Mark DellaGrotte is back in the corner

Monday, August 07, 2017

Mark DellaGrotte founded Sityodtong in Sommerville, Massachusetts in 1996. In time he became one of the most sought after “super coaches” in mixed martial arts, with stars like Stephan Bonnar, Kenny Florian, Patrick Cote, and Miguel Torres coming through the doors, and sleeping as necessary in the modest fighter’s quarters.

Ask any super coach, and they will tell you that there are aspects of being a top trainer that feel like babysitting for adults. Some of DellaGrotte’s most famous fighters moved to other camps, and one accused him of sharing insider information with an opponent.

“It left a bad taste in my mouth,” said the coach. Seven years ago, Kru Mark took a job as the striking technical adviser for UFC television broadcasts, sitting in the production truck and speaking to the commentators through an earpiece.

“I said, ‘This is a good opportunity for me to switch gears, to pursue something else within the sport,’” said DellaGrotte to Jack Encarnacao, the excellent and appreciated chief investigative reporter for the Boston Herald. “There was just almost a saturation of fighters that I had, and it was taking a lot of my time.”

There was even a Hollywood turn in Here Comes the Boom and Mall Cop 2, playing a figure he knows intimately – himself.

Now a new generation of fighters are coming out of the gym, including Rob Font, Rico DiSciullo, Tateki Matsuda, and Calvin Kattar. Kru Mark is even teaching introductory classes.

“I was neglecting the up-and-comers,” said the coach. “As the years went by, I got back to working with regular students, regular guys, guys that were hungry, guys that wanted my attention — not necessarily divas that demanded my attention.”

DellaGrotte says he’s managing his time and responsibilities better on this second run, and paying closer attention to the talent growing on his mats.

“I was losing the passion for the martial arts, I was losing what I got into it for,” he said. “I found myself getting back into that, and being excited about training fighters that were excited to train with me.”