Heavy Hands

Bonus episode!

That's right, we were so excited to bring you this episode of Heavy Hands that we just couldn't wait another week. Joining us for a pair of in-depth interviews are two of MMA's best trainers, both of whom brought their fighters to victory at UFC 197.

First up is Brandon Gibson, the striking coach for Jon Jones and numerous other Jackson-Winkeljohn fighters. He makes his return to Heavy Hands to discuss the changes in preparation Jones had to make when Ovince Saint Preux stepped in on just three weeks' notice in lieu of Daniel Cormier. Saint Preux was a dangerous and very different opponent for a fighter and team of trainers usually reliant on extensive preparation, but Jones' dominated the fight and won a one-sided unanimous decision.

Then we welcome Mark Henry to the show. In addition to training Edson Barboza for his career-best victory over Anthony Pettis at 197, Henry works with such elite fighters as Frankie Edgar, Eddie Alvarez, and--a recent addition--former middleweight champion Chris Weidman. All three of these men are preparing for title shots in the near future, and Mark talks extensively about his training methods, which have made him one of the most successful teachers of striking in the sport today.

We hope you enjoy listening to these brilliant trainers as much as we did interviewing them!

Direct download: 103_mark_henry.mp3
Category:Interview -- posted at: 6:47pm EDT

UFC Rotterdam is right around the corner, and Heavy Hands is back to discuss all of the best fights. By which we mean Antonio Silva vs Stefan Struve, Nikita Krylov vs Francimar Barroso, and . . . okay, okay. Just kidding. 

We're actually talking about Alistair Overeem vs Andrei Arlovski, Kyoji Horiguchi vs Neil Seery, and (our personal favorite) Albert Tumenov vs Gunnar Nelson. Hard hitters abound, and we're keen to break 'em all down.

Then it's on to a topic suggested by a generous and enigmatic man known only as "Ricky," who asked us to discuss "slick" fighters. This is a term well-known in the boxing world, and we get into the nitty-gritty of the term's history, and the history of the style it describes. We discuss the traits that make a fighter "slick," and ponder which MMA fighters meet the criteria. We run through our list of names and try to figure out whether slick fighters are a product of the sport of boxing, or if MMA really is down with the slickness. 

Direct download: 102_rotterdam_and_slicksters.mp3
Category:UFC -- posted at: 10:18am EDT

At UFC 197, the two best fighters in the world entered the Octagon. For Jon Jones, it was a long-awaited return, if not necessarily the return to form many had expected. For Demetrious Johnson, it was a routine title defense against an interesting new challenger, and it ended up being the fifth (and second fastest) finish in "Mighty Mouse's" championship career. Who deserves to be called the best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet? We try to hash it out. 

After that, it's on to Edson Barboza and Anthony Pettis. Oh, what a fight! Even after both Pat and I picked Barboza to win, it was still a little strange to see Anthony Pettis beaten so soundly in a kickboxing match. In addition to breaking down what made Barboza so effective, we ponder what led Anthony Pettis to this point, and where his future could lie after suffering three defeats in a row.

Oh, and we spend the last segment of the show arguing about Yair Rodriguez. Fun!

Direct download: 101_jones_johnson_and_barboza.mp3
Category:UFC -- posted at: 11:36am EDT

It's episode 100 (emoji) of Heavy Hands, and in honor of the occasion we're doing what we do best: breaking down the best that MMA has to offer. 

And what a coincidence, because the consensus numbers one and two mixed martial artists on the planet are both fighting this weekend. For Jon Jones, the former light heavyweight champion, it's a baby step on the way to an inevitable rematch with Daniel Cormier. For Demetrious Johnson, on the other hand, it's a fight with Henry Cejudo, the best possible challenger in the flyweight division, and perhaps the one best equipped to stymie the champion's greatest strengths. 

And it wouldn't be an episode of Heavy Hands if we didn't get all squirmy thinking about some elite MMA striking. Fortunately, Anthony Pettis and Edson Barboza are fighting. Let that sink in. Absorb it. Anthony Pettis versus Edson Barboza. We analyze the incredible matchup of two of MMA's greatest kickboxers, and even save a little time at the end to talk about Robert Whittaker, who also fights this weekend. 

Things are good in the world of MMA, and we are happy to be breaking it down week after week. Most of all, we're thankful to you, our listeners. It's been an honor to watch our audience grow and an absolute pleasure to hear from all of you. Help us celebrate our 100th episode by sharing the show with your friends, and if you're so inclined give our Patreon page a look as well. We appreciate your support. 

Here's to a hundred more.

Direct download: 100_jones_and_mighty_mouse.mp3
Category:UFC -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

It's been two years since Khabib Nurmagomedov last competed in the Octagon, but "The Eagle" makes his long-awaited return at UFC Tampa, and the hosts of Heavy Hands couldn't be happier. 

Joining us in our elation is MMA Fighting's Luke Thomas, the man behind such beloved series as Promotional Malpractice and Technique Talk. With Luke, the discussion includes Nurmagomedov's incredible transitional fighting, his awkward-but-effective striking style, and the superpower that is his cardio. 

After that it's on to the rest of UFC Tampa, which boasts a surprisingly solid undercard. Your hosts break down the improvements made by Rose Namajunas, and whether they will be enough to reverse the result of her first fight with fellow super-prospect Tecia Torres. We talk Dober vs Makhachev, the perfect comeback fight after Makhachev's devastating loss to Adriano Martins. Cezar Ferreira and Oluwale Bamgbose are fighting too. Yep. 

And then it's the return of Punch/Counterpunch, wherein your hosts go to bat for two opposing fighters, debating the outcome of the fight. It's a 4 oz glover's quarrel wherein Connor tells Pat why his fighter is Buschwhacked, and Pat asks, "Why, man?" The subject of this debate: Randy Brown vs Michael Graves.

All of that and more on this episode of Heavy Hands!

 

Direct download: 99_luke_thomas_khabib.mp3
Category:UFC -- posted at: 10:13am EDT

Jackson-Winkeljohn MMA striking coach Brandon Gibson joined the Heavy Hands podcast to discuss his unique view of MMA training, and the preparation of former UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones in the lead-up to UFC 197.

Gibson spoke of Jones' evolution both inside and outside the Octagon: "Despite some of the recent troubles he's had I think Jon has evolved in terms of his mental strength and fortitude. That, more so than any segment of martial arts. He's become mentally stronger. I think Jon might have the highest fight IQ of anybody I've ever trained. He can see patterns, set patterns, disrupt patterns, and fight in all ranges."

Of course Gibson doesn't just work with Jon Jones. He is proud of his individualized approach to training, and recalls times when that focused preparation paid off. "Some of the fights I'm more proud of are ones where we focus on a certain technique or strategy and then it turns out exactly like we planned . . .  One of those fights I'm very proud of is Tim Kennedy vs Rafael Natal. Natal liked to circle, and Tim was always known for his grappling prowess, but not really known as being a striker. And I thought we could pressure Natal up against the fence, get him to exit with a lack of defense as he had shown in the past, and then [Tim] could use his level change to set up that monstrous hook that sealed the fight for us."

Following the interview your hosts discuss the most compelling matchups on next weekend's UFC card in Zagreb, Coratia, namely Ben Rothwell vs Junior Dos Santos, Nicolas Dalby vs Zak Cummings, and Mairbek Taisumov vs Damir Hadzovic.

Direct download: 98_brandon_gibson.mp3
Category:Interview -- posted at: 9:40am EDT

On this week's Heavy Hands, we're talking prospects, up-and-comers, and all other manner of important fighters that maybe haven't quite earned your attention yet. We discuss not only what makes these men such promising fighters, but what improvements we expect to see out of them in the future, and how they have developed as fighters so far. 

At the top of the show, however, it's all about adaptive fighters. Men like Jon Jones, Georges St-Pierre, Jose Aldo, and Anderson Silva--a who's who of all-time greats--held onto their titles and win streaks for so long because of how well they adapted in the cage. And yet all of them fight in very different ways, with clearly different priorities. We discuss what allows a fighter to make the split-second adjustments and smart decisions that keep him on the winning track, and even get into the dense tangle of virtues and foibles that make a fighter who he or she is.

Direct download: 97_adaptive_fighters.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:07am EDT

A veteran of the UFC and former WEC champion, color commentator Brian Stann has a voice that fans and fighters alike have come to trust. Brian brings his extensive experience to Heavy Hands this week for an in-depth interview on all things fighting.

Stann shares his advice for young fighters caught between loyalty and ambition: "Sit down and ask yourself those hard questions. Talk with people you really trust--not coaches and management--and ask, 'am I getting better?' . . . It's hard for a fighter to look a beloved coach in the eye and say, 'Look, I have to go train here. There's nothing new you're gonna tell me, and doing the same thing every fight, I'm not winning. I'm stale. People have figured me out. I've gotta go add some new wrinkles to my game.'

On building a brand in a fight game dominated by brash personalities: "Open up. You have got to give access to [journalists] who write about this sport. You get so many guys--look at Jose Aldo. Hates doing media, hates the week of the fight, doesn't like all the stuff that goes with it. He's so phenomenal that it doesn't matter; he was able to go undefeated for a decade, right? But that's not the way to go about your business. You've gotta give access."

On Jones-Cormier II: "Daniel [Cormier] is an excellent competitor and a very underrated athlete. I've trained with him personally. You don't become an Olympian--this is a guy who turned down a full ride to go to LSU for football to go wrestle--he's a massive athlete . . . In rounds two and three against Jones he was getting inside and he was striking him. I thought he was turning the momentum of that fight. But he took a round off in round four and that was the main difference. You can't do that with Jon . . . I haven't seen anything technically that leads me to believe he's gonna be able to take Jon down consistently. Especially now that Jon has discovered weight lifting."

"And Jon's a unique athlete. Never lifted weights but you try to get your hands on him and his instincts for leverage and wrestling are phenomenal. I've watched him train with heavyweights and make them look really, really bad."

Stay tuned till the end of the episode for a UFC Brisbane recap and a few questions from our listeners.

Direct download: 96_brian_stann.mp3
Category:Interview -- posted at: 5:43pm EDT

With UFC Brisbane less than a week away . . . we realized we weren't very interested. Yeah, there are a few really solid matchups there, but the card doesn't exactly get the blood pumping at first glance. I mean, it's fine I guess. 

So this week's Heavy Hands is a rare, non-schedule episode! Free from the strictures of the brutal UFC calendar, we tackle the topic of training camps, coaches, and sparring partners. There are a lot of different approaches to training in MMA, and even more in boxing. Are sparring partners more important than coaches, or can a good trainer beat all? Is MMA best seen as a team sport, or should camps be built around the fighters? Does iron truly sharpen iron? And what is a training camp, anyway? 

Unable to resist, of course, we give you the rundown on our favorite matchups from UFC Brisbane at the end of the show. Short and sweet, you know. 

Direct download: 95_who_do_you_train_with.mp3
Category:UFC -- posted at: 12:27am EDT

WARNING: Explicit content, motherf*ckers!

The analysis on this week's Heavy Hands is as in-depth as ever, but an air of giddiness suffuses everything. Because NATE DIAZ DID IT. We just can't believe what we saw, and we take great pleasure in breaking down every aspect of the shocking upset, including Diaz's excellent jab, his underrate footwork, and the masterful jiu-jitsu with which he ended the fight. 

Of course, we have to ask what's next for Conor McGregor. Has he wandered too far down the puncher's path, or is this fight a saving grace for him? Is it possible that McGregor will prove to be a front-runner for the rest of his career, or is experience the cure? 

To wrap things up we discuss Miesha Tate's own upset win, breaking down the choke with which she put Holly Holm to sleep in the fifth round of her bantamweight title fight. A few questions from our wonderful listeners, and that's the show. 

STOCKTON. 

Direct download: 94_nate_diaz_stockton_wut.mp3
Category:UFC -- posted at: 3:00am EDT