Blackzillians brand and start a new team from scratch. On the other hand, he could claim his faction (along with Hooft) to be the real Blackzillians, as opposed to the Glenn Robinson-led faction in Boca Raton.
Nevertheless, the Blackzillians gym break-up is yet another glaring example of how unforgiving the fight business can be. As Evans, himself, says, “The fight game eats and chews you up if you are not strong and resilient enough.” That said, it’ll be real interesting to see how this saga unfolds in the coming weeks.
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