In the vein of last week’s “Black House vs. Blackzilians” article we are going to continue to examine another pair of MMAs top tier fight squads. The eventual goal being to decide once and for all who can claim the title of best Pro MMA training team.
So without further ado, let’s get right into it.
As you might have guessed from the title we’ll be examining the house that “The Natural” built; Xtreme Couture and seeing how they stack up against formidable opponent; American Kickboxing Academy.
You may recall from last week, we examined three categories to weigh our eventual winner: Team Atmosphere, Management and Quality of Training. So let’s see how A.K.A. and Couture did in those categories.
The argument on nature vs. nurture has existed for ages. From an MMA perspective we see this play out when a MMA practitioner has a great deal of raw talent but just can’t get the mental aspect of his or her game together. The difference maker seems to be the support system the athlete has when not in the ring or the Octagon. How much easier is it to take a loss when you can return to your home gym and not be ‘forgiven’ for said loss, but help to overcome it? How much more valuable is it to have a strong bond with your teammates and training partners than to just show up and ‘punch the clock? I am not saying that either team does these things, but you’ve got to think about the fact that some of A.K.A.s biggest stars have simply refused to fight each other out of respect for their training time together,
Category: Team Atmosphere
Why: The fact that this team’s members are seemingly so cemented gives them the advantage in this category by a long shot. For several years the trio of Mike Swick, Jon Fitch and Josh Koscheck (who we will discuss in greater detail shortly) refused to step into UFC’s Octagon against one another, even when title contention had been mentioned. In a world, where MMA athletes compete for their careers, forcing some to vacate or transfer to new schools do avoid facing a training partner, A.K.A. demonstrates a strong bond is hard to compete with, and that clearly gives them the edge here.
While an MMA star rises, someone has to look out for their best interests on the business front. Josh Koscheck’s very public bashing of AKA founder/trainer Javier Mendez was highlighted in the news a few months back. Koscheck’s beef seemed to center around his perception that Mendez had changed in the course of Kos’s 8 year stint at A.K.A. The outspoken Koscheck is quoted as saying, “He [Mendez] never truly cared about coming to my fights, until I was fighting the big fights because he wanted to build his own name off of us.” Of course Koscheck’s opinion alone doesn’t make a convincing case against A.K.A having a poor atmosphere in comparison to Xtreme Couture. Although, when one looks for evidence of Randy Couture and staff having squabbles with their athletes it is hard to come by. In fact, history shows only examples Couture’s private affairs and individualized contractual disputes, not those internal to his gym.
Advantage: Extreme Couture.
Why: This one falls under the category of corpus delicti. Meaning, if no evidence exists that Xtreme Couture’s talent is unhappy with the firm’s management, than it simply isn’t the case. While Koscheck’s beef at A.K.A isn’t sufficient enough to say the management is bad, a good manager should not only also be able to calm a fighter before a disagreement publicly escalates, but also identify when that fighter has something on their mind that needs addressed.
An athlete’s body can be a vessel of pure potential. That being said, if that vessel has no form, no shape to propel direct it, than that potential ends up being about as much use as water without a jug. Xtreme Couture has a talented Pro staff full of 5 star wrestlers and legitimate world champion level submission artists. How does this fare against A.K.A? As it turns out, not too well. When one removes Randy Couture’s accolades from Xtreme’s picture A.K.A.’s level of sparring competition alone dwarfs that of Xtreme Couture’s.
Category: Quality of Training
Why: Even if coaches and trainers Bob Cook, Leandro Vieir, and the aforementioned; Javier Mendez are somehow removed from this equation, A.K.A.s level of sparring talent alone is humbling when face-to-face with Xtreme Couture’s. Scarier still, the guys at A.K.A do have the trainers to back up a deep bench of talented guys, most of whom are just now coming into their prime fighting years.
Advantage Overall: A.K.A.
As much as my heart wants to side with The Natural’s camp, the evidence in this bout seems to be pretty clear. A.K.A.’s large roster of past, present and future champions backed by a focused coaching staff gives A.K.A a definitive edge over Couture’s respectable stable.
Stay tuned for next week as we pit American Top Team against Jackson’s Submission Fighting!
By: David “Doc” Schroyer