Shakeup At One Of UFC's Top Fighter Camps: Sperry In, Van Arsdale Out As Blackzillians' Head Coach

Mike Van Arsdale with Rashad Evans. Photo by Esther Lin for MMA Fighting.

Rashad Evans' training camp has a new head coach. Mike Van Arsdale is out as the head coach of the Blackzillians and Mario Sperry, formerly with the legendary Brazilian Top Team, has been promoted from BJJ coach to the top role. In addition to Evans, Blackzilians members include Alistair Overeem, Jorge Santiago, Eddie Alvarez, Gesias Cavalcante, Michael Johnson, Melvin Guillard and newcomer Thiago Silva.

Van Arsdale tweeted the news of his departure earlier:

in reply to @oneandonlylynx

@oneandonlylynx I returned 2 AZ 2 raise my children.I'll be working with the B.Z.'s on an as needed basis.The team will be fine-so will I.
Jul 30 via Twitter for iPhone Favorite Retweet Reply

MMA Fighting followed up and broke the news of Sperry's new status after talking with Authentic Sports Management CEO Glenn Robinson:

"Mario Sperry is the team leader but also Jorge Santiago has stepped up to assist him in a big way," he continued. "Jorge is a tremendous leader as well. The truth is each of our coaches has many, many years of experience and is a natural leader. Henri Hooft our striking coach had over 100 fights before he started coaching and has coached now for a long time. So leadership is within every coach on the team. We have a new full time wrestling instructor (Babak Nejadmoghaddam) so for the fighters there is no change at all in how things are done. This change actually was in process for a while now so it was not sudden by any means. It was planned out well in advance of being able to affect the athletes."


The 45-year-old Sperry competed in MMA where he compiled an overall record of 13-4, including a sting in PRIDE, where he went 4-3 with a win over Igor Vovchanchyn. He also once fought Murilo "Ninja" Rua to a decision loss before retiring in 2007. Sperry is one of the founders of the influential Brazilian Top Team, a fifth-degree black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and is considered a grappling wizard who has captured several prestigious titles including both the 99kg and Absolute divisions of the Abu Dhabi Combat Club submission wrestling world championships in 1998.

More on Thiago Silva's move to the camp and some speculation after the jump...

Tatame is reporting that Silva has left American Top Team and joined Evans' camp:

Thiago Silva is breathing new airs. After years sharpening his game at American Top Team, TATAME learned that the UFC light heavyweight is now training at Blackzilians, team with many other Brazilian names and other top fighters, like Alistair Overeem and Rashad Evans.

Thiago still has no fight scheduled, although there are rumors about him fighting Stanislav Nedkov, Bulgarian who knocked Luiz Cane on the first edition of UFC Rio, on August 2011. The match might happen at UFC 153, scheduled for October 13th, at HSBC Arena, in Rio de Janeiro.

This isn't a complete surprise to those who've been following the camp closely. After Evans' loss to Jon Jones at UFC 145, rumors were rampant about the lax discipline at the camp. Their won-loss record has been anything but good. Sperry is a veteran coach with a proven track record at running one of MMA's top camps.

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