Retired UFC fighter Mike Swick estimates his gym in Phuket, Thailand, is only 20 percent done four years into its inception.
The low percentage isn’t attributable to laziness. It’s Swick’s ambition that keeps extending the completion date.
AKA Thailand is known as a haven for top-level fighters. It’s not known for its basketball court, but that might change once Swick knocks out that project. Then there’s a 5,000 square foot muay Thai facility, a strength and conditioning facility, and a workout stairwell leading to a viewing platform 16 meters high.
Swick and his partners aren’t building these things to feed their egos. He said they’re a crucial part of building a strong team.
When fighters get a chance to do things other than fighting, he said, that’s when you forge true bonds. And that, in turn, leads to better training, which leads to better fighters.
“Because when you train with a family, that you’re loyal to a team, that’s how you progress in the sport,” Swick told MMAjunkie Radio. “That’s how you become a Khabib (Nurmagomedov) and a Daniel Cormier and Cain Velasquez. It’s not necessarily your coach that teaches you everything; it’s your training partners. The more that you’re close to your training partners, the more they’re going to help you, and you’re going to help them.”
Swick remembers working with Jake Shields on Christmas Day to prepare him for a fight. That never would have happened had the two not bonded in the gym.
As part of one of the most famous teams in MMA, American Kickboxing Academy, Swick is now focused on replicating that success in Thailand. He’s also working on a media empire with his video podcast “Real Quick,” which has hosted UFC President Dana White, Mark Hunt and Cody Garbrandt, among others.
Eventually, Swick will find the time to finish up AKA Thailand. But he’s got a few more projects to work on.
“We’re not just building facilities for just training,” he said. “We’re building facilities to bring everyone closer. This is going to be unlike any gym built in the world, for sure.”
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