UFC middleweight Mark Munoz said heavyweight Brendan Schaub would be “a tremendous addition” to the fight team at Reign Training Center in Lake Forest, Calif., though the decision to bring him onboard won’t come without a little camp politics.
Schaub, who’s trained exclusively at the Grudge Training Center in Colorado and Jackson/Winkeljohn’s gym in New Mexico for the last four years, visited Reign for four days last week and plans to return in November for at least two weeks. Munoz said he’s gotten every indication that Schaub plans to commit to Reign full-time thereafter, but there will be one catch.
Mindful that a fight with potential Strikeforce import Fabricio Werdum could be on his immediate horizon, Schaub inquired if the Brazilian fighter, who occasionally comes to Reign from its sister gym, King’s MMA, would be there.
“I told Brendan that Fabricio hadn’t trained here for three months because he was off doing seminars and other things. I hadn’t seen Fabricio in a long time,” said Munoz, who calls Werdum a “good friend.” “Next thing I know, Master Rafael Cordeiro let’s me know that Wanderlei (Silva) and Fabricio are on their way the first day Brendan’s here.”
Munoz told Schaub he couldn’t turn Werdum away, and the two managed to get in their workouts on opposite ends of the room. Munoz said Schaub and Werdum even had a cordial exchange.
Fast-forwarding to this week, Schaub and Werdum have both publicly expressed their desire to fight one another (keep in mind fighters usually know more about their next match-ups then they let on these days). With Schaub coming back to Reign shortly and eying a permanent move, Munoz said he’d have to look out for his own fighter first.
“It’s a tricky situation because we did create a partnership between Kings MMA and Reign. I had a short conversation with Master Rafael (Werdum’s coach) on Wednesday. I haven’t talked to Fabricio yet, but there will be some discussion after my fight,” said Munoz, who headlines against Chris Leben on Nov. 5 at UFC 138 in Birmingham, England. “They know Brendan could be making this his home gym.”
Munoz said if Schaub commits to his gym full-time, it would supersede Werdum’s once- or twice-a-week visits — at least until after the fight.
“If he’s going to abandon his life in Denver, make that jump, and totally entrust us with his life and career, I think that merits a little reciprocation on my part,” said Munoz. “Brendan’s a great guy, so I’m going to give him that.”
What can Schaub expect from Reign?
For starters, there are heavyweights like UFC veteran Chase Gormley, Bellator’s Neil Grove, 2008 Olympic judo gold medalist Satoshi Ishii, and rising local Manny “Bam Bam” Lara to work with. Schaub could also spar and roll with light heavyweight staples like former MFC champion Emanuel Newton and UFC regular Krzysztof Soszyński.
And, of course, there’s Munoz himself, a 2001 NCAA Div. I wrestling champion out of Oklahoma State University.
“We don’t like to change; we like to add,” said Munoz. “With Brendan’s very good striking, I’m going to help him add where he can defend more against shots and throws, and work more off the cage, so he can utilize his striking more. I will make this bold prediction now: he will improve drastically.”
– Loretta Hunt