Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) is a sport enjoying a steady increase in popularity over recent years, and the more it has grown, the more fans and the general population have taken a keen interest in studying martial arts.
Many gyms have opened up in the wake of the sport’s boom, particularly in Asia. Most have elite level fighters training in their facilities.
As the sport continues to rise, expect more and more gyms to open up, although there are a few that stand out.
Here are the Top 10 Best MMA Camps in Asia.
#1 Evolve MMA
Evolve MMA is no doubt the most prestigious MMA gym in Asia today and for a few years running. The group has multiple world champions who train and teach in two facilities in Singapore. The biggest names include ONE Welterweight World Champion Ben Askren, ONE Lightweight World Champion Shinya Aoki, ONE Strawweight World Champion Dejdamrong Sor Amnuaysirichoke, sibling combo Angela and Christian Lee, UFC lightweight champion Rafael Dos Anjos, and world-renowned wrestling and MMA coach Heath Sims. And the list goes on and on.
#2 Korean Top Team
Top fighters include UFC lightweight “The Supernatural” Tae Hyun Bang and UFC middleweight Dongi “The Ox” Yang. Korean Top Team fighters have had a solid reputation of being really tough and durable, and are the top notch of talent in the country. Veteran Jong Man “Special Force” Kim leads the pack of youngsters, guiding them through the rigors of the sport.
#3 Tribe Tokyo
Owned by the legendary Ryo Chonan, who once infamously submitted the great Anderson Silva with a flying scissor heel hook, Tribe Tokyo is one of the top MMA gyms in Japan. ONE flyweight Yasuhiro Urushitani is one of the more prominent members, as is veteran Yuya Shirai of DEEP. More importantly, the affiliation continues to cultivate young Japanese MMA stars in the hopes of producing a world champion.
#4 Krazy Bee
ONE featherweight standout Kotetsu “No Face” Boku is one of the best products of Krazy Bee and is a fixture in big fights with Asia’s largest MMA promotion, ONE Championship. He was the former ONE Lightweight World Champion, losing to Shinya Aoki in his first defence, but Boku to this day continues to be a dangerous opponent for anyone. Teammate and UFC fighter Kyoji Horiguchi became the first Asian fighter to challenge for a UFC title since Yushin Okami, losing to arguably the top pound-for-pound fighter in MMA today in Demetrious Johnson.
#5 Team M.A.D., Busan
Here, UFC welterweight “The Stun Gun” Dong Hyun Kim stands out above the rest and has impressed recently inside The Octagon, defeating the likes of Joshua Burkman and Dominic Waters in exciting fashion. Kim has lost only to the best in his division and continues to lead Team M.A.D. in 2016 to newer heights. Other fighters include top UFC female strawweight Seo Hee Ham and former Spirit MC standout Chang Hyun “Armbar” Kim.
#6 Team Lakay
There is no doubt that Team Lakay is the Philippines’ top and most prestigious MMA camp, with big names like Eduard “Landslide” Folayang and Geje “Gravity” Eustaquio. Three Team Lakay fighters — Eustaquio, Kevin Belingon and Honorio Banario — all competed for ONE Championship world titles in the past, with Banario enjoying a brief stint as the promotion’s inaugural featherweight champion. Led by coach Mark Sangiao, Team Lakay is steadily rising, boasting of improved grappling games from their fighters. In ONE Championship’s last Manila event, Team Lakay went 5-0 in a complete shutout.
#7 Xi’An Sports University
Xi’An Sports University is arguably the largest fight team in all of Asia. Spearheaded by the “Dongbei Tiger” Guan Wang, who has only one defeat on his record, Xi’An Sports University features a solid group of guys. Former UFC fighter Jumabieke “Leopard” Tuerxun also had a stint with Xi’An, but has moved on. Most of the Xi’An guys are up-and-comers, which means well for the future of the group and for the sport of MMA in China.
#8 Tiger Muay Thai
Two of the top names in MMA run the show at Tiger Muay Thai. UFC welterweight Brian “Bad Boy” Ebersole and ONE lightweight contender and former UFC star Roger “El Matador” Huerta lead the pack for the Phuket, Thailand based group. Another great fighter is ONE lightweight Tetsuya Yamada, who gave the Philippines’ Eduard Folayang all he could handle in three rounds. Over the past few years, Tiger Muay Thai has built a reputation as being one of the best destination gyms in Asia. Literally located in the middle of paradise in Phuket, fighters from all over the world visit the gym to train and hone their skills.
#9 Bali MMA
Bali MMA has risen in the past few years, quickly becoming one of the top gyms in Asia and arguably the top gym in Indonesia. Situated in the midst of active volcanoes, Bali MMA was built by brothers Anthony and Andrew Leone. Anthony is one of ONE Championship’s best flyweights and is currently on his way to a possible future title opportunity. It seems, Bali MMA may have a thing for siblings as two of their top fighters also include the brotherly combo of Gianni and Keanu Subba. ONE bantamweight Casey Suire rounds out an amazing team of talented athletes.
#10 American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) Thailand
UFC welterweight veteran Mike “Quick” Swick leads the pack over at American Kickboxing Academy in Thailand. The San Jose, California native heads a great team of young guns which includes ONE Championship welterweight contender Jeff “The Machine” Huang.
There is no doubt MMA is on the rise in Asia, given the amount of gyms that have popped up in the past 5 years alone. But this list comprises of the absolute best and a lot of great things are expected from these amazing groups of guys this 2016. – By Carlos Cinco
Follow this writer on Twitter: @CarlosCincoFCB