Much like the fighters that help make them famous, it’s starting to look impossible for a premier MMA camp to remain at the top of the sport for more than a handful of years. At the moment, camps like Jackson’s MMA, Nova Uniao and American Kickboxing Academy all feature some of the best and brightest stars the sport has to offer. However, recent history suggests that these teams will be considered obsolete within the next decade.

Think back on all of the great camps of the early 2000s. Did any of them survive? John Alessio recently came out and admitted Xtreme Couture was all but dead. Most of the best Brazilians in the sport have left camps like Chute Boxe and Brazilian Top Team in search of greener pastures. Even American Top Team, which once dominated the Florida MMA scene with an iron fist, has lost a ton of talent to the Blackzilians over the last year or so.

We’ve seen this happen before in MMA, but it’s still a bit shocking to see a high-profile fight team like Xtreme Couture completely fall apart. Even some of the pioneer teams, such as The Lion’s Den and Miletich Fighting Systems, seemed to gradually fade away before they disappeared entirely, but Xtreme Couture seemed to vanish overnight as soon as it’s founder retired. The rest of the top gyms from that era fell off the radar just as quickly, and as a result, they left the door open for new blood to start taking over the sport.

While it’s clear that the fight camps that the sport grew up with—the Xtreme Coutures, the Chute Boxes and the ATTs—have been replaced by teams like Jackson’s and AKA, you have to wonder how much time those camps have left. It’s been tough for a fight team to remain at the highest level in the sport for more than a few years, and a lot of the premier teams in MMA right now have been around for quite a while.

It’s been eight long years since Diego Sanchez helped bring Jackson’s MMA into the spotlight after his stint on The Ultimate Fighter, yet despite the fact that the clock should be close to striking midnight on Greg Jackson’s dojo, Jackson’s MMA has shown no signs of slowing down. The gym is still the primary home for elite fighters like Jon Jones, Carlos Condit and Travis Browne, and has an exciting group of prospects in Diego Brandao, Rustam Khabilov, and Erik Perez to carry it forward in the future. Simply put, Jackson’s MMA is not going away, and it’s laying the blueprint to help other fight camps stick around in the future.

Of course, Jackson’s isn’t the only team proving that it has staying power at the highest levels in MMA. American Kickboxing Academy is loaded with talented veterans, but it also has some solid young talent, including Khabib Nurmagomedov, to make sure it thrives in the future. The same goes for gyms like Team Alpha Male and Alliance MMA, both of which have a good mixture of established stars and up-and-coming talent.

As the sport has evolved, the best fight camps have found a way to evolve right along with it. These are the teams that we can expect to stick around for the foreseeable future. Like any sport, the best in the world can only remain the best for so long, and teams have to be prepared for a bit of turnover as the years go by. The problem for teams like Xtreme Couture and American Top Team was their lack of young talent to eventually develop into stars. When the majority of their established fighters left for a different scene departed or retired, the camps had no one left to help carry the torch and eventually they fizzled out of the spotlight.

The established teams of today have avoided making the same mistakes as their predecessors, and that’s why they are showing no signs of disappearing from the public eye. It’s tough to say these teams will survive for a prolonged period of time, especially since the sport is still growing, but they’ve laid the foundation to make sure they remain relevant for the next several years. As tough as it may be for some fight fans to say goodbye to beloved camps like Xtreme Couture and Chute Boxe, the silver lining is that the failure of those camps has given the current great fight teams the chance to avoid making the same mistakes.

Photo: Greg Jackson (Sherdog)