Head MMA Coach
About Tuan Pham:
Tuan Pham is a Pro MMA fighter who was ranked #18 MMA flyweight in the world in 2009.
He has fought all over the country and in well known top organizations like Bellator, Adrenaline, Cage Fury, Ring of Combat, XCC and Titan Fighting Championships. When it comes to tough opponents, Tuan has seen his fair share. In his first 10 fights, Tuan Pham has only fought 1 opponent with a losing record, has given two undefeated opponents their first loss, has beaten a 2 time back to back divison III national wrestling champ by rear naked choke in 1st rd., and KO-ed an 11-1 national pro Muay Thai champion in 40 sec of the 1st rd. Also notable in his MMA career is that 7 of his 10 opponents have been in the top 20 world MMA rankings. As an amateur, Tuan Pham was both the super lightweight champ of New Breed and Asylum Fight League. He finished off his amateur MMA career retaining two titles with a perfect record of 7-0. To add to his MMA experience, Tuan Pham has been training Muay Thai since 2003. In that first year, he was the USKBA Muay Thai East Coast Champion under Kru Rigel Balsamico of Cool Hearts.
Tuan Pham has developed his vast mixed martial arts knowledge and skills through training at many different locations and under a variety of elite instructors. Tuan has trained with or under the likes of Daniel Gracie(Renzo Gracie Philadelphia), Mario Yamasaki of Yamasaki BJJ Academy, Rigel Balsamico of Cool Hearts Muay Thai, Stephen Haigh of Fight Factory MMA, and Brad Daddis of Daddis MMA. Tuan was training partners with The ultimate Fighter Season 6 winnner Mac Danzig for a over a couple years. He was also training partners with UFC veteran Wilson Reis for a couple years as well. Some of Wilson’s achievements include fighting for the UFC title in 2017 against Demetrious Johnson, being Showtime’s Elite XC and a Bellator veteran. Tuan has aslo trained with the likes of Eddie Alvarez(former UFC lightweight champion, former Bellator champion), Zach Makovski(former Bellator champ), Dominick Cruz(former UFC champ), Waylon Lowe(UFC veteran), Jim Hettes (UFC veteran), and Sideco Honorio (former Cage Fury Fighting Championships Champion). Many of Tuan’s training partners went on to open up their own schools. Royal Striking, Chestnut Hill Muay Thai, UFC Gym Springfield, Stay Fly Muay Thai, and Beacon MMA are just some of the schools on the list.
Muay Thai Kru(Instructor)
About Rigel Balsamico:
Rigel grew up in a boxing family & trained off & on from the age of 5, but was introduced to muayThai in 1992 while working as a personal trainer and bouncer to pay for schooling. He quickly became obsessed and began formal training under Kru Ood at the legendary U. S. Muay Thai Academy in late ’93. Three months later he fought (and lost) his first bout. He was hooked! Rigel went on to be known as a knock out artist, never losing another amateur fight.
Rigel was taken in by his Thai family to support a very prolific career, fighting as often as possible, sometimes more than once in a weekend in neighboring states.
By 1996, he had won the first of 5 national titles. Along the way accumulating several belts in both the ISMTA & WKMA. He racked up titles in ’98 & ’99 for Warrior’s Championships & ’99/ 2000 King of the Ring. After winning a North American Intercontinental belt in ’98, he went on to be the only muayThai fighter representing the U.S. in Bangkok for the 1999 IAMTF World Championships.
At this point, Rigel was certified as a Kru (teacher of authentic traditional muayThai) and founded Cool Hearts Muay Thai Camp in ’99 with the blessing of both his Kru Ood and his Thai father, Ajahn Boon Naknakorn, just before they moved back home to Thailand.
He has taught muayThai in Pittsburgh, San Francisco, all over NYC & Philadelphia, & of course, in Chiangmai & BKK, Thailand.
With a successful pro career spanning decades, he came out of retirement four times, accumulating main event fights @ Chiang Mai Gate (TV5), Kawilla Stadium, Isarn festival, & a decision victory in 2007 Queen’s Birthday festival in Sanam Luang Royal Park, BKK, Thailand. He came out of last retirement in 2011 to score a KO victory @ FNFNYC in Manhattan. His final retirement bout was March 16, 2012, Main Event @ TakeOn for the first muayThai event ever @ Madison Square Garden.
All throughout this journey, including while maintaining his spot as the dominant fighter @ U.S Muay Thai Academy, Kru Rigel has taught, trained, cornered, and produced fighters all over the world: festivals & major stadiums in Thailand, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, New Zealand, Australia, England, Ireland, Isle of Man, Germany, Belgium, and the States.
With the rise of MMA, Kru Rigel was sought out by many prominent fighters to sharpen their stand up. He has trained & cornered countless amateur MMA fighters & talented professionals from Elite XC champions to UFC fighters, including Wilson Reis and Derek Brunson.
His fighters and students have gone on to form Camps of their own, too numerous to mention all. Some of note are Dragonleg, Pittsburgh Muay Thai, Daddis MMA, Stay Fly Muay Thai, Body Arts, 8 Limbs Academy, and Royal Striking. His students continue to teach, coach, & compete all over the world.
He is thrilled to bring that pedigree & the Cool Hearts Muay Thai Camp BACK to Fight Firm. He will be teaching authentic muayThai classes, training fighters & students, and be available for personal instruction in muayThai and Strength & Conditioning training. As a (now fully) competitively retired fighter, his passion is to share that knowledge & carry on his family’s traditions with anyone interested in learning.