There was a time when the name Xtreme Couture inspired fear and not just during moments it was splashed across the back of the gym’s namesake, Randy Couture, with adorning skeletal Indian chiefs as the Hall of Fame fighter walked down to the Octagon.

The Vegas training center has boasted some of the sport’s top dogs for years, yet as of late the once semi-invincible roster has come upon hard times. Popular members like Tyson Griffin, Evan Dunham, Forrest Griffin, Gray Maynard, Jay Hieron, and Martin Kampmann have had a rough 2011 thus far. Looking at the numbers, the only finishing performance in the bunch since last year was Hieron’s questionable submission of Anthony Lapsley at Bellator 35 in March and the group has collectively batted .500, an average only saved by Hieron’s three wins in the Bellator Season 4 Welterweight Tournament.

And, with the exception of Bellator’s Michael Chandler, there seems to be a lack of homegrown talent coming up through the ranks.

Could it be that Xtreme Couture, once a Mecca of MMA training, has declined and now stands in the shadow of destinations like American Kickboxing Academy and Greg Jackson’s MMA?

Personally, I say “no”. Sure, its core competitors have dealt with a difficult stretch in the last ten months, but it’s important to keep perspective. One bad year compared to more on the positive than you can count on one hand is nothing to worry about. Digging deeper into the facts shows that many of those losses the aforementioned fighters’ suffered were close or in some cases controversial, such as Hieron being barely and bafflingly outpointed by Ben Askren this past weekend, Kampmann’s questionable decision defeat to Diego Sanchez, and Maynard’s near knockouts of Frankie Edgar only to fall short in the end.

Xtreme Couture also has an excellent group of coaches whose time-honored techniques are proven to work – guys like Neil Melanson and Gil Martinez. They’re lifelong students of the game who have been teaching at a high level for a long time. Taking their expertise into consideration coupled with the talent inside Xtreme Couture’s facilities on a daily basis, there’s no reason Kampmann and company can’t have a terrific 2012, especially without injuries hindering their progress as was so often the case in 2011.

My only hope would be that Xtreme Couture might go out and try to bring in some new talent like AKA has with Mo Lawal, Roufusport with Askren, or TriStar with Miguel Torres. Also, why not look to Brazil or Japan to land some regulars to build into the next wave of XC representatives?

Either way, Xtreme Couture might not currently look like the shining jewel it has been in the past, but the quality is still there and is only a break or two away from returning to the powerhouse it was once perceived as being.

What do you think about the subject on today’s “Opening Round”? Tell us on our Twitter account (@mmatraining)!