Heavy Hands

Dominick Cruz may have been the first UFC champion to stop by Heavy Hands, but Demetrious Johnson made sure he wasn't the last. It's a very competitive business vying to get on our show, you understand.

Seriously though, we were very honored to welcome arguably the greatest mixed martial artist on the planet today on Heavy Hands, and boy did we have so much to ask him. Johnson is well-known for his transitions, ably switching from one range to another or from one phase to another, and he talks about the unique relationship with trainers Matt Hume and Brad Kertson than enables that style. 

The pound-for-pound great also discusses his approach to gameplanning for each specific opponent, and the inimitable clinch game that led him to a dominant first-round victory over Olympic wrestler Henry Cejudo. 

After the interview, it's on to UFC Ottawa, and the implications of Stephen Thompson's victory over Rory MacDonald. We take a broad, strategic look at the fight and ask what MacDonald could have done better, while acknowledging just how brilliantly Stephen Thompson outclassed him. 

Direct download: 110_demetrious_johnson.mp3
Category:Interview -- posted at: 9:13am EDT

Few expected Stephen Thompson to make it this far. From losing an attritive battle to an as-yet-unheralded Matt Brown to knocking out the former welterweight champion of the world in a matter of minutes, "Wonderboy" has made great strides as a mixed martial artist and proven at every step of the way that he is a threat to the title.

But that's Rory MacDonald's thing, man. 

Still only 26 years old, Rory MacDonald, a.k.a. The Canadian Psycho, a.k.a. Ares, a.k.a. The Red King, a.k.a. The Serial Nerderer, has been touted as the welterweight division's next big thing since his UFC debut back in 2010. He has compiled an 8-3 record since against elite competition, and was mere moments from winning the title in July of last year--before running into fifth-round Robbie Lawler. 

Now the two shall meet in what is inarguably one of the best battles possible in the division, and we're here to break it all down on this episode of Heavy Hands! After the Rory-Wonderboy talk, we also cover former lightweight Donald Cerrone's welterweight bout with former middleweight Patrick Cote, Valerie Letourneau's flyweight matchup with Joanne Calderwood, and just about everything else of interest on the undercard of UFC Ottawa. We're looking forward to it, so come on, listen in, and share in our dorky enthusiasm!

Direct download: 109_macdonald_thompson.mp3
Category:UFC -- posted at: 10:45am EDT

This week on Heavy Hands, we're feeling mighty surprised. Some of the surprises are fantastically fun, like Michael Bisping shocking the world and stopping Luke Rockhold in the first round, not only securing the first bonafide knockout of his entire UFC career, but winning the middleweight title in his very first title shot, to boot. I guess that one's only fantastically fun if you're not Luke Rockhold--or Daniel Cormier, to think of it. He looked pretty bummed at the result.

Other surprises are less fun and more downright depressing. As you may have guessed from the title, I'm speaking of the death of Muhammad Ali, one of the greatest boxers and cultural icons to ever walk the earth. After breaking down Bisping's win, as well as that of Dominick Cruz and several other notables on the UFC 199 undercard, we take a few moments to celebrate the life of Muhammad Ali in the best way we know: by talking about his fights. Skilled and intelligent, Ali brought a level of craft and cleverness to the boxing ring that is rarely seen among the ranks of the heavyweights, and he did it against the very best docket of heavyweight opponents the world has ever seen. 

Direct download: 108_bisping_and_ali.mp3
Category:UFC -- posted at: 11:24am EDT

At UFC 199, Luke Rockhold and Dominick Cruz will defend their titles--middleweight and bantamweight, respectively. Both title fights are rematches, with both of the original fights won by the men who currently wear the belts. On today's episode of Heavy Hands, we're examining the nature of that seeming inevitability, and comparing the styles and techniques of the fighters in question. Things even get a little heated when your hosts disagree on the extent to which physicality plays a role in the success of Luke Rockhold. Kind of. It actually gets pretty hard to tell what the argument is about?

Sometimes these things happen in MMA.

After that, it's on to the UFC 199 undercard, and a quick recap of the surprising results of UFC Fight Night 88: Garbrandt vs Almeida, which took place May 29th.

Direct download: 107_ufc_199.mp3
Category:UFC -- posted at: 12:51am EDT

Thomas Almeida and Cody Garbrandt are two of the most promising action fighters in one of the UFC's most promising action-fight divisions. Between them they have a near 90 percent finish ratio, with the vast majority of those finishes being knockouts. Both just 24 years old, "Tominhas" and "No Love" are undefeated--which only adds to the stakes in their main event matchup at UFC Fight Night 88. 

On this episode of Heavy Hands, we give Almeida vs Garbrandt the full, in-depth breakdown, and predict the outcome of the fight. But that's not all, no sir. Fight Night 88 is easily one of the most stacked cards of the year, with a lineup sure to delight any hardcore fight fan. We take our pick of the litter, and break down Aljamain Sterling vs Bryan Caraway, Renan Barao vs Jeremy Stephens, Tarec Saffiedine vs Rick Story, Jorge Masvidal vs Lorenze Larkin, Josh Burkman vs Paul Felder, and Chris Camozzi vs Vitor Miranda (middleweights!). 

Holy hell, what a collection of matchups! Join us for your weekly dose of fight discussion, and walk away a smarter (and slightly more bloodthirsty) version of yourself.

Direct download: 106_almeida_garbrandt.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:14am EDT

There are few times when the end of a fight makes me laugh. Often I will gasp, throw my hands in the air, jump around like a fool, or even slump into my seat in numb disbelief--but laughing is usually off the table. 

Such was not the case when Fabricio Werdum stumbled face-first into the right hand of Stipe Miocic and succinctly crumpled to the ground. It's not because I wanted to see Werdum lose. On the contrary, I was looking forward to a successful defense of the belt. No, it's because the five seconds leading up to the KO were just so strange. The fight's end felt like a Wes Anderson action scene, absurdly playing out in the wide angle while I stared, flabbergasted by the champion's tactics. 

So that's our topic today. We delve into the possible reasons for Werdum's fall, and give credit to Stipe Miocic for having the right counter for a curiously reckless heavyweight champ. Then it's on to Barberena-Alves, Nogueira-Cummins, and Cyborb, Cyborg, Cyborg. It was a fantastic--if bizarre--event, and we've got a fantastic breakdown for you on this episode of Heavy Hands.

Direct download: 105_ufc_198_recap.mp3
Category:UFC -- posted at: 12:42am EDT

He's here, ladies and gentlemen. The Dominator, the Once and Current King, the UFC Bantamweight Champion of the World . . . Dominick Cruz joins us on this week's episode of Heavy Hands!

Dominick discusses the origins of his unique fighting style, and the immense foresight that goes into it. He also explains how working as an analyst has affected his fighting and vice versa, and describes the mental maturation that was required for him to shake off the injuries that haunted him for so many years while Renan Barao and TJ Dillashaw defended his belt.

After that it's on to UFC 198. We discuss the best fights, including an in-depth discussion of the heavyweight championship fight in the main event, between all-time great Fabricio Werdum and challenger Stipe Miocic. Note: unfortunately we recorded this before news of Anderson Silva's health issues broke, so there is a bit of Silva-Hall discussion near the end.

But you can forgive us for that, right? Dominick Cruz, people!

Enjoy the show!

Direct download: 104_dominick_cruz.mp3
Category:Interview -- posted at: 12:07pm EDT

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