Posts Tagged ‘UFC 129’

Lorenzo J. Fertitta Saturday, April 30, 2011

The term “legend” is thrown around generously in professional sports.

However, if you step back and think about the magnitude of the word “legend,” you can’t help but to wonder if it’s a bit abused.

Legendary status to me means excelling at a level that is not only above your peers, but also higher than anyone has achieved. To me, it means winning multiple world titles, defeating the best competition of your time, all while blazing a trail and inspiring a nation of fans.

Lorenzo J. Fertitta is Chairman and CEO of the Ultimate Fighting Championship

To me, the term “legend” applies to a good friend, mixed martial arts pioneer Randy Couture.

Randy has competed for the UFC since 1997 and has had one of the most storied careers in history. One of only two men to ever win UFC titles in two weight classes, Randy has earned victories over the likes of Chuck Liddell, Tito Ortiz, Mark Coleman, Vitor Belfort, Maurice Smith, Kevin Randleman and Tim Sylvia.

What’s more, he has become a cornerstone in helping make UFC the fastest-growing sports organization in the world. If we needed someone to do a media tour at 5 a.m., Randy was up and ready with his trademark grin on his face. If there was an opportunity to lend our support to the military, Randy, himself a veteran, was always first in line.

Few people represent this sport better than Randy Couture. In his illustrious career, he has touched the lives of many fans with his dedication, humility and ability to defy the odds. From the success of his gym here in Las Vegas to his newfound stardom as an actor in Hollywood movies, Randy is a shining example that hard work truly pays off.

Tonight, Randy will enter the octagon for the final time as a UFC competitor. In front of a record 55,000 fans at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Randy plans on making his bout with Lyoto Machida the final contest of his career. At 47 years old, an age when most people hit the golf course not the heavy bag, Randy will strap on the UFC gloves and give fans the opportunity to watch a living legend compete one last time.

It’s truly amazing to see what Randy has accomplished over the past few years of his career. From winning the heavyweight title at age 43 to stringing together three consecutive wins heading into tonight’s battle, Randy is in better shape than athletes half his age. Furthermore, he joins an elite class of athletes who have actually gotten better against Father Time’s wishes.

Thanks to his intelligence, precision and unmatched cerebral approach to our sport, Randy has excelled in the UFC even into his late 40s. Like George Foreman winning a heavyweight boxing title at age 45, Brett Favre outperforming quarterbacks nearly half his age in the NFL and Nolan Ryan throwing fastballs at 100 mph late in his career, Randy has competed at the highest levels in one of the world’s most demanding sports.

It’s part of the reason Randy feels it’s time to retire from active competition. He’s won the titles, he’s defeated the top fighters of his era and he’s leaving with his mind, body and spirit intact. Few athletes get to retire on their own terms, and I’m happy to see Randy get the rare chance.

When the final horn sounds on Randy’s career tonight at UFC 129, I look forward to hearing the crowd erupt and show its appreciation for a man who helped make the growth of this sport possible. I’m sure through many endeavors, Randy will remain connected to the UFC and the sport for many years to come.

It’s just something that a legend does. His impact stretches far beyond the octagon, and tonight, win, lose or draw, Randy Couture will come home to Las Vegas a true legend.

Lorenzo J. Fertitta is chairman and CEO of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

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By John Silver – The Chicago Sun – Times


Six-time champion Randy Couture celebrates a
UFC heavyweight victory over James Toney
last August in Boston. | Gregory Payan~AP

In many ways, UFC 129 will be about firsts.

The first UFC event held at a stadium. The first time the Octagon visits Ontario. The first $10 million-plus gate and an expected record 55,000 in attendance.

But for one fighter, it will be about lasts. UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture will enter the ­Octagon as a fighter one final time.

“I realize I’ve pushed it a lot further than anybody is going to push it,” said Couture, 47. “I want to go out on my terms and not after one or two or three losses and have everybody else telling you that you should be retiring. I kind of want to do it when I want to do it. I think now is the time.”

The April 30 fight couldn’t present a more different atmosphere from what he experienced during his first fight at UFC 13. On May 30, 1997, before an estimated crowd of 5,100 at the Augusta (Ga.) Civic Center, Couture defeated two men who outweighed him by 100 pounds to win the night’s four-man heavyweight tournament.

This was during a dark period in the sport’s history — before it was sanctioned by any state and when Sen. John McCain took on MMA in an attempt to ban it.

Fast-forward 14 years: Couture is a legend in a swiftly growing, widely accepted sport that’s sanctioned in 45 of 48 states that have athletic commissions.

Great ambassador for MMA

Rare is the athlete who knows when it’s time to quit — or at least to permanently quit. Couture has done the Brett Favre-like dance with retirement before. He retired the first time after UFC 57 in February 2006 but was back a year later. He also quit fighting in October 2007 — “resigned,” not retired — in a dispute with the UFC.

This time he’s done. No, really, he’s retiring.

His remarkable longevity, coupled with starting later in MMA at 34, meant fighting well into his late 40s. He said he doesn’t have that much wear and tear on his body, he feels great and he’s as healthy as ever.

“I absolutely have the ability to continue to compete and compete at this level,” he said. “I don’t want to ­— I feel like I’ve stretched it and pushed it and don’t want to wait until I have those issues to think about.”

He’s arguably MMA’s greatest ambassador. His engaging personality works well in front of the media and during public appearances as he articulately and intelligently answers questions.

He helped move the sport’s image from barroom brawling and ­human cockfighting to a competition ­between skilled athletes. As one of the coaches on the first season of “The Ultimate Fighter,” he helped nurture the sport into a multimillion-­dollar global juggernaut.

Couture’s six championship reigns (three-time heavyweight champion, two-time light-heavyweight champion, one interim light-heavyweight champion) are a UFC record. His battles with Chuck Liddell and Vitor Belfort will long be remembered for their ­excitement and pay-per-view appeal for the growing sport.

After returning from his contract dispute with the UFC in November 2008, Couture lost his heavyweight title to Brock Lesnar. It seemed the writing was on the wall. He’s 3-2 since returning (19-10 overall), but he hasn’t defeated a top-level contender in that time. He beat an inconsistent Brandon Vera, over-the-hill Mark Coleman and freak-show boxer-turned-MMA fighter James Toney.

Machida a real challenge

At UFC 129, his final test will be against an elite contender, former light-heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida. The Brazilian karate master has an elusive, unusual style that has proved to be difficult for fighters. But it’s that challenge that attracted Couture to the matchup.

“I’ve watched Lyoto for a couple of years now and am very ­appreciative of the way he ­competes, and he just has such a unique style as an athlete, and I like that,” Couture said. “Those are the kinds of fights that are intriguing and interesting to me for me to try and figure out and protect myself.”

Regardless of the outcome, ­Couture said it’s over — unless. . . .

“I’m sure they’re probably going to have ideas for other fights, they’re going to try to entice me into ­coming back and fighting again,” he said. “I anticipate all those decisions and that, you know, those thoughts. But we’ll see how that goes.

“It’s about where I’m at in my life. I’ve been doing this for a long time. It’s about the journey; it’s about the performance. As long as I go in there and have a good performance, I will be satisfied.”

by  KJ Gould  in MMA Interview

Neil Melanson is the head submission grappling coach for Xtreme Couture, Las Vegas and was kind enough to take part in an interview I conducted ahead of Randy Couture‘s UFC 129 bout with Lyoto Machida. Much will be written about Randy Couture over the next couple of weeks as well as the main event of Georges St Pierre vs Jake Shields. Rather than talking about the specifics of Couture’s fight with Machida I decided to put the focus on Melanson as an opportunity to find out more about him and some of the other fighters he coaches, as well as address some of the controversy surrounding him among the online grappling community.

Gil Martinez, Randy Couture and Neil Melanson after beating James Toney at UFC 118. Photo by Tracy Lee for Yahoo Sports.

KJ Gould: Firstly Neil, thank you for agreeing to take part.

Neil Melanson: Thank you for having me KJ.

KJ: Some MMA fans, and UFC fans in particular are beginning to recognise you as Randy Couture’s grappling coach but are otherwise unfamiliar with you, your training in martial arts and your background in general. You notably trained at Gokor Chivichyan’s Hayastan Academy and spent a lot of your time learning under former UFC Welterweight Karo Parisyan. How many years were you there for and how much of your training was done with Karo and Gokor?

NM: I was at Hayastan for 3 years or so and I was training with Karo for the majority of the time if not all of the time.  I continued to train with Karo for the next few years after that.

KJ: Was your training in the no-gi style of Hayastan Fighting Systems only or did you learn Judo in a Gi as well?

NM: I never learned Gi, but Karo taught me his no Gi Judo style.  I never got good at Judo.

KJ: What rank did you achieve and what was it in?

NM: I got a black belt under Karo Parisyan in his version of the Hayastan Grappling System.

KJ: Gene LeBell, fondly known as the Godfather of Grappling and known for his Judo and work as a Hollywood stuntman, was instrumental in Gokor Chivicyan’s development at a martial artist and still teaches to this day. What are your thoughts on Gene and how much training did you do with him?

NM: I trained with Gene when he would teach classes at Hayastan.  I think that he is a legend and he is someone I’ve always idolized.

KJ: Gene LeBell was also a Professional Wrestler for a number of years and learned Catch Wrestling from legends such as Lou Thesz, Ed Lewis, Vic Christy and Karl Gotch. Is it this mixed in with Judo and Sambo that forms the basis of what Gokor Chivichyan teaches at Hayastan?

NM: Yes.  Yes it is the main influence and it had a massive influence on me as a grappler.

KJ: While working as an Air Marshall you contracted Behcet’a Disease. If you wouldn’t mind, tell us what it is, how it can be caught / how it develops, your personal symptoms with it and your current treatment for it.

NM: I didn’t contract it.  It was something that I was born with.  Behcet’s is a rare autoimmune disease that results from damage to the blood vessels throughout the body.  I currently get infusions of a medication called remicade every 6 weeks to keep myself from losing the vision in my left eye.

KJ: Due to the nature of Behcet’s Disease, and losing sight in the right eye you were unable to pursue a career as a professional MMA fighter. Before you were effected by Behcet’s did you manage to have any fights (amateur or pro)? Are you still able to compete in grappling only competition despite living with Behcet’s?

NM: No.  I would like to compete if my health would allow me to, but my doctors have put pressure on me to quit the sport completely.

KJ: With Behcet’s changing your circumstances you’ve focused on becoming a grappling coach. You’ve mentioned in other interviews you became Karo Parisyan’s coach after he had coached you. Was that on the technical side of coaching, the Strength & Conditioning side or Cornering?

NM: I helped Karo with strength and conditioning and I was his sparring partner.  As I developed, I started helping him with some ground work.

KJ: Tell us how you ended up becoming Randy Couture’s grappling coach, and the head grappling coach at Xtreme Couture?

NM: I was in Vegas doing a photo shoot at Xtreme Couture and the people who worked there let me know that there was a position becoming available.  I applied for it and got it.  I worked there for about 6 months before Randy started training with me.  Randy started training with me for the Nogueira fight and ever since then, I became his head training coach.

KJ: Some of the Xtreme Couture fighters also train at Cobra Kai Jiu Jitsu and continue to train with Robert Drysdale. Do all of the Xtreme Couture fighters train with you or only some? Which fighters train with you the most aside from Randy Couture?

NM: I teach pro class twice a week, so I do work with every fighter at the gym to a certain extent, but I do have a select group of fighters that I train consistently on a private basis.  The pros who train at the other gyms were doing so before I got here.  I have no problem with them being loyal to their other coaches.  My style of grappling and coaching is not for everyone.  I wouldn’t even have the time to train all of them due to health reasons.  I train Vitor Belfort, Ryan Couture, Gray Maynard, Michael Chandler, Dennis Davis, Jason Trevino, Nik Fekete, Jay Hieron, Frank Trigg, and Ray Sefo.  I have a lot of fighters who fly into Las Vegas to train with me.  Some of those fighters are Chael Sonnen, Mike Pierce, Jake Ellenberger, and Kamal Shalorus.

KJ: You say you consider yourself a Catch Wrestler and teach Catch Wrestling based grappling. What is Catch Wrestling to you? Is it a set of techniques, or is it more conceptual and strategy based? Can anyone claim no-gi submission wrestling as Catch, or is there more to it then that?

NM: It is more conceptual I would say.  The current grappling that we see today is not catch wrestling.  It is submission grappling.  True catch-as-catch-can is in many ways a lost art.  There aren’t too many catch coaches left.  I don’t consider myself a true “catch coach.”  I just favor it.

KJ: You’ve also said previously you’ve become adept at or mastered guard systems and specialise in triangle chokes, which are most often found in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. What guard systems in particular have you incorporated into your game?

NM: I’ve developed many guard systems to deal with the challenges that my opponent gives me based on his hand fighting and body position inside the guard.  When my book comes out, you will see exactly what I am talking about.

KJ: Who did you learn your guard games from and for how long?

NM: Nobody.  Karo told me that I needed to master the guard because of my body type and I did what he told me to do.

KJ: Do you have a ranking in BJJ or other arts?

NM: I have a black belt from Karo in his discipline.

KJ: I’ve also read you believe in working from the turtle position (click for video)

NM: I believe that the turtle is the future and I stress it very much to fighters.

KJ: What do you believe are the benefits and advantages to working this position?

NM: My ground fighting style is completely based on ground fighting in a mixed martial arts contest.  Working the turtle allows us to use the rules in our favor and protect our chin from getting hit.  The turtle to me is an offensive position.  When I am in turtle, my focus is sweeping and reversing my opponent.

KJ: Is your focus on attacking the turtle, or turtling yourself, or both?

NM: Both, but I spend more time fighting from the turtle.

KJ: One of the key topics of discussion recently, particularly among Brazilian Jiu Jitsu players, was your awarding of Randy Couture’s blackbelt after his victory against James Toney. Was that something you had planned on doing for a while, or was it an on-the-day, spur of the moment thing?

NM: I was going to give Randy his black belt two months prior to the event, but I wanted to do something nice for him and present it to him in front of the world.   He deserves it and needs to be recognized for his accomplishment.

KJ: You’ve recorded a video on Youtube explaining your own in-house ranking of your Catch Wrestling based grappling system that you teach. It’s a stripe system to go on shorts at Xtreme Couture using the same colours as BJJ belts. What made you decide to use BJJ colours?

NM: The reason why I used the colors was to keep grappling unified under the most common understanding, which is BJJ Ranking.  I did this ranking system to help the gym and it’s members.  I’ve gotten a lot of criticism for this, but I don’t care.  It’s all about my students and not about making everyone else happy.  I gave Randy a belt just so he would have something to hang up or put away.

KJ: Despite saying you like the BJJ colours as a method of ranking and you’re paying a compliment to BJJ, there are some who complain it’s an attempt to ‘cash in’ on the success of BJJ, and some have been pedantic enough to say you shouldn’t have given a blackbelt to Couture because he doesn’t train in a Gi. What would you say to people with these concerns?

NM: I’m not the only one giving belts for no Gi Grappling.  I’m not making any money off of this ranking system.  I am trying to give my students what they deserve for their hard work.  I’m a legitimate black belt with a legitimate background.  I train some of the best fighters walking around today.  If that doesn’t count for something, then I don’t know what else to say.

KJ: I’ve noticed a lot of the media covering MMA assume you’re a Jiu Jitsu coach and that you gave Randy Couture a blackbelt in BJJ. Are you finding yourself, or is Randy finding himself correcting the media at every turn? Is it a slow education process for them, or has it been easier to let them assume because BJJ is the norm?

NM: I try to correct them, but over time I’ve lost interest because it’s not worth explaining.

KJ: For the record, do you want to be known as a Catch Wrestling coach or a Grappling Coach or … ?

NM: I consider myself a ground fighting coach.  I teach a lot of striking on the ground and that is an art in itself.  I like catch wrestling. My coaches were catch guys, so I support catch wrestling, but I still study BJJ because it has a lot to offer.

KJ: A few months before the James Toney fight you hosted a seminar at Xtreme Couture through Scientific Wrestling with Billy Robinson, another legend of Catch Wrestling originally from Manchester and Wigan in the North of England who has trained the likes of Kazushi Sakuraba and Josh Barnett. Also in attendance were Chael Sonnen, Jake Ellenberger and Randy Couture. What was the seminar with Coach Robinson like?

NM: Billy Robinson is a walking legend.  I really enjoyed listening to him talk.  He showed me great techniques always focusing on using little energy and he had very interesting grips that he was using.  It was an honor for me to have him here.

KJ: I’ve just mentioned Chael Sonnen. You worked with him very briefly before his fight with Nate Marquardt as it was the same event Randy Couture was fighting Mark Coleman at. At the post fight press conference Sonnen complimented you as a coach and said he would bring you in for his training camp in the run up to the Anderson Silva fight. Did you get to work with Chael for that fight?

NM: Yes. I trained him for a few weeks.

KJ: What did you make of the fight when it happened, and what did you make of Chael’s performance?

NM: I thought that Chael did a great job and he annihilated him, but when he was fatigued … he made some mistakes and Anderson capitalized.  I was very sad.

KJ: Would you like to work with him for the rematch, or has he made any request for help training for a rematch or future fights?

NM: Any time he needs me.  I would love to train him again.

KJ: There’s a WWE wrestler called Daniel Bryan, or known in real life as Brian Danielson who has blogged about training with you at Xtreme Couture. How did that come about?

NM: I’ve been teaching him for a few years now.  He’s become a very good grappler and he is a very good friend.

KJ: He says you showed him something called the LeBell Lock which he now uses as a finisher in Professional Wrestling. What exactly is it, and does it work in real fights?

NM: It’s similar to an Omoplata Shoulder Lock, except it incorporates a cross face.  This keeps your opponent from rolling out and it can snap the neck and the shoulder.

KJ: Speaking of Pro Wrestling, Catch Wrestling is the forefather of both Professional Wrestling as well as American Folkstyle wrestling which is taught throughout the school systems and college. Do you think Catch Wrestling could ever make a resurgence as a legitimate competitive sport, with pins and submissions?

NM: Yes and I support it 100%.  I’m even hosting tournaments with catch rules.  Right now they are just for members, but once I iron out all of the kinks, we are going to do this for everybody.

KJ: Is that something yourself and Randy Couture are in favour of (seeing competitive catch wrestling make a come back)?

NM: Yes.

KJ: Are there any difficulties in re-establishing it as a sport and not having it confused with the worked, showcase style of Professional Wrestling?

NM: I don’t know.

KJ: Thank you very much for your time Neil. You have a book on triangles coming out this year through Victory Belt. Tell us a little about that and anything else you’d like people to know about for the near future.

NM: My book is called Mastering The Triangle.  It should be out in the next couple of months.  I plan on trying to do as many seminars as I can to promote my concepts in ground fighting and my Triangle Book.  Any gyms that are interested should contact me through facebook or www.neilmelanson.com.  I want to thank the support that I receive from my sponsors.  Those sponsors are XCAP Supplements and 5 Star Clothing.

Instructors from Xtreme Couture teamed up at the North American Grapplng Association (NAGA) in Las Vegas on March 4th to demonstrate grappling techniques to the crowd.  NAGA holds events all over the United States and is one of the largest grappling tournaments in the world.  Pictured below are (far left)-John Hahn, Jimmy Jones, Kui Gonsalves, Dennis Davis and students.  Pictured (far right)-Kui Gonsalves, Dennis Davis, John Hahn and Jimmy Jones with student participant.

   

We have in stock Randy Couture’s Official UFC 129 Walk-Out Fight shirt by Xtreme Couture and Affliction.

Supplies are limited so order today for just $29

With only 3 weeks away the Xtreme Couture 3 Day training camp run by MMA Legend Randy “the Natural” Couture is down to just 12 spots left.

As Randy prepares for his fight against Lyoto Machida at UFC 129 you get a chance to train with Randy while he is in his training camp!

Randy will explain to you his conditioning routine with our Fitness Coach Jake Bonacci and how Randy developed his own supplement line called XCAP (www.xcap.tv)  which is used by top atheletes. 

As if the 3 days of training with Randy and Xtreme Couture trainers Neil Melanson and Gil Martinez wasn’t enough to keep you busy, we have added a 10 fight  kickboxing exhibition event at the gym Saturday night!

You’ll get to see in person some of the next great up and coming MMA fighters while sitting next to MMA greats like Randy Couture, Ryan Couture, Gray Maynard, Mike Pyle, Tyson Griffin, Forrest Griffin, Evan Dunham and MANY MORE!!

Click Here For Detailed Information on the Camp

Join MMA Legend and UFC Hall of Fame Fighter Randy Couture Saturday May 7th, 2011 for a two wheel event – Charity Poker Run.

Event Registration Starts at 9am – 10:30am – Randy’s group leaves at 10am sharp. 

O School Choppers
5725 South Valley View
Las Vegas, NV 89118 

If you ride, then come out to support the men and women who protect this country everyday.  Brave soldiers who get injured need additional help above what the government can provide and that’s where the Xtreme Couture G.I. Foundation comes into play.

Ride with:

Randy Couture – 6x UFC Champ
Cast of  “The Expendables”
Jay Glazer  – NFL (Fox)
Chris Angel – Illusionist
“BIG” John McCarthy  – MMA Referee
Tom Atencio – Affliction
David Zayas – Actor
Sean Flanery – Actor
Mike Austin – Musician
+Plus Many, Many More!

The Xtreme Couture G.I. Foundation, a 501 (c) 3 non-profit corporation, was founded by Randy Couture to honor the veterans of America’s Armed Forces. The foundation was especially formed to raise money and awareness for those wounded in action and their families. To date, more than 24,000 U.S. troops have been wounded in the war against terrorism, which doesn’t include the many more suffering the mental effects.

Many of the injuries are traumatic amputations, gunshot wounds, burns and blast injuries that will retire these brave men and woman from the armed forces. Even though some of these men and woman are severely injured, they have the courage, strength and determination to win this battle.

The Xtreme Couture G.I. Foundation’s goal is to help these brave men and women fulfill any of their unmet needs as they return back to civilian life.

Photos from our last event/