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.