Heavy Hands

Demetrious Johnson is fighting a particular challenger this weekend, but we can't talk about that just yet. Instead, we get to look at the flyweight champion's place in the hierarchy of MMA greats, and discuss potential future fights that we would like to see. 

As for fights we can talk about on this episode, Joseph Benavidez and Henry Cejudo are set to throw down, almost certainly with a shot at Johnson's belt on the line. Benavidez is one of the most experienced fighters in the UFC at this point, and his veteran savvy makes him a tough out for Cejudo, but if Henry took the right things away from his lopsided loss to the champion earlier this year, he has a chance to redeem himself.

Finally, how could we miss the chance to talk about the crazy thing that Vasyl Lomachenko did last weekend. The guy is an amazing boxer; we all knew that already. But Nicholas Walters was supposed to at least make him work for the win. Instead Lomachenko effortlessly outclassed the elite puncher before forcing him to quit on the stool after just 7 rounds. Yeah, we had to talk about that.

Direct download: 135_lomachenko.mp3
Category:UFC -- posted at: 3:07pm EST

Sometimes in the fight game you just come across a plate heaping with delicious face-punching. A smorgasbord of combat, if you will. Such is the case on this week's episode of Heavy Hands. We talk about the impressive performances of some of the UFC contenders who competed last weekend: our constant companion Thomas Almeida, our sleeper favorite Krzysztof Jotko, Stevie Ray (now the new Ross Pearson), and welterweight insurgent Kamaru Usman.

Then it's on to future affairs, namely the middleweight showdown between fringe contenders Robert Whittaker and Derek Brunson, a matchup which should vault one of those men into serious title contention.

Finally, a recap of the epic battle between Sergey Kovalev and Andre Ward. These two pound-for-pound kings fought hard, forcing one another to adjust constantly, and proving that they are both living legends of the squared circle. The result was controversial--in fact your two hosts each scored the bout differently, but the fight gave fans of fisticuffs reasons to celebrate, and on today's show we do just that.

 

Direct download: 134_smorgasbord.mp3
Category:UFC -- posted at: 2:32am EST

Direct download: 133_henry_on_205.mp3
Category:Interview -- posted at: 9:30pm EST

It happened, and it was glorious. Now is the time to bathe in the afterglow of UFC 205, and I can think of no better way to do that than to break down some fights!

At the top of the docket is, of course, Conor McGregor. In becoming the first two-division champion in UFC history, McGregor has truly established himself as the stuff of legends. He absolutely walloped Eddie Alvarez, and in the process set up for himself a murderer's row of hungry contenders. We break down in brief the idea of MGregor versus Tony Ferguson, Khabib Nurmagomedov, Nate Diaz, and Jose Aldo--four of the most likely challengers for one of the Irishman's belts. 

Conor McGregor was not the only man to turn in an entertaining performance at UFC 205, however, and we spend some time talking about a few of our other favorites. Namely, Tyron Woodley, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, and Yoel Romero. 

Enjoy the show, folks!

Direct download: 132_ufc_205_recap.mp3
Category:UFC -- posted at: 1:05am EST

The time is upon us. Americans, we survived the election. Non-Americans, we made it through a terrible, debilitating three-week UFC drought. Tony Ferguson's remarkable win over Rafael Dos Anjos was just the appetizer. This, UFC 205, is the main course of all main courses. 

And at the top of it all, Conor McGregor vs Eddie Alvarez. The first champion versus champion fight since 2009, and Conor McGregor's chance to truly enter into the pantheon of MMA greats. On this week's Heavy Hands, we are breaking down the main event exhaustively. What strategies might work for either fighter? What did we learn from their recent fights? And, of course, who do we expect to win? 

After that, it's on to the co-main event, an intriguing matchup between newly crowned welterweight champion Tyron Woodley and the oddball contender favored to beat him, Stephen Thompson. Thompson may look like he belongs in a pair of shiny gi pants rather than Reebok board shorts, but he has proven himself against a litany of top fighters--that includes knocking out the invincible Johny Hendricks, and dismantling the cerebral Rory MacDonald. 

And finally, Kelvin Gastelum vs Donald Cerrone. It will be Gastelum's toughest test, and arguably Cerrone's as well. We discuss whether Cowboy's impressive welterweight run is doomed to fail, or whether he can overcome the odds yet again to defeat a naturally larger, more powerful opponent. 

My goodness, is it gonna be good! 

Direct download: 131_mcgregor_alvarez.mp3
Category:UFC -- posted at: 2:20am EST

You know UFC 205 has too much good stuff to be covered by just one show, so we're previewing a few of the tentpole event's biggest fights on this week's show, and then covering the rest next week. This week, we talk Joanna Jedrzejczyk's strawweight title defense against fellow Pole Karolina Kowalkiewicz. Every Jedrzejczyk fight is an event to look forward to, and this time, matched with a relentless volume puncher with killer clinch skills, should be a barnburner. 

Our other UFC 205 fight is a meaningful battle between top lightweight contenders, namely undefeated Khabib Nurmagomedov and Michael Johnson, a fast and mobile striker. Nurmagomedov has never faced such a fighter, and Johnson may just have the style to beat the man no one else has.

UFC 205 isn't the only exciting event on the horizon, however, and we also devote time to UFC Mexico's big main event, a thrilling matchup between former champion Rafael Dos Anjos and maniacal up- and-comer Tony Ferguson. In addition to that slobberknocker, we talk about the UFC debut of Invicta star Alexa Grasso, a talented striker and one of the most promising prospects in the stacked strawweight division. 

There is nothing better than breaking down such a collection of fantastic fights, and we hope you enjoy the show!

Direct download: 130_jedrzejczyk_and_rda.mp3
Category:UFC -- posted at: 2:22am EST

If there is one good thing about a lull between UFC events (and there are probably several), it is that it gives us fight analysts time to talk about other things. Exciting, fascinating things like the upcoming fight between Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev. I mean . . . what a fight. 

We spend the bulk of today's episode breaking this one down. Andre Ward makes good on his promise to establish himself as a top light heavyweight, and the veritable boxing genius seems well-suited to the task. We talk about Ward's intelligence both in and out of the ring, the calm, cerebral style that got him where he is today, and the fact that Sergey Kovalev is undeniably the most dangerous man Ward will have ever faced.

As for Kovalev, how will he cope with his most frustrating opponent to date, and can he prove that his transformation from brawler to boxer-puncher was really profound enough to beat a dyed-in-the-wool, classic American slickster? 

To cap off the episode, we spend a segment answering a question from one of our patrons. Namely, what one trait would we add to make various top five mixed martial artists into championship material? It's a good one, and we hope you enjoy it.

Direct download: 129_ward_kovalev.mp3
Category:Boxing -- posted at: 12:23am EST

A while ago on Heavy Hands, we began a series called "Styles Make Fights." Original, I know. The idea of the series was to dissect what we saw as the five overarching styles of fighting: out-fighting, counter fighting, pressure fighting, boxer-punching, and brawling. Listeners liked it; we liked it. It was a lot of fun, and we've been hearing requests for the series to make some kind of comeback for a while now. 

Well, voila! 

In order to make a meaningful addition to our existing conclusions--whether that means bolstering them or changing them completely--we will be using those five style archetypes to categorize UFC fighters, and then predicting the outcomes of their fights based solely on the style matchup. So when we ask if Frankie Edgar will beat Jeremy Stephens, we're really asking whether an out-fighter beats a boxer-puncher. When we pick the winner of Yoel Romero vs Chris Weidman, we're really picking between boxer-puncher and pressure fighter. 

Not only does this give us a chance to identify flaws in the system--what about those fighters who don't fit neatly into any single style archetype?--but a chance to understand the usefulness of identifying styles in the first place. We'll continue the series in the future, and catch up on all the fights for which we make predictions. Until then, enjoy this latest episode of Heavy Hands. 

Direct download: 128_styles_make_fights_again.mp3
Category:Technique Breakdown -- posted at: 12:15am EST

Prior to October 8th, 2016, it was said by a certain MMA writer that Dan Henderson had put on his last great performance against Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, five depressing years ago. Well, that guy's name is Connor Ruebusch (he hosts a really cool show you should check out) and he was wrong. As it turns out, Hendo had one last titanic effort left in him yet, and he let it out at UFC 204, in a fight for the UFC middleweight championship.

Michael Bisping deserved the win, most of us can agree. But at 46 years old, well past good expectations, Dan Henderson came damn close to ending his career with a belt, and reminded us in the process why we have been amazed by him for so long. On today's episode of Heavy Hands (that's what that show is called!) we're breaking down Henderson's transformations over the years, from grinder to bruiser to swarmer to counter puncher. We're also looking at the career evolutions of men like Vitor Belfort and Gegard Mousasi, who also clashed at UFC 204. 

And to close things out, a little celebration of the skills and talents of Aaron Pryor, probably the second best boxer ever to come out of Cincinnati after Ezzard Charles--though Freddie Miller deserves his credit, too. Pryor passed away on October 9th. He was a week shy of his 61st birthdary.

Direct download: 127_hendo_and_pryor.mp3
Category:UFC -- posted at: 12:07am EST

Fighters like Dan Henderson and Michael Bisping are the future of fighting. Not that Henderson has a good chance of winning the belt, nor Bisping of keeping it--but they are a pair of old dudes. That's kind of like looking into the future, right?

Funnily enough, Michael Bisping now is probably at the place in his career at which Dan Henderson started knocking fools out--including Michael Bisping. Henderson, meanwhile, has continued to age and, in many ways, deteriorate. On this episode of Heavy Hands, we talk age and experience, and the divergent paths of athleticism and skill. MMA is no sport for old men, but for a special few, the benefits of time and training are too great to be written off completely. We doubt even a hip-replacement could take away Dan Henderson's lethal right hand.

To cap things off, we review the bantamweight clash between John Lineker and John Dodson from last week, which exceeded expectations and tickled us all. 

Direct download: 126_bisping_hendo.mp3
Category:UFC -- posted at: 1:51am EST