GREAT FALLS — When mixed martial arts legend Joe “Diesel” Riggs started Diesel’s Counter Punch Gym in Great Falls, he wanted to provide high level training for Montana fighters and provide a pipeline of talent to bigger promotions.
For three years, he provided that in the Electric City. But when an opportunity came up to move back to Arizona to coach, Riggs took it. Now under new ownership, the goal of Counter Punch remains the same.
Brady Meister, one of Riggs' students, is the new owner and operator at Diesel’s Counter Punch.
“We decided to stay with Diesel's Counter Punch because that's who we've been for the past three years,” Meister said. “And I want to keep what Joe did to this gym and what he's taught all of us and his legacy here alive and breathing.”
Owning a gym was never in the cards for Meister, who only started training in MMA three years ago. He’s since fought in the BKFC and is making his professional MMA debut in 2024. It’s a far cry from where he was when he first walked into the gym in 2020.
“I originally came in because, like many young men, I had a lot of big feelings and I didn't know what to do with them. Shoving them down and trying to hide them other places wasn't working anymore,” Meister said. “So I decided to come and try MMA. Joe came up to me after a month and a half of training, said, ‘You're different than anyone I've ever worked with. I want to work with you. I think you have what it takes to make a living in the sport,’ which is huge coming from him.“
And when Riggs considered selling the gym, Meister jumped at the chance to ensure a future for the place that changed his life.
“He gives me a call and he's talking to me about someone who was potentially buying the gym and this, that and the other thing. And I got a little curious,” Meister said. “I was like, ‘So how much was it?’ And he quoted me a number. And well, the rest is history.”
It’s the same high level training as before, with a team based approach.
“We have something special here. We're not the hardcore ‘Oh, yeah, I drink gasoline and eat nails for breakfast’ type. That's not us, man. No one here is going to try to hurt you,” Meister said. “But we produce very high level competitors, not because we're the most intense, the most hardcore. We just love the sport and we're a team here.”
Deisel’s Counter Punch is offering three free classes for anyone interested in improving their fitness and giving MMA a try.
“We’re working on the next generation of Diesel fighters,” Meister said. “And I’m very proud to say I’m the one raising them. If you ever feel like you didn’t belong anywhere else, give us a try.”