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UFC 102:

Randy Couture’s Muay Thai trainer more than just a masseur

World champion Chong has improved Couture’s skill set, spirits

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Justin M. Bowen

Two-time Muay Thai world champion Quentin “The Dragon” Chong, right, talks to five-time UFC champ Randy Couture after a training session for Couture’s upcoming fight with Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC 102. Chong has helped “The Natural” obviously with his striking skills, but also is mindset and spirit.

Randy Couture Workout

Randy Couture works out at his gym Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas Thursday in preparations for his upcoming fight against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in Portland, Ore on August 29. Launch slideshow »

Beyond the Sun

Hearing your massage skills are on par with your Muay Thai technique is probably not the manliest word-of-mouth campaign an MMA trainer can hope for.

“They really were fantastic for relieving tension and helping with your strength-meridians and all that,” former UFC champ Randy Couture said of Quentin “The Dragon” Chong’s post-training recovery regiments. "Really the massages alone were worth it to bring him in."

Luckily, Chong can also boast that he’s one of the baddest man on the planet two years running — claiming world Muay Thai titles in 2001 and 2002.

“I look at Randy like myself. We’re both very passionate about fighting. We never did it for the money,” said Chong, who met Couture on the set of “The Scorpion King 2,” which was set in his hometown of Cape Town, South Africa. “C’mon, Randy didn’t wrestle for the money and there’s not a whole lot of money in Muay Thai.”

After hitting it off and working out in Chong’s own gym, Dragon Power Muay Thai & Fitness Centre in Cape Town, Couture brought Chong to Las Vegas in February 2008 to help train his wife at the time, Kim, for an upcoming fight.

“He called me earlier this summer and said ‘Hey, you busy for the next two months, I want you to train me for my upcoming fight,’” Chong said. “And here I am.”

Couture — who said he hopes to lure Chong, who grew up in Hong Kong studying Kung Fu, into staying in the States for good — has been impressed with how much the two have accomplished in eight weeks of preparation for his bout against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC 102 in Portland, Ore., this Saturday.

“He’s really improved my balance and timing in terms of kicking and precision of my punches and elbows,” said Couture, who is trying to rebound from losing the UFC heavyweight title to Brock Lesnar at UFC 91 in November.

“Some of the clinch work he’s taught me has been invaluable. Plus, he’s got a tremendous spirit.”

Chong credits the 46-year-old Couture’s spirit and work ethic for why “he looks like he has the body of a 21-year-old.”

“His mindset and focus are amazing. He’s got a lot of things going on right now with the divorce and everything, but he’s kept clean and working out hard every day,” Chong said. “Like I was saying earlier, since we are so similar I think I understand that he’s never completely happy with his performance.

“But during this camp, for the first time in a long time, I think he’s finally being himself and that has made a huge difference.”

Despite plenty of clock constraints and side projects that make those around him wonder how he manages his limited time, Couture says his nearly three-decade experience as a fighter has taught him a few life lessons outside the Octagon.

“You really have to learn how to compartmentalize tasks and put them in the proper places. You have to evaluate and realize what you can affect and what you have to let go because you can’t really change it,” said Couture, who recently wrapped up shooting “The Expendables” with Sylvester Stallone as well as helping out fellow Xtreme Couture fighters Forrest Griffin and Gina Carano in their most recent bouts.

“That all comes with experience. I don’t see most of it as a distraction. I knew what the time frame was gonna be on the movie. And as far as cornering and helping with Gina, I look at it as motivation — which is something I really like to do and rarely takes me off my training cycles.”

Plus, Chong was there every step of the way to help with the training and necessary “tension relief sessions.”

“He’s relaxed and ready to go,” Chong said with a laugh. "The best I’ve ever seen him."

Andy Samuelson can be reached at [email protected] or 702-948-7837.

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