MILWAUKEE -- Whether it's your first time on the mat or you're preparing for your next UFC fight, one gym in Walker's Point will get you preparing -- using their knowledge and passion for MMA.
With a five to one record, amateur MMA fighter, Nelly Thompson, recently prepared for another fight at Pura Vida Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) and MMA Gym. There, Thompson has earned more than victories.
"These guys are good guys. Brotherhood. I've never been on a team. Never played a sport. May never know what it's like to have a number on my back or anything, but having my name on my shorts is even cooler," said Thompson.
Tucked away in Walker's Point, Owners Jake Klipp and UFC fighter, Zak Ottow, give aspiring fighters a place to learn.
"We both fight, but he's the very successful fighter. We both coach, but people would maybe notice me more as the coach. I'm the far better looking one, but he's more well-spoken. Together we're like an invincible machine," said Klipp.
While continuing his work at the gym, Ottow's own personal fighting career is on the rise.
"I just kept plugging away and getting better. I went on some big win streaks, and eventually last year I got signed by the UFC and I've had three fights under the UFC now. Hopefully get another one in the end of the year, but I'll be going into the my second contract with them and now the ball is really rolling," said Ottow.
But Ottow's journey wasn't always an easy one.
"I moved into the gym and lived in the gym for four years until I made it to the UFC, so it was quite the commitment and there were losses along the way that set me back. I knew I could get there one day. I believed wholeheartedly that I would and I just stayed persistent," said Ottow.
Persistence is the type of trait both Ottow and Klipp look for when building a team and growing their gym.
"I've always been a proponent that slow growth is permanent growth. We've been open for seven and-a-half-years now. We have 32 fighters on the team now -- 12 professionals, 20 amateurs, two fighters in the UFC," said Klipp. "I think it's going to take another seven and-a-half-years, before we're further and further ahead, but my goal is for us to be the number one gym in the world."
"It's crazy how much you get emotionally attached to your fighters. A lot of times when I go to corner and coach, I'm more nervous cornering a fighter I've been working with since I taught them how to throw their first punch, and now they're fighting at a higher level. It's really rewarding, especially when they're using the tools that you specifically worked on them with to achieve success and reaching their goals. It's a really great experience," said Ottow.
"You don't have to be a tough guy to do this. Look at me. Look at my face. You don't have to be a tough guy. Be yourself. Be honest with yourself. If you don't know, ask a question," Thompson said. "When you don't know much about it, you think tough guys that are mean and violent all the time and it couldn't be further from the truth. We want thinkers. We want people with good character who carry themselves well."
"If you want to be at the highest level of this sport, you have to be completely obsessed with it. It has to be in you every second of the day, from what you're eating, your training regimen and everything like that," Ottow said.
Pura Video also offers cardio kickboxing classes, youth classes and a number of others as well. Their next event is August 19th.