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Luttrell’s Fitness puts RR on MMA map

Andres Quintana, termed an “up-and-comer” by Chris Luttrell, lands a kick during a sparring session in the cage at Luttrell’s Fitness. (Rio Rancho Observer—GARY HERRON photo)

Andres Quintana, termed an “up-and-comer” by Chris Luttrell, lands a kick during a sparring session in the cage at Luttrell’s Fitness. (Rio Rancho Observer—GARY HERRON photo)

It’s starting to seem like fitness centers are everywhere you look — like Starbucks on every corner, or Walgreens and CVS on opposite corners.

Each gym seems to offer everything you can imagine: martial arts in varied disciplines, fitness, spin classes, etc.

At Luttrell’s Fitness in Rio Rancho, the personal, caring touch is an added benefit.

And this Luttrell guy really seems to care about his staff and customers — and that’s why Chris Luttrell, an Albuquerque Police Dept. cop for seven years and a State Police officer for eight years, put his name atop the marquee.

“Albuquerque is the mecca of MMA,” he said, adding Rio Rancho to that mecca.

He’s managed to maintain a good relationship with the famed Greg Jackson and Mike Winkeljohn, and over the last decade they’ve been running some of the top gyms in the entire sport, possibly most famous for Holly Holm, boxer-turned-MMA fighter, and UFC fighter Carlos Condit, a former student at Independence High School.

For all the longtime team members that have come out of that gym, such as Keith Jardine, Diego Sanchez and Joey Villasenor, it was Luttrell who was actually Jackson’s first black-belt student and fighter to come from the team.

For every champion that’s been formed under the Jackson-Winkeljohn’s tutelage, Luttrell has been there every step of the way as well. And it was Luttrell, a three-time state wrestling champ (1980-82) for Manzano High School, who served as “matchmaker” for the duo.

Today, Luttrell Fitness, at the southeast corner of Golf Course Road and Southern Blvd., is a thriving business with mixed-martial arts advocates, boxers and others seeking training in their sport of choice.

You’ll find boys and girls, men and women, ages 4 to 67, working out — pounding the heavy bag, doing cardio workouts, squaring off in an octagon cage, and more, but “No Zumba,” he said, smiling. No Gi and Gi Jiu Jitsu classes are offered on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.

The gym’s popularity, he said while working his way through a mass of fitness and fighting enthusiasts, is all due to “word of mouth — and we have a great product,” he said. “This is the only complete martial arts program.

“Everyone feels safe and secure and they don’t want to leave — there’s a sense of brotherhood,” he said.

Parents like getting their kids into MMA and fitness, he said, as a parent himself, so their youngsters “have something like this to keep them on the right track.”

Heck, Luttrell’s expertise and reputation have even lured a pair of great international MMA fighters from Kazakhstan. Luttrell gets around, helping train fighters at Jackson’s and at Winkeljohn’s gyms. He’s worked with notables Diego Sanchez and Condit, too.

“Good things are happening,” is how Luttrell puts it. “There are so many fights and so much stuff going on.”

Max Spiller, a La Cueva graduate who wrestled for a few years according to Luttrell, is another guy he’s proud of. The featherweight has been working out at Luttrell Fitness “since we opened up three years ago.”

Spiller won the National Amateur MMA Championship at 145 against Matt Aoki by arm bar; he will be representing the U.S. in the International Amateur Championship in July at the UFC Fan Expo at Mandalay Bay.

“In the finals of the nationals, he beat a high-level brown belt from a top-level school in Hawaii. … He’s really a top prospect,” Luttrell said. “He has strength and is very versatile; he recently picked up striking and jujitsu and he’s very good with his knees and elbows.”

Luttrell, who’s served on APD SWAT teams and taught the military defensive tactics, isn’t a guy to mess with — yet he said he’d avoid Spiller in a dark alley.

“I wouldn’t even want to try,” Luttrell said. “He really brings it with a high pace that his opponents can’t match.”

According to the write-up posted online by Trula Howe on what was billed as “Triple A MMA: North vs. South” last summer, “Spiller met Steven Gonzales in the bloodiest battle of the event. Spiller dominated the standup, with offensive counters, well-timed jabs and knees to the body. Gonzales got takedowns into the guard of Spiller, who had a point taken for an elbow to the top of Gonzales’ head. In the second round, Spiller stuffed the takedowns and landed repeated knees to the head, body shots and relentless combinations; finally, the referee, seeing that Gonzales could no longer defend himself, stopped the fight at 3:52 of the second round, giving Spiller the TKO and earning him ‘KO of the Night.'”

Luttrell is also enthused about the future of Kevin Croom (15-5), whom he said “had 10 fights in 13 months and was 9-1. … He’s on the UFC radar.”

Croom, the “Hard-Hitting Hillbilly” from Tuscaloosa, Ala., lost a split decision to Jesse Brock, ending his 11-fight winning streak, at the Maximum Fighting Championships in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, on May 9. In 2013, he was 8-0 and named Southwest Fights News’ “Fighter of the Year.”

Maybe an even better endorsement of Luttrell Fitness? How about that international acclaim?

“Two fighters signed with us from Kazakhstan,” Luttrell said, namely Kairat Akhmetov, 26, unbeaten in 26 flyweight contests, and Arman Ospanov, the world featherweight champ in combat sambo. “Their (Russian) team wants to send 10 prospects here for training; other gyms were recruiting them,” Luttrell said.

You can learn more at “Luttrell’s MMA & Fitness” on Facebook.

Cage notes: “Wild Bill” Albrecht, recently added to teach on Thursdays and Fridays at 5 p.m., has numerous professional MMA wins and is a former welterweight “King of the Cage” champion.

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