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Will Xtreme Couture as a gym survive after losing Shawn Tompkins?

By Zach Arnold | October 19, 2009

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One of the things I did over the weekend was spend some time transcribing various media interviews done by people in MMA (Shane Carwin, Shawn Tompkins), and the two interviews Shawn did with Fox News Fight Game and Raw were by far the most intriguing ones to listen to. If you compared what Shawn said on FNFG and what he said with Dave Farra, it made for some interesting ‘reading between the lines’ material.

As everyone knows, Tompkins was the top trainer at Randy Couture’s gym and is now heading to Tapout, a gym with strong ties to Zuffa (UFC). Without Tompkins and without a bunch of Tompkin’s top fighters, what does it mean for the future of not only Xtreme Couture but Randy Couture himself? He seems to going through various ‘divorces’ lately.

Tompkins, as he always does, plays things safe but said some curious remarks:

“I resigned from Xtreme Couture yesterday,” Tompkins said to Farra. “Unfortunately to most people, it was on good terms. You know, Randy and I just are going in different directions and you know I have some goals set out for myself and it was just time for me to move on.”

“Real excited, I mean this week has been a huge week of transformation for me, I’m going to back to my old style and really like you said rebranding myself, Team Tompkins, starting my own team at the Tapout facility in Las Vegas and you know leaving some great experiences behind me but I’m excited about having a lot better ones.”

“Um, I think just more the fact that you know working for Randy like I said is a great thing but I’ll always be under Randy Couture, you know, I could train some fighters for 3 or 4 years and the fact that they train at Xtreme Couture, it’s always that kind of looked that they’re trained by Randy or whoever else might be there, so I want I really want to be able to respect the work that I put in to these fighters and going to Tapout is going to give me that opportunity, to become myself and you know build my own brand, and really focus on really my fighting style, my fighting system you know and being at Xtreme Couture you know they have their set and their ways and we tried to blend but it’s time for me to go out and do my own thing again.”

“I feel myself as a coach if I really want to get to those goals that I set for myself, I need to do something on my own.”

With Couture running out of time in his fighting career, along with the various divorces he’s had in his life, money is going to be a big issue for him down the road. Sure, he has his movie deals, but do they pay him a lot of money? His public feud with UFC cost him a lot and now that he’s lost Tompkins, will the Xtreme Couture brand survive and thrive?

Topics: Media, MMA, UFC, Zach Arnold | 19 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

19 Responses to “Will Xtreme Couture as a gym survive after losing Shawn Tompkins?”

  1. Brad Wharton says:

    I guess a lot of it depends on who follows Tompkins to TapouT.

    That said, brand awareness is a big deal…I think in the past few years Randy has done enough to establish the name ‘Xtreme Couture’ as a trusted one. Like Tompkins said, he’s done a lot of hard work, but people see an ‘XC’ fighter and they think of the guy with his name on the sign.

    To use an awful analogy that just popped into my head because ‘Face-Off’ just started on TV…Nic Cage hasn’t done a good movie in years, but if he started teaching “Acting for Action Movies” at the local nightschool, you can bet he’d have a full class.

  2. Fluyid says:

    I think that Couture will be able to replace Tompkins with someone as good or better. I also believe that Tompkins overrates his own importance.

    “…being at Xtreme Couture you know they have their set and their ways and we tried to blend…”

    Couture needs a stable of wrestling-based fighters in order to best fit “his ways.”

  3. jr says:

    There will always be a market for MMA schools like the hundreds of pro wrestling schools.

  4. Alan Conceicao says:

    Tompkins is the head trainer and is considered one of the best in the sport today. Its difficult to understate his importance when it came to Xtreme Couture’s level of success up until recently.

    MMA’s history is littered with god knows how many super gyms. Beverly Hills Jiu-Jitsu, Militech Fighting Systems, The Alliance, Chute Boxe, Lions Den, Brazilian Top Team, Takada Dojo; All were elite teams at one point. They are either nonexistent or not relevant today.

    As for Couture needing wrestlers, well, good luck with that. Without Tompkins around, he can expect more prospects with those skills to mosey on over to places like Arizona Combat Sports while old K-1 kickboxers end up coming to him instead.

  5. cacti says:

    There are a ton of trainers better then Thompson.

  6. Jeremy (not that Jeremy) says:

    Hm, a stable of wrestling-based fighters…

    …you mean like Team Quest?


  7. Double J. says:

    A good move by Tompkins. Like every other professional sport, you can only remain in the spotlight for so long, until the next big athlete or coach comes in to replace you (ie. NFL).

    Since Tompkins reputation is still prominent in the MMA world, it’s better to leverage his opportunities to greener or better pastures; rather than become a has-been who’s looking for gainful employment. Like the old saying goes, “You strike while the iron is still hot”.

  8. JasonRKline says:

    who will he take with him?

  9. PizzaChef says:

    Takada dojo was never an elite gym. All it had was Sakuraba who thrived under not so optimum conditions.

  10. Alan Conceicao says:

    Lots of guys went over to train there too that were considered top flight (Ricco Rodriguez comes to mind). And really, the list without it stands as testament to the “here today, gone tomorrow” aspect of MMA training.

  11. Mark says:

    I think MFS sums up here today gone tomorrow better. It seemed like one moment they practically owned the UFC with Sylvia dominating the crappy HW division, Matt Hughes legitimately being the best WW in MMA and even Rich Franklin as MW champ was a part-time MFC member. Then boom, in 2007 they’re done, everybody leaves and Pat is commentating.

    I agree with Alan that this is huge. Couture has the name but Tompkins made the difference. And history has shown when a MMA team declines they never come back. Forrest is probably leaving and who knows what Gina’s future is so I say as soon as Forrest makes it official he’s following Tompkins, stick a fork in ’em.

    But Randy’s name will earn him a living, even after he continues to stay in fighting way too long and is the Brett Favre without the impressive Vikings performances of the sport, he’ll be an in demand trainer for as long as he wants, even if it isn’t his own team. After he finally retires from active fighting at 60 with an epic war against Dan Severn at the Las Vegas Senior’s Center, he’ll be training until his pugilist dementia sets in. He has no choice with the 8 alimony payments he has to make.

  12. Fraser says:

    Hate to disagree with you Alan, but I think Tompkins is highly overrated as a coach, as he is woefully behind the ball on coaching the complete MMA fighter. What Tompkins does is coach stand up fighting. Is he good at this? Undeniably. But if you look at the guys who he has really brought up – Horodecki, Stout, Hominick – you see a pattern of guys with excellent stand up games, but lacking in the overall game needed to reach that highest level. He’s a one-discipline trainer, and that just doesn’t fly anymore. Working with Couture was a perfect fit because it allowed him to focus on the stand-up while other, more experienced trainers helped with the ground game.

    I guess if you are someone who is already well versed in wrestling and submissions but needs stand up work, Tompkins can be a big help. But if you are looking to develop your complete game, training with Tompkins is going to leave some holes.

  13. Manapua says:

    Thompkins is one of those guys who wants the spotlight for himself and always has. That sums up this move and nothing else.

  14. Alan Conceicao says:

    What Tompkins does is coach stand up fighting. Is he good at this? Undeniably. But if you look at the guys who he has really brought up – Horodecki, Stout, Hominick – you see a pattern of guys with excellent stand up games, but lacking in the overall game needed to reach that highest level.

    “Who he has really brought up”…so training Forrest Griffin, Tyson Griffin, and Gray Maynard doesn’t count? Why? Because he hasn’t trained them their whole careers? Because Randy should take credit for them on account that Joe Rogan calls him his hero?

    Seriously, Chris Horodecki has been matched very tough up to this point in his career (22 years old!) and has a 13-1 record to show for it. How is he proof of Tompkins failure? The kid hasn’t even reached his physical prime yet.

  15. Fraser says:

    Straw man away if you will, but I never gave credit to Randy for any of those guys. Forrest clearly was already far along in his MMA career and training by the time he went to XC, and I honestly don’t know enough about Tyson and Maynard’s training experiences to say.

    Again, I think Tompkins AND Randy together do a great training job. I think Tompkins by himself as a coach does a great job in striking, but has elements of the game that he is missing. Watching guys that Tompkins has trained without Randy, I really don’t see how you could argue differently. Who would you say is an example of a Tompkins guy that has a decent ground game?

  16. Alan Conceicao says:

    Whether or not they were “far along” is irrelevant, Fraser. C’mon man, you know better than that. Forrest went from being KOed by Jardine and potentially also-ran status to light heavyweight champion at Xtreme Couture.

    Now, maybe Randy survives and thrives without Tompkins. Fully possible. However, historically, when you have a defection of that sort, you’re typically going to see a team begin creeping in the wrong direction.

  17. Fraser says:

    “Now, maybe Randy survives and thrives without Tompkins. Fully possible. However, historically, when you have a defection of that sort, you’re typically going to see a team begin creeping in the wrong direction.”

    I think you are misunderstanding my argument. I’m not saying Randy will thrive without Tompkins. I’m not saying his loss won’t hurt XC. I’m not saying anything about how Randy will do, and I never have been. ALL I am saying is that, on his own, Tompkins will falter. Which, is basically the same thing you are saying. With a split like this a team gets weaker on both ends, right? So without Randy, Tompkins is not as strong? Which is exactly my point this whole time.

  18. Razorstorm says:

    I might be abit of blow to the gym, but Randy has his head screwed on and knows what action to take.

    His brand is well established and has a good rep I dont think something like this will stop him

  19. rene levesque-caline says:

    Its funny that Tiki gets blasted for being a mediocre fighter but Shawn doesnt for being a winless one.

    0-4 in the minor, minor leagues and all by 1st round KO’s.

    Im sure he can teach them how to fall without hurting themselves.

    I hear Tom Atencio is looking for a fight.


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