When the Blackzilians started in 2011, Glenn Robinson never intended for the gym to grow into one of the biggest and best teams in all of MMA.
Actually according to Robinson, he never really intended to get involved in the MMA business much at all until four friends left another legendary MMA gym, American Top Team, and looked to him for management assistance.
Once former UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans joined the mix, Robinson knew this was no longer a passion project and he had to put some real time and effort into making the whole thing come together. Over time, more and more fighters started to flock to South Florida to join the team now known as the Blackzilians.
Just a few months into 2015, the Blackzilians are now poised for potentially their biggest year ever with two fighters from the gym about to compete for UFC titles on the same night.
Anthony Johnson completes his improbable return to the Octagon after previously fighting in the promotion at 170 pounds as he gets ready to face Jon Jones for the light heavyweight title at UFC 187.
In the co-main event, Johnson's teammate and training partner Vitor Belfort will look to add another title to his Hall of Fame career when as he faces Chris Weidman for the UFC middleweight title.
A few weeks before Johnson and Belfort go for gold, the Blackzilians as a team will also embark on a historic new season of "The Ultimate Fighter" where they go head-to-head with American Top Team with the winning side scoring a $500,000 prize.
The team competition is new to the long running reality series, but the rivalry between the Blackzilians and American Top Team has been going on ever since Jorge Santiago, Danillo Villefort, Yuri Villefort and Gesias 'JZ' Cavalcante left the long standing Coconut Creek based gym and decided to work with Robinson instead.
"I'm sure Dan told you a much nastier response. It's past a rivalry. A rivalry is where two people are involved in a competition to see who's best. I don't like Dan Lambert in any way, shape or form. I dislike the man," Robinson told FOX Sports.
Robinson and Lambert have much different versions of the same story when it comes to how the four fighters left American Top Team and eventually helped form the Blackzilians. Robinson won't rehash the story again, but does say he believes it was Lambert's own fault that everything went down the way it did.
"For me the rivalry is only strictly because Dan was sarcastic and rude for doing nothing. I didn't ask those guys to quit (American Top Team)," Robinson said. "Dan built the Blackzilians by purely not listening to his own guys emotions and feelings and cares and concerns."
There's little doubt that some of the animosity in past seasons of "The Ultimate Fighter" has been manufactured to a degree to help build the tension between two coaches, which only raises the profile of the show and the intensity between the fighters involved in the competition.
That's not the case when it comes to the Blackzilians facing off with American Top Team.
The gyms are planted in South Florida with only about 20 miles separating the two teams from each other. Think of the Blackzilians and American Top Team as the Duke and North Carolina of mixed martial arts -- except these teams aren't shooting a ball through a basket.
Each one is set out to destroy the other inside the Octagon.
Robinson says the two teams were never meant to co-exist, especially not after the Blackzilians started racking up a huge list of wins and building fighters into title contention one after the other. Robinson knows it must eat Lambert up inside that he got into MMA almost by accident and now has one of the top gyms in the world.
And the Blackzilians did it in just four years.
"Dan's jealous. It's built out of jealousy," Robinson said about the rivalry. "In three years, three and a half years, I've built a team that rivals his and it took him 11 years. Wouldn't you be pissed off? Think about how it must make him feel before he goes to sleep every night knowing I accomplished in less than four years what took him 11."
The history of the Blackzilians will add another chapter when the new season of "The Ultimate Fighter" officially kicks off on Wednesday night, April 22 at 10pm ET on FOX Sports 1 as they face off with American Top Team in the first ever team vs. team competition on the show.
This entry was posted in General News on April 22, 2015 by Adriana Santiago.