Local club builds reputation as one of the world’s best
Local club builds reputation as one of the world’s best
By JASON VONDERSMITH Issue date: Tue, Jan 17, 2006
It’s still an obscure sport not in the American mainstream, but at least the folks at Team Quest Fight Club in Gresham can call themselves some of the best in the business at mixed martial arts training and competing.
“It’s definitely one of the top camps in the country,” Dana White, Ultimate Fighting Championship president, says of Team Quest.
Matt Lindland, the Olympic silver medalist and Team Quest co-founder, goes one step further. “One of the top five clubs in the world, because of the quality of people who come to train here,” he says.
Indeed, Lindland and Randy Couture founded Team Quest in 2000, and brought in Robert Follis to be the coach and administrator of the gym at 18206 S.E. Stark St. Team Quest has taken off since then, training many of the world’s best mixed martial arts fighters.
Named Team Quest Martial Arts and Fitness Club, the gym now encompasses 12,000 square feet of pads, punching bags and pugilists since a $100,000 remodel transformed the home of defunct USA Auto into the full-scale gym. Everything’s new.
A grand opening will be held Feb. 11 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Follis says his goal is to have 500 members of the club by the end of 2006, a huge number of fitness members, considering Team Quest incorporated in 2002. It’s 330 and counting, including about 25 professional fighters.
“We want members. Members make it go,” Lindland says. “We don’t necessarily need any more fighters. Fighters don’t pay the bills. Originally we had a Yellow Page ad, but we get more business by word of mouth.”
‘A real team effort’
A first attempt at forging the fight club, called Performance Quest, went under.
Follis, 36, left his job as bartender at Wanker’s Corner in Lake Oswego to coach and act as administrator for the second version of the club. He had met and served as one of Couture’s sparring partners before Couture beat Maurice Smith for the Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight title in 1997.
Lindland and Couture credit him with working hard to build the club and business, while using their names as two of the best and best-known fighters to promote it.
“It’s nice to have somebody willing to take that role and put structure into it,” Lindland says. “He loves being the teacher and coach.”
Follis, a West Linn High grad, aspired to operate his own gym and “teach, train and travel” with his fighters.
“They’re competing, and they have to be selfish by nature,” Follis says. “I’m never in a position to not look after somebody. But it’s not a one-man operation. It’s a real team effort.”
Besides Lindland and Couture, numerous well-known MMA fighters have trained at the Team Quest gym, including Dan Henderson, B.J. Penn, Caol Uno, Tim Sylvia, Bas Rutten, Frank Shamrock, Ken Shamrock, Don Frye and Evan Tanner, who still trains in Portland at another gym.
Chris Leben, a Benson High grad, and Nate Quarry, who moved up from Salem, trained at Team Quest and then appeared with Couture on the first season of “Ultimate Fighter,” a UFC reality series on SpikeTV; both are now under contract with the UFC. Another Team Quest fighter, Josh Burkman, appeared on Season 2 of the reality show, and “odds are we will get somebody on the next season,” Lindland says.
Fighters build reputations
Chael Sonnen, a former University of Oregon wrestler, trains at Team Quest and has fought in the UFC. Lindland says four current fighters — Ian Loveland, 22; Ed Herman, 25; Ryan Schultz, 28; and Chris Wilson, 28 — have all excelled on Team Quest’s “Sportfight” cards and could eventually fight in the UFC or another organization.
Wilson, a Portlander who was raised in Brazil by missionaries, holds the Sportfight welterweight title. Lindland is really high on Loveland, another Portland man who he described as a one-time “thug”; the 143-pounder will soon fight in Mars, an offshoot of fighting organization K1.
Lindland, whom the UFC dropped from contract last year, says many options are out there for Team Quest fighters — Mars, K1, Pride, Cage Rage (which he has fought in) — and not just the UFC, “which everybody sees in the U.S.”
“We’re looking for the best offer for guys,” Lindland says.
Many of Team Quest’s amateur fighters compete in Sportfight events, which are held at Mt. Hood Community College and the Rose Garden. “Sportfights have helped the gym grow, and it’s helped sell tickets,” Lindland says.
Like many wrestlers, Lindland and Couture always lamented about there not being much money to be made in wrestling. They are glad to be making their living using their skills, and through running Team Quest.
“I didn’t envision the sport would grow so fast,” Lindland says. “But the mixed fighting concept has worked. We’re constantly growing and reinvesting in the company.”
Interesting. Kickboxercise soccer moms would probably bring in more revenue than a small show fighter.
Don't slander my club; there are no "kickboxercise" classes, yet anyways...
Even the beginner classes are pretty brutal; your average soccer mom wouldn't make it through the week.
You've just inadvertently hit on why beginners are more lucrative, they sign up and when the soreness sets in they decide it's just too difficult.
Most of the people that have been signing up seem fairly serious about their training though.
I kind of liked it better when it was one room and fewer people, but there's certainly no soccer mom classes. Every class is a pretty good workout.
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