Eric Nicksick Details How Sean Strickland Beat Israel Adesanya at UFC 293 | Morning Kombat


In a recent interview with Morning Kombat, Eric Nicksick, the head coach of Extreme Couture, discussed the key elements that contributed to Sean Strickland’s victory over Israel Adesanya at UFC 293. Nicksick emphasized the importance of understanding a fighter’s individual traits and how to bring out the best in them. He also touched on the potential challenges that fighters face as they achieve success and how it can impact their performance. Let’s dive into the insights shared by Nicksick in this interview.

Identifying the Fighter’s Elements

Nicksick highlighted the significance of recognizing the unique elements that make up a fighter’s identity. He mentioned that Strickland is a natural fighter at heart, even though he may not possess exceptional athleticism or competitiveness. Nicksick explained that as a coach, it is crucial to understand these elements and adjust the approach accordingly. He emphasized the need to connect with each fighter on an individual level and adapt the coaching style to their specific needs and preferences.

The Impact of Success on a Fighter

Nicksick discussed the phenomenon he has observed in the fight game, where fighters who come from challenging backgrounds and develop successful careers eventually lose their edge and become less angry. He acknowledged that Strickland’s success and personal life, including his loving relationship with his girlfriend, may potentially affect his fighting mentality. Nicksick credited Strickland’s girlfriend for allowing him to be vulnerable and experience emotions, which he believes played a role in his recent victory.

Monitoring and Maintaining the Fighter’s Edge

As a coach, Nicksick acknowledged the importance of monitoring and maintaining Strickland’s edge as a fighter. He recognized that the various elements that contribute to a fighter’s performance, such as their anger and competitiveness, can change over time. Nicksick emphasized his responsibility as a coach to keep Strickland’s edge intact and ensure that he remains a competitive athlete.

Learning from Past Losses

Nicksick discussed how previous losses, such as the fights against Khamzat Chimaev and Derek Brunson, played a role in sharpening Strickland’s skills. He mentioned that these losses served as learning experiences and motivated Strickland to improve. Nicksick specifically highlighted the fight against Chimaev, where Strickland trained with him and gained valuable insights. He also mentioned the importance of Optics in fights, referring to the need to make the fight look visually appealing to the judges.

The Journey of Extreme Couture

Nicksick reflected on the journey of Extreme Couture as a gym, acknowledging the highs and lows it has experienced over the years. He mentioned that the gym has always had a sense of community and camaraderie, with individuals like himself, Randy Couture, Dennis Davis, and others sticking together and believing in each other. Nicksick expressed his pride in being a part of the gym and the accomplishments they have achieved, including Str ickland’s recent victory. He emphasized the importance of building a community and providing support to fighters who may be unsure of themselves. Nicksick expressed his gratitude for the gym and the people who have shaped his career, stating that Extreme Couture is his home.


In this interview, Eric Nicksick shared valuable insights into the key elements that contributed to Sean Strickland’s victory over Israel Adesanya. He emphasized the importance of understanding a fighter’s individual traits and adjusting the coaching approach accordingly. Nicksick also discussed the potential impact of success on a fighter’s mentality and the responsibility of a coach to maintain their edge. He highlighted the role of past losses in sharpening Strickland’s skills and the journey of Extreme Couture as a gym. Overall, Nicksick’s reflections provide valuable lessons for both fighters and coaches in the MMA community.

welcome back to morning combat Our Guest
right now is fresh off of the bird from Australia and maybe fresh off of the biggest win of his career he’s the head
coach of extreme Couture it’s Eric nixik hi Eric how is that uh aforementioned
jet lag yeah I don’t even know where I’m at right now what day it is so but it’s
right back to work I know I’m in my gym I know that so it’s uh right back in the cage bro how long was that flight
um on the way home I think it was like 14 hours and then we had a little layover quick layover in Frisco and then
we were home not too bad yeah that fight that fight is much better when you win I’ll tell you that you lose bro it’s the
worst I bet it’s a lone it’s a lonely 18 19 hours oh man so yeah well let’s let’s
talk about it man um where does this win rank for you as a coach as a member of this community the
extreme Couture Community give me a sense of the impact of this one and also like I know francis’s winner the title
is different but maybe compare the two it yeah they’re they’re very different and honestly Luke I’m fortunate to even
be able to rank them you know like it’s just been such a cool ride for me and and uh you know being able to take a guy
that you know like with I don’t know Sean Strickland didn’t have a chance to win this fight no one would have guessed
it the end of 2023 this dude would be the middleweight champion of the world so um just this backstory and just
everything that he’s put himself through um kind of giving himself to the team and understanding that you know we’re
here to help him um just the type of individual he is I think the abandonment issues that he
might have suffered as a young young child um all the way up to where it kind of trickles over to his adulthood
giving himself to the team man like we believe in them and I think that sometimes in life you know you don’t
believe in your own self or what you’re trying to do and you have to surround yourself with people that uplift you and
and push you through times of doubt and um you know so this one definitely ranks up there pretty high for me from a human
element so um couldn’t be more proud of the guy you know we got to get better on some of the stuff he says on the mic but at the end
of the day man it’s a it’s a it’s a pretty cool moment for me did he have any Reflections about what
it meant on the flight home or the trip home or did he say anything to you after it was all over about how he was
processing it not particularly um you know it’s it was kind of the same
way when Francis won there was just so much like hustle and bustle like everybody’s moving around you know everybody’s trying to get at you and and
um you know it’s a big moment it’s a lot so him and I haven’t really had that like hey like that that was me and
Francis he came to the office like a week later we just sat down in my office and then we just reflected on the whole thing so
I kind of expect that situation to happen uh between me and him but you know I’ll tell you this man was a pretty
cool moment um before when Manila won I ran into the back and he was getting warmed up still
and the room just felt real ominous like it was real quiet um it was almost like like this kind of
like you know walking out to this man’s funeral and uh I lost it I was like yo
we’re gonna win this fight I was like I don’t care what anybody else thinks or says the only people that matter are these people right here in
this room and everyone in this room right now believes he could win this fight now tell me you’re going to win this fight and he’s like I’m
gonna win this fight I gotta say it with the conviction bro and he told me he said after he’s like dude like I needed
to hear that so I needed to feel like you believed in me and and as much as I believed in you and you know that was a
pretty cool moment that we had um other than that man like I just couldn’t be more proud of the guy
because I could feel his nerves I could feel his energy you know and uh for him to go out and execute and do what he did
against arguably the best to ever do it man it’s pretty damn impressive you know what’s really interesting to me is obviously I was a skeptic of his chances
as were many people and those were only heightened not so much during fight week
but the walkout itself I don’t know if you’ve reviewed the footage at all when he’s coming out of the tunnel when
they’re playing his music he had a look on his face that was I don’t know what to say like still competitively with it
but doubt like you could just see that he was and not even the crowd because everyone thought oh well he fought in
the Apex and this is a big crowd and the crowd’s gonna eat him up but that wasn’t it either because they kind of lifted him too but even walking to the thing I
don’t know if you saw that he had a look on his face that was not fully bought in I guess and so if that’s the case
did the did everything flip when he dropped Izzy at the end of the first I mean you you would have to think right
like so I’m I’m always the last to walk I like to be in the far far back so I never saw the walkout so that’s a it’s a
good point we don’t shake hands we don’t hug when he gets there he’s there and he walks in the cage and then you know we got up there gave him his water but um
that kind of Echoes with how I felt when we got in the back you know after Manel won so yeah I can I can probably see how
he did look a little nervous or unsure but uh yeah man right after that first round you know we’re in the game like
we’re in the fight bro we can do this so I think that absolutely given the confidence and you know right then
and there we knew we can get this done so that was the thing is um you know I didn’t want to get too
high after the drop I didn’t even actually I didn’t even budge I was telling annik I looked over at Anakin
and Megan and watched their reactions because I knew we were so close to the round being over
I didn’t want to get it too emotionally High um because I had some information defensively I needed to give them and I
was like oh I don’t want to lose sight of that and forget to tell him and then it’d be exposed because he was doing
some where I was like we’re gonna get caught so once everything calmed down I had to get that piece of information out to him because I felt
like the round wasn’t gonna um we’re gonna I felt like we were gonna finish him the way the way it was all set up so
um but right then and there man I I think he knew and I knew that dude we can get this done
I want to talk about x’s and o’s in a minute but uh you’re actually an important person to talk to for many reasons not just because you were there
and coaching but um on MK the full show we were talking like where does this rank among uh the
biggest upsets in UFC championship history and by odds you know Rhonda losing to Holly would still be a little
bit bigger than this but you know think of some of the other ones that went to a decision and where does it Rank and then
it starts the list becomes very small but the other closest competition would be uh Randy beating Tim Sylvia coming
out of retirement after being viciously ko’d by Chuck Liddell he gets his heavyweight title shot out of nowhere drops him with the first big shot he
throws controls him takes his back and I remember I remember exactly where I was that night the whole nine yards but here
was the difference to me uh coach is that Randy had already been a champion in another weight class he had this
pedigree from being on the alternate of the Olympic team Sean was no one ever thought he was a bad fighter or a scrub
by any stretch but he didn’t have this Elite pedigree he wasn’t an NCAA Division One champion he wasn’t an
Olympic team member he wasn’t you know a K-1 Or Glory Champion he was just a guy who kind of just got better the whole
way through and so for that reason I think for any UFC title upset that went to a decision this has to be number one
I wonder what you make of that that’s a good point and honestly I haven’t really thought of it that way
but um you know it’s cool when you when I hear you say that because it really I
think points to the environment that he’s in so sometimes when you surround yourself with people like Al Jermaine
and Francis and Randy Couture and Forrest Griffin and Miesha Tate you know the people that have belts on this gym you know sadabusi patchy mix you know
people like that like you surround yourself with these Champions and it rubs off on you I think in a certain
degree it really does and you know Randy being our Mentor a lot of the emotional things I think the emotional capacity of
carrying yourself and understanding what the responsibilities are as a champion before you even put that belt on you
almost walk that lifestyle you know so it was interesting that you say that because you know you almost have to live
it or see it before or Envision it before I wonder if that’s because of you know some of the stuff within the gym
but you know as far as the decision goes man I I never really thought of it that way until you brought it up you know and
you know Randy being our guy and it’s pretty cool because there are some linear there you know um what what was that the last 21
seconds of round five when he lost his mind tell me what you think that was
uh probably because I was losing my mind too I was I was in it bro like yo so I’m
gonna tell you bro like in the night I’m in the fourth year I I was living in I was in it I didn’t care at that point I
was like you know this dude’s gonna go after him this is this is the most Sean Strickland thing Sean Strickland’s gonna
do is he’s gonna talk and yell at you and scream at you because he’s about to be world champion man so let him live
in his moment I was having a blast I will tell you like again I’m just playing arms chair psychologist I don’t
really know but it seemed like he had um he was more than just feeling good
about the way the fight had gone I don’t think that’s the explanation I think that was him realizing that his doubts
were um you know that they they weren’t real and that he had overcome them and
like I don’t know like it doesn’t look like that from the outside but he was doing he was doing some healing in that
cage I think a little bit it was definitely a breakthrough brother he was definitely out of breakthrough you know
so um man what a cool moment you know and it was just like you’re exercising your
demons they’re live on pay-per-view and with uh with the biggest fight on the line in
his entire life and he did it he pulled it off all right let’s talk about the fight itself because this is to me just
very very interesting because it’s one thing to rise to the occasion but part of what makes this fight so interesting
is that it just there’s nothing fluky about it there was no I’ve said you know no referee messed it up for anybody the
judges didn’t it up like you know it was just a fight that Sean was better at that night no no two questions or
sorry no no two ways about it so I want to talk about Sean’s style because it is so unique for a guy not to be a pressure
fighter but to have some of these weapons that he uses in the way that he does and I guess the first question
about that is I’m sure that as a coach you want to let guys have their own style but did he bring that to the gym
how much has it evolved in the gym how did how did you feel about it when you first encountered it give me a sense of
the evolution of how he got to that position on Saturday night man you know all the good questions I’ll
tell you because first off I’m like what the hell is this like this is not
textbook it’s not what you do but I think um as a martial artist
that word art is very important because you could be an artist and the pictures all look different and it doesn’t make
sense a lot of times it’s not by you know what we’re taught or he just he colors Outside the Lines man and uh it
works for him and I think as a coach you have to be able to evolve and maybe to a
degree teach something one or two things and and help him understand the consequences of what this might entail
um but all the while try to add new wrinkles you know so you picked it up man I wrote yeah we we did a lot of hand
fighting we did it and you didn’t really saw that as Sean we try to disrupt Rhythm and pressure so keep Sean the way
he is but we also need to add little things and add little um tools and and change the game just small little tweaks
here and there but man is he unorthodox and I think people Chris Curtis
um you know Alex perea said this there’s a reason why um you know Mozart and Johnny eblin will
tell you people that are with this guy they know they understand what that pressure looks like in front of them and
on on film anybody that watches it from the outside they don’t really know until you’re in there and they can be critical
about him at times you know is he making fun of all the parries and all that stuff and he’s right it’s just it’s not
aesthetically pleasing but it’s goddamn effective the thing that really I thought was just
so remarkable was dude is he just sean gets right up to
the line but not necessarily over I mean a couple times he got popped but you know in general not over and he just
stops everything from landing and it’s not just that he gets out of the way but the sort of like putting putting up uh
obstacles interference in the way of doing that like I wonder as a coach what
you make of that it’s highly effective and again you do see guys catch stuff but not reaching out like as much as he
does I I I don’t even know what the question is except like how why does he do that
and how does everyone else in the gym interpret that also he must have been like bad at that at first he’s gotten
much better at it over time right yeah it’s it’s so interesting because I feel the same way you do bro like I I look at
this sometimes and it’s just really hard to figure out but I think because he does spar so much that he’s he’s able
he’s been able to perfect this particular style because of the hours that he’s put in I mean really it’s just
reps on reps on reps and uh Herb Dean called me after the Hermanson fight
and her being was like asking me about his Perry and he’s like dude it’s it’s
like he doesn’t poke he doesn’t this that like so my point to you is like a guy that was two feet away watching this
defense Herb Dean out of nowhere calls me he’s like dude I was so impressed by this guy’s D like how does he I’m like
herb I don’t even know bro like I couldn’t even tell you but what he does is it’s almost like a like a Wing Chun
sort of style at times you know because um you know we’re always taught the target’s always going to be here so
cover as close as you can because if you reach and miss the target there’s still holes and openings and he kind of just
Breaks the Rules with that stuff defensively you know and he counters off it really well that’s the one thing I
think we worked on so much is having our our counters built in um off of our defense so you’re not
wasting motion so if he catches a particular way and his shoulders one way then well this side’s loaded okay if we
catches over here but he’s reaching over the side this side’s now loaded so trying to build in his counters a little
bit more fluid so once he catches it’s a return fire um those are some things that he’s added that he’s done really well with and you
know over time I think he’s adapted it into his own style the sparring obviously there was a
movement there for a while when guys like cowboy and to an extent Max um are saying you know they don’t do any
sparring I don’t know how true that really is or was But Here Comes Sean
being like I do a lot of sparring and I’ve developed a style that unless you’ve seen it’s just extremely
difficult to deal with I wonder as a coach what do you make of other downsides to the amount of sparring that
Sean does again you can Spar hard you can Spar lights so people use the word sparring like it’s always people trying
to kill each other it’s not necessarily always the case so you tell me is this a thing that’s got it’s propelled him to
Greatness at age 32 but is it going to age poorly in the you know after a certain point due to the the
accumulative um trauma you would have to think so but I I would
say with his style he doesn’t take much damage during sparring now if he’s getting dropped and he’s getting this
and he’s getting cut and all these other things to where uh I think he would definitely as a coach you’re gonna have
to step in and make an exception to the amount of of sparring but he attributes a lot of his cardio which you can’t
argue um to the to the level of expectations of how we wrestle to how we push a pace
to how we do all those things he’s like man like why would I run on a treadmill and then try to emulate that in a fight
it’s not going to happen if I want to have good cardio I’m gonna fight hard I’m gonna push myself hard because
there’s no better cardio than fight cardio and you know he’s he’s proved it but I think it’s depicted on the fighter
to be honest with you Luke what what type of damage does that fighter take it in their history everybody’s Chin’s different everybody’s defense is
different so you know as I think you definitely have to evolve to your fighter and what they’re trying to
accomplish but you also have to kind of Shepherd them and scenarios and situations if if you’re seeing an after effect if they’re getting dropped in in
rounds they take they’re getting knocked out in fights after you got dropped by parade man hey bro no spawn for a couple
months that’s it sorry he’s like okay I’ll listen and he did
um the leg kicking style the checking style that he has he’s got like almost look I can’t tell if they’re it looks
like there’s varieties of all one style so he doesn’t do the old Thai style 45 degree angle me out he kind of brings
his heel almost to his other knee or to his rear end to kind of get under or I should say let the kit get under it or
the bare minimum just kind of absorb whatever pressure is there did that come naturally or is that from like training
with Alex like what where does that all stem from Danny Danny Davis
um you know he we so a lot of people don’t know who Danny is Danny’s been one of my guys forever I’ve been Corner
Danny for over 15 years he’s one of the you know most important people in extreme Couture especially in our Rise
um and he’s now falling into a more of a coaching role which I I cannot tell you how excited I am to have him because I
mean he’s like my brother but Danny was such a huge asset for us this Camp not only for his fight IQ and his
situational awareness but his body type so it was nice for me as a coach to be able able to like watch uh from an
outside perspective opposed to holding pads because you see a lot of new things so the the biggest thing that we knew
going into this fight that we were going to have to shut down was the calf kick that was my biggest concern due to
stance alone if I’m breaking down if I’m fighting Sean I know what I’m doing I know our holes
so as a coach you have to reverse engineer you have to go okay where are they going to look to exploit us we have
to cover these holes up and then if we can do that then it’s going to be downhill from there and that was our
biggest concern I’m telling you Luke that front leg was gonna was gonna was gonna hamper us so we had to go to the
drawing board and look at different ideas we had about about five different theories on how we’re going to shut that
calf kick down because if well if one doesn’t work we need number two if two doesn’t work we need number three you got to keep knocking on that door
because um eventually you know we’re gonna have to be able to shut that thing down so
some of the ideas that we sat and dealt with was the one that he felt more most comfortable with was Sean so a lot of it
was trial and error but a lot of it was due to the Danny and the Reps we sat there on pads Sean with crack pads and
Danny would spam nope no shin guard bro we’re trying to take Sean’s leg off and
what better way to learn right because the hurts and we if you get one or
two It’s Gonna Hurt So the premise was if we can check this properly remember
what are we using in a calf kick on our foot right it’s it’s mostly the metatarsals and that that kind of curve
of your ankle if we could check that once or two once or two times
bro it’s Gonna Hurt It’s Gonna Hurt the guy throwing that kick so let’s make this a deterrent right so if we can get
one or two good checks off it early then we might be able to slow that thing down and sure that’s what he did he was
able to check one or two then crowd the space again so a lot of it had to do with a combination of where did we where
were we proximity to our lead shoulder was is he trying to drift to to expose the calf okay yes all right well now we
got to step over here to take that space away um once he does established the calf
kick a how are we checking and B what position is our Shin to be able to make
sure we inflict some pain on Izzy to make him go ah I don’t know if I want to kick that again it hurts the out of
my foot so and then take the distance away stay out of kick range right we had
we had to navigate our way through that kick range first and foremost the the checking though I was trying to
look at some of the sometimes depending on which kick and what stance I could see that it would hit his own Shin at
times was he trying to hit it with his own ankle was he trying to check with the ankle bone yeah it was weird because
he felt comfortable almost reinforcing it onto his back leg like putting the palm of his foot on like his his his
plant leg and I I we were playing with it but my only issue was it was for me
for me personally trial and error um you know when we were going through our calf Revolution if you will
um it was me and Brad Tavares and Brad uh tore my Meniscus completely for in the talus latest fight because we were
working that so much but the only way I can give myself relief was almost lifting my foot up and the the the
fulcrum became my my knee and that tore my Meniscus so I was telling Sean I was
like you have to find a way to maybe reinforce it so it’s not just this dead leg just kind of doing this and that’s
what he came up with he’s like well maybe if I can kind of get it on the back of my leg or kind of reinforce it to my InStep or something and I’m like
dude I don’t care what you do like I just we just got to be effective we have to be effective with it because man I’m
telling you that was my first that was my main my main concern that they get that late kick going where it’s going to
be downhill from there well it the checking worked until your point I thought one of the key benefits was as
you described he was never really out of position he could either walk through it or stop just temporarily or at times if
Izzy wasn’t stepping with it he could just kind of move out of the way a little bit but if you didn’t have to seed ground and that pressure game was
overwhelming so I want to talk about the Izzy side of things here for just a second
um do you feel like I feel like by round four he was just out of ideas which I I
was shocked to see but it looked like Sean had nullified every little trick or
turn or faint or fake or set up and he just didn’t really know what to do at
that point yeah I do but but I also still felt he was dangerous
um you know of course there were some things that I saw that that Sean was doing that I felt Izzy was
setting them up for and um man it was actually kind of a cool moment I had a I had a good talk with Izzy after the
fight was over in the back and as he came up to me he’s like you save that man’s life but I was like oh yeah how so and he goes he kept calling out my reads
and I was like yeah because that man I saw what you’re setting up and one of the things was
um the Southpaw drop step Orthodox is he Orthodox is he dropped backs into Southpaw dropped step in the Southpaw he
would throw his um Southpaw cross at Sean’s right hand and Sean was pairing it like this and I yell at Sean I go bro
he’s gonna same side head kick you like it’s gonna it’s gonna come right behind it you know and I yelled it out and as
he heard me yell it and he’s like holy you called out my reads and so it was a lot of it was I would know Izzy
would start one way and he has such a good almost juked up to the other side and has this incredible you know calf
kick from there so a lot of that stuff we did with with Danny was emulating Izzy was a lot of that movement and
theory and stuff so once we started to kind of break disrupt the timing and the
Rhythm I I felt like we had Izzy where we wanted him you know and I just felt
like yeah you could say he was stuck in the mud but he was stuck in the mud for a reason because we threw his ass the
mud no that’s what I mean I mean like he he tried everything he knew and
it was all systematically shut down and so he just kind of resorted to I don’t
know instinct or something else but it’s survival survival yeah like you know you
know what I knew Sean was like cruising I mean obviously you could just sort of see the accumulation of things but I I’d
gone back and had to watch the obus mega Madoff fight he does this bit where he loves to get guys to drift to his own right and then he’ll bring that that
right shoulder through kind of fake like he’s going to go with this one and then pop them as they move into it right he
does he does it classically he began to hit Izzy with that in the championship rounds and I was like oh man he’s moving
downhill on him yeah like that was when I was like whoa yeah this is uh this is
going in very bad Direction like did you ever feel when did you feel like
um Sean was in a flow state I’d say probably going in around five
because so but here’s why I just I just err on the side of caution I I
told Sean going into five and I in my heart I had us up 3-1
as a coach I told him 2-2 I said it’s 2-2 going into five because for two
reasons number one I needed to keep the same amount of pressure and distance if if I tell him
hey I think we’re up we can cruise that means he’s at C range which is at Izzy’s
kick range that’s where I did not want to have that fight at all at any capacity I didn’t care for up four
rounds to zero I still wanted to apply that pressure and keep that distance due
to the kick game but I also wanted to make a statement and with that being said you’re in this guy’s Home Country
if you will close enough um judges can be fluky uh I was I wasn’t saying I was I was
sold that we had this decision but I wanted to go out and make a statement in round five I didn’t want to
hit cruise control I wanted him to go out and execute this dude for the next five minutes and put a statement
on this thing so um whether how I felt this this or that I want to put my foot under throat man
and I said that was our mentality it sounds like trying to solve the problem of of Izzy has been
um not just a task for this camp but the task for quite some time could you give
the audience some sense of like and obviously this goes back to The Tavares fight but I’m sure it extends well past
it in terms of uh amount of attention when did you feel like you kind of you
could put together a game plan for one of your guys to beat him how long do you feel like it took to get there
I mean I I I felt like I did it as an analyst with Alex and Izzy in the first
fight like I just knew I kind of broke the code on the movement um and understanding you know think
about the Battle of Thermopylae right the Gates of Fire is funnel a strong Army into a narrow Corridor and that’s
how the you know the Spartans were able to beat the um the Persians right so
where how can we do that was the cage control and funneling and I started to
see that I talked about it prior to the Alice prayer fight how could he beat him and that’s how you beat him you have to
be able to limit his movement and put his put him in a scenario where you know you know his only options are left right
or Panic wrestle and very rarely you’re going to get a panic wrestle out of them so now when it comes to your strikes it
doesn’t you don’t want to throw things I think you might have heard me say I wanted to aim everything at his chest
right because the chest doesn’t slip the head does I can hit him here if I can
find his chest the next punch will find his head so a lot of funneling so not throw punches Place punches Place
punches to where you can funnel the strikes to where it’s going to matter where they’re gonna land you know so um
I think with enough tape and enough time in the cage you’re able to start understanding where he feels is most
comfortable and I use the analogy that he’s a conductor to an orchestra and that’s very true his he is that man like
he knows where all the instruments go and but our job is to take the conductor stick out of the hand and disrupt the
Rhythm and throw some in there that takes away the harmony that he’s so accustomed to
um and look just like in football man those offenses you know you run the rpos you run the spread you’re on this
they’re all trendy and people want to mimic them and people want to do this well naturally I’m you know my dad’s a
defensive coordinator and our goal is to disrupt that and to break it down and how do we break it how do we break the
Rhythm how do we apply pressure you know and the old man my pops used to just send people up a gap make sure you know
we’re coming you know so um that that theory you know I might be just a
football coach but it translates over to MMA immensely just probably from the mentality standpoint
I guess uh the the follow-up question would be then what do you believe that Izzy brought to
the middleweight division that allowed him to gain such an advantage in the Striking over the crop at the time that
he did which it now looks like uh obviously Sean solved for it on Saturday and I you know um I do think the rest of
the division has gotten better in the terms of identifying some of his weaknesses but in terms of his strengths Circa 2018 2019 what was he doing that
was ahead of the game at that time you heard me you heard me call him that in the in the corner he’s a snake
charmer and um I’ll tell you what man if if you didn’t take a day or two or a
long period of time to go watch the the the the the growth of City kickboxing
every one of those guys there um they have a beautiful faint game and you know I tip my hat to Eugene and that
in that team and they’ve built an Empire there and they’ve done a great job um and I think as a coaching staff or
coaches you know you have to look and evolve and and look at what other people are doing and how they’re growing and
how they’re how they’re making a change and every one of those Fighters came in with the same pedigree the same mindset
that they’re painting a picture always said the space between the notes makes the music and that’s the faint
game and where there’s he was just so dominant was he would get people
watching him and that’s why I called him a snake charmer he just you just fall in love with like oh you’re mesmerized by
what’s in front of you and you have to you have to take him out of that Rhythm so when he faints you gotta go because
he’s fainting to set up whatever’s next nope there’s not gonna be a next we’re gonna take that away we’re gonna go now
you know so um over time I think that’s where their development is just so so picture
perfect you know so Picture Perfect know what he does so you know he he those guys change the game man you know they
really have I’ve been I’ve been um surprise might not be the right word
because that’s just over the way things go but you might have noticed there’s been some pushback on Eugene bearman of
late uh due to the results of this fight and again I mean I think if you have a winning performance you deserve praise
if you have a losing performance some Fair criticism is warranted so I don’t I don’t want trying to Shield him from
that per se but um I guess I would ask you from coach to coach like what you make of the strength
of his not coaching well I guess give me a sense of why is it just the fainting game like why have they been able to
build a little bit of an Empire down there in New Zealand what is the method to their Madness that has given them the
success well you know kind of a two-part question but first and foremost it’s it’s very hard for me to describe
because I have not been in their room I’ve had people go out there and train I know a lot of their guys over there
remember there’s a lineage there between myself and Eugene and that’s racco and
Lolo and all and Doug Vinnie and all these guys that were in New Zealand and during this kickboxing Trend Mark hunt
so there is a there is a linear connection there between myself and Eugene that a lot of people don’t know
so um it’s very hard to say what they’re doing over there but the people that do go
over there are always blown away and and very impressed by by their system by their gym by their team
um the other side of that coin man it it it pisses me off when I hear people criticize a guy who has built this
empire built this gym built this team with relatively low
um resources and due to proximity uh this guy’s built a freaking world-class
program year in year out he just won coach of the year last year it’s okay to
have him off night and you know us as coaches man we go through a lot we deal
with a lot of ups and downs you know our our energy is pulled in a million
different directions every day our phone is Never Off bro like not only not you know he had six Fighters that one night
and he still probably has another 30 that he has to deal with at the gym so today Tuesday there Wednesday there
whatever that dude’s back in the gym working you know his head’s down and he’s grinding no one understands or can empathize with
what we go through as coaches than other MMA coaches so if if people are going to
take the time to dog on this dude um I think it’s pretty damn shitty because I could have been that other
side of that narrative as well and the people that suffer the most man are are our families they don’t get to see their
their husbands and their dads you know the way that most parents do this is the
life we chose I understand that but before you jump on there and you want to you want to say something to be critical
about another man you got to walk in these shoes bro because not not everybody understands what it’s like to
be an MMA Coach man it’s a rough life uh I’m I’m certainly sure it can be um
just a few more questions on Sean I appreciate your time when did you um when Sean first came to the gym when
did you realize he and I’m not asking this in a disparaging way I’m asking quite literally when did you realize he might have some like
issues um and I don’t mean just because he says outrageous things but like you have
alluded to that he has alluded to quite publicly his you know uh what sounds like a deeply unfortunate upbringing
when did you realize how deep it went um pretty pretty early on you know
um I’ve been I met him in 2014. um I met him he’s actually UFC debut he
he was fighting I think Bubba and um came in the gym worked a little bit with us
um you know I put a pretty sizable bet on him after I train with him for the first time I was like this guy’s good
this guy’s really good so we’ve been friends for for quite a while you know and then um when he was at his car
accident I kept up with a motorcycle accident um and that’s when I started kind of
understanding more about him was because during that time um I remember asking him like you know I
remember saying something about pain meds so like dude don’t don’t let them put you on any pain meds man that that and he’s like never
he goes I’d rather I’d rather you know like that kind of opened the door to the understanding the conversations about
his past is my point it was when we started talking about those pain meds and uh you know I think I think trauma
does that to a lot of people you you follow suit and it repeats itself or You Buck the trend and he was not gonna have
it man like just kind of understanding who and what he came from that’s what really started to open my eyes on
the individual that Sean is in his history how typical is it for fighters to have a
background like Sean’s um I would say there’s there’s probably you
know 20 30 percent of the guys in here maybe have some of that stuff and maybe not so much this day and age but um you
know follis always talk to me about understanding the the the the the three
or four elements you know that you have to know inside as a fighter and he always talked about lieben and lieben’s
upbringing he said leaving is a fighter by by Nature by heart he’s not athletic
and he’s not a very good competitor but he’s a fighter um and understanding those things and
how those those dials can dissipate they can turn up they can turn down they’re this and that
um those are some things I think you know we try to identify at me on the interior of who and what I have and how
do I need to get the best out of them in those moments and sometimes you guys you know you’ll hear me corner for I’ll
never Corner Francis away at corner Sean you know I don’t Corner ige the way I Corner Sean
um I I have to you know right Abraham Maslow said if the only tool you have is a hammer everything
looks like a nail you have to have more tools you have to be able to you know to connect with your Fighter the way that
they process and sometimes the way I process with Sean is is is um you know a
little bit more Stern and his face and what he needs to hear so um because he’s the goddamn fighter
you know I I it’s sort of like a this might sound like a weird question but I’ve seen it too many times in the fight game and it’s a slow creep but it does
happen over time I’ve seen I’m sure you’ve seen it too a lot of guys coming to the game with let’s just say it
up backgrounds and then they get good at fighting and they begin to accumulate some earnings or titles or
some combination of both and then over time they just stop being angry um but then they’re also not quite the
same fighter anymore now I don’t think we’re on the precipice of that again the guy just had his uh best win but I guess
I wouldn’t wonder my question to you is like do you think Sean is Happy do you have you thought about what the next
three or four years is going to look like for him given that we’ve seen some other trajectories take familiar paths
yeah that’s it and that was part of false’s theory about the fighter element you know he talked about that with
lieben even he said you know you take that that fighter out of this environment where you know the the
stepdad isn’t burning cigarettes on you well you know whatever these crazy stories that these guys have had and you
give them a life of normalcy you know they have a little bit of money they fall in love they have kids so what happens is your fighter element what
happens to that dial against it gets lower now you’re stuck on you know how
athletic they are and how competitive they are so he used to always use Randy chill and leaving as his examples and he
said you know Randy is always the competitor the 10 and and he never wanted to see somebody hurt he didn’t
want to take the fighter like he Randy wasn’t like the fighter fighter right he would go have dinner with you after after a fight
um but he wanted to win he wanted to win he always talked about Chell was just such the athlete and jail can do everything in the room but he didn’t
have like the crazy fighter and the athlete was you know or the competitor was here so so my point is is that like
those those dials will always change and to answer your question it it’s it can I think it can give you know take away
some of Sean’s Edge um because of some of these things that we’re talking about right like he’s
madly in love with his girlfriend and I told her man after the fight credit to
you because you’ve allowed him I think to be vulnerable to have some feelings
um and I think part of that win definitely is in her favor and and should be credit to to her work that
she’s done behind the scenes but has given him a sense of normalcy um has shown him it’s okay to be loved
and to love something else you know so I don’t know if this is like the the the peak or we’re actually still climbing
because we do have a fighter he is a competitor he’s an okay athlete I would
say he’s okay athlete but all the while I think to monitor those those dials as a coach is is up to me to kind of keep
keep his Edge right keep his Edge all right last one for me which is everyone kind of points to the potato
fight where he obviously didn’t go his way at all and um you know he went and trained with him that was really great
yeah but I’m actually and you can see now in this fight he did the cage cutting versus the following he did in
that fight I mean huge change I’m actually kind of curious about the fight with Canon ear Sean kind of strikes me
competitively as a guy who’s and all these guys do their their losses eat at them but like he really seems to think
about them I wonder to what extent both that banana loss and that Canon ear loss
to what extent did that sharpen up some of the tools that made him ready for
Saturday uh I think those those things alone you know are the reasons why we have a belt
wrapped around our waist be honest with you you know the the Alex prayer fight yeah we joke about the wrestling and
this and that you know nothing’s guaranteed nothing’s guaranteed in this game like we could have gone out and
wrestled you know the first two rounds and still got caught in the third you know you just never know but what what
sometimes things happen to us because it’s for us we need it to happen and you
know he hits me up and he’s like hey uh Alex invited me to come out to Connecticut for a week what do you think
I go what do I think yeah go like dude there’s you got Glover you got
the guy who just beat you willing to help you like what better what better you know information can you get than a
guy that’s been in it with you and willing to help and man like those guys have been amazing for him like he came
back and I think gave him another sense of confidence because he actually got a spar Alex more and more and more and
instead of like the threat of him just getting starched um he was able to go in and kind of find
his rhythm and find his range with him and it gave him a lot of confidence now in the Canon ear fight
I was very public about this like um I felt we lost the fight on Optics
and Canon here and their team they won they won that fight I’m not going to say there was a robbery we could have done
more and when I said the Optics you know I’m I’m pandering to like judges who I
just assume are six-year-olds right like I want to make it look pretty I want to make it you know colorful and you know
bright and happy and whatever these judges are looking at and I understand Optics and what I was calling
for in the fight was more kicks by Sean for two reasons it’s the Apex and I want
to inflict audio damage now are the kicks Landing are they hurting cannineer
maybe maybe not but I wanna hear that noise I wanna I want the judges to hear audible sounds right
because my I’m telling you anecdotally Apex and the pandemic
changed the way I coached because of bro I got Chris Lee believing
that Paul Felder beat RDA because I’m basically talking to Chris Lee the whole time now that Paul Felder is winning
this fight you know what I mean so I’m telling you from history alone Optics
audio sounds and Aesthetics will will sway small venue Apex cards
and it was after that fight Sean called me and he was like damn now
I know what you mean by Optics you know and I said man you know that’s on me as a coach I should have explained that
better prior like you should have known that not in the middle of a fight it should have been discussed earlier on
but now you understand what I mean and you have to put a stamp on these rounds
because you’re basically pandering the six year olds no doubt about it I guess though we’ll
end here which is um I’ve seen extreme Couture hit highs and then lows and now I don’t think I’ve
ever seen it with highs quite like this I mean it was big when Randy was doing his thing at the peak of his game and
and was in huge fights don’t get me wrong um but you know I saw that there were the gym fell on some harder times in
between those spaces and now here you have it with you know obviously Francis is in pfl but he’s the lineal champ and
and now you have uh Sean there as well I just wonder from the the journey you’ve taken at extreme Couture what it means
to have yet this other accomplishment that the gym can now say it has earned
and and particularly the role you played in it but through through the lens of what’s happened at extreme Couture
oh man it’s cool like because it’s cool to hear you say that because I
have a hard time reflecting on some things in the past at times because we’re always so move forward move
forward move forward but you know I walked into this gym in 2006 man and uh
you know I’ve Seen It All I’ve seen the UPS I’ve seen the Downs um you know there’s been one constant
here in this gym and it’s been myself and Randy Dennis Davis you know Gil guardato there’s a handful I can name I
can name some but um we stuck together man like we believed
in each other um there’s going to be lows there’s going to be highs there’s gonna be this excuse me that but like at the end of the day
man we care about each other in here and that’s that’s me that’s that’s really all that matters you know
um this one ranks up there pretty high it ranks up there pretty high I think just from the human element alone right
like you know Sean’s a guy I feel like he’s just so rough around the edges but
um you know at the end of the day man we want to make him a better human being too you know and I feel like this gym
has provided that for him it’s giving him it’s giving them a sense of community it’s giving them a family you
know and sometimes in life you know we we um we throw people away like that you
know we just discard them and I’m not saying everybody deserves a second chance but um in his case I just
felt like he needed a community and and what I love so much about extreme Couture being member number number one
here is I felt a part of a community I needed this place man uh I was at a uh
you know a rough time in my life like I I didn’t know where I belonged I didn’t know what I was going to do with my life and this this gym
ultimately for me and who I am today I was I was unsure I had um you know
self-doubt I had we all suffered from depression you know we all have our ups and downs but it’s guys like Danny Davis
that I can go and lean on and I can look over and say dude this is my boy like we bled together we sweared together we’ve
gone to a freaking battle together you know I’m gonna do that for him so sometimes it’s about building a
community when you’re so unsure about yourself that there’s people around you that are that are sure about you and um
you know and I love this place bro I’ll never leave you know I’m glad that we’re we’re in the position that we are today
um and it’s by no means just me it’s it you know it’s Flawless it’s uh Sean
Tompkins you know Ron Frazier the the list goes on and on and on about the the men and women who have graced this Matt
and have taught me and I’ve been able to take little bits from every individual and every person I’ve been around and
you know just make it my own and and man I I love this place bro I’m finding
tears this is this is uh this is my home it’s my home yeah well you guys have built something pretty special man I’d
follow us and Sean Tompkins some of the the best names that have ever done it um it’s Sean’s win but I guess it’s the
Jim’s win as well congratulations Eric nicksack I don’t know what else to say except job well done and uh now Sean’s
got a Target on his back so the work only gets harder from here but if anyone’s up to it it’s got to be you
guys congratulations and thank you for your time can’t wait to see what’s next my pleasure bro thanks and all hey dude
thank you for all your support too man like it really means a lot you know and the the your kind words even on a fight
week where I was unsure about myself too man but hearing your kind words and and especially coming from a guy like you
that you know I’ll say it publicly man I look up to you and you’re a student of the game you know watching your breakdown last night and I wrote you and
I was like this guy God damn it you know you’re seeing all the all the reads and all the things that we’re doing and uh
you know man it’s just it’s just nice to have a guy like you my life you know I call you on a personal level and you
know we became good friends but um you know I want to take my hat off to YouTube brother you’re a real one thanks well I’ll say this I didn’t get
right about Fight League that’s my praise for you that was the only thing I got right so I’ll I’ll take that one and
bow out for the conversation they’re in oh thank you so much coach I appreciate your time have a great week and uh we’ll
catch up soon my pleasure brother