Interview with Justin Flores: 3X UFC World Champion Coach, 3X Judo World Team Coach, & Jiu Jitsu Black Belt
Justin Flores is a 3X UFC World Champion coach, 3X USA Judo World Team coach, Jiu-Jitsu black belt, former D1 wrestler, and Sambazon Açaí lover. Justin grew up on the mats from a young age training with his brother Jacob and his father/Sensei Dr. Jake Flores. While most kids Justin’s age were playing baseball or soccer, Justin was training takedowns, throws, guard passes, submissions and match strategy.
Justin began his grappling journey as a judoka who utilized all aspects of the game, never neglecting elements such as newaza, or groundwork. As he progressed into his formative years as a teenager, Justin joined the high school wrestling team. Within one year, he was one of the most decorated wrestlers in the state of California, infusing many of the attributes that Judo gave him into his wrestling style. He rose to the rank of black belt in Judo and was the #2 ranked 60kg competitor on the Judo Olympic ladder...all while being the #3 ranked high school wrestler nationally.
At this time, Justin’s brother was the #1 ranked Judo competitor on the Olympic ladder at the weight class just above him. As Justin’s weight gradually rose, it looked like he would have to move a division up to his brother’s weight class. This led him to put his Judo dreams on hold and accept a full-ride wrestling scholarship to the University of Nebraska, which at the time, was a Division I powerhouse. This decision led Justin to compete at the highest levels of wrestling; however, after some complications with an ACL tear and change in coaches, Justin decided it was time to return to his first love -- Judo.
For the next seven years, Justin competed, trained and traveled to over 35 countries representing the USA national team. After a competition career that was highlighted by winning the US National 3 times, the North America Championship 4 times, medaling at the Pan American Championships, and finishing at the top 10 at the 2007 World Championships, Justin decided it was best to move on and begin a new chapter of his life.
Justin received his bachelor’s degree from Menlo College and started his own graphic arts company, J. Flores Productions. Parallel to this, he began coaching Ronda Rousey in her meteoric rise through the UFC as well as the best high school wrestlers in the state of California privately.
Justin then began training Jiu Jitsu to become more well-rounded and continue to challenge himself. He dived in head first to BJJ with his first class under the world famou Fabio Santos. He earned his purple belt and it was only a few months later that he received his brown belt becoming quite knowledgeable off his back and developing a unique guard which at times didn’t come easy. He now has his black belt!
Justin has always felt that all grappling disciplines have important elements that should be utilized and trained in becoming the most well rounded grappler one can be. Read the interview with him below to learn more about him, his background, and his favorite things about Sambazon Açaí!
Where do you call home?
When/how did you get into your most recent practice, Jiu Jitsu?
While coaching Ronda Rousey and relocating to the West Coast in 2015, Joel Tutor, who was teaching at Studio 540, reached out and invited me to participate in a class. I really enjoyed the opportunity to challenge myself and build on my grappling experience and earned my black belt just recently in 2020 under Fabio Santos.
What inspired you to start coaching?
I’ve always enjoyed passing on my knowledge and helping others so coaching Judo was a natural progression after I retired from competition. Coaching Ronda Rousey opened the door to me seeing how much judo, grappling, and wrestling experience can be very applicable to MMA and UFC.
How did you discover Sambazon Açaí?
After training at Studio 540, Magid Hage and Jake Buracher took me to the Sambazon storefront in Cardiff and ordered me a Burnquist Bowl, upside down. I’ve never looked back.
How have you incorporated Sambazon products into your regular routine?
In the morning I usually go for the Low Calorie Organic Amazon Energy to kick start my day. After my first workout I make my Açaí smoothie masterpiece using Sambazon Original Açaí Superfruit Packs as my base and then adding blueberries, strawberries, coconut milk, spinach and peanut butter. After the long hard day is over and subsequent to dinner I’ll make a perfect Açaí bowl for dessert!
What is your favorite Açaí bowl recipe?
Burnquist Bowl! Sambazon Açaí topped with granola, bananas, strawberries, and blueberries.
What does Sambazon mean to you?
I am a huge advocate of a healthy active lifestyle that is rich in flavor and nourishment for the soul. I believe Sambazon and its products to be the highest in quality and taste!