One of the best jiu jitsu fighters in the world is training in Santa Barbara for the 2011 Abu Dhabi Combat Club (ADCC), the sport’s world championship. Jeff Glover, 28, has been sponsored by Santa Barbara-based Prevail Conditioning Performance Center as he prepares for the ADCC, which will be held in September in Nottingham, England.
“I’m planning on winning,” said Glover, who is consistently ranked in the top five fighters in the world for his weight division, which is restricted to fighters under 154 pounds. “I want to be the first American [in my weight class] to bring home the gold.”
Personal trainer Chris Ecklund, CEO and president of Prevail, said he thinks Glover has a “pretty solid” chance of winning the competition.
Glover practices jiu jitsu, a submission wrestling sport that differs from other martial arts in that fighters are not allowed to strike or punch their opponents. Fighters at the ADCC tournament engage in nontraditional grapple wrestling, a “more hardcore” version of the traditional Brazilian jiu jitsu.
In order to win in September, Glover must first build up his endurance through conditioning and training. Glover, who was knocked out in the second round of the biannual ADCC in 2009 and 2007, lost those competitions because of poor conditioning, Ecklund said.
Prior to beginning his training at Prevail two months ago, Glover had never done any formal conditioning or power development; he had only prepared for tournaments by practicing his sport. This didn’t stop him from becoming a two-time Ultimate Fighting Championship Fan-Expo Superfight champion and a three-time GQ Absolutely Open Weight champion. But with an ADCC championship still elusive, Glover turned to Prevail to help improve his stamina at the recommendation of a physical therapist.
Prevail — which is located on East Haley St. — was immediately interested in sponsoring Glover’s training as part of a program to “plug in with the community by connecting and investing in local athletes.” The company ultimately decided to fund Glover because he was an elite athlete “looking for that next jump” to elevate his performance.
Glover works out with Ecklund for about 15 hours per week, using light weights, slide boards, sled pushes, and heavy rope work to improve his strength, explosiveness, and endurance. Ecklund said that in the short time he has worked with Glover, his client has gotten “stronger, more stable, and more powerful very quickly.”
Glover agreed with his trainer’s assessment, saying he already he feels more energetic and confident in the ring.
“All [Glover] wants to do is learn and get better,” Ecklund added. “He’ll do whatever it takes to get to the next level.”
Glover, who moved to Santa Barbara at age 13 and attended San Marcos High School, has a long history as a fighter. He has been fighting since childhood in grappling matches with his two brothers, who were his “first training partners by default — they didn’t really have a choice,” Glover mused.
At the age of 16, Glover began his training in jiu jitsu and started competing in tournaments after earning his white belt. He quickly made a name for himself with early tournament wins, and has been a professional fighter ever since.
Ultimately, Glover hopes to “follow the lifeline that is jiu jitsu,” by opening a gym or studio to teach his sport to children. But with an estimated five or six years still left in his career as a fighter, Glover plans to keep competing for as long as he can.