Griffon Rawl Combat Sports and Fitness celebrates 25th anniversary

Griffon Rawl Combat Sports and Fitness celebrates 25th anniversary

GriffonRawl Combat Sports & Fitness, a mixed martial arts gym in Mentor, recently marked its 25th anniversary of offering a wide array of options for people of various ages, skill levels and aspirations.

Owner Jason Dent put on a three-day celebration earlier this month to commemorate the milestone.

The event showcased sold-out private sessions; appearances by former owner Dan Rawlings and Master Jorge Pereira, a 7th degree Coral Belt and head of Jiu Jitsu; seminars and team exhibitions and a picnic in the Lake Metroparks.

“I really think the whole weekend was well attended and well received and everything we did was an A or A-,” Dent said.

Pereira, who trained under the legendary Rickson Gracie, and Rawlings came in from Florida for the event. They led back-to-back seminars followed by a pubic sparring exhibition.

“(Sept. 10) we said we were going to celebrate with blood and sweat to honor the 25th year anniversary,” Dent said. “It is important to note the exhibitions at night had no winners or losers, only warriors.”

Dent said the longevity and popularity of GriffonRawl is directly correlated to taking a wider perspective on clientele.

It is not a facility steered towards only training future black belts or UFC fighters. Dent said they welcome youth groups, women, seniors, people who just want to get in better shape and anyone and everyone in between. He said they have had rape victims come in to learn self defence. There have been law enforcement come to train as well.

All of the 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.

Competing is not a mandatory requirement for attending any of the classes. Competitions currently are in Muay Thai, boxing, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu & MMA.

“We had to widen our reach and I feel over the years we have done a great job attracting a wide variety of people and offer a wide variety of programs to fit all different kinds of goals that they have,” Dent said.

In 1993, Dent — a Ledgemont High School graduate — became interested in karate at Richard Fike’s Madison Combined Martial Arts school and eventually earned his black belt there. In 1997, he entered the amateur Muay Thai ring with Rawlings, the one-time owner of GriffonRawl, in his corner. In 2002, a then 20-year-old Dent took over ownership and operations responsibilities at GriffonRawl.

“When I first took over I was fighting and managing the gym and training. It was a lot, but I survived,” he said.

Dent entered the MMA cage as a professional in 2003 and won the first of his five professional championships a little later that year, kicking off a career that would send him to Canada, Mexico and Las Vegas, where he would compete in the UFC. He was featured in the UFC’s 2009 The Ultimate Fighter: United States vs. United Kingdom. To date, he’s racked up 22 professional MMA victories.

Along the way, Dent invested the money he earned prizefighting into the GriffonRawl, updating and upgrading the facilities, hiring experienced staff and offering his services to a wider community. He also personally devoted himself to showing others what he’d learned in the cage, in the ring and on the mat. He’s had a hand in helping his team rack up over 300 amateur and professional wins.

A 20-foot by 20-foot MMA cage is the focal point of the gym and it is used primarily for MMA sparring, takedown and takedown defense practice and grappling sessions.

There is a permanent boxing ring. Used for Muay Thai and Boxing, this official-sized ring is used for drilling and sparring. Speed ​​bags, heavy bags, slip bags and a double-end bag complement the striking portion of the academy.

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