Heavy Hands (technique breakdown)

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT

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 EDT