Heavy Hands

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 EDT

Demetrious Johnson is undeniably one of the best to ever do it. The UFC's first and only flyweight champion recently outdid himself in a rematch with John Dodson. The man who had previously proven to be the most threatening challenger to Johnson's throne was summarily beaten in every phase. Johnson out-clinched, out-wrestled, and out-struck Dodson for twenty five minutes, making him look like an amateur rather than the man who had knocked Johnson down three times in their first fight. 

And yet no one cares. Is it his size? Is it his dispassionate, technical mastery? Is it his generally agreeable personality? We ask these questions and more, and try to get at the heart of Johnson's brilliant fighting style in the process. 

Then, it's on to the upsets. Both Pat and I were very unsuccessful with our predictions for this card, and no result was more surprising than the first-round knockout of Francisco Rivera by John Lineker, who proved himself a brawler worth fearing. Finally, we talk Felder vs Pearson, and the concept of layered offense--and specifically how Felder didn't have it. 

Direct download: 68_why_not_mighty_mouse.mp3
Category:UFC -- posted at: 12:03pm EDT

This week on Heavy Hands we're relishing the fight buffet that is UFC 191. From the start of the televised prelims onward, this is a fight card rife with either relevance or entertainment value, and in many cases both.

I know, I know . . . half of you don't care about Demetrious Johnson because you only like fighters who can ride all the roller coasters at the amusement park, but if I had to pick just one fight from his impressive flyweight title run to appeal to average fight fans, it would be his first fight with John Dodson. Dodson floored Mighty Mouse several times, and the champion recovered, adjusted, and ended the fight battering Dodson with brutal knees and short punches in the clinch. If Dodson can build on his previous success, we might just be in for a stunning upset, and if not, then just remember what Demetrious Johnson did the last time he rematched an opponent: GIF.

Then, along with some exciting light heavyweight action, we have two old school heavyweights duking it out on the undercard in Frank Mir and Andrei Arlovski. But most importantly, FRANCISCO RIVERA VERSUS JOHN LINEKER. As it turns out, John Lineker's many failures to make the flyweight limit were merely the result of the gentle hand of fate guiding him toward his destiny, and now he's set to face one of the most entertaining knockout artists at 135 pounds. 

And we're breaking down all of this, and more on this episode. Tune in, and enjoy the show.

Direct download: 67_ufc_191.mp3
Category:UFC -- posted at: 9:38pm EDT

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 EDT

On this week's Heavy Hands, Pat Wyman and I were lucky enough to talk with Tyron Woodley, who is fighting former champion Johny Hendricks at UFC 192 on October 3rd.

Woodley gave us his thoughts on what it's like to possess such tremendous natural power, and spoke about his development as a striker and a mixed martial artist. He also had some choice words for Hendricks prior to their bout. According to Woodley, his college wrestling match with Hendricks would've played out differently had there been punches involved, and he aims to make that dream a reality this October.

After speaking to Woodley, Pat and I talk Max Holloway Charles Oliveira, the main event of this Sunday's UFC Saskatoon event. Listen to hear what we think of two of the featherweight division's most promising young contenders, and our predictions on how the fight will play out.

Direct download: 65_tyron_woodley.mp3
Category:Interview -- posted at: 9:09am EDT

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

Last week we asked who could beat Ronda Rousey. This week we're asking the same question. Having beaten her third opponent in just over a minute--total, that is--Rousey finds herself at the top of a division that has very much failed to match her abilities. Despite having been beaten twice before, Miesha Tate is matched up for a third bout with the champ, and Pat and I agree that she may have something resembling a chance. Maybe. 

After that we discuss Stefan Struve, who is slowly learning to use his length and height, and Claudia Gadelha, whose rematch with strawweight champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk we're very much looking forward to. 

Finally, a fantastic interview with Glory WS kickboxer Raymond Daniels, who makes his second run at Nieky Holzken for the vacant welterweight title.

Direct download: 63_raymond_daniels.mp3
Category:Interview -- posted at: 9:36am EDT

Ronda Rousey is starting to seem unbeatable, and nobody really seems to think that Bethe Correia will be the first woman to change that. 

So today, we're focusing our attention on the woman who could beat Rousey--even if she doesn't necessarily  exist yet. What style will it take to defuse the swarming, clinching, Judo-throwing approach of Rousey? And are there any fighters on the planet who fit the bill?

After that, we talk about the UFC's other bantamweight champ, TJ Dillashaw, who put on a scintillating performance in his second title defense against Renan Barao at UFC on Fox 17. Oh, and we urge you to lighten up on the man he beat as well.

Direct download: 62_rousey_dillashaw.mp3
Category:UFC -- posted at: 9:44pm EDT

Pat and I aren't sure who exactly is clamoring for a rematch between TJ Dillashaw and Renan Barao, but we're certainly excited to see "Ill Dill" back in action. 

After thrashing Barao en route to a fifth round KO to win the title, Dillashaw has quickly established himself as one of the smoothest, most technical strikers in the sport of MMA. Barao, likewise, is one of the best fighters on earth and certainly one of the best in the division, but neither Pat nor I expect him to overcome the stylistic hurdles of this matchup any better than he did last time. A born out-fighter, Barao does not react well to pressure, and his tendency to plant his feet and throw as his opponent moves around him is a recipe for disaster against the fleet-footed, angular Dillashaw.

We also find a little time to talk about Paul Felder and Edson Barboza, who fight further down on the card in a matchup of thrilling strikers. Will Felder's steady pressure and well-timed counters win the day, or can Barboza keep the fight at range and work in the short sequences of powerful punches and kicks that he throws so well? We're not sure, and that's what makes this bout so excellent!

Enjoy the show, folks.

Direct download: 61_dillashaw.mp3
Category:UFC -- posted at: 9:33pm EDT

Altogether, the main card of UFC 189 may have been the best collection of five fights we've ever seen. It was certainly up there. And capping off all the fantastic action were two incredible title fights--well, one title fight and one "title" fight. 

Co-host Pat Wyman and I sat down to give this one an enthusiastic in-depth breakdown. How did Conor McGregor really look against Chad Mendes, and what did his performance teach us about his potential? One of us thinks he no longer has much of a shot against Aldo, and one of us thinks just the opposite. And we're both pretty sure he learned to grapple by studying 2005-era Wanderlei Silva.

Of course, we had to devote a healthy portion of the show to the instant classic welterweight title fight between (STILL) champion Robbie Lawler and Rory MacDonald, who proved himself to be an unbelievably game challenger. It was a tactical masterpiece, with both fighters struggling to out-adjust the other. It was also a visceral gut-checking kind of fight, that at times was hard to watch. Pat and I agree that Robbie Lawler and Rory MacDonald are two of the most intelligent, savvy men in all of MMA, and it's not often we get to see two such masters match up. Bravo to both men.

And we save a little time to talk Thomas Almeida to wrap things up.

It was a fantastic night of fights, and an absolute pleasure to break down here. We hope you enjoy the show.

Direct download: 60_ufc_189.mp3
Category:UFC -- posted at: 10:08am EDT