Heavy Hands (interview)

As the sun is blotted out in the sky, we await the be-all end-all of money fights, the Alpha and the Omega. Floyd Mayweather vs Conor McGregor is finally upon us, and on this episode we finally take the time to talk about it on a technical level. How will Conor's MMA striking play off of Mayweather's boxing? What makes Mayweather such a daunting challenge, and how crazy would it actually be if McGregor won?

Of course, there is only so much close reading one can give a fight with so many X-factors (and seemingly so few regular factors to consider), so we brought on Chapo Trap House's Felix Biederman to discuss the nature of the fight game, the politics of combat sports, and the usefulness of martial arts in an increasingly violent political landscape. 

Direct download: 173_May-Mac_and_Felix_Biederman.mp3
Category:Interview -- posted at: 2:05pm EST

Connor sat down to talk with UFC bantamweight contender Jimmie Rivera this week for a written piece. But since we appreciate you subscribers so much, we've uploaded the audio as an extra bonus episode for the month. Hear Jimmie talk about his training methods, his relationship with Tiger Schulmann, his sparring session with TJ Dillashaw, and his future in the UFC.
 
To hear the rest of this episode, head over to our Patreon (https://www.patreon.com/user?u=2439474). Patrons who pledge $3 a month get access to two bonus episodes every month.
Direct download: bonus_9_teaser.mp3
Category:Interview -- posted at: 12:36pm EST

Greg Jackson has accomplished the rare feat of making himself an MMA celebrity without ever stripping down and setting foot into the Octagon. He has become a star trainer, and not without a whole host of good reasons. For one, Jackson has been teaching mixed martial arts since 2000 at this point. He has played a crucial role in the careers of many champions and all-time greats, including Georges St-Pierre, Jon Jones, Carlos Condit, Donald Cerrone, and more.

Throughout all of this, Jackson has garnered a reputation as one of the best strategists in the sport. They've called him a sport-killer and a hero, but no one can deny that Greg Jackson knows how to come up with a gameplan. On this week's Heavy Hands, Greg sits down with us to discuss his process. How does gameplanning differ from one fighter to the next, how does he know what to look for, and how does it all come together in the corner?

The back half of the show features a discussion of matchmaking in the UFC as it pertains to our surprisingly entertaining UFC Phoenix card. We break down Yair Rodriguez's dominant win over BJ Penn and Sergio Pettis' win over John Moraga through that lens.

Direct download: 142_rodriguez_penn_recap_vid.mp3
Category:Interview -- posted at: 12:41pm EST

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

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST