Marc Montoya has always known that in order for Factory X to continue to succeed, it needs to be built on the foundation of a solid, incontestable culture.
Luckily for the dozens of fighters who train out of the Englewood, Colorado gym, that culture is something that has been built by countless fighters over the course of thousands of grueling hours, both on and off the mat, for more than a decade.
“Culture has been my number one priority from the day I decided that I was going to start a gym full-time. It’s the most important aspect,” Montoya explained to UFC.com. “Whatever the culture is, it doesn’t mean one is right and one is wrong. It just means that whatever is going to fit myself and the brand of people we want here is of the same cloth.”
The 10,000 square foot gym has become the premier training location for names on the UFC roster like Anthony Smith, Vinc Pichel, Youssef Zalal, Devonte Smith and Brandon Royval, to name a few. And while a spacious, top-notch facility with solid training partners is in itself a big enough attraction, what really seems to draw some of the best names across multiple UFC divisions is Montoya’s genuine, real-life approach to coaching.
“What inspired me to start Factory X and my own gym was just my own journey. Early on in my fighting career, I was asked to teach, but I never felt that I was ready to teach anything. I felt like I was still super young and learning; people around me believed in me more than I did, especially when it came to my skill level and my knowledge. So, I got inserted into coaching way before I think I was ready for it.
“Ultimately, I think this was God’s calling. I loved fighting, it was something I loved to do, but I’ve also been blessed to be a good technician and to be a student of the sport. What I do on a daily basis — help men and women become world champions in life, and then ultimately strive to become world champions in the cage — that’s what motivates me. That’s why I’m on the journey I’m on so far.”
The position of poster child for this ideal has been filled by Anthony Smith, who continued on his mixed martial arts journey with Factory X more than five years ago.
“Anthony Smith is a special human being,” Montoya said, laughing from Smith yelling across the gym to him. “I watched him before he ever fought for us, before I had the opportunity to coach him, and I’ve always known that he’s a special athlete. I was excited to work with him even before I had the chance to.
“The cool part about Anthony is, sometimes veterans don’t allow themselves to grow. They’re kind of closed-minded; the saying you can’t teach an old dog new tricks is there for a reason. Anthony hasn’t allowed that saying to be true about him. One of the reasons you’ve seen growth and his career has prospered is because he’s put himself in really uncomfortable situations in training — coming here, away from his family, on a consistent basis, for however long it takes to prepare for fights.”
Factory X Built A Culture That Fits | UFC News Gym Visit
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Factory X Built A Culture That Fits | UFC News Gym Visit
There was a pause in Montoya’s response while Smith continued to yell to him across the mat, asking if he planned to tell us how Anthony “kicked his butt every day.”
“We have a fun relationship and I think part of it has been that we’ve been through the joy and the dirt of this thing. We’ve fought for a world title, we lost a world title, he emerged as a contender. He’s back on track and he’s chasing that title again… that’s a special individual. You don’t get a lot of people like that in the world. He’s of the 1%, and so when you see someone like him and you get to train with someone like him, how can you not have fun?”
Similar to the experience of competing in mixed martial arts, coaching has pushed Montoya to the far edges of his comfort zone — a place he likes to reside, and challenges his athletes to as well.
“I think being uncomfortable is one of the main reasons we continue to grow. I find comfort in helping young men and women, I find joy in it,” Montoya said. “I find comfort in growing a culture and a gym like we’ve got today. But I don’t know if I’ve ever, even to this day, been comfortable, because I feel that being comfortable can be a weakness.
“I’ve always strived to be the best in the world, and I’ve always encouraged my coaching staff, encouraged my athletes, and encouraged our students that are here to strive to go out and be the best in the world. And it’s not just on the mat. MMA fans see what happens in the cage. But if these guys aren’t world champions outside of the cage, you’ll see a real turbulent type of fighting career because there’s instability in life. That’s the stuff that I feel like you can’t be comfortable with. You have to continue to be motivated to grow and get better.”
Whether you’re measuring success on or off the mat — or both — the proof is in the pudding for the athletes who call Factory X home, and it’s something that will likely continue on for years to come.
“The future that I see for Factory X is bright. This is the fourth generation of fighters that I’ve coached. Having a new generation of fighters here is amazing because you can continue to reload,” Montoya said. “That’s always been my business model: I don’t want to rebuild, I want to continue to reload. So if we continue to reload, we do it constantly with building new talent. I really feel like that’s the definition of a great gym, a great coaching staff, and great athletes — can consistently build new talent.”
As new talent cycles through the sport of mixed martial arts and up through the ranks of the UFC, it all comes back to the culture that defines the hard work, success and “X Factor” quality of the fighters that come out of Factory X.
“You can have amazing fighters who don’t fit this culture. That doesn’t mean they’re not amazing fighters, it just means that the culture doesn’t fit that person. And while I started it, it can’t end with me — because that’s not culture, it’s just an idea.”