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 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 fourth episode of Fight Factory on Nuvo TV, a new TV series which follows all the behind-the-scenes goings-on of AKA. Through three episodes, viewers have bared witness to intense drama with Josh Koscheck's split from AKA, Cain Velasquez losing his title and a pair of prospects coming up short on their way up the ranks.
Did the gym finally get it turned around on last night's episode?
Unfortunately, it did not.
Last night's show featured Josh Koscheck as he prepared for and immediately following his UFC on Fox 3 bout against Johnny Hendricks (a bout he lost via very close split decision).
But the big star of last night's show was Phil Baroni. The entire episode was practically crafted around "The New York Badass" as he prepared for his fight against Chris Holland in Denver and he took center stage with all the doubts, and intense emotional highs and lows a fighter and everyone associated with him goes through before and immediately following a bout.
The show's creators pulled no punches, focusing in on Baroni's financial difficulties and his need to compete despite having suffered a bad rib injury which most fighters would have pulled out from. Despite all his issues, his family and friends were heavily in his corner, including his head trainer Javier Mendes.
After a strong first round, Baroni faded badly and it was actually more crushing to see the reaction of his wife Angela than his corner or even Phil, himself. Seeing her going from wild cheerleader when he was winning to being in near physical pain from watching him fade and actually having to leave the stands, it was an emotional punch to the gut.
The post-fight scene was nearly like that of a funeral, which is surprising considering Baroni will actually be fighting tomorrow at One FC: Pride of a Nation in Manila, Philippines.
Again, I hate to say it, but fighters seem so much more honest about their situations and are so much more emotional after tough losses and with the cameras rolling, they couldn't hold themselves back.
It was a very strong episode and if you didn't check it out, it should be available on Hulu by next week. Fight Factory comes with a strong recommendation from me.