MMA or mixed martial arts is one of the fastest growing sports in the world. With promotions like the UFC or Bellator, the world has eyes on this up and coming sport and with more eyes on it, the more people want to give it a shot. MMA is a combination of many martial arts which combines grappling and striking arts into one sport in which all of them are used.
For those of you in the Chicago market looking to join an MMA gym or Brazilian Jiu Jitsu gym, we’ve compiled a list of some of the top schools in the Chicagoland area. Feel free to reach out to them for to see when you can go in and check them out.
Chicago Mixed Martial Arts
1528 North Halsted St
Chicago, IL 60642
At Chicago MMA, you will be taught by some of the top trainers in the area which includes two former UFC fighters and three Gracie Jiu Jitsu black belts. The team at Chicago MMA understand that every person that comes in has a different goal and they are ready and capable of making those goals come to fruition.
The head trainer at Chicago MMA is Misho Ceko. He is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu from the Ralph Gracie lineage. He opened his school in 2013 and has been going strong ever since. Other instructors include BJJ black belt Tony Williams, BJJ black belt Alex Rajacic, former UFC fighter and head Muay Thai trainer Brian Gassaway, former UFC fighter and kickboxing trainer Nate Mohr, BJJ black belt Chuong Pham, Muay Thai trainer Rosie Aybar and BJJ trainer David Lewis.
1207 Remington Rd, Suite 105
Schaumburg, IL 60173
The team at Evolution MMA is able to offer Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Muay Thai and Boxing all under one roof. The team has many coaches with years of experience to custom fit a plan for your goals.
Jason Sullins is the head coach at Evolution MMA and is the main strategist when it comes to watching students and finding holes in their game. He is a Carlson Gracie black belt with years of experience to lead the way. In addition, to Jason, there are many other coaches including Issac Riggs. Issac is currently teaching Tuesday and Thursday classes and helps in competition training so you will be at your best when you take the mat. In addition, Kurt Wuckert is another BJJ coach at Evolution MMA that focuses on the fundamentals of Jiu Jitsu. For those of you who have never taken a class, you will most likely see a lot of Kurt as he guides you through the start of your journey.
In terms of striking coaches, Evolution MMA is giving you quality there as well. For Muay Thai, Chris Thake is will take you to the next level with his years of experience. He trained under the instruction of UFC pioneer, Keith Hackney and has been coaching MMA fighters for many years since. Dean Mangano is the boxing coach at Evolution MMA and puts together a Golden Gloves team every year. In addition to giving you the technique for boxing, Coach Mangano is also the striking fitness coach and will having you working toward your weight loss goals in no time at all.
TDC MMA & Fitness
322 N Leavitt #B
Chicago, IL 60612
TDC MMA & Fitness is an academy not quite like the others. You get an opportunity to train with some of the best MMA, fitness and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu coaches in the Chicagoland area. From well-seasoned fighters to beginners, the team at TDC is there to help you reach all your goals. The coaches at TDC have the experience and skill to help you reach your fitness goals. This goes for anyone looking to get involved in MMA competitions or just losing a few pounds.
The head coach at TDC is Dino Costeas started training in BJJ back in 1994 when he became the owner of TDC. He was already a black belt and was ready to keep learning more. Once he discovered BJJ, he knew it was the path for him so he started as a white belt and traveled around the country looking for the best teachers out there. He was referred to the legendary Rickson Gracie by Renzo Gracie and trained in Rickson’s garage when it all began.
Dino went back and forth from Chicago to Los Angeles to learn from the best and his main student, Luis “Limao” Heredia. Ever since the beginning of Dino’s journey in BJJ, he has proudly represented Rickson Gracie and eventually earned a black belt from Heredia. From then on, Dino refined his techniques for his students and himself and became one of the premier coaches in charge of one of the premier schools in Chicago.
A few fascinating facts about Dino Costeas is that he coached former UFC champion and legend, Andrei Arlovski all the way from his first UFC to eventually winning the title. In addition, Dino has coached other top fighters and UFC vets like Mark Miller and Clay Guida.
That being said, what makes TDC the place for anyone is that Dino takes more pride in creating a team of great people with quality character so they can live the rest of their life feeling good about themselves.
Rio Jiu Jitsu
3948 N Monticello Ave
Chicago, IL 60618
Rio Jiu Jitsu is one of the premier academies in the Chicagoland area that has a sole focus on training you to being your best when it comes to Jiu Jitsu. From beginners to veterans, from kids to adults, Rio Jiu Jitsu offers something for everyone in a friendly environment. Learn to channel your energy into a martial art that will not only teach you to defend yourself when you need it most, but also teach you to be a better person.
This school is founded and led by Carlson Gracie Jr. black belt Pete “The Greek” Letsos. Pete is one of the premier American BJJ black belts and has been around a long time. Pete has competed all over the world and most notably the legendary Copa Atlantica, the Pan Americans, Brazilian Teams Nationals and the Gracie Invitational.
Pete got his nickname way back in his early Jiu Jitsu days when he lived in Brazil. The locals weren’t able to pronounce his name and knew he was of Greek decent so hence, “The Greek” became his nickname.
Pete started his BJJ journey in 1996 where he trained at the Carlson Gracie Junior academy in Chicago. Pete decided to take the trip to Brazil to lead a life of BJJ learning from all the best in 2002. He ended up getting there during one of the most tumultuous times in BJJ when black belts were leaving Carlson Gracie’s school to form Brazilian Top Team (BTT). From there, Pete trained with Carlson Gracie and throughout his time in Brazil, he trained with some of the most legendary Jiu Jitsu practitioners of all time like Osvaldo Alves, Andre Galvão and Terere to name a few.
So, give Rio Jiu Jitsu a shot if you want to learn from one of the best in an environment that fosters growth and friendship.
Victory MMA Gym
329 W 18th St
Chicago, IL 60616
Dion Riccardo’s Victory Martial Arts Academy has 8 different locations and has been around for a while. This is because Dion Riccardo has a class act school that trains some of the best people and toughest fighters in the area. The team at Victory MMA has been doing this for over 25 years, constantly perfecting and working on the programs that will bring you closer to your fitness and self-defense goals. They are always updating and improving the techniques used to make sure you are on the cutting edge of your martial arts goals. You can do this by training in MMA or any of the specific martial arts like kickboxing, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Karate and other martial arts for adults and kids alike.
One of the main reasons that Victory MMA has been so successful over the years is that their instructors are required to keep on top of new techniques and styles by attending instructor meetings monthly. In addition to that, instructors must attend weekly meetings to talk about how classes are going. With this kind of quality control, you are bound to get some of the best training in the Chicago area.
The founder of Victory MMA is Dion Riccardo. Dion started training in the martial arts when he was just 13 years old. Fast forward over 35 years, Dion has trained under some of the most well-known martial artists around.
They offer classes for kids and adults that focus on Kickboxing, adult MMA, Jiu Jitsu and general self defense to help build character and confidence.
POW! Gym Chicago
310 South Racine Ave. 1st floor
Chicago, IL 60607
POW! Gym in Chicago is one of the premier places to get in shape in Chicago and learn some MMA while you’re at it. This gym was founded by Katalin Ogren back in 2001 and they haven’t looked back. POW! Offers over 50 adult classes a week and also provides programs for the kids as well. These classes include Muay Thai, youth boxing, self-defense, fitness, sports performance, tumbling, speed programs and Krav Maga.
POW! has a pedigree that represent Ogren’s accomplishments in fitness and marital arts. She is focused, decisive, kind and disciplined. These are the same characteristics that POW! Gym will pass on to you and your kids. Some of her career highlights include having 4 black belts in multiple martial arts, starring in 17 DVDs, publishing over 200 articles to many industry magazines, writing 4 industry educational manuals and writing a book.
With over 10 trainers at POW! Gyms in Chicago, you are going to have the best of many aspects of martial arts and fitness under one roof.
UFC Gym – Wrigleyville
3519 N Clark St Ste 201
Chicago, IL 60657
The UFC Gym based in Wrigleyville, Chicago is one of many UFC gyms around the Chicagoland area. However, it doesn’t make this one any less of a great place to train. In fact, the UFC gym in River North has quality trainers and coaches as well as offering a variety of classes that will get you heading in the right direction in terms of your MMA career.
Classes offered include Boxing Conditioning. In this class you will learn basic boxing techniques and skills that are created to increase your cardio endurance and strength. It’ll include bag work, calisthenics, core strengthening exercises and shadow boxing. They also offer D.U.T or daily ultimate training which is essentially a boot camp designed to shock your body into changes that will give you the results you are looking for. That is just some of the fitness offering you will get.
In terms of MMA, the UFC gym in River North offers classes in gi and nogi Jiu Jitsu in which you will learn the fundamentals and then move on to the more difficult techniques. There are also boxing classes that will build on the foundation you already have in boxing and take you to that next level. From defensive and offensive skills to sparring, your hands will get some work here. There are also classes for Muay Thai and Kickboxing so if you have any interest in learning some of these skills, give these guys a call. The UFC gyms all over America are creating a culture of hard work and quality, backed by the UFC company, these guys aren’t going anywhere for a long time. The UFC gym has all the tools you will need to be a better fighter in addition to the quality coaches that train there. Go by yourself or bring your family, this gym has classes for everyone.