Heavy Hands (technique breakdown)

With one more blessed, UFC-less weekend left to us, the hosts of Heavy Hands turn to Bellator and Rizin for inspiration. That means talking about the heavyweight GOAT, and the only top five flyweight not currently fighting under the UFC banner. Topics include:

- How the MMA game of Fedor stacks up against todays heavyweights

- Kyoji Horiguchi's tricky rhythm and developing skillset

- Whether he will be able to beat Ian McCall at Rizin 10

- The difference between an "action fighter" and an exciting fighter

...and more, I swear. 

Direct download: 209_Fedor_and_Kyoji_sitting_in_a_tree.mp3
Category:Technique Breakdown -- posted at: 9:33am EST

Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor fought. It finally happened, and now it's finally over. Now, with the spectacle finished, we can comfortably discuss the fight as it played out. And fortunately for us here at Heavy Hands, the bout was a good deal more interesting than it had to be. We analyze Mayweather's limited-but-effective pressure game, the improvements and failings of McGregor's "MMA boxing," and the lessons we hope to see him take back to the UFC cage.

After that, it's on to a short preview of UFC Rotterdam, a mixed bag of a card that nonetheless contains a few very interesting fights. We analyze in brief and give our predictions. 

Take a breath. Have a glass of iced tea. Enjoy the peace and quiet for a moment. Then, enjoy the show!

Direct download: 174_A_New_World.mp3
Category:Technique Breakdown -- posted at: 4:30am EST

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

Well, voila! 

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

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

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

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 EST

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 EST

What makes an out-fighter an out-fighter, or a boxer a boxer? On this week's Heavy Hands we look into the behaviors that let us define fighters' styles. 

First up, there's Neil Magny, often sold as a rangy boxer but, as he showed in his upset win over Kelvin Gastelum last weekend, actually much more effective on the inside. Then there's Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, the new pay-per-view king of the boxing world, whose peculiar blend of power and boxing skill makes him a uniquely dangerous--and uniquely limited--opponent. Finally, we analyze the stylistic talents of Tyson Fury, set to battle Wladimir Klitschko for--well, all the heavyweight titles on Saturday, November 28th. 

Direct download: 79_magny_canelo_fury.mp3
Category:Technique Breakdown -- posted at: 10:11pm EST

Today on Heavy Hands we're discussing southpaws. 

Last weekend's fights gave us a number of open stance (southpaw vs orthodox) fights, and most of them highlighted just how challenging it can be for an orthodox fighter to strategize for a southpaw. Darren Till vs Nicolas Dalby, Tom Breese vs Cathal Pendred, and Terence Crawford vs Dierry Jean all demonstrated some of the essential challenges of open stance fighting, while inspiring us to discuss some unconventional ways to defuse the unique challenges offered by a southpaw opponent (or an orthodox opponent, if you're a lefty).

Today's episode also marks the launch of Heavy Hands on Patreon, a site that allows listeners to fund the show in exchange for rewards. Please take a moment and a few dollars to help support the podcast. We're also interested in hearing your suggestions for rewards that you would like to see!

 

Direct download: 75_southpaws.mp3
Category:Technique Breakdown -- posted at: 8:45am EST

On this week's episode of Heavy Hands, Patrick Wyman and I are breaking down one of combat sport's most confounding styles: the brawler. 

Already on this show we've looked at some of the classic boxing archetypes that exist across the board in fighting sports, including boxer-punchers, out-fighters, pressure fighters, and more. Understanding the mindsets that go into these styles is always a tricky thing, but they are all relatively well defined. Not so with the oddball of the group, the brawler. 

Brawlers come in many shapes and sizes, but they are universally defined by their willingness to take damage to dish out damage. Whether this is the result of poor discipline, extreme self-confidence, or even a pathological desire to do others maximum physical harm we're not quite sure, but we look through some of history's most legendary brawlers in an attempt to get at the mentality that makes the archetype tick.

We talk Justin Gaethje and Rocky Marciano, Manny Pacquiao and Chan Sung Jung. Can a brawler be the best in the world? That depends on your definition, but our conclusions might surprise you. 

Direct download: 70_brawlers.mp3
Category:Technique Breakdown -- posted at: 9:42pm EST

In the aftermath of the latest hearing of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, we're celebrating a career that very commission may have just ended. Facing a five-year suspension from mixed martial arts competition, it's possible that Nick Diaz could never be seen in the Octagon again. And that's a shame. 

We're looking back at some of Diaz's best performances and celebrating the innovative aspects of a style that has often been derided or ignored altogether. Diaz's pace, his volume striking, his clinch fighting--all of these make him an important figure in the history of MMA. 

After that it's on to Bellator Dynamite, a combination MMA and kickboxing event that features an excellent light heavyweight tournament. Alongside ex-UFC fighter Phil Davis and King Mo Lawal, Emanuel Newton stands as the most interesting man in the tournament, as well as one of the most interesting men in the entire division. We try to understand the absolute weirdness of Newton's style, an approach that shouldn't work but does, over and over again. 

We're not sure how he'll do in the tournament, but we'll be tuning in to find out, because Emanuel Newton's is a weirdness worth watching. 

Direct download: 69_free_nick_diaz.mp3
Category:Technique Breakdown -- posted at: 11:46am EST

We mention initiative an awful lot, but we've never taken the time to discuss it as a concept . . . until now!

On this week's Heavy Hands, Connor and Pat discuss initiative. What is it, how does it work, and how is it attained? Looking back at some of the best fights of UFC Saskatoon, including Magny-Silva, Trinaldo-Laprise, and Moroz-Letourneau, we analyze the ways in which initiative influenced the outcomes.

Initiative is often the factor that makes or breaks a given technique. We explore the all-encompassing importance of initiative, exploring the importance not only of "being first," but of getting the opponent to  do what you want them to, when you want them to do it. 

Then it's on to the Heavy Bag to answer a brace of questions from you, our beloved listeners. 

Direct download: 66_initiative.mp3
Category:Technique Breakdown -- posted at: 8:06am EST

Counter fighters. They're rare, they're difficult to understand, and they may just be the perfect expression of combat. On today's episode of Heavy Hands, Pat Wyman and I suss out what exactly makes true counter fighters tick, and why we see so few of them in MMA, and in combat sports in general. 

We go through the various types of counters available to these specialists, and lay out the pros and cons of each, before exploring the games of a few of history's best counter punchers. For your viewing pleasure, we recommend you check out Salvador Sanchez's unexpected destruction of feared puncher Wilfredo Gomez, and Juan Manuel Marquez's patient dismantling of the unbelievably aggressive Juan Diaz. 

And at the start of the show, we reserve a little time to analyze Beneil Dariush's controversial win over Michael Johnson from the undercard of UFC: Teixeira vs Saint Preux.

Direct download: 64_counter_fighters.mp3
Category:Technique Breakdown -- posted at: 10:16am EST

On this week's episode of Heavy Hands, co-host Patrick Wyman and I readily agreed on two things: 1) we love when we get the chance to dedicate an entire episode to a single, fascinating fight; and 2) Mendes vs McGregor is absolutely one of those fights. 

Over the course of the episode we analyzed the styles of both fighters. First, McGregor's fondness for pressure, the purpose of his frequent spinning kicks, his intelligent use of the southpaw jab, and his ever-increasing volume of strikes. On Mendes' side, Pat and I both expressed our appreciation for what may be the finest counter punching game in the UFC, and certainly the purest. Will McGregor be able to swarm Mendes without being taken down, and if that proves too difficult, will he manage to keep the smaller man at arm's reach? 

Both Pat and I give our final predictions at the end of the show, but the real treat is in discussing the matchup. Next to Aldo-McGregor, there is simply no better fight to be made in the featherweight division. 

Direct download: 59_mcgregor_mendes.mp3
Category:Technique Breakdown -- posted at: 9:59am EST

Joanna Jedrzejczyk isn't just the best striker at women's strawweight--she's one of the best strikers in MMA, period. Her dynamic style, more akin to Dutch/European kickboxing than true Muay Thai, is marked by slick, fundamentally sound footwork, and an increasingly well-crafted arsenal of punches, elbows, and kicks. Of these strikes, Jedrzejczyk's left hook stands out. It may not be her best "kill shot," but the champ's hook is rapidly becoming the cornerstone of her boxing attack. On today's episode of Heavy Hands, Pat and I discuss the place of this punch in Joanna's game, and in striking in general. 

We also devote a lot of time to the champion's footwork--and compare/contrast it with that of Bellator fighters Michael Chandler and Patricio "Pitbull" Freire, both of whom also scored impressive finish victories last weekend at Bellator 138. 

And holding the episode together is an interesting conversation about the interconnected relationship between cardio, chin, and confidence.

Direct download: 57_jedrzejczyk.mp3
Category:Technique Breakdown -- posted at: 3:41pm EST

On today's episode of Heavy Hands, we're looking forward to UFC 188--namely, to Cain Velasquez's long awaited return to the Octagon. The UFC has endlessly promoted Cain as a cardio freak with endless stamina and... I guess he doesn't get tired as easily as other heavyweights, so that's good. But in this writer's humble opinion, they've really missed the mark by failing to mention Velasquez's record of finishes and the incredible skillset that caused almost all of them. 

Aside from a pair of decisions with the brutally tough Junior Dos Santos and the always crafty Cheick Kongo, Velasquez has never gone to the judges' scorecards. He is, without a doubt, one of the best finishers in all of MMA, and most of those finishes are the direct result of his ferocious ground striking, more commonly known as ground n' pound. Today, Pat and I break down what exactly makes Cain such a terrific top position fighter, and try to understand ground n' pound in general. 

Also, we discuss the technical and stylistic improvements of Dustin Poirier who, since a move to the lightweight division, has looked like a destroyer of men.

Direct download: 55_ground_and_pound.mp3
Category:Technique Breakdown -- posted at: 12:01pm EST

There are a lot of things responsible for a fighter's success. Skill is one, and natural talent is another. No fighter wins consistently without stamina, and power and chin have carried many fighters to victory. One essential ingredient that often goes undiscussed, however, is confidence

Today, Pat and I talk about the role of confidence in a fighter's career, and how some of MMA's greatest comeback stories are the result of subtle changes in style and a little bit of favorable matchmaking--just enough to help build the best, most confident version of our fighter possible.

We also talk a bit about the idea of peaking--what it means, and how trainers control it. And then finally, we address MMA's numerous comeback stories, and ask, "Is it possible to change who you are as a fighter?"

 

Direct download: 53_confidence.mp3
Category:Technique Breakdown -- posted at: 1:15pm EST

So far on Heavy Hands we've talked about out-fighters and boxer-punchers. Today, Pat and I get the chance to talk about a fighting style close to both of our hearts: pressure fighting. Bouts involving a pressure fighter are almost guaranteed action, as the style calls for constant forward momentum and a nerve-wrackingly narrow gap between the two combatants. To understand the style, Pat and I break down four spectacular exemplars of the type: UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman, light heavyweight contender Anthony "Rumble" Johnson, boxer Gennady Golovkin, and flyweight boxing champ Roman "El Chocolatito" Gonzalez. 

Tune in to hear two self-professed pressure fighters talk about the art of pressure fighting.

Direct download: 52_pressure_fighters.mp3
Category:Technique Breakdown -- posted at: 12:12am EST

Episode 3 of "Styles Make Fights" is all about boxer-punchers. 

For those unfamiliar with this Heavy Hands series (you can find the first two installments here, and here), "Styles Make Fights" is all about the way combat athletes do their thing--not technically, per se, but mentally. Which way does the fighter prefer to move? Where does he like to stand in the ring or cage? How does he act under duress? These are the questions that help us to understand the mindset at the heart of any fighter's style. 

Today, we're talking about the Boxer-Puncher, a sort of catch-all category that even Pat and I don't perfectly understand. We break down the styles of some notable boxer-punchers, namely Canelo Alvarez, Urijah Faber, and Eder Jofre, and try to figure out what exactly makes one a boxer-puncher in the first place. 

The discussion is a good one, and we hope you enjoy it--next week we'll visit our "Styles Make Fights" series again and talk about pressure fighting, with the help of Gennady Golovkin, Anthony Johnson, and Chris Weidman. 

Direct download: 51_boxer-punchers.mp3
Category:Technique Breakdown -- posted at: 11:02pm EST

What do Max Holloway, Lucas Matthysse, & Demetrious Johnson all have in common?

Patrick Wyman and I decided to tackle this thought on the latest episode of Heavy Hands which (and here's your answer) is all about fighting in transitions. When Matthysse threw punches at Ruslan Provodnkov, he did so with the express intention of catching Provodnikov in the spaces between movements. Likewise, Cub Swanson struggled to keep up with the rapidly shifting attack of Max Holloway.

And for Demetrious "Mighty Mouse" Johnson, the shifts happen not only from one technique to the next, but from one phase to the next. Takedowns, punches, clinch attacks, submissions--Johnson uses every opportunity to take his opponents apart. Will he be able to do the same to Kyoji Horiguchi this Saturday?

Direct download: 48_johnson-horiguchi_fighting_in_transition.mp3
Category:Technique Breakdown -- posted at: 11:07am EST

On this episode of Heavy Hands, Connor and Pat break down Open Stance fights. Open Stance occurs when a southpaw and an orthodox fighter meet, and the angles and attacks of such an encounter are truly fascinating. 

Your hosts look at the tactics of an open stance fight by analyzing the skills of southpaws Luke Rockhold and Lyoto Machida, who face off in the main event of UFC on Fox 15, on April 18th.

Also discussed are boxers Adonis Stevenson, who used classic southpaw tactics to retain his lineal light heavyweight title last weekend, and Artur Beterbiev, who bested the southpaw Gabriel Campillo in flawless fashion. 

Direct download: 46_open_stance.mp3
Category:Technique Breakdown -- posted at: 12:13pm EST

It's episode two of our new series, Styles Make Fights! And today we're talking about out-fighters. 

Lucky for us, we've got one of the greatest out-fighters on earth in Anthony Pettis preparing to entertain us this weekend in defense of his UFC lightweight title. Pat and Connor break down the skills that Pettis uses, but more importantly why he uses them. What's the mentality of an out-fighter? Why does he throw the strikes he throws, and move the way he moves? 

We go into all of this and more while predicting what Pettis will try to do to Rafael Dos Anjos in his second defense of his belt. After that, it's on to another archetypal out-fighter in Carla Esparza, who will attempt to outbox and outwrestle dangerous eight-limbed kickboxer Joanna Jedrzejczyk. 

All of that and more on this episode of Heavy Hands. Enjoy the show!

Direct download: 42_pettis_styles_make_fights_2.mp3
Category:Technique Breakdown -- posted at: 7:30am EST

41 - Styles Make Fights, part one

Styles make fights. We've all heard that before, right?

Well, it's true. But styles also make fighters, and there is no fighter on earth who doesn't, in one way or another, express the attributes of one of fighting's central archetypes. This week Pat and Connor are breaking down those archetypes--out-boxer, counter fighter, pressure fighter, and boxer-puncher--and kicking off a new series in the process. A series called (you guessed it) Styles Make Fights.

In this first installment, your hosts try to answer the fundamental questions: what makes a style a style, and why do we create these archetypes in the first place? What follows is a lengthy, enthusiastic discussion of the facets of style, what separates one form the next, and even some lively debate as to how many styles there really are. 

 

Direct download: 41_styles_make_fights.mp3
Category:Technique Breakdown -- posted at: 1:58pm EST

39 - The Small Steps of Gennady Golovkin & Michael Johnson

Today your hosts are obsessed with the small, subtle things that make high level combat so beautiful. Small steps, tiny shifts in rhythm. These are the things that separate the great from the merely good. 

Gennady Golovkin fights Martin Murray this Saturday on HBO, and whil few are expecting Murray to get the win, there is the distinct possibility that he will prove tough enough to take the fight into the late rounds which, for technique geeks, is a good thing. More fight time means more opportunities to study how Golovkin inches his way in and out of range, and from side to side, keeping himself balanced and poised for the knockout blow. Pat and Connor spend some time drooling over this aspect of the Kazakh's game. 

Then, this Sunday, Michael Johnson will use many of the same principles, toying with angles and rhythm to shoot long, straight punches at Edson Barboza who, while a very exciting fighter, lacks the technical finesse and depth of athletic talent possessed by his opponent. 

It's a good weekend for fight fans, and hopefully this episode of Heavy Hands gets you all the more excited. 

Direct download: 39_golovkin_and_johnson.mp3
Category:Technique Breakdown -- posted at: 8:21pm EST

38 - Rhythm Is Gonna Get You

Rhythm.

What is it? How does it apply to fighting? Do you have to be born with it, or can it be learned? Why did Connor choose a Gloria Estefan song as the title for this episode?

All of these questions and more are answered on this latest installment of Heavy Hands. Your hosts discuss the importance of rhythm in combat sports, why fighters need it, and how it can be manipulated and used against an opponent. Nieky Holzken and Ben Henderson feature as masters of difficult timing.

Enjoy the show!

Direct download: 38_rrrrhythm.mp3
Category:Technique Breakdown -- posted at: 10:43am EST

Over the weekend we had a lot of meaningful MMA bouts and, more importantly, some really fun ones as well. In addition to the five round heavyweight war between former champion Junior Dos Santos and new fan-favorite Stipe Miocic, Carla Esparza and Rose Namajunas fought to decide who would be the UFC's inaugural women's strawweight champion. Rafael Dos Anjos also put an entertaining beating on the enigmatic Nate Diaz.

What stood out in all of these bouts was footwork--the good and the bad, and so Pat and Connor decided to break down footwork in all its forms. What is footwork, exactly, and how do different fighters use it differently?

It's a good old fashioned technique breakdown, and you're invited. Enjoy!

Direct download: 31_footwork_dos_santos_namajunas_rda.mp3
Category:Technique Breakdown -- posted at: 2:57pm EST

The controversy surrounding UFC 181 can't go without some discussion, so that's the first topic on the table for Connor and Pat on today's episode of Heavy Hands.

After that, however, it's time to talk international fight styles. There are a number of regional schools in both boxing and wrestling, and today your hosts break them down. In addition, there are the three branches of "Muay Thai" that should be familiar to fans of MMA: the Dutch style, the Brazilian style, and of course the Thai style. What makes them different? From where do the different approaches to the same art stem, and what are the advantages and disadvantages of each?

All of that and more on this episode of Heavy Hands!

Direct download: 30_Regional_Fight_styles.mp3
Category:Technique Breakdown -- posted at: 2:59pm EST

Corey returns from his mystical spirit quest to break down the fights of UFC 170. Remember Corey? He's that guy that used to be on the show all the time. Yeah. Connor and Corey get all excited about Raphael Assuncao, Connor pats himself on the back for coming up with the idea for Stephen Thompson vs. Mike Pyle, and Ronda Rousey is ten times better at phase-shifting than Demian Maia, apparently.

It's episode 17 of Heavy Hands--enjoy!

Direct download: 17-UFC_170_Recap.mp3
Category:Technique Breakdown -- posted at: 7:14pm EST

15 - Breaking Down Machida vs. Mousasi w/ Dallas Winston

Dallas Winston is back again, and this time he joins Connor to get all nerdy and excited about Lyoto Machida vs. Gegard Mousasi. Also covered are the two fights preceding that, Erick Silva vs. Takanori Sato and Jacare Souza vs. Francis Carmont, and none of the other fights from the card--thank the heavens!

This one's short and sweet, so enjoy!

Direct download: 15-Breaking_Down_Machida_vs._Mousasi_with_Dallas_Winston.mp3
Category:Technique Breakdown -- posted at: 7:25pm EST

Part two of this week's episode features Bloody Elbow writer T. P. Grant, a specialist in the the grappling aspects of MMA. He and Connor discuss the evolution of the guillotine in MMA, from the last resort of those with no takedown defense, to the top position killer of modern mixed martial artists.

Direct download: 5.2-TP_Grant.mp3
Category:Technique Breakdown -- posted at: 10:25pm EST

Corey's back in Connor's life this week, and the reunion is a happy one. 

Today your beloved hosts talk Erick Silva and his nearly unstoppable counter-wrestling style, while examining the holes that John Fitch was able to exploit in their entertaining fight.

Next we discuss Miguel Cotto's win over Delvin Rodriguez, and discuss whether or not Miguel Cotto has the perfect style of boxing for MMA. Fair warning: it gets a little heated at the end.

Let us know what you think, and thanks for listening!

Direct download: 4-Erick_Silva_Miguel_Cotto_Boxing_for_MMA.mp3
Category:Technique Breakdown -- posted at: 8:30pm EST

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