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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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