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In the toughest fight of his career to date, Xtreme Couture MMA fighter  Ryan Couture (3-1 MMA, 3-1 SF) got a visceral taste of Eddie Bravo’s grappling system three years ago as an amateur.

Couture’s next opponent, Conor Heun (9-4 MMA, 1-2 SF), is one of Bravo’s prized students and should be an even bigger threat on the mat.

But the Strikeforce welterweight is nothing like he was in his early days and looks forward to testing his skills against his more experienced opponent.

Couture and Heun meet on the preliminary card of “Strikeforce: Tate vs. Rousey,” which takes place Saturday at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. The fight airs live on Showtime Extreme while main-card bouts air on Showtime.

“He’s somebody I’ve had a lot of respect for for a long time,” Couture said of Heun. “He shows up to fight every time; he’s as tough as they come. It’s a good step for me and a good opportunity to prove that I belong in Strikeforce.'”

Couture did just that in his most recent performance, which came after the first professional loss of his career. Three months after Matt Ricehouse outpointed him at Strikeforce Challengers 16, he defeated Maka Watson at Strikeforce Challengers 19, which halted a further slide.

No stranger to the submission game, Couture has forced a tap from seven of his 11 amateur and professional opponents.

Heun, however, represents a steep upswing in competition for the 29-year-old son of UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture. Despite his championship pedigree, Ryan Couture has built up his resume against competitors with a comparable number of fights. Heun, who’s a black belt under Bravo, not only has more fights on his resume but more high-profile appearances and high-profile opponents.

Add to that a preternaturally tough disposition in the cage – in his most recent fight, Heun’s arm was gruesomely twisted by submission artist Mango Almeida, but he refused to tap – and you have a challenge that many might say is premature.

Heun also hasn’t been shy about his desire to “destroy” Couture in competition. The laid-back Couture hasn’t paid too much attention to his opponent’s public musings, though he did catch one interview.
“He was pretty much what I expected of him,” Couture said. “He’s real intense, and I know what his approach is to the game. So I’m looking forward to getting in the cage and seeing what it’s like face to face.”

Three years ago, Couture was choked out at the conclusion of a second round in a fight with Bravo student Sean Bollinger at a Tuff-N-Uff event in Las Vegas. He somehow rebounded and fought his way to a draw, but the experience taught him a valuable lesson in letting his guard down.

But it also may come in handy against Heun.

“I think that experience gave me some insight into their system and how they’re going to try and play me if I do end up in Connor’s guard,” Couture said. “I feel like I have a little better idea of what to expect.
“But you can’t take too much from that. Connor is a completely different fighter than Shawn is, and I’m a completely different fighter than I was three years ago.”

Thus far, Couture said he’s been winging it when it comes to his long-term career aspirations. A deep love for the sport has kept him in the game long enough to dispel notions that he’s piggybacking off his father’s success. Now it’s about how he continues to evolve and how far he can go.

After his radio appearance, Couture was off to practice to rehearse scenarios he might encounter in the fight. It’s a sure bet that training partners locked him up in Bravo’s rubber guard.
That may not be what he encounters, but it’s best to be prepared, anyway.

When he steps into Nationwide Arena, it will be almost three years to the day since his father Randy Couture beat Tim Sylvia to recapture the heavyweight title at UFC 68. Back then, the younger Couture was just having his first grappling match with the challenges inherent to the sport. On Saturday, he’ll enter the cage a far more seasoned competitor.

But make no mistake about it – this challenge may be his toughest.

Stay connected:


Dr. John Fitzgerald provides nutritional advice to our professional fighters that train at Xtreme Couture here in Las Vegas.  He is an expert in his field and teaches other doctors how to utilize nutritional supplements in their practices.  He answers questions and provides useful information whenever he is counseling our athletes.

We thought everyone would benefit from the information he provides, so we asked him to start making videos of some important topics he talks about.  Here is the first in a series of videos. The first video he taped is about how to test if your body is sensitive to foods you are eating.  If you are sensitive to the food, it can cause slow exercise recovery, and can slow the rate of fat loss if you are on a diet. Another common symptom is skin problems.

View the Detailed Video on the XCAP Facebook Page –

For more information about XCAP Supplements please visit the website


Congratulations to Ulysses Gomez – Bantamweight Champion!!

Gomez took home the Tachi Palace Fights Bantamweight Title on Friday, Dec. 2, in Lemoore, Calif.

Ulysses Gomez (with belt), with the help of his Xtreme Couture family, including striking coach Gil Martinez (center left).


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  I want to thank the support that I receive from my sponsors.  Those sponsors are XCAP Supplements and 5 Star Clothing.

Xtreme Couture’s Jay “The Thoroughbred” Hieron punched his ticket to the Bellator Welterweight Tournament finals with a tough-fought decision win over a game Brent Weedman.  Hieron is an extremely tough guy who doesn’t mind mixing it up with anyone.   With the win, Hieron now meets Olympian Rick Hawn in next month’s tourney finale.  Hieron (21-4 MMA, 2-0 BFC) now has won nine consecutive fights.

Xtreme Couture’s Mike Chandler dominated his way to victory on Saturday night.  The former University of Missouri wrestler’s takedown and ground skills have led him to another victory and a ticket to the lightweight tourney’s finale. Using his improved and fearless striking to set up at least four takedowns in each frame, Chandler dominated the first and third rounds to earn a unanimous-decision victory over fellow semifinalist Lloyd Woodard via scores of 29-28. With his victory, Chandler now meets KO artist Patricky “Pitbull” Freire in the tourney finale next month.

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.


For the third main event of the year , the UFC the judges have rendered yet another controversial outcome.  A “unanimous” decision win for Sanchez.

Martin Kampmann vs. Diego Sanchez last night was a war plan and simple.  Kampmann destroyed Diego’s face which closely resembled Dr. Hannibal Lecters left overs, but still did not impress the judges with his precision striking, takedown defense throughout the fight.

The fight did earn a $60,000 Fight of the Night bonuses for both fighters.

Kampmann who thought his hand was broke during the fight said this morning  on his twitter “Good news, so my hand is still pretty swollen but doc says it wasn’t broken.”

Below are comments pulled from twitter from our Pro Team here at Xtreme Couture MMA on how they saw the fight.

“Judges scored activity over accomplishment in the kampman fight ! 1st and 3rd to kampman ! Classy performance win or loose . Nice work MK !”
– Randy Couture

 “Brother u me n the whole world had u winning that fight!!”
– Ray Sefo

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/

UFC 127 Viewing Party

When: Saturday, Feb 26th

Time: 6pm – PPV @ 7PM

Join us to watch UFC 127 on our huge 20ft. screen!
Watch from inside our cage or kick back on our mat area.

Ya we are not a bar and that’s how we like it!

Members Free – Guests $10.

In the latest MMA:30 2 minute update we talk to Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker about moving to PPV, Mike Pyle about his fight at UFC 115, Chandella Powell about being the newest UFC Octagon girl, and Randy Couture about fighting James Toney at UFC 118