MMA Junkie’s 2022 Gym of the Year: Fortis MMA

Although my admitted bias would love to anoint Xtreme Couture as MMA Junkie’s 2022’s Gym of the Year for its wide-ranging body of work both on the big stage and the regional scene, this is a good opportunity to recognize a smaller squad like Fortis MMA – a crew that continues to prove it belongs among the best gyms in our space.

For context, Fortis MMA out of Dallas opened in 2017 and was already posting a 35-9 record in the UFC across the years 2018 and 2019. That’s impressive.

Let’s be honest: most awards devolve into popularity contests, and it’s incredibly easy to make a case for most of the big-name gyms out there. That said, smaller gyms like Fortis MMA are able to cultivate team environments that can be hard to come by.

Akin to Xtreme Couture head coach Eric Nicksick, Fortis MMA’s Sayif Saud – despite being a lifelong martial artist – also comes from a football background, so it should be a surprise to no one that accountability and comradery are big themes. But as good of a coach and cornerman as Saud has proven to be, it’s the work of the overall team (which continues to achieve new heights and grow each year) that earns this award.

A team cannot be judged solely by its coach or its best player; a team is represented by all of its parts. And when looking at the sum of Fortis MMA’s parts, there’s a lot to like, whether we’re talking about homegrown talents or higher-level transplants.

Not only does Fortis MMA have homegrown talents like Kennedy Nzechukwu contending on the UFC stage, but they also have up-and-coming prospects like Abdul-Kareem Al-Selwady fighting for regional titles.

Coach Saud and company are also associated with successful UFC fighters like Geoff Neal and Ryan Spann – both of whom went undefeated in 2022. It was also nice to see already established UFC fighters like Sam Hughes (who was struggling on an 0-3 skid) make an inspiring turnaround this year by going 2-1 against steep odds.

Nevertheless, I’m not sure there’s been anything more inspiring than Fortis MMA’s first UFC fighter: Damon Jackson.

Despite having a tough run his first time around in the UFC over half a decade ago, Jackson has been able to make the most of his second stint with the promotion as he’s currently riding a four-fight winning streak (three of which came in ’22).

Although the clip below is obviously an emotional one regarding a tragic loss in Jackson’s family, it gives us a glimpse of just how tight teams – in all their forms – can/have to be in this game.

This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

Congratulations, Fortis MMA. You’ve earned it.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie