It’s not every day you get to meet the world’s most famous mixed martial artist. And it’s more against the odds that you’ll get to watch him train at your place of business. Unless, of course, if your business is in the Hamptons.
SJC Long Island alumnus Greg Melita ’06 had the pleasure of meeting Conor McGregor when the former UFC featherweight and lightweight champ trained at Melita’s jiu-jitsu studio, Hamptons Jiu Jitsu, in Southampton, New York, in June. The martial arts and recovery studio offers Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Muay Thai kickboxing, yoga, MMA classes, cryotherapy, physical therapy, acupuncture massages, leg compression and sports consultation, all in-house.
“It’s amazing to really see a guy of that status level be able to come in and train just like a normal guy,” Melita said. “He was really laid back. It was definitely one of my favorite memories so far.”
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McGregor’s jiu-jitsu trainer Dillon Danis, who had heard of Hamptons Jiu Jitsu, reached out to Melita via an Instagram message and said that they would be in the area. He asked if they could stop by to train. Melita was more than happy to open the studio to them.
“I was already a big fan of McGregor, but now obviously, even more so,” the Islip, New York, resident said. “He couldn’t have been a nicer guy. He came in, loved the place, stayed and trained. He mentioned that he’ll be coming back”
But meeting McGregor was just one of the many highlights of owning his own business, said Melita, who also had the opportunity to meet the late Anthony Bourdain last year when Bourdain stopped in to train.
Becoming a Business Owner
“It was a surreal experience starting my own business on this scale,” he said. “It’s been a lifelong dream for me, but seeing it come to fruition makes all the years of work worth it.”
Melita opened Hamptons Jiu Jitsu in February 2017, and exactly one year later, he had a grand reopening at his new location (three doors down from the old one). The new space accommodates for his growing business, providing more mat space, two full locker rooms with a shower and laundry service in each. It also gave room for the addition of the Recovery Center, which is run by Vita Cryotherapy.
“I always had a fascination with martial arts because I saw the confidence that it gave people,” Melita said of his decision to start this business. “I admired Bruce Lee and Royce Gracie. I started with karate in 1998 through family friends, and once I received my black belt, I was also wrestling in high school, and the UFC was gaining popularity. I started jiu jitsu in 2000 at the Kioto Academy and received my black belt from them in 2013.”
Success Starts at St. Joe’s
Melita received his bachelor’s degree in computer information technology, minoring in business administration. Although he didn’t know exactly what his future career would be, he knew he wanted it to involve business and IT.
“St. Joseph’s really prepared me for where I am now because I studied such a broad range of topics: marketing, software, website design, social media and managing a business, as well. And I’m doing all of that now. I really think that St. Joe’s played a huge part in where I am today.”
Melita stressed that the liberal arts education he received from St. Joseph’s College helped him discover his interests and turned him into the person he is today.
“The broad curriculum there really helped me become well-rounded,” he said. “S. Jane Fritz really had an impact on me because she was the one that guided me and helped me figure out what classes to take.”