Saturday, June 29, 2013

(Almost) Every UFC Belt is Up for Grabs June-October FYI



Between now and October, virtually every belt in the UFC will have been contested (minus that annoying Barao-Interim/Cruz-Undisputed(?) belt).


Not bad for a span of 4 months.
On that note, get ready to get your hopes up impossibly high and be let down in devastating fashion as I'd rank it as statistically nearly impossible all of these bouts will come to pass.
-------

The Bantamweight belt is up for grabs at the end of the month when Demetrious Johnson faces John Moraga (who?) at the end of July.

The Middleweight belt is up for grabs next weekend when the Chris Weidman hype train rolls into Anderson Silva territory in less than 2 weeks.

Jose Aldo faces the Korean Zombie due to Pettis injury, IN BRAZIL, on August 3rd for the featherweight belt.

August 3rd Machida faces Phil Davis who's coming off a terribly lackluster win over Vinny Magalhaes in a fight that unless Machida gets a dazzling KO, will likely not get him a title shot after the ho-hum blasé win over Dan Henderson.

TJ Grant is fighting Ben Henderson for the UFC LW belt on August 31st (with Josh Barnett making a return to the UFC I would have bet my right arm would never happen).

Two weeks before the 31st of August, Travis Browne faces Alistair Overeem who seems less "Reem"ish after passing his drug tests as of late.

Jacare is back September 4th in the UFC bringing high level Jiu-Jitsu back to MMA (yes, I know in the meantime Roger Gracie fight Tim Kennedy on the undercard of Silva vs Weidman).

Gustaffson faces Jon Jones in September.

Dos Santos fights Velasquez in October.

St. Pierre fights Hendricks in November.
 

Friday, June 28, 2013

Bernardo Faria Double Underhook Pass


If you read this blog, and particularly my posts regarding my most recent tournaments and what I've been working on, this one mentioning Bernardo Faria should come as no surprise.

I've modeled the beginnings of my deep half guard game on him, and appropriately enough, this video shows a pass from a position he ends up in not only from the guard pull, but often after his favorite deep half sweep.

I find myself here for the same reason he does, it comes naturally as a follow-up to the type of deep half sweep for which he is known and to which many high level guys still find themselves unable to prevent (or it sets up Faria's modified double leg/dental floss grip I believe it's called takedown).

At any rate, here it is:

Thursday, June 27, 2013

ADCC Anticipation Builds



The list is far from finalized (at least from what I can gleam from the internetz), but so far the likes of Lucas Lepri, Otavio Sousa, Augusto Tanquinho Mendes, and Rodolfo Vieira will all compete in China at the ADCC this coming September.

 

Do Fans Actually Buy These?

 
I say this not as an umbrage to Chris Weidman, or any fighter, but simply as an honest question.
I don't know that any of the guys I train with own any walk out t-shirts, well, maybe I've seen one person wear one to the gym one time.

Thoughts?
Btw, I'll take any lack of commenting/silence to mean that no, in fact, no one buys walkout t-shirts. 
 
 
 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Competition Judo Matwork/Newaza: Ki Chun Wang Armbars Nick Delpopolo



Throwback Wednesday: Eddie Bravo Rolling with Marcelo Garcia

In case you want to get excited about Metamoris III before you sit down and find yourself insulted by Al Bundy and his instructor when they tell you that "uneducated fans want to see submissions" so long as that involves their guy avoiding getting tapped by Cyborg or some other world class grappler.

I guess I was uneducated about grappling when I thought I'd see submissions and guys going for them in a submission ONLY event. Silliness, I know.
 

Unsupportable Opinion of the Day: Braulio Discusses his Foot on Lapel Guard, Hyperbolizes its Name



Um...sorry Braulio, I just can't get behind this terminology of "Guard of the Galaxies" business:
"What was that guard you used against Rodolfo?
I’ve been developing that guard for years, I call it guard of the galaxies [laughs]. I only use it when necessary, and at Metamoris, where the bout was longer, with a weight difference plus the hand injury, I had to bring it out. I think we’re going to see a lot of people using it from now on.
The goal is to nullify your opponent’s pressure and make room for several types of guard attacks. Anything can come out of there. It’s a way to leave your opponent off base and move below him."




 

Aaaaand He's Gone....to Jail: Paul Kelly Edition



Quick, someone alert the UFC's unofficial Drug Czar, Brian Carraway, people on twitter probably care what he thinks....and if not, I'm sure he wants to share with them what he thinks anyway.





Paul Kelly is going away for something like 13 years for his role in trafficking Heroin. That sounds harsh, but honestly, I'd imagine in the US you'd get more than that, but then, I'm not a lawyer or a judge or a cop, so what do I know.

At any rate, it is what it is.

Free MMA Fights Reminder: Bellator 96/Fight Master Debut(s) Tonight at 8pm



Bellator hits us with two barrels of the awesome shotgun tonight with the first Summer Series card of live fights AND their foray into the world of MMA-related "reality" TV programming.

Here's Ariel Helwani interviewing War Machine on his time away from the sport:
War Machine, MMA's answer to the Cinderella Man narrative.....I guess.

I can't really hate too much on the guy. We all make mistakes and if I had the kind of publicity he had when I was in my early 20's, I can't say I would have done any better or worse.

As it is, he's one of those guys you worry about once he's no longer able to fight and stay focused on that to keep him out of trouble:
 


Moving on to more pertinent actual MMA news/gambling picks:
Muhammed Lawal vs. Seth Petruzelli -   Petruzelli has what it takes to be a spoiler any time he fights, but I think King Mo plays it smart(er) and gets it done.      
  • Jacob Noe vs. Renato Sobral -    Though Babalu is on the downturn of his long career, I think he gets the submission here.
  • Rich Hale vs. Ryan Martinez -    any fight in the Bellator HW division seems to potentially find a Gypsy curse, what with guys winning the belt then retiring, axe kicks to the groin of doom, not making weight, et cetera. I honestly have no idea who wins this one, but I saw a picture of Rich Hale with a pretty badass beard, so I'll go with him.                  
  • Vitaly Minakov vs. Ron Sparks -    I'm going with the Russian b/c will be the next big wave of fighters in MMA (sorry Dana White, it won't be Hispanic fighters to tap into that market you want)      
  • Blas Avena vs. War Machine - Hopefully, War Machine gets a "W", and I think he will.  
  •  

    Tuesday, June 18, 2013

    Marcelo Garcia Rolling with Bernardo Faria

    I've mentioned Bernardo Faria on here quite a bit lately as who I borrowed my deep half-guard sweep from. That being said, it's mindblowing to watch him roll with Marcelo.
     

    Kron Gracie/Ralek Gracie Talk(s) Submission Only



    What I'm Working on: Open Guard Passing


    I've been having to go back and revisit the basics of spider-guard counters and addressing the hooks b/c after rolling with a training partner last week, it was frustratingly apparent I had forgotten even the most basic parts of addressing the foot on bicep/hip control and had completely neglected any drilling in that department of the Jiu-Jitsu megastore.

    From the top game world of Jiu-Jitsu:
    I've been experimenting with the Leandro Lo style of DLR counters/passing and now looking at Augusto Tanquinho Mendes and his style of guard passing from the top as a possible compliment.
     - example: Leandro Lo DLR counters

    Augusto Tanquinho Mendes knee in the middle/grip breaking  as a compliment.
     - example: breakdown of Tanquinho and Rafa Mendes 2013 Mundials
     - example: breakdown of Tanquinho knee in the middle/grip breaking
     - example: Tanquinho discusses breaking the cross grip of the bottom player/importance in beating Cobrinha at the Abu Dhabi Pro recently

    I have to learn to integrate them together at some point, but I need much more drilling to really begin to understand them each in their own right. Then, of course, against adept open guard players, as you defend the De La Riva hook, you must be prepared to address the foot on bicep control and vice versa as turning the knee in to put pressure on the hamstring to address the spider-guard hook leaves the knee vulnerable to De La Riva.
    The rabbit hole runs deep friends.
    I've spent entire drilling sessions just doing the Leandro Lo DLR counters and working with his neutral grips rather than the inside the knee/pants grip I've been using for the past several years. Leandro's style of gripping does seem to lend itself more effectively to the Torreando style of passing that he loves, as an initial observation, but it feels awkward to be sure, as it's simply different from the grip I've been using for so long.

    Monday, June 17, 2013

    Metamoris II Video Rant

    Don't let the fact that you're happy there's high level professional grapping tournament mask some unfortunate realities:

    1) If it's disingenuous to pull guard and butt scoot in the spirit of the self-defense aspect of Jiu-Jitsu, it's just as disingenuous to come to a submission only grappling match and not engage.

    2) it's insulting to pay for an event and then have commentators try to spin Schaub/Cyborg as anything other than what it was.


     

    Monday's Semi-Massive MMA Multimedia Mailbag

    Busy weekend with the WSOF 3 Card which in Bellator-esque fashion had some great finishes despite a card relatively lacking in name/star power.
    At any rate, the UFC 161 is in the books, Rashad will likely face Jon Jones again in what will likely not be considerably more competitive as the lack of focus in the Blackzilian camp sounded clear in the Countdown special with Rashad saying that you choose from one of the special area coaches (striking, wrestling et cetera) at the start of camp, and he sits down with the others and the come up with a game plan.

    Call me a purist, or old school, or whatever, but I think the big advantage in a team like Jackson's MMA is that there is a centerpiece, ala Greg Jackson that is the tie that binds.

    At any rate, what do I know, I'm a blue belt in BJJ and a black belt in Judo with 5 amateur MMA fights.

    On to the video highlights from UFC 161:

    I would truly rather see Dan Henderson match up with Jon Jones than Rashad vs Jon Jones Part Deux. But, the baldfather in his infinite wisdom would rather punish Dan Henderson for his personality than do what makes sense from a fan's perspective of seeing a different former champ challenge for the belt:

     


    In other news, Roy Nelson pulled a Donald Cerrone and was likely perhaps a fight away from a title shot but had a completely off night almost comparable to when he fought with the Flu against Werdum.

    I don't know if it was the quick turnaround, or perhaps Stipe really was just that sharp and Roy was just that flat on this night. Stipe looked much more fluid and mobile and got in, landed his 1-2, and got back out. My hat off to him. The heavyweight division seems to still be flush with strikers

     


    Jake Shields pulls out a lackluster win over fellow Strikeforce import, Tyron Woodley. I had a feeling Shields would do what it took to pull out the "W" even if it wasn't pretty or entertaining. When guys let Jake fight his fight, he is very, very hard to beat. I'm always glad to see a strong grappler in the mix as I need a break from all the stand n' bang fights that sometimes seem like they are becoming the norm.


    Sunday, June 16, 2013

    Judo: Paris Grand Slam 2013


    Running up to the World Championships in Rio....it also marks the implementation of rule changes (surprise!)
     

    My Favorite Judo Documentary: Tadahiro Nomura


    Tadahiro Nomura is my favorite Judo competitor of all time.
    Purists and others will disagree. Whatever.
    The guy is 3 time Olympic Gold medalist.
    "He is the only judoka in the world who has won three Olympic gold medals in a row, all in the extra lightweight (-60 kg) division."
    He is also a gold and bronze medalist in the World Championships.

    It's rare a competitor can peak at the right time to medal in the Olympics.

    For 12 years, this guy won and did so convincingly on the exact right day 3 times in a row.
    As is the life of Judo, watching him fail to qualify, essentially by one match/tournament for this 4th Olympics was heart breaking and I will always wonder what would have happened if.....
    At any rate, I find it hard to believe anyone will ever match his 3 consecutive gold medals.
    That being said, the documentary is also a testament to the extremely severe physical toll necessary to even compete at the world class level in the "gentle art" much less become one of its greatest competitors of all time.
     

    In Case You've Forgotten News: Bellator's Next Card/Fight Master MMA Reality TV Show starts Wednesday, June 19th



    Bellator kicks off it's summer series of events this Wednesday night at 10pm which will give me something to watch after Jiu-Jitsu other than strange Netflix documentaries about fake gurus (it's called "Kumara" in case that piqued your curiousity).















    That being said, leading into Fight Master will be the Bellator 96 Card beginning at 8pm:
    "
    MAIN CARD (Spike TV, 8 p.m. ET)


    PRELIMINARY CARD (Spike.com, 6 p.m. ET)

    "
    Not only do we have King Mo coming off of a spinning backfist KO but Babalu doing virtually the same thing. But wait! There's More! War Machine returns from his prison then injury induced MMA layoff.

    Saturday, June 15, 2013

    WSOF 3 Video Highlights and Results: Guillotines, Leg Kicks, and Smothering Oh My!



    The reason(s) why I work 3 jobs rather than make my living as a professional gambler recurred last night: I was wrong about Burkman wobbling and guillotining (sp?) Fitch in impressively short fashion. As it is, I'll be looking forward to the stand n' bang fest coming up tonight that I'll miss by working at my other job. Today was 4 hours of sleep after getting off work late last night and cleaning up, then open mat and lunch with friends and training partners. Tomorrow is Judo and Olympic lifts after a good night of sleep whenever I get off after doing the devil's work downtown.




    Outspoken critic of the UFC and fighter pay and an alleged preference by the organization for the stand n' bang style, Volkmann showed by he lost his job even in winning several fights and losing a few in the UFC with a grappling-centric affair he won decisively. Another fight I misjudged. Le sigh.



    In other news, we had a leg kick/verbal submission win!
     

    Keenan Cornelius Makes the List (Finally)

     
     
    What seems like ages ago, in the lead up to last year's Mundials, Graciemag put a list of the competitors to watch together. Noticeably absent was Keenan Cornelius who was on his way to the Grand Slam as a purple belt.
     
    In the meantime he has become a brown belt, won double gold at the IBJJF European Open, Brown belt Gold at weight/Silver in the absolute, Pan American double gold at brown belt, and won double gold at the No Gi World Championships.
     
    Now, within a year's time, he's also on the cover of Graciemag.

    I'm reminded of a quote, "Be so good they can't ignore you."
     
    

    BishopBJJ: Tanquinho Open Guard Passing



    In the spirit of BJJ Scout, here is a great breakdown of Tanquinho Mendes and his open guard passing which is kinda on point lately, as he beat Cobrinha and Rafael Mendes between the Abu Dhabi Pro and Mundials, respectively.

    Rather than embed it here, just go to his site and check it out. There is a dearth of other great stuff and analysis on there.

    Friday, June 14, 2013

    Weekend non-scientific and abridged MMA Picks and Predictions: WSOF 3 and UFC 161: Evans vs Henderson


    I go into one of my other jobs in about an hour, so my coffee and I give to thee a 5 minute-ish calculated/compiled list of predictions for tonight and tomorrow night's B Squad and A list professional MMA fights.
    I wouldn't recommend actually using my predictions as a baseline to bet money, b/c I haven't looked at the spread for any of these fights, but it's only money, right?
    Every now and then I'll have a rough event, but I tend to average picking in the neighborhood of 50-85% right most on an average night.

    Alas, I have digressed, onto the picks!
    --------

    In the event, you actually get the NBC Sports Network package whatever it is, or you're at a bar with 500 channels, here are my WSOF 3 picks:
    Jon Fitch will impose his will and then finish Burkman in the 4th round (!)
    Lyle Beerbohm will take a split decision over Jacob Volkmann.
    ------
    I'll be working downtown again, and furtively checking my phone between ID's/taking parking money, but here are my UFC 161 picks:
    Rashad Evans will be just a bit too fast and have a bit too much movement over Dan Henderson over 3 rounds. Were it a 5 round fight, I'd almost be willing to bet Hendo clips him somewhere in there and gets the finish. But I think Evans will come with a smart(er) stick and move gameplan with some pressing Hendo against the cage in between. I hate saying this, but I doubt it will be an overly exciting fight. Gustaffson and Jones are the only guys in the LHW I find entertaining much anymore.
    I think Nelson (assuming he doesn't have the flu or whatever he had when he fought Fabricio) will fight a smart fight and beat Stipe (who I do like, but as he showed in complaining about Magalhaes, the weakness is his ground game and he won't avoid the clinch all 3 rounds with Nelson who will drag him to the mat with impunity and out gut him *see what I did there*)
    Ryan Jimmo will get back to his winning ways and do an awesome robot dance afterward.
    I don't really follow women's MMA so I don't know who will win the Alexis Davis/Sexton fight.
    Pat Barry will clip and finish Shawn Jordan after 2 dreary rounds of Jordan pressing Barry against the fence.

    Jake Shields will pull a rabbit out of his hat and tap Woodley.
    Stout will live up to his "hands of stone" moniker and win a wide decision but not come close to getting a stoppage as per usual.
    Sean Pierson b/c I recognize his name and not the other guy.
    The same for Figueroa and his opponent.
    Yves Jabouin will put on an entertaining stand-up clinic and get  the nod.



     

    The Tall Boy of Protein Shakes

    Otavio Sousa Spotlight @ BJJPix.com

    Wearing a double weave Gi in Brazil in March, not recommended.
    Training with the school run by Ze Radiola, however, is highly recommended.

    A site I've been perusing for awhile now has a spotlight on Otavio Sousa who I've been following since his brown belt matches with Kron. He's now a 2 time world champion in the Gi.

    Check it out over THERE.

    "At the 2013 Worlds, I had a total of 5 fights where I fought the toughest guys, but I was not expecting anything different. Rather, I knew it would not be easy, so I trained and prepared myself to be at my best and be able to reach the end of the championship still strong. Thank God, I was able to dominate all my fights and finishing two of them by submission and the others on points. I'm very excited to be able to have me become champion for the second time in a division that is considered the most difficult and disputed of all.
    Here are a few of the names that I had to go through to become champion: Gabriel Rollo of Checkmat; Davi Ramos of Atos; Victor Henrique GFTeam and Cláudio Calasans of Atos. This year, eventually repeating the end of last year when I also fought against Calasans to climb on the highest step of the podium!"

    Curiously enough, when I was in Recife, Brazil, I trained at the Gracie Barra Pernambuco where Sousa and the Estima brothers began their Jiu-Jitsu careers.
    It's a small world, or something to that effect.

    Metamoris II Best and Most Ridiculous Quotes/Commentary


    2 Things not to do when you put on the least grappling grappling match in recent memory:
    1) Spin it like you had a great, smart, effective game plan
    2) claim that anyone who comments on your lack of willingness to grapple is uneducated
    3) By extension of the above, insult people who actually paid to see your event


    "They let the crowd pressure them into making mistakes."
    "The crowd who is not usually knowledgeable...."
              - Brendan Schaub

    The first time around, much of my rant about the Metamoris was production-related: the starting late, the nonsensical commentary of that random guy who looked confused, and the clear effort to sell a very particular type of non-sport yet self-defense Jiu-Jitsu disguised within a sport Jiu-Jitsu professional level tournament.

    This time around, my distaste focuses on one of the above and some stylistic choices made by competitors: hearing the absurd attempts to legitimize Schaub's behavior was atrocious at best.

    Braulio choosing to stalemate Rodolfo's guard passing with that lapel/foot grip rather than, y'know, like, grapple was also irritating to watch.

    Victor Estima stalemated JT Torres' guard passing, but was also trying to finish with a variety of leg and foot attacks. Watching Braulio simply stalemate Rodolfo to wear him out then go for a kneebar after 19 minutes and Rodolfo finally passed was anti-climactic at best.

    And, of course, who can forget the Schaub/Cyborg debacle.

    The Best Quote of Metamoris 2:
    "If you don't want to get caught in anything, stay home, my man."
              - Cyborg

    5 Most Ridiculous Quotes from the Cyborg/Schaub non-match:

    "I've never ran."
            - Brendan Schaub

    "It's the exact opposite of MMA."
             - Rener Gracie

    "Remember when Silva was fighting Demian Maia and they were actually booing Demian Maia. This is the complete opposite. They're booing the guy on the ground. "
                   - Ed O'Neil

    "You had to know he wasn't going to actually grapple with you."
                   - Ryron Gracie

    "Rener, Do you think Brendan's losing at this point?"
    "I think... he's losing in terms of what people want I think, which is to engage, to grapple, be careless." 
                    - Ed O'Neil to Rener Gracie

    "[Referring to Cyborg] he's not able to implement his game."
                     
    "[Rener laughing]...what's funny is that...I'm very curious what the judges are going to say."
           
    "Schaub's not playing the game. He doesn't want to roll around."
              - Rener Gracie




    In case you missed it, at one point, someone in the crowd yelled: "Go tournament Jiu-Jitsu".

    This Weekend's Massive MMA Multimedia Preview Mailbag



    It's a busy weekend folks.
    I'll be working at my two other weekend jobs tonight and Saturday night, meaning I'll be furtively checking my phone while checking ID's to see how the fights pan out and Sunday after Olympic lifts and Judo practice I'll find a coffee shop whereby I will hopefully see the highlights.
    It's a tough time in the recession, but I'm grateful for any opportunity to make money.
    UFC 161 should provide some clarity (I highly emphasize "should" because you know how the baldfather is with title shots and number one contender bouts) as to the LHW title picture.

    We've got some clarity in the other divisions. The logjam has temporarily subsided for the 155 lb. class as with TJ Grant decisively stopping Gray, he'll face Ben Henderson August 31st, Frankie Edgar lost enough times in a row he'll seek greener pastures elsewhere and BJ Penn is basically retired.
    Alexander Gustaffson will face Jon Jones which I think after Jones figures out the range, he will take down Alexander and tap him (ala how Gustaffson lost in his UFC debut to Phil Davis which people forget during the hype reels of Gustaffson stopping the likes of Matyushenko). Gustaffson has the frame to give Jon Jones problems, but Jon Jones' team and gameplanning should keep him out of any real danger. That being said, I don't see Rashad Evans or Dan Henderson having the style or build to stop Jon Jones, though, I'm interested to see if Machida would do better the 2nd time around as he has the style to frustrate anyone in the division.

    As for the other belts, Anderson Silva faces Weidman then Vitor Belfort (this I think will be more competitive this time around. It sounds clichéd, but I think Belfort just simply got caught. I hope, however, he does not attempt too many spinning back heel kicks against the Spider. Trying off the wall stuff did not end well for Chael Sonnen).
    Renan Barao and Dominic Cruz are out injured as is Demetrious Johnson.

    And Cain is set to rematch JDS relatively soon as well.

    At any rate, this weekend we have WSOF and UFC 161. You'll probably recognize 2 of the match-ups on WSOF which is still in that "debatable as to how many meaningful match-ups they can piece meal together with their roster" territory, but fights are fights.

    Rashad Evans vs Dan Henderson:




    Roy Nelson vs Stipe Miocic:



    Stand n' Bang Alert - Pat Barry vs Shawn Jordan:
     

    ------




    If you care about the WSOF Countdown video, here's Jon Fitch:
     



    Burkman may have the belt, but Fitch beat him before, and Fitch is coming off having only lost to a handful of the world's best people in his weight class:
     

    Wednesday, June 12, 2013

    The Real 1001 Submissions: UFC on Fuel TV Brazil Happened This Past Weekend

    So apparently while I was at work, a UFC event set the record for most fights ended by submission: Awesome.
    8, count 'em, 8 submissions total.
    What more could you ask for...oh, I mean, other than to have Fuel TV to have seen the event live. But I guess that's the point of the deal....to force you to call your cable provider like a guy with a penchant for lady boys after pay day and a long night out downtown.

    Fittingly, it occurred in the motherland of BJJ as we know it: Brazil.

    If anyone knows where I can find a "stream" of this event, leave a comment (I was working at one of my 3 jobs during the event). Good looking out.
     

    5 Thoughts, Odds, & Ends after Mundials 2013 and Metamoris II: Grappling Year in Review




    I don't wax poetic much on here, because the purpose I set for the blog was to 1) occasionally document my progress and2)  collect grappling/MMA related news and cool stuff from across the internetz.
    For a sport as big as grappling (Judo, Jiu-Jitsu, wrestling, and MMA) may seem to those in the community, there's at the end of the day other than a short list of sources like youtube, Graciemag, Budo Dave/Inside BJJ/This Week in BJJ/IBJJF TV (someone go thank Budo Dave for everything he's done for visibility and the broadcasts of world class grappling ever improving) there's not a lot of user-generated content on the internet and if not for what viewership drives MMA, grappling by extension would very much be solely a niche sport.

    I'm a blue belt in BJJ who started learning more mat work (newaza we call it in Judo) because I had fought twice in MMA and realized I had to round out my game. It's not a slight on the mat work in Judo, but I wanted to see how the specialists do it, like going to a foot doctor for an ankle sprain rather than going to a general practitioner. Some people disagree, and will do so until they die. For me, the proof has been in the proverbial pudding. Anyhow...that's my abbreviated story.

    At any rate, it's been an interesting two weeks or so given the advent of the Worlds (following shortly after the Abu Dhabi Pro and the Pans) then followed up by a different sort of grappling event in the Metamoris II Pro Invitational. In the grappling world we cram the Pans, Abu Dhabi Pro and the Mundials into less than 2 months of the year (and this year we had the Metamoris II to follow that by only a week later).

    It's interesting in that between the memes, sherdog forums, and training sessions at the gym, there is undoubtedly rampant talk occurring in the grappling world in various forms about the direction of the sport, the martial art (the UFC on Fuel TV down in the motherland this weekend set a record for fights ended by submission), the relationship between sport competition and martial art and self-defense, and the spirit of the art (however esoteric or unclear that term is to however many practitioners and spectators).

    Here are 5 thoughts or questions or topics that seem inevitably a part of the debate going forward:

    1) To Double-Guard-Pull-Ankle-Grab or not to, that is the question.
    The ongoing debate of the double guard pull and ankle gripping for 90% of the duration of a 10 minute black belt final continues. Brazlian Jiu-Jitsu purists will say need not concern itself with giving incentive to fight on the feet or avoid the double guard pull because it is the ground fighting which separates it as a sport. An attempt to give disincentive to guard pulling will inevitably change the structure of the sport for many competitors, but the ADCC has a negative penalty for guard pulling and it has not been the end of the world, the tournament, but one can argue what you do find are large portions of the match being spent on the feet when what we've come to see is ground fighting. How to strike the balance then is the greater question, one to which there may not be an answer. Like all high level sports, any attempt (and Judo players can virtually ALL attest to this) to influence behavior or strategy largely just leads to adjustments where camps and teams and high level players look for increasingly ingenious ways to game the system and hierarchy of points.
       - the foot on lapel grip utilized both at the Worlds and at the Metamoris as more stall than offensive falls into this category. Judo has so largely restricted gripping that many positions are almost counter-intuitive such as banning the clasping of the hands around the waist or gripping the belt or gripping in any unorthodox fashion unless immediately attacking with a throw. Was Kano's goal to establish a sport whereby it was rock 'em sock 'em robots but with throwing? Would Helio think much of two guys sitting down grabbing one another's feet for 8 minutes at a time to win by standing up?

    2) The Role and Place of High Level Professional Grappling Events
    As the UFC continues to be the biggest and (other than teaching) only other real avenue for those wishing to parlay their grappling skills into cash money compensation. The IBJJF has promised the IBJJ Pro League as an attempt to truly professionalize the sport and that combined with the prestige of the ADCC (though only every 2 years) and now the Metamoris with high profile match-ups and visibility is a continuing step in the right direction. The Metamoris with what at times felt like irrationally one-sided and commentary based in nepotism runs the risk of alienating the very hardcore grappling fans it should depend on as viewers. I can't in good faith bring a friend or uninitiated grappler to watch the next Metamoris after debacles like Brendan Schaub/Cyborg or Ryron vs Galvao. I don't think the sport needs to bow to the IOC the way Judo has and overhaul the rules to the point that it becomes perhaps the most narrowly defined form of grappling competition. I do think that Metamoris needs to avoid browbeating the very specific interpretation of Gracie self-defense Jiu-Jitsu they plug and extoll with their academy and perspective.
    3) This is a Professional Level Sport
    We are in an era where the sport and athleticism of it has truly caught up with the technique and minus perhaps Caio Terra, I don't forsee many if hardly any competitors winning without athletic training/strength & conditioning being an essential part of their training. Even so, it took Caio a considerable length of time to beat Malfacine at the Worlds (this year being the first I believe). Buchecha and Rodolfo run roughshod over virtually all other competitors regardless of size. Caio Terra  and Kron Gracie (and Leite in this year's Mundials) persist as some of the few true small(er) men who still sometimes put it on the line against the behemoths.
    Seeing a man the size of Buchecha move with the speed he does is frightening to put it mildly, speaking for myself as a competitor at under 149 lbs.

    4) "It's not who votes that counts, it's who counts the votes"
    Commentary and Events as Commercials - (I'm talking about you Metamoris)
    Listening to anyone try to excuse the behavior of Brendan Schaub in the Metamoris regardless of what their last name is was a farce and insulting and borderline delusional. Ryron proved a point to some (not to me) with his escaping and avoiding of submissions against Galvao (though, for a guy who's been doing Jiu-Jitsu for something like 20+ years to show he's hard to submit or take down if he doesn't really try much isn't impressive to me) was one thing. Watching someone try to rationalize and legitimize Schaub's behavior at an event charging $20, then stating that those who spectate don't understand or that Schaub came in with a smarter plan than other black belts who fell into Cyborg's trap was insulting to those of us who train, those of us who may have brought a friend to watch high level grappling. On the flipside of castigating the Metamoris II commentary and WTF moments like Schaub/Cyborg, there is also the completely valid point that the vast majority of black belt finals matches were completely unintelligible to even many low level grapplers (even those accustomed to the Gi). It's hard to rationalize watching 8 minutes of ankle grabbing, no matter how high level a competitor you may be, especially at the regional or local level. Again, I don't know that it's the place of the sport or the governing body (IBJJF) to change the rule structure, but ultimately, I find myself far more interested in the brown belt matches often times than I do the black belt finals which....honestly....kind of defeats the point.

    5) The Decline of the Berimbolo?
    Purists and those favoring a more traditional Jiu-Jitsu lamented the 50/50, and especially the Berimbolo as positions outside the cadre of the spirit of the art, and beginning with the Pans and even Abu Dhabi, I felt like the Berimbolo was finally well enough understood that you saw competitors like Laercio Fernandes against Gui, and Cobrinha against Raf ultimately nearly nullifying the Berimbolo. Following closely now at the Mundials, Gui did not make it to the Podium and Augusto Tanquinho Mendes dethroned Rafa.
    - The Brothers Mendes and the Brothers Miyao ushered in an era where standing passing was all but negated for many competitors and forced many to re-evaluate the strategy necessary to win at the highest level of Sport Jiu-Jitsu. It will be interesting to see what shakes up in the IBJJF tournament scene over the next year, and what new faces (if any) start encroaching upon the stalwarts of the lighter weight classes: Caio, Malfacine, Rafa,Cobrinha, and Gui.
    And while I decry stalling positions, the advent of ways to game the rules and gain advantage however slight forces the sport to adjust and adapt and evolve, for good or ill. Crisis creates character and when a sport elects to avoid crisis and stop changing, it loses the possibility of evolving which to me, is the death of the art.

     

    Tuesday, June 11, 2013

    BJJ News/BJJ Library Hat Tip: Xande Behind the Scenes at Copa Podio


    Other than Graciemag and MMAJunkie, the first place I go for BJJ news in the morning is BJJ News.com.

    This means you should too.
    That way, you'll see cool stuff like the below:
     

    My Love/Hate Relationship with the Double Guard Pull

    I have had an interesting love/hate affair with the double guard pull.

    I've mentioned it before, but nothing has caused so much consideration by myself in the world of grappling than this position/debate.

    Coming from Judo, I first instinct is to loathe the double guard pull.

    Having injured my knees in Judo, and having wanted to compete before being 100%, I understand the value simply out of necessity to protect a knee or injury that has not yet recovered.

    Based on the scoring structure in Jiu-Jitsu, and the reality that from bottom I can sweep OR submit (and stand up if those are not working), rather than just pass (especially at the lower belts where leg attacks are more restricted), I completely understand as a competitor.

    From a lazy perspective, guard passing (to me) has proven more tiring than simply retaining guard and stuffing guard passes (particularly at a long day of competing).

    I also would rather one guy pull guard than 2 non competent throwers struggle with equal grips and stiff arms for 6 or however many minutes on the feet in an utter stalemate.

    Then comes the uncomfortable reality that it is a valid position for sport Jiu-Jitsu, the scoring in BJJ supports its use, and that as a competitor, at the end of the day, I am relatively free to approach my gameplan as I see fit.

    Then, however, we face the other side of the argument: the right to do something does not mean that doing it is right.

    Few (that's relative, I should say less were vocal) people complained when Keenan and Miyao were double DQ'd in Abu Dhabi for 7 minutes of ankle grabbing with no attempt to come up on top and/or pass.

    I liken the application of the double guard pull to Braulio's use of the foot lapel grip against Rodolfo at the Metamoris II on Sunday. Braulio only used it to what appeared legitimately threaten a position or sweep several times throughout the 20 minute match. At the point where it becomes simply a stalling tactic not used to sweep, stand up, or submit from the bottom, the grip becomes just that: a stall tactic.

    Should it be banned?
    Should refs be more proactive?
    Should you complain about the double guard pull if you compete but can't even attempt a takedown, throw, foot sweep to save your life?
    How do we balance empowering refs to keep the sport or martial aspect up to their discretion without inflaming spectators or influencing the outcome of matches?

    Again, rather than letting these issues fester, or shaming people for having their opinions, the hope should be that competition forces the addressing of these conflicts as they arise in the sport and competition circuit, and as this is a martial art, how it applies to the art as a whole.


























    Someone far greater than myself  and I will ever be and his thoughts:

    Monday, June 10, 2013

    Bishop BJJ: Mundials 2013 Review


    Probably the most comprehensive Mundials review I've come across on the internet:
    Watch it.

    Also, check out Bishopbjj.com:

    Metamoris II Meme Retrospective and Calm Thoughts of Reflection

     
    After a long day of Judo and olympic lifts, I sat down and tuned into the Metamoris 2 Pro Invitational. My Jiu-Jitsu spirit felt guilty for not having ordered the Mundials for even a single day (sad, I know) so I sat down, pulled out my check card and ordered.
     
    Given my history of irritation with the first event, I sat down with a pleasant amount of hope, because I was genuinely excited for a number of the match-ups. Even my cynical heart could not help but be interested for the Kimura/Shinya/Japan vs Helio/Kron/Brazil match-up in NoGi (though my suspicion was that Kron would get him in a relatively guillotine after seeing Kron nearly get Marcelo with it at the ADCC).

    The vast majority of what I b*&^%ed  complained about last time was production value and biased commentary. Minus the Cyborg/Brendan Schaub stall/facemush-fest, I just turned the commentary off to avoid a repeat.
    As I previously stated, given the competitors, I had high hopes for the event, but much like sleeping with an old girlfriend (or boyfriend, or whatever floats your boat), relationships end for a reason, and it's best not to expect too much change over time.

    The addition of judges was meant to avoid a card low on decisions or clear cut winners but the first two matches were a draw. By adding judges, I think the normal, rational, logical expectation (esp. given the addition of 3 judges, an odd number), was that we would get clear cut winners. Not so.
    At one point Ralek, basically said what everyone was thinking after the Brendan/Cyborg debacle, something along the lines of "well, things should get more interesting/better" here in a minute.

    Rewinding to Estima and Torres: they put on a great match, with dangerous positions and tactical Jiu-Jitsu. I was pleased to see them match up and I was entertained. Both guys worked hard and pressed the action. I think Estima had Torres in far more danger than the reverse, but hey, I wasn't in the positions. Estima did a great job of threatening submissions and completely negating Torres from any real passing for the last half of the match (while still attacking the leg/feet).

    Mackenzie Dern and Michelle Nicollini also put on textbook Jiu-Jitsu, both trying to finish and was a great day for women's Jiu-Jitsu stepping into the spotlight on a high profile card (hint hint: Ronda vs Kyra!!!). You could tell Michelle was not expecting such a tough match by the look on her face at the end. Big things in store for Mackenzie Dern.

    The commercial for the Royler/Eddie Bravo rematch was a highlight as well in that at the end of the day, I care the most about high level guys putting it on the line, regardless of the venue or format or event. I think given Royler's age and the rolling I saw of Eddie Bravo with Marcelo Garcia, it will be closer than people might expect.
     
     
    Lovato and Galvao both went for it, Galvao in particular with the flying triangle, and Galvao took chances, really looking to press the pace, eventually breaking down Lovato with pressure, insistence, and just grinding past him to eventually hit sidemount and threaten the back take.
     
    That being said, life is not all good or all bad, and I have some things that just for lack of a better word irritated me.

    Hearing the explanation for Brendan Schaub's behavior was laughable at best. Pretending it was anything different from Ryron coming just not to get subbed is also disingenuous. It's called submission only, not survive only.
     
    Rener trying to say that Cyborg had to know Brendan would come not to grapple much was farcical and left me simply shaking my head.
     
    I was supremely excited about Braulio versus Rodolfo, esp. having seen Braulio looking sharp at the Mundials as a comeback preparation for the match after his hit or miss return at Copa Podio. Instead, Braulio, a guy for whom I have extreme respect and admiration, had a similar performance to the Copa Podio where his insistence on one position made for a boring, stalemate affair where he did enough to negate anything his opponent could do but virtually never made any offense save when Rodolfo finally passed and attacked the arm. Again, the spirit of him getting up like he had just been in this amazing match felt misplaced at best and I can't bring myself to say at worst.
     
    It's tough because in some ways, I'm simply glad the Metamoris is a platform for high level grappling and it's overall place as a great day for the sport. If nothing else, it forces or should force discussion about stalling, questionable gripping (meant only to stall, not to advance position or threaten a submission), the spirit of the martial art, and a way to have some of those dream match-ups we all sit around and talk about after a hard practice. That is probably why, in part, some of what goes on is so frustrating. Trying to explain or rationalize Brendan's behavior is comical at best and disingenuous at worst. I would never expect a coach to legitimize behavior like that of mine at any event, much less one that people have paid to watch streaming over the internet or paid hundreds of dollars to see in person. I know he's your boy, but you should be harder on him than anyone from the outside. I know my coaches have high expectations for me, probably higher than anyone who doesn't know me, and I also know they would brook no excuses for my behavior when I was in the wrong.
     
    I hope that one day, we look back on the Metamoris with fond memories and laugh with nostalgia, like we do the shenanighans of the early UFC's with their absurd commentary, meme-worthy match-ups, and warm place in our grappler hearts.
     
    Anyway...Onward Ho! to the Memes! With Gusto!
     

     
    





     
     

    Newaza Monday: Judo matwork


    My leg has finally started feeling strong enough to move around in Judo. I'm still a ways from doing full out randori, but I'm starting to get my Judo legs back, 11 months post op from a torn ACL, torn meniscus, and fracture.

    That being said, I've been drilling a lot of transitions from throwing directly into matwork, one of my favorite parts of Judo is the fast pace and the urgency on the mat.

    That being said, here are some montages of strangles (shimewaza) and arm locks (kansetsuwaza) from the one and only 101 Ippons series by Fighting Films:

    Strangles:


    Arm locks galore:

    VIDEO: Cross Grip Seionage Basics for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu


    From the time when I still had long hair.
     

    Sunday, June 9, 2013

    Post Metamoris Thoughts of Outrage


    The foot on lapel grip used by Braulio is a stall tactic, it sucks, and it did nothing except stall Rodolfo's passing. I'm more angry just b/c I know Braulio is a monster competitor who has so many finishes on his resume.

    Brendan Schaub's behavior was laughable.

    Rener's interview statement to Cyborg, "so, Cyborg, you had to know he wasn't going to grapple you much" was a sad attempt to deflect the type of disingenuous behavior Ryron did in his stallfest "submission only" match with Galvao.

    Mackenzie Dern and Michelle Nicollini went after it.
    Lovato and Galvao did the same.
    My hat off to those 4 competitors for actually showing Jiu-Jitsu for their 20 minute match duration(s).

    JT versus Estima was heavy on leg attacks and Estima was at least always looking to hurt and finish. That's more than I can say for Braulio's foot on lapel grip that he didn't even use to really look to sweep.

    Shinya and Kron was great. It ended about how I guessed, by submission, and if I'd had to bet, I would've said guillotine after he nearly caught Marcelo at the ADCC.

    I'll have more outrage to rant about tomorrow, promise!

    Cheers.
    Train hard.

    Judo World Masters 2013



    Quick Metamoris 2 Predictions

    JT beats Estima on stamina and pressure
    Cyborg taps Schaub
    Kron taps Aoki
    Braulio taps Rodolfo
    Lovato beats Galvao

    Saturday, June 8, 2013

    Bernardo Faria: Graciemag Spotlight

    Because I've watched pretty much every match of him available on the internet.....



    Bernardo Faria spotlight over at Graciemag:
    "
    Black belt Bernardo Faria has a few reasons to be proud after the 2013 Worlds , which ended last Sunday.
    He was the only man to defeat Leandro Lo, in the quarterfinals of the open, with a sweep.
    It was he who, at the end of the day, came closest to beating Marcus Buchecha Almeida, before getting swept with but seconds left in the absolute semis (in his weight class, Buchecha had been even in advantages with Alexander Trans, but was never behind).
    He nabbed his second super-heavyweight world title (2012/2013) in an exhilarating final versus João Gabriel Rocha, certainly one of the sport’s biggest hopes going forward.
    Bernardo Faria was the king of the sweep from half-guard at the Worlds, a technique some have dubbed “dental floss sweep,” because he holds the lapel and rubs it on his opponents’ legs like floss on gums.
    With this near-unstoppable sweep and some dangerous submissions, the Alliance fighter got the best of Lucas Sachs and Luiz Fernando Panza and arrived at the final opposite João Gabriel. "

    VIDEO: Moving Uchikomi Dril for Cross Grip Seionage

    Because you didn't ask, here's a drill with movement for cross grip or 2 on 1 seionage.
     

    Friday, June 7, 2013

    Robert Drysdale to UFC: Debuts at 163

    One of the more notable American grapplers, will make his MMA debut at UFC 163.
    Drysdale has long been involved in training MMA fighters and has won 6 professional bouts by submission.

    I've included two of his fights below. I'm always glad to see a grappler enter the higher weight classes in MMA as sometimes, I feel like it's become a lot of stand and bang and not a lot of ze grapplez.

    "
    Main Achievements:
    • World Champion (2005);
    • 2x World Cup Champion (2005, 2006);
    • 2x World Silver Medallist (2006, 2007);
    • ADCC Absolute Champion (2007 absolute)"
     



    Thursday, June 6, 2013

    Estima Brothers Live Webinar June 7th - 1100 PST

    Because You Didn't Ask: My Thoughts On the 2013 Mundials Black Belt Finals Matches


    Rooster
    Bruno Malfacine vs. Caio Terra

    Light-feather
    Gabriel Moraes vs. Ary Farias

    Feather
    Augusto Mendes vs. Rafael Mendes
    Augusto clearly did his homework as in both closed guard and elsewhere he was actively stripping grips to frustrate/stymie Rafa's offense. The match was very reminiscent of Rafa and Cobrinha's matches with the same one-legged man scissor hopping contest which Augusto's athleticism and resilience and determination had him pull out of to score some last second advantages and pull out the win. Augusto has said plainly he is moving on to focus on MMA which is a shame as this year in particular he managed to beat both Cobrinha and Rafa Mendes, basically the consensus number 1 and 2 guys in the world in this weight class.

    Light
    Leandro Lo vs. Michael Langhi - a tight affair with each sweeping at one point. It's easy to focus on Leandro's becoming ever increasingly well-known guard passing and to forget when he is rarely on bottom these days after beginning a match on top, he is also a proficient sweep-artiste extraordinaire. Leandro threatened many a guard pass, ultimately succeeding, but I'm interested to see how Langi fares with some more high level preparation leading up to the Mundials next year as visa issues kept him out of visibility this past year. Neither Langhi nor Lo have mentioned MMA aspiration on the short term horizon, so hopefully they will rematch in the coming calendar year.

    Middle
    Otavio Sousa vs. Claudio Calasans Jr - Otavio pulled guard, Claudio stood to break open and begin to pass, Otavio countering with DLR guard. Both guys are beasts and I was interested to see it play out as Claudio has been right there at the top in everything from the Abu Dhabi Pro to Pan to Mundials having only lost to the best of the best. Otavio came up on top after some footsie/inversion play, then Calasans swept back, then Otavio immediately attacked the arm, initiating a scramble, Calasans back on top trying hard to pass. A tough, tough match. Calasans had it, until he dove for that leg drag position, and Otavio rocked him off balance enough to be able to come up on top. Shenanighans.

    Medium-Heavy
    Braulio Estima vs. Romulo Barral - Gentleman's agreement.

    Heavyweight
    Rodolfo Vieira vs. Lucas Leite

    Superheavy
    Bernardo Faria vs. João Gabriel Rocha - Bernardo again pulls it out with his very dedicated plan of attack with the lapel feed/single leg to modified double leg. As usual, he got reversed from mount (I've seen this in a considerable number of his matches), but he pulled out the win, becoming 2x world champion. It speaks to his practice of those positions and the strength of those grips/positions that virtually EVERYONE in his weight class knows his game plan and he STILL imposes it at the world class level.

    Ultra-heavy
     Marcus Almeida vs. Rodrigo Cavaca - student and professor gentleman's agreement. The one agreement of this type in this sport I can almost agree with minus the fact that, "the battle is fought to be won" and it deprives the spectators and fans of a true finish.

    Open Class
    Rodolfo Vieira vs. Marcus Almeida - Rodolfo again threatened some good positions against Buchecha, but as soon as Buchecha felt the danger and turned up the volume, he began to pull ahead. It's hard to see any other big man with the athleticism of Buchecha in the field right now. Rodolfo is the closest, but Buchecha just looks too fast-paced and his ability to improvise (I'm thinking of a roll/reversal he pulled off to end up on top also makes him dangerous as well).