My wife and I decided to get away for a weekend in Vegas over the 4th of July. I called Robert Drysdale’s gym and left a message but didn’t expect a response given the holiday. Because I would have kicked myself if I missed the chance to train there I decided to just show up and hope there was open mat. I lucked out and the gym was packed! Best of all, Drysdale remembered me from tournaments and he welcomed me to the mat. He was getting ready for his MMA fight last weekend so he trained privately in the other room but I had the chance to train with his top competitors and pick his brain about competition.
The gym was laid out well with two mat areas both very large. Merchandise greats you as you walk in and there were bleachers lining the wall for parents and visitors. Another entry gave way to a second mat space that was even bigger than the first. Lockers and changing areas were available and there was a nice workout space along with water fountains.
What to Expect:
Because it was open mat, everyone did their own thing. Robert came in and let everyone know he would be doing a private training session for his MMA fight, introduced me, and encouraged people to train hard. Towards the end of the session he came back to give a pep talk and provide some guidance for the upcoming Nationals tournament in Vegas. Normal classes would have much more structure. I did appreciate how friendly and cheerful the practitioners were and the mixture of fun and challenge in the rolls.
Due to the proximity of his fight we didn’t get to roll. He did invite me back and said he was looking forward to training with me in the future. Instead I got to roll with Renato Canuto who was fresh off his brown belt world championship win. Our first roll was controlled and steady. He worked his lasso and spider guard while I played a pressure game and slowed him down. We went about 80% and had some really cool exchanges of sweeps and escapes. Afterwards I rolled with a few purple belts and blue belts before having a final roll with Renato. Round 2 was a barn burner. Both of us went full tilt. I tried to control the pace and slow him down while he attacked like a spider monkey with relentless attacks chained together. He managed to sweep me a couple times and even jumped for an armbar that I narrowly hitch hiked my way out of. We got to our feet and I felt a lightning bolt of pain in my groin as I attempted a foot sweep. We paused briefly then closed out the match just as relentlessly as before. I wasn’t really keeping score but I’m sure he would have won on points. He was breathing harder than I was, which I made sure to point out as my final stab at the fact that he was younger and in better shape than me. It was an awesome roll and we both had a blast.
After his workout I got some time to catch up with Robert and pick his brain about previous matches. We talked about his match up with Roger Gracie and what he got out of it as well as his transition to MMA. A couple key pieces of advice stood out to me.
- Style match ups matter: In his match with Roger he played his primary guard, which is butterfly and that his what Roger is best at passing. He reflected on the importance of match up and being able to adjust your style when fighting certain individuals.
- Train in the gi: You’ve heard it from Marcelo Garcia and Robert said it to me. To have the sharpest technique in nogi and MMA you still need to put on the gi. It takes away the lucky escapes due to sweat and athleticism and forces you to refine your game.
- Have a game plan: Robert relentlessly drilled his wall work and taking the back of his opponent. In his fight last weekend he perfectly executed what he had drilled in his fight in Legacy FC and came away with the victory. Putting together a game plan helps you focus your training and ensure optimal results.
This is a well equipped and elite gym with a broad range of practitioners. It has several programs and is well suited for Jiu Jitsu or MMA focused practitioners. Often times MMA gyms can give off a vibe of people only being in it for themselves, which is not the case here. Drysdale has a great team atmosphere where people push each other and train hard while taking care of each other like family. I’ll definitely be going back and look forward to learning some technique from the mad scientist and getting to roll with him. Congratulations to Robert on his win in Legacy FC and on the belt!