Instructors

At Ivey League MMA, our mission is simple: Give you the best mixed martial arts experience possible, period.

To help speed up your progress, we offer people of all ages and abilities an unmatched world-class facility conveniently located in the heart of Annapolis, flexible training hours, open seven days a week, and state-of-art equipment.

But, it’s our outstanding instructors that make Ivey League MMA a step above the rest. They’re the reason Ivey League has grown to the level it’s at today.

Our instructors are some of the most highly-decorated Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai, and Wrestling champions. But, their #1 passion is simply getting on the mat with you and teaching you one-on-one how to you reach all of your goals.

Whether you’re looking for a new and exciting way to lose those stubborn pounds and inches and get in the best shape of your life or you want to be totally transformed into a competitive and devastating MMA fighting machine, our instructors are here to serve you.

At Ivey League MMA, you’ll always feel welcome and supported by every one of our instructors. That’s because we are a martial arts team and a family.

That means we make it our business to take care of you from the second you walk in our doors. It’s just what we do.

Let’s meet the coaching staff of Ivey League Mixed Martial Arts…

Danny Ives – Head Instructor and Founder

I started my mix martial arts journey a long time ago back in Philly, when I was about 10 years old.

I grew up in a pretty rough part of the city, a place where street fights and violence were a part of everyday life.

I was obsessed with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and thought that martial arts were so cool. I begged my mom to sign me up for Karate classes at the local rec center.

She agreed and my life was forever changed. The moment I threw my first kick I was hooked. I knew this was for me.

Training in the Martial Arts gave me a sense of purpose, a reason to get out of bed in the morning.

And while other kids I knew in the neighborhood fell into the same old traps that bad areas set, like drugs and crime, martial arts kept me on the right track.

I started out with Karate, then soon moved on to Boxing and Kickboxing, then I watched my first UFC Event and discovered MMA and the art of Brazilian “Gracie” Jiu Jitsu.

I loved MMA and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and because of this, I trained very hard and tried to be the best I could be.

As a way to challenge myself further, I started to compete in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Grappling tournaments as often as possible.

I did very well, winning almost all major BJJ/Grappling competitions in the United States including the prestigious Pan American Games in 2001.

Around the same time I was experiencing lots of success competing I’d also started to teach some MMA classes on the side.

I took up teaching martial arts mostly for fun and extra money, money I needed to help pay for travel and training in places like Brazil, California and Mexico City.

I didn’t know it at the time but I found out I had a passion for teaching MMA. I really enjoyed teaching others what I’d learned.

I enjoyed seeing them learn the techniques and at the same time get better. I even had one student make it all the way to the UFC and win, that was pretty cool.

So between teaching, fighting in MMA and competing in BJJ tournaments I kept quite busy.

But no matter how busy I became I never lost sight of my long term goal: Opening my own mixed martial arts school.

The question then became: Where would I open this MMA Academy at?

One thing lead to another and when it was all said and done, I ended up in Annapolis Maryland. I’d actually come to Annapolis to watch the Navy vs. Lehigh Wrestling meet.

I’d never been to this part of Maryland and I was impressed at how nice it was.

I asked some of the locals if they knew of any places or gyms that taught MMA classes. They told me that there wasn’t anything like MMA in the area at all.

That’s all I needed to hear. The following day I drove up to Baltimore and did the paperwork, Ivey League MMA was born.

I opened Ivey League Mixed Martial Arts in March of 2008 and never looked back. Over the years I’ve been lucky enough to have worked with so many great people, people of all walks of life.

I’m proud to call Annapolis my home and the home of Ivey League. I honestly can’t imagine us being anywhere else but here.

–Danny Ives

Some of Danny’s Accomplishments:

  • Undefeated Professional MMA Fighter
  • 2001 Pan Am Gold Medalist in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
  • 25x NAGA Grappling Champion
  • 3x Grapplers Quest Champion
  • 3x NAGA Superfight Champion,’98,’02,’03
  • Victory at Valley Forge Superfight Champion, ’03
  • Grapplemania Champion, ’03
  • Mission Submission Champion ’07
  • Midwest Grappling Classic Superfight Champion ’09
  • California Open BJJ Champion, ’99
  • Pennsylvania Open BJJ Weight Champion, ’98
  • NYC Grappling Open Champion, ’99

mma gyms in annapolis maryland

You Can Rest Assured Knowing You’ll Be Learning MMA From Coaches That Have actually Fought In The Cage! Pictured Here is Owner Danny Ives

Sebastian Ramirez – Head Kickboxing Coach

Coach Sebastian is pictured here using one of his best techniques, the high kick.

Coach Sebastian Ramirez comes to Ivey League with a wealth of knowledge in the arts of Muay Thai Kickboxing and MMA. He’s the head coach of both Kickboxing and MMA Striking Programs as well as working with our amateur and professional fighters.

When asked about his journey into the world of Mixed Martial Arts this is what Sebastian had to say:

“I started training in martial arts at the age of 14. I was out of shape and had low self esteem, practicing martial arts helped me to become a stronger, healthier and more confident person.

When I first began taking Jiu-Jitsu and kickboxing classes I had no idea that it would lead me to a life style and career path of teaching and training martial arts. I had my first fight the day before my 15th birthday and have had several amateur bouts since.

After five years of training at my home town gym, I graduated high school and made my way to Thailand where I lived and trained for 30 days at the famous Sitmonchai gym. When I returned I decided to leave my home and began training with some of the top names in the MMA industry.

I then spent the next four years teaching and training with the UFC and Bellator’s top fighters and champions, studying and learning the true science of striking both for Muay Thai, kickboxing, and MMA.”

Needless to say we’re extremely happy to have Coach Sebastian here at Ivey League MMA.

Keith Cebula – BJJ/Grappling Coach

Keith Cebula – BJJ/Grappling Coach

  • Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt
  • 2016 Brown Belt Masters World Gold Medalist (Masters 2)
  • 2011 Blue Belt World Bronze Medalist (Adult)
  • Multiple International Open Titles at Purple Belt & Brown Belt

Naomi Johnson – Kids Instructor

Naomi Johnson – Kids Instructor

I started my Ivey League journey two years ago and have not looked back since!

I spent my entire childhood doing sports, everything from Track and Field, to Field Hockey, and even Softball. I have always loved competitive athletics and the challenges they bring both physically and mentally.

On top of athletics I have also always loved school. Recently, I graduated from St. John’s College in Annapolis, MD with a Bachelor of Arts degree. My love of learning and of reading is rivaled only by my love of BJJ!

I am currently training in the adult BJJ and Boxing classes, as well as actively competing in BJJ competitions.

While I love to train and compete, my true love is teaching kids! There isn’t anything more fulfilling than helping a child grow in this sport. Nothing brings me more joy than watching them go from timidly attempting a move on day one to brutally executing it a month later! My dream is to create a team of healthy, determined, tough killers who will eventually surpass my knowledge and skill, hopefully teaching me a thing or two along the way!

Joe Huggins – MMA Instructor

Born and raised on the south side of Chicago, IL, Joe Huggins began training in martial arts at the age of 19 as a midshipman on the Naval Academy Boxing team.

While on the team, he was exposed to rigorous training provided by some of the best boxers in the United States Navy and Marine Corps.

Joe competed in the Brigade Boxing Championships during both his freshman and sophomore year at the Naval Academy.

After being medically discharged and released of his obligation to the U.S. Navy, Joe turned his attention to strengthening his martial arts foundation and expanding his fighting repertoire.

He committed to training at Ivey League in March of 2015and has worked hard to improve himself every day during his time here.

Joe eagerly accepted the challenges of learning Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in order to develop his skills as a mixed martial artist and he now has goals of making MMA his career.

Eventually, Joe went from being just a student to being a staff member here at Ivey League, also.

As a summer camp and after school instructor, Joe uses what he learns as a student to assist in the Little Ninjas and JR’s classes.

Joe loves working with kids and not just helping them develop into great athletes but helping them develop into great people and leaders this world needs.

Alex Ward – Wrestling Coach

Coach Alex Ward comes to Ivey League with a long list of accomplishments in the sport of Wrestling. His Wrestling classes have helped everyone from the professinal fighter to the novice student become successful using takedown skills from the art of Wrestling.

Learn more about Coach Alex from the man himself.

“I started wrestling when I was 9 years old as a member of the Navy Junior Wrestling team based out of the USNA wrestling room. I was fortunate to be coached by Wayne Hicks (NCAA Runner-Up for Navy) and my father, Kelly Ward (NCAA Champion for Iowa State). Having such knowledgeable coaches at such a young age taught me how important technique is in wrestling. I went on to wrestle at Mt. St. Joseph High School in Baltimore and then at the University of Nebraska.”

Below you’ll find just a few of his many competitive accomplishments and coaching experience

High School:

  • Maryland State Champion, 2x Finalist (placements of 3rd-2nd-1st).
  • 3x National Prep Tournament place-winner.
  • 3x MIAA Conference Champion.
  • 3x Freestyle and 3x Greco-Roman Maryland State Champion.
  • Member of 3 State Championship teams at Mt. St. Joseph High School (’03, ’04, & ’05).
  • 2004-05 MSJ team won the prestigious Powerade Christmas Tournament in Pennsylvania (defeated the eventual PA AAA & VA AA State Champions).

College:

  • Wrestled for the University of Nebraska from 2006-2010.
  • 3-year Varsity Letterwinner.
  • Member of 2009 Big 12 Championship team.

Coaching Experience:

  • Assistant Coach at Mt. St. Joseph High School (Baltimore, MD) 2013-14.
  • Coached 2 State Champions, 1 State Runner-Up, and 1 National Prep Champion.
  • Team finished 3rd in the MIS State Tournament and 5th at National Preps.
  • Assistant Coach at St. Mary’s High School (Annapolis, MD) 2012-13.
  • Assistant Coach at Bullseye Wrestling Club (Annapolis, MD) 2009-2013.
  • Assisted in running a wrestling club for local high school and college wrestlers.