Coaches are literally a dime a dozen in mixed martial arts, but one stands quietly among the handful of elite teachers in the sport: Brazilian jiu-jitsu guru Marc Laimon.
Laimon has proven himself to be one of the more intelligent coaches in the sport of MMA. Laimon's been in the sport for more than 12 years, when he went to his first jiu-jitsu class at the Gracie Academy. His desire to fight got Laimon interested in learning more about the discipline ... the rest is history.
"I always wanted to know how to fight and I didn't really know what was the best," Laimon told MMAmania.com. Laimon saw his first MMA event (UFC 4), which featured Royce Gracie defeating Dan Severn in the finals to win his third tournament.
Laimon was impressed and knew that jiu-jitsu was what he wanted to do.
"I saw UFC 4 and I saw Royce fight and I was like wow," Laimon said. "What he did made sense to me."
At the time, Laimon was going to college and looking to be a chiropractor, but he dropped out to practice jiu-jitsu full time. Laimon had a 3.87 GPA when he dropped out.
"I immersed myself in college and I wanted to succeed in that," Laimon said. "I pretty much did the same jiu-jitsu. I immersed myself in trying to be successful and understanding as much of it as possible."
Laimon views jiu-jitsu as much more than fighting. He views it more as a science.
"To me Jiu-Jitsu is a science, so is Mixed Martial Arts. Some people make stuff up and oh this will work theoretically, but I don't really make things up and neither does science," Laimon said. "Science has a hypothesis and you have to test it and you have to be able to repeat those tests to make it a fact."
Much like science, jiu-jitsu also involves doing a lot of research, which includes studying what other fighters are doing.
"I find out what the best guys are doing, what are they doing consistently in their game and I have my guys implement it while I try it myself," Laimon said. "I think intelligence goes a long way because I'm not a very good athlete, I'm moderate, not a great athlete. One thing I do have is I have an applicable mind and I'm good at studying things. I really understand the technique so well that it makes me a better practitioner."
Laimon climbed the ladder rather quickly. A year after he started in jiu-jitsu, he became an instructor at the Beverly Hills Jiu-Jitsu Club.
A couple years later, Laimon found himself in Rio de Janiero, Brazil, where he trained at the Nova Uniao Jiu-Jitsu team.
Although he competed in grappling tournaments, Laimon knew he was made for coaching.
During his rise to the top, Laimon never technically had a coach, other than Ethan Milius. Milius taught Laimon a lot. That included helping Laimon be his own teacher.
"One day he just started breaking it down for me on how to study myself and he basically taught me how to be my own teacher, Laimon said. "I try to help my students do that too, because I tell them that 'nobody cares more about your jiu-jitsu than you.' I try to put a lot of time and effort into each of my classes."
Not much longer after coming to Las Vegas to train at JSECT Jiu-Jitsu, Laimon earned a black belt in jiu-jitsu -- just five years after he started training.
Laimon's success would soon hit the UFC and their hit reality show, The Ultimate Fighter. Laimon was apart of TUF seasons one, two and four, but it was his stint on four that gave him notoriety among the viewers.
Eventual TUF 4 welterweight winner Matt Serra got into a verbal spat with Laimon over the Royce Gracie - Matt Hughes fight. The episode turned Laimon into the antagonist. Laimon felt most of his strong points were left out of the episode.
"It was edited a lot on TV and they cut out a lot of my argument," Laimon said.
Laimon feels his argument was valid when he was talking about Gracie and how the UFC legend gets "special" rules.
"My main argument being cut out was, why can't they fight like everybody else. Royce has to have 'special' rules to fight Sakuraba," Laimon said. "He can't be like everybody else you know. As far as I know, Royce breathes oxygen. He breathes the same air as we do. The same concentration of nitrogen and oxygen and all the other stuff that's in the air. He bleeds the same blood. He's not really special."
Laimon believes that Gracie is just another fighter and that all fighters should fight under the same rules. He believes that all fights should be a "level playing field."
"No man is more important than anybody else. It's all a matter of perspective," Laimon said. "When you start saying you need 'special' rules to fight, well who are you, I don't care if your name is Gracie, Laimon, Serra, St. Pierre, everybody should fight under the same rules of the sport. There shouldn't be special exemptions because your last name is Gracie."
Laimon doesn't let the incident on TUF bother him.
"I don't let what people say really bother me. It makes no difference, he's entitled to his opinion and I'm entitled to my opinion," Laimon said. "There's nothing else I can really say about that except you can be the judge for yourself and you gotta make your own decisions in life."
Laimon is aware that since it's a reality show, it's going to need some drama.
"They're not going to try and build a coach, they're going to try and build their guy that won the show. I don't fall for that because they have to create some sort of drama and somebody always has to be the bad guy," Laimon said. "I've been the bad guy my whole life, so I'm use to it, I have tough skin, I don't care what people really say. I'm a big boy, I've had people tell me a lot nastier things than that. I'm still smiling and enjoying my life, so I can't complain too much."
Since opening up the Cobra Kai Jiu-Jitsu in 2004, Laimon has had the opportunity to work with many excellent fighters. Laimon is personally looking forward to seeing one of his new crop of fighters make the transition into the elite of MMA.
His name is Jake Rosholt. He's 4-0 in MMA with a win over Chad Jay at a Oklahoma event in March. Rosholt, who went to Oklahoma State, is a three time National Champion and a four time All-American.
Rosholt has been training with Laimon for four months now. Laimon had nothing but good things to say about Rosholt and has high hopes for the former wrestler.
"He is like a super computer, once he sees something, he's able to do it," Laimon said. "I tell him what to do, he makes a little tweak and applies it instantly. He's been an absolute joy to work with. He's a phenomenal athlete."
Rosholt hasn't made the transition to the larger MMA promotions, but Laimon believes his pupil could be UFC champion someday.
"He's going to be UFC champ, nobody knows who he is," Laimon said. "He's flying low under the radar right now, but in a little bit, people are going to know his name and they're going to be buying his t-shirts."
Laimon enjoys what he does at Cobra Kai and loves teaching Jiu-Jitsu to whoever has the desire to learn.
"I'm really passionate about teaching," Laimon said. "The biggest reason of my success is that my students show up. I can be the best teacher in the world, which I'm not, but I'm pretty seasoned. I can be the best teacher, but if they're not coming to learn, I'm not going to have any good students, so it's a two way street. I have a lot of dedicated students, a lot of dedicated guys that come everyday to learn. They're here to learn and that's what they're there to do. It's tough training and I'm not easy on guys."
Laimon will always tell his students like it is, if that's what it takes to improve.
"I don't just tell them it sucks, but you know it sucks, but let's see what we can do to fix this and address this problem and fix this," Laimon said.
Just like a good teacher should to get the very best out of his students.
Here's Laimon in action at a recent grappling tournament ... his passion is evident: