Yesterday, on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani, Rashad Evans revealed that he was no longer training with the Blackzilians in Boca Raton, FL and that there, “wasn’t really any Blackzilians anymore.” The former UFC light heavyweight champion explained that he would be training with former Blackzilians’ coach Henri Hooft at a new facility currently being referred to as Combat Club. Evans said to Helwani that one of the reasons he had left the Blackzilians was because of a tremendous amount of ‘drama’ that existed within the team founded by Glenn Robinson.
A source close to the situation has told Bloody Elbow more details about what happened within the Blackzilians, as well as which UFC fighters have departed along with Evans to join up with Hooft.
According to the source, along with Evans, Anthony Johnson, Stefan Struve, Michael Johnson, Gilbert Burns, Kamaru Usman, and Danny Roberts have begun training at Combat Club, which is based in Boynton Beach, FL. Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler has also started training at Hooft’s gym.
At Combat Club, Hooft will serve as head coach. Serving underneath Hooft are four other former Blackzilians coaches, including Greg Jones (a three time NCAA Division I wrestling champ), Dr. Corey Peacock (who is head performance coach) and Jake Bonacci (who is a strength and conditioning coach).
The source also revealed that a large number of the remaining Blackzilian fighters who had not moved to Combat Club were training at a temporary space in Fort Lauderdale. The source said these fighters, who were described as ‘up-and-comers’ and ‘not established UFC fighters,’ have stated they are also no longer affiliated with the Blackzilians brand.
The source went into detail about why exactly Hooft, Evans, and others had moved to Combat Club.
“A lot of problems trickled down from management,” said the source. “I believe Glenn [Robinson] probably had a lot of issues at the time that were going on and I think it was just for everybody’s best interest to start looking at other options and other opportunities.”
The source stated that the coaches and fighters who had left the Blackzilians had grown increasingly frustrated by a number of issues permeating from the managers of the Blackzilians (Glenn Robinson and his company Authentic Sports Management). Reportedly, chief among their concerns was management’s alleged micro-management of the coaching that was going on within the Blackzilians’ facility.
“If management could have just managed and stayed out of the gym, and if coaches were allowed to just coach to the best of their ability, without being influenced or told how to do it or what was expected of them, and just allowed fighters to keep doing what they did and let their coaches tell them how to do it, this could have been avoided,” said the source.
The source also backed up Evans’ claims that the Blackzilians camp became host to ‘drama’ and hostility. The source again cited management as the cause of the problem.
“That stuff starts at the top, and when lack of communication starts trickling down, miscommunication starts trickling down, behind closed doors, people start to become, maybe a little suspicious, maybe a little insecure, or always feeling like they are fighting for a job, looking over their shoulder, and that kind of thing created a relatively hostile environment.”
The source stated that this ‘hostile environment’ never lead to any physical altercations between anyone within the Blackzilians. They instead described the hostility as ‘more emotional and mental.’
“The coaches and the fighters always tried to stay on the same page as much as possible,” continued the source. “But there are certain alliances, certain fighters who rely more on management and some who rely more on coaches. Certain coaches would rely more on management, certain coaches would rely more on their relationship with fighters. I think that’s where the drama came into play.”
Glenn Robinson’s Authentic Sports Management managed a handful of fighters who trained within the Blackzilians camp.
Other issues which brought about the mass departure from the Blackzilians were fighters and coaches’ feelings towards Robinson’s plans for the future. The source said that Robinson had said a new facility was coming, but that very few people inside the Blackzilians saw any evidence of this.
“It seemed like that wasn’t happening or that there was no plan for the future at all,” said the source, who continued to state that, like Evans mentioned on The MMA Hour, that they did not believe there were any ‘malicious intentions’ behind the stall in the Blackzilians’ development. However, the source did agree that the departing Blackzilians did believe that they had been ‘sold on something’ that wasn’t likely to become a reality.
The source also said there were “financial issues” behind the recent fracturing of the Blackzilians, but they did not wish to speak about that in great detail.
“Those maybe spilled over to the team a little bit,” said the source when asked if the financial issues caused any interference with money owed to fighters and coaches. Summing up the entire situation, the source claimed, “Everything needed to change from where it was at.”
The source also had information regarding the direction Hooft would take Combat Club in the near future. According to them, unlike the Blackzilians, Combat Club will put less importance on being a ‘fight team.’ It is believed that Hooft thought the Blackzilians’ mentality and atmosphere made it hard for visiting UFC fighters from other camps to train with them on a temporary basis. Reportedly, Combat Club’s goals will be to develop the core of fighters who are there currently, but to also attract elite level fighters who wish to train for short spells with Hooft, Jones, and the team’s other coaches.
“It looks like Combat Club will really not be focusing on this team mentality, but rather a facility that has the best services for any fighter who wants to use them,” said the source.