Heavy Hands

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

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