Rafael dos Anjos became a champion with Kings MMA. | Photo: Gleidson Venga/Sherdog.com
6. Kings MMA
Rafael Cordeiro has a strong claim on the title of “most experienced coach” in the history of MMA. The native of Curitiba, Brazil, cornered his first vale tudo bouts back in 1993, before today’s youngest UFC fighters -- Paige VanZant and Jake Matthews -- were even born. In a sport where even the best coaches only seem to stick around for a few years, Cordeiro stands out for his longevity and consistent evolution.
A muay Thai and vale tudo competitor in his own right, Cordeiro hung up his gloves in 1999 after a kneebar loss to Rumina Sato in order to focus on training the increasingly impressive stable of fighters that called Chute Boxe home. Wanderlei Silva, Mauricio Rua, Anderson Silva and many others benefited from Cordeiro’s instruction, and he was a fixture in their corners for many of the highest-profile fights during Pride Fighting Championships’ heyday. A move to Southern California in 2007 and the subsequent opening of his own gym, Kings MMA, led Cordeiro to revamp his style of training and coaching in response to ongoing trends in the sport; and he has not looked back since.
Two of Cordeiro’s fighters -- Fabricio Werdum and Rafael dos Anjos -- have won UFC titles in the last year, both of them by virtue of their excellent striking repertoires and nasty ground games. Although he started as a muay Thai competitor, Cordeiro is an excellent wrestler and a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, and his system encompasses the entirety of MMA instead of just work on the feet. He is also one of the true innovators of clinch work in MMA, the progenitor of some of the finest inside fighters in the sport’s history.
With two champions working under his roof and young fighters like Beneil Dariush on their way up, there is little doubt that Cordeiro and Kings MMA will continue to shine well into the future.
Number 5 » Tristar Gym