To some, it appeared like a line was crossed when the UFC 109 bout between Mark Coleman and Randy Couture was announced. It was nothing about the match itself; the problem some had was the fact that Coleman would be preparing with Shawn Tompkins, the former head trainer at Xtreme Couture who previously guided Couture through several training camps.
Tompkins recently parted ways with the gym to start his own fight team based out of the Las Vegas Tapout Training Center, just a few miles away.
Even after Tompkins recently told MMA Fighting that he'd spoken with Couture about training Coleman for the fight, some still felt the move to be controversial. But the two participants of the bout say that any inferences that one party was wronging the other are flat-out wrong.
"I'm not concerned at all," Couture (17-10) said during a conference call. "I have no real secrets. Shawn doesn't have an inside track on me. He was a big part of Xtreme Couture for the past couple years, and now he's doing his own thing.
"Shawn's more of a striking coach and he'll help Mark be in shape, but I see it as positive," Couture continued. "The better it is for us to put on a good show. Mark has a great wrestling attitude in every fight. He goes hard. I'm not worried about Shawn being in his corner because he's going to help Mark be at his best. I see that as great way to ensure we have a great fight."
Coleman (16-9) first began working with Tompkins when the latter was still training people at Xtreme Couture. When Tompkins moved gyms, Coleman went with him. Still, the 45-year-old Coleman says that Couture's ability to adapt and change means that any information coming from his previous camps or fights is virtually meaningless.
"I don't think there's too many secrets out there," Coleman said. "It's not too much of an advantage. I've seen Randy many times. I'm really aware Randy's capable of changing his style on any given day. I'm ready. I'm not known for great gameplans. I have a gameplan I guess: I stick to one style but hopefully try to add some new things myself. Randy's capable of adjusting to whatever I do. It's all about reacting. It's an enteriely different fight. I'm well aware he's able to do other things."
Coleman said that in the past, he wasn't always completely committed to his training camps, often refusing to leave his home base in Ohio because he didn't want to leave his daughters for extended stretches. Now that they've grown up a bit, he says that they realize how important his fighting career is to him and accept him being away to train. That led to his arrival at Xtreme Couture and union with Tompkins.
While he realizes his previous decision to keep his camp local may have cost him some fights, he knows he still has the opportunity of a lifetime ahead of him.
"I'll never regret it," he says. "I got to see them grow up, to compete in gymnastics and softball. That was the highlight of my life. But now that they're a little older, they told me, 'Daddy, I understand. We know what it takes. Do what it takes to win this fight.' And that meant the world to me."