With great success in a sports comes great responsibility.
For Matt Mitrione, it brought a lot of travel.
"I ended up going across country traveling to Vegas, Fort Lauderdale, and anywhere else I could get some training at," said the heavyweight UFC fighter as he rose up the ranks in Mixed Martial Arts following a career in the NFL from 2002-2005.
It was more out of necessity than choice for the Indianapolis-based fighter. Thought the "Circle City" boasted a number of Mixed Martial Arts standouts, a premier place for fighters had yet to emerge in Central Indiana.
Taxing on the body perhaps, but it was the toll on his wife and three children that pressed Mitrione into action.
"I'm a family man, I loved my children," said Mitrione of traveling to train. "I missed my daughter's first teeth, her first steps, her first words because I was training-and I don't want to have that happen anymore."
Surrounding him were a number of fighters and an organization that felt the same. Mitrione got together with Chris Lytle, a longtime member of the Integrated Fighting Academy of Indianapolis to help start a movement to create a top-level gym in Indianapolis.
He got local UFC fighters Sean McCorkle and Jake O'Brien along with sponsorship from the Streetmade-a Mixed Martial Arts clothing line. All of the efforts culminated to create the Integrated Fighting Academy headquarters on the south side of Indianapolis, with the spacious Streetmade Gym as the centerpiece.
"I was glad to see Matt wanted to bring that system back," said Lytle of the Integrated Fighting Academy-which he helped found in the early 1990s. "He opened the gym, that was something we were never really been able to accomplish with integrated fighting-a stable gym.
"Looks like Matt is going to make that happen."
Having worked with the Integrated Fighting Academy in the past, the opening celebration at the gym is a tremendous move for Indianapolis Mixed Martial Arts.
That was shown by the hundreds of people who stopped by the gym for workouts, free clinics and an autograph session with the local fighters and UFC standout Miguel Torres.
"We didn't have a place to go," said O'Brien of the Integrated Fighting Academy fighters. "Matt finally started this so we could all have a place to work out so we're not all having a spot to work out."
Enthusiasm for its creation from other fighters is the same as Mitrione's, who remember traveling away from Indianapolis to train on multiple occasions.
"It was extremely frustrating to not have a gym especially with guys like me and Matt who fight full time as a job," said McCorkle. "Sometimes you want to workout at ten in the morning or one in the afternoon and a lot of times you have to go by somebody else's schedule."
While the venue certainly caters to those involved currently in the upper ranks of Mixed Martial Arts, Mitrione believes the gym can offer a variety of things to up-and-coming fighters.
On Saturday he lauded his instructors as some of the best in the world and says the gym will also teach new techniques like catch wrestling.
"Indy is an MMA town," said Mitrione. "We sold out Conseco (Now Bankers Life Fieldhouse) so quickly and the UFC loved it."
As of Saturday, those locally in the UFC have another reason to love Indy.
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