Associates of the Gorilla Home Combat Team are (from remaining): To start with row—Sydney Ross and Cam Allgeier. Back row—Dan Albright, Mante Barnes, coach Darren Cassidy, mentor Ray Ross, Ethan Goss and Sheldon Neighoff.
By John Hartsock
Combined martial arts is a intense and spirited just one-on-1 competitiveness that involves a splendid blend of abilities for accomplishment.
Kickboxing, striking, wrestling, and Jiu-Jitsu — which focuses on shut-contact grappling holds and approaches, as very well as the software of chokes and joint-manipulations — are all disciplines that appear into perform in the mixed martial arts (MMA) cage that is recognised as an Octagon.
MMA fighters who have attained the optimum levels of ability can aspire to likely rewarding careers in the Supreme Fighting Championships (UFC), or in a circuit like Bellator, which is one move down from the UFC but is nearly similarly as prestigious.
Altoona’s Gorilla Dwelling gymnasium has been delivering teaching for its core MMA fight crew of 8 opponents for the earlier 4 decades, below the course of Gorilla Property operator Ray Ross and combat instructor Darren Cassidy.
Ross gives instruction in Jiu-Jitsu and grappling, though Cassidy, who commutes to the gym for techniques from his dwelling in Bedford, trains the fighters in placing and wrestling.
“We’ve crafted a single of the greatest groups on the East Coast,” Cassidy mentioned. “The group customers ordinary 3 fight demonstrates a calendar year, and Ray and I function good collectively. It is his health and fitness center, and he’s been very instrumental in all of this. Even at the battle displays, we mentor the fighters in the individual nuances of the sport.
“It’s naturally a tricky sport,” Cassidy extra. “And we’re pretty stringent about what we hope from the fighters right before they struggle. We worry tough operate and the basics, due to the fact it is undertaking the fundamentals that wins fights.”
Ross — whose wife, Angela, aids the fighters from the Gorilla Household workforce to get ready for their competitions by offering them with appropriate food plan, nutrition, and conditioning regimens – claimed that he and Cassidy get the job done in sync well with each other at the combat exhibits.
“Darren and I get along and we’re on the exact web page with all the things,” Ross explained. “Our coaching types match up, and we retain issues simple. When we corner a struggle, he can take command of the coaching when the struggle is standing and when the combat receives on the ground, I form of consider around.”
Fighters can progress to the skilled stage immediately after placing jointly spectacular resumes on the amateur level that contains winning championship belts and garnering a large range of productive novice competitions.
“Darren and I often converse to the fighters when they want to turn pro,” mentioned Ross, whose daughter, Sydney, is a member of the Gorilla Property struggle staff and will make her experienced debut this Oct. “Some fighters convert pro just before they are ready. We want to make sure that our fighters are seasoned and have practical experience at the amateur amount in advance of they flip professional.
“We want to give them time to figure items out and to develop when they are amateurs,” Ray Ross reported. “When they’re cozy, and we feel snug with them, we enable them go (professional).”
The Gorilla Household battle workforce now contains one particular skilled level fighter, 2010 Juniata Valley Large College graduate Ethan Goss, who has been competing in MMA for 10 a long time and received a 247 (western Pennsylvania area) championship in the 145-pound featherweight division by defeating an Arizona point out winner this previous April 16 at the Monroeville Convention Middle.
Goss, 30, is doing the job with a battle administration staff and will probably signal a deal to compete at the UFC stage in 2023.
“Ethan has experienced about 25 fights,” Cassidy said of Goss. “He’s a single of the a lot more seasoned pros on the East Coastline. He’s received at the very least 3 championship belts all round at each the amateur and expert levels put together, and he’s one particular of people new-age MMA men who is great at each individual skill. He actually does not have a weakness.”
Goss appreciates all the enable that he has gained from Cassidy and Ray Ross, as effectively as the access that he has acquired to the wonderful facilities at the Gorilla Home fitness center.
“It’s wonderful – we’re in the very best atmosphere for an MMA fighter right here,” Goss claimed of the Gorilla Dwelling. “We’ve acquired every little thing that you could ever want, from the fitness center ground to the mats, to the cage, to the rings, to the punching baggage, to the barbell club, and the cardio-conditioning. Everything that you could want is in this article.”
Goss has gained his last 3 fights, such as a 30-27 unanimous final decision around the Arizona point out champion Kevin Barbarena at the Monroeville Convention Heart this earlier April.
“I’ve just been clicking on all cylinders these earlier two many years,” explained Goss, who competed in wrestling all through his high university times at Juniata Valley. “I’m on a three-fight successful streak appropriate now, and I will be hoping to protect my featherweight title at Monroeville this Oct.”
Goss has occur to a verbal settlement with a battle management marketing group to indication a UFC deal.
“I was explained to that if I get two more wins this 12 months, there is a fantastic prospect that I would get signed,” claimed Goss, who participated in one particular Bellator opposition at Penn State University’s Bryce Jordan Middle back again in 2017. “The management advertising workforce has a bunch of fighters who are in the UFC. I have verbally agreed to indicator, so that if an opening pops up in both the UFC or in Bellator, the administration advertising group will have the capacity to get me into that opening.”
MMA preferred among the females
Sydney Ross, 22, a graduate of Hollidaysburg Location Substantial School, grew up close to mixed martial arts, and her father and Goss ended up both helpful in her growth in the activity.
“My father owns the gym, I have often accomplished martial arts, and Ethan Goss persuaded me to get into MMA,” Sydney Ross reported. “He’s been like a mentor to me.”
Sydney had her 1st newbie struggle soon right after turning 18 many years of age, and she’s now rated initial among newbie women’s MMA fighters in the state of Pennsylvania and seventh among the the nation’s amateurs in general in the 125-pound flyweight division.
Sydney reported that MMA fighting has grown drastically between girls in recognition in modern yrs.
“I see a great deal a lot more women of all ages who are interested, and a great deal extra females who are schooling now than they did in the earlier,” Sydney mentioned. “The UFC is escalating their divisions, and there are gals in the UFC ideal now competing against every single other in four individual excess weight lessons.
“More females are starting up to achieve the amount in which they can struggle professionally,” Sydney additional.
Cassidy said that Sydney is a effectively-rounded fighter.
“Sydney is a new-age fighter who is excellent at each and every skill,” Cassidy explained. “She’s an very gifted athlete who is effective out constantly and who possesses a ton of mental toughness.”
Other regular associates of the Gorilla Home combat team at this time competing in MMA on the novice stage include former Altoona Place High School wrestlers Mante Barnes (185-pound middleweight division) and Jordan Wagner (125-pound straw pounds), previous Chestnut Ridge Large Faculty wrestler Dan Albright (heavyweight), Ga native Sheldon Neighoff (who competes in the gentle heavyweight division at 205 kilos), and Pittsburgh indigenous Cam Allgeier (a 135-pound bantamweight).
Cassidy’s son, Kaden, a PIAA Course 2A state wrestling winner at 138 lbs in 2020 at Bedford Place Higher School, has also participated in 1 fight as a member of the crew, and may perhaps compete in many others in the long run. Kaden Cassidy is also a member of the NCAA George Mason College wrestling squad.
Ray Ross stated that he and Darren Cassidy want the fighters to take pleasure in competing, regardless of whether they make it to the UFC or not.
“We’re the only health club in this space that has a battle workforce,’ Ray Ross mentioned. “We have all the vital programs in our fitness center to assistance get the fighters prepared to contend, and it is a approach.
“If they have aspirations to get to the UFC or Bellator, we will test to do every thing we can to enable them get there, but it’s really up to them,” Ray Ross reported. “We do not drive them 1 way or yet another.”
Albright, 28, is thrilled to be aspect ofthe Gorilla Household crew.
“It’s a fantastic facility, and the coaches are remarkable,” Albright stated. “The coaches do the job great with my combating design.
“They never test to change me,” Albright added. “They just proceed to make me a much better fighter by operating with me on things that I already do properly.”