Off Guard: Xtreme Couture's head MMA coach Dennis Davis on maintaining a happy camp

LAS VEGAS – Mixed martial arts is a sport full of strong athletes and big personalities, and sometimes keeping everybody on the same page can be a tricky task.

Over the course of the last few months we’ve seen high-profile bust-ups between teammates Colby Covington and Jorge Masvidal and Dustin Poirier, while former Jackson-Wink coach Frank Lester went public with his grievances with UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones and fellow coach Mike Winkeljohn as he vented on social media.

It shows that, while MMA is an individual sport that involves close-knit teamwork in the lead-up to fights, cracks do sometimes appear.

Speaking to MMA Junkie at his Las Vegas gym, Xtreme Couture’s head MMA coach Dennis Davis chatted about how he keeps everything in check in his gym and with his athletes.

Looking at Lester’s public fall-out with Jones, Davis admitted it wasn’t a situation he’d experienced in his career.

“Usually the guys here, we haven’t had no one really stiff anybody yet, so we haven’t really had to deal with that problem,” he said. “Again, I don’t know exactly what happened with those guys, but if he did stiff them, we haven’t really had that – especially at that amount of money. Some of our guys aren’t making Jon Jones money, so if it has happened it’s been little money.”

Lester’s complaints highlighted the fact that he worked on a handshake, rather than a drawn-up contract, and Davis said he works under a similar arrangement with his fighters.

“I deal with people by handshake because I believe in what I do, and if me and them don’t agree, then I just won’t work with them,” he said. “But I haven’t really had too many problems with guys I’ve coached. And with the other coaches (at Xtreme Couture) it doesn’t seem like they’ve had too many problems as well.”

Davis also said he keeps the equilibrium at the gym by keeping a close eye on the attitudes of new arrivals at the gym to ensure they fit into the ethos and work ethic demanded within the gym’s four walls.

“We’re not going to tolerate that stuff,” he said. “We’ve had guys come in who have certain types of attitudes, and they stay for a week, then they’re gone. Big names, too. But instead of being: ‘Ah we just want the big-name guy to be at our gym,’ we’d rather have characters at our gym. So we try to nip it in the bud from the get-go.”

Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie

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