It could end up being a career-altering move for Xavier Nash.
Three years ago, Nash, 28, made the decision to change things up in his training, and made the move to Xtreme Couture in Etobicoke, Ont.
Since making the switch, now working under head coach Robert Santos, Nash said he feels his game has reached new heights, and he feels like a new fighter.
“When I first started training with those guys, it took me a few months just to survive a single round with them. I had no idea that level of skill even existed,” said Nash in an interview with MMA Empire.
“I just feel like I’m a different level of athlete and fighter. It’s definitely upped a few levels.”
Prior to Nash coming into Xtreme Couture for the first time, Santos said he didn’t know very much about him.
But after a few training sessions and spending some time with him, Santos said he saw great potential in Nash to be successful in MMA.
“He definitely had a lot of potential. He’s very tough and strong,” said Santos in an interview with MMA Empire.
“When I first met him, he was just a raw athlete.”
Great MMA minds
For his first year at Xtreme Couture, Nash had the luxury of working with current number 12-ranked UFC light heavyweight Misha Cirkunov.
Cirkunov has since made the move to the Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas to more consistently train with fighters at his weight.
Nash said he took a lot away from the time he was able to train with Cirkunov, and believes the experience will help further his career.
“He definitely made an impact on my game before he left. The biggest thing was it was just super humbling to be able to work with him,” said Nash.
“His knowledge, just when it came to jiu-jitsu, was at another level from what I was used to. His work ethic was through the roof.”
Now eight fights into his professional career, Nash has had to navigate a challenging slate of opponents to reach his current 4-4 record.
Nash has already shared the cage with two current UFC fighters in Devonte Smith and John Gunther, as well as one of Canada’s top-ranked welterweights in Scott Hudson.
Despite amassing more losses than he would like through eight fights, Nash said the experience he gained and lessons he learned fighting those calibre of opponents is more valuable.
“It just gave me the confidence I could hang with guys at that level.
“It just shows what I can work on and what I can improve even more. It shows holes in my game, and from there I can work on fixing them and not making the same mistakes twice.”
Nash healthy and motivated
Up until his most recent fight, a unanimous decision win over Kris Allard, Nash had been dealing with a shoulder injury that would cause it to dislocate at certain times, even during a fight.
Following surgery last summer, Nash said he’s now fully recovered from the injury, and is now focused on continuing to show what he’s truly capable of when healthy.
“I was just kind of too stubborn to do anything to take care of it at first.
“When I fought John Gunther, it dislocated mid-fight. In my opinion, I was winning that fight up till that point. It popped back in after a bit, but it’s just really weak after that. I was essentially fighting with one arm the rest of the fight, and lost a decision. In my fight with Hudson, it dislocated two weeks before the fight. He’s a tough guy and very skilled, so I’m not taking anything away from him, but it definitely put a damper on my training those last two weeks.”
Injury or not, Nash just shows up to fight, which is what Santos said after being in his corner for the first time.
Along with his athleticism and work ethic, Santos said one of Nash’s best attributes is to perform when it matters most.
“I’d never seen him fight live or anything before I met him, but now seeing how he trains and how he puts it all together on fight night, he can definitely go really far,” said Santos.
“Most guys can’t put it together on fight night, but for him it just seems like it comes natural.”
Now residing in Etobicoke, Ont., Nash has lived all throughout Ontario, as well as Newfoundland and New Brunswick throughout his life.
But through all the moving, experiencing new places, and meeting new people, Nash said one of the most substantial moments in his life was when he first decided to walk into an MMA gym at 18 years old.
“It changed a lot for me. All my big life decisions have been revolved around that, or at least incorporated,” said Nash.
“It’s also just about meeting new people, the opportunities that come with it, and travelling. I’ve got a lot of cool opportunities out of it, so that’s probably the biggest life decision I’ve made.”
Similar to many young fighters, Nash said his goal with the sport is to make it to one of the big promotions, UFC, Bellator or One Championship.
And from what he’s seen of Nash in the gym and on fight night in the three years he’s been working with him, Santos said he believes he has what it takes.
“He can compete against anyone in the world right now,” said Santos.
“On fight night, he puts it together, so it doesn’t matter who you put in front of him. With how he’s training and continuing to get better and better, he can fight in the top organizations for sure.”