15 Best MMA Coaches Of All Time Ranked (Surprise Inclusions)

In the fast-paced world of mixed martial arts (MMA), a coach's role is vital to a fighter's success. These coaches not only develop skills but also provide guidance, support, and strategy.

This article delves into the top 15 MMA coaches of all time, including some surprising names. From Javier Mendez to Greg Jackson and Trevor Wittman, these coaches have made a lasting impact on the sport.

Get ready to discover the masterminds behind the champions in this intriguing list.

Key Takeaways

  • Javier Mendez, Greg Jackson, Trevor Wittman, Eugene Bareman, Firas Zahabi, John Kavanagh, Andre Pederneiras, Mark DellaGrotte, Ricardo Liborio, Rafael Cordeiro, Duane Ludwig, Mike Brown, Pat Miletich, Matt Hume, and Eric Albarracin are considered some of the best MMA coaches of all time.
  • These coaches have trained numerous UFC champions and have a wealth of experience in various martial arts disciplines.
  • They each have their own unique coaching styles and areas of expertise, whether it's in striking techniques, grappling skills, mental preparation, or game planning.
  • Many of these coaches prioritize developing well-rounded fighters with strong fundamentals and emphasize the importance of discipline, hard work, and continuous learning.

Javier Mendez

Javier Mendez is ranked as one of the top three MMA coaches of all time. His coaching strategies for developing well-rounded fighters have had a significant impact on the success of AKA fighters.

Mendez, the founder of American Kickboxing Academy (AKA), has a wealth of experience as a former ISKA light cruiserweight and light heavyweight world kickboxing champion. His expertise in striking and grappling techniques has allowed him to mold fighters into versatile and skilled athletes.

Mendez's emphasis on discipline, hard work, and dedication has been instrumental in the development of UFC champions such as Frank Shamrock, BJ Penn, Khabib Nurmagomedov, and many others.

Under Mendez's guidance, AKA fighters have consistently showcased their abilities inside the octagon, making him a highly respected and sought-after coach in the MMA world.

Greg Jackson

The article ranks Greg Jackson as one of the best MMA coaches of all time, known for his strategic approach and meticulous fight preparation. Jackson's unique approach to mental toughness and fight preparation sets him apart from other coaches in the industry.

Here are three reasons why Greg Jackson's coaching style resonates with fighters and evokes a sense of mastery in the audience:

  • Psychological Emphasis: Jackson places a strong emphasis on mental preparation, teaching his fighters to develop a resilient mindset and overcome adversity. This focus on mental toughness enables his athletes to perform at their best even in the most challenging situations.
  • Tactical Game Planning: Jackson is known for his meticulous study of opponents and his ability to devise effective game plans. He carefully analyzes his fighters' strengths and weaknesses, tailoring strategies that exploit their advantages and neutralize their opponents' strengths.
  • Adaptability and Innovation: Jackson constantly evolves his coaching methods to stay ahead of the game. He embraces new techniques and approaches, incorporating them into his fighters' training to ensure they're well-rounded and adaptable in the cage.

While other coaches have made significant impacts on the sport, Greg Jackson's unique approach to mental toughness and fight preparation has solidified his place as one of the best MMA coaches in history.

Trevor Wittman

Trevor Wittman's expertise in striking technique and emphasis on footwork and movement have made him a highly sought-after MMA coach. Wittman's unique approach to striking techniques sets him apart from other coaches in the industry. He's a deep understanding of the intricacies of striking and has honed his coaching methods to develop highly effective techniques.

One notable example of the impact of Trevor Wittman's coaching is seen in the success of Kamaru Usman. Under Wittman's guidance, Usman has become one of the most dominant welterweight champions in UFC history. Wittman's emphasis on footwork and movement has allowed Usman to utilize his striking skills effectively while maintaining his defensive abilities. This combination of technical proficiency and strategic approach has played a crucial role in Usman's success inside the Octagon.

Eugene Bareman

Although he's relatively new to the MMA coaching scene, Eugene Bareman has quickly established himself as one of the most successful and respected coaches in the sport.

His coaching philosophy revolves around tailoring training to the individual fighters, recognizing that each athlete has unique strengths, weaknesses, and learning styles. Bareman believes in building strong bonds and relationships with his fighters, understanding that trust and camaraderie are essential for success in the octagon.

See also  5 Best Georgian UFC Fighters of All Time Ranked (2024)

This approach not only fosters a supportive and motivating environment, but also allows Bareman to better understand his fighters' needs and tailor his coaching to maximize their potential.

The impact of these strong bonds and relationships can be seen in the success of fighters like Israel Adesanya and Alexander Volkanovski, both of whom have become undisputed champions under Bareman's guidance.

Firas Zahabi

Firas Zahabi is widely regarded as one of the most influential and innovative MMA coaches in the sport. His analytical approach to fight strategy has had a significant impact on the success of his fighters. Zahabi emphasizes the importance of studying opponents, analyzing their strengths and weaknesses, and developing a game plan tailored to exploit those weaknesses. This meticulous approach allows his fighters to enter the cage well-prepared and with a clear strategy in mind.

Furthermore, Zahabi understands the importance of continuous learning and improvement in coaching MMA fighters. He believes that the sport is constantly evolving, and coaches must stay updated with the latest techniques, strategies, and training methods to ensure their fighters' success. Zahabi himself is known for constantly seeking knowledge, attending seminars, collaborating with other coaches, and staying up-to-date with the latest developments in MMA.

John Kavanagh

John Kavanagh's innovative coaching methods and relentless pursuit of excellence have solidified his reputation as an exceptional MMA coach. Known for his role in the rise of SBG Ireland and Conor McGregor's success, Kavanagh has made significant contributions to the sport. Here are a few key aspects that highlight his impact:

  • The rise of SBG Ireland and Conor McGregor's success:
  • Kavanagh played a pivotal role in the development of SBG Ireland, which has emerged as a prominent MMA gym producing top-tier fighters.
  • Under Kavanagh's guidance, Conor McGregor became a two-division UFC champion, achieving unprecedented success in the sport.
  • Kavanagh's ability to nurture talent and create a winning culture has been instrumental in the rise of SBG Ireland.
  • Innovations in training and game planning at Straight Blast Gym Ireland:
  • Kavanagh is known for his innovative approach to training, constantly seeking new methods to enhance his fighters' skills and performance.
  • He's incorporated various training techniques, including visualization exercises and mental preparation, to sharpen his fighters' focus and mental resilience.
  • Kavanagh's emphasis on game planning and strategizing has helped his fighters excel in the octagon, allowing them to exploit their opponents' weaknesses and capitalize on opportunities.

John Kavanagh's impact on the MMA community goes beyond his success with Conor McGregor. His dedication to innovation, training, and game planning has raised the bar for MMA coaching, making him one of the best in the business.

Andre Pederneiras

Nobody expected Andre Pederneiras to become one of the best MMA coaches of all time, but his expertise in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai proved to be a winning combination. Pederneiras, the founder and head coach of Nova União, has developed a coaching philosophy focused on developing well-rounded fighters with strong fundamentals. He emphasizes discipline, hard work, and dedication in his approach to training. Pederneiras believes in the importance of building a solid foundation in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai, as these disciplines provide a strong base for success in MMA. His impact on the success of Nova União fighters in the UFC is undeniable. Pederneiras has coached UFC champions such as Jose Aldo and Renan Barão, showcasing his ability to produce top-level talent in the sport. Through his guidance, Pederneiras has helped shape the careers of numerous successful fighters and solidified his place among the best MMA coaches of all time.

Pederneiras' Coaching Philosophy and Approach Pederneiras' Impact on Nova União Fighters in the UFC
Developing well-rounded fighters with strong fundamentals Coached UFC champions such as Jose Aldo and Renan Barão
Emphasizes discipline, hard work, and dedication Produced top-level talent in the sport
Focuses on building a solid foundation in BJJ and Muay Thai Guided the careers of numerous successful fighters

Mark DellaGrotte

Although often overlooked, Mark DellaGrotte has proven to be an exceptional MMA coach throughout his career. DellaGrotte's coaching style has evolved over the years, adapting to the changing landscape of the sport. He understands the importance of staying up to date with the latest techniques and strategies, constantly seeking ways to improve his fighters' performance.

See also  What Is a Casting Punch In MMA/Sambo? (Effectiveness)

Incorporating unique training methods, DellaGrotte emphasizes the importance of conditioning and mental toughness. He believes that a well-rounded fighter isn't only physically strong but also mentally resilient. DellaGrotte incorporates a balanced approach to training and lifestyle, ensuring that his fighters aren't only prepared physically but also mentally and emotionally.

With an expertise in Muay Thai and striking techniques, DellaGrotte focuses on developing his fighters' striking skills and footwork. He recognizes the significance of precision and timing in striking exchanges, instilling technical excellence in his fighters.

Ricardo Liborio

Ricardo Liborio's coaching style at American Top Team (ATT) has propelled his fighters, including UFC champions Robbie Lawler and Tyron Woodley, to great success in the MMA world. One of Liborio's top achievements is his ability to develop well-rounded fighters with strong grappling skills. His expertise in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and MMA strategy has been instrumental in the success of his fighters.

Liborio emphasizes the importance of teamwork and camaraderie, fostering a supportive and collaborative environment at ATT. His coaching style focuses on discipline, hard work, and dedication, instilling these values in his fighters. Liborio's attention to detail and analytical approach to fight preparation contribute to his fighters' success in the octagon.

With his impressive track record, Liborio solidifies his place as one of the best MMA coaches of all time.

Rafael Cordeiro

Rafael Cordeiro's expertise in Muay Thai and striking techniques has made him a highly respected coach in the world of MMA. His coaching philosophy and training methods have had a significant impact on his fighters' striking skills. Here are three key aspects of Cordeiro's approach that evoke emotion in the audience:

  • Aggression and Pressure: Cordeiro emphasizes the importance of aggression, urging his fighters to constantly push forward and maintain relentless offense. This creates an intense and exciting fighting style that keeps fans on the edge of their seats.
  • Relentless Offense: Cordeiro's coaching instills a mindset of constant attack, encouraging his fighters to unleash a barrage of strikes on their opponents. This offensive approach not only showcases their skills but also creates thrilling and action-packed fights.
  • Maximizing Potential: Cordeiro believes in pushing fighters to their limits and helping them reach their full potential. His intense training sessions and focus on technique and precision enable his fighters to develop exceptional striking skills that can dominate their opponents.

Duane Ludwig

Duane Ludwig, known for his expertise in striking and footwork, has established himself as a highly successful MMA coach. With a background in kickboxing and MMA, Ludwig has made a significant impact on striking techniques in the sport. His coaching style and methods have evolved over the years, reflecting his commitment to continuous improvement.

One of Ludwig's notable contributions to MMA is his emphasis on technical precision and timing in striking exchanges. He believes that mastering these aspects can make a significant difference in a fighter's performance. By focusing on the science behind striking techniques, Ludwig has helped his fighters develop a more effective and efficient striking game.

Ludwig's coaching style is detail-oriented and analytical. He pays close attention to the individual strengths and weaknesses of his fighters and tailors his coaching to their specific needs. This personalized approach has helped his fighters achieve success in the octagon.

Mike Brown

The article ranks Mike Brown as one of the best MMA coaches of all time. Brown, who's the head coach at American Top Team (ATT), has a reputation for his expertise in wrestling and grappling. Alongside Brown, another coach who's made a significant impact in these areas is Eric Albarracin. Both Brown and Albarracin bring unique backgrounds and expertise to their coaching.

Here are three reasons why their knowledge and experience in wrestling and grappling make them stand out:

  • Extensive wrestling backgrounds: Brown and Albarracin both have extensive backgrounds in wrestling, which allows them to effectively teach and implement wrestling techniques in their coaching strategies.
  • Strong emphasis on grappling: Brown and Albarracin understand the importance of grappling in MMA and place a strong emphasis on developing their fighters' ground game. They work on improving their fighters' skills in submissions, takedowns, and takedown defense.
  • Complementary coaching styles: Brown and Albarracin's coaching styles complement each other well. Their combined expertise in wrestling and grappling allows them to create a comprehensive training program that covers all aspects of the game.
See also  What Is Conor McGregor’s Fighting Style? (Has It Changed?)

With their unique backgrounds and expertise in wrestling and grappling, Mike Brown and Eric Albarracin have proven themselves to be exceptional MMA coaches, contributing to the success of their fighters in the octagon.

Pat Miletich

One of the most influential MMA coaches of all time, Pat Miletich, has made a lasting impact on the sport with his innovative training methods and successful track record.

Miletich, who was the first UFC welterweight champion, started Miletich Fighting Systems in 1997 and focused on cardio and strength and conditioning. His emphasis on strength and conditioning in MMA was ahead of its time and revolutionized the way fighters trained for their bouts.

Miletich's approach paid off, as he nurtured five UFC champions and ten world champions under his guidance. His ability to develop multiple world champions speaks to his expertise in coaching and his ability to bring out the best in his fighters.

Miletich's contributions to the sport can't be overstated, and his legacy as a top MMA coach is firmly established.

Matt Hume

Coaching some of the greatest fighters in the sport, Matt Hume has made a significant impact on MMA with his expertise in kickboxing and submission grappling. Known for his coaching philosophy that focuses on long-term results, Hume has developed a reputation for being selective about who he works with.

His influence on the evolution of MMA techniques can be seen in the success of his fighters, including Demetrious Johnson, Bibiano Fernandes, Josh Barnett, and Rich Franklin. Hume's coaching style emphasizes the importance of mastering the fundamentals of kickboxing and submission grappling, as well as the ability to adapt and innovate in the ever-evolving world of MMA.

With his meticulous attention to detail and commitment to continuous improvement, Hume has solidified his place as one of the best MMA coaches of all time.

Eric Albarracin

Eric Albarracin, a former Pan American and Military World Wrestling silver medalist, has established himself as one of the top MMA coaches with his expertise in hand-to-hand fighting systems and his extensive experience as a US army officer.

Albarracin's wrestling background greatly contributes to his coaching style by providing a strong foundation in grappling and takedowns. His deep understanding of wrestling techniques allows him to effectively teach his fighters how to control their opponents on the ground and exploit openings for submissions.

In addition to his wrestling expertise, Albarracin incorporates unique training techniques and strategies into his coaching. He emphasizes the importance of mental toughness and discipline, pushing his fighters to their limits in order to maximize their potential. Albarracin also incorporates military-inspired drills and conditioning exercises to enhance his fighter's endurance and overall physical preparedness.

With his diverse skill set and innovative coaching methods, Eric Albarracin continues to make a significant impact in the world of MMA coaching.


In conclusion, the world of MMA has been shaped by some of the greatest coaches of all time. From Javier Mendez's expertise in kickboxing to Greg Jackson's focus on mental toughness, these coaches have guided their fighters to success inside and outside the cage.

With their meticulous preparation and emphasis on technique, coaches like Trevor Wittman, Eugene Bareman, and Firas Zahabi have produced champions who've left a lasting impact on the sport.

In the ever-evolving world of MMA, these coaches have truly been the cornerstones of their fighters' success. As the saying goes, 'Behind every great fighter is a great coach.'

Mike Williams
Follow Me