Fortis MMA and its head coach, Sayif Saud, are finally being talked about as a top gym and top coach in mixed martial arts. The team had a successful 2018 and is riding the momentum into 2019. In its last 20 bouts inside the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the team is 16-4 and has had standout performances from the likes of Geoff Neal, Alonzo Menifield and Carlos Diego Ferreira, among others.
Although many see this as a coming out party of sorts, Saud doesn’t believe that. He knew all along how talented they were and how successful they could be.
“I mean, these are the expectations we set out for ourselves,” said Saud to Sherdog.com. “This year is where we put the challenge on everybody to get ranked into the top 15. Just continue to win. Last year was awesome but that was last year. We are trying to advance every fighter in their division, with the likes of Carlos Diego Ferreira at 155, Geoff Neal at 170, Macy Chiasson now at 170, [and] Ryan Spann, who is fighting [Antonio Rogerio Nogueira]. Alonzo Menifield [is making] his debut, so it doesn’t matter where they are in their progression. Whether it is their first fight or their fifth, it is just about continuing to advance more than anything.”
With the recent success of Fortis, it should come as no surprise that fighters are now taking notice and hoping to train there. However, the team is a close-knit group where they all live in Texas. That means fighters are all allowed to come train, but if they want to be a part of the team they must be dedicated to the team.
“We have had a plethora of fighters reaching out,” said Saud. “We have a way we do things. We have an open-door policy where we let people come in and train, but the people that are on the team, they all live in Dallas and are 100 percent committed to the team. We don’t have people who do one camp and then leave. For us, we have so many fighters who are in the UFC who are all homegrown. I like to build people and build that chemistry and connection. In those hard moments, in the later rounds, I can connect with them and know what I need to do to get them the win. That process takes time so all the fighters I have, I have had for years.”
Meanwhile, something that may seem difficult is when two Fortis fighters fight back-to-back. It happened at UFC 235 with Chiasson and Charles Byrd. Ultimately, Saud has put a program in place and trusts his other coaches and fighters to get the next fighter ready.
“We have had so many LFA cards like that,” revealed Saud. “Also, in the last year, we have had four cards where we had multiple fights in the UFC. Having one fighter on the card is a big deal but over the last year, we have multiple fighters on the same card. We have gotten used to it and have some great teammates and coaches to help and build a system to prepare the warmup. Just a quick run around in the back and get myself in position.”
Although the goal for most fighters is the UFC, Saud and the team at Fortis understand it takes time. So, if fighters aren’t in the UFC their goal is to make it there, but they also must be a champion in their organization they are fighting in.
“The UFC is the ultimate in our sport,” explained Saud. “They have the best athletes bar none it is not even comparable. There are other great promotions out there for fighters but the UFC where the majority of our fighters are in or want to be. If guys are winning world titles in LFA, we have won six titles there, we are looking for guys to get experience for wherever they are going to go.”
No matter what, Fortis and coach Saud are counting to have success and ride the momentum of a strong 2018. The team is starting to be known as a well-known team and for Saud, that still isn’t enough, he’s hoping they are considered the best gym in MMA and have UFC champions on his roster.