Mike Swick and Roger Huerta recently had a falling out with the Tiger Muay Thai and MMA gym in Phuket, Thailand. In an extensive post on the UG, Swick explains his position.
Our Gym In Thailand & Beef With Tiger Huerta Swick
Edited: 10/07/11 5:09 PM
Member Since: 1/1/01
As some of you know Roger Huerta and myself have started working on our gym in Phuket, Thailand and are really excited about it. Though its been a dream of mine for a long time and a passion for both of us, there has also been an attack from Tiger Muay Thai about our venture. Not a violent attack, calm down people. A verbal attack which in todays social networking friendly world can be rough to sleep on. Instead of stating facts and debating us, they are choosing the alternative(basically the opposite of stating facts and debating us). I feel after getting trashed by them for the last month or so, it is time to state our side of the story. My choosing of this time has inadvertently forced you to chose this time to read it. Sorry if you were busy.
Before I get into this, there have been a bunch of inquires since this hit the net, asking us why we haven't fought lately and is this all we are working on or do we have fights coming up. Both Roger and myself are as committed as ever to fighting and have both had unique breaks in our career for various reasons. I, myself have been battling a serious health issue with my esophagus that has dropped 30+ pounds off me since competing at Middleweight in the UFC. I finally got my health under control and gained my size and strength back and was all set to comeback at UFC 134 this past August but had a training accident 2 weeks before that snapped my ACL and tore my MCL and Meniscus. I had surgery and am rehabbing that at this time. Before the injury I was having the best camp of my life at AKA and felt that after 4 years of issues, I was finally going to comeback better than ever. By that I mean to win and to win in a really exciting and violent fashion. Just like you guys like. I will fight again as soon as I am healed. As for Roger, he is making his return next month in Texas against War machine in the UWF show on November 26th. (http://www.uwfmma.com) Fitch, myself and Baroni will be there to meet the fans and show support. Baroni and I are also going to commentate the fights. I plan to spike his punch and bring his motorcycle helmet. Yes the same one he, for some reason, wore during the entire filming of our infamous Cobra Blood Drinking video. Gonna be good times!
Anyway, we have put together an over qualified and highly connected team in Thailand to work with us which will give us plenty of time to focus on our careers while running this gym. Our best fights are still ahead of us. Life deals ups and downs and one of the things Roger and I have in common is that no matter what life deals us, we don't give up. Luckily we are filming this whole adventure so you will eventually get to see what a real treat its been learning Thai law, Thai labor law, setting up a Thai business, why Roger makes me take the subway over a tuk tuk, scouting land, negotiating land, buying land, dealing with snakes, dealing with snakes are are not human but are actually highly venomous deadly snakes and a lot more. We had some hurdles that were so big I had to put Roger on my shoulders to climb over, but we did and are trucking forward. I am sure we are far from done either!
Ok, back to the good stuff! ;)
Tiger Muay Thai is claiming that Roger and I are traitors, like Aldrich Ames in the 80's, since we have trained at their facility before and are now doing our own gym in Thailand. Ray Elbe(Tiger Head MMA Trainer, Spokesperson) has been maliciously bad mouthing us to everyone at Tiger and to anyone that will listen, though after we announced we were doing this, we met with him and came to an agreement in which he was very respectful and understanding in person. Soon as we left Thailand we were traders and had disrespected Tiger. It is uber sad considering what all we have done for Tiger and done for free. I have put on 2 seminars, one bringing in over 100 people, attended numerous events, let them film for their youtube and even reffed their NeverTap Asia grappling tournament. I never got paid for any of these things as they used the footage and photos to promote their gym for the last 4 years. What I did get was free privates($18 each) with the Muay Thai trainers and a free stay at one of their nearby bungalows which ran $10 a night. In the 4 years I was in Phuket, I did less than 10 privates at Tiger Muay Thai and received paid accommodations for about a week and a half. I never trained in the MMA class at their facility. Only taught MMA to students. The only time Ray and I were ever even on the mat together is when he asked me to roll with him in preparation for his debut on The Ultimate Fighter season 9. Even leary because I had heard how he verbally bumped and grinded a few people I know who were higher level fighters in the UFC I went ahead and rolled with him and gave him all the advice I had on being prepared for the show. No matter what people had told me, I was nothing but nice to him. And by that I mean, people told me not to be nice.
In Rogers case, he obviously was there a lot longer than I was. He stayed at Tiger several months doing free seminars, helping out with the classes and doing tons of promotional videos and interviews for the gym. He wasn't paid anything but did receive free training and a bungalow that retails about $100-$200 a month. Roger is the kind of guy who would have done it even if they didn't give a bungalow and free training. Thats just who he is. I can't even tell you how many privates I saw him doing for free with students and friends while there.
There was never any agreement that we signed saying that Tiger is a gang and that we are members of it and in return for tons of our PR with bungalow/training compensation we are to never ever even think about living our own life and pursue our own thing, post gang life. (*This comment is not insinuating that Tiger Muay Thai is a gang. Everyone knows that no gang would use a slightly edited and reversed version of the Bengals mascot as street cred)
These are actual quotes Ray wrote in his blogs that are still on his website in the archives... This is obviously before we announced we were doing a gym.
"A few of you may have noticed UFC Star Mike Swick walking around the Tiger Muay Thai and MMA Phuket Training facility the last couple of days. Swick is vacationing on the island of Phuket and has been to TMT several times in the past. During last years Nevertap Asia grappling tournament he put on one of the best Nogi grappling seminars we have ever had."
"Huerta who appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, is one of the nicest professional fighters I've met,I can see why Bellator saw his marketability...He's one of the most exciting latino fighters in the world!"
"Seminar was scheduled to last 2 hours...and Huerta has given the guest 3...what an amazing day!!!!"
"I can't tell the people who didn't attend the seminar enough how much of an opportunity they missed. Roger Huerta is more then a fighter–he is a philosopher, a traveler, and as Yogi Simon would say...an 'EL'..."
"Huerta is one of the most humble people I have ever met...His seminar today was one of the best...if not...the best...seminar...Tiger Muay Thai has ever had. Unless you won the lottery today...you missed out."
"Huerta has fought at the highest level of MMA--He's regarded as one of the top Lightweight fighters in the world... Yesterday he gave an 'MMA' seminar to close to 80 guest of Tiger Muay Thai...and it was amazing."
"Thanx to Roger 'El Matador' Huerta for the seminar he gave to the guest of Tiger Muay Thai before heading back to the states. It was a great opportunity for many of the guest of Tiger Muay Thai and MMA Phuket to train with one of the top fighters in the world!!
Of course the current blog quotes now have changed significantly. We obviously expected they would but trying to recruit Rogers next opponent he help give him insight shocked even us. Shenanigans!! Yikes!
War Machine responds how anyone would I guess...
@tigermuaythai if he trained with you guys for a year why would u wanna help me beat him?
Good question. Anyway, moving on...
Its not like I just moved in on Phuket yesterday with a master plan. It was days ago! Many! I have been training Muay Thai in Thailand since 2000, well before there was a Tiger Gym. I have trained at many different gyms spanning from Bangkok to Pattaya to Koh Samui to Phuket. I have trained in parking lots, peoples houses, hot open fields, concrete basketball courts, on the beach and Thailand's newer facilities. Obviously Phuket being my favorite because of the beautiful beaches, amazing scenery and friendly people. Through the years I made many friends in Phuket and was there way before I trained at Tiger Muay Thai. They act like they are the only gym in Phuket and we are moving in to threaten them.
As far as gyms in Phuket... Our gym is not on the main road of Tigers and the other 2 gyms. It is in Phuket where there are probably 50+ other gyms. All operate on the island and most are pretty chill. The only issues I have ever seen between gyms in the 4 years I have been going there is with Tiger and others. This is a big reason I retracted my offer to buy Tiger while I was in negotiations with the gym owner, Will, a few years ago. I dealt with him for over a year while trying to buy Tiger Muay Thai. I made a lucrative offer that he was considering but after finding out certain things, I politely retracted and we shook hands as he wished me luck on doing a gym on my own in the future, as he knows it was my dream. After this happened I stayed away from Tiger completely so it wouldn't look like I was being malicious in my attempts to do my own thing. I didn't train 1 time there in the last 3 years except 2 1hr sessions a few months ago when told to do so by the gym owner. Yikes at my last contradiction. Anyway, I was in Thailand and we had just posted that Roger and I teamed up and that we are doing our own gym and he knew I was training for a fight, UFC 134, and insisted on us training there so long as we didn't try and steal his trainers. We agreed because we had hoped that us doing a gym would let us all work together and improve training for all the thousands of fighters that flock to Phuket each year.
That was not the case though. They wanted us to train there so that they can promote us training together at Tiger then later accuse us of stealing trainers to make us look bad. We were set up like cloak and dagger. Of course we didn't know this at the time so I tweeted that I was training there but by day 2 everyone was coming up to us saying that Ray was bashing us and saying this and that. So after only my second session in the last 3 years, we left. Fortunately for us, another gym(Phuket Top Team) not only welcomed us to train but welcomed us with chin down and open arms and we made a plan to all work together and create the best training experience for anyone interested in seriously training Muay Thai and MMA in Phuket. Since then many other people and facilities welcomed us to our new home.
We are not trying to take Tigers customers or trainers. That is just silly! There are a ton of great fighters that become trainers everyday in Bangkok plus trainers move like vintage David Caradine in Kung Fu. In the 4 years I was in Phuket, I can't tell you how many trainers came and went from all the gyms. Success lies in recruiting young talented trainers and taking care of them and their families. There is a successful formula as I will get into that in 2 paragraphs and one sentence from now...
Even with Tiger attacking us, we have no malicious intent towards them. Not even you Ray. I mean I wouldn't give you a hug or anything but yea whatever. To everyone reading this, If you train at Tiger and like training at Tiger and wanna go back to Tiger, we hope that you do. We truly do. We obviously welcome everyone but also have our own customers who we have met and friended through the years who wanna train with us in a gym like we are building. We will bring in more customers than we can probably facilitate year round so it is silly to think we would be poaching from other gyms customers. Like I said before, other gyms know and see this and thats why they have formed friendships with us as we will help to build their student base and names as well.
We are just 2 guys who are building our dream gym in paradise using the skills, experience and connections that we gained from fighting in rings around the world ourselves. Thats what makes us different. Roger\ and I wanna create a gym that has the same curriculum, work ethic and training as all the top gyms we both have trained at over the course of our career. We wanna have top level MMA fighters come to tropical Thailand and be able to get the same or more of a demanding training session that they would get in their top gyms back home as well as train with some of the best Muay Thai trainers on the planet. We also wanna introduce inexperienced MMA fighters and hopefuls to the type of training they will need to embark on in order to take them to the next level of their abilities. Not only other fighters but I have trained with thousands of our troops overseas while doing Military tours in over 10 countries and I can't wait to invite all of you to our facility to continue our training and friendships. Military are VIP at our camp! ;)
We are not businessmen looking for quick profits and money. We are fighters looking to spark greatness in the fighters of tomorrow while living out the adventure of a lifetime.
As far as AKA.... This is a gym I am a core member of and will forever be a part of. I have been at AKA for over 10 years and was there when we named it AKA from Team Shamrock. Javier, the owner, was one of the first guys I talked to about doing a gym in Thailand and he and the team thought it was a fantastic idea for me even though it wasn't an AKA named franchise. Even before I asked for it to be affiliated with AKA. They were happy for me, wished me well and said they can't wait to come and train there. Not only that but there are several MMA gyms within miles of our facilities in San Jose. There is no Gang type mentality where we bash other gyms and they bash us. We all offer our style of service and product and all have our own student base. This is why the AKA name and franchise is so successful and has built Champion after Champion from the ground up. Thomson, Cook, Mendez and myself were there when Cain and Fitch and Koscheck, Cormier, Wilcox and Kyle and Rockhold and many others came in the door with little or no MMA experience. They trained hard with AKA's proven formula and all became stars. Almost everyone that was there in the old days that stuck it out and didn't quit became stars. Gyms that offer a good product, good service, a good business module and who focus on their team, don't usually hate and worry about what other gyms are doing.
And for the people mentioning a possible reality show. Stay tuned to find out. This gym will probably be as socially connected and visible as any has been before.
We wanna thank everyone out there for the ongoing support we have received. For those asking about more info, we will make it available as soon as it happens. Obviously Roger and I have been an open box via our Twitter and Youtube sites. If you wanna see Phuket and see Cobra Blood Drinking, Snake Eating, Monkey Training, Shark Fishing and more, get caught up on my Youtube so you can be prepared when you come out and hang with our crazy asses.
And for you tweetie birds...
This is the short version: