MMA's popularity has grown leaps and bounds over the last several years. Organizations are cropping up everywhere, and training facilities are literally a dime a dozen now. Every camp wants to be the next Jackson's MMA or American Kickboxing Academy, but few have succeeded. Enter the Blackzilians. They are the newest kid on the block that may be able to lay legitimate claim to the "supercamp" moniker. With a roster that reads off some of the best names in combat sports, they've certainly got the right ingredients, and now, they're really starting to get their rhythm down and are hitting their stride. What started out as just a couple of guys looking for a place to train, has turned into a full force conglomerate of talent and skill. I recently interviewed Authentic Sports Management CEO, Glenn Robinson, who talked about the inception and inner workings of the Blackzilians.
Jorge Santiago, Danilo Villefort, Yuri Villefort and Gesias Cavalcante left ATT and they needed a place to train, so I found this little gym in Boca. The guy had like six members, so I cut a deal with him to pay him rent. Around the same time, I met Rashad Evans, and we just hit it off really well. He came down with his manager at the time, Jervis Cole. A partner of mine, John Rubenstein, had been helping them out with some movie and entertainment related work because he owns a talent agency. We talked about me helping Jervis with managing Rashad. They had come in on Friday, and by Sunday night, Rashad called and asked me to manage him. I said yes, and we started working together.
He was training for the Shogun fight and got hurt the day before Jones was fighting Ryan Bader. Rashad flew out to Vegas to see a doctor about his knee, to get a second opinion. The doctor said he couldn't fight, so I said to him, 'Hey man, you want to go to the Bahamas for a few days to relax?' He said yes, so me, my wife, him and a few other people took a trip to the Bahamas. From the Bahamas, we came back to Florida, and he never left. He did go back to Chicago for a few days, but he ended up moving here, and started training with Jorge and JZ and Danilo and Yuri.
There was only five of them, so they started bringing in people as training partners, but no one serious. We needed someone to train with JZ for a fight, so Michael Johnson came down. He was supposed to be here for three to four weeks, and he never left. He's been here ever since. Then Cosmo Alexandre came in to get some training, and he never left. From there, slowly, it started to grow. Anthony Johnson and I met soon thereafter. He came down to visit me from California with his girlfriend, and literally, they've been here ever since. Person by person, it kept growing.
Tyrone flew down to help Rashad for the Tito Ortiz fight. They met through King Mo and started talking through text. Tyrone came down for what was supposed to be three weeks, but ended up staying for three months. He flew back home to Amsterdam for two weeks, and then moved to America. Tyrone fought Alistair Overeem a few years ago in K-1. Meanwhile, different people were coming to the camp. Melvin Guillard came because of Rashad, and I said to Tyrone one day, 'I think Alistair would be good for the camp.' They hadn't spoken in years, but Tyrone reached out to Alistair out of the blue and said, 'Hey, why don't you meet with Glenn', so I met him in Vegas right before the Lesnar fight. A few weeks later, he came to see me, and a few weeks after that, he was living here permanently. Siyar came shortly after, because he was close friends with Alistair.
With each person that came in, it had to be a good fit for our family. We didn't start this thing for money. I wasn't looking to take over MMA. I was just trying to help out some guys that needed it. That's all I was looking to do. We have really become a family. When fights were on, we'd watch them at my house, have a barbeque, or we would all go out together on Saturday nights. We didn't want any one person to feel like they were better than anyone else. It's the same thing I have in my other companies. The person that answers the phones is treated the same way as the person that runs the operations. Everyone sort of votes on who becomes part of the team. That way, everyone feels that they're part of the decisions, and no one feels that things are getting out of control.
Shortly after the guys started training, I was helping them anyway, and that's when it just started turning into management. When Rashad came out, it became full force management. When I take on any new ventures, I don't do it half way. I go into everything with the intention of succeeding. I want my guys to succeed, so I'm dedicated to providing them with the best training facilities and partners I can.
With Mike Van Arsdale, some of the guys loved him, and some didn't. There was some tension that grew during the Rashad camp, because he and Rashad were very close, and he was spending a lot of his time with Rashad, so some of the guys felt neglected. At the same time, that's not why he left. One day, he came in my office and said he needed to spend more time with his family in Arizona. It wasn't about any fighters saying they didn't like him. The reason he left is because he wanted to be with his kids and be a good father. We hired Mario Sperry because we wanted a great jiu jitsu coach and to have someone with good leadership abilities. A lot of the guys have unique talents, and are able to help themselves, in addition to the coaches. Everyone helps each other.
Supercamp Top 10
I was reading something the other day, and someone said we're in the Top 10, but nowhere near Jackson's MMA. I don't know how they could say that. Tell me one heavyweight they have at the same level as Alistair. Tell me one 205er that they have besides Jon Jones that's at the level of Rashad. We have Guto Inocente, Thiago Silva, we have Vitor Belfort now. We have Anthony Johnson. I just don't understand how we're in the Top 10, but nowhere near Jackson's.
The parent company was a golf company, and they were experiencing financial troubles. They went into an ABC, assignment for the benefit of creditors, and I bought it from the trustees. The guys help out with Jaco sponsorships. Jaco gets to grow that way. Even if we only break even on the management side, we still make money on the Jaco side. It's growing very nicely. We have a lot of really great things coming out. We've got new headphones coming out, some of the best stuff on the market. There will be wireless ones, over the ear ones and wired ones, so we have a good assortment. Hopefully, they'll be in a major retailer soon.
Anthony would love to fight for the biggest promotions in the world. I think we have to look right in front of us and not too far into the future. Right now, we're just looking forward to Jake Rosholt in September. When the time is right, we're going to call the UFC , and hope that they'll be receptive to talking to us. I think Dana White is a fair man, and when you prove yourself to him, he's usually receptive to listening. Hopefully that will be the case, but we know it will take some time.
Vitor has said that he's moving here. He's looking for a place, and he's said that he considers himself a Blackzilian. He's a great person and has a lot of things that he'll bring to the camp. It's a good relationship. I think Jon Jones is an incredibly talented fighter, but Vitor is very experienced. As he puts it, he's an old lion. It's going to be a great fight, and Vitor has a very comfortable margin to walk away with that belt. We're going to do everything we can to make sure that he does. Anything can happen when the cage door closes, and I feel it's his time. I think Vitor is going to surprise a lot of people and take that belt.
You can follow Glenn via his Twitter account, @GlennAuthentic