The highs and lowlifes of a day at the Advanced Fighting Centre…

Mal Trotter, Alex Garcia, John Atkin

Friday the 28th of October: Started in the Atkin household much like any other day, getting Molly and Erin, the little sleepy heads out of bed while my lovely wife and partner worked like a finely tune machine making breakfasts and packed lunches in the Atkin Diner Experience. She then made the beds and got the kids in the car like an expert bodyguard team.

After the formal de-bus at school with waves and kisses all-round, Kerry and I got home, made our own breakfast and sat down to watch the Ultimate Fighter from the previous evening.

Later, Kerry popped to the shops with her Mum and I drove to work, singing along to Rock Star on my CD.

I parked up at Manors Car park (as it is so expensive to park in Newcastle, I park there and walk into the City Centre) and as I walked over the central motorway I got a phone call: a man said he had a lad in his taxi who is ‘into this MMA stuff’ but as I was talking the phone went dead, I tried to ring back but no luck.

As I walked into High Bridge Street I noticed a taxi parked across from the entrance to the gym. As I turned to go through the main door I was greeted by three men. One was wearing a Highvis vest, one was wearing a fleece and there was a third young man with tape under his eye.

I said, “John Atkin.” The man in the fleece, who turned out to be the taxi driver, explained that he had just talked to John Atkin but his phone went dead (bloody phone). I then went on to say that I was John Atkin, but much to my surprise the man with the Highvis piped in, “I’m your bin man” and then went on to explain why they were all outside my gym at 10.30 am on a Friday morning.

The taxi Driver had picked up the young man from Newcastle airport and, while chatting, the young man had asked if the taxi driver knew of any good MMA clubs to train at. The taxi driver, being the ever helpful Geordie that we pride ourselves on, phoned his friend (my bin man for the gym, and avid AFC viewer) who, being of the same ilk as his friend, told him of a place where BJ Penn trained whilst he was in Newcastle – The Advanced Fighting Centre. He said he would meet him there and he did.

The young man in question (having just won his last fight in 34 seconds by way of a knockout a few days before, had just arrived safely in Newcastle via Amsterdam, though his bags unfortunately ended up in Abu Dabai) turned out to be none other than No.2 ranked welterweight fighter, behind George St-Pierre his training partner at the famous Tri-Star gym in Montreal, Alex “The Dominican Nightmare” Garcia. 

Alex explain that he was here to work the Corner of his friend, Chris “the Kamikaze” Cariaso but also to see his girlfriend who is studying here at Northumbria University for 6 months.  I was amazed that this turn of fate happened but delighted to be able to help Alex. We talked for a while then Alex left to return later that day for a pad training private class expertly taught by Jimmy McLarens. In the mean time l got on with teaching my classes – on a high, I am just like a big kid!

Midway through my class with Garry Henderson, a very talented Ninjitsu black belt, what I can only describe as a Smack head came into the gym at speed (no pun intended) trying to sell me stolen goods that he produced from a bag and threw over my desk, knocking over a picture of my daughters. I went behind the desk to pick up my picture as Smack head told me he wanted me to sell some of his goods!

There are many things that I will let slip by me but coming into my gym to sell stolen goods is a no-no in my book AND KNOCKING OVER A PICTURE OF MY DAUGHTERS IN THE PROCESS IS A LINE NO-ONE SHOULD CROSS! Gary swears I jumped the counter and in best BCA fashion (thanks Geoff) lined this piece of …… up!
When I told him in no uncertain terms to get his swag and get out of my gym, he made certain that I would not be turning my front desk into a Smack heads Argos. He called me an Ar**Hole (13 years working the door this word was one of my trigger words, I hate being called it!) but true to my training of verbal tennis (the exchange of words pre-curser to a fight where the battle can be won or lost), I told him to get out before I smashed his face in – I have a way with words! LOL.

If you give in to these lowlifes and show any kind of weakness they will come back at you, so stay strong in words and deeds. As Smack head made a tactical withdrawal (that sounds rude), with me hot on his tail (still sounds rude or sounds like a posse in a western), his parting comment was that I should not try any of that stuff on him (while doing his best Michael Jackson moon walk), and that he will be burning the place down in the near future. Thank god my estate agent rips me off with insurance that includes anti- terrorism.

Just another day in the life of the Advanced Fighting Centre!

Alex spent his week or so in the gym or working out at Eldon leisure under the watchful eye of two more of my back belts, Anu and ken. As a thank you for all my help during his stay in Newcastle, Alex agreed to teach a class to my MMA club. Much to their delight, those that turned up on a Tuesday night found Alex Garcia there giving helpful hints and tips from his amazing skills. Alex taught some single leg and double leg takedowns, butterfly guard pass to take the back to choke and a great version of a butterfly guard to guillotine. However this was much to the dismay to those that did not attend – well, as they say, if you snooze you lose!

The UFC in Birmingham was a good night for fights with Chris ‘kamikaze’ Cariaso winning the split decision against Vaughan Lee with Alex in his corner!

Alex popped into the gym on his return from Birmingham to thank me for making him welcome and presented me with one of his training tops from HEADRUSH, his sponsor.

I would like to say it was an honor to meet a rising star who has so much talent and drive and I am sure Alex will make big waves in the coming year. Watch out world, Alex “The Dominican Nightmare” Garcia is coming! And as for Smack head – watch out I am coming! (Just kidding)

Until next time

Have fun and play

John Atkin

To find out more about The Advanced Fighting Centre visit:
or e-mail John Atkin at

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