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Old 11-19-2007, 10:52 AM   #1
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Greg Nelson


If you go to the link, it has interviews with Greg Nelson and Sean Sherk.

Another positive article out of MN about MMA.


Training for a fight

It's not for the faint of heart. Or thugs. Or the lazy. Mixed martial arts takes serious discipline, says a Minnesota trainer.

Pioneer Press
Article Launched: 11/19/2007 12:01:00 AM CST

From casual to professional mixed martial artists, from law enforcement officers to hoodlums - Greg Nelson and his team of instructors have taught them all during the past 15 years at the Minnesota Martial Arts Academy.

Business is booming at Nelson's Brooklyn Center training facility, thanks to the surging popularity of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the major leagues of MMA.

Tucked inside a row of warehouses in an industrial park, the academy has the weights, punching bags, mirrors and hard-rock soundtrack typical of boxing gymnasiums. But instead of a ring, the main room has a wall-to-wall wrestling mat so students and trainers can spar, grapple and attack, hour after sweaty hour.

MMA combines the disciplines of boxing,

wrestling, kickboxing, Muay Thai and jujitsu. Even with students wearing protective headgear and shin pads, this isn't a community aerobics class.

"People are seeing that it's not a bunch of thugs, but athletes who are training and serious about their craft. It's no different than boxers or wrestlers," said Nelson, a former University of Minnesota wrestler and Brazilian jujitsu black belt.

In the early years, Nelson had about 40 students in kickboxing and jujitsu programs. Today, more than 200 students are enrolled at the academy, ranging in age from 5 to their 60s. About 95 percent want to learn self-defense techniques or earn belts in the various disciplines.

"It's still growing, because more people are exposed to MMA," he said. "Almost all of our students are on one-year agreements to earn different belts, get a good base of skills."

Professional MMA fighters at the center include Nick Thompson, a UFC veteran and the reigning 170-pound welterweight champion on the Bodog circuit, a rung below the UFC.

Thompson, 26, a third-year law student at the University of Minnesota, plans to put his legal career on hold while he builds a fight resume. Thompson is 33-9, and a string of victories over ranked opponents has him pondering Bodog and UFC contract offers.

His wife, Molly, whom he married Oct. 21, would prefer he protect his face and limbs and retire to a more conventional lifestyle. Instead, he trains at the academy four hours a day, at least five days a week, with some of the area's other top emerging fighters.

"I can always be a 40-year-old attorney," said Thompson, of Robbinsdale, "but I'll never be a 40-year-old fighter."

Sean Sherk, the UFC's reigning lightweight champion, is an instructor. Former Gophers and World Wrestling Entertainment star Brock Lesnar, who signed a UFC contract last month, trains there, as well.

So does Kaitlin Young, of Circle Pines, a 22-year-old kinesiology student at the U, one of the female fighters in a male-dominated sport. Young, who won her debut match Oct. 4 at the Myth in Maplewood, will fight on the same Bodog card as Thompson this week in Evansville, Ind. She will compete in an eight-woman tournament, with a $2,000 purse and a contract with Bodog at stake.

"It's a huge opportunity for me," she said.

The UFC's emergence is fueled by its star-generating reality television series, "The Ultimate Fighter." That has made instructing mixed martial arts a more demanding profession, with more ordinary people thinking they, too, can make the leap from the couch to the octagon ring.

At least three MMA academies have sprung up around the Twin Cities in the past three years, said Andy Grahn, program director at Minnesota Martial Arts.

The teaching extends beyond the mat.

"People can see it's more of a sport than simply uncontrolled violence, though there are still all kinds of idiots who think they're Rambo, too," Grahn said. "We're not teaching how to beat people up. It's about developing a work ethic, discipline and challenging yourself."

Brian Murphy can be reached at

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Old 12-17-2007, 09:17 AM   #2

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ttt for MN mma.

Coupon Code (5% off): SHERDOG

30+ of the top MMA brands, all under one roof!
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Old 12-17-2007, 09:26 AM   #3

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Cool - that's from the St Paul city paper, there has been lots of articles in the papers lately in this area - MMA is definately on the map in the Twin Cities

R.I.P. ~ Carlson Gracie Sr, Ryan Bennett, Ryan Gracie, Sam Vasquez, Evan Tanner, Justin Eilers, Helio Gracie, Mask, Shawn Tompkins
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