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Since it has opened its doors in 2014, AKA has grown into one of the main destinations for MMA enthusiasts coming to Thailand. While there are many Muay Thai gyms in Phuket, AKA is part of a small group of gyms on the island that offer MMA. Started by AKA team member Mike “Quick” Swich and Javier Mendez, this gym offers of breadth of fresh air to Phuket’s MMA scene.
AKA is probably the biggest MMA gym in Thailand (besides Tiger Muay Thai) and a number of well established UFC fighters train at AKA. Mark Hunt, for example, trains at AKA when he comes down to prepare for his fights (he was in Phuket training for his Brock fight, for example).
AKA Thailand is located in Rawai, which is situated about 20 minutes from Tiger and PTT. Out of all the MMA camps in Phuket, this is an ideal location as it is situated closer to the beach. The downside is you will need to rent a motorbike as there is much less food options than Tiger and PTT in walking distance. (unless you eat on site)
They offer a full range of Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, MMA and Strength & Conditioning classes for people who are either looking to become a better MMA fighter or just get in shape. It will be interesting to see what kind of fighters the gym attracts in the first year of operation. Since AKA Thailand is the sister gym of AKA in the United States, there should be some high level MMA guys training there at all times.
The gym is located off the main Wiset road heading into Rawai past the Chalong intersection. The main road Wiset, can be extremely busy during traffic hours, so it is best to take a motorbike if you want to go to and from the camp. Once your turn off Wiset road to Soi Sermsuk, it is a short little drive to the training camp. The location itself is situated about 15 minutes from Nai Harn Lake, which is the most popular beach on this part of Phuket.
It is in a very quiet area so you don’t have to worry about many distractions like bars and discos around you. Unlike the Tiger/PTT road that is littered with restaurants and shops dedicated to the muay thai crowd, this is a much more “local” location. That being said, once you drive on the main road (Wiset) there are a ton of restaurants and mini-marts for you to buy anything you want.
Overall, AKA is situated in a nice peaceful part of Rawai that doesn’t have as much tourist development around it. This is a positive if you want to focus on training and stay at the camp. If you want to party in Patong, it is a 30 minute tuk tuk ride that will cost you around 500-700 baht.
Here’s a video from AKA Thailand showing the drive from Chalong circle.
In the past 2 years AKA Thailand has rapidly grown with the influence of ex UFC fighter Mike Swick leading the charge. With a huge indoor training facility, a modern fitness gym and a new Contender restaurant, this gym is competing directly with Tiger Muay Thai.
Anyone who is coming to Thailand for MMA should definitely consider AKA as something you should check out on the list. While they have sponsored a few resident Muay Thai fighters to represent the gym, the strength of AKA comes from its facilities and its MMA program.
Quite frequently they attract some pretty big name stars in the MMA world like Mark Hunt who had his last training camp at the gym. They also have a lot of Russians who come down and train here for the MMA.
With a big amount of resources, AKA knows how to manage and market a gym. If you happen to be a talented fighter they regularly offer sponsorship’s to high level fighters who will represent the gym. Currently they have a few female fighters like Teresa who fight for the gym.
The training times for Muay Thai are between 7:30am to 10am and 4pm to 6:30pm in the evening. For a full list of the training schedule you can visit the AKA Thailand website here.
Currently there is no on site accommodation at AKA so you have to stay in one of the resorts located near the gym. The View Rawada is the resort that is located near the gym that has nice facilities for people looking to have a vacation while they are at the gym.
There are also many other hotels and resorts in the general rawai area that are around 5-10 minutes from the gym by Motorbike. I would recommend you know how to drive a motorbike before you decide to go out and rent one.
- Great management team in Mike Swick and Javier Mendez. When it comes to experience, Mike Swick is one of the veterans in the MMA game. You can expect to have high level MMA guys at the gym at all time.
- The gym is situated in a nice area that doesn’t have a lot of bars and other distractions that are near places like Tiger and PTT. If you are looking for some serious training than this is the place to be.
- Top notch facilities – You won’t have to worry about hitting an old bag while your training at AKA Thailand. This gym is pretty massive with a lot of space and a nice training area for indoor and outdoor.
- Wide range of classes available
- Top level MMA guys are constantly visiting the gym to train – If you are a heavy weight then this is an ideal option
- MMA gym – If you are a Muay Thai enthusiast like me then you probably want to train at a Muay Thai gym. That being said, they have qualified Thai trainers who teach the Muay Thai program. The only differs is the other students who all come from MMA backgrounds
- The main road that turns into the soi that the gym is located on is very busy. There are a lot of motorbike accidents that occur around this around so BE CAREFUL.
- You need to drive the motorbike 10-15 minutes to reach the beach (need a motorbike)
Tiger Muay Thai vs AKA: Which is the Better Gym?
These two gyms are the main competitors of each other, both catering to MMA more than they do pure Muay Thai.
Both gyms offer different things I feel. Tiger is a bigger gym with a lot more on offer (Yoga, Fitness classes, etc). Tiger also has a lot more people staying there and training there at any one given time. It’s also located on the major fight street in Phuket (Soi Tiger) with a ton of restaurants, hotels, and shops all catering to the cheap fighter crowd.
AKA is located much closer to Rawai (and as such, closer to Rawai Beach, Nai Harn Beach, and the Rawai / Chalong area). It’s far more conveniently located to things than Tiger is (though Soi Tiger street has just about everything you need to live).
Personally, I’d rather train at AKA over Tiger any day, due to the smaller class sizes and its reputation as a pretty legit place for top UFC fighters to train at. Tiger caters to the more tourist / casual crowd, though due to the big name, you get some top fighters (UFC, GLORY, etc) coming down once in a while to train, though this is an exception more than a rule. If you want to party and meet lots of casual Muay Thai / MMA students, though, you might be better off going to Tiger. For harder training on a day to day basis with a strong empahsis on BJJ / MMA, AKA is better.
For pure Muay Thai, don’t go to either gym.
In three years AKA has become one of the MMA destination of Thailand. If you are planning on training MMA in Phuket then you should definitely check this place out. This place is real competition for people who don’t want to train at Tiger Muay Thai for their MMA.
With a passionate MMA fighter and gym owner Mike “Quick” Swick behind the wheel, I wouldn’t bet against this gym taking off. If you want to take your MMA game to the next level, you should definitely consider checking out this gym in Thailand.