Friday, January 29, 2016

Podcast Arriving Soon

At the behest of some friends and in the hopes of expounding upon blog posts and ideas I've had for posts that simply won't articulate as well in written format, 
my Podcast will come forth in the next few days. 

* won't actually be released on Tuesday(s) 
** hat tip for the concept/art/design as my graphic design skills are woefully limited.

UFC on FOX 18: Johnson vs Bader - MMA Picks

Normally I'd get to see this one because it's on at 8pm, and I don't go into my weekend job downtown until 10pm, but I'll be driving back from reffing all day Saturday at the Newbreed Grappling Tournament in Charlotte (after working at another weekend/nighttime job the night before until 2am). I'll catch up on the results when I get to work at 10pm. Blase blase. It's a decent card for some free TV and honestly, about on par with the now Werdum-Cain-less UFC 196 card that follows not long after on PPV. It's still hard for me to digest how one can just throw money on that card without that main event. Dana White used to talk a colossal amount of smack about Boxing promoting one fight cards, but this is a total "contender" card which is okay for free TV but Rothwell and Barnett aren't former title holders (Barnett was stripped of his title-winning performance against Randy Couture  - if you're a true old school UFC fan you'll remember) and Ellenberger looked completely outclassed in his last outing against Wonderboy (who finds himself facing the also faded and shopworn Hendricks on that UFC 196 card which has done zilch to impress me without it's title fight main event).

It's not showing but I've got Ryan Bader over Johnson by a Unanimous Decision.

I think Bader's got enough ring/cage acumen to avoid the Rumble train's early power and last out til the 4th round. Anything past 2 rounds I think is Bader's fight, but I would NOT bet any $ against Johnson's power.

I think Rothwell ends up mounted by Barnett and Barnett finishes him TKO style from the mount. I don't like betting against Rothwell because every now and then he pulls a rabbit out of the hat like he did with that front headlock choke against Mitrione's lazy shot. I think Barnett is smart enough to not do anything dumb, but Rothwell is huge, even for this division and unless you're Werdum, I loathe betting on HW fights as a general personal betting rule.

Saffiedine wins because Ellenberger looked terrible his last time out.

Aubin-Mercier looked great in his last few fights and only lost in his UFC debut on a fight stemming from the TUF Nations show (who cares?). His opponent's record, however, is misleading. Ferreira's last two fights/losses are to Beneil Dariush and Dustin Poirier and a win over Ramsey Nijem. I think, however, Mercier takes this one. He's got more momentum, has looked more consistent, despite not quite having faced the same level of opposition. Time to tell if Mercier is the real deal or just looks good against flatter opposition. I want to pick Mercier by stoppage here, but I think Ferreira's tougher than his record suggests as his only two stoppages and losses total are against Poirier and Dariush (who I think may eventually challenge for the title - you heard it here first). 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

UFC 196 Musical Chairs & Other MMA Quick News Bits

After the musical chairs of Cain unsurprisingly pulling out with an injury for the 3rd time against Cain, then Werdum opting out of facing Miocic, we were left with Hendricks vs Thompson....and a PPV that might have set a new low record for dismal sales. 
Dariush and Chiesa are set for a fight in April, where I think Dariush is a more dangerous version of Chiesa from a better camp. 

Ken Shamrock fights Royce Gracie in less than a month. No comment. Dan Severn says he wants the winner. No comment. 
The Bellator "card" of the same night also features Kimbo Slice and Melvin Guillard in other bouts. Speaking of Kimbo Slice, in order to fall asleep, I watched 5-10 minutes of "Dawg Fight" the "documentary" feat. DaDa 5000: mentor? Coach? Acquaintance? Bodyguard? Whatever to Kimbo Slice's early Internet fame. I spent 10 minutes of my life so you didn't have to. But I will tell you, he has 3 fights "so destructive" that "they" won't release the footage. Who "they" exactly are is unclear. Kimbo really is the Kim Kardashian of MMA/fighting. His bare knuckle visceral boxing matches segued him (ingeniously) into a semi-legitimate career and more money and notoriety than most of us put together will ever achieve. 
Don't let anyone tell you that you can't do something, kids. Trump is running for office in a GOP pool somehow worse than the previous. The DEA worked with the Sinaloa cartel for like ten years. There are no limitations.  

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Cageside Concussion Cast - Cody Maltais

Do yourself and give it a listen. I know the guys who make it, record it, sponsor it, and thus far a number of the guests. 

Eddie Cummings Blowing Your Mind

Watch the full interview :

Cummings discusses: 
Didn't know this but he went from
Blue to Black belt in 5 years. Wow. 
The Desire to beat the 1%; that is to beat the best of the best, the world class.
He discusses his shift from 
Hobbyist to professional in the sense that training twice a day doesn't make you a professional. 
Competing as a fan vs as a competitor against guys you looked up to from early in your career. 
W"hy didn't I express my physical knowledge?" - the psychology of performance, comparing ability versus performance, knowledge
Vs execution.

I paraphrase but he says "In competion there is only room in your mind for strategic thinking or empty mind - no in between."
He discusses a very  Danaher-esque approach/commitment to learning over the long haul vs commitment to just training consistently or training to get good quickly.

And some additional food for thought -

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

UFC 196 No Longer PPV

Sensible. Will now air on Fox Sports 1. 

Le Sigh - *Updated UFC 196 Card

Hendricks fights Wonderboy. I've got money on Wonderboy to do what he did to Ellenberger. I've thought for a long time Hendricks' time has definitely passed. He doesn't seem willing to shoot but rather press guys against the cage and hope they fall down. 

With the main event that was Fabricio vs Cain now gone, this card is now exceedingly tough to sell as a PPV. An ex-champ in Hendricks promising for the however many times he's serious about getting belt back, an ex-title challenger in Benavidez fighting, Roy Nelson collecting another paycheck toward retirement...I mean, Burkman vs Noons and Mike Pyle fighting for free prelims is okay, but this main card is simply hard to justify. 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Gene Kim Photography: US Grappling Raleigh Mash-Up

Saw this over at BJJ News.....go there first to start your day on the internets (or at work)
Gene Kim does great work.
So does US Grappling.

Elevate MMA Academy - Blog Post

Friend of mine, Zenith Black Belt, professional fighter, school owner, entrepreneur....his hats are many, but he's also one of the more interesting minds I know. His take on something I've been considering through my time competing in Judo, MMA, and now Jiu-Jitsu. Coincidentally, I snapped a pic of him going for a  mounted guillotine he mentions like  the article from the tournament this past weekend. 

Friday, January 22, 2016

The Power of "Why?" - Reason from Essential Truths

Disclaimer: posted from iPhone-

I've mentioned previously my minor obsession with Elon Musk.
Reasoning in reverse or backwards in some regard is not a new idea per se. 
As it applies to JiuJitsu, I'll liken it to Sakuraba or Masakazu Imanari: pass the guard? Why? I can attack the legs. There's an interview by Scramble ( I think) where they ask Imanari why he loves leg locks and the like and he laughs and sheepishly says he wasn't very good at guard passing. It's a "duh" moment but it's sort of brilliant in its own "duh" or obvious way. In the long run he's become so dangerous at attacking the legs that it completely takes guys out of their game when facing him even, often in MMA. He does something which feels counter-intuitive to a trained Jiu-Jitsu practitioner. He doesn't do what's expected in that sense. 
But furthermore, it breaks down more deeply into fundamental and what's called "atomic componenets": Pass the guard? Why? More importantly, why pass guard when I can attack the legs? If the purpose of JiuJitsu is to submit the opponent, and I can do so without multi-part/protracted guard passing battle, especially in the realm of MMA or submission grappling (ADCC or EBI rule sets) then why pass the guard indeed?

I find this reasoning of interest as I'm a devoted guard passer and open guard player. I'm as interested if not moreso in the "why?" behind a high level competitor as opposed to the "how" he/she might do something. Example: I'd be far more interested in hearing at length why the Miyaos prefer getting to the back as opposed to a back take instructional series with x or y number of moves or techniques. Is it they feel the most dominant finishing position? If so, why? Is it the safest control position regardless of opponent size? 

Sweep the foot, you must 
Why not just go directly to the back? I spent most of last year training with Sean Spangler, a black belt under Drysdale. He has a front headlock series whereby if/when he gets to your back or if you turtle or move to escape the Darce, he controls the head/arm with this lasso type Gable grip he does (he has a ton more set-ups, I'm generalizing here). Rather than traditional JiuJitsu whereby you control the hips and/or pass to mount or get hooks and back control; once he gets ahold of your head your options become exceedingly limited. I've seen him control, frustrate, or finish a ton of guys this way in training and in competion, gi and nogi. In rolling with him it feels super counter-intuitive and like he's violating the order of operations in JiuJitsu, akin to a team that plays the full court press in basketball and wears down their opposition by not playing to the gentlemen's agreement of high offense/minimal defense. 
It's kind of like, why pull guard? Why not fight for a takedown? Why pull guard rather than seek a takedown? In sport Jiu-Jitsu, off your back you have more options to sweep or submit rather than on top where much of your options begin after passing the guard (minus dropping back on an ankle lock, toe hold, jumping to a guillotine perhaps). To be on top and sit back on the ankle lock or toe hold also means conceding two points if/when the formerly bottom player escapes the submission attempt. The rabbit hole runs deep when you begin asking "Why?" and considering your goals in winning, how to win, and the nature of the rule set governing the contest. 

At its core though, it's the same kind of reverse problem solving: why control the back or seek the position of the back and spend time/energy fighting to take the back if I can simply control the head and therefore the body and have a series of submission options more directly? Again, if the purpose is to submit, why then seek a further step away or a position a further step away to then begin my submission attempts? 
I'd liken it to using the submission attempt as a position of sorts: like jumping to the armbar at the start of a match rather than 1) takedown 2) pass guard 3) achieve mount 4) spin off to mounted armbar. 
All of the above stems from "why?" Why seek to submit? Why seek to control position? Why seek to submit potentially at the expense of position? What is the purpose of JiuJitsu? To what purpose do we seek to control position rather than seek to submit? What is the purpose of position or submission? How are they different? How does one serve the other? How can seeking one at the expense of another change the content of the interaction between the two grapplers? Where do we spend our pennies in the piggy bank that is limited training time each day? 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Foot Sweep Saturday

Two of my foot sweeps from US Grappling Raleigh this past Saturday. When in doubt, foot sweep him.
Low risk, don't expose the back or commit too heavily.


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Post-Tournament Thoughts

Spent the day reffing and got to watch a good bit of black belt matches and catch up with old friends and familiar faces. 
I lost my first match at weight by points, then my second match by a slick armbar because I was lazy and paid the price for leaving it out there. I had a rematch with my first opponent from my weight class in the first round of the absolute and again lost by points. 
My second match in the absolute I lost by armbar in the closed guard for not squaring up my hips to my opponents'. As usual I have to keep it in perspective rather than make it more than it is: after a four month layoff, I knew parts of my game would be rusty. I'm no Dominic Cruz (haha). There's a fine line between rationalizing losses and mistakes and becoming completely outcome dependent. Obsession with winning and more often (for me) fear of losing can be every bit as detrimental as blaming everything else out there for your loss(es).
  When you train 5-6 days a week, have no other substantive hobbies, enjoying the process isn't always possible but over-internalizing failures makes for a tough, tough road to tow day in and day out. Before my hiatus from jiujitsu I had pretty much hated training 3/4 of the time. Almost every day was a grind for the previous 6 months. It took awhile but come December I missed training and was glad to just be back on the mats again. Burnout and diminishing returns are real phenomena. 

  Silver lining: I stuck to the gameplan. I stayed on my feet and fought for the takedown. I managed to score with some foot sweeps which I'll post shortly but I stuck to my grip fighting, avoided the guard pull until my last match of the day against a much taller opponent, and ignored the quiet voice in my head telling me that we were tired and should just pull guard rather than fight for top position. Win or learn. 
  I'm reffing for Newbreed in Charlotte at the end of the month on the 30th which hopefully means I can go out there a day early and train as well. 
  I'd like to thank my coaches at Gracie Raleigh and my training partners. I felt pretty in shape despite the short turnaround from getting back on the mats in late December and competing midway through January and that is solely due to the tough training in class. I knew I could expect some losses in pursuing a new gameplan and especially after a long layoff, but nothing worth easy is worth doing and the NASA rocket program didn't work on the first try. 


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

UFC 196 Extended Preview - Werdum vs Velasquez 2, Hendricks vs Thompson

I won $60 betting against the oddsmakers on Dominic Cruz. Their rationale that the ring rust would be a factor I felt was negated by how sharp he looked in that Mizugaki fight and simply his career of always showing up in shape. In watching Dillashaw's previous wins I also felt he only looked good bc the guys he fought were foils for his high volume style: they had plodding, march  into the barrage flat-footed styles (Soto and Barao) that made Dillashaw look better than he was. His face compared to Cruz's at the post-fight spoke volumes, Cruz made him miss time after time despite a few errant good shots and Cruz  mixed in some early round takedowns along with crisper combinations landing at times to take the decision. 
As for the Fabricio/Cain rematch, I will post my picks soon. I made a good bit of loot betting on Fabricio last time bc historically Cain falters after long layoffs, and once I saw he showed up just a couple weeks to Mexico City I was tripping over myself to get my bet placed. This time, however, history resides ok Cain's side as he's never lost a rematch. Like I said, I'll post my picks soon.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Pre-Tournament Thoughts

Disclaimer- Posted from my iPhone: Competing and reffing for the fine folks at US Grappling in Raleigh, NC tomorrow. It's my first time competing since the end of August. I took a full hiatus from Jiu-Jitsu. No training, no watching matches, zilch. I got back on the mats toward the end of last month and have grinded back into shape. I've been playing Judo again as my tournament gameplan this year has changed. I went back and reviewed the matches which I had won and matches where I had performed more to my potential and it's time to approach competing from another gameplan. 
I've heard it said in many ways by many top level guys but with the exception of perhaps Kron Gracie, they all say something like the guy who gets to where he wants to be first usually wins. I reference Kron here because he is statistically an exception in that he has won many times despite not being the first to score. I would hazard a guess that when you grow up on the mats with Rickson and his black belts...well, you too can be the exception. 
At any rate, failing to prepare is preparing to fail and if my gameplan is to be on top and pass, my training has to reflect that. Friend of mine and now Zenith
Black belt Cody Maltais recently blogged briefly about market inefficiency and utilizing for example foot locks because so many competitors frown on them/the disdain for them in more traditional jiu-jitsu school. 
Thus, in a division like mine (featherweight) where the majority pull guard, the exception is the guard passer. I recall an Instagram post where Gui Mendes paraphrased this, and said something like early on his coach told him that in a division of guard players, his pressure and passing would carry him through. This is big generalization, I'm aware, but you get my drift. Leandro Lo's passing game, Rodolfo Vieira's takedowns and passing, Lucas Lepri's pressure passing and takedowns et cetera. It's akin to basketball teams that play the full court press and don't honor the gentleman's agreement to play a low defense/high offense style of play on basketball (thanks Malcolm Gladwell). 
At any rate, with changes in direction, there will be kinks to work out. I have to spend time potentially losing matches and getting swept/submitted while competing and training to develop this game and it's precision under pressure. I see Purple belt and Brown belt as the minor league to prepare for a game I want well on its way to being developed by the time I approach black belt. I see the Miyaos and Gianni Grippo having to work those parts of their game now (passing, top position) in competition and at smaller tournaments (not the Worlds or Pans et cetera) in an effort to play catch-up in that area of their game. I'm generalizing but their tournament game against Rafa and Malfacine last year failed in that they're route to the back against such experience guys wasn't bolstered by other facets of their game which could threaten. I'm over generalizing here but as close as they came, it's a matter of IF a Miyao gets to your back it's over; however, if they don't, against the very top % they don't have another bullet in the gun. 
If your opponent simply knows you will pull guard in order to sweep/submit you are more predictable than if you can fight for the takedown and pass or get to your feet during the match and restart in a sense. It's the ability to add another dimension to your game of which he/she has to be aware/consider. It's also more tiring to not only attempt to pass, not get submitted, and keep him/her from getting back to his feet than simply trying to pass  while defending sweeps and submissions. 

Bernardo Faria has some interviews where he discuss his blue belt half-guard game and the 10,000 hour rule of mastery. His game only works at
Black belt because he's been sharpening that sword since blue belt. Now in the last year or two he's tweaked it and added that kneebar from top half-guard-passing and some other fine details (I suspect from his training with Marcelo in NYC.  But overall his game has its home base on a position he started as blue belt. I'm rambling, weigh-ins are later tonight, if you're in the area tomorrow come by Dorton Arena in Raleigh and watch, say hey, support NC grappling and the very cool folks that run US Grappling. 

Tanquinho out of UFC Debut wi/ Rib Injury

Read it over at Graciemag. Not sure what he was training or how this close to the fight that he hurt his ribs but weird things inadvertently happen. It's a combat sport. I'm slightly less excited for this card than I was before but getting to see Dominic Cruz back in action is priceless. I bet a solid amount of cash on him to expose Dillashaw as a pretender and a poor man's version of Cruz so we'll see how the layoff affects Cruz/ring rust et cetera. In other news Travis Browne and Matt Mitrione will give one another brain damage. Alvarez faces his third former world champion (Pettis) in as many fights (the Ryan Bader career plan), Ross Pearson looks to get back on track because despite a split decision W over Felder he's been inconsistent across his last 4 fights even against mid-range opposition. Felder himself despite entertaining fights with Pearson and Barboza has also been around the .500 mark in his UFC stint despite a crowd-pleasing style of stand and bang. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

US Grappling - Raleigh, NC this weekend

Come to Dorton Arena for some NC Jiujitsu this Saturday. I'll be reffing and competing for the first time in over four months. U.S. grappling runs a great, on time, professional tournament. 

UFC Fight Nicks Picks for this weekend

I think Dillashaw is a poor man's Dominic Cruz. I think the stand-up Dillashaw showed against Soto and Barao won't win him the fight against Cruz. Normally I would never bet money on a man with so much layoff time as Cruz but 4 fights ago Dillashaw was losing to Raphael Assuncao and 3 fights ago was taking Mike Easton to a decision and yes he made the most of his shot against Barao but I think Barao's classic Muay Thai stance and non-existent footwork made him tailor made for Dillashaw. Cruz has only lost to Faber not in his natural weight class and I refuse to believe Cruz shows up not in shape for this fight. I think Cruz actually batters Dillashaw and stops him in the 4th round. 

I've got the at times unreliable Saunders stopping the shopworn Cote by Tko in the 3rd round.

I think Pettis decisions Alvarez who has not impressed me in his UFC time. Browne takes a split decision over Mitrione though normally I'd bet on a finish in a HW fight. 
Tim Boetsch is tough enough and wilt enough to survive until Herman's gas tank runs empty and I think Cruickshank beats Felder based on Felder's typically one-dimensional gameplan. 

Monday, January 11, 2016

Augusto "Tanquinho" Mendes UFC Debut Sunday

Stepping up on short notice, Mendes ( who beat Rafa and Cobrinha to win his IBJJF World Xship) makes his UFC debut this Sunday. Been looking forward to this since he began MMA. 

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Where Are They Now? Baret Yoshida SubCon Superfight

I remember watching an old school highlight of Baret Yoshida around the time I first started watching the early UFC's. It's amazing to see him at 40 yrs of age still testing himself at events like this here or the EBI. I can only hope and pray to be moving as well as him anywhere near his current age when I get there. He's always been a bit underrated I felt like but he's hard to miss if you know some of your grappling history from back before streaming Mundials and the ADCC's on VHS et cetera.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Where Are They Now? Michael Lieira Jr SubCon Superfight

Haven't seen much of the wonder kid since his brown belt worlds domination. At his last worlds at brown belt he brought back the closed guard with a vengeance and finished his opponent in every match I watched with old school, seemingly basic but powerful closed guard Jiu-Jitsu.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

The Weight Class/EA Games/Wheaties Box Curse(s)

I predicted a year or so ago McGregor would trump Aldo. Call it luck. Call it whatever, but Conor has done what he said he would do to every UFC fighter he's faced (save Max Holloway against whom he tore his ACL mid-fight and still put the punishment to him).

At any rate, I finally am concerned about McGregor as rumor has it he'll face Dos Anjos. Dos Anjos is a terminator. Not so much because he beat Cerrone via body kick (call me "that guy" but I have to point out Cerrone has lost that way before). I'm concerned because not since BJ Penn's RNC on a surprised Matt Hughes has anyone done it.

I've seen it time and again: guys start talking dual weight class or moving up and the fall is precipitous. I remember Urijah Faber talking about it pre-UFC debut. I remember Benson Henderson talking about it. I remember Jon Jones talking about it. Anderson Silva spoke of it at LHW et cetera.

I don't believe in curses but what it shows me is looking too far ahead
The double edged sword of hubris is just that. The pathological level of belief that comes with residing at the top often as is its preference...pulls an Icarus and oversteps its bounds.

I don't think Conor is ducking Frankie Edgar to what? Go fight a bigger, harder hitting, better wrestler in Dos Anjos? Please, spare me. Dos Anjos is one of those guys I never thought much of, but he rounded a corner and has looked like a fighting Terminator sent from the future to brutally dispatch his challengers for a time. The beating he put on Pettis was tough to watch and unrelenting in its pace. The combination of punches he put on Cerrone following that body kick was punishment incarnate.

Assuming the curse is true, as McGregor AND Rousey adorn the box...well, the curse will prove true once again. McGregor faces two curses in he's now adorning the UFC video game cover AND he's talking about moving up a weight class.
Brock Lesnar felt the curse after his video game box cover debut.
Gustaffson hasn't looked the same since his shot at the title against Jon Jones (who ironically he splits a video game box cover with as well.