Many of the cranes are now motionless in Las Vegas with some of the giant condo and casinos projects grinding to a hault yet there's one type of construction project that is booming, it's the gym business. Mixed martial arts and jiu-jitsu houses are popping up all over Las Vegas. With the addition of Wanderlei Silva and Frank Mir's new gyms, there's no less than eight high level training centers around Sin City. Fighters are moving in droves to Las Vegas to train with some of the biggest names in the sport. But just like the average population in Vegas, the fight world is also seeing many resident fighters leave Vegas. Troy Mandaloniz and Joe Stevenson both on this weekend's UFC 95 card have decided that the "Vegas life" was too much to handle.
"Vegas is an awesome place but too much temptation and not a place that I wanted to raise my family," said Stevenson, who recently moved back to his hometown, Victorville in California. "No one comes to Victorville to party."
Stevenson says his entire quality of life has improved away from the 24-hour town:
"I find myself at home more with my family and being a better dad, a better husband, a better brother, a better person and better fighter overall."
Fighters generally train twice a day, with the first session coming early in the morning. That can become a big problem if you can't stay away from the partying. Even if you're resisting those urges, your typical Vegas service industry job can screw you as well:
"It just comes down to being discplined," said Mandaloniz, who trained at Xtreme Couture but was dealing with injuries for much of the last year. "Being that I got injured, I had to go back to work. Working all those night club hours that kind of made things tough to go to practice at 11 in the morning when I just got off at five."
Click to hear Stevenson and Mandaloniz talk about their decisions to move:
Mandaloniz worked at several hot spots including Tao at The Venetian and Lavo at The Palazzo. He also spent six years at a notorious hot spot, Whiskey Sky.
"I don't miss the place. It was my time to come home and be with my family."
Mandaloniz is living back in Hawaii. He has opened a gym in Maui with his buddy Kendall Grove.
Stevenson pointed out that the problem with Las Vegas is the carryover effect after going nuts:
"All you need is one weekend like that and it sets off a bad week and now you're not giving everything you have in practice. There's no way I could live in Vegas and not have drank like I have for a year like I've done now."
Joe Daddy's biggest problem now is resisting all the Del Tacos along the I-15 corridor between Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
Stevenson faces Diego Sanchez in the main event at UFC 95 while Mandaloniz opens the card facing Paul Kelly.
It'll be interesting to track how some of the cast members from The Ultimate Fighter deal with living in Las Vegas. When you first get off the show you're not making a whole lot from fighting which means you have to get a job. If that job is in the service industry as Mandaloniz pointed out, there's a lot of temptations working into the wee hours. Recent additions to the Vegas gym scene include
Jon Koppenhaver War Machine, David Kaplan and Junie Browning. Koppenhaver already got into trouble last week when he punched out a co-worker at the club Krave.