Electricity, tension, chaos and squalor swirl about in the dusty Albuquerque air, culminating into an almost-palpable haze of sublime neurosis. It rushes into the lungs, then courses through the veins of fighters like Travis Browne and John Jones as they spar, sprint, drill, throw and roll.
There is an atmospheric intensity that, on a hot summer night, can make this city an extremely dangerous place. It is rife with poverty and contradiction, driving the residents into a resigned state of angry acceptance that life is rough, mean and crazy, and living there means being all three.
There is a certain, specific feeling in the atmosphere of this city — stimulating the senses with zaps of madness and mojo registering somewhere between divine inspiration and profound heartbreak. This is a place where seeing two drivers jumping out of cars at a red light and duking it out is a regular occurrence. Violence as a means of communicating and settling disputes is programmed into the DNA of this city.
MMA fighters like Carlos Condit and Clay Guida seem to wear their tenure in Albuquerque like a badge of honor, like the bravado of a man who can walk through a war zone and come out unscathed with a still-loaded gun.
The legacy of martial arts in the Duke City has has grown into a community that embraces the intensity of the environment and harnesses it as fuel for developing world class fighters. There is no place where this is more apparent that at Jackson’s MMA. Coaches Greg Jackson and Mike Winkeljohn have pushed the thresholds of big-name fighters like Diego Sanchez, Georges St-Pierre and Nate Marquardt, along with a massive stable of young martial artists and up-and-coming fighters.
Their patented brand of training, along with their staggering success rate of fighters, has turned this town of hard knocks into something of a MMA mecca. The harsh social realities act as a mirror for what happens in the cage. Unchecked weaknesses are vulnerabilities that will be exploited by your circumstances and used to leverage your downfall. Your strengths are your lifeline and must be applied ruthlessly without mercy to cripple your enemy.
Albuquerque is a rough town and has produced one of the finest training facilities in the world for one of the roughest sport in the world. If you go there to train, take deep breaths.