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Salinas-Jones on XFC, OA Athletics and the Next Great Chicago MMA Heavyweight


Gabe Salinas-Jones wins at XFC 13

by Matt Lo Cascio

Chicago’s MMA caught up with local heavyweight fighter Gabe Salinas-Jones at APFC 11, and the Strikeforce/XFC vet had news about his career, a new gym venture and a tip about the next great heavyweight to come out of the Chicago area.

Salinas-Jones said he is still under contract with the XFC but is still recovering from a shin injury suffered in his last fight. He said it’s taking longer than expected to rehab, but he hopes to be back in the cage in September or October.

He seemed most excited about a new gym he started called OA Athletics. The ‘OA’ stands for ‘Overcome Average’. “But it’s not an MMA gym. The focus is on strength and conditioning,” Salinas-Jones said.

The gym is located in Addison, and while Salinas-Jones does use his experience in getting ready for MMA fights as part of his methodology, he also has experience in strongman and powerlifting competitions, was as an assistant strength coach at Virginia Tech and was the head strength coach for “Fast” Fres Oquendo, the long-tome pro boxer that was a multiple Golden Gloves champ here in Chicago.

Salinas-Jones’ work for OA is not confined to the gym. He writes articles on their website like “Why Your Kid Sucks at Sports (and How to Fix It)“.

He uses a video of Scottie Pippen playing defense with the Bulls to help him describe how to use power lateral slides correctly, and explains why acceleration is much more important in sprinting than top end speed.

Salinas-Jones also had a tip on the next great heavyweight to come out of Chicago. He said that he has trained with Curtis Blades and he is the real deal.

Blades head coach at Combat Do, Master Bob Schirmer has been impressed by Blades’ recent preparation.

“Working with Curtis, his standup looks good. He’s a wrestler, but his standup is looking really good,” Schirmer said.

Blades was supposed to fight Pete Juska at Praetorian II, but that show was cancelled. Salinas-Jones said that when he is ready to start full MMA training after he finishes rehab on his leg that he will be training with Blades again.

About Matt Lo Cascio

Matt Lo Cascio is the co-founder and editor of Chicago's MMA. He is the former play-by-play announcer for the XFO and other organizations, and he has been published by ESPN.com, DraftKings, The Comeback, FanSided, and more.

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