2011 is shaping up to be one of Xtreme Couture grappling trainer Neil Melanson’s breakthrough years.
Along with his work with Randy Couture, Melanson has also been busy with other high level MMA stars and is shortly to receive some big exposure in the print world.
Speaking to MMAWeekly.com, Melanson revealed, “I’m going to be in the May issue of Muscle & Fitness Magazine.
“I think they’re putting me as a feature for the magazine, so I thought that was nice. Also, the triangle book that we’ve been talking about for three years should be on shelves by May.”
While he’s most known for his work with Couture, Melanson has also been busy with other current and former UFC stars.
“I’ve been working with Vitor Belfort,” said Melanson. “He’s going to start training again soon. He’s been travelling and has been helping out with charities and fighters.
“Frank Trigg and I are training, and are actually working a lot. He’s actually gotten better on the ground, and his stand-up as well. I’m excited for his progression.”
While he’s in high demand, Melanson likes to keep his clientele to a minimum for good reason.
“I only have the time and energy for a couple fighters at a time,” he commented. “Any more than that and the quality goes down.”
While he’s been helping others out, Melanson’s main focus always remains on Couture, whom he helped prepare for a big April 30 showdown with Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida at UFC 129 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Couture has said it will be the final fight of his MMA career.
“He’s got a tough fight with Machida – it wouldn’t be my first pick – but it’s what he wanted,” admitted Melanson. “It only happened because Machida said yes, he wanted it.
“I don’t think the UFC wanted this fight to happen because it didn’t make sense to them, but Lyoto said he wanted it and really made it happen for us.”
Melanson extolled the virtue he feels best personifies Machida and what they are most wary of for this upcoming fight.
Randy Couture at UFC 109
“Machida fights on his terms and is pretty masterful at what he does,” said Melanson. “He keeps plenty of distance, so he’s away from danger, and when he goes in, he’s fast.
“Because of that, a lot of his punching is linear, and if you walk straight into him, you’re going to get hit. He’s got a lot of power and he can hurt you whether nor not your guard’s up.”
While careful to not give away specific strategy for the fight, Melanson does have one particular goal for Couture at UFC 129.
“I hope this fight, Randy can actually stop him,” stated Melanson. “I don’t like the idea of going to a decision against Machida because if you stand in long enough, eventually he’s going to get something in and hurt you.
“If you look at the people who were successful in closing the gap on him, there was always a commonality. That’s what we’re trying to do, find some pattern and things to avoid. In reality, it’s going to be Randy’s desire to win that takes this fight.”
Having another big year in business continues to drive Melanson forward, but as he said in closing, there are other things outside the fight game that are just as important.
“We’re going to be going to a charity event next weekend with Five Star Clothing and Brendan Schaub to a children’s hospital in California and hang out with the kids and pass out shirts and give back to the community,” said Melanson.
“It’s nice to be part of that with those people and to help give back to people who are less fortunate. I’d like to see more fighters do that, because it really means a lot to those kids.”