Rory Singer hasn’t competed as a professional mixed martial artist since February 2009, but “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 3 alumnus has stayed close to the sport he loves.
Singer is co-owner of The HardCore Gym in Athens, Ga., the American Top Team-affiliated institution that spawned former UFC light heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin and ex-WEC bantamweight titlist Brian Bowles. He’s also an assistant coach at the gym, where he helps to train fighters and teaches classes in both Brazilian jiu-jitsu and MMA.
“I’ve stayed busy,” Singer tells Sherdog.com “I just had a son born [Alexander, born Sept. 30] and have been growing and running the gym. I’ve been helping some of our guys get ready for fights and training others to make their debuts.”
Singer advanced to the semifinals of “TUF 3” before losing to Ed Herman via second-round stoppage. While competing in the UFC was one of the highlights of his career, Singer claims it wasn’t his main goal when he started fighting professionally.
“The only reason why I fought was the competition,” says Singer, who owns eight finishes among his 11 victories. “It was never my dream to be a UFC champion. I just wanted to compete at the highest level of the sport, and I did that. I don’t know if that’s bad or good, but that’s how I felt about it.”
The HardCore Gym, which opened more than 10 years ago, has 7,200 square feet of space that includes a 20-foot Octagon, a 16-heavy bag jungle, a 2,000-square-foot mat space and another 1,250-square-foot area filled with conditioning equipment. Along with Brazilian jiu-jitsu and MMA, the gym offers various fitness classes, including a kickboxing workout.
One of the more prominent names to currently call the HardCore Gym home is UFC featherweight Junior Assuncao, who most recently defeated Eddie Yagin via unanimous decision at UFC 135.
“[Assuncao] has been here about eight months,” says Singer. “We’re working on some stuff to get some bigger names to come here. If we get them, others will come. There’s some things we need to put in place, like being able to house fighters so they can stay here long-term and train. Athens is a great town for young fighters. There’s a good atmosphere, lots of college girls and night jobs for people to hold down while they train.”
With the success of fighters such as Griffin, Bowles and Assuncao, Singer hopes the gym’s roster of top-level fighters will continue to grow, but not at the expense of local talent.
“We’ve grown two champions basically from scratch and there aren’t many gyms that can say that,” says Singer. “We’re hoping that more top guys will see that, see the quality of the people and coaches we have and want to come train here. We want to keep working with the top names, but we also want to work and help people who want to become fighters. They’re the ones who are going to be the new crop of up-and-comers.”
While mixed martial arts-specific training is a prominent part of the HardCore Gym’s repertoire, Singer says he must insure profitability by making the gym accessible to those who may not wish to step in the ring.
“We still have to balance professional fighters, amateur fighters and the other aspects of a commercial gym,” says Singer. “I’m just as concerned with my MMA fighters as I am the 47-year-old man who we helped lose 60 pounds and win his division at a NAGA [grappling] competition. That’s the balancing act we have to strike, not local fighters versus having big names.”
Even though he has been busy with his new son and the gym, the 35-year-old Singer hasn’t completely closed the door on the idea of fighting again.
“I just talked to a promoter who made me a decent offer,” says Singer, who holds wins over Josh Haynes, Ross Pointon and Wilson Gouveia. “I lost my last three fights, but in those three fights, I had two of the greatest rounds of my career. I’m probably as skilled now as I was before, and I think I could get back to that level again.
“If I did decide to fight again, I’d have to find a way to make it all work with the gym and my son and training. But I’m not just going to do it for the money. I’m not going to kill myself to just be a name on somebody’s card.”
Singer says any decision about fighting will be made only after talking with his entire support system.
“I’d just need to talk to my wife and coaches and really think on it,” says Singer. “Do I really want to put myself through a camp and do all the things I need to do to get ready for a fight? This offer I got certainly was enough to where it could definitely pay for some diapers and take care of daycare.
“But I’ve got a lot of name value and still have a lot going for me. I’m not going to go somewhere and have some local guy beat me for $1,000 or $1,500 because I need that money to survive. I have too many other things going for me to do that.”