Xtreme Couture’s Eric Nicksick: Respect deserved, spotlight earned

For years, Eric Nicksick has been a mainstay as a head coach at Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas, Nevada, and while he has had a long run with plenty of recognizable names and champions, the spotlight has shined bright on him following UFC 260.

Nicksick’s pupil, Francis Ngannou, claimed the UFC’s heavyweight title in a rousing victory. Although the list of names that Nicksick has worked with gives him instant credibility, now that Ngannou is UFC champion, it’s the coach’s turn to take center stage.

Francis Ngannou: A life-changing decision

It was clear very early on that Francis Ngannou was going to be special. His knockout power is one of one, and his story of traveling from Cameroon to France to Las Vegas is one that movie scripts are made of.

However, in his first matchup with then defending champion Stipe Miocic, it was clear that there were holes in Ngannou’s game — and that he would need another coach to take him to the next level.

Enter Eric Nicksick and Xtreme Couture. Alongside Dewey Cooper, Nicksick grabbed onto Ngannou and his career and led him on a path that would lead him to the UFC heavyweight belt. Ngannou’s decision to leave Paris, France, and head to Las Vegas to work with Nicksick not only elevated his game, but it put him on a level that could make him a to global superstar.

Following Ngannou’s second-round KO of the reigning champion Miocic, Nicksick was deservedly praised for the way he handled Ngannou’s emotion, control, and the vast improvements everyone saw inside the Octagon.

There’s no doubt that Ngannou’s decision to move to Las Vegas is one of the biggest reasons he is now carrying the UFC heavyweight title.

Aljamain Sterling: An open door

While Xtreme Couture is built for special talent, Nicksick and his gym have been more open to accepting new fighters who have had to change their camps due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Most recently and notably, Nicksick welcomed Aljamain Sterling ahead of his UFC 259 title fight against Petr Yan, which saw Sterling walk away with the belt due to a disqualification.

There are not many gyms that open their doors to other fighters aligned with other teams, but Nicksick’s unique approach of welcoming in anyone who wants to learn is indicative not only the coach that he is, but the person he is as well.

“Knoxy Boy”: More than just a coach

While the world erupted after Ngannou’s explosive knockout over Miocic, there was one moment in the post-fight interview that stood out on a personal level compared to everything else.

Following his win, Ngannou was speaking to Joe Rogan about his epic triumph and much more, and that’s when Nicksick’s young son stole the show because of the shoutout he received.

In his post-fight interview, Ngannou called out to “Knoxy Boy.” The camera cut to Nicksick’s son, Knox, in utter awe of the new heavyweight champion giving him recognition.

That small gesture in the biggest moment of Ngannou’s career just goes to show the relationship that Nicksick and Ngannou have developed during their time together. It’s more than just fighter and coach.

Dewey Cooper: Respect among peers

The raw talent of Francis Ngannou is undeniable, yet putting it all together required a complete coaching staff, old and new. Part of that coaching staff included Dewey Cooper, who was with Ngannou early on in his career before the move to Las Vegas.

Cooper has been a key member of the team since Ngannou’s big move, and he notices the changes that Nicksick has brought to the fighter’s career.

In a statement provided to MixedMartialArts.com, Cooper detailed the impact that Eric Nicksick has had while maintaining what the two of them, and the entire team of Francis Ngannou has done as a whole.

“I was with Francis as a part of his old team structure and now his new team structure. I was the person who recommended that Francis start going to train at Couture’s because we needed him to continue improving his ground elements and overall MMA well rounding.
The most important thing was having Francis’ team in one place and have good synergy amongst the team. Which is why things are good now. Francis has all of his training in a centralized location where his training can be tailor-made for his continued improvements. Eric has done a tremendous job with galvanizing our team; but it’s not just one facet that makes the biggest difference it’s the whole team being a unit on the same page that does. The close relationship that Eric has developed with Francis is also an important intangible for sure.”

Dewey Cooper

Cooper continued on talking about the impact of Nicksick and Ngannou joining forces, calling the Las Vegas-based coach, the missing piece for Ngannou’s career.

“Eric was the missing piece to what we needed for our team!” Cooper said. “It was very important for us to get someone who had great wrestling knowledge, someone who knows my way of striking training, and knows how to mesh together a well-rounded MMA style.”

Eric Nicksick: A bright future

The praise of Nicksick has just begun, but really, he deserved it years ago. After securing the UFC heavyweight title with Francis Ngannou, Nicksick’s stardom will go as far as Ngannou takes him and his entire team. That only bodes well for the Xtreme Couture head coach.

Nicksick has worked with plenty of high-profile fighters throughout his career. If the last two years are any indication, he’s just getting started, and the future for him is as bright as the Las Vegas strip on a Saturday night.