There's an old saying in mixed martial arts -- you're only as good as the people you train with.
A prime example of this adage in action is Ultimate Fighting Championship light-heavyweight champion Quentin (Rampage) Jackson. Before fighting with the UFC, he had a series of lackluster performances in other promotions. Soon after he left his camp and began training with Juanito Ibarra. Three bouts in the UFC later, including a devastating knockout win over Chuck (The Iceman) Liddell, and he's now regarded as the best 205-lbs. fighter in the world.
It was this philosophy that brought about Randy Couture's Xtreme Couture training camp in Las Vegas -- get all the best guys working together in one gym and everyone benefits.
Some of the top stars in the UFC are currently training with the camp -- Forrest Griffin, Karo Parisyan, Stephan Bonnar, Tyson Griffin and Kendall Grove, to name a few.
Now, come spring of this year, Xtreme Couture will open its first Canadian chapter in the Greater Toronto Area and will have some of Canada's top fighters on staff.
"It's great to see all the top guys in one gym," World Extreme Cagefighting competitor and Xtreme Couture Canada trainer Mark (The Machine) Hominick said. "For the longest time everyone just trained on their own and there was maybe one or two good guys at each club. Now, everyone's coming to work together, where as before they were all rivals."
Hominick, who spends part of his training schedule at the Las Vegas chapter, said he's seen significant improvements in his game since joining the camp.
"I've been with Randy's gym for the last six or seven months and I've seen a lot of good results," he said. "No question, my wrestling has improved a lot. I've seen a lot of improvement since I've been training with NCAA champions and Olympians."
Shawn Geris, head of fighter and instructor relations for the Canadian chapter, said his goal is to have a team that's on par or better than Couture's Las Vegas camp.
"I'm looking to put together a team of fighters that rivals Randy's down in Las Vegas," he said.
"I saw there was a need for a gym that would unify the talent around here. There are lots of gyms in Toronto and you'll have maybe one outstanding instructor, but there isn't anything like Xtreme Couture where you have nothing but top names -- Brent Beauparlant, Jeff Joslin, Mark Hominick, Chris Horodecki; these are all professional fighters."
Adrianne Fekete, president and CEO of Xtreme Couture Canada, said the gym will also feature guest seminars by some of the top fighters in the world.
"Frank Trigg and David Loiseau will for sure be doing some sessions and at the moment we'll be looking at monthly seminars where we bring in fighters like Randy Couture, Bas Rutten, B.J. Penn or Georges St. Pierre," she said. "They'll put on a four hour session with training, a Q&A and autograph signing. So we'll definitely be doing some seminars with top fighters throughout the year."
The 33,000-foot training facility will offer classes in a wide variety of martial arts including Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Judo, Muay Thai, boxing, wrestling, as well as a variety of fitness programs, such as yoga. For those looking to learn the ropes of mixed martial arts, the facility will also boast a 24 foot octagon cage and full-size boxing ring.
According to Fekete, there is nothing like Xtreme Couture available in Canada at the moment.
"There's really nothing like it in Canada at the moment and especially not with a name like Randy Couture behind it," she said. "(And) as soon as MMA becomes legal (in Ontario), we'll look at doing live events from our facility."
At the moment, the Ontario Athletic Commission doesn't sanction MMA events. Other provinces, such as Alberta, New Brunswick and Quebec, have been promoting the sport for years.
Fekete said part of bringing about change is creating awareness and showing that there is a demand for the sport in Ontario.
"It's just a matter of bringing awareness to the commission about MMA," she said. "You look back at when Dana White saved the sport and everyone thought it was human cockfighting. So they added rules, regulations and put in place certain safety procedures.
"In short, it's about bringing knowledge and figures like Randy Couture coming out and speaking about it. People who don't know MMA think it's just a violent, brutal sports and it really isn't."