Putting The City Firmly On The MMA Map

By Taff Davies

Photos by Bo Cross

When I first visited San Diego’s newest MMA gym, The Arena, 3 months ago, I wrote an article afterwards about how San Diego was rapidly becoming a hotspot for Mixed Martial Arts training. The article detailed some of the famous trainers in the city such as Saulo Ribeiro (6x World Jiu Jitsu Champion). It also described how the San Diego climate and lifestyle was drawing some of the best fighters from all over the world.

What I didn’t realize when I wrote that article was how quickly The Arena would help prove my point about the explosion of interest in the San Diego MMA world. In 3 short months, The Arena has become a magnet for the professional San Diego MMA scene, with support from its corporate sponsors including Sinister Brand and Built To Fight. Although not a large commercial facility like some of its competitors, The Arena has everything a MMA gym should, while offering a much more personal environment. That seems to work in its favor, at least as far as the professional fighters go.

Also, unlike other gyms that concentrate more on fitness classes, The Arena caters to everyday people who want to train like fighters. These people want to get the benefits of exercise while actually learning real fighting skills. In this area, The Arena more than delivers, with classes including Boxing, MMA, Muay Thai, No Gi Jiu Jitsu, and Wrestling. The instructors are all top-notch; all of them either active or former professional fighters.

The Arena’s focused approach is obviously working because their professional MMA team is loaded with talent and their daily practices are packed. An argument could be made that The Arena Team is now the best in Southern California and one of the top 10 MMA teams in the country. It includes Diego Sanchez, Rani Yahya, Xande Ribeiro, Fabricio “Morango” Camoes, Joe Duarte, Pat Speight, Rick Slaton, Waylon Kennell, Diego Garijo, Ryan Burwick, Casey Ryan, and many others. It’s also a very active team, with members fighting in the UFC, WEC, Affliction, Strikeforce, and others.

In fact, Arena Team Member Rani Yahya (13-4) just fought in WEC 40 on 4/5, winning in 1:07 of the 1st round and Waylon Kennel debuted in Strikeforce on 4/12. Many other fights are coming up shortly for The Arena’s fighters, including Xande Ribeiro in Sengoku on 5/2, Diego Garijo in Bellator on 5/8, Ryan Burwick in The Badlands Beatdown on 5/9, Fabricio “Morango” Camoes in Strikeforce on 5/15, Joe Duarte in Wargods at Viejas Casino on 5/30, and of course, Diego Sanchez in UFC on 6/20.

With such an active team, The Arena will be drawing attention in the months to come. Along with other San Diego MMA gyms like Alliance MMA in Chula Vista, which features fighters like Brandon Vera and Dominic Cruz and trainer Eric Delfierro, The Arena should continue to draw some of the best fighting talent into San Diego, putting the city firmly on the MMA map.

For more info on The Arena, call them at

619-222-5554 or go online to their website at or their MySpace page at

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