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PizDoff
5/24/2007 12:22pm,
Mixed martial arts stars come out at Randy Couture gym in Las Vegas

Wed May 23, 1:01 PM

By Neil Davidson

LAS VEGAS (CP) - The stars come out twice a day at Randy Couture's gym.
http://i16.tinypic.com/4ys5190.jpg
On this day, some 20 fighters are working out in a fenced off mat area while Canadian coach Shawn Tompkins barks out instructions during the afternoon "kick-grapple drill."

The sweaty main floor of the gym is crammed with nicknames. The New York Bad Ass is here. As are the Bully, the Crippler, the Polish Hammer, the Punk, the Fury, the Experiment, Hands of Stone, Quicksand, and the Natural (John Alessio that is, not Couture).

It's an all-star cast featuring fighters from the UFC, World Extreme Cagefighting, International Fight League, Bodog Fight, Elite XC and Strikeforce. There is no shortage of tattoos and every shirt in the place is drenched in sweat.

Forrest Griffin, his face adorned with welts, grapples with Mike Whitehead. Chris Leben kicks and elbows a heavy bag with bad intentions in advance of his fight Saturday with Canadian Kalib Starnes. In a nearby cage, Canadian Mark Hominick rolls with a fellow fighter. In an adjacent ring, Carmelo Marrero, who like Leben is on the UFC 71 card, is tying a training partner in knots.

"This is one of the best gyms in the world, I'd say, for talent," said Alessio, a B.C. native who now make his home in Las Vegas.

"It's definitely a Who's Who of MMA," added Winnipeg's Krzysztof Soszynski, a member of the Los Angeles-based Anacondas of the IFL.

"You're only as good as your training partners. If you've got world-class champions as your training partners, you will be a world-class champion, right? If you're training with guys who you can beat up every day, you're not going to get any better. But if these guys are kicking your butt, then you know you're going to learn something from them."

Couture, 43, is an icon in the world of mixed martial arts, a multiple champion who upped his star status when he upset heavyweight title-holder Tim Sylvia in March at UFC 68.

He opened his Vegas gym on Feb. 4. There are also Xtreme Couture gyms in Vancouver, Wash., and Wellington, Fla., plus he has a share of a Los Angeles gym. Couture also has his own line of supplements, has a signature shirt with the Affliction clothing line, works as a fight promoter himself, serves as a TV analyst for the Toronto-based Fight Network and recently had a cameo role on TV's The Unit (playing a soldier).

He trains at his own gym, and will be spending more time there as an August title defence against Brazil' s Gabriel Gonzaga looms closer.

There are Vegas regulars like Alessio who train and socialize together, but fighters from across North America drop in on a regular basis. Two guys who are set to face off June 16 both turned up on this day, training at a discreet distance.

There's plenty of room with two floors and more than 11,000 square feet of space.

Canadians are well represented on the day since Tompkins, from London, Ont., has Soszynski, London's Chris Horodecki and the other Anacondas in town in advance of their June 1 bout against the Tiger Sharks in Everett, Wash.

Two other Tompkins-trained fighters are also in the house.

London's Sam Stout is getting ready for a June 12 UFC fight while Hominick, from Thamesford, Ont., makes his WEC debut June 3. Alessio faces off against Alex Serdyukov on the same card.

The Xtreme Couture Wrestling Club is their gym of choice in Sin City.

"It's probably the best camp I've ever been to," said Soszynski. "We have up to 25 professional fighters training at one time together. And they're all A-level class fighters."

They work out twice a day, with mornings usually given over to cardio and afternoons more contact-oriented.

The fighters share a camaraderie, sharing tips. They also share barbs.

"How are the nuts?" a smiling coach asks a fighter who is sitting the session out.

The fighter opted not to wear a cup the day before and took a Griffin kick to the groin. A trip to the emergency ward quickly followed, although today he has recovered sufficiently to describe the considerable swelling in his left testicle to anyone who asks. He still moves gingerly, however.

The gym is discreetly located on a busy thoroughfare about 10 minutes from the Strip. The cramped foyer is decorated with signed fight posters and memorabilia while a small room offers T-shirts and other fight gear.

The sound of rock music pumping through the gym is shared with the thwack of fighters punching and kicking pads.

The bulk of the space is given over to the gym, a warehouse-like area decorated on one wall by the blood-spattered mat from the Octagon from one of Jay Hieron's fights.

Workout machines and weights occupy one side. At the back, shelving units store the gear of regulars, with names and nicknames on pieces of tape marking what belongs to who.

Military netting and flags adorn the roof. Couture served six years in the army and the ties still run deep. He has founded the Xtreme Couture GI Foundation, a non-profit charity to raise funds and awareness for wounded troops and their families. His gym offers police, fire or military personnel a 20 per cent discount.

You don't have to be a pro fighter to work out at Couture's gym, although many do and the door closes on the main floor gym when the pros are in session.

For US$25, you can buy a one-day pass. A monthly membership costs $150.

A session with a certified trainer goes for $150 an hour although Couture charges $500.

The only food on display is bananas and a variety of energy drinks (including the colourfully named Who's Your Daddy) and Lean Body granola bars.

That's because fighters nearing a bout are almost always starving themselves.

Alessio weighs himself after the workout, returning happy after cracking 184 pounds for the first time in this training camp. He started at 197 and needs to get down to 170 for the weigh-in.

He drinks a minimum of two gallons of water a day but food is closely rationed.

Tonight dinner will be a piece of chicken and rice. "Brown rice too," Alessio adds. "It's a good thing I'm a huge rice fan."

Next week it will be lettuce and chicken. "That gets a little tiring."

Over the last month, he's had one glass of wine. A big post-fight beer beckons.

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/capress/070523/sports/misc_mma_chez_couture_1

Tenebrous
5/24/2007 12:26pm,
And here I thought this was about something completely different. Catchy title.

Neildo
5/24/2007 12:29pm,
Damn, I'm in the wrong Vancouver.

Kintanon
5/24/2007 12:29pm,
Reading about guys trying to ditch down 25+ lbs before a fight makes me CRINGE. I've been trying to get UP to 155 forever and it's like climbing a damn mountain. I keep wishing I could find fights at 135....
Ugh... 14 more lbs to go on that guys cut, I hope he has a week or two left before his fight....

Goju - Joe
5/24/2007 12:38pm,
Reading about guys trying to ditch down 25+ lbs before a fight makes me CRINGE. I've been trying to get UP to 155 forever and it's like climbing a damn mountain. I keep wishing I could find fights at 135....
Ugh... 14 more lbs to go on that guys cut, I hope he has a week or two left before his fight....

I recommend beer

Neildo
5/24/2007 12:49pm,
Wash it down with a cheeseburger.

Kintanon
5/24/2007 12:52pm,
Yeah, trying to save t3h money for buying t3h house. So right now I can't splurge on food stuffs. So I'm eatting "healthy" which means I lost 7 lbs in 2 weeks. I start losing weight when my calorie intake drops below 3500/day. It is the suckage. But seriously, it must be 10 times the suckage to be stuck eatting tiny helpings of brown rice and chicken because you MUST lose 14 more lbs in 14 days or whatever.

PizDoff
5/24/2007 3:29pm,
And here I thought this was about something completely different. Catchy title.

:spanky:
Would my internet coolness slip further into the negatives if I admitted I just 'got' the thread title now? :confused:

meggaman7
5/24/2007 3:40pm,
$500 for an hour session with Couture? I might seriously consider that in a year or two.

Roidie McDouchebag
5/24/2007 9:18pm,
Would my internet coolness slip further into the negatives

Impossible. Universe would implode.