Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 Personal Training/Competition Retrospective

The training and competition year draws to a close.
I trained a lot and changed/added to several parts of my overall game.
I was promoted to purple belt recently which marks the next big step up in competition on the mats.
I'd be doing a disservice to myself and the sport(s) in general to boil it all down to a few sentences, so here it is:

2013 began by my continuing my recovery from ACL surgery. The year began at the 6 month post op mark from ACL reconstruction (July of 2012).

By April of 2013, I competed in Jiu-Jitsu again, and by September I competed in Judo again.
Returning to competition in each sport was an important milestone for me mentally in overcoming the injury.
I'm still not at 100% for competition but not competing had more to do with fear of losing than fear of injury so I knew it was time to get back in the saddle.

I could probably push harder to be back where I was, but honestly, the fact that I can train 5-6 days a week now is enough for me. Historically, I always came back from injury far too soon and trained while injured, so I've made a deliberate effort to methodically press the envelope rather than just jumping back in the deep end and risking setting myself back to start.

I've been working on analyzing how I feel in tournaments and beginning to make an effort to peak/yet feel rested the day of the tournament. I'm 31 now and I have to train smarter to maximize my performance and anticipate the slow decline of my physical abilities.

I don't enjoy competing in Judo as much as I once did with all the new rules and restrictions. But it is another avenue that will force me to press for the submission and/or guard pass to get the pin.
Judo also forces me to lift weights and do sprint workouts, something I've managed to not force myself to do for Jiu-Jitsu competition where I simply train, drill, train, roll, roll some more, drill, and roll ad nauseum.

Lifting weights and doing sprints is what I hate the most, which means it's likely what I need to be doing in order to truly prepare.
This coming year will also mean more early morning roll sessions before work.
I'm toying with the idea of returning to submission grappling competition.
I honestly don't enjoy NoGi, but it is a part of the grappling game which I have neglected. I have this creeping semi-subconscious suspicion by years end I'll have done some NoGi competition or at least be willing to devote some time each week to it.

2013 Tournament Recap:
US Grappling Submission Only Greensboro: Won 30+ blue belt & adult blue belt
US Grappling Virginia Beach: Won 30+ adult blue belt and adult blue belt
US Grappling Pendergrass Classic: Won blue belt absolute
                  Naga Charlotte: Won blue belt adult
-        lkj    US Grappling Submission Only Richmond: won 30+ blue belt 
                  Hometown Heroes Judo Tournament: 3rd in 73kg black belt division
                  Takemori Open Maryland Judo Tournament: 2nd in 66kg black belt division
                  Bushido Roll Bowl Newaza Tournament: Won lightweight Advanced division

Mindblown Monday Morning: Keenan Cornelius Training NoGi with Rafa Mendes

Ronda Rousey is the Floyd Mayweather of MMA: And It's Our Fault

Rousey made a good point in an interview I saw the other day: she hasn't said things like this about any of her other opponents. You get the feeling, for whatever various reason(s), she just really doesn't like Miesha Tate.

That being said, the amount of hype and attention (good and bad) will likely mean that Rousey is a heel to stay.
Miesha was the biggest name for Rousey to fight and Cat Zingano's injury likely was to her career's benefit in the long run as the match with Miesha had natural fuel/hype to burn.

Controversy much like sex sells and Rousey's Body ESPN issue or whatever-it's-called sold well.
The boo's and the questions and interviews following her refusal to shake the beaten Tate's fan base has all the makings of a third fight simply because it can be sold providing most casual fans forget the arm-mangling the first time, and that this fight went nearly 3 rounds.
Though, the UFC just bought up a ton of women fighters from Invicta which I'm sure some will float up to bantamweight as it always the case when TUF casts shake out afterward with some weight class jumping.

Rousey really does have it all right now.
Legitimate skills.
A good smile.
A finishing move that never seems to miss.
A willingness to be controversial unlike say GSP who was always a bit vanilla for many fans taste.

With GSP, Silva, and Cain all either gone for indefinitely or for good or on the shelf due to injury, the UFC needs high profile matches, hence Rousey's quick turnaround.

Aldo and Barao both fight on the same card in a few months. Jon Jones is booked for Teixeira (but at least a rematch with Gustaffson looks plausible). Pettis is also out with injury.

This is the downside of awhile back when I posted that pretty much every UFC belt was going on the line from summer to December of this year. We had a dearth of title fights but with that come injuries and also the fading end of GSP (at least for the time being) and now Anderson who has a long road before him even if he does return. The guy talks a lot of about God so it's hard to say how he'll interpret this twice defeat at the hands of the same guy (once for showboating and once via providence in the form of a leg break).  

Sunday, December 29, 2013

UFC 168: That Happened/Chris Weidman the Champ Meme Edition

Chris Weidman Defeats Anderson Silva by Bloodsport style Leg break

I was standing downtown at my other job when word got to me what happened to Anderson Silva's leg.
That he had by default lost the rematch and may never return from such a gruesome injury.
Often your read about these kind of catastrophic events and there's a desire by writers and pundits and critics to make it into more than it is.
Having acknowledged that, part of me has a hard time no thinking of the old adage: pride goeth before the fall.

The cynic in me was not bereaved when Anderson danced around a bit too long and got KO'd by Weidman. By the time last night rolled around, however, I wanted Anderson to destroy Weidman and ride off into the sunset as reward for his flashes of brilliance over years of dominance.
Anderson was mercurial always but his destructions of various opponents never had any of us doubt that when he turned it on, there was likely no one more skilled than him to grace the cage. He and Fedor made it look effortless at times.

In the end, Weidman is a more beatable champ simply because he's not Silva. I think Belfort will quickly KO him inside of a round because Vitor does that to hittable, slower starting fighters (ask Rich Franklin, Rockhold, Henderson, and Bisping as of late). The only two men to defeat Belfort this time around in the UFC are Jon Jones (who he very nearly finished in one round) and Anderson Silva.
Rousey Accepts role as the Floyd Mayweather of Women's MMA.

Rousey seems to have thrived on playing the villain. Call it her not caring, or perhaps someone who secretly craves attention be it good or bad.
Having heard her interviews about the politics of Judo and scraping by having medaled in the Olympics, she is a woman with resentments. No number of film roles nor ESPN covers seems to have made her comfortable as the face of women's MMA or as a social media darling.
Miesha was more competitive this time, but ultimately her skills played right into Rousey's like I predicted they would: Miesha rushing forward got her Judo tossed like a rag doll. Her double leg attempts were reversed and ultimately the jujigatame (that's Judo-speak for armbar) was a foregone conclusion.
As for the fight itself, aesthetically: women's skills in MMA are still developing but what it makes for are more entertaining scraps. Each fighter is a bit more hittable and this is a blood sport. The crowd wants action. Not everyone who watches MMA trains Jiu-Jitsu, but everyone can viscerally understand a punch to the face landing without needing to understand the mechanics of elite level striking.
Ronda lands good looking Judo takedowns and wins by submissions with some clinch work and stand-up mixed in for good measure. This fight also saw the champ go beyond the first round, and question mark in the minds of both casual and hardcore fans.

Travis Browne Marches toward title shot contention

The "Warmaster" Barnett on paper simply needed to get Travis Browne to the floor to finish off Travis Browne. Anyone doubting that Travis Browne is tough to finish need only see his fight against Overeem to discuss further. I'm still unclear as to the enforcement of the 12-6 downward elbow rule as Browne's elbows were very directly in a straight line moving top to bottom (the same elbows that visibly hurt GSP in the first round against Hendricks.

In other news  Jim Miller continues his submission-centric ways with a quick finish of Fabricio Camoes.

Dustin Poirier continues his circulation of the title shot world with his dismantling of a stay puft marshmallow Diego Brandao.

Michael Johnson decisively KO'd the very tough to finish Gleison Tibau with a shot to the jaw/ear/side followed by an immediate hammer fist that sealed the deal.

Chris Leben quit on his stool. Personal problems notwithstanding, this is the unforgivable sin to many fight fans. Not in so much as Leben was taking an egregious amount of punishment, but he quit primarily due to what was obviously frustration pure and simply.
The knee that knocked him down by Urijah Hall to start the fight did not bode well for the Crippler's return to the octagon following a drug test suspension.
Urijah Hall showed good movement, patience, and fought the bull like the matador should: on the outside, picking his shots, with variety, and patience.
I don't know that Urijah Hall has the killer instinct but if Robbie Lawler can fight for the Welterweight belt nearly a decade after his first run in the UFC, anything is possible.


Sean Roberts Seminar - Raleigh, NC - Jan. 11th

At the request of a training partner/friend/gracious host of open mats/Ralph Gracie Black Belt, I'm helping put the word out about Sean Roberts seminar in Raleigh, NC on January 11th - He'll also be available for privates before and after the seminar, contact the # listed on the flyer below.


Saturday, December 28, 2013

Product Review Saturday: Toro BJJ Gi - Review

"I would never ask you to trust me, it's the cry of a guilty soul."
    - Way of the Gun

 I don't do a lot of product reviews because I rarely buy MMA/ grappling training gear. I stick to durable gear that lasts lengthy periods of time. I have two Judo Gi's that are 5+ years old.

That being said, I got ahold of the new Toro BJJ Gi from over at Cageside MMA.

"Toro "Blanco Diablo" Pearl Weave BJJ Gi"
It retails for $140.00.

I first became familiar with this Gi as some training partners and my coaches began wearing the Gi for training during the prototype phase. Having tried it on and gotten the recommendation from friends who train consistently (rather than more recreational enthusiasts) I got ahold of one myself because I only have one lightweight Jiu-Jitsu Gi for summer training and it's begun to wear out from repeated use. I also got to try it on at the Cageside Warehouse to ensure it fit rather than order over the internet and hope for the best. I'm super specific about Gi top fitting, and Gi's in general.

Weight of Gi:
For a long time, coming from Judo, I preferred double weave Gi's. Once I visited Brazil and experienced the heat, and began training Jiu-Jitsu more and more regularly, I found myself preferring a better fighting, slimmer cut Gi, as well as something that was lighter weight. The Toro Gi feels exceptionally light when you put it on, but doesn't hang on you once sweaty they way I've found other lighter weight Gi's sometimes do.

Gi Cut/Fit:The only Jiu-Jitsu Gi I've previously owned is a Vulkan Pro Light. It is lightweight, single weave, but when I train in it for extended periods of time, I don't like the way it hangs on my frame when sweaty. It has that "got caught in the rain and your T-shirt is drenched hanging on you" feeling.

The Toro Gi has a slimmer cut that fits better in and through the chest area in particular. I'm 5'8, 145 lb's or so, but with relatively broad shoulders compared to my waist. The Toro Gi really does fit very well through this area in particular rather than the putting on a large box feeling I often get when trying on Gi tops.

Pants: The material is soft and again, the pants have a more fitted feel as opposed to the balloon pants feeling you often get with some Gi pants. It also has several extra belt loops which I expect will deter the usual catastrophic loss of belt loops that plagues some Gi pants.

Appearance/Flare: The logo is simple and direct, "live to roll, roll to live". It's not a flashy Gi, and it's got very little in the way of designs that will clash with whatever banners/designs/stitching/embroidery you might want to add yourself.

Durability: As I recently found out, Toro BJJ/Cageside actually imports thread to Pakistan for improved durability in construction of training gear, making it longer lasting than the majority of Gi's out there which utilize native thread from Pakistan.
I waited until I'd trained in the Gi consistently for about 2 months to do the review. The Gi top and pants have held up well, with no discernible fraying or stitching coming loose.

Cost: $140.00 is considerably less than what I'd expect to pay for a more tailored Gi cut/fitfrom a company with great customer service and from a Gi that doesn't fit like a parachute or balloon pants. The added touches of extra belt loops, drawstring or rope included for the pants, and the higher quality thread make it worth the price. The more tailored fit in and around the chest really is what really sticks out to me in describing this Gi.

From the Toro BJJ/Cageside webpage:
"450 Gram Pearl Weave jacket (Light weight and very comfortable)

Black Contrast Stitching

EVA foam padded collar

Embroidered Patches

Pants are re enforced from above the knee all the way to the ankle cuff

Re enforced stitching on critical seams

12 Oz Cotton Twill Pants for daily training

Extra rope drawstring included

6 Total Belt Loops on Pants

White belt included

Mesh carry bag included


Thursday, December 26, 2013

How Guilherme Mendes Passes Reverse De La Riva

You'd think watching Guilherme's position he'd be vulnerable the other guy inverting, but he seems to keep his knees relatively pinched and it honestly does not seem to be much of a concern to him as he sets up his gable grip to knee through pass.

UFC 168 Full Countdown Video/Picks & Prognostications

Rousey by Armbar, round 1
Barnett by arm triangle round 2
Anderson Silva by obliteration round 2
Jim Miller by submission round 2
Poirier by TKO round 3


Because I'm progressive I'll discuss the womenzes fight first.
Miesha looks best in her fights throwing wild punches coming forward switching feet or putting the opponent on their butt up against the cage. The problem is the first part of that gameplan will get her taken down by the Olympic medalist Judoka, and the second one simply won't happen. She made remarks about Rousey's standup in the interviews, clearly trying to goad Rousey into standing with her, but why bother? Rousey will pull her to the ground and finish her by arm-mangle-bar.

Barnett will drag Travis Browne to where Barnett is much better: on the ground. See Barnett's fight with the always lethal on the feet Sergei Kharitonov. That guy is devastating on the feet and Barnett quickly took him down with his underrated takedown/drag to the ground game where his smothering mount leads to guys giving up the back/arm-triangle in vain hopes of escaping.
Barnett is light on his feet for a heavyweight (except against Cormier where he looked positively flat) and will not just be plodding around for Browne to bang with in close quarters.

I hate calling something so absolutely, but I see Silva absolutely demolishing Weidman. If you watch that fight he had some flashes of control in the fight with Silva on his back and a questionable deep kneebar, but other than that, the rest of the fight was Silva absolutely toying with Weidman.
I don't see this fight being competitive at all ala Anderson vs Chael 2. Chael had his first round where he got Anderson down...but as we've seen, Anderson only needs a split second on the feet (just ask Belfort, Chael, Griffin, Bonnar et al).

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Need @ UFC 168 10 Min Preview to Hold You Over Until the Countdown Show?

Despite Dane White's own admission that the Primetime shows are expensive and then I guess by default this card doesn't warrant such a special, the Countdown special airs this coming week.
Having rewatched their original fight, I don't think Weidman has a shot in *&^$.
If you want something to picque your interest/hope this won't be an utter demolition of Weidman before Silva announces his retirement, watch below.
Weidman was in control virtually none of their initial fight other than when he was smothering Silva  a bit on top after a takedown.

Silva had literally NO respect for Weidman's stand-up or overall MMA game and got caught.
I predict a laser-like precise finish this time that will leave no doubt as to who is the greatest Jedi master of MMA at 185 minutes before Silva quits the game for good.

Saturday Morning Motivation: Atos' Journey to the Worlds

If it's Saturday morning and you're reading this and thinking about open mat, watch the video below then go train.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Where Are They Now? JT Torres Jits. Documentary

Blue Belt Retrospective

It sounds clichéd to say, but I honestly wasn't expecting to get promoted this past weekend. Our school is notoriously stringent with promotions and much is considered before promotion.
I would not have been at all surprised to spend more time at blue belt competing and polishing the beginning components of what is starting to represent Jiu-Jitsu as it expresses itself when I roll.

Rather than wax generalities about faixa azul, I'll narrow it down to the focus that blue belt held a lot of important (and by important I mean formatively painful) moments for me:

I blew out my knee/had reconstructive ACL surgery.
I had to wait 9 months to have the surgery due to work and scheduling then I'd say there's another good 6-9 months before you're really starting to move again. I came to realize how important Jiu-Jitsu was to me and how much it had become a part of my daily life. The time away, though I did not realize it, ultimately was a good thing and was what I needed. I needed a mental break from the daily grind and my body had simply given out.
I came back and was forced to do things very differently and for quite awhile concede positions, learn to go to other positions (it was a long time before I felt comfortable going to mount, but as a result I developed my knee on belly/a position I had previously avoided). I also learned to play reverse de la riva guard and to invert rather than play closed guard or de la riva.
18 months of my time at blue belt was either spent injured or doing very little Jiu-Jitsu as I recovered from major knee surgery.

I competed 3x in MMA and lost each time. From each fight I learned things about avoiding overtraining, not neglecting parts of your overall skillset, and that my heart was not entirely in fighting any longer. I had proved to myself what I needed to in MMA, and it wasn't entirely for me anymore. I will fight again, eventually, before I am too old, but only to demonstrate to myself that I can properly go through training camp and embrace the process effectively.
I was never injured despite some very, very tough fights and time spent in bad positions.

I visited Brazil and trained.

I had actually never won a blue belt division outright until I came back from knee surgery. Prior to that I had closed out divisions with teammates, flipped a coin/gentlemen's agreement, but had never won a bracket outright.
Coming back from knee surgery, 10 months post-op, I won the adult and 30+ featherweight at a submission only, then did the same at a points tournament a month later.

Returning to the black belt division in Judo was another major mental hurdle.
I ended up competing at a tournament I had not prepared for because I realized the only reason I would not compete was fear of losing, rather than fear of injury. It had been almost 2 1/2 years since I had competed in Judo.
I took 3rd after a terrible call, but played well and could easily have taken 2nd my first tournament back with little preparation and the new rule changes (thanks IJF!) and in the face of the mental fear that I could get hurt again and be off the mats for months and months again.

I competed in Judo again in a couple months later in Maryland as part of a very tough tournament, doing two weight classes, taking 2nd to a very good player in the 66kg. Again, a major mental hurdle, winning very tough matches and playing well both in the 66kg and 73kg divisions, my 2nd tournament back from a very long layoff. I utilized my groundwork much more effectively, winning all of my matches save one on the mat.

I look back over who I was as a new blue belt versus now and I can't even recognize that person.

I look forward to the time I will spend at purple belt and know that it will hold both incredible joy and crushing letdown, but I look forward to it because I know I will come through it on the other side a completely different person and in the end, life is change.


Thursday, December 19, 2013

BJJ Rumor Mill/Gossip Mongering - IBJJF Changing Requirements

Bigfoot Silva Joins Josh Barnett in the Repeat -Steroid/PED Failed Drug Test Club

For those who don't remember, Bigfoot Silva's got a problem with passing drug tests/banned substances.

Whilst fighting for EliteXC, Bigfoot Silva got popped for pissing hot.

This wouldn't be as big a deal had the fight not been such a classic and been a great heavyweight fight.
As it is, it leaves a dark mark on the fight which ultimately sucks.

Bigfoot joins Robert Drysdale in the catalog of recent UFC guys popped for elevated testosterone.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Stuart Cooper Treatment + Eddie Bravo + Joe Rogan + Kron + Rickson

Sebastian Brosche

Recently saw Lex Fridman's breakdown of the Sebastian Brosche and his guard passing.
Sebastian Brosche: his campaign at the 2013 Worlds. I've always been interested to see someone go through their various matches to the finals, rather than simply watching different matches from various events over several years in looking at a player's particular style. He's been kind enough to share these with us online for everyone.
He first came to my attention running roughshod over Kit Dale, then taking Keenan to a very close match in the absolute at brown belt/Mundials when very few had heard of him outside of Europe.

Cognitive Dissonance: UFC 168 costs more, doesn't have Primetime episode due to cost

UFC Raises price for Anderson Silva vs Chris Weidman because it's a big fight.....but won't do a Primetime hype show for said event because "it's expensive".

Let that sink in.

"The problem with doing a 'Prime Time' is ... [it] is expensive as hell," White said. "And, it's just not airing in a place where we're getting the right amount of viewers."

That on the heels of basically offering no rationale as to why the event will be more expensive to the tune of $5.

The main event speaks for itself.
That being said, Dana White has oft criticized boxing for promoting one-fight cards.
Rousey vs Tate is a rematch that happened b/c the other girl for Rousey to fight got injured. It's the fight game. It happens.
Barnett is plugging toward a title shot and Travis Browne just put a stamp on his return by finishing Alistair Overeem and Gabriel Gonzaga (after a brutal stoppage lost to Bigfoot "hot piss" Silva). This is a main card fight as either guy with a win moves toward consideration for  HW title fight.

Pay-per-view, 10 p.m. ET
Chris Weidman vs. Anderson Silva
for UFC middleweight title
Ronda Rousey vs. Miesha Tate
for women's bantamweight title
preliminary CARD, 7 p.m. ET

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Riddle Me This: UFC Matchmaking Conundrums and Questions for 2014

Since Faber lost decisively to Cruz and Barao, but beats all the contenders, does anyone want to see him lost another decision to either?

Benavidez: see above

Why does Silva get an immediate rematch after a clear cut KO, but Ben Henderson has to work his way back to one after losing by armbar?

How on earth is Robbie Lawler fighting for the UFC welterweight belt? (crazy thing is, I will bet money he beats Hendricks)

Why is Nick Diaz not chomping at the bit to come back and fight in the welterweight division now that GSP has left?

With GSP gone, I'm calling Silva to retire after destroying Weidman, who will carry the UFC's PPV's?
The model may be changing with the emphasis shifted somewhat to UFC on FOX and FOX Sports 1, but Barao assuming he beats Cruz is not a big draw. Neither is Aldo, unfortunately (in terms of PPV numbers).
Pettis is out with a knee injury.

Other than the Silva/Weidman fight, and Jon Jones vs Teixera, I don't see many big exciting fights on the horizon.

I'm actually very interested to see how Cormier fares at 205. I wonder if she speed and dynamism he has over other heavyweights will be as apparent against 205'ers.

January has Smooth Henderson vs Josh Thompson.
February has Barao vs Cruz and Aldo vs Lamas, Machida vs Mousasi (I guess that's a fight to make) and Cormier vs Evans. Rory booked in a comeback fight against Demian Maia.

That's basically it folks. That is what we have to look forward to for the next 3 months or so.

Not exactly the premier of the premier in mixed martial arts.


Spice of Life: Thai Prison Fights

As always, I'm behind the times.
Just stumbled across this.
I still enjoy watching full Thai rules fights. I spent about 3-4 years training and sparring Muay Thai several times a week.
I got into Thai boxing after finishing college b/c Raleigh didn't have any boxing programs/gyms at the time. 

Poltergeist Tuesday: Phantom Cam at UFC on FOX 9: Johnson vs Benavidez

Monday, December 16, 2013

Monday's Multimedia Mailbag: UFC on FOX 9

My Wild MMA Predictions for 2014

Lawler will KO Hendricks and become UFC WW champ.
I haven't heard Hendricks mention once that the reason he lost to GSP was because he didn't shoot for 25 min's and use the Goldberg quoted 42 times, "he's been wrestling since he was 6 years old, blah blah blah".
Hendricks still thinks due to his striking coach from the hype show that he's a great KO artist.
Lawler, will put that to sleep.

If Lawler becomes UFC champ, it will truly be some Cinderella man *&^%.

Anderson Silva beats Weidman then retires and the 185 divisions goes bananas.

Some people out there are mistaken in thinking Weidman has any chance in defeating Silva. Well, he does, the first round when he took Silva down was proof of that. Chael Sonnen is the only man other than Weidman to demonstrate the defeat Anderson game plan in years.
Weidman unfortunately, for his rematch chances, KO'd a showboating Anderson Silva and has been told so for months on end.
Anderson will have laser like precision on full blast this time and will mercilessly destroy Weidman this time around. Then retire.
He has no fights left to fight and I suspect he would have retired had he finished Weidman with whom he was absolutely toying with prior to showboating a second or two too long.

Silva retires, Jacare becomes champ by year's end, if he asks for the title shot.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Faixa Roxa: A Recreational Player No More

 A big thanks to my coaches Billy Dowey and Jason Culbreth and also training partners. I'm still pretty speechless about it. It's been a long tough road, and the journey begins again.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

TUF 20: Girrrrrl Power - UFC Buys Invicta Fighters for TUF Season

For what it's worth, read the whole article HERE or from the Horse's mouth, the UFC.
"One month after signaling an interest to open a new UFC women’s division, the promotion has gone all in on strawweights.
UFC President Dana White today announced the promotion has acquired the contracts of 11 Invicta FC fighters, who will compete on the first all-women season of “The Ultimate Fighter” for the inaugural UFC strawweight title.
Filming for the show kicks off May 18 and features Carla Esparza (9-2), Alex Chambers (4-1), Claudia Gadelha (11-0), Felice Herrig (9-5), Bec Hyatt (5-3), Emily Kagan (3-1), Juliana Lima (6-1), Rose Namajunas (2-1), Tecia Torres (4-0), Paige VanZant (3-1) and Joanne Calderwood (8-0). A debut date for the first episode wasn’t immediately announced."

"Coaches for the show have not yet been determined. An additional five fighters will be selected for The Ultimate Fighter via a tryout set to be held in 2014."

The politically correct part of me should laud this as being awesome for women. As someone who isn't the biggest fan of the aesthetics of women's MMA, I don't really have a reaction.
It would appear that perhaps this weight class down will be the bigger/deeper one for women in mixed martial arts. From a viewer standpoint, I support any division with the merits and depth of being offered to make for a competitive division.

It's akin to Bellator's folding of their talent-thin divisions a couple years ago.
If there are fighters and the public demand for a division, by all means, hold contests.
If not, fold the division.

I am already reticent to watch much in the women's 135 lb division in that Ronda is already rematching a girl she absolutely arm-mangled a couple fights ago. Granted, the original opponent was injured, but Miesha was virtually the only other option as a result.

It's akin to Demetrious Johnson rematching Benavidez. Granted Benavidez has won several fights since then, and the first affair was relatively close. I like Demetrious Johnson, he mixes it up, he strikes, moves well, lands takedowns and that last minute armbar awhile ago was exciting. If he fought at that pace in another weight class, the tune from the casual fan would be different, but the bias against lighter fighters in the male side of the sport remains strong.
That being said, female fighters are often more hittable and frequently IMHO opinion have more evenly contested affairs. There are enough deficiencies in their skills to make for more entertaining scraps than you sometimes see in some of the more high profile fights like Rampage vs Machida et cetera.

Will I begin watching women's MMA because of this? No, I doubt it.
Am I entitled to make that choice as someone might prefer college basketball to the NBA or the NBA to the WNBA?

The F*&% You Mean I'm Getting Too Much UFC?

I've resisted being "that guy" for awhile.
You know...the guy saying the UFC product is suffering, that it's watered down, that the cards are suffering overall. That we're watching TUF alumni fill out main card bouts rather than proven top 5 or top 10 level fighters.

A series of revelations have forced me to be honest and admit that I've been letting Belfort's TRT-pumped Cinderella man narrative build-up and the dethroning of Anderson Silva, and the great Jon Jones/Gustaffson fight hide the base reality: a considerable number of recent UFC cards which I missed due to working downtown at my other job, and honestly didn't even go watch for free or track down the next day were headlined by a great fight....but beyond that had virtually no pull or interest beyond perhaps 2 or 3 of the fights on the card.

The recent Nate Diaz/Gray Maynard fight comes to mind. Sure, it was a great fight with the usual Diaz bros. and co. antics. The rest of the card? The finals of a TUF series even the hardcore of hardcore fans did not watch? I couldn't even tell you who fought on that card because I took one look at the card and literally let it fly from my mind never to be remembered.

This weekend? Urijah Faber picks off another contender and Benavidez in Urijah Faber fashion will again fail to win the belt against a guy he already lost to and fans are not honestly calling to see mix it up again. Condit vs Brown was a compelling fight, but against, as long as GSP is champ, I'm not entirely interested in Condit rematching.

What's next in the coming weeks? Sure, Weidman vs Silva is compelling. This is the year end card. I used to wait months for this card.
The supporting cast is as follows: Ronda Rousey facing a woman she already arm-mangled previously. Josh Barnett will drag Travis Browne to the ground and sub him inside of a round. I'm predicting he gets mount, and Brown turns over and Barnett RNC's or arm-triangles him.
Fabricio Camoes vs Jim Miller? Diego Brandao vs Dustin Poirier? Exciting fight with Brandao and Poirier to be sure, but is it END OF THE YEAR main card PPV stuff?
This combined with the UFC's coming increase in PPV cost, more cards on FOX 1 (a good thing), but if I have cable, I can easily go somewhere and watch it while I eat mac n' cheese with bacon and soda as the fans of team sports cheer while winning the match! has me wondering how much more of the UFC is a good thing. Mostly what's been added to me is diminishing returns.

I won't even comment on the new digital network pay to see feeder cards in places like Singapore topic that's recently come to light.

Coming up in mid January we have Rockhold (who I do like but last got spinning back heel kick KO'd in his UFC debut) up against Phillippou. This is a headlining bout now. Fox sports or not, whatever, this is now the headliner material. The next most interesting bout is perhaps Dillashaw picking up another win or Derek Brunson (what up NC!) taking on the gigantor of a man, Yoel Romero who recently blasted the TUF Brazil guy who looked like he was the real deal up until that brutual KO.

This is the entirety of the card. Are there some interesting mid-level match-ups? No doubt. I alos understand the need to give exposure to mid-level guys so that we care when they fight for the belt.
Do I want to see Urijah Faber pick off another contender given the fact that he's lost to both interim and divisional bantamweight champ and lost to Aldo at featherweight?
I'll be standing downtown in the cold working my second job, wishing I was watching the UFC more because it will be cold than because I find the card compelling. The next day articles will cascade that the lighter weight classes don't finish fights and that Demetrious is the champ of a thin (get it?) division, and I guess we'll look to Anderson Silva rightfully obliterating Weidman to close out the year and Barnett will cut a promo after grappling Travis Browne into his second loss in a row.

Perhaps I'm being Negative Nancy, but perhaps, just perhaps, we're in a slump and things have become ho-hum because....well, they just are.
The narratives are lacking. The product is spread thing, and there's a transition looming on the horizon for MMA.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Grappler's Confessional:I Support Guard Pulling And Hate Ankle Fighting

If you've watched any of the Jiu-Jitsu matches I've posted, I pull guard relatively often.

1) I'm there to do Jiu-Jitsu, not prove I'm a black belt in Judo
2) My goal is to prove my ability to sweep, pass, and submit, not spend 3 min's fighting for a takedown which at any moment my opponent can negate by simply sitting down.

It has always occurred to me that if sweeps are worth the same as takedowns, and a takedown has always taken more energy than a sweep (to me), that no wonder guys would pull guard.

I've heard rumblings the IBJJF will soon consider some rule changes which will encourage the takedown battle.

I'm actually opposed to this.
Now, I do not in any way advocate the 50/50 leg scissor battle or the 8 minute ankle grab strategies.

However, do I want to see what I saw in the ADCC where 2 great grapplers stalemate on the feet for minutes on end? No.
I want to see Otavio and Kron do Jiu-Jitsu, not hear Rickson cluck like a chicken.
I want to see Rafa and Cobrinha do Jiu-Jitsu, not hand fight for minutes on end.

Get to the grappling.
If someone pulls guard, fine. Get to it.
Now, what must be addressed is two players sitting on their butts, refusing to come up.
We've all complained watching two great grapplers in MMA having a poorly executed kickboxing bout, no?
Why then incentivize great Jiu-Jitsu players to have half-hearted wrestling matches?

Ban the ankle fight.

Kit Dale: Fast Tracking Jiu-Jitsu Progress

I first took note of Kit Dale when he fought a very close match against Keenan at brown belt *last year I believe?* and up until then, had not really heard about him. In the mean time, he's acquitted himself quite well including an appearance in the Copa Podio Middlweight Grand Prix.

I'm actually not one to rush when it comes to getting good. I'm a big advocate of deliberate and measured practice computing into incremental progress. Coming from Judo, where my competition game is predicated on perhaps 2-4/several throws and the multitude of set-ups, getting really, really good at a few positions and then progressing from there appeals to my Judo sensibilities.

Monday, December 9, 2013

US Grappling Submission Only & IBJJ Pro League Aftermath

Did another submission only tournament with the illustrious and always professional folks at US Grappling up in Richmond, Virginia this weekend.

I won the 30+ blue belt under 149, and took 3rd in the adult blue belt under 149 (being lackadaisical during the guard pass will get you triangled).
I took a rare night off from my 2nd job due to necessity. We didn't get back to town until nearly midnight. But I watched a lot of matches, learned a lot, and took home some trinkets.
I won my matches via 2 cross chokes from knee mount and 2 lapel chokes from the back. I was excited for the absolute b/c I was feeling better and better each match, but it was 8:30pm and with a nearly 3 hour drive back, we had to hit the road.
I'm looking forward to their next event in February. If you're anywhere near NC that weekend, come and compete.


As for the IBJJ Pro League from Sunday,
results are below.
I correctly called ALL of the 4 divisions, picking Moraes, Estima, Keenan, and Pe De Pano to win their respective divisions.

Pictures available HERE.
Results listed over at Kid Peligro's Mat.

Moraes certainly made a (re)splash, beating a bracket containing Fernandes, Barate, and Samir Chantre: all main stays and podium level light weights at the elite level.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Will the Real Jiu-Jitsu Please Stand Up?

The debates rage on: sport Jiu-Jitsu versus self-defense Jiu-Jitsu.

The larger debate of Jiu-Jitsu's prevalence in MMA as shorter rounds, and restarts to standing, and the like lead to a class of athletes rather than purist representatives of Jiu-Jitsu asserting it's dominance over wrestling, striking, et cetera.

The win at all costs mentality of Lloyd Irvin's program now in disarray as part of a frat-house/hypermasculine approach to winning and training with sordid details emerging as of late in the wake of the scandal/attack on a teammate.

As with all sports or martial arts or whatever-it-is, the rise to publicity, notoriety, and visibility will bring growing pains.

Public arguments and disagreements: Royce and Renzo disagreeing about the current generation of Gracies in mixed martial arts.

Kron discounting sport Jiu-Jitsu because of points and advantages (though, was he a world champion, I bet he'd still be competing).

The debate of whether we want Jiu-Jitsu in the Olympics (fortunately, IMHO, we've learned from the reality of Olympic exposure for Judo and Wrestling and been wary for the most part).

The exodus of Jiu-Jitsu greats to MMA: Jacare, Demian Maia, et al.

In other things we've made strides: Budo Videos has truly set the bar for streaming events: their commentary, and quality of live events is truly great to watch and enjoy.
For a niche sport, the presentation of the Mundials, Pans et cetera, are all top notch.

The IBJJ Pro League, Copa Podio (technical difficulties notwithstanding), Pro Trials in the Gi and the ADCC (again, disorganization notwithstanding) all make for a competitive list of events in the "tournament season". I was doubtful at its inception, but the Five Grappling invitational truly was a fan-friendly broadcast, that streamed well, was good resolution/quality, and was a lot of fun to watch. Want vs Need comes to mind as well with a broadcast of up and coming talent in a submission only format that was pure Jiu-Jitsu fighting to the finish with a ton of excitement.

We'll always find things to complain about whileJiu-Jitsu struggles in some regards to find its identity, but it will continue to be different things to different people. It's made me a better person. Protected me in my MMA fights, and introduced me to a crop of the most eclectic people I'd ever expect to meet all united by a singular passion.
I can only hope it's been (and continues to be) as meaningful to everyone else.


UFC Fight Night 33: Hunt vs Bigfoot/Pezao Hype Video

Y'know, oddly enough, I have a soft spot in my heart for Bigfoot. I never felt like he got the credit he deserved for beating Fedor. Sure, Bigfoot's gotten popped for PED's in the past. But at this point, with TRT, designer drugs, HGH....are we really keeping track?

He did it back when Fedor was still basically the undisputed best. Fedor was coming off of a loss to Fabricio, but even that still felt like a fluke. Fabricio had craftily caught him in a triangle to armbar transition and y'know, we still didn't want to deviate from the invincibility of Fedor.
Watching Bigfoot dominate Fedor positionally was hard(er) to watch.
You might have a revisionist take on that now, but if you're honest, or jump in a time machine and go back, Fedor was considered the best at that time, being in the UFC or not, he was the consensus greatest if not #2 at that point in time.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

ACL Recovery with Dominic Cruz

 ONCE YOU HAVE TORN YOUR ACL  YOU HAVE MY PERMISSION TO CRY | Generated image from memes,permission bane generated with the Imgflip Meme Generator

Having been on this path myself, I take note anytime an MMA fighter or grappler undergoes the knife for ACL surgery. Cruz had the cadaver graft the first go round but it did not take, something echoed by King Mo.

Returned to BJJ competition: 10 months post op
Returned to Judo competition: 14 months post op
- Have not returned to wrestling nor striking as of yet.
Range of motion: 90% of original. Still working on flexibility.

At any rate, I'm 1 year and 5 months removed from ACL surgery. I cannot imagine trying to come back from surgery like that and jump right back into a 5 round MMA fight against a guy like Barao.

The level of self-belief and confidence is staggering.

IBJJ Pro League Picks/Prognostications wi/ Gianni Grippo

Gianni Grippo put up some insight as to his thoughts on the divisions at the IBJJ Pro League this upcoming Sunday, December 8th.

Caio Terra is out, with Samir Chantre taking his place in the bottom weight class division. That being said, with Caio not in it, I think it's Gabriel Moraes' division to win. The guy is an animal (went from blue to black in one year and still one the world championship in each belt class). I like Samir as he has some notable wins, but I don't see Samir, Barata, or Laercio beating him. I like Laercio a lot, and I watch his matches quite a bit, but he's always seemed lacking in the strength at that weight class, and Moraes is an animal.
I think Moraes takes this one and puts another feather in his cap in what I hope is a return to high profile competition.
"Of the four, the favorite looks to be Moraes, who is the current light-featherweight World champion and has two black belt World titles on his resume. Right behind Moraes, Fernandes surely stands as the second favorite. The 2012 Worlds runner-up to Guilherme Mendes has been steadily improving since he began training with Rubens “Cobrinha” Charles and doesn’t look to be slowing down."

I think Victor Estima is hard to ignore, but I also wonder how he'll fare against the heavier competitors. Oliveira has subbed some good guys and when he's on point, he is on point ala his win at the US Nationals by armbar in less than two minutes over AJ Agazarm. Agazarm is  new to black belt, but I've seen him in matches with long time black belts like Eduardo Telles and avoid danger for the most part. I think I still go with Estima to pull it out because he is crafty, as evidenced by his close battles with Kron and others.

Keenan and Jackson Souza will hopefully rematch in the Gi after their close/decision-ending match at the Five Grappling NoGi invitiational. Keenan took 2nd in the absolute at brown belt last year with Jackson taking 3rd (and a certain much smaller competitor winning it all).
I'll go with Keenan to win this one and in particular, make a splash against Tussa should they match up. Keenan looked good at the Abu Dhabi Pro Trials against the likes of Magid Hage et al. His showing at the Copa Podio against the likes of Xande and Rodolfo also proves he can hang with heavier, elite level players.
" Last year, while Cornelius was still a brown belt and representing Lloyd Irvin, the young American defeated the veteran black belt to earn a trip to Abu Dhabi. Now, Tussa has his opportunity for revenge. However, if looking at favorites going in, many may see the final coming down to another Cornelius-Souza match-up."

Eduardo Telles is out and Joao Gabriel Rocha steps in against some monsters in his division with guys like Evangelista and Pe De Pano. I have to think Pe De Pano takes this one flat out.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Predict the Hangover: UFC Fight Night 33 - Hunt vs Bigfoot

Last week there was a TUF Finale 18 card, something or other.
I've never been so unconcerned with missing a card in my entire life.
Gray Maynard will forever lurk on my "most hated" list after that fight he had with Clay Guida.
Nate Diaz, as entertaining as his walk-outs, interviews, and non-committal statements may be, will not win the belt. Although, stylistically, he has a better shot against some of the potential belt holders not named Ben Henderson.

That being said, let's predict the losers from this Friday's card:

I see Bigfoot pulling this one out, oddly enough. This is a match-up of two of the most inconsistent HW's in the business with each of them looking amazing some nights, and like they'd rather be playing Candy Crush on other nights.
I'm genuinely scared for Shogun.
That loss to Chael, the loss which I cannot even let myself remember his last time out is hard to forget. Te-Huna is dangerous, make no mistake, and my biggest concern, like Shogun did in his fight with Jon Jones will be underestimating his opponent, getting hurt, and getting finished.
I think Shogun is not mentally in the best spot going into such a dangerous fight, with such low reward/high risk criteria, but I'll bet with my heart and pick Shogun to win by TKO in 1st round.
Ryan Bader b/c he beats most of the guys that aren't world beaters (or Tito Ortiz).
Pat Barry b/c I've seen him fight more than Palelei.
Mizugaki will control Nam Pham against the cage and with top position for the win.
Nick Ring (is apparently still fighting?) and will beat some guy I've never seen fight before.
The remaining fights are guys I've never heard of and thus who knows?
I hate to be "that guy" and fall into pundit category, but the dearth of cards available has made me largely blasé about a number of what should have been events in years previously.
Even the upcoming UFC on FOX 9, is relatively underwhelming when you look at it:
1 title shot which is basically because Benavidez has no one else to fight other than a rematch for the belt. Faber (who despite being a Sacramento draw has never won the UFC Belt).
Condit who also has never worn the UFC strap is fighting another contender and lost by a clear margin when he did.
And Nik Lentz fighting Chad Mendes, again, a guy who has never worn the strap and lost in pretty clear cut fashion.
THIS is the product for a FOX broadcast?

"Demetrious Johnson vs. Joseph Benavidez
for UFC flyweight title

"main CARD
FOX Sports 1, 9 p.m. ET
preliminary CARD
MMAjunkie, 6:30 p.m. ET