Interview With Grudge Training Center Head Coach, Trevor Wittman

Many fight fans only focus on the fighters in MMA, neglecting the hard work that their coaches put to get them in prime condition for every fight that they have. One of the MMA’s best striking coaches, Trevor Wittman is notourious for his friendly attitude, yet he’s helped train some of the sports best fighters, such as Georges St Pierre, Rashad Evans, Shane Carwin, Duane Ludwig and Brendan Schaub to name a few.

MMA UK spoke to Wittman on a number of topics, including how he got into the sport, his best moments as a coach, training Shane Carwin and the fighters at his gym that we should all look out for in the future.






Thanks for taking the time to do the interview Mr Wittman, how was your time in Germany?

It was good

For those that don’t know much about you, how did you get your start in the fight game?

My first Martial Art was Kenpo Karate, and then I went to Boxing

What was the first MMA fight that you ever saw and what was your opinion on the level of striking?

Royce Gracie vs. Dan Severn, and the striking was low level!!

You created the Grudge Training Center and you’ve now got an incredibly strong team. Who were the first few fighters at the gym and how much improvement did they need?

Duane Ludwig was my first MMA fighter and his striking was already at a high level. My first MMA fight was Duane Ludwig vs. Jens Pulver

You’ve trained some of the best fighters in MMA, resulting in some of the best fights ever. We’ll start off with Rashad Evan’s knockout of Chuck Liddell. Was that a punch that came out of nowhere or was there something you and your assistants noticed that you thought Rashad could capitalize on?

Actually, Mike Wynklejon was the one calling for the over hand in that fight, and it sure paid off!!

That knockout won “Knockout of the Year” by Sherdog. Was that the best knockout you’ve ever witnessed from one of the members of your team?

It was defiantly in the top three for sure, and from the profile of the fight yes probably #1!!!

What was the game-plan when Rashad was facing Forrest Griffin, who is an aggressive and unorthodox striker?

To let Forest close the gap, usually the shorter fighter goes after the taller fighter but in this fight we knew Forest would over commit and close the gap for us because of his aggressive style…

What was your first experience training Shane Carwin?

When I first trained Carwin we worked on some jump roping techniques and every new technique I threw at him he accomplished it with ease. He jump roped like he was 150lbs. I knew I had something special with his athleticism, and his size…

No-one can doubt that Carwin has knockout power, but we’ve seen him improve leaps and bounds in all of his fights. What aspects of his striking do you feel Carwin has most improved upon?

Becoming more fluid with his striking. All of Carwin’s fights to me he looked tense and anxious, but in the Mir fight and the Lesnar fight he started showing how fluid his striking can be.. For instance in the Brock fight when Shane deflected Lesnars Cross and then returned with right cross-left uppercut combination. It is nice to see a big parring a punch to set up offense, (offense with defense)!

Nate Marquardt lost to Yushin Okami at UFC 122 and we heard you tell Marquardt to believe in his feet. Why did you feel Nate’s kicks would help him win the fight?

We worked on throwing the head kick as Okami was in the exchange because Okami does not bring his hands back to his face in the middle of his combinations. Okami fights at a good range so it is hard to punch with him, so we felt the kick would get to its target… He (Marquardt) was just not able to release it…

As an affiliate of Greg Jackson’s camp, how difficult is it to create game-plans when your partner is so far away and fighters are going back and forth? Many would presume that both of you guys are racking up the air miles.

We are constantly on the phone with each other, the bestest of friends!!

You were a trainer on TUF 10. How that experience and what was it like training some of the fighters who were rough around the edges?

It was a great experience, I enjoyed every minute of it. Even the guys who seemed rough around the edges made good effort on learning and letting us the coaches take control..

One of the things that I vividly remember from the show was you telling Roy Nelson “Do you want to get knocked out again?” Was it hard to motivate Nelson during training?

After that conversation he was easy to work with, I believe that was his motivation. Sometimes you need to get under your fighters skin to wake them up…

One part of your job is the physical aspect, but another aspect is the mental side, which we only get a glimpse at during intervals in fights.  What are the types of things you say to your strikers to get them pumped?

Every fighter is different, some need Motivation, some need to be lectured like Nelson and some need to visualize the target, and some need to be humbled, but every fighter is a different machine and that is the part I love to figure out… I love getting into the mind of a champion, because champions are very unique people…

 Music keeps fighters motivated. What type of music do you guys play at Grudge?

We play such a variety of music in the gym it would be hard to name. Reggae, hip hop and rock are the most chosen, but I couldn’t name the songs, lol

One of the things that a few of us have noticed is that you’re very “happy” when you’re behind your fighters and you always throw your fist in the air. What makes you so happy when you’re cage side?

My smile is my confidence and, my excitement that I am at the point of sitting in the best seat in the house to watch my athlete perform, by far the best thing front row to the best sport!!! I also throw up an L with my fist, for LOVE to my lovely wife and kids at home who are my #1 fans…


As an MMA fan and someone who has seen hundreds of fights, who is your favourite striker to watch and which fighter do you think is the most underrated striker in MMA?

 I love to watch GSP, Man I love Jabs when they are thrown correctly!!

Are there any up and coming fighters that you’ve been really impressed with at the gym?

Yes, Justin Salas who is a 155 who has been with us for about a year, who will be making some waves and then Chaun Simms one of our 185lbs, boy these guys are good!!

Lastly, you were nominated for an MMA UK award. Anything you’d like to say to the fans?

 I appreciate all the fans of MMA, It is an honor to be nominated, but I feel there are two people that make this sport, the great FIGHTERS who entertain us with their fights, and the FANS who have grown this sport to the fastest growing sport in the world. I appreciate each every single fan whether you’re a fan of me or my fighters, or not. Again, the FANS are the ones responsible for supporting this great sport I LOVE

Thanks so much for your time, Trevor.  Is there anyone you’d like to thank?

 Thanks for the opportunity for this interview, and Thanks to my Brother Trent for being by my side from the beginning, and thanks to Alchemist for everything they do for me and the fighters they represent, Thanks 1-HIT…


1 Comment

  1. Great interview with Coach T! I’m a big Grudge fan and agree that Salas and Sims are just a step away.

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