Location: Deerfield Beach, Florida
Year Established: 2017
Founder: Henri Hooft/Greg Jones
Head Coach: Henri Hooft/Greg Jones
Notable Title Wins: UFC Welterweight Title, Bellator Lightweight Title
How was Sanford MMA established?
After Henri Hooft and Greg Jones stepped down as coaches at the Blackzillians gym and partnered to start another gym. They would go on to open their gym in Ft Lauderdale, Florida called Hard Knocks 365 in 2017.
Hooft and Jones would then move locations to Deerfield Beach and partnered with Sanford Health. A non profit healthcare delivery system that had a headquarters located in Florida.
Sanford Health ran an all purpose sports complex that housed nearly every major sport. Hooft and Jones would get a sponsorship deal from the company and rename the gym Sanford MMA.
Making them the first gym to be sponsored by a health service provider. They would get a state of the art gym built for them including a medical staff to oversee their health.
As of now, the fight team at Sanford MMA includes over 40 MMA fighters and 25 from the big 3 promotions. Including current and former MMA champions.
One of the founders and head coaches of Sanford MMA is Henri Hooft. Who for years has been considered one of the best MMA coaches in the world.
The former Dutch kickboxer started training when he was 15 and competed as an amateur during his teens. Then when he was 18, Hooft went to train with world champion Rob Kaman in Thailand.
During his kickboxing career, Hooft would have 89 professional fights and win European and world titles. Also competing in 11 boxing matches and reaching the UFC while fighting in MMA.
After his competition career ended in 2007 he became a full time kickboxing coach. Going on to train kickboxing champions like Tyrone Spong, Remy Bonjasky, Ernesto Hoost, and Peter Aerts.
Then in 2011, Hooft would become the head striking coach at the Blackzilians Fight Team. After his run as coach at the Blackzilians, Hooft became one of the most sought after coaches in MMA.
Since then, Hooft has his own gym with Sanford MMA and continues to train the best fighters in the sport.
Greg Jones is one of the most accomplished amateur wrestlers in the history of the United States. During his college career, Jones would win 3 national titles in 3 years. Only one of 39 wrestlers to accomplish in the history of the NCAA.
After his wrestling career ended, Jones became a coach at his alma mater of West Virginia University for 9 years. Jones was then offered the position as wrestling coach for the Blackzilians fight team in 2014.
At the Blackzilians, Jones would work with fighters with high profile wrestling backgrounds like Anthony Johnson and Rashad Evans.
Since the Blackzilians gym shutdown, Jones has become partners with Henri Hooft. First opening Hard Knocks 365 and now Sanford MMA.
Since coaching with the Blackzilians, Hooft and Jones have trained some of the best MMA fighters in the world. Now that they’ve formed Sanford MMA, they are continuing their work training more high level fighters. Here are some of the most notable fighters from Sanford MMA.
The most notable fighter that trained out of Sanford MMA is the current UFC Welterweight champ Kamaru Usman. Kamaru has worked with Hooft since he was a wrestling coach at Blackzilians.
Usman was a NCAA division 2 champion and attempted to make the Olympic team, but failed due to injury. Since his wrestling career was over and he was coaching at the Blackzilians, he started pursuing a fighting career.
He would go 5-1 before getting on The Ultimate Fighter 21 season and dominate the show. Winning his UFC debut and winning TUF 21 tournament earning a UFC contract.
Since 2015, Usman has been nothing short of dominant during his run in the UFC. Winning 9 straight fights before earning a title shot against Tyrone Woodley.
Kamaru would dominate the reigning champ to win the welterweight title. He would be with Sandford MMA up until his 3rd title defense against teammate Gilbert Burns.
Michael Chandler is one of the top fighters in the world that trains out of Sanford MMA, Before he got into MMA, Chandler had a background in amateur wrestling. Walking onto the University of Missouri’s wrestling team, where he would earn a 100-40 record in his 4 year career.
Chandler immediately began training for MMA and went pro in 2009 and went undefeated in his first 4 years. Michael quickly became one of the premiere fights in Bellator.
In his 10 years with Bellator, Chandler would become the most decorated fighter in the promotion’s history. He is the only Bellator champion to win their lightweight title 3 times during his time in the promotion.
So far in the UFC, he had 2 fights including fighting for the UFC Lightweight Title. He will look to add on to his prestigious career in the future.
Gilbert Burns is a UFC veteran that has trained with Hooft and Jones since their time together at the Blackzilians. He has been with them since the beginning of his UFC career in 2014.
Burns is a long time UFC veteran of 16 fights that has competed at lightweight and welterweight. Upon going up to welterweight, Burns went on the run of his career winning 6 fights in a row.
Leading to a title fight with his former teammate Kamaru Usman. On top of being a high level MMA fighter, Burns is also a high level BJJ competitor.
The legacy of Sanford MMA
Sanford MMA is only 2 years old, but the founders and head coaches have been two of the world’s best coaches. Henri Hooft and Greg Jones are on a mission to build one of the best MMA teams in the world.
Teaming with Sanford Health has taken their fight team to the next level. Ensuring that their team gets the premiere training and medical care that they can’t get anywhere else in the world.