Thursday, December 24, 2015

Because You Didn't Ask: Demian Maia Vs Gunnar Nelson, Rockhold Vs Weidman et al

1) I am back training and blogging. It's been almost exactly 4 months. Until yesterday I had not stepped foot on a mat, had not watched a single UFC fight or even a single Jiu-Jitsu match since the end of August. I did some adult-ing, took the only break I've had in training other than when I had my ACL reconstructed......and let's get down to business.

2) Watched Rockhold vs Weidman. Rockhold's dominance once he got to mount was impressive as few men in MMA have really shown many holes in Weidman's game. I can only surmise that Rockhold's top pressure is something like the Star Killer Base in the new Star Wars flick I also just saw. As usual, I'm late to the party, but better late than never. Rockhold did have moments where he looked human and overtly taking big mouthfuls of air, but despite that first round scare with the backtake by Weidman, Rockhold finished the very tough and resilient Weidman on the ground. No mean feat.

3) It's refreshing to see Maia, come out and almost immediately take guys down rather than have a sloppy kickboxing match with two takedown attempts (Chad Mendes, Urijah Faber, Johnny Hendricks - are you all paying attention?). Maia with that standing body triangle which he maintains like an octopus opening a jar underwater, then slick but basic armbar from the back sequence was a joy to watch - who would've thought? Straight Jiu-Jitsu through positional dominance: old school Gracies in action: clinch, takedown, dominant position, an MMA fight? Mind. Blown. Maia when the takedown failed, stayed with it and would seamlessly go straight back to it if/when Nelson did get back to his feet and inevitably drag Nelson into the deep water. Maia must train accordingly as that kind of relentless grind is exhausting. Nelson had his flashes of brilliance with countering some takedowns at the last second by switching hips, but his brief flashes on top were miniscule compared to Maia's newfound reliance on his ground game which he had eschewed earlier in the mid-section of his career. He has clearly worked his wrestling and clinch work to specifically hunt for whatever it takes to drag his opponent to the mat where his back control is suffocating.

4) Despite my 4 month hiatus from training, US Grappling has an event in my hometown of Raleigh, so I'll be back on the grind reffing and competing midway into January. It's been an interesting two years at purple belt thus far and I can only imagine what this upcoming year holds in store.

Happy Holidays.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

UFC Fight Night 75: Nelson vs Barnett Gambling Picks

Disclaimer: some fights may have changed (likely) because I am making these picks nearly a month in advance. 

Nelson has looked increasingly terrible as of late. His time when he had a shot at fighting for the belt has passed. I see Barnett getting inside to put him against the cage and lay in his half-guard and pound on him for the majority of 5 rounds. I don't see Barnett putting him away on the feet but I don't see Nelson doing anything other than collecting a beating and a paycheck.

Carneiro got tossed to the comeback wolf of Munoz. I still think he'll become a threat in the division this time around and the Munoz fight hides that to make him a good pick over here. The lines aren't posted yet (as the time I'm doing these picks but little will change by then to have changed my mind).
Roop over Mizugaki another guy who has looked slower and more hittable each time out and the shopworn feel has this written all over it.

I'll admit I've been a Kikuno fan since his days fighting in Japan. I think he has the wrestling chops and enough stand-up acumen to weather any feeble initial storm Brandao posts then put him on his back and put him away if grind out all 3 rounds on judges scorecards.
Camus has that win over Pickett, but I like Horiguchi and his style and his losses haven't done anything to diminish my certainty in picking him in this fight.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

UFC 191: Johnson vs Dodson 2 Gambling Picks

If the fight card has changed and these picks aren't exactly up to date I apologize.
I'm in the process of doing some adult-ing until the new year and won't be spending a ton of time blogging until then.
I'm doing my gambling picks for the coming months before I move and can't guarantee I'll be coming back to update them come fight time.

At any rate, it's free info and perspective, so take it for what it's worth.

I placed a parlay bet with Van Zant, Anthony Johnson, and Felder. All solid picks based on their match-ups that by themselves I don't see much money in wagering individually, but some change or decently tempting penny to go parlay and do a trio bet.

I don't see John Dodson winning this time or virtually any other than maybe Mighty Mouse getting old.
Mighty seems like too much a student of the game, a guy who lives his life like a nicer version of Marvin Hagler. He lives a clean, normal life, and won't succumb to the vices that typically age fighters as much outside the octagon as within it.

I think Demetrious wins via his startling ability to mix all the facets of mixed martial arts and presses for a late finish and gets it against an early and wily John Dodson.

Mir's 7 most clearcut losses were TKO/KO's. Arlovski's 17 notable wins are that specialty.
This is an easy HW version of striker vs grappler and don't let any forthcoming HL footage of that win over Duffy fool you.
Mir won't have that luck against Arlovski. I don't like betting HW fights but I may throw money at this one. I see the resurgence of Mir as of late as a fluke (though I'm sure people have been thinking that for years.
At any rate, the conventional wisdom/money should be on Arlovski.

Felder will be more active and batter the smaller, older, and more knockout-able Pearson.

Johnson will blast Manuwa out in a round or less and or put him against the cage, and donkey kong fist/pummel/hammerfist him into next year.

I like Rivera over Lineker who only looked good against guys he didn't make weight against. Rivera got that dynamite in his hands and looked great against Faber until the eye poke which I think is a big boost in his development mentally as a fighter. I think Lineker falters at this weight without the size advantage he enjoyed by fighting guys and not making weight.

Riggs looked terrible against Cote and Stallings looked great even in losing to Urijah Hall.
Easy fight to pick.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015


I'll be taking a break from posting (other than my gambling picks for some upcoming UFC bouts) until the new year.

I've had a good run of working part-time and training Jiu-Jitsu since March but the time has come to do some adult-ing for a good stretch. I will miss blogging and gambling on the fights but I have to be an adult for a good bit.

The blog will resume in regular frequency likely in December/January.
There's not a ton of blogs out there that cover Jiu-Jitsu (after you've been training for awhile you realize that) and the BJJ corner of the web is actually quite smile considering how many people train regularly.

At any rate, thanks for the readership up until this point, and big things lay ahead in the new year as I'll be in a larger hotbed of Jiu-Jitsu, and back at training and competing (and likely gambling on mixed martial arts) en force.

As they say at Unity when they slap hands "good training."

Friday, August 21, 2015

UFC Fight Night 74: Holloway vs Oliveira Gambling Picks

I'll start out by saying I don't plan to wager any cash on any of this card minus the Kyrlov/Lima fight.

I don't like betting on LHW fights and I don't like betting on fights like Holloway vs Oliveira. I don't bet on women's MMA fights because I don't watch enough women's MMA and the quality of opposition women face coming into the UFC is so hit or miss they're nearly impossible to tell as to how good they may or may not be against stiffer step ups the ladder.

Krylov/de Lima is the only fight I'm betting cash on, I use Bovada btw, haven't had any problems, and they seem slightly less shady than your other online options available (relatively speaking, of course). 

At any rate, below are my picks:

I think Oliveira's stand-up will wear down and batter Holloway ala McGregor's win over Holloway, but with Oliveira's better submission resume in MMA, I think he catches Holloway in later rounds desperately trying to get back to his feet due to being down on judge's scorecards on rounds.

Magny hasn't been KO'd before and due to his height, I doubt Erick Silva's winging wind up bombs will be the ones to put him down for the count, unless Magny is gunshy for takedowns after getting ruthlessly out-ground work'd by Demian Maia (that was a blowout).
The smart money for Silva is to take him down relentlessly. The sad reality is that Erick Silva would rather swing for the fences from round 1 than he would fight a smart gameplan (anyone remember that Dong Hyun Kim fight?)

I really don't like betting on this fight as the wide-swinging Silva style is tailor made to get tagged by Magny but Magny's groundwork is hellaciously suspect.

I see Krylov as undervalued. Sure, de Lima has come nice looking finishes to his credit in two UFC fights, but the strength of Krylov's resume I think speaks for itself. Krylov's only recent loss is to St. Preux, a guy who just fought former belt challenger Teixeira and though he was outclassed there, Preux is a beast.

I like Krylov in this fight and I like this line and it's the only one I'm betting cash dollars/money on personally.

I think Cote and Burkman will fight a terrible fight with Burkman winning because he's slightly less over the hill than Cote who I can't believe they're still giving fights to at this point.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

My Visit to Renzo Gracie's Academy (Danaher, Tonon, Cummings et al)

Stopped in to train at Renzo's and was fortunate enough to take a class taught by the maestro himself, John Danaher. I'll reiterate something that still amazines me, in Jiu-Jitsu you can show up and literally take a class alongside or learn from notables in the sport, guys who are at the peak of competition form (much of the time). I trained at Unity and rolled with both Paulo and Joao (a current world champion and his brother who lost the world championship on a penalty). Craziness.

Facility had plenty of room for the ample number of people on the mat in both Gi and NoGi.

Class (for blue belts and above) began by open rolling/drilling of your choice, then Danaher taught an ouchigari takedown followed up by a counter to the stack pass. His class didn't disappoint as he made some points about body position and spine alignment that made a position we all know relatively well a bit more clear and defined in my mind.

Class concluded with the offering to start on the feet and continue to the mat or start on the ground depending on your volition.

I got to look over and see Garry Tonon and Eddie Cummings in their last training session before a shower and ride to the airport. 

Pretty cool stuff.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Throwback Tuesday: Superfight from Last Year

Video from my superfight (still hate that term) at the World Combat Federation's Bull City Brawl MMA event with the one and only Jeff Shaw of Dirty White Belt blog fame and notoriety.
7 minute purple belt match. Win by Ezekiel with just a few minutes left.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Grappling Confession: I don't like NoGi

I'm lazy.
I have to physically work harder and scramble more.

In terms of variety and comfortability, I prefer the Gi. Coming from Judo as my start in grappling I always will. That being said, if I'm being honest, the actual impediment to my liking NoGi is that I am lazy.

I rationally know that it's good for my game to learn more leg locks.
I rationally know that it's good for my game to have to use some athleticism and explosiveness and use different handles and grips than the Gi affords.
I rationally know it's good to roll NoGi and work submissions like head/arm chokes and guillotines that I normally don't in the Gi.

All of those things being said....the real reason I don't like NoGi is because I am lazy.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Boxing, WSOF, & UFC 190 Hangover: Really Right or Totally Wrong (and some serious complaining)

Maia dragged Magny down even faster than I had bet.
Shogun looked sharp when he wasn't wobbled in the first.

Minotauro had Struve down but didn't keep him there.
Soa had Bigfoot about out from top half-guard punches and didn't press for the finish then took a hard uppercut in the 2nd and folded. I saw my money get up and walk out the door when Soa just leaned back against the cage and took those punches from "Pezao".

It's called gambling for a reason. Soa came out and looked more gunshy than I expected. He immediately took to taking poor half-asses shots/leg grabs and it worked in the first but he ate an uppercut looking at the ground in the 2nd.

On to my real beef with the broadcast:
So it's post 1am...and I'm finally getting the walkout for Rousey.
Let me preface by saying I spent my afternoon at a wedding in a suit and I was tired from the heat.
That being said, I almost never have a Saturday off to watch the fights and with money riding on the fights, I wanted to be excited and enjoy it.
By midnight, both my buddy and myself were routinely yawning.
Not one, but TWO Brazil TUF fights (a series literally almost NO ONE in the USA would have seen fight) stood between the beginning and the end of the main card.
It didn't help that Minotauro looked flat.
Bigfoot just sucked less than Soa.
The girl fight was everything about why I don't watch women MMA fights. This is main card women's MMA? Heralded, unheralded, whatever. It was a fight that might make for an entertaining amateur level scrap in men's MMA, and before you get butthurt, this is about equality. Women and others harp about equal pay, then we can't ignore the giant elephant in the room that is the quality of women's MMA fights is simply less.

Bigfoot seemed revived in the second and I guess that's a fight to watch. Minotauro did his best old Thomas the Train impression and though he took shots well his output wasn't high enough, he didn't have enough pop, Struve took shots that landed well and kept the fight where he needed to be. Minotauro seemed too weak to get Struve down (granted the dude is 7 ft. tall) and Rogerio simply didn't put together nearly enough volume to beat Shogun.

Rousey showed how astronomically far ahead he is of her division.
She's more dominant than Fedor. Fedor had occasional moments of vulnerability (Randleman, CroCop) that made his fights so thrilling. Also, the level of destruction he meted out was like watching slow-motion car crashes in compilation.
I'm not faulting Rousey for being so much better at fighting than apparently any other woman walking the earth, I'm just saying it's hard to be thrilled for 30 seconds of rock 'em sock 'em robots after I've been standing for over 3 hours and the main card was less than thrilling.

In other news, Malignaggi got stopped by a merciful referee, and Jake Shields got Kimura'd in a fight that may cost Palhares the belt. 
In other semi-related news, Nick/Nate Diaz got into a fracas with Khabib Nurmagomedov in Vegas. 

Friday, July 31, 2015

8 Random Grappling-Related Thoughts this Week

1) I learn a fundamental but somehow mindblowing basic concept every time I watch Marcelo Garcia roll. 
example: I watched him rolling NoGi with Marcos Torregrosa and from bottom, I realized/recognized Marcelo is always controlling hands/wrists, or the head if it comes low, and if the butterfly sweep misses he opens up the heel hook/lacing one leg through.
It's super simple in concept, and basic, except for the fact that he does it at such a high level....he does it to virtually every single person he rolls with. 

2) Watching Ronda grapple and mix up her stand-up and mat work is truly seamless. Her transitions between throws to then dominating her opponents on the mat is truly fluid in motion. She literally must find herself in positions with her hands, or squeeze or whatever already locked in where it needs to be without being consciously aware. 

3) Interested to (hopefully) watch Minotauro potentially submit another giant of a human being in Stefan Struve with his Jiu-Jitsu he's used to submit notables like Bob Sapp and Semmy Schilt.

4) I was fortunate enough to roll with the Miyao brothers and visit Unity Jiu-Jitsu and now I'll watch Joao face Garry Tonnon Sunday as part of the Five Grappling Super League event. 

5) Whatever I thought was hard training at blue belt, was nothing compared to how much I train at purple belt. Whatever I thought was hard training at purple belt is absolutely minute in comparison to what I saw the Miyao brothers doing at Unity during my visit. They literally eat, sleep, and breathe Jiu-Jitsu. It is staggering to watch them train. 

6) I have days where I look at the scope of Jiu-Jitsu and see how hopelessly complex the alphabet and dictionary/encyclopedia of moves is. I have other days where I see the precision that comes with practice and rolling and how much more efficient you can learn to do a relatively small set of moves or a sequence and how effortless part(s) of your game can become with dedicated, hard, training day in and day out.

7) I hate NoGi training because I am lazy and because I have to roll much harder with less places to pause in NoGi. I have to work harder and rely less on grip and more on squeeze with less places to pause. But, I've learned to like NoGi because I work other parts of my game less emphasized like guillotines, head/arm chokes, and a much more fluid game with some more wrestling thrown in. It's a good bet that because I find myself more frustrated in NoGi that means I'm being forced to learn/step outside of my comfort zone at a higher rate than in the Gi. 

8) Jiu-Jitsu helped save my life. By itself, it hasn't saved me from my personal struggles and problems, but my love for Jiu-Jitsu has helped make me a more humble, dedicated person, willing to simply show up day after day and believe that if I keep coming back, things will get better. 

Combat Sports Weekend: UFC 190: Rousey vs Correia & Other Questionable Picks & Prognostication(s)

It's a pretty entertaining Combat Sports weekend coming up folks. "Honda Housey" will batter a loud-mouthed challenger who beat some of her stablemates. Paulie Malignaggi will fight in boxing, Jake Shields will leg lock it up with Palhares in a fight I've been looking forward to since it was announced ,AND the Five Grappling Super League event takes place Sunday at 2pm PST.

I'm 11-3 overall for my picks across the last two UFC events.
I'll be working Friday and Saturday night but will have my picks in with Draft Kings and be surreptitiously following the fights between serving inebriated adults, then waking up to hit open mats during the day.

Having seen the holes in her game exposed by Shayne Baszler, I have a hard time seeing even betting the underdog and putting money on Correia against Rousey.
This is just a colossal mismatch.
Correia lacks the power to hurt Rousey, even a Rousey from early in her career, and having seen Rousey's improved stand-up, and every increasing polish....this will be a wash. It really will be like watching a shark pick apart a floating corpse on the surface until the feeding frenzy takes over.

Whether it's backing up into the cage, lack of punching power, how quickly Correia found herself in armbar-territory in Baszler's guard, I'm honestly not even going to bother watching the rest of her fights to cement my pick of Ronda by however quickly she decides to seize whatever hole Correia gives her first. 

It's honestly that lopsided, folks.

As for Shogun vs Lil Nog and Minotauro vs Struve...this is all about picking who is less shopworn.

Shogun is 6-8 in the UFC. But, that bears keeping in mind he's fought: Gustaffson, Henderson (twice), Machida (twice), Chuck Liddell, Mark Coleman, Brandon Vera, St. Preux, Te Huna, Chael Sonnen, and Forrest Griffin. Some guys weren't top contenders, some guys were on the rise, some were legends on the way out, but he's fought only former champs or guys moving up and guys with wins in the UFC.

Lil Nog debuted in the UFC beating two guys who are no longer with the organization, then beating Tito Ortiz and Rashad Evans, but losing to the likes of Anthony Johnson, Phil Davis, Ryan Bader.

On the strength or resume comparison, you have to give it to Shogun. But on the mileage-o-meter, Lil Nog has taken less devastating beatings than Shogun. That being said, Shogun, back with Cordeiro (long time trainer) I have little problem placing my money on Shogun. 
Sidenote:  Seeing Shogun crushed by Jon Jones will always be one of the darkest nights of my MMA viewing career. I was devastated.

Minotauro vs Struve:
Struve is coming off of two crushing losses to the likes of Overeem and Mark Hunt (not that he's alone on that list of guys) and has wins over the likes of Stipe Miocic, Herman,  and Pat Barry,
Minotauro is coming off a KO loss to Roy Nelson and a submission loss to now current champion Werdum (that loss to Mir by submission I chalk up to being dazed but also arrogance).
He holds wins over the likes of Dave Herman, Schaub, Randy Couture, and Tim Sylvia from whom he won the belt. Strength of resume has me believing he'll finish the gangly and lengthy Struve when he drags him to the mat as Nog did against the lengthy Tim Sylvia.
I don't see how oddsmakers don't see this, but it's one of those fights I perceive them as picking all wrong and upon which I intend to make a fair amount of $$.

Maia vs Magny:
Maia's only lost to guys with last names like Shields, MacDonald, Munoz, and Weidman.
I'll just leave it at that. It's not always exciting or devastating or pretty, but Maia will control and positonally dominate Magny unless he gets caught early. Not a hard fight to pick at this point. That being said, seeing Maia no longer finish lesser opponents further down the totem pole, I am worried one of these fights will be the tipping point and he'll start the deeper slide into irrelevance.

Cummins vs Cavalcante: 
Cummins talked his way into the UFC with a wrestling story about Daniel Cormier, but hey, whatever works man, y'know? At any rate, he looked nervous and over his head in that bout, but since then hasn't looked bad with good power in his punches and wrestling to back it up but that he hasn't used in the fights I've bothered to watch on various undercards. At any rate, Cavalcante despite his success in other promotions (and a KO win over Yoel Romero years back) has had mixed results in the UFC and so I have to side with Cummins in this fight by decision or a blowout in the first or second round with a barrage of punches. Despite his gorilla-like build, I've always felt Cavalcante looked undersized for this division and Cummins looks positively huge at this weight class.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Select Pre-Fight Facts to Support my UFC 190 Picks/Prognostication(s)

From MMAJunkie:

"Rua enters the event with just one victory in his past five fights. He was stopped inside the distance in three of those losses."
"Rua has suffered nine of his 10 defeats to fighters who once held or challenged for a UFC title."

"Struve holds just one UFC victory over a fighter who’s still with the organization. The nine competitors he’s defeated have a 20-27 record with the UFC."

"Struve has suffered all five of his UFC losses by knockout."

"Nogueira’s seven armbar submission victories in UFC/PRIDE/Strikeforce/WEC competition are tied with Rousey for the most in the combined history of the four organizations."

"Antonio Silva (18-7-1 MMA, 2-4-1 UFC) enters the event with just two victories in his past eight bouts. He’s winless in his past four octagon appearances and hasn’t registered a victory since February 2013."

"Silva has suffered six of his seven career losses by knockout. All six of those stoppages have come in the first round."
"Soa Palelei (22-4 MMA, 4-2 UFC) has earned all 22 of his career victories by stoppage. “The Hulk” has recorded his past 12 victories by knockout."

"Maia’s 48 takedowns landed in UFC competition are the 12th most in modern company history. His 156 takedown attempts at third most in UFC history."
"Maia is 14-2 in UFC bouts in which he lands at least one takedown."

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

UFC 190: Rousey vs Correia Countdown Special, Shogun vs Lil Nog, Minotauro vs Struve

Aug 2nd, Five Grappling Super League Preview & Prognostication(s)

I'll be working late Friday and Saturday night, then wake up, hit open mat to train then be somewhere to watch this PPV. I can't wait. 

This Sunday, 2pm PST, we get a Miyao/Tonon Rematch and Otavio Sousa vs Keenan Cornelius in superfights ala ADCC-similar rules then two winner take all brackets with a ton of Jiu-Jitsu male AND female notables.
I was fortunate enough be training at Unity when some filming was going on for Murilo Santana and the Miyaos (and by that I mean I was rolling in my Gi with other guys while they were training.
I have no doubt Tonon trains like a madman (based on what I've heard) and I've seen firsthand how hard the Miyaos train.

Stylistically, I'm interested to see Tonon's leg lock/wrestling style attack game face off against Miyao's very Jiu-Jitsu-centric submission style. They really are two very different styles. It's also a match-up pitting Tonon and his time with John Danaher versus Unity Jiu-Jitsu and Murila Santana's thinktank partnered with the Miyao brothers. 
Tonon has improved considerably since their last encoutner with his skills then drastically improving and Miyao has been facing only the best competing in the Gi in the interim as well.
I'll go with Miyao by position in the points duration of the match after some close calls with Miyao in the first ten minutes of the match.

It's hard for me to see Otavio beating the larger Keenan. I'll just leave it at that. I see Keenan subbing Otavio late in the submission only duration of the match or at best, during the points duration getting a triangle/armbar combination.

--- --

Monday, July 27, 2015

UFC 190 Extended Preview: Rousey vs Correia & Shogun vs Lil' Nog

Excited to see Demian Maia back in action on the undercard.
Also interested-ish to see who has fared better in the ten years since they squared off: Shogun or Lil' Nog. To be sure, both guys have lost their polish and have absorbed considerable mileage, but still a fight to watch, no doubt.


I haven't seen the betting lines, but if there's money on Antonio Silva I see him getting KO'd unless he shows up looking like he's on the sauce. He literally looked like a shell of his former B level fighter self without TRT exemption last time and I don't see why this will be different unless he says *&^% it and fights knowing he'll get popped, and retires.
I don't have a lot of skin in this card as I'll be at a wedding during the day/evening then working my other job that night. It's kinda hard to see this as a PPV card with 2 of the main card match-ups being from the Brazil TUF that no one here but the hardest of hardcore fans even bothered to illegally pirate in order to watch. Big Nog vs Struve? Shogun and Lil' Nog rematching 5+ years too late?
Rousey beating the last semi-legitimate contender in her division?
This is a PPV card now for upwards of $50.

Hard to sell.

main CARD Pay-per-view, 10 p.m. ET
Ronda Rousey vs. Bethe Correia for women's bantamweight title
Antonio Rogerio Nogueira vs. Mauricio Rua
Fernando Bruno vs. Glaico Franca "TUF: Brazil 4" lightweight tournament final
Dileno Lopes vs. Reginaldo Vieira "TUF: Brazil 4" bantamweight tournament final
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Stefan Struve
Soa Palelei vs. Antonio Silva
Jessica Aguilar vs. Claudia Gadelha
preliminary CARD FOX Sports 1, 8 p.m. ET
Neil Magny vs. Demian Maia
Rafael Cavalcante vs. Patrick Cummins
Warlley Alves vs. Nordine Taleb
Iuri Alcantara vs. Leandro Issa
preliminary CARD UFC Fight Pass, 7 p.m. ET
Clint Hester vs. Vitor Miranda
Guido Cannetti vs. Hugo Viana

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Lose the Underhook? Attack the Knee! Attack the feets!

 Found this over at BJJ News!

With the advent of guys hunting for outside half-guard or you simply make a mistake and lose the underhook battle, here's a solid, basic, funamental series to pursue. I use the backstep almost immediately upon losing the underhook battle because I've learned the hard way from that position the power of the outside half-guard. I also like positions and moves/series I can train without necessarily telling my training partners. To practice this, all I have to do is pressure the knee through/slice pass, and allow him to do good Jiu-Jitsu which is win the underhook battle.
I'll be trying this out this weekend in live rolling.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Layering Your Guard (Thanks Jeff Shaw)

Jeff Shaw's post (CLICK HERE) got me thinking of an analogy I used to explain my guard to a blue belt the other day. 

He remarked my guard was hard to pass and that whenever he thought he was close I would recompose and most of the time he was simply confused as to where to go or how to pass.
At which point I told him the quote I think of when someone asked Michael Langhi about his "unpassable guard" and he quickly laughed and say, "Oh, Cobrinha, he pass my guard all the time."

I include above anecdote because it's a good reminder against the voice of hubris that follows in your mind after a compliment. I'll also include that despite winning the adult purple belt absolute recently, largely in part due to my guard retention skills, I lost the purple belt adult featherweight on a guard pass in the finals after submitting my first two opponents.
Clearly....the work and development continues.

I'm also quick to give any recent development to my guard retention repertoire to my coach, Sean Spangler. Having a black belt who is a bit heavier and has a longer frame, has given me daily practice in guard retention.

At any rate, the analogy/explanation I offer is that when I came back from ACL surgery, I couldn't do a lot of things. I didn't have the flexibility back yet in my left knee, closed guard wasn't an option from bottom so I began playing Reverse De La Riva with my right leg as the RDLR hook. I got comfortable hitting the waiter sweep from there and spinning underneath because I really had nowhere else to go that I didn't feel put my knee in danger/strain.

Later, I would add deep half guard as a plan B if my RDLR was passed and then later sometimes X-guard or single leg X-Guard as more offensive sweeping positions when they didn't pressure enough to force me to deep half guard or weren't really pressuring to pass. As I kept working and learning and experimenting, I now use a lot of inversion and leg lasso + a RDLR hook/hybrid position with much more free flowing combination of guards and transitions to hit the most available sweep or back take. Because I played Judo before beginning Jiu-Jitsu, if the guy makes too much space or retreats to disengage, I can always simply get to my feet if given the opportunity.

Deep beneath that though is that when I started Jiu-Jitsu, coming in from Judo, my coaches told me specifically to work closed guard and submissions off my back. I'm in the course of now combining the closed guard to break down the opponent or to retreat to when I fear my open guard will be passed and to give the guy a different look and thus, I think the idea of not particular guard X or Y or Z or half Y and half Z,  but rather guards that layer in both offensive and defensive conjunction is how you can develop a cohesive guard game (at least this analogy sticks in my mind).
As the guys get better you can't just sweep or just try to submit off your back. You absolutely must threaten them with both and back takes in order to really force mistakes and positions against your opponent. One of my first Jiu-Jitsu coaches, Billy Dowey said, you'll beat guys who suck if you just sweep or perhaps just submit from bottom. You'll beat guys who are pretty good if you sweep and submit - threaten both.....but he then said, keeping a guy down who is trying to sweep, submit, and get to his feet, is actually really hard.
This came from back when I fought amateur MMA. The goal was always "GET OFF YOUR BACK." Even if you catch a nice submission, you are prone to punishment for considerable lengths of time....and there's less variety of sweeps so getting off your back is always of primary concern. The old school c-grip to throat, stand and base BJ Penn escape off your back is something I still continually go to when frustrated by a guy who's grip fighting, not really looking to pass but basing low and preventing my sweeps and back takes and submissions.

None of these work however, I believe if you don't have a good bit of half-guard and closed guard at the end of the day as fundamental or essential positions at the core of your Jiu-Jitsu, in particular as a smaller BJJ practitioner.

For me, belief above all else in the danger I can put my opponent in off my back and the ability to recompose my guard makes me more willing to aggressively hunt for submissions and/or sweeps without fear of being passed or ending up in a bad position (moreso in a sport Jiu-Jitsu context).
But it's only by pressing your guard to the very limits of being passed that you'll develop that confidence for sport Jiu-Jitsu competition.
I have days where I purposefully do very little offensively with my guard rather than say establish grips or hooks or points of control and try to be largely reactive in open guard to really stretch the boundaries of my guard retention.

It takes a lot of hours and time to develop the layers of guard in this way. There's simply no substitute for the long hours logged on the mat and seeking out the bigger, better, and more competent guard passers in your academy or at open mats. Open guard is like this give/take open ended constantly evolving conversation between you and the other person where at the highest levels you're threatening sweeps, submissions, back takes, and simply getting to your feet along with frustrating guard passing attempts that result in this spider-web of danger for the top player.

Anyhow, those are some of the analogies I utilize.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Debuting at Black Belt: Musumeci Beats Joao Miyao

(Me trying to score Musumeci vs Miyao)

I guess I can forgive Musumeci for celebrating like he won the Mundials, he did after all beat arguably one of the best black belts in the world in his black belt debut. He also managed to get closer to Miyao's back then guys like Lucas Lepri, Malfacine, and other notables.

Pretty bonkers when you stop and think about it.
As a ref of about a 18 months experience or a bit more, this match would have split my brain in half like that guy in Akira or Fist of the North Star style.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Monday, July 13, 2015

This is Why It's Called Gambling/Post UFC 189 Thoughts

Well, Lawler won me $135 and McGregor won me another $80.
That plus my draftkings account and 4 pools netted me $235 or so for the night of fights.
Other than Seery's fight, and if you count the televised and PPV fights, I called all of my picks correctly.

Rory MacDonald may never be the same. Let me just say that and move on.
He did not stand up to Lawler's punches in this fight. Be it a rough training camp, or simply a guy who started too young, I don't know....his face fell apart from blows that honestly didn't seem as heavy as the first fight, but perhaps Lawler's longer time at ATT is reaping benefits further still.

McGregor did get taken down, but how much is getting taken down by arguably the best FW wrestler really showing us?
It's like saying GSP took someone down. He took everyone down.
I don't know that it spells disaster for McGregor to be taken down by the best takedown guy in the entire division, but I can do without the clearly and painfully obviously scripted WWF style backstage run-in he had with Faber who the next day it's announced they'll be coaching guys on a TUF season (but won't fight, so who cares?)

So much for Team Alpha Male's claim that their guys are in shape year round.
Mendes looked faded midway through round 1 and his offensive output (never normally high) was even less starting out in this fight. His takedowns were well-timed, but was gassed on the feet once McGregor escaped and McGregor put him away once he tagged him.
McGregor smells blood and guys who are hurt simply do not get away. It really is a thing of beauty to see that finishing instinct/killer instinct.

I had Gunnar dragging a weary Brandon Thatch down in the 3rd and quickly finishing him once there, but Gunnar's lighting fast 1-2 did the job and led to the end. A huge turnaround for a guy who got battered by a southpaw/Rick Story last time.

The night was awesome with a main card that truly and overwhelmingly lived up to its potential and then some for both casual and hardcore fans alike.
I admittedly missed the TUF Finale last night but intend to watch the Mir/Duffee card on Wednesday as it's during a non-weekend night so I won't be working.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

BJJ Scout and Unibet's UFC 189: McGregor vs Mendes Breakdown (Additional Free Fights As Well)

Unibet's breakdown of McGregor vs Mendes:

BJJ Scout returns to analysis and breaks down the 3 biggest match-ups on the card:

Free Fight: Rory vs Saffiedine:

Chad Mendes vs Ricardo Lamas:

McGregor vs Brimage (a guy I feel is the most stylistically close to Mendes if I had to find one):

Gunnar Nelson Highlight:


Friday, July 10, 2015

My Toro Cup 2 Superfight: Josh Murdock & Myself

Josh, his brother CJ, and myself have all known one another from the North Carolina Jiu-Jitsu and MMA scene for a number of years now.
We've fought MMA for the same organization (World Combat Federation) and currently ref and often compete for the same organization (US Grappling).
Josh is one of the nicest guys I've met in Jiu-Jitsu (as is his brother) which is saying a lot.

At any rate, here's our superfight from the Toro Cup 2 a few months back.

My hat off to Josh who caught me forcing the stack pass.
It was scheduled for 15 min's submission only, then a 5 minutes point or submission match if necessary.
I had zero intention of going for 15-20 minutes and Josh capitalized on my impatience.
My hat off to him.
Win or learn.  

Watch it HERE: the embedding on Youtube is being difficult for unknown technical reasons.

It was a long year and a half and was nearing the point of burnout following this event without realizing it.
I trained hard, felt sharp and was excited to redeem myself after a poor showing at the first installment of the Toro Cup.

Without realizing it, I'd reached a point of diminishing returns in terms of training and grinding. I did a few more tournaments after this event but finally took about 2 months off from competing, came back, and won the adult absolute, the first purple belt division I'd won since getting my purple belt. There is a box full of 2nd and 3rd place medals at purple belt, and a memories of leaving tournaments not advancing past the first round in either weight or absolute.
It took my girlfriend talking to me on the phone one night to be point out that I needed a break.
Sometimes we're so deep in fervor and the pursuit we're blind to the evidence of our eyes and ears and that's what had happened. The only answer I would consider was "more mat time" or "more grinding" but I no longer enjoyed training or even being in the gym. That coupled with performances that didn't meet my own personal expectation were a recipe for frustration and both physical/mental burnout. 

Purple belt has forced me to completely revamp how dedicated I am to training and now as I'm 32, I've begun to accept that diet, rest, flexibility/stretching, and recovery are all every bit if not more important than hard training.
The time away and some weeks where I would not train for more than a day or two at a time helped me let go of a lot of frustration and baggage that was impacting my performance.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

UFC 189 Countdown and Breakdown Video Segment(s) & Picks/Prognostication(s)

McGregor vs Mendes:
I was debating/discussing this with my good friend and training partner. The usual debate about McGregor's unseen ground game came up. I see that as a plus whereby the guy has made it to a featherweight title fight without having really been put in trouble. Sure, early on his career he had holes in that. I find it hard to believe based on interviews with SBG's head coach and owner that McGregor has some glaring hole in his game. I see McGregor picking his shots, making Mendes fight his fight and there was something I saw in Mendes's pre-fight conference call on an embedded episode that was telling. I think Mendes knows this is his third shot at a title. He's failed twice in the past despite making a much better showing the second time around than the first....but I think he may suffer from the Urijah Faber syndrome at this point. I see McGregor precision striking an increasingly frustrated Mendes and making Mendes miss with his short hooks and short right hand because McGregor moves and circles well/light on his feet.
McGregor by 2nd round TKO.

Robbie Lawler vs Rory MacDonald:
I see this fight going the same way. Rory has adopted a point fighting style/stance since his early days (after the Condit fight) and guys like Condit and Lawler exploit that weakness: Rory wilts when the pressure pours on and Lawler showed that especially in the 3rd round last time around. I think its the tried and true adage of the veteran experience versus the younger generation fighter. Over a 5 round fight in particular, I see Lawler piling up the damage in spurts and punshing Rory late in the fight to a 4th or 5th round stoppage. Watching Lawler in the moment is a thing of beauty to behold. I think Lawler's ability to absorb significant damage even when getting hit is the key to avoiding how Rory normally picks apart and breaks lesser fighters.

Pickett vs Almeida:
I just see the versatility on the feet of Almeida busting up Pickett. It's going to be a tough, close fight. I think it will be a split decision and a fire fight. Pickett is hittable and I don't mean that in a good way. I think the versatility of Almeida puts the damage to the more hittable Pickett and he loses a closely contested firefight. Perhaps a late TKO by knee from the clinch followed up by punches anda  swarm from Almeida in the 3rd round.

Gunnar Nelson vs Thatch:
Thatch's loss to Henderson is telling. I see Gunnar dragging him down and winning by RNC or armbar in the 2nd round.

Bermudez vs Stephens:
I see Bermudez taking a split decision by out muscling and out volume punching Stephens over 3 rounds. 

Conor McGregor vs Chad Mendes Countdown:

Lawler vs MacDonald Countdown Segment:

Unitbet's UFC 189 Breakdown/Picks for Main Card:

 Unibet's 189 Welterweight Title Fight Breakdown:

MMA Playground: Picks by Yours Truly

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Because You Didn't Ask: My Thoughts on McGregor vs Mendes

Slept more than 5 hours for the first time since Saturday night. Got up and hit the gym for some NoGi training (le sigh). I'll be working Saturday night downtown because there's a shortage of dudes in this town who want to work the door. Go figure.
I can rarely find someone to cover my shift, and with the fight this Saturday, half the dudes I know already took off.

I went back and watched Mendes vs Aldo II, and Mendes vs Lamas for additional food for thought/analysis.

I think there's more to be learned from the fight with Lamas than the 2nd Aldo fight, actually.
Aldo stood upright, in the pocket, primarily punching against Mendes, right in range and Aldo paid for it in a close fight that saw him more busted up than any of his other fights I've seen.

I don't see McGregor fighting that type of fight at all.
McGregor also doesn't punch like Lamas, and by that, I mean head forward, big overhand right for power (which is how Lamas got caught in a right hand exchange with Mendes which spelled the end.
Up until then, Lamas was actually doing quite well in the stand up, with solid movement, good mix of kicks et cetera. I say that as someone who is not a huge Lamas fan. Mendes at times looked a bit impatient with all of Lamas' movement, but capitalized when Lamas stopped for a second to load up on a big right hand  with his heels on the cage.
With his reach footwork, McGregor manages much like a featherweight Nick Diaz to feel like he's in your face but is just out of range or moving out of range when tagged in range and guys seem to wilt under that distance/feeling in a round or less. Max Holloway is one of the few to withstand the assault and last 3 rounds. McGregor is a sharpshooter and by that I mean his punches don't look powerful but they are precise and he catches guys right on the end of his punches while staying right out of their range or lessening the damage when getting punched and countering.

Some thoughts on how McGregor might lose?
In the Holloway fight, I did see some instances of McGregor rather lazily shooting his right hand and not bring it back. I could see a short, overhand right counter from Mendes putting him on the deck to be honest, but I think having tasted Holloway's power, McGregor was growing increasingly comfortabel and picking his shots.
McGregor as a southpaw, the left hook/right hand combo is his biggest danger spot coming from Mendes because of his southpaw stance but I honestly think McGregor's movement and footwork will help him avoid much of the damage Aldo took in the 2nd match-up with Mendes' improved striking.

I don't see McGregor fighting that way at all if any of his fights in the UFC are an indication. I did see an interesting moment in the fight when Mendes did his level change/fake shot step and Lamas made him pay with an uppercut.

I'm big on watching guys and their body language up until the fight and in video interviews. There was a moment, during a conference call on the Countdown segment or perhaps the Embedded one, whatever, and Chad said something afterward about how "well, he hasn't gotten in my head like other guys because I haven't had to hear his talk all this time." Something about it, like reverse psychology, or like a kid saying they don't believe in was very telling to me. I think McGregor is in his head a bit, from when Mendes was lobbying for a fight with McGregor and they verbally sparred a few times.
 Mendes trying to tell himself that fighting on two weeks is an advantage, also very telling, a pure rationalization if I ever heard one. I think its a win-win for Mendes in that if he loses he can chalk it up to late notice, but it's also essentially the 3rd time he's fighting for the belt and perhaps the "if you're Team Alpha Male and not TJ Dillashaw" curse will rear it's ugly head. 

Go back and watch the Marcus Brimage fight, another guy who came out, a bit impatient, and paid via uppercut which set up the finish against McGregor. McGregor has a punishing uppercut/hook combo he fires that doens't look super powerful but hurts guys. He also throws a great right hand to the top of the head/backside punch (ala Brimage and Poirier) that I could easily see hurting the shorter, more compact Mendes with his shorter arms that won't block the same surface area of someone, say, like Aldo.

This is one of those fights I can tell I'm either reading completely right or will be completely wrong, but that's why it's called gambling. I've got some sizable money wagered on this card and some of the lines actually aren't bad.

I frankly don't see this fight with Lawler/MacDonald going any differently except perhaps Lawler stopping Rory in the 4th or even 5th ala the way Carlos Condit did to Rory.

Rory seems to have been infected by that techincal/finesse side of fighting that a guy like Lawler wears down and feasts on over the course of a longer fight.

It's a good card with some entertaining fighters like Tim Means, Lawler, McGregor, Mendes, Almeida, Gunnar Nelson, Pickett et al.

What more could you want for a dual title fight card?

Enjoy it for me, I'l be watching the prelims then working the door downtwon then up again for open mat Sunday.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Watch Rafa Mendes Feast on Black Belts at 2015 Bull Terrier Cup

So I Visited Unity BJJ - NYC

One of the greatest things about Jiu-Jitsu is that you can feasibly train with your heroes/idols.
It's not like I can show up at a pick-up game/practice and square up with Michael Jordan or have him cross me up and dunk on me.

I dropped in at the open Pro Training at Unity BJJ recently. I rolled with both Miyao brothers. They both let me think I was doing some things and work a bit then effortlessly showed why they're two of the best competitive black belts in the world.
It's surreal to be mounted by Paulo Miyao and look over and see Joao Miyao rolling nearby with Murilo Santana. Their work ethic is nothing short of Spartan.

Do not show up in a double weave Gi. Unity BJJ felt like a sauna when I walked in and immediately reminded me of summer Judo practice in the wrestling room at UNC back when I was a competitive brown belt/black with two hour randori practice.

The Miyao brothers stopped briefly at times to get a sip of water and had been drilling for at least an hour plus when I showed up. Murilo Santana is the same. They were drenched in sweat and that's completely understating it.
Murilo was being photographed/interviewed for Five Grappling's upcoming NoGi invitational. The New York Open is also coming up soon which no doubt the Miyao brothers will do.

Whatever some might chalk up to attributes, their work ethic and dedication to the grind is staggering.  
Save for some scattered Portuguese, they rarely stopped other than to walk and get water quickly between rounds then it was back to "good training" and "oss," slap hands and go.

If you're in town stop by. Everyone was very cool and every blue, purple, and brown belt I rolled with was solid, technical, there to train hard and made no excuses.

If you're in NYC, stop by. They were super welcoming and it was no frills tough training.

Can't recommend it highly enough.

Monday, June 29, 2015

18 Months

18 months is how long it took for me to win an adult purple belt division.
Yesterday at US Grappling's event I won the Adult purple belt Absolute.
I took 2nd in the featherweight/lost on a guard pass.

I have a box full of 2nd and 3rd place medals since I moved up to purple belt. I also have had plenty of days I was "1 and done" and out in the first round.
I might get pissed about not getting a bye or be pissed it's single elimination or whatever but those are all the part of the game.

To quote Hunter S. Thompson, "buy the ticket, take the ride."

I've talked about how many times I've competed since getting my faixa roxa.
It's been 18 months without an external reward/indicator of my training and time on the mats.

It's not about chasing medals. It's about grinding through without reward. It's easy to discount the points scoring or the hierarchy of points or the rules or the whatever to validate why you haven't gotten the results you wanted. Sure, I can go to the gym and have peaks and valleys but showing up on the day and facing other guys training that extra little or a lot bit harder because they are competing is a staunch litmus test.

By the end of blue belt I could win the adult and the 30+ division in the same day with almost the exact same gameplan. Blue belt was also my first exposure to high level tournaments when I did the IBJJF Pans and the Abu Dhabi Pro Trials.

At purple belt it's this manic game of chicken where the first guy who blinks or misses a transition likely loses. Against recreational level competitors at purple belt you can still make some mistakes;
not so against the upper echelon of purple belts.

This post isn't about how awesome I am. 
In fact, 18 months probably sounds like forever to not win a division at your belt level. That's the point.
It's a marathon. It's not about how you start but rather how you finish that matters.
It was a long, dark time going to tournament after tournament with poor performances, close matches, getting submitted, not making it past the first round of my weight class and not making it past the first round of the absolute and the long drive home afterward to feel the letdown of expectation(s) after training for months and months up until that point. I had days where I showed up feeling ready to crush everyone and not win a single match. I had days when I was overtrained or under the weather and managed to win some matches and medal.

This post is also about mindset.
Realistically speaking, after a trip to see my brother's graduation out of town, I hadn't trained to top form before this tournament. I had to work until 4am the night before/night of the tournament then drive 3 hours, referee, and compete.
It was less than ideal but something was clearly able to compensate and the only thing I can determine is mindset.
I didn't feel pressure. I just felt this relentless mindset like I was going to just push and grind and not stop until time ran out, regardless of the situation or points of whatever. I remember reading months back Keenan Cornelius talking about how he finally decided he was just going to fight so hard that even if they guy beat him his opponenet would lose his next match from the relentless pace it would take to beat him. He finally let go of the expectation to win and simply fought as hard as he could in each match.

Yesterday, despite in my conscious brain, knowing this above idea/concept and having heard this, something changed where I felt that mindset. In my matches I was almost completely in the moment. I could hear, as though far away the voices of friends, teammates, coaches, guys I know from all the grappling events....but it never took me out of the present moment. I just kept grinding and didn't stop. I don't think I rested more than a moment or two in any of my matches. I just kept working.
When I was tired and folded in half upside down defending a guard pass or would shoot the omoplata and the guy would defend then look to pass I could feel how tired I was but it felt far away, like a quiet voice drowned out by this voice that just kept saying "keep going, push, go, push." 

This post is for everyone out there grinding. It's not pretty. The full court press is denigrated in basketball. The reality of hard work is that it's not pretty. It's tedious, long, boring, discouraging, and often doesn't manifest for a very long time.
If you're like me and not a natural, not an athlete, not a whatever-the-*&^%-people-say, it doesn't matter in the long run.

Hard work beats talent when talent refuses to work hard.
Grind on.
It's not pretty but when it pays off the reward is deeply gratifying.
People who don't know me might see my matches and thing I'm strong or fast or have some attribute(s), but anyone who knows me knows that I am by no means a natural athlete. I never have been. I've never actually been naturally good at anything but rather I simply log a lot of hours on the mat and forgo much of what resembles a personal life to pursue this. It's not pretty and it's not glamorous and it has been a long haul to be sure but it's just beginning.

I remember before the start of the Absolute thinking well, if I lose the first round, I will fight for third. I watched the first match and felt confident I could beat the guy who lost.
I caught myself and stopped that line of thinking.
I've heard Donald Cerrone call those "red light thoughts."

Instead I asked/told myself, "Why not? Why can't I win the Absolute? Why not shoot for the moon? I'm here. I train hard. This is my opportunity. It's right here."

I could settle for focusing on just getting a medal in the Absolute (would have been the first time since I became a purple belt) but I admitted to myself that was just fear. Fear of letdown. Me rationalizing something I feared I would try to achieve and fail. So I told myself, "No. Today we are going to go for it."

I remember someone nearby looking at the guy I would face first round, about 40 lbs heavier than me/wrestling background, and saying "I wouldn't want him on top of me."
I said "I believe in my bottom game."

And I did. I've put in the time. I've put in the work having bigger, heavier, better guys try to pass my guard. I've worked it virtually every day I have trained since before purple belt.
I've had bigger and better guys struggle to pass my guard. I knew it would be a grinder of a match unless I caught a mistake by him on top but I also knew I didn't want to concede takedown points and get stalled out so I played on the feet just a bit then pulled guard. When I got into trouble I pulled him into closed guard and worked to break him down and threaten submissions, being careful not to overextend and as every small(er) Jiu-Jitsu guy knows not let a submission attempt turn into a guard pass for my opponent.

I grinded out what felt like forever despite being only 7 minutes and got a referee's decision due to submission attempts and my guard retention nullifying his guard passing attempts.

All I can say is hard work isn't glamorous but staying humble, believing in your process, doing what others aren't willing to do, and simply getting after it eventually pays off.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

US Grappling Richmond This Weekend/General Update

Got a stripe on my purple belt last night. I think for guys who train 5-6 days a week or more, stripes are silly. I'm going to grind regardless and my belt is faded enough that no one who sees it thinks I just got my purple belt anytime recently. That being said, as my coach reminded me, "it's not up to you."

Point taken.

At any rate, this weekend I return to competing after what, for me, amounts to a minor break from the training/competing regimen I've been at since I got my purple belt (competing 23 times: tournaments or superfights in the first 18 months at purple belt - roughly every 3 weeks for a year and a half).

I didn't stop training  between mid-May and now, but had some weeks where I only trained 4-5 times and haven't competed since May 16th and have had weeks where I actually took consecutive days off and even a couple weeks where I took 3 days off in a row.

At some point diminishing returns is a real phenomenon and everyone from my coach to my girlfriend told me I was headed toward if not already in full blown burnout. Everything from general malaise to being tired yet unable to sleep and the range of emotional reactions to overtraining/exhaustion.

More than ever I can see the divide increasing between recreational training and guys training to compete. I know that even now there's more levels to how I can arrange my training and maximize the already substantial amount of time I'm grinding. If this is what it's like at purple belt I can't even honestly imagine brown and black belt. I'm no longer satisfied beating recreational competitors but rather now it's about looking around at the others in my division I can tell train with the frequency and goal(s) that I do.

With that, I'll leave you with two of my favorite quotes from the Miyao Brothers:
"The only thing that stands between a man and what he wants in life is merely the will to try and the faith to believe that it is possible."
"So you lost ? Shut up and train more."

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Saturday, June 20, 2015

2015 Mundials Analysis: Leandro Lo vs Matheus Diniz - Grip or Die

Matheus does a lot to shut down the usual parts of Leandro's guard. Matheus gets hit with a sweep that while not initially successful leads to turning and thus having to flee when Lo dives at his legs: the same sweep I've seen Leandro hit against Keenan when he crosses his legs/locks his ankles with a position like a guard around the knees and tips the guy over.
It's an interesting adjustment to guys fighting off Leandro scooting underneath to come to his other more common sweep where he would normally set it up with that far spider hook on the arm.

For a guy like Matheus fighting Leandro's right hand grip (often at times Matheus was using BOTH of his hands to control that hand), or a taller guy like Keenan who is also avoiding the spider hook, the guard around the knees level sweep is an interesting adaptation.
Matheus (something I've noticed Marcelo does continually is never concede grips) and Matheus and company clearly prepped for Leandro's hand placement. The 2nd scoring sweep or rather sweep that leads to a scramble and then finally a sweep happens when Leandro adjusts and gets a single leg x-guard type position and if you look closely, there's a split second where Matheus doesn't control Leandro's right grip and Leandro gets the lift necessary to come up on a single leg type of stand up then eventually finishes as Matheus dives for a leg.

I was just out in LA talking to my friend/owner of the Cosmic Training Center and he mentioned he noticed this quite a bit in the Worlds matches at the higher levels: 1) as a tool to prevent lapel guard or other lapel feeding-worm-guard-type stuff and also as a passing tool for the top player if he controls and punches that grip down and controls it against the mat.

Food for thought.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Go Read This

It's a post by one of the nicest people I know in Jiu-Jitsu, none other than Dirty White Belt, himself, Jeff Shaw.

When he blogs, I read it/listen. 
You should as well. 

Hey Guys! Hey Guys! Ken Shamrock and Kimbo are Fighting Tonight! & UFC Fight NIght 69 Picks

The UFC event tomorrow in some far flung place you've never seen on google maps has all the earmarks of a minefield for gamblers. Guys with questionable records in the EU circuit facing guys with losses against anyone whose name you recognize in the UFC versus guys from those countries that turn out tough fighters like Russia et cetera.

I've made some picks that are not anything I'd put cash behind. There's not a one I'm super certain about save perhaps Amirkhani as I think he's going to get a more durable guy this time to test the waters a bit and Mustafaev has a more impressive record to make me feel good about picking him over Piotr Hallman.

Beyond that, it's honestly anyone's guess.

As for Bellator's fights tonight they're not bad minus the co-main of Ken Shamrock vs Kimbo in a weight mismatch of roughly 30 lbs.
Strauss, Chandler, and Freire are all on the card.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Jiu-Jitsu in MMA: Bruno Frazatto

When it finally gets to the mat at about the 8:00 mark, Bruno makes quick work of his opponent. I've been a fan of Bruno ever since I watched his several battles over the years when Cobrinha was featherweight King before the beginning of the Mendes era.

His opponent, for his efforts, pulled a Mitrione and got his back taken after a pretty telegraphed shot at a takedown.

It's good to see high level Jiu-Jitsu in MMA getting the finish.

Speaking of which, the UFC this past weekend was bonkers.
Talk about a night of finishes?! Everything you could possible want on a card: submissions, KO's, striking, omoplatas, sweeps, cuts, standing elbows.....It was incredible.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Why You No Gripfight Buchecha and Evangelista?

Evangelista does a good job of countering Buchecha's wrestling with his grips early on.
As soon as Evangelista opts to get in a wrestling stance and really plant that lead foot and not establish grips...he gets taken down.

They both adopt neutral grips early on and it's no wonder they stalemate up until this point.
Buchecha would overzealously spin to the back and hunt for the finish allowing Evangelista to get back in the game, but only due to Buchecha's mistake did Evangelista have that opportunity.

Food for thought.
This isn't black and white footage of gentleman's agreement Judo non-gripfighting.
Establish a dominant grip and don't allow your opponent to do the same.

Friday, June 5, 2015

UFC Fight Night 68: Henderson vs Boetsch - MMA Betting Man's Picks in 60 Seconds

This is a card I feel with some entertaining scraps on it.

Henderson really does find himself at a crossroads. He thinks he still has enough to get a few paychecks and wins minus the TRT but I think he's never looked flatter than he did in his last fight and the fact that he's coming off of two stoppage losses and is facing Boetsch is no softball pitch to be sure.

I think we see Dan Henderson go out on his sword in this fight in one that will have longtime fans of the veteran wincing and shaking their heads.

Mitrione feels like he's has more visibility than Rothwell who I feel like hasn't fought in forever. My feelings aside, both guys are hit and miss in their UFC careers with Mitrione racking up a bit more high profile wins but faltering when he stepped up against the best. That being said, I still think he has more than enough hand and foot speed to pick apart Rothwell.

Soto I'm taking over Birchak because I've actually seen him fight before and as for Rivera, I think his bombs in his hands will be enough to hurt Caceres who I simply don't believe has the power in his strikes to keep Rivera off him long enough to stick, move, and take a decision.

Jordan as a heavyweight is tough and dangerous but too green to threaten the upper echelon. That being said he has the slightly better wins in the division than his opponent and should get a stoppage here to  move him up a spot or two. Ebersole has an impressive list of submission and stoppages to his credit and I think unless Akhmedov is some new wonder kid I haven't heard of, I think Ebersole's experience takes it here as well.

I'm actually kind of excited about this card as I think stylistically enough of these guys have some holes in parts of their games we might get a pretty good card out of this. 

Because You Didn't Ask: My Thoughts on Cormier vs Gustaffson

Why is the guy who lost his last fight now fighting the champ for the belt?
It's impossible to defend this booking.
You know the one I'm discussing: Gustaffson who just lost to Johnson will next face the guy who just beat Johnson.

Wrap your brain around that.
Last minute cancellations aside (Belfort fighting Jon Jones et cetera - at least Belfort once held the strap at 205, was also champion before weight classes), this booking is just impossible to defend.

If anyone out there can defend it, please hit me with the rationale. I've been racking my brain all day trying to do just that.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Personal Update

My coach is competing at Grappler's Quest in NJ this weekend as part of their "Grapplers Quest U.S. National Championships and All Star Pro Challenge." 
He's competing for cold hard cash, the stream is available HERE:

Pre-Lims at 12:00 PM and Finals at 8:00 PM on LIVE

I took a short break from training, first break longer than maybe 3 days in a row since I got my purple belt in December of 2013. At some point I finally had to admit that it was diminishing returns on training no matter how much I continued to grind it out. I visited my girlfriend for a few days, and even though I love dropping into to train whilst out of town with new people or those I haven't seen in awhile, I forced myself to actually just enjoy a few days with her and do what I guess normal people do when they leave town: eat out, see the beach, do a ropes course, see a movie et cetera.

I haven't even done any sports betting recently, I've been on full break from combat sports. I didn't watch the Worlds and only recently watched the finals and some of the quarter and semi finals.

US Grappling has two events coming up: June 27, 2015 in Ashland, VA &
July 25, 2015 in Morrisville, NC  for which I'll referee and compete.  

I'm planning on doing an IBJJF event in July or August, I haven't chosen which one yet. I haven't done an IBBJ event since I did the Pans as a blue belt shortly before I had my knee reconstructed. I've been grinding it out at purple belt and I'm looking forward to winning and/or learning.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

BJJ Hacks: John Danaher and Dillon Danis


Because You Didn't Ask: My Thoughts Post 2015 IBJJF Mundials

I've gone through and watched all my favorite competitors matches that I could find: Lepri, Faria, Keenan, Miyao et cetera.

I think Miyao beat Malfacine. I'll just leave it at that. The waving off the last advantage was in effect a referee decision made. I think they want a whatever # time World Champion, and Malfacine fits the bill.

Faria imposed his will but as usual, almost got caught a couple times getting greedy (this is a good thing). Seeing Rafa get after it and finish everyone on his way to the finals was also pretty badass. That wrist lock from the crucifix was bonkers. I had to rewatch it a few times and find photos online to be sure that's what it was until I heard more from people there/articles online. Cobrinha also looked incredible until he once against found himself very, very early in trouble against Rafa.

Guilherme was missed as he's a guy whom most of my knee through and top passing game I've reverse-engineered and copied (as well as his baseball and lapel choke from knee on belly.

Calasans must be sleeping well after meeting Oliveira in the final (who knocked out Otavio) and Leandro moved up (and beat Keenan yet again) and Calasans now finally has the medal I would bet he was fiending after the most. I saw a lot of tight, pressure matches and that Keenan flying triangle to armbar on Leandro was awesome. I saw guys moreso (at least it looked like it) legitimately looking to submit to set up other things.

Queixinho looked good against Cobrinha, I've seen Cobrina walk through many a black belts guard over the years and Quiexinho/Moizinho fought him off for quite a bit.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

UFC 189 Updated Card (Bonkers!)

It's like Christmas. Let's all hold our collective breath that most of the guys avoid injury. From now until July 11th might as well be a year in terms of guys having time to get injured and become unable to fight. Fingers crossed, am I right?

"With the addition, UFC 189 now includes:
  • Champ Jose Aldo vs. Conor McGregor – for featherweight title
  • Champ Robbie Lawler vs. Rory MacDonald – for welterweight title
  • Dennis Bermudez vs. Jeremy Stephens
  • John Hathaway vs. Gunnar Nelson
  • Brandon Thatch vs. John Howard
  • Alex Garcia vs. Mike Swick
  • Matt Brown vs. Tim Means
  • Henry Briones vs. Cody Garbrandt
  • Thomas Almeida vs. Brad Pickett
  • Jake Ellenberger vs. Josh Thompson"

BJJ Weekend: BJJ Library - Saulo & Xande Ribeiro Challenge/Combat Sports Show Introspective, Copa Podio HW Brackets Released,

Small world, but the competitor Brian Mingia is a guy I know personally. He's longtime friends with my former instructor Billy Dowey (both Royce Gracie black belts).
Interested to see this show unfold much more so than the Road to Metamoris bits I've seen honestly.
Glad to see some quality production in a short season style show with a challenge and mini-challenges along the way.

I watched the current season of The Ultimate Fighter Wednesday night with a friend and training partner. It was passable as far as entertainment goes. The antics of the house and the guys cooped up together less so, but with figures like Ricardo Liborio, and Tyrone Spong mixed throughout, it wasn't terrible television (I guess). I haven't owned a TV since early in college when I gave mine to my younger brother and there's enough documentaries and Jiu-Jitsu on the internet to fill my time when I'm not working or training or with my girlfriend.


I don't know if it means I'm a hardcore BJJ enthusiast or a fail as a fan that I'll be reffing a Jiu-Jitsu tournament for Newbreed in Charlotte Saturday rather than watching Copa Podio. I have no desire to watch Metamoris as the card was lackluster with my only original interest in Satoshi vs Clark Gracie and the HW match-up with Cyborg vs Josh Barnett....the comments Ralek made about female grapplers notwithstanding. Now that Ryron will keep it playful with Josh Barnett for what should be about as much fun as teaching a white belt how to tie their belt, I remain wholly unconcerned with missing the event. I am ill that I'll miss Leandro versus Moraes but I don't think it will be competitive in the sense that Leandro has been 100% devoted to Sport Jiu-Jitsu and I expect Moraes to fall much the way of Durhinho whose time in MMA didn't crossover well enough to keep him a step ahead of the every dynamic Leandro. Leandro looked amazing at the Pan, falling only to Bernardo Faria in the finals of the open and made relatively easy work of Keenan at the Abu Dhabi Pro recently as well.

You can see the bracket HERE. 
Erberth Santos who trains at the team whose name we will not mention had a disappointing show at the Brazilian Nationals and faces guys like Tim Spriggs and Vinny Magalhaes on his end of the group. Victor Honorio and Preguica are across the pond on the other side of the bracket/group.

Milton Vieira also has a NoGi match, the brown belt prospect Edwin Najmi competes, and of course Serginho Moraes rounds out the event.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Alert the News Media! Ryron to Not Try and Submit in a Submission Only Match (Again)

I'll be reffing at the Newbreed Tournament in Charlotte that day, then working at my other job downtown back in Raleigh. Not even salty I'm missing this event honestly other than Clark Gracie vs Satoshi. Not at all sad I'm missing this one, even with the fail comments about women grapplers notwithstanding.

Last time Ryron did a submission only match he was eclipsed only by his good friend Brendan Schaub for all the not submitting he did.

You will never convince me that it's a big deal for someone who's been doing Jiu-Jitsu since they could walk that to just survive is impressive. Thanks for wasting my money. Keep it playful? Keep it unimpressive.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

My Fight Lab 46 Superfight - 3 Minute Rounds

Fight Lab 46 BJJ: Tim Mcnamara vs John Schell
Fight Lab 46 BJJ: Tim McNamara vs John Schell
Posted by Fight Lab on Friday, May 1, 2015

Burnout/The Grind is Real

Was talking to my girlfriend the other day and mentioned I hadn't even looked at any upcoming competitions after my next superfight happens May 16th.

She responded, "that's probably a good thing," in her usual, concise way that means a lot more than it may state in words.
I asked her what she meant and she replied, "you don't seem to really enjoy doing Jiu-Jitsu lately. You're training hard and training hard but you've forgotten why you like doing it. It's like you've stopped having fun at all in training or remembering why you like doing it in the first place."

I've hit a point where I don't have many days I enjoy training. Training feels a lot like it did when I competed in Judo: training is for tournaments. It's practice. Practice doesn't feel or sound like fun because it's usually not. I've had one or two gaps in my training since being promoted to purple belt that total more than a few consecutive days off the mat.

Over the course of the past year and 5 months I've competed 22 times: 17 BJJ tournaments, 1 Judo tournament, and 4 Superfights. I've been to Delaware, Chicago, Norfolk, Richmond, Maryland, and Virginia Beach (among others) to train and compete.

The paradox of competing is on a day like today when I worked until after 3am last night/this morning, I'm still going to train at noon because this superfight for May 16th is booked. It's good because I'm going to train rather than go home and nap.
It's bad when enough days in a row you force yourself to do something and then you begin to resent it and training becomes a daily chore. There's going to be days when you're not feeling it but enough days in a row like that and it becomes problematic as the quality of the time spent training begins to decline and that emotional discord manifests in your performance.

I'd be remiss to not mention that a part of my discontent is training harder than ever before and not getting the results I want.
I can keep grinding because I competed at blue belt for quite awhile before I began winning divisions. I've always been an incremental learner (go read "The Art of Learning") and so I am intellectually and emotionally prepared for prolonged disappointment in the face of what feels like ever-increasing investment on my part. At blue belt I never even won a division until after I returned from knee surgery and was very much near the last 6 months of my blue belt time as it turns out before I began to win my division.

I've never found myself to be naturally good at anything. Even as a kid, when artwork and drawing were my passion(s), I would draw for literally 6-8 hours straight. That obsessive/addictive quality to my personality which has caused strain in my personal life, is also why I'm any good (if at all) at Jiu-Jitsu. I'm simply willing to grind and slog it through hours and hours and days and days of little discernible improvement.

The old adage that, "you don't love something until you've hated it," comes to mind. If blue belt (at times) felt like an interminable period of time, purple belt feels like a constant spring uphill in a wind tunnel with people watching. Granted, this is all self-imposed expectation and pressure of my own creation but as you get better, you begin to expect more of yourself and your performance in this positive feedback loop that builds over time.

When I get butthurt or aggravated about not performing as well as I would like, I remember Keenan talking about how he had been training a solid 5-7 years before he won anything of note or Caio Terra saying he thinks he was literally the worst blue belt in the world and that his coach gave him his blue belt out of pity.
Things like that keep me going when I'm working until 2am or 4am Friday night, waking up and driving to Charlotte by 830am, reffing and/or competing all day, then back in Raleigh Saturday night to work from 10pm until 3-something-am like I will this weekend....then Sunday morning up for Open mat.

At any rate, it's time to go train.

Recent Superfight Photos, and Toro Cup 2 Reminder

Superfight week after this one as part of the Toro Cup 2 at the Cageside MMA/Toro BJJ warehouse in Durham, NC.