(Shawn Tompkins after running practice and sparring several rounds)
Shawn Tompkins and his impressive stable of fighters now officially call Xtreme Couture MMA in Las Vegas home. We had the chance to sit down and ask Mr. Tompkins some questions. Here’s our interview with one of the sports’ top trainers.
What made you come to Xtreme Couture?
The biggest thing for me was the fact that I’ve been involved in the sport for so many years. I wanted to work with the Elite Athletes of MMA. This is where it is. I’m not concentrating on just one guy. Out here I’m working with 4 or 5 different guys at one time. World-class guys, with big fights coming up. That’s where I want to be right now in my career. I’ve trained beginner and intermediate fighters, that’s not what I want to do right now.
What’s your role on the team?
I’m in control of all the pro fighters, as well as managing the gym floor and coordinating team practices. I’m making sure that the quality of all different aspects of what we do here at Team Couture is kept at the top level. We’re making sure everyone is good at everything.
Are you brining the Anacondas here?
Yes. This will be the home of the LA Anacondas. It’s also the U.S. Headquarters for Team Tompkins fighters.
Team Tompkins will now be working hand in hand and side by side with Team Couture. I think it’s a perfect marriage. Our guys have always been training partners. We’ve had that brotherhood relationship going anyways so I think that’s only going to get stronger. It benefits everyone to have top notch training partners.
Are you looking forward to next year in the IFL?
Yeah. I’m looking forward to coming back. I have a brand new plan as to how we’re going to do things. According to who is going to be on the team and how we’re going to train. We’re going in there with key players. We have redemption on our mind. I’m going to pay more attention to the secondary roster. We were so concentrated on our main guys this year, that when we had 2 injuries in the Semi-Finals we didn’t have anyone else who was prepared.
How’d you get into coaching?
I opened up my first gym when I was 18-yrs-old. I started doing MA when I was 6 and teaching when I was 16. I was in London, Ontario just outside of Toronto. I met Bas at a seminar in Quebec. It was 9 years ago when he first moved over from Holland. He was doing English and Acting classes because he wanted to be a movie star. He asked me to come out to teach at the Beverly Hills Jiu Jitsu club so he could get to his acting classes. He’s a great trainer. People don’t give him the credit he deserves as a great trainer. What people don’t see is that he trains people different ways. He trains a Lightweight to be a Lightweight and a Heavyweight to be a Heavyweight, he sees what a guy’s style is and enhances it. A lot of trainers try to stick all of their guys into the same mold. I learned a ton about training from Bas.
Freddie Roach also helped me a lot. I was doing a story for an internet site called MMA Today. They asked me if I wanted to interview Freddie Roach. It ended up being a 4 hour interview. We talked and talked and realized we had a lot of similarities in our training styles. I studied under him. Studying under a boxing coach is a lot different from Martial Arts. In MMA you’re hands on. Boxing coaches stand back and watch the fighters style and see what he’s doing right and wrong. I learned how to stop cuts, wrap hands, tape hands. It gave me a jump start on what I do now.
Who have you trained in the past?
I trained Carlos Newton, Forrest Griffin, Gray Maynard before he joined XC. Dan Henderson, Sokoudjou, Phil Baroni, Kevin Randelman among others.
You joined forces with Dan during a bit of a slump for him, and then he got on a hot streak. What did you guys work on?
Dan was well known for his right hand and single leg takedown. I started workikng with him in his rematch with Misaki, then we trained for the Vitor fight, and it all clicked in the Wanderlei fight. A lot of people say it takes three fights for a trainer and fighter to click. I’d say that was accurate with Dan and I. In the Wanderlei fight, he was putting his punches in combinations. He was more interested in being on his feet than on the ground, and was transitioning from the ground to his feet. He was event throwing kicks. That was the first fight where he showed a complete game. He was easy for me to mesh in with. He’s a worker.
He came to me after he lost the first Misaki fight. I was training Bas for his fight with Kimo at that point (Warpath eventually filled in for Kimo). Bas and I took a trip to Dan’s for a week to get a different aspect for Bas. When I was there Dan saw what I was doing with Bas. About a month later Dan called me out of the blue and asked me to come down. He asked me to run his whole training camp.
After Dan would finish a fight I’d go back to Canada. Before the Wanderlei fight Dan moved me into his house to make sure he got up on time, ate right, got to training, etc. That’s how completely I ran his camp. He made me a great offer and I took it.
What are you working on with Randy for the Gonzaga fight?
Randy’s already got a complete game. Now I’m trying to make it precision accurate. We’re working on maintaining consistent control of Gonzaga for 5-rounds. He already understands every aspect of the game. Now we’re making him fluid.
Anything else you want to add?
In my career in Martial Arts this is the best move I’ve ever made. I’m thrilled to be in this environment.
(Shawn Tompkins spars with the champ)
(Shawn and Kimbo trade shots)
(Coach Tompkins leads Jay White through drills)