Tallahassee – The MMA fight town of North Florida

“Go to the battlefield firmly confident of victory and you will come home with no wounds whatsoever.”
-Samurai General Kenshin Uesugi

Florida’s state capital city has a dedicated fight community and well-conditioned up and coming fighters. Home to Florida State University and FAMU, Tallahassee has a long history of excellent athletes.

Not too long ago, Tallahassee was being groomed as a fight town in the form of the combat sport of boxing. In 2002, Golden Boy Promotions took an interest in local fighters and put on shows at the Civic center.

Unfortunately, some of the shows were scheduled on the same night as another local boxing venue being held at Tallahassee’s, The MOON. Tallahassee local fighters did very well at the shows and some say that is why Golden Boy stopped doing shows there.

The word is they did not make Golden Boy fighters look very well. Most boxing fans are familiar with Tallahassee boxers, Travis Walker with a 26 KO career, and of course current IBF World Light Heavyweight Champion Tavoris Cloud.

Tallahassee still has excellent boxing instruction but now most of it is aimed at training for MMA stand up.

Joey Burtoft, owner of all the Gold’s Gyms in town, Rayn, the hottest nightclub in town, and numerous other businesses, had the initial spark to turn the town into an MMA fight town. Although an excellent and well-versed businessman, Joey went into this endeavour like most folks in the MMA business, purely for the love of it.

Local fighter Josh Samman gained national attention for his superb fight performances and was doing the travelling it took to get the MMA education he needed to continually get better at the sport.

Joey and Josh’s trainer recognized him as a leader and a teacher, someone who could help bring other local fighters into their potential. With this partnership Joey created Tallahassee Combat Sports as a fight gym with a mission of leading the whole city towards everything that the sport of MMA has to offer.

In Joey’s vision he also wanted his fighters to win by an overwhelming difference in all their fights. He created a community of partners to insure that, including local Chiropractic physician Dr. Cal Milton, Conditioning coach Eric Johnson, BJJ Gracie Barra instructor Professor Roberto Cuartero, and the same venue who used to host boxing matches, The MOON.

Future champions are being made at TCS. The gym itself is pretty roomy with Thai bags and boxing bags in two separate areas. There is a lot of mat space, a cage, and two boxing rings.

The cage and ring used to belong to Roy Jones Jr., another Floridian who has interest in TCS doing well. The classes are old school tough with no one saying, “I can’t train today because I am sore, have a cold, I hurt my elbow, have a headache, my hand hurts…”

After the technique and/or sparring classes everyone stays for Eric Johnson’s conditioning or they head to Florida State University to run stadiums. The guys don’t cry about being gassed because Eric makes sure they never are when they get into the cage to spar or to fight.

Anyone can learn technique, but if you get tired and you don’t have heart then you will never go far in this business. TCS’s Head Conditioning Coach, Eric Johnson started his athletic career as a high school wrestler, division one in Illinois.

He then got into amateur boxing for awhile. From 1994-2001 he worked as a conditioning coach at FSU. For six years he was the Head Conditioning Coach for the football team and for four of those years they won the nationals.

Eric takes great pride in what he did for the team. He was the conditioning coach at FSU also for men’s Basketball, women’s Tennis, and the Cheerleading team for awhile. He also worked for the Tallahassee Tigersharks, a professional Hockey team.

When Eric got involved with TCS he was able to marry his love of the fight game with his talent as an unrelenting conditioning coach.

You can see TCS fighters every Sunday running stadiums, often with snorkels on, and either track sprints or stadiums on Wednesdays. The rest of the weekdays Eric is at the gym leading everyone through conditioning, either outside throwing tires around or inside directing them through tried and true conditioning workouts.

Professor Roberto Cuartero came on board at TCS through his relationship with Josh Samman. Roberto brings with him nine years of training in BJJ under Professor Aparecido Farias, five years of training in Erik Paulson’s CSW, and his Gracie Barra instructor title.

Roberto met Josh in 2007 in a locker room at a Jacksonville gym. He asked him a couple questions on technique and listened attentively to the answers. Since then Josh has travelled to Roberto’s Jacksonville Gracie Barra school to train with him.

Roberto considers Josh to be an outstanding student and a wise teacher. Roberto spoke about his relationship with Josh,

“For his age he has an amazing wealth of knowledge. Our relationship really solidified when Josh tried out for TUF. During the tryouts Josh developed a hematoma on his thigh. He could have lost his leg at the tryouts. He impressed everyone there and his leg swelled double the size by the end of it. He has a 16 inch scar to remind him of the event. As soon as he landed back in Florida he went to the hospital. Me and his mother were waiting outside of the waiting room. He knew then that when I said I was there for him and had his back that I meant it.”

The students at TCS are belted according to the guidelines from the IBJJ federation by Professor Roberto. Josh is versed in the guidelines and Roberto oversees them in regards to belt awarding. Professor Roberto discusses the students with Josh before and after his visits to TCS.

Roberto talked about his role as instructor,

“Brazilian Jui Jitsu is 100 percent done off of merit and time. It is my job as an instructor to put all their tools in their tool belt before I send them out to do the job. The Gracie Barra structure allows me to incorporate my knowledge to teach the main thing you have to know in MMA which is BJJ.”

Another piece of the Tallahassee fight community is Dr. Cal Melton of Downtown Chiropractic and Sports Development.  “Cal” as he likes to be called, works with the TCS fighters because he is interested in the success of local Tallahassee fighters.

He has a long history of working with athletes including Olympic sprinters, surfers, football players at NFL and college level, gymnasts, rugby players, hockey players, dancers, high school athletes. pro athletes, you name it they have done it.

Cal is the twelfth chiropractor in his family. He spoke about his vision,

“Traditional medicine seems to rely more on medications and surgery. More than I really thought was acceptable. I really thought the more conservative route was where I wanted to be. I really developed a sense of what would suite my own philosophy best. That is what brought me here instead of just being a Chiropractor. I really developed a sense of appreciation for physical therapy and rehabilitation. I really want to solve problems and not be guilty of being content with someone coming back repeatedly.”

Cal uses ARP (Accelerated Recovery Therapy, developed by Dennis Thompson, arpwave.com) with traditional physical therapy and chiropractic care all mixed together.

The ARP is used specifically to locate compensation patterns and find areas of inflammation and/or scar tissue.  Cal explained,

“I utilize it for pulling out compensation patterns which you can see their faulty patterns and what they are so we can then go in a address their bio mechanics so that we can rehabilitate them through exercise. I really get to know the guys the longer we work together and I become in tune with their weaknesses, where their strong spots are, where their imbalances may occur, and we try to look at areas where inflammation may be so we can actually make them able to train harder than they would otherwise be able to and without the normal recovery time.”

Being a patient of Cal myself, I can attest to his expertise of getting fighters back into the game. I suffered a shoulder injury where my shoulder at “the chromeo”, which is part of your shoulder blade, actually tore apart from the clavicle.

Without surgery, what Cal was able to do was to stabilize that area, work the muscles around it, get the inflammation out, and make them stronger to support the whole shoulder again.

Through my rehabilitation with Cal I have been able to train more and more in all the areas of MMA.

“The body is an amazing piece of art and we are only at the very tip of being able to understand it. It is better to get out of the way and let it do what it needs to do.” -Dr. Cal Melton.

This coming Saturday, April 24, Tallahassee will host Ubersmash 3″ at The MOON. We expect a repeat of “Ubersmash 1” and “Ubersmash 2”, in which Tallahassee fighters gave big beatings to competitors as far away as California and walked away virtually unscathed. North Florida MMA is Tallahassee.

Please like & share: