The quaint suburb of Burleson, located just south of Fort Worth, is not exactly what one would consider a haven for mixed martial arts (MMA). But thanks to the passion and dedication of a group of MMA enthusiasts, Burleson is quickly making a name for itself among the other combative sport hotbeds in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.
At the center of Burleson’s emergence in the local MMA scene is Texas Fighting Syndicate (TFS), a full service MMA training facility located on Northeast Wilshire Boulevard. Owned and operated by Burt and Tina McDonald, Texas Fighting Syndicate prides itself on its team philosophy and the fact that its staff and trainers are comprised of fighters and competitors. After all, the gym’s motto is, “the fight gym that was started by fighters.”
This past Sunday, Texas Fighting Syndicate celebrated its one year anniversary. While the act of owning and operating a gym is a daunting task to say the least, owner Burt McDonald had a thirst and passion for the sport, but soon found that the lack of local options to be less than desirable.
“Well, I live in Burleson, and I was driving to Arlington (to train) and that was like a 45 minute drive one way,” explains McDonald. “I started training over there, and I got into fighting and I really enjoyed it. Pretty much I jumped on an opportunity because there was really nothing I was looking for here in Burleson, or anywhere near, so I had an opportunity to open up something and see what we can do here in Burleson.”
McDonald is a man who wears many hats. In addition to running Texas Fighting Syndicate, McDonald holds down a full time day job along with a burgeoning career as a fighter. To listen to McDonald tell it, it’s all in a days work for him.
“Man, I just do it, you know,” McDonald says. “I train with all the students; if someone walks in I talk with them. We just all work together to bring business in there. When I’m getting ready for a fight, of course, I focus on me. It’s not really that hard to do because it seems that there is always somebody getting ready for a fight to train with at the gym. It just works out, everyone works together. All the coaches work together to ensure we run a successful business and prepare for fights.”
Quick to point out that everyone at Texas Fighting Syndicate operate under a team philosophy, McDonald and his coaches are quick to bring new students into the fold. While the prospect of working out in an MMA gym may conjure up images of Affliction adorned “meat-heads,” the members of TFS are quick to make all who enter their doors feel at ease.
“We are not a typical gym I guess you would say in that people don’t feel intimidated. We make them feel comfortable,” explains McDonald. “They walk in and figure there in a mean place and we make sure they know that this is a family environment and a team atmosphere type place. And, they see how we train. Most people know what they want. You just have to show them you know what you’re talking about. The way we fight shows people how we are; we fight hard because we train hard.”
It is a philosophy that has paid dividends and in just one short year Texas Fighting Syndicate has made quite a name for itself in the local MMA scene. Of course, arguably the biggest reward for McDonald and company has been the support of his hometown of Burleson.
“They love it,” gushes McDonald of the support he has received from the community. “The cops love is as it provides an outlet for teenage boys, boys out of school, they have something – an outlet – to use for their energy. I’ve had a lot of support. Newspapers call me wanting to do interviews. I think in Alvarado, we had a 150 people show up to watch our guys fight. So, it’s nothing but support.”
All photos © Texas Fighting Syndicate. For more information on Texas Fighting Syndicate visit their website at http://www.tfsmma.com/.