Scifighting had the pleasure of interviewing Don Carlo-Clauss the Head coach for Phuket Top Team’s Mixed Marital Arts Program. Phuket Top Team was established in 2010 and was already ranked among the top five MMA gyms in Asia, and voted the best MMA gym in Thailand. Besides its eight Thai coaches, Professor Olavo Abreu instructs Brazilian Ju-Jitsu, Anthony Leone serves as the strength and conditioning coach, and Andrew Leone is the wrestling coach which makes the ranking no surprise.
Don Carlo-Clauss originated in up state New York where he had success in high school competing as a wrestler. He won two state championships in New York before attending college at the University of Virginia where he competed at the NCAA Division I level. After college he began competing in Mixed Martial Arts and has won 10 professional bouts. He talked about his beginnings in Mixed Martial arts, his Coaching style and of course what a New Yorker likes best about Thailand.
Scifighting: The Gym is still very young, but very successful. You’ve been in Asia as the head MMA coach coming on a year now. How do you see yourself and your team progressing in the future
Don: I think the goal is for everyone to continue to develop their individual skill set in bjj, boxing, wrestling and Muay Thai depending on where their weaknesses are. The more we can improve as individuals and then bring that into the team training, the more we can push each other and make everyone around us better. For guys in fight camp it’s more about sharpening our skills, working on transitions and things specific for their fight and getting into shape.
One of the nice things about PTT is that we have an international roster so we are able to get a lot of different looks during training. This helps to create well rounded fighters. We all just have to keep working hard and stick together as a team. We have a tight knit group that does a great job of supporting one another so as long as we continue on that path good things will come.
Scifighting: Coaching or competing?
Don: that’s a tough question. A few years ago I would have said competing but now it has to be coaching. Competing is fun and winning is great but nothing beats the feeling of helping others reach their goals. Having someone put their faith in you and trust you as a trainer means a lot and I take that responsibility very seriously. Helping these guys go out and achieve their goals and dreams is much more rewarding than having success as an individual.
Scifighting:When you started MMA did you ever expect you would be coaching in Thailand, fighting in a team with these top notch fighters?
Don: ha ha no way.
Scifighting: Why the switch from wrestling to MMA ?
Don: My wrestling career was over and I got a “real job” working at a payroll company in Rochester called paychex. Because of the hours I was unable to coach wrestling anymore so I started MMA training just for fun and to stay in shape. Some of the guys I trained with were trying to fight and it seemed like a fun thing to do so I decided to give it a try. I ended up meeting Ryan Ciotoli who ran team Bombsquad and started training with those guys, one thing led to another, and here I am. It’s crazy where life can take you if you’re willing to take some chances.
Scifighting: What’s your favorite thing about being I Thailand?
Don: The lifestyle here is unbeatable, great weather, close to the ocean, great training. What more could you ask for? I have been through too many winters in upstate NY. And the food here is incredible.
Don Carlo- Clauss is the epitome of what a coach should be, selfless in his journey and willing to sacrifice his own want to compete fo4r the needs of his team. HE, along with the other coaches at Phuket Top Team has a passion for the sport and it shows in everything they do. They produce well rounded fighters and not just lead them, but walk with them in their journey to a success. With Don’s philosophy of coaching and the support of his team it is clear that “ good things will come”.