At some point, the bird has to leave the nest. If a fighter wants to make it to the UFC, odds are that he or she is probably going to have to make the pilgrimage to a major gym with high-level training partners and coaches. Although there’s nothing wrong with staying with the gym where you started, even a freakishly natural-born talent like Jon Jones had to migrate to become the champion he is today.

Voth (James Conn/James Conn Photography)

Voth (James Conn/James Conn Photography)

In Jones’ case, he headed to Albuquerque, N.M., and the Jackson’s MMA gym. Many fighters head farther south to Florida to try to make a name with American Top Team or the Blackzilians. Others may head out west to try their luck in Vegas at Xtreme Couture or Wand Fight Team. And some fighters become vagabonds like George Sotiropoulos or Melvin Guillard, always traveling from one gym to another with their Thai pads slung over their shoulder.

Kentucky boy Tyler Voth knew it was time to spread his wings. The flyweight had learned solid fundamentals from wrestling since middle school and training for a few years after college, but Voth had always moved around a bunch as a kid, so why stop now?

He picked up his bags and made the journey to the Mecca for smaller MMA guys: Team Alpha Male in Sacramento, Calif. At 25 years old with a 5-1 professional record, Voth had never done anything like this before.

“Training with the best guys in the world is pretty different,” Voth told The MMA Corner.

That’s an understatement.

Even though crashing at coach Duane “Bang” Ludwig’s house and going out to train and eat with Urijah Faber and all the rest of those boys had become routine, there was still an obvious excitement in Voth’s voice when he discussed his new experiences in California.

“It’s awesome,” he said. “I go with [Joseph] Benavidez and [T.J.] Dillashaw everyday. Mostly Benavidez. Me and him get a lot of work together.”

Everyone knows how tight knit the Alpha Male guys are, and Voth admitted that it took a little while before they started to accept him socially.

“I guess they always have guys coming in and out,” said Voth. “They don’t necessarily take new people coming that serious, because there’s always people just coming in for a while then leaving. But everyone is really cool. You show up, you work hard, and if you can hold your own to some extent, they’re awesome.”

Voth (James Conn/James Conn Photography)

Voth (James Conn/James Conn Photography)

Voth must be doing something right over there in Sacramento. Coach Ludwig, despite exiting from his role with Team Alpha Male, will be in Voth’s corner for his fight against Jeimeson Saudino at Resurrection Fighting Alliance 14 this Friday in Cheyenne, Wyo. Voth also revealed that Faber invited him over for Thanksgiving.

Although training with some of the UFC’s best has been a surreal experience for Voth, he, like everyone else at Alpha Male, is not there to make friends. He’s there to fight. He might not be the top dog at the gym yet, but he says he can hold his own thanks to his lifelong infatuation with mixed martial arts.

“I must have been in third grade when my dad brought home the very first UFC, so I’ve literally been a lifelong fan of the sport,” said Voth. “I’ve always been a smaller person, so I didn’t get into football or basketball. Martial arts was always my sport.”

Even though Voth has relocated, for the time being, to a better camp, that’s no guarantee that he’ll make it to the UFC. However, he is confident that if he can hang during sparring with some of the beasts in Sacramento, then he can also perform on the world’s biggest stage for the sport. That doesn’t mean he’s in any rush, though.

“I think I can definitely compete,” said Voth. “I’m going with Benavidez and other top guys, and I know how I deal with them. And I know I can compete with them, but I definitely need more time. I’ll just keep putting in the training, and I’ll be there.

“The RFA is really the best place to be if you want to be in the UFC. I’m looking to win the RFA belt and make it to the UFC. That should be every fighter’s goal.”

Keep spreading those wings, Tyler Voth. You could just make it to the top.

Tyler would like to thank GLC 2000, Duane Ludwig and Team Alpha Male. Follow Voth on Twitter: @LittleTarzan135

About The Author

Zach Miller
Staff Writer

Zach is a Boston native and has had a fascination with martial arts since playing Mortal Kombat at five years old. He was introduced to MMA after watching The Ultimate Fighter 5: Team Pulver vs. Team Penn. A recent graduate of the University of New Hampshire, Zach seeks to one day become a full-time MMA journalist. In addition to watching the sport, he has also trained in Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu, kickboxing, and tae kwon do. Zach has also written for NortheastMMA.