Heavy Hands

Christmas has come and gone, but it's Easter for Ronda Rousey, as the former champion finally makes her return after just over a year away from the Octagon. Much has changed since Rousey lost her bantamweight strap. It seems we barely had time to discuss a potential rematch with Holly Holm, the first woman to beat Rousey, before Miesha Tate became the first mixed martial artist to beat Holm. Nor would Tate face the biggest name in women's MMA, as she too would lose the title after a few months, leaving it around the waist of Amanda Nunes.

Not only do we get Nunes vs Rousey, but Dominick Cruz vs Cody Garbrandt as well. Cruz has been sterling since his long absence due to a litany of injuries, winning back and then defending the title that he never really lost. The bantamweight champ seems intent on staying active, too, as this will be his third fight in 2016, even if that makes it just his fourth fight in the last five years altogether. Does Cody Garbrandt have more than just a puncher's chance? If not, the winner of TJ Dillashaw vs John Lineker will surely be eager for a crack at Cruz's belt.

Three big fights, three in-depth breakdowns. These are some of the episodes we love the most, and we hope you enjoy the show. 

Direct download: 139_ufc_207.mp3
Category:UFC -- posted at: 12:06pm EDT

The UFC catches a lot of flak for their handling of prospects--and fighter development in general. Whether throwing a newly signed novice to the wolves or refusing to let shopworn contenders take even a momentary step down in competition, the Octagon has garnered a reputation as a stage where fighters are told to either sink or swim--no exceptions.

It is hard to blame matchmaking for this, though. Paige VanZant and Sage Northcutt are, in a way, cut from the same cloth. Both athletes look more like Disney Channel stars than fistfighters, and the UFC has doubled down on that incongruous appeal, often to the frustration of their hardcore fanbase. Both VanZant and Northcutt are legitimate prospects, however, and the UFC has consistently matched both pretty well. So when VanZant and Northcutt show few signs of improvement from one fight to the next--and even seem to regress in some areas--they have no one to blame but themselves. Or their parents. Or their camps. 

Point is, the UFC is not to blame for what happened at UFC on Fox 22, when both VanZant and Northcutt were beaten. Now really is time for the pretty blonde prospects to sink or swim. And on this week's Heavy Hands, we're talking about the techniques and practices that could either keep them afloat, or act as the cinder blocks around their ankles.

 

Direct download: 138_shade_northcutt.mp3
Category:UFC -- posted at: 5:19am EDT

UFC 206 was so good, you know we had to dedicate a solid chunk of this week's show to it. This week on Heavy Hands, Max Holloway's brilliant style is dissected, as are his chances in potential future matchups with Jose Aldo and Conor McGregor. As for Anthony Pettis, who was stopped for the first time by Holloway, we get into the reasons for his continuing decline, and discuss which matchups and methods could get him back on track as he prepares to return to the lightweight division.

Cub Swanson and Doo Ho Choi staged a classic, back-and-forth war, stealing the show from a number of other excellent fights. We break down Swanson's special swagger and the changes Choi will need to make to avoid a repeat beating. Donald Cerrone and Matt Brown, Kelvin Gastelum and Lando Vannata--this is the show for you if you're still stuck on that UFC 206 high. 

As for the final segment of the show, we look forward to fan favorite Paige VanZant's second main event appearance and the testing of Mickey Gall by Sage Northcutt, all set to take place next weekend.

Direct download: 137_holloway_and_vanzant.mp3
Category:UFC -- posted at: 12:55pm EDT

Jose Aldo is the featherweight champion once again. With former champion Conor McGregor being stripped and/or "relinquishing" the belt, it is officially the weirdest title change since Josh Barnett and Randy Couture back in 2002. But what is a championship of questionable validity without an even more questionable interim championship? 

Now, if I'm being honest, this cynical tone does not truly reflect my feelings for this fight. Max Holloway and Anthony Pettis are two of the most consistently entertaining fighters in the UFC today, and the mere prospect of either man facing Jose Aldo next year is tantalizing. That they also happen to match up so well with one another is just more reason to celebrate. The politics might be weird, but the fights are still good, and that's what matters. 

We're not only breaking down Holloway-Pettis on this week's Heavy Hands, but also looking ahead to Donald Cerrone's welterweight clash with Matt Brown. In addition to the previews, we look back at Demetrious Johnson vs Tim Elliott and Joseph Benavidez vs Henry Cejudo, two excellent fights and two strong ads for the UFC flyweight division.

Direct download: 136_ufc_206.mp3
Category:UFC -- posted at: 10:35am EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

Some of us expected Lina Lansberg to give Cristiane Justino a little something to work with. Some of us expected a bit of a back-and-forth before Cyborg notched another inevitable win. Some of us thought that, maybe at least for the first few minutes, Cyborg wouldn't be literally grinning while having her way with Lansberg in the clinch.

Some of us were wrong. 

On today's Heavy Hands, we take a look at the impressive skills and talents of Cyborg Justino, 2-0 in the UFC and undefeated since 2005. In addition, we undertake a mental search for the woman who can finally beat her, whether she truly exists or not. Ronda Rousey? Holly Holm? Miesha Tate? Who will be the Buster Douglass to Cyborg's Tyson?

After that, enjoy a preview of the top two fights scheduled to take place at UFC Portland. We break down the bantamweight clash between former flyweights John Lineker and John Dodson, and Will Brooks vs Alex Oliveira, before using Hacran Dias vs Andre Fili as a jumping-off point to talk about the role of discipline and caution in mixed martial arts. 

Direct download: 125_lineker_dodson.mp3
Category:UFC -- posted at: 10:11am EDT

Heavy Hands returns with another interview, this time with the bold, funny, and insightful Gilbert Burns, one of the most promising prospects in the UFC's lightweight division, and a veritable master of the armbar (he has won three of his four UFC bouts using that technique). Gilbert talked to us about . . .

- Training Brazilian jiu-jitsu at Nova Uniao
- Transitioning from submission grappling to MMA
- The benefits of having spent his entire MMA career with the Blackzilians team
- Learning striking from Henri Hooft, sparring hard
- Becoming a well-rounded fighter, rather than fighting like a BJJ specialist
- His teammate Michael Johnson's knockout victory over Dustin Poirier

One of my favorite highlights from our conversation came when Gilbert addressed fellow grappling ace Demian Maia, and his belief that the best victory is one which causes no harm to the opponent."Don't get me wrong," Burns said. "I have Demian as a friend. I love to watch this guy's fighting, but I don't agree with a couple of the things he says. Like, 'Oh, I just wanna finish the guy, don't wanna make damage, next day he can train . . .'

"No, bro. I wanna finish you . . . if I see your face there, my elbows gonna come."

After the interview, we preview the best bouts of the UFC's upcoming Brasilia card, including the main event clash between Cristiane "Cyborg" Justino and Lina Lansberg.

Direct download: 124_gilbert_burns.mp3
Category:Interview -- posted at: 1:21am EDT

On today's episode of Heavy Hands, we're trying something new: talking about recent and upcoming MMA fights. Novel idea. 

So to kick things off, we're breaking down the heavyweight title clash between Stipe Miocic and Alistair Overeem, which was both surprising and predictable, and a whole lot of fun. Jimmie Rivera put on a stellar performance of his own at UFC 203, and so did Jessica Andrade, so we're breaking down those fights as well. 

Then, it's on to next weekend's fight night card, main evented by Dustin Poirier and Michael Johnson, and featuring a whole host of interesting undercard fights. 

To close out the show, we're talking styles in MMA, in a segment inspired by one of our dedicated listeners. What are styles in MMA, who are the best representatives of each, and how did some of them manage to overcome innately difficult style matchups?

Direct download: 123_johnson_poirier_and_styles_vs_styles.mp3
Category:UFC -- posted at: 11:42am EDT

Disagreement is not something to be feared, but rather embraced. Our differences are what make us human. They don't separate us; they bring us together. 

And that is why Patrick Wyman is still on this show despite being totally wrong about Stipe Miocic vs Alistair Overeem. 

In fairness, it isn't an easy fight to call. Miocic is relatively new to this game--especially compared to Overeem, the heavyweight division's most experienced veteran--but he is durable, and well-rounded, and dangerous. Still, I think Overeem is a tough matchup for his first title defense, especially given the recent changes his style has undergone. We hash it out on this week's episode of Heavy Hands, gently making our cases for each of these two elite heavyweights. 

There is time also for the co-main event, a rematch between Fabricio Werdum and Travis Browne, as well as Urijah Faber's bantamweight showdown with top prospect Jimmie Rivera. Is Faber finally reaching the end of his road, or will he shut the gates in Rivera's face as he has so many others? Joanne Calderwood vs Jessica Andrade has us feeling all giddy, too, and we cap things off by answering listener questions at the end of the show.

All in all, this episode has everything you've come to expect from Heavy Hands. Fight breakdowns, silly banter, fan interaction. 

And Pat being wrong. That too.

Direct download: 122_miocic_overeem.mp3
Category:UFC -- posted at: 1:19am EDT

A lot of us expected Demian Maia to win, but very few expected that. The former middleweight, whose shot at Anderson Silva's title was both bizarre and disappointing, has more than redeemed himself as a welterweight, now capping a six-fight win streak with a submission of longtime contender Carlos Condit. It took him less than two minutes to secure the rear naked choke and force the tap. 

We're celebrating the skills of Demian Maia on this week's Heavy Hands, and taking a look at the rest of the card to boot. What did Anthony Pettis' featherweight debut say about his future as a fighter and contender? How did Paige VanZant look against Bec Rawlings? We're also previewing UFC Hamburg's main event, a heavyweight clash between former champions Andrei Arlovski and Josh Barnett, before answering a few of your questions at the end of the show.

Direct download: 121_condit_maia_arlovski_barnett.mp3
Category:UFC -- posted at: 2:35pm EDT

Conor McGregor may have just proven that he is an all-time great. Nate Diaz is simply a bad style matchup for him. No matter what anyone tells you about Diaz's many losses, or his lack of athleticism, or his predictable attack--he remains a tough fight for McGregor. A tall southpaw out-fighter, against a southpaw who feeds primarily on orthodox opponents, most of which are smaller, and most of which cannot compete with him at long range. Plus, Diaz might have the hardest head in the lightweight division, an added benefit against one of the sport's most dangerous power punchers. 

So to beat Nate Diaz, Conor McGregor had to change. He had to train new skills, but he also had to train a new mindset. He had to think of Diaz differently than he had any other opponent, and challenge his own tendencies in order to outsmart his natural advantages. 

We're breaking all of this down on today's episode of Heavy Hands, plus discussing what changes the two would have to make for a rubber match, analyzing Anthony Johnson's vicious KO of Glover Teixeira, and having a little fun with Cody Garbrandt, trash talker extraordinaire.

Direct download: 120_mcgregor_diaz_recap.mp3
Category:UFC -- posted at: 1:56am EDT

At last, the time is near. 

What began as a fairly run-of-the-mill short-notice fight for featherweight champion Conor McGregor now threatens to become one of the best series in the history of the sport. Nate Diaz beat the featherweight king--at welterweight, oddly enough--and now they're rematching. Same weight, same city--nothing has changed other than the fact that this time Nate Diaz has a full camp behind him, and McGregor (hopefully) has some idea of what not to do. I would have added the fact that now Diaz knows for certain he can win, but he claims he was "not surprised" by the first result anyway, so . . . 

We're giving it an in-depth breakdown on this week's episode of Heavy Hands, discussing the mental and physical barriers for both combatants, looking back at the first fight, and giving each opponent a gameplan for the next one. It's not done after Diaz-McGregor 2, of course, because there are three other fights on this card that really demanded our attention. We wrap up the show by discussing Anthony Johnson vs Glover Teixeira, Rick Story vs Donald Cerrone, and Cody Garbrandt vs Takeya Mizugaki. 

Direct download: 119_mcgregor_diaz_2.mp3
Category:UFC -- posted at: 3:45pm EDT

This week on Heavy Hands, we're talking about stature. On this show, we have already dedicated numerous episodes to fighting style, and our main point was this: style is not a product of build, but of personality. It would be a mistake to base a fighter's approach entirely on his size and shape without taking into account the makeup of his mind. 

Even so, there are certain tactics that work well for long and tall fighters, and certain tactics that allow short fighters to counter them. On today's episode, we discuss these techniques in-depth, addressing how short men can fight from the outside as well as in the pocket, and analyzing the difference between short man's boxing, and short man's MMA.

Yair Rodriguez and David Teymur are also on the brain thanks to their impressive performances at UFC Salt Lake City, and we spend the first segment of the show breaking down their fights, and predicting where they go from here.

 

Direct download: 118_long_and_tall_vs_short_and_small.mp3
Category:Technique Breakdown -- posted at: 7:49am EDT

The gut doesn't lie. Tyron Woodley was the wrong kind of challenge for Robbie Lawler at this point in his career. The man who had been staggered in just about every fight for the last two years was knocked out by one of the welterweight division's hardest hitters, and perhaps that's not as surprising as it seemed at first. 

But we're not going to spend all our time reflecting on the fall of Ruthless Robbie. I mean, if we did, the show would just be an hour and twenty minutes of weeping, right? So instead, we're talking about distance management, and boxing for MMA. 

Face-punching is something both mixed martial artists and boxers can appreciate, but it is only recently that MMA fighters have begun to improve the other aspects of the sweet science: defense, footwork, and ringcraft. 

Over the course of this week's episode, we break down the differences between MMA boxing and traditional boxing, and relate the topic to some recent or upcoming fights. Could Rose Namajunas have benefitted from a little ringcraft against Karolina Kowalkiewicz? Will Yair Rodriguez's lack of mid-range striking skills hurt him against Alex Caceres? Listen in to get our perspective.

Direct download: 117_boxing_for_mma.mp3
Category:Technique Breakdown -- posted at: 9:58am EDT

Brian Stann was known as an action fighter during his professional MMA career, but since then he has settled into a role on the sidelines and established himself as one of the wisest voices in the game--and potentially the greatest living American. Just don't tell him that. 

He joins Heavy Hands this week to look back on UFC International Fight Week and UFC 200, and look forward to the matchups made possible by those events. Brian celebrates the battle between Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Claudia Gadelha, and discusses the brilliance of Jose Aldo's victory over Frankie Edgar. As for Conor McGregor, who will likely rematch Aldo next, whether he wins or loses in his rematch to Nate Diaz, Brian gives his thoughts on McGregor's unique mental state. McGregor may possess unmatched mental fortitude, but how can he possibly improve on a 13-second KO? 

Listen in to hear the full intreview, plus a detailed breakdown of UFC 201's big fights, Robbie Lawler vs Tyron Woodley for the welterweight strap, and Rose Namajunas vs Karloina Kowalkiewicz. Our predictions may surprise you . . .

 

Direct download: 116_brian_stann.mp3
Category:Interview -- posted at: 10:51pm EDT

It's not the strongest Fox card the UFC has ever put together, no it is not, but UFC on Fox 20 does have a few meaningful matchups to save it from irrelevance. 

At the top of that list is the women's bantamweight showcase between former champion Holly Holm and Valentina Shevchenko, whose last fight was a close defeat to the current champion, Amanda Nunes.

Direct download: 115_holm_shevchenko.mp3
Category:UFC -- posted at: 1:23am EDT

The weekend of UFC 200 was meant to be a weekend of superlatives, and with 72 of the best fighters on the planet competing over the course of three days, there were plenty of remarkable performances. In the spirit of UFC Fight Week, this week's episode of Heavy Hands is all about superlatives. We name our picks for the best fight, best performance, and best finish of the weekend. 

We also touch on some of the drama and controversy surrounding the event. Was Frankie Edgar robbed? Did Daniel Cormier stall his way to victory over Anderson Silva? 

The answers to these questions are obviously know, but you need to hear the full rant to really get the gist of it. Enjoy the show!

Direct download: 114_ufc_200_recap.mp3
Category:UFC -- posted at: 9:17am EDT

Direct download: 113_ufc_200.mp3
Category:UFC -- posted at: 10:28am EDT

Episode number two of our Heavy Hands UFC Fight Week extravaganza (patent pending) delves into the Ultimate Fighter 23 Finale, main evented by a fantastic rematch between strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk and Claudia Gadelha, two women who, even in a talent-rich division, stand in a league of their own. But UFC 200 is the big one we're all looking forward to, and to that end we're also discussing the OTHER fantastic rematch of the weekend--no, not Cormier-Jones II nor TJ Dillashaw vs Raphael Assuncao II, but former featherweight champ Jose Aldo's second fight with former lightweight champ Frankie Edgar.

In discussing these fights, we talk about the integral role that punishment plays in successful takedown defense, and explore the vicious gamesmanship that sets fighters like Jedrzejczyk and Aldo apart--while acknowledging that both fighters find themselves matched with a pair of ruthless opponents. 

Doo Ho Choi and Will Brooks get a bit of shine at the end of the episode, and why not? Brooks, a former Bellator champ, makes his highly-anticipated UFC debut against savvy vet Ross Pearson. Choi, the Korean Superboy, is set to clobber Thiago Tavares, but should the young fighter make a mistake, the well-rounded skills of the Brazilian will be there to punish him. 

Direct download: 112_jedrzejczyk_and_aldo.mp3
Category:UFC -- posted at: 10:06pm EDT

Your intrepid hosts Connor Ruebusch and Dr. Patrick Wyman are immensely excited about the advent of UFC Fight Week, and as a result we bring you the first of three episodes dedicated to the incredible action scheduled to take place on these three back-to-back-to-back cards, all culminating in UFC 200. 

Speaking of UFC 200, we spend a healthy portion of this week's episode discussing the UFC return of former heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar in a segment we like to call Punch/Counterpunch. Patrick makes his case for a Lesnar win, and Connor refutes him with the (obvious) truth that no man, not even Brock Lesnar, can afford to take a "Super Samoan" meteor on the chin. 

But before that, we break down the lightweight title fight between champion Rafael Dos Anjos and Eddie Alvarez scheduled to take place on July 4th. Rounding out the show is a little analysis of two of the other highlights of that card, Joe Duffy vs Mitch Clarke and Anthony Birchak vs Dileno Lopes. Fun stuff, and just about too much of it to break down, but we do our best!

Direct download: 111_rda_alvarez.mp3
Category:UFC -- posted at: 2:39am EDT

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

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

No one is happy that Rafael Dos Anjos was forced to withdraw from UFC 196, but Conor McGregor vs Nate Diaz is about as fascinating a replacement fight as you could ask for.

Not only is Diaz the first opponent of McGregor's career to top the Irishman's height and reach, but his technical approach to boxing makes him an interesting test for "The Notorious," who hasn't engaged in a tactical striking battle since the first round of his fight with Max Holloway in 2013.

That's not the only tantalizing matchup on the card, of course. UFC 196 also boasts the first title defense of Holly Holm following her stunning knockout of Ronda Rousey in November of last year. Contending for the belt is veteran bantamweight Miesha Tate. "Cupcake" wasn't happy at the time, but it seems like Holm getting the Rousey fight was the best thing that could have happened to her; now Miesha gets to throw herself at an opponent who has never faced such a dogged, resilient, and crafty mixed martial artist.

After breaking all of that down in detail, it's on to a review of last weekend's instant classic between Anderson Silva and Michael Bisping. 2016 got off to a rough start, but now we find ourselves surrounded by excellent MMA. Who could ask for more?

Direct download: 93_mcgregor_diaz.mp3
Category:UFC -- posted at: 9:34am EDT

It might be the last chance for legends at UFC London. Anderson Silva is three years removed from his place on the middleweight throne. Since losing his title to Chris Weidman he has suffered one horrific injury, and had one competitive fight with Nick Diaz, an admittedly game career welterweight. He has likely learned by now that he is no longer the same man who ruled this division with impunity for so many years. 

Michael Bisping, on the other hand, might be losing a step as well. The UFC's biggest British star since . . . well, it seems like forever, Bisping has a reputation for endless cardio, which is why it was so surprising to see him slowing down and panting between rounds in his last fight. 

Nothing lasts forever, but this could be our only chance to see two of the middleweight division's mainstays compete with one another, after years of missed opportunities. On this week's Heavy Hands, we break down the individual skillsets of these two great fighters, and analyze the matchup between them. 

Direct download: 92_silva_bisping.mp3
Category:UFC -- posted at: 11:02pm EDT

Kimbo Slice vs Dada 5000 doesn't look like a good matchup. In a lot of ways, it isn't. But there is something compelling about it. A pro fight between two men whose collected experience comes almost entirely from backyard brawls is certainly unique. And both men seem to perfectly encapsulate just what separates a pro fighter from the average man, while at the same time embodying the gulf between regular pro fighters and truly elite combat athletes.

Our tagline for the bout: "It is what it is, but it's not as bad as you think." You can thank us later, Mr. Coker.

After the Fight of the Century, it's on to this weekend's injury-riddled UFC event, headlined by a pair of "Cowboys." Alex Oliveira doesn't have the name recognition of Donald Cerrone, but he is absolutely a fascinating prospect, and could very well be cut out for a top ten slot should he continue to fight in the welterweight division. And nearing his 33rd birthday, Cerrone makes his own welterweight move, forcing us to question just how much he will need to rely on experience to get an expected win this weekend.

Marlon Moraes, Cody Garbrandt, Dennis Bermudez . . . there are plenty of interesting fighters stepping into the cage this weekend, and we give 'em all the Heavy Hands treatment. 

Direct download: 91_kimbo_vs_dada.mp3
Category:UFC -- posted at: 10:56am EDT

Stephen Thompson was always going to be a dangerous matchup for Johny Hendricks, but who could have imagined that he would so utterly dominate the former UFC welterweight champion?

Distance management was the key to Wonderboy's victory on Saturday, and that's the topic of our show today. We talk about how Thompson used his keen control of the distance to keep Hendricks at bay, keep himself off the fence, and ultimately walk "Bigg Rigg" into a series of devastating counters.

The larger question is whether Thompson, with his striking-based American Kenpo style, is an outlier, or a forerunner of a new breed of welterweights. In the post-GSP era, we discuss how the division may be on the cusp of a striking breakthrough. 

Direct download: 90_wonderboy_wins.mp3
Category:UFC -- posted at: 10:19am EDT

Lots of things to break down this week! 

First off, Ryan Bader witnessed the epic implosion of his dearest hopes and dreams when Anthony "Rumble" Johnson finished him in the first ground. As soon as they're done peeling "Darth" off the canvas, he'll have a lot more refining and hard work to do yet before he gets a shot at the division's title. 

Next, it's on to "Super" Sage Northcutt, who found his kryptonite in the form of young journeyman Bryan Barberena. Barberena was durable, unflappable, and able to force Sage into the kind of prolonged exchanges in which he can't just athlete his way to victory. We get into the reasons behind Northcutt's loss, and the ways he can improve in the future. Following through on his plan to train at Tristar MMA would be a great start.

We wrap up the topical analysis Johny Hendricks vs Stephen Thompson, a fantastic welterweight fight between two bafflingly underrated fighters, before answering a few questions from you, our lovely listeners. 

 

Direct download: 89_hendricks_wonderboy.mp3
Category:UFC -- posted at: 9:51am EDT

You may not like Anthony Johnson. You may not care about Ryan Bader. When you really look at it, though, the matchup between them is extremely compelling. 

Bader is the unremarkable personality who never stops improving. He faces Johnson on the heels of the three best wins of his career, all over top 10 light heavyweights. Johnson is an interesting--some might say "repulsive"--personality, but he is better known for his ridiculous knockout power. He is also known for being a front-runner who loses when fights don't go as planned. 

So when the two meet, we will have what Pat terms a "two true outcome" fight. Does Bader turn "Rumble" into "Crumble," or does he run headlong into a new ceiling and suffer yet another spectacular finish? Only time will tell. 

In the latter half of the show, we talk prospect development a la "Super" Sage Northcutt, and technical leg-kicking a la Tarec Saffiedine. Plus, the mid-tier middleweight oddness of Rafael Natal vs Kevin Casey. Check it out. 

Direct download: 88_mp3.mp3
Category:UFC -- posted at: 9:51pm EDT

Controversial decisions are the stock and trade of close fights between elite fighters. When two top level athletes go head to head, a close contest is the best thing you could possibly hope for--and yet half of us are left unsatisfied when the decision is announced. 

In an effort to combat this unfortunate truth. we aren't discussing the scoring of Dillashaw vs Cruz on this episode of Heavy Hands. In fact, we complain more about Pettis-Alvarez than we do the main event. Instead, we vie to appreciate this fight for what it was: an incredible display of technical skill, toughness, and pure fighting talent. 

The ups and downs, the adjustments, the defensive virtuosity--all of that and more is on the table this week, plus a breakdown of Pettis-Alvarez and a few frustrated words about a sad situation involving fighter-cum-analyst Kenny Florian. Check it out.

Direct download: 87_dillashaw_cruz.mp3
Category:UFC -- posted at: 8:36am EDT

This week on Heavy Hands, we're delving into one of the most anticipated matchups of the last two years. It was a surprise when TJ Dillashaw smashed Renan Barao to become the undisputed UFC bantamweight champion, but since then his place at the top of the pecking order has been fully accepted. Accepted that is, by everyone but Dominick Cruz, one of the few ex-champions in UFC history never to have lost his belt in the Octagon. Returning from yet another injury layoff, Cruz will attempt to remind us just why he was such a dominant champion five years ago, while Dillashaw will vie to represent the new breed with style and grace. 

Goodness, it's a great matchup. 

After breaking that down, we move on to the co-main event battle between former UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis, and former Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez, another fantastic fight between elite strikers. 

The man to beat Anthony Pettis in yet another stunning upset was Rafael Dos Anjos, and we wrap up the show discussing him and fighters like him. Daniel Cormier, Demetrious Johnson, Conor McGregor . . . Pressure fighters seem to be swarming the upper echelons of this sport, and we ponder their tremendous effectiveness before sifting through the rankings of each division in search of the styles to defeat them. 

 

Direct download: 86_dillashaw_cruz.mp3
Category:UFC -- posted at: 12:15pm EDT

Yeah, yeah, the judges' decision was unsatisfying to many, but let us not forget what really matters: Robbie Lawler vs Carlos Condit was absolutely insane, a back-and-forth fight that culminated in one of the craziest rounds any of us has ever seen. Lawler put on a vintage performance--maybe a little too vintage in some ways--and Condit fought masterfully. We break it all down on today's episode of Heavy Hands. 

After that, it's on to the night's other highlights. Namely, Dustin Poirier exceeded expectations, as did his entire fight with Irish Joe Duffy. Poirier's wrestling and MMA-integrated grappling has come along in leaps and bounds, and it brought him to victory against an extremely tough, if somewhat untested, opponent. Albert Tumenov and Lorenz Larkin put on a tremendous fight as well, with both men exceeding and defying expectations. 

All of that and more on this latest episode of Heavy Hands.

Direct download: 85_ufc_195_recap.mp3
Category:UFC -- posted at: 7:55am EDT