GriffonRawl Combat Sports & Fitness, a mixed martial arts gym in Mentor, celebrated its 25th anniversary to offer a wide range of options for people of all ages, skill levels, and ambitions.
Owner Jason Dent held a three-day celebration earlier this month to commemorate this milestone.
Event show sold-out private sessions; Appearances by former owner Dan Rawlings and Masters Jorge Pereira, Class Seven Coral Reef and Master of Jiu-Jitsu; Seminars, group exhibitions and a walk in the Lake Metroparks.
“I really think the whole weekend was really well attended and well received and all we did was an A or an A-,” Dent said.
Pereira, who trained under legend Rexon Gracie, and Rawlings came from Florida for the event. They led successive seminars followed by a pubic sparring exhibition.
“(On September 10) we said we would celebrate in blood and sweat to honor our 25th anniversary,” Dent said. “It is important to note that the fairs at night had no winners or losers, only warriors.”
Dent said that the longevity and popularity of GriffonRawl is directly linked to taking a broader perspective on customers.
It is not a facility geared towards training future black belts or only UFC fighters. Dent said they welcome groups of young adults, women, seniors, people who just want to get in better shape, and anyone and everyone in between. He said they are rape victims who come to learn self-defense. There was law enforcement coming in for training as well.
All programs offered at GriffonRawl are not only designed to benefit those who intend to compete, but are also designed to teach self-defense while providing valuable exercise and cardiovascular work.
The competition is not a mandatory requirement to attend any of the classes. Currently competitions are in Muay Thai, Boxing, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts.
“We had to expand our reach and I feel over the years we have done a great job of engaging a diverse group of people and offering a variety of programs to suit all the different types of goals they have,” Dent said.
In 1993, Dent – a graduate of Lidgemont High School – became interested in karate at Richard Vick’s Madison Martial Arts Combined School and eventually earned a black belt there. In 1997, he entered the amateur Muay Thai ring with Rawlings, one-time owner of the GriffonRawl, in his corner. In 2002, 20-year-old Dent took over ownership and operations of GriffonRawl.
“When I first took charge I was fighting and running the gym and training. It was a lot, but I survived.”
Dent entered the MMA cage as a professional in 2003 and won the first of his five professional championships a little later that year, launching a career that would send him to Canada, Mexico and Las Vegas, where he competed in the UFC. He appeared in UFC’s 2009 The Ultimate Fighter: United States vs. United Kingdom. To date, he has racked up 22 professional MMA victories.
Along the way, Dent invested the money he earned in the Battle of the Gryphon Rawl, modernizing and upgrading the facilities, hiring experienced staff and offering his services to a wider community. He also dedicated himself personally to showing others what he had learned in the cage, the ring, and on the mat. He has had a hand in helping his team achieve over 300 amateur and professional wins.
The 20-foot by 20-foot MMA cage is the focal point of the gym and is primarily used for MMA sparring, takedown and defense sessions, and wrestling sessions.
There is a permanent boxing ring. This official size ring is used in muay thai and boxing, and is used in drilling and fencing. Speed bags, heavy bags, slip-ons, and a double-ended bag complete the amazing part of the Academy.
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