With 65 professional fights, an undefeated 3-0 UFC record, an improbable debut victory over legend Chris Lytle, an impenetrable chin, and an odd fixation with his chest hair, it’s safe to say that Brian Ebersole carries an impressive resume—both as a fighter and as an “interesting” guy.
But there’s one major talent in his repertoire that most people are probably unaware of. He’s also an incredible coach, mentor, and leader. And that’s exactly why Tiger Muay Thai and MMA Training Camp in Phuket, Thailand is proud to announce its decision to hire him as their new Head MMA Coach.
After a long-running mutual love affair, the two parties came to an agreement that seemed only natural. Ebersole has been one of Tiger’s favorite guests over the past few years, while the UFC Welterweight has often called Tiger his “home.”
The training camp—one of the largest in Thailand—originally opened as a traditional Muay Thai – only gym. But has since expanded its model to include mixed martial arts and various fitness classes. However, the addition of Ebersole will surely be a giant leap forward for the still-developing MMA program.
“What can you say about the guy, except that he’s a current UFC superstar, he’s ultra-popular, and he’s super exciting—I mean he does cartwheel kicks…” exclaimed Tiger Muay Thai & MMA Director Will Elliot. “He’s overhauling our entire MMA program, overseeing the whole thing, and he’ll put his own twist on it. It’s going to be fantastic; it will be a Brian-Ebersole-created program.”
Ebersole, who will look to improve his record to 4-0 this June at UFC on FX 4 in Atlantic City, has earned a reputation as a gritty, but unorthodox striker. He’ll be honest with you and admit that his Muay Thai isn’t yet the greatest. But his wrestling skills? Ebersole’s roots were planted on the wrestling mat. He started in the sport at the age of five, and it’s what carried him through to a Division I collegiate wrestling scholarship in the U.S. and eventually to the pinnacle of competitive mixed martial arts—a UFC contract.
“I have to acknowledge the fact that I’ve gone from being a wrestler to being a martial artist,” he says of his evolution as a fighter. “Like Randy Couture, I’d like to someday be known as one of the guys that was able to bridge the gap between wrestling and the world of combat sports.”
Tiger’s announcement that Ebersole will be taking over its MMA program comes at the end of his fourth trip out to Phuket. He’s gotten well acquainted with the place, as he’s completed at least part of each training camp prior to his three—and soon to be four—UFC fights, thus far.
“When I first came to Tiger, I was struck by, not only the quality of training, but also the quantity of training,” he said. “As an athlete, all you want to do here is train. And also the quality and quantity of trainers—there must be about 30 Thai trainers. That blows me away. You just don’t find gyms that have those kinds of resources.”
For Ebersole, one of Thailand’s biggest draws as a training destination is “the affordability and the stress-free lifestyle.” After spending a summer in college traveling to various minor-league MMA venues throughout the Midwestern United States—crashing on buddies’ couches to save money and accepting any and all fights that came his way—he knows a thing or two about the financial struggle of trying to develop an MMA career. In his opinion, Thailand offers an easier way…
“What really endears me is eventually trying to help put regular guys on a training routine in which they go off to Australia or the U.S. or wherever to work for three months (and make enough money) and they come back here to Thailand to train hard for the other nine.”
His deal with Tiger Muay Thai and MMA will have Ebersole on-site, coaching in Phuket for roughly six months out of the year. The other half of his time will be spent elsewhere, branding and marketing the gym—oh, and not-to-mention fighting in UFC events.
Sitting down with him, it’s actually difficult to sense which he enjoys more—the fighting or the coaching side of things. Maybe there’s no fair answer to that question; there’s certainly passion in his voice when he speaks of either. However, there’s no doubt that he’s psyched about his new gig in Thailand.
“They’ve had a great program here—from the grappling to the wrestling to the MMA—and I want to continue that, but I’m just really looking forward to adding my own training philosophy and my own little flavor to things.”
For now those plans will have be made on-the-move. Coach Ebersole is off to Las Vegas and the rest of his training camp as his June 22 date with grappling talent T.J. Waldburger fast approaches.