TXMMA – Texas Mixed Martial Arts

Interview: Chris “The Westside Strangler” Brennan (Part 1 of 2)

By Felix Rodriguez | Photo – Mike Calimbas


FRISCO, TX, December 9, 2013 – Chris “The Westside Strangler” Brennan is a Compton, California native who has made Texas his home and martial arts his life. The self-confessed black sheep is the second oldest of four boys who didn’t come into his own until “well into his adult years.” Through hard work and dedication Brennan has managed to carve out a name for himself both as an accomplished MMA fighter and as a burgeoning businessman and coach.

Chris Brennan is the owner and head instructor of the NG (Next Generation) academies headquartered in Frisco, Texas. Since settling in the Lone Star State he has assembled a top-notch crew of instructors in order to bring what he feels is the highest level of martial arts training around. In the brief time that he’s been fully operational people have started to take notice and Brennan and crew have already begun to make a name for themselves in the local competition circuit and they are getting ready to do even bigger things in the coming years.

TXMMA caught up with Coach Brennan fresh off winning a 2013 IBJJF World Title in no-gi grappling.

Here is the part one of our Chris Brennan interview where he shares his experiences as a fighter throughout the evolution of the sport.


TXMMA Interview Part-One – Chris Brennan (Next Generation)


TXMMA: How were you introduced into the martial arts?

Chris Brennan: Like many old school guys I saw the first UFC on TV and I was hooked. Many people saw it and sat on their couch saying they could do it. I got off my ass and searched for a place to train and made it happen. Once I saw the first one there was no way I wasn’t going to fight in the UFC.

TXMMA: How long have you been training in BJJ and who have you trained under?

Chris Brennan: Great question… This coming month is 20 years of Jiu-Jitsu and MMA training for me. I have trained with Ken Gabrielson, John DeLaO, Royce Gracie, Roger Brooking, Jacare (Cavalcanti), Marco Ruas, and then from 4-stripe blue belt and on I have been on my own. No teacher, no other peoples videos, nothing. I took my knowledge as a 4-stripe blue belt and built everything I am today. I have never watched other instructional videos or anything. I have nothing against it but I did what I did without it. My style is my style, my game is my game, and from the second I took my GI off I created all that I do.

562315_10200956538214711_1496907830_nTXMMA: Can you tell us a bit about your connection to the Gracie family and what your experience was like training under them before the global boom of BJJ and MMA?

Chris Brennan: Well I don’t have a connection with them now but I did train with Royce for quite a while in the late 90’s. I like Royce a lot but I struggled with the overpowering of Rorion while at the Gracie Academy so I parted ways.

TXMMA: You trained in Brazil before it was the cool thing to do, what was that experience like for you as a person and fighter?

Chris Brennan: Man training in Brazil was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. I didn’t know one person. I packed 4 duffle bags, bought a plane ticket and flew to Brazil. Got off the plane and took a cab to Alliance BJJ which at the time was Master Jiu-Jitsu. I walked in dropped my bags on the floor and that’s where I stayed. Slept on the mats with a sheet and pillow. I trained in the morning, was at the beach all day, trained in the evenings, and partied at night. Probably one of my best trips ever. After returning to the US I had a friend from Brazil, Roger Brooking, come to the US and so I trained privates with him every day for a long time. He was in my corner for my second and third Miletich fight. I competed in the first Mundials in Brazil in 96 with the GI and I was the first American to fight and rep BJJ in an actual NHB fight in Brazil. A lot of great things happened for me over that time period.

TXMMA: You were a part of a very special card representing Team Gracie in Pride’s Bushido series. Would you share an anecdote from fighting in that event?

Chris Brennan: Man that was an awesome event. I took the fight on Monday and the event was on Sunday so I didn’t have any prep time. I think I had a day of training and then I was flying. I wasn’t in shape because I had just opened a new school and had been working around the clock on that. Anyway I flew over there, they changed the weight on me 3 times while I was in process of cutting weight so that wasn’t fun and then the added pressure of representing the Jiu-Jitsu or Gracie side of the bracket. I was the first lightweight fight that Pride ever had and to make it exciting I had to submit my opponent twice because he didn’t have enough honor so say he tapped when I armbarred him. The second finish was a sick Kimura transition that he probably wished he tapped to the armbar when I applied it.

TXMMA: After retiring from MMA you transitioned to coaching, can you tell us about your academy, its location, instructors, and anything else you believe helps make it stand apart from your local competitors?

Chris Brennan: Well I’ve always been a coach and trained fighters but now I’m doing it full-time and not sharing it with trying to have a successful MMA career. The Next Generation MMA Frisco school is the Headquarters for all my schools. It’s located in the busiest shopping center in Frisco, Texas. As far as head instructors go, I teach all the MMA and Jiu-Jitsu, Kendall Cross (Olympic Gold Medalist) is the head wrestling coach, Master Thong (former Alpha Male head coach and coach of 2 seasons of TUF) is our striking coach, and Josh Bosquez (my second Black Belt) is the head GI instructor. We are in just under 9,000 square feet of amazingly laid out space and we are growing every day. I teach there full-time and that’s the first thing that sets us apart from most of the other schools. I still roll every day as well which is another bonus. Our fight team just started fighting and I would expect big things from us in the very near future.

TXMMA: You don’t compete in MMA anymore, but you are still an active competitor in BJJ, do you compete as an outlet for your athletic needs, to lead your students from the front or both?

Chris Brennan: I always wanted to compete more in BJJ but never had time to train for it when I was always training for fights. I didn’t even train for the ADCC I competed in I just did it. I mean I’m always training BJJ but there are career BJJ competitors who train for the points and how to win and I just train to rip your limbs off as quickly as possible. <laughs> I will definitely be competing more now that I’m retired from active MMA fighting.

Stay tuned for Part Two of our Chris Brennan Interview tomorrow on TXMMA.com.