The Tragedy Academy
Oct. 3, 2022

Dan Lambert - American Top Team & AEW


In this episode of the Tragedy Academy, Jay welcomes Dan Lambert, owner of American Top Team, the legendary MMA gym. Dan grew American Top Team from an amateur MMA gym, doing it only for the love of the game, to one of the country's top professional sports gyms. He unknowingly became a pioneer of the sport and will go down in history as one of the firsts.

Key Topics Discussed:

🤼 [07:34] Getting into wrestling after MMA

❎ [12:50] Intersection between MMA and wrestling

🎭 [19:47] Wrestling is a soap opera

👔 [23:00] Mixing business and MMA/wrestling

🥊 [32:55] Fighters and their backgrounds

🏕️ [35:40]"You run this place like a concentration camp?" is the best insult he's ever received.


🤼 Getting into wrestling after MMA was almost a happy accident. Dan would invite a wrestler from the Miami Convention center to share some of their wild stories. This time eventually led to hosting a hybrid MMA/wrestling event.

❎ Intersection between MMA and wrestling, some people hate MMA but love wrestling and vice versa. Yet, it's hard to argue that both sports have little in common. For one, their personality goes beyond a gimmick – it's often who they are in real life. 

 🎭 Wrestling theatrics can almost seem like a soap opera. It's not real, and most people know that, yet it does not take away from the excitement. One thing is for certain, the stunts and pain are real.

👔 Mixing business and pleasure does not always go over smoothly, and keeping a gym afloat takes a lot of capital. Luckily for Dan, he had other businesses that helped support his MMA/wrestling passion.

🥊 Every wrestler and fighter comes with crazy characteristics – some more nuts than others. Wrestlers like Mazada not only like to live in chaos, he thrives in it.

📊 One of Dan's biggest mistakes with running "American Top Team" was not treating it like a professional sports team gym. Now with real money on the line and dozens of members, it is one of the elite gyms in the country. 

"You run this place like a concentration camp?" is the best insult he's ever received.


- "The wrestling industry harbors the most authentic people" - Jay

- "The more that their character reflects their true self, the more they get over" – Gary

- "As far as the reality base, those wrestlers take 10x the beating than MMA guys do" – Dan

- g"Some people work hard to make money because they want to go on their boat or go fishing or skiing – I like making money so that I can spend it on MMA," – Dan

- "That's what luck is - when opportunity meets preparation" - Dan


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The Tragedy Academy is a show created to bridge societal divides in a judgment-free zone using candor and humor. 

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Dan LambertProfile Photo

Dan Lambert

Founder and Owner of American Top Team & Pro Wrestling Manager

Dan Lambert founded American Top Team in 2001. American Top Team (ATT) is often credited as the most respected and award-winning gym in the world of mixed martial arts. This legendary gym has produced multiple notable fighters, such as Amanda Nunes, Junior dos Santos, and Jorge Masvidal, just to name a few. Not a lot is known about Dan's early life, but it's noted that he fell in love with Professional Wrestling from an early age, citing a specific moment, in which where The Assassin (also known as the late Jody Hamilton) beating up Sir Oliver Humperdink, while Ox Baker was forced to watch being tangled up in the ring ropes. Following this, Lambert would ask his grandfather to take him to shows, and after a chance meeting with Gordon Nelson, Lambert was allowed to work for the ring crew in his teen years in exchange for free tickets. Sometime after this, Lambert became tape trading where he would find the world of mixed martial arts.

While growing increasingly interested in the world of MMA, Lambert also developed a cruise line based in South Florida. Lambert fell deeper in love with the sport becoming an active member of the Silveira Brother’s Jui-Jitsu. It was a highly regarded gym in the mid-’90s and had a spotlight on it from Conan’s time in the UFC. Though he never competed himself, Lambert became well known amongst those in the MMA Community.

So well known that when the original owners were looking to sell, Lambert was one of the first people they reached out to. It did not take much convincing for Lambert. He saw the potential of the sport and wanted to make sure his guys had a place to fight.Before Lambert could put pen to paper and have a chance at shaping the sport to his vision, a deal was made with the Fertitta brothers. Lambert has never been shy about how this was the best thing that could’ve happened for the sport.

A little over a year after the potential UFC buyout fell through, Lambert, along with Silveira and renowned instructor Ricardo Liborio officially founded American Top Team. Though it would struggle in the early days against the likes of American Kickboxing Academy, the Shamrock-led Lions Den, and Miletich Fighting Systems, ATT has persevered. As a result, it is arguably the most successful and decorated gym in the world of MMA.

During the 21st season of the Ultimate Fighter, Dan Lambert was given much more exposure due to his role on the show. This was the first time Lambert was heavily featured on camera.

In 2017, Lambert appeared for IMPACT Wrestling and quickly showed off his passion for pro wrestling and his incredible promo work.

In 2021, Dan Lambert would debut for All Elite Wrestling and become an amazing mouthpiece and manager. he would also use this platform to showcase some of the amazing fighters to come out of his gym while also being paired with AEW wrestlers such as Scorpio Sky and Ethan Page. Lambert has an ability which seems to come natural for him to draw a nuclear heat from any crowd that they are in front of.

Random Fact: Lambert has one of the most impressive collections of old-school pro wrestling titles.