By Ray Hamill — With the news this weekend that gyms around the state have been given the green light to reopen their doors beginning next Friday, local MMA fighters can expect a return to training soon after that.
And for many of them it can’t come quickly enough.
“We’re excited to get back, and I know people are chomping at the bit,” said Brian Wilson, co-owner of the Lost Boys Jiu-Jitsu Muay Thai in Arcata. “We’ve been getting calls daily asking us about it, and now we can see some light at the end of the tunnel.”
Sports in the state and around the nation have been shut down for the past three months, but things are beginning to turn around as California moves deeper into phase three of the reopening plan.
“We’re not a normal gym, so we’re kind of waiting to see,” Wilson said. “But I’m very optimistic that (after) next week we’ll be open.”
Likewise with the Institute of Combat, which also caters to the local MMA fighters and also is located in Arcata.
“It just depends on what the guidelines are,” said IOC owner John “Juan” Thompson. “But I think we’ll be open soon.”
Thompson, who has been working with some of his fighters and gym members online throughout the shutdown, says his gym “never skipped a beat” through the layoff and that he has received “great community support” through the crisis.
If anything, he said, there has been more interest than ever, a sign perhaps that local athletes are growing frustrated at the long layoff.
The return, however, will be gradual.
“For Jiu-Jitsu you need contact, but for striking we can get most of our work done with bags,” Thompson said. “And there are drills we can do on the mat. Just being in the gym will be key.”
Wilson also has been advising his fighters and in contact with them throughout the shutdown, and says he and his Lost Boys staff are making plans for their return.
“Obviously in MMA there’s a lot of contact, and in some aspects more contact than others,” he said. “But we’ll take every precaution. We’re going to sit down and come up with a plan to make it as safe as possible.”
Wilson, who has been running the Lost Boys gym for eight years, also says he has received a lot of community support and interest in the face of the ongoing crisis.
“I’ve had a lot of guys come to me and tell me just how important this is for them,” he said. “Not only do we have the best MMA team in the area, but as far as the team and the camaraderie I’ve seen from these guys during this, I’ve been very moved.”
Wilson also owns Hard Fought Productions and announced this week that the next Bear River Casino fight night is now set for September.