Think that MMA is not a big deal in Ontario, Canada? Think again.
In the small town of St. Catharines, Niagara Top Team is quickly becoming a mecca for up and coming MMA fighters in the country. Only in business for five months, the gym already had a roster of amateur and pro-MMA fighters knocking on their door, before they even opened it.
The gym is owned by wrestling guru Chris Prickett and professional MMA fighter Matt DiMarcantonio.
Their long list of up and coming fighters includes, Anthony Romero, Aaron Jeffery, Jasmine Jasudavicius, Teshay Gouthro, Vlad Kazbekov and Jarred Dummond. From commentating for the UFC around the world to headlining the first-ever women’s main event for Cage Titans, this team is quickly building an army of fighters while creating a name for the sport in Canada at the same time.
For years Prickett and DiMarcantonio were self-proclaimed “road warriors”. They had a group of fighters training in any spot they could find available from the basement of the Blue Star Restaurant to the Brock University wrestling room. “A lot of people were reaching out to us and we didn’t have a spot to train.” The two coaches noticed a great need for a training facility in the area and Niagara Top Team was born.
Prickett spoke of the passion he and DiMarcantonio both share for the sport. He said they are always learning themselves as martial artists and have a strong work ethic. He added, “We are always working to better our athletes and we are always hungry to be better.”
Training at Niagara Top Team
The gym offers evening classes which are open to the public. In these sessions, pro and amateur fighters train alongside recreational athletes. Prickett said this type of training allows elite athletes to continue to build on fundamentals while inexperienced athletes get a front seat view into the training of high-level athletes. The evening training is open to the public and any fans who want to come out to watch. The pro team also has separate closed training times with the two coaches.
Prickett wants to keep developing high-level athletes.
Consequentially, the gym can get a couple of fighters into the UFC. The goal is to “test ourselves against the best in the world and see what we can do when we are in that organization”. There hasn’t been a real platform “to show what we are doing here in Niagara”. That is about to change though as BTC Fight Promotions is coming to Niagara Falls, ON. on November 30.
The coach said this event “will be a great opportunity for people to see that Niagara is a powerhouse in mixed martial arts” and “it will be cool to showcase what we’ve been doing and change the persona that the area is not known for MMA”.
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The Scrap’s Caroline Romero is a journalism graduate and has 3 children involved in combat sport. Make sure to follow her son Simon Romero on his Behind The Grind podcast on YouTube.