Walking into the warehouse styled building off of Lomas and 1st Street; one would think he’d be walking inside an old-fashioned boxing gym. The kind of gym you’d expect to see in the movies and the old documentaries of the combat sports champions from past generations. It isn’t because there are title belts engulfing the office as you walk in, it isn’t even the event banners picturing the fighters hanging from the rafters and it isn’t the fact nothing looks brand new but it all looks functional and like it has been used for some very tough training.
The feel of the gym is centralized around the huge phrase blasted on the wall in white lettering, “Whatever it takes.”
The gym’s acronymic name FIT NHB stands for Fighters In Training, No Holds Barred and while of course the sport is very much regulated with rules and guidelines the athletes that train here train in a high tempo, extreme energy that radiates through the bold lettering painted across the gym wall. The team trains hard, pushing a grueling pace and favoring an unrelenting attack strategy from their fights to their training.
SWFight.com was able to observe and photograph the team on a day that was initially set up to catch up with one of New Mexico’s brighter young fighters Ray Borg and turned out to be an experience to watch the gym’s MMA class taught by Coach Jon Judy. Needless to say that after the class was done we understood very well why the athletes from FIT NHB were labeled as tough, gritty fighters who would be tough opponents for anyone.
The gym is run by Tom Vaughn and wife Arlene; the two have run a gym responsible for producing a very talented team and individually very successful and popular fighters. Most notably of the bunch is Tim Means, who this past year was signed by the Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC) and has been on an absolute tear winning both of his fights impressively and decisively. With an 18-3 record, Means looks to continue his upward climb when he fights for the third time in the Octagon in December on the UFC on FOX 5.
FIT NHB is also home to King of the Cage (KOTC) Champion Donald Sanchez, one of the more busy and experienced professionals in New Mexico. Sanchez has fought two top five World Ranked featherweights in Tatsuya Kawajiri and Hatsu Hioki as well as splitting two fights with another New Mexico top talent, Angelo Sanchez. A veteran of the fight game with 40 professional bouts, Sanchez remains a staple of regional New Mexico MMA and one of the more familiar faces around town.
Another notable name and former King of the Cage Champion, Frank Baca houses his 14-2 professional record at FIT NHB and with it showcases some of the states more slick wrestling ability as well his impressive ability to finish the fight in numerous of ways. To go with his five knockouts, Baca has won five fights with submissions and four of those different types of techniques. Exemplifying a well-rounded game, Baca has proven to be a fighter to keep an eye on for some time.
FIT NHB’s list of notable fighters doesn’t end there; the gym also is home to New Mexico fan favorite Gerald Lovato, Gerald Sedillo, experienced amateur Tim Sosa and a very entertaining Nathaniel Baker. Mixed in are several fighters who may not have the name recognition to the fans of regional MMA but undoubtedly are hard-working athletes one in the same.
Walking out of the gym, it remains clear that while FIT NHB has an old school feel there is nothing old about the new school movement they have going forward, propelled by their “Whatever it takes” mantra and desire to train with the foot all the way down on the gas pedal.