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Regular readers of KNUXX will recognize the name Tom Vaughn. Tom is the co-owner and head coach of one of the powerhouse gyms in New Mexico, FIT NHB, as well as the southwest’s promoter of King of the Cage (KOTC). With Tom at the helm, FIT has garnered a reputation for producing top talent in boxing, kickboxing and MMA and the KOTC organization has lauded his results for the promotion. FIT has spawned champion after champion in the WEC and KOTC.
Success gets noticed and talent, just like in other sports, is highly sought after. So when Ultimate Fighter Season 8 winner Ryan Bader, NCAA All-Americans Aaron Simpson and C.B. Dollaway, and knockout artist Robbie Lawler decided to look for a head coach for their new gym, Power MMA & Fitness, Tom’s name came up. Introduced through a mutual friend, Tom and the Power MMA team hit it off instantly. And, like a whirlwind, Tom found himself working full time for the Arizona gym. (For more information see this article from MMAWeekly.com)
KNUXX caught up with Tom recently to chat about what this means for FIT, KOTC & the fighters who now make up the new extended family. Tom’s responses are bolded.
- What does this mean for FIT?
- FIT NHB is headed to a new dimension of success. We have produced champion after champion and built more quality fighters than any other gym I know but we are still relatively unknown. Being selected for the head coach position of Power MMA only validates what we have known for years. Our program is among the best in the business and it just took the right situation to help bring us to the forefront. Joining the exceptional group of individuals at Power MMA is the perfect fit, no pun intended.
- Will Arlene (Tom’s wife and partner at FIT NHB) have a more active/different role or will you try and run a lot of it remotely?
- Arlene has always been actively involved in our business. Without her FIT NHB would not be the same quality. Arlene sometimes doesn’t get the recognition she deserves because she is a woman in a male dominated sport and she is too humble to speak up. Arlene designed our gym, taught boxing and kickboxing classes from day one, and is responsible for the outstanding strikers that our gym is known for. In my book Arlene Sanchez is the #1 striking coaches in the MMA. No one else’s style compares. As this new endeavor progresses Arlene will no doubt adapt her role to whatever is needed. She is very capable in many ways. I don’t think I would exactly say I’ll be “running it remotely” but I will always be involved in the decision making process in whatever I am involved in no matter where I am .
- Will the AZ guys ever travel out here to train (knowing that a group of FIT fighters has already taken a road trip toArizonato train)?
- There is no doubt about it, Power MMA fighters will train at FIT NHB whenever they need a change of pace. It will be their “home away from home” just as Power MMA will be “home away from home” for FIT NHB fighters.
- Will you lean on your local guys to help you with KOTC for the region (Jon for example)?
- Jon Judy is my sidekick and involved in pretty much everything I do. JJ is an extremely intelligent and charismatic guy with a great sense of humor. He gets the job done, whatever the job is. We laugh a lot and that is good medicine for me. I also rely heavily on FIT NHB general manager Rick Nater. Rick goes way back with FIT NHB and I trust him with everything.
- Will this position allow you to get some talent from Arizona to fight in the KOTC SW?
- It’s already in the works. Arizona sits right between two of our biggest markets, California and New Mexico.
- Do you view FIT & Power MMA as a larger extended family/team now?
- Absolutely. If I tried to explain how quickly the fighters bonded it would sound hokey, but that is exactly what happened. The energy in practice was incredible.
- What rumors have you heard about you taking this position (how can I help you dispel some of them)?
- There’s a rumor that I am leaving FIT NHB which is ridiculous. I am expanding my duties as a coach and will be commuting regularly to Phoenix, but FIT NHB will be bigger than ever.
- Was this a planned move – not specifically Power MMA but to get some UFC fighters under your care (was this part of your long term plan or was it a surprise)?
- I wasn’t trying to “get some” UFC fighters, it just worked that way. The second wave of top level FIT NHB fighters is about to hit the next level and UFC was only a matter of time anyway. Now they have training partners at Power MMA that are already in UFC to mentor them which is cool. I don’t believe in coincidences. Obviously things happen when they are supposed to.
- Anything else you want to say?
- Yes. I would like to say thank you to everyone who believed in FIT NHB all these years, everyone at Power MMA for their hospitality, and everyone I work with at King of the Cage. I am very honored to be in the company of all the above.
KNUXX would like to thank Tom for taking time out of his obviously busy schedule to keep the local New Mexico fight community informed. Thanks Tom!
All photos by Will Fox – The Fox Identity.