Training at one of MMA’s top gyms has its perks.
For Sidney Outlaw, it’s not just about the chances to put in work nearly whenever he so chooses. Instead, it’s the quality of talent he gets to be a part of when he walks into American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida.
“Every day I train and I train with the best,” Outlaw told John Hyon Ko of The Body Lock. “I don’t train with the best just because it’s fun. I train with the best to be the best.”
At ATT, Outlaw spends much of his time working former WEC featherweight champion Mike Brown and current UFC welterweight Thiago Alves, both of whom have taken on coaching roles. But potentially his biggest influencer is not a name one can find on ATT’s list of coaches.
Newly crowned “BMF” champion Jorge Masvidal’s presence in the gym is a large one. He may not be leading classes on a day-to-day basis, but Masvidal is one of the most prominent figures in the gym and is one that other fighters look up to, which means he takes on a bit of responsibility when he’s around.
“He’s making sure that people that he’s looking out for is also training,” Outlaw said. “So when he’s training, he’s over there hitting mitts. He’s like, all right, I’m done. What’s Sidney doing? What’s Johnny doing? What’s my little brother Charlie doing? He’s making sure we’re training. He’s making sure we’re on ourselves.”
Masvidal’s reputation has always been one of a no-nonsense street fighter who will throw down at a moment’s notice. While that may be true, he shows a different side when he’s within the walls of ATT.
“A lot of people don’t understand, like he’s literally watching out for the future,” Outlaw said. “A lot of people don’t do that.”
Sidney Outlaw on American Top Team
At the center of the brotherhood inside ATT is Masvidal.
“If you’re his guy, he’s gonna watch out for you,” Outlaw said. “If you’re helping him, he’s going to help you.”
Masvidal’s outlook taught Outlaw a number of things from the time he began training in Florida.
Outlaw cites Masvidal’s selflessness, humble attitude, and work ethic as some of the main aspects that he has picked up on and implemented himself. On top of that, Outlaw has done his part to show love to his teammates in the same way Masvidal does.
Masvidal was an easy role model for Outlaw to follow in the footsteps of due to the similarities they share.
“I can relate to him,” Outlaw said. “We both came from a different background, and it wasn’t handed to us. We had to go take it, and the people that did kind of try to help, [you’ve] got to give back.”
Of course, Outlaw has also benefited from the guidance of coaches like Brown.
“Mike Brown is teaching me a lot of stuff that I never thought about,” Outlaw said. “And I get upset at myself. Like damn, I could’ve did that home. What the hell? You know, every day I’m learning.”
Outlaw had plenty of experience training in Philadelphia before making the move south. And since doing so, he’s only kept improving.
“I’m like dang, I thought I knew something cause I’m a black belt under Renzo, right? Really humbling cause I don’t know anything,” Outlaw said. “So once you just accept the fact that you don’t know anything, life is easy.”
Training at ATT has bred positive results for Outlaw in his competitive career. Still, he doesn’t take any of the credit for his recent successes, instead giving the glory to all of the people who have helped him get to this point.
“You don’t see me out there,” Outlaw said.”You see the product of their belief and faith in me. That’s what you see.”
Sidney Outlaw vs. Roger Huerta
Outlaw will put his improvements to the test in his Bellator debut when he takes on MMA veteran Roger Huerta at Bellator 234. The bout, which is scheduled as the co-main event on the card, will be the biggest stage for Outlaw to date, but it’s something he’s been preparing for in his years on the regional circuit.
“I always was preparing for the UFC, you know, I was preparing for that route, but I guess God had his own journey,” Outlaw said. “He was like, no, I want you to go to Bellator.”
Outlaw admits that he was open to fighting anyone after signing with the promotion, but what he got was a big name.
“When they told me you’re fighting for Bellator, I’m like, all right, cool,” Outlaw said. “Then they told me, you’re fighting against Roger Huerta, I’m like — I’m not going to lie to you. I’m not a big fan of watching my opponent fight — I’m like, all right, Roger Huerta. All right, cool.
“Abe [Kawa] Looked at me and was like, ‘All right? You’re not happy? Okay.'”
After his manager left, in came his head coach, who shared a similar surprise at Outlaw’s lack of shock once he read the name.
“Then Mike Brown asked me, ‘Hey, who are you fighting against?’ And I’m like, ‘Well, I think a guy named Roger Huerta,'” Outlaw said. “He was like, ‘Really? That’s a good name. That’s a good fight for you.’ They were like, ‘They’re giving him to you already?’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, who’s Roger Huerta?'”
Outlaw eventually did put in some research. He saw Huerta on the front of Sports Illustrated and glanced over his resume.
But the sentiment remains the same for Outlaw. It does not matter who it is that stands across from him.
“I want the title shot today, but they’re not going to give it to me,” Outlaw said. “I want to make that journey. So as I slowly make that trip up there, you get to see the climb, you get to enjoy the climb, you know, and they can’t stop it.
“So I want to kind of make a name, you know what I mean? And make the people that invested in me proud, slowly but surely, and now it’s happening.”
Shane Connelly is a journalism student at Penn State with a passion for sharing the stories of MMA fighters.