Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Post Tournament Reflections: US Grappling's Diamond State Games/Delaware

It's always a good day when you can make a Prince reference while you compete in submission grappling.
Both my buddy and I competed in our Toro BJJ Purple Rain Rashguards. Stylish, I know.

This weekend I made the 6-7 hour ride/drive up to Delaware with 3 teammates.

Worked and refereed for the awesome folks at US Grappling, helped set up the venue, watched some Bellator 129 (no, you didn't miss much except some fine headbutting by Houston Alexander).

Had the worst hotel breakfast I've ever eaten at a hotel (it was a Ramada Inn).

Took 3rd in the Advanced NoGi, won a match by keylock from the triangle, lost a match on points, then won a match on points with some sweeps, guard passing, mount/back points.

In a combined purple belt weight class, I lost in the first round after getting stuck in closed guard for 7 minutes and losing a referee's decision. It was a frustrating day at the close, but I did stick to a new game plan for me which is to "play the game".

Often, I get impatient in my matches. I will pull guard or step right into a less than advantageous (for me) position to get to the Jiu-Jitsu.
A big thing I've been trying to do is be more aggressive at the start in terms of mindset but tempering that with patience as to when the timing is right.

I got to watch some great black belts I know compete, refereed matches, and did some winning and some learning.
I got to rock my sweet Toro BJJ gear from Cageside MMA (because who doesn't want to make a Prince reference while competing in the advanced NoGi division?) and my buddy and I even made it a Twinsies day and rocked the exact same outfit.

My first match I gave up the takedown but quickly looked to sweep and or take the back but settled for a triangle which led to a keylock.

My second match I hit a nice waiter sweep but then left an elbow out a bit which got me swept then I was lazy in addressing the over/under pass position and chose to turtle to avoid the guard pass. I had opportunity to come up on an x-guard sweep but I was no insistent enough and ended up ceding back points from there and ultimately lost the match on points.

In my 3rd match I scored points from a variety of places and was glad to have 3 matches in the NoGi against people who were not my teammates. You travel 7 hours each way to compete and it's a bonus to not face guys you already pay money to train with on a regular basis.

By the time this calendar year ends I'll have competed in at least 12 Jiu-Jitsu tournaments and 1 Judo tournament. I've competed more this year than any year to date and intend to increase that average in my 2nd year at purple belt in 2015.
I've trained harder and with more deliberate practice in mind than probably all my other years doing Jiu-Jitsu combined and I see the divide within even my own belt division growing greater each day.

There's that sinking feeling that though I don't train like a recreational Jiu-Jitsu practitioner, I also don't train nearly along the likes of the professionals.
As far as what that means, in terms of actionable reality, I have been diligent about strength and conditioning since the summer and intend to keep it as a part of my training regimen. In addition, I've begun competing in the NoGi and stepping out of my comfort zone in doing so.
I've been more diligent about my diet and have quit my weekend job to ensure I'm able to travel to compete and referee more often and also to be more well rested on the day of the tournament, as opposed to when I would work my regular job, then work until 2am Friday night, then travel, compete, referee and be back here to work again Saturday night until 2am.

At any rate, if I want different or better results, I have to look at what I'm doing and also what I'm not doing.
I can't change only the easy things or the things that I feel like or seem appealing to change (that don't really challenge me) and necessarily expect smashing, overwhelmingly awesome results.

I'll be looking for some wrestling practice/training going forward to help my NoGi game and also looking for more referee opportunities as it's a way to offset my training and travel costs as well as hopefully get some discounted registration.

It's been a long road just to this point and in many ways it feels like it has just begun.
I've completely dominated guys at purple unlike anything I did at blue belt, but I've also had matches where I made one mistake and never got it back.
I'm sure this disparity only increases at each belt level (something confirmed to me by virtually every upper belt I've asked).


Pick Your Poison: Bellator 130 & UFC 179: Mendes vs Aldo Picks and Prognostications

It's been 3 weeks without a UFC PPV. After 2 weekends in a row that had double booked UFC events, it's been a nice breather. I don't know how I can believe Mendes will somehow in 4 fights time have become a striker who will do what no one has done to Aldo, but that's what the highlight/countdown/narrative/fairy tale marketing strategy would have you believe.

The subplot is that basically, Mendes won 4 fights and no one else has done enough to warrant a title shot.
Scintillating? Not really.
Truth? Yeah, pretty much.

At any rate, the co-main event is two guys coming off of a loss (Teixeira in a title shot and Phil Davis dropping some spots due to Anthony Johnson who despite now making his weight class limit and KO'ing fools, is out while the UFC looks at alleged domestic violence.....le sigh). In other action Beneil Dariush tries to rebound from a loss, Fabio Maldonado will incur more brain damage and wing some punches, and Jiu-Jitsu stars Yan Cabral, Wilson Reis, & Durinho Burns will see action. The main card itself of 179 doesn't do much for me honestly, but there's enough smattering of talented guys mixed throughout the bouts that I'll plug my 4 hours of my life into watching it after some open mat Jiu-Jitsu early in the day.

My picks are as follows:
Aldo by debilitating stoppage as revenge for perceived insults from team Alpha Male.
Teixeira who will punish the gun shy Phil Davis and beat out of him a unanimous decision.
Maldonado will win a favorable match-up against some guy you've never heard of.
Lucas Martins will win by submission
Beneil Dariush will win by submission.
Neil Magny will win an entertaining stand and bang affair.
Yan Cabral will win by submission.
Jorgensen will continue his slide into obscurity and lose by TKO to Wilson Reis.
Felipe will win because that's my nephew's name.
Burns will take down and submit some guy I've never heard of.
Fabricio will beat some guy I've never heard of.

"main CARD
Pay-per-view, 10 p.m. ET
Jose Aldo vs. Chad Mendes
for featherweight title
preliminary CARD
UFC Fight Pass, 7 p.m. ET
Fabricio Camoes vs. Tony Martin "
In the B squad of MMA, but on cable television which means more accessible if you're lazy, Bellator brings a mildly interesting card with Emmanuel Newton and Rick Hawn amongst others. Bobby Lashley is fighting too, for whatever it's worth.
I've found myself mildly enjoying Bellator cards as I've seen several as of late: either while working the door downtown at my side job because it's on cable TV or when I've been on the road to compete and referee for US Grappling, chilling in the hotel room the night before the tournament.
I've got Emmanuel Newton winning an entertaining fight with Vassell. Bobby Lashley looking mediocre but still beating some guy with less notoriety than him.
Rick Hawn vs Dave Jansen is a really good fight and one that's hard to call. Dave Jansen is a guy who I've always liked watching fight as he is truly a mixed martial artist. The judoka in my heart wants Rick Hawn to win but he's looked hit or miss at times in the past few years. Dominating some guys and losing other fights (Michael Chandler comes to mind). I'll have to go with a split decision win for Rick Hawn with a lot of clinch time and him winning by moving forward and a few more takedowns.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

World Jiu-Jitsu Expo Superfight Trailers!: Robson, Grippo, Schembri, Shaolin, Tanquinho et al

So, the World Jiu-Jitsu Expo has stepped up its game quite a bit.
Below are the trailers for some of the superfights.
It's a nice move and is pretty badass as well.
The only trailer I did not include is that of Tim Spriggs vs Leo Nogeuiera as Spriggs currently represents Team Lloyd Irvin who much like Voldemort, shall remain virtually nameless on this blog as much as possible.
Moving on, there are some great matches of up and comers versus  veterans and even an old school rematch for Robson Moura.

Gianni Grippo has an upcoming Copa Podio match that is submission only with Joao Miyao. They have marketed it as Miyao's first submission only match but I saw him compete no time limits with Garry Tonnon at Jiu-Jitsu Want vs Need if I'm not mistaken.
At any rate, Grippo faces recently mma-exported black belt world champion Tanquinho (who defeated Rafa and Cobrinha on the same day, arguably the two most dominant featherweights in all of modern Jiu-Jitsu.
This is an absurdly stern test for Grippo and I see Tanquinho's physicality being a real tough test for Grippo.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Conor McGregor: Welcome to My Office/Mindset of a Champion

"Success leaves clues."

Give credit where credit is due.
There are lots of talented athletes who come and go in the UFC.
Even among the champions, how many chart a meteoric rise and not only talk but fight their way into title contention in the murderous featherweight division atop which sits the nearly unflappable Jose Aldo.

He also understands, as he says "I know that Conor vs whoever sells more than Cub/Frankie versus whoever."
The reality then is also the truth: this is a business in addition to a game of fighting.
Other athletes unwilling to craft a persona and demand and earn and hype deserve to win 10 or 11 fights and go without a title shot ala Jim Miller et al.

Other athletes can bemoan McGregor's favoritism from his UFC bosses but the guy has people tuning in and people chanting and singing and the like. Finishing all of your UFC opponents but once since signing with the organization doesn't hurt your star's shine either.

Part of the reason I find Conor McGregor intriguing is all of the above. He walks forth, talks, and in his mind expects all of the above.
He has thus far walked the walk and talked the talk.

As a fighter and competitor who many who know me will readily acknowledge I haven't fought or competed to my potential; I find the discussion of mindset and the like incredibly prescient and of interest on a personal level.