ATT Coach Targets Triple Crown with UFC, Bellator, PFL Champs in 2024

A well-known mixed martial arts coach has big plans for his team this year. Just a month after cornering Ultimate Fighting Championship flyweight champ Alexandre Pantoja through his first title defense against Brandon Royval, American Top Team coach “Parrumpa,” real name Marcos da Matta, is back at it.

He’s now prepping another fighter for a title bout. He’ll be supporting Mayra Bueno Silva at UFC 297 at the end of January, in her vacant bantamweight championship fight against Raquel Pennington. Da Matta had a chat with Sherdog on a Wednesday, discussing his team’s tough upcoming schedule, their victories in 2023, the UFC’s new anti-doping system, and what he perceives as a hint of disrespect.

Da Matta confessed, “To tell you the truth, I didn’t have Christmas or New Years.” He explained that half of his athletes are Muslims who don’t observe those holidays. So, they trained on the 25th and also Jan. 1. The coach is confident that his students will emerge victorious at the year’s first pay-per-view offering. He even predicted the outcomes: Evloev beating Arnold Allen in a close decision, and Bueno Silva tapping Pennington in the fourth round to win the 135-pound crown.

At the World MMA Awards in December, ATT won “Gym of the Year” honors. Fellow ATT coach Mike Thomas Brown picked up the “Coach of the Year” award. While “Parrumpa” was thrilled with his team’s successes, he felt that he was overlooked for a top honor. If it were up to him, he would at least be nominated.

Da Matta said, “If we talk about champions, concerning only the fighters I train, ATT got very close to the triple crown with Pantoja [in the UFC], [Magomed] Magomedkerimov [in Professional Fighters League] and [Alexandr] Shabliy [in Bellator MMA]. If not for Usman [Nurmagomedov] doping, I could get the ‘Triple Crown’ with my athletes in 2023, but I hope until the end of the season [in June], Bellator does that [lightweight tournament] final, with [Brent] Primus or Usman. If Shabliy wins, ATT can still celebrate the triple crown. I’m also very confident ‘Sheetara’ will get the title in February.”

Da Matta continued, “Man, I love Mike Brown. Not only for being a wonderful professional and person. Actually, he was my first high-level fighter in the WEC, I get really happy with his success, but if we consider 2023, his biggest achievement was keeping Johnny Eblen’s title in Bellator. Besides working straight with Pantoja and ‘Kerimov’ on their titles, I also cornered Shabliy until the final of Bellator. And if we look among other of my athletes, look what [Arman] Tsarukyan, Evloev, [Magomed] Umalatov and ‘Sheetara’ did. Karolina Kowalkiewicz, 37 years old, was coming from five losses, now she [has won four in a row]. Look what Edson Barboza did in his last [two] fights. I think a professional should be nominated ‘Coach of the Year’ not only for the champions he [trained], but for the results he got with all his athletes in all levels. But these just motivate me to keep working hard and doing my job, producing new champions. One day, they [won’t] deny me the recognition.”

In late December, the UFC made official its new drug-testing policy. This includes the implementation of a third-party organization called Combat Sports Anti-Doping. This new company, paid for by the UFC, will be operated by George Piro, a prominent ATT trainee who has won multiple jiu-jitsu competitions under the tutelage of “Parrumpa.” Despite their relationship, Da Matta believes that the former FBI Special Agent will be able to perform his duties impartially.

Da Matta commented, “I’ve heard some jokes about Piro being close to ATT, but knowing this man as I [do], I would say ATT athletes will be even more tested to serve as an example. And make no mistake, the new system will be as tough as USADA [was] to the fighters. Of course, some corrections will be made, but I believe even more fighters will be tested [comprehensively, in] what will be even better to the growth of the sport,” “Parrumpa” concluded.

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