The American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) is one of the premier training facilities in all of mixed martial arts.
It's home to several former UFC title challengers, an ex-heavyweight champion, a Strikeforce Grand Prix champ and a wealth of the elite in multiple weight classes throughout our beloved sport.
With all those big alpha male personalities, however, comes conflict.
Last night was the fifth episode of Fight Factory on Nuvo TV, a new TV series which follows all the behind-the-scenes goings-on of AKA. Through four episodes, viewers have bared witness to intense drama with Josh Koscheck's split from AKA, Cain Velasquez losing his title and the team dealing with a surprising amount of loss and adversity from top to bottom.
Did the gym finally get it turned around on last night's episode?
After weeks of disappointment, this time around it was all roses, although there were still a few bumps along the road.
Velasquez was on the comeback trail in his first fight since losing the title to Junior Dos Santos. His highlights featured his training, overcoming an elbow injury and finding out about Alistair Overeem's failed testosterone levels which forced a shake-up in his opponent. Of course we all know the rest, Velasquez switched from fighting Frank Mir to fighting Antonio Silva and he brutalized "Bigfoot" in a violent and bloody affair.
Daniel Cormier was showcased in the lead up to his Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix bout against Josh Barnett and there were some pretty interesting revelations, like getting knocked out by Mike Kyle in sparring during the training camp and dealing with the concussion before being able to train again. This was a tremendous opportunity to showcase Cormier's dynamic personality and he shone brightly every time he had a chance.
Lastly, someone lower down the food chain in Kyle Cerminara, a light heavyweight with a 2-0 record who was the first big prospect to sign up with Josh Koscheck's new gym Dethrone Base Camp in Fresno. Cerminara had to deal with his limitations as an overall fighter so early in his career and making the transition from wrestling to being a well-rounded mixed martial artist.
There was added pressure since Cerminara was the first major prospect to join Koscheck at his new gym, he needed to get a win to put the team on the map and help it grow. While he wasn't able to secure a finish, he did end up scoring a dominant unanimous decision to remain undefeated and move to 3-0.
It had been a trying few weeks at AKA so it was nice to see success this time around. Of course, with so many elite fighters training at both gyms, there's always someone with a big bout coming up for next week's episode. I felt this episode did a great job of balancing out the seriousness and the lightheartedness that goes along with being a professional cagefighter.
What did you think of last night's episode?