Heavy Hands

No one is happy that Rafael Dos Anjos was forced to withdraw from UFC 196, but Conor McGregor vs Nate Diaz is about as fascinating a replacement fight as you could ask for.

Not only is Diaz the first opponent of McGregor's career to top the Irishman's height and reach, but his technical approach to boxing makes him an interesting test for "The Notorious," who hasn't engaged in a tactical striking battle since the first round of his fight with Max Holloway in 2013.

That's not the only tantalizing matchup on the card, of course. UFC 196 also boasts the first title defense of Holly Holm following her stunning knockout of Ronda Rousey in November of last year. Contending for the belt is veteran bantamweight Miesha Tate. "Cupcake" wasn't happy at the time, but it seems like Holm getting the Rousey fight was the best thing that could have happened to her; now Miesha gets to throw herself at an opponent who has never faced such a dogged, resilient, and crafty mixed martial artist.

After breaking all of that down in detail, it's on to a review of last weekend's instant classic between Anderson Silva and Michael Bisping. 2016 got off to a rough start, but now we find ourselves surrounded by excellent MMA. Who could ask for more?

Direct download: 93_mcgregor_diaz.mp3
Category:UFC -- posted at: 9:34am EDT

It might be the last chance for legends at UFC London. Anderson Silva is three years removed from his place on the middleweight throne. Since losing his title to Chris Weidman he has suffered one horrific injury, and had one competitive fight with Nick Diaz, an admittedly game career welterweight. He has likely learned by now that he is no longer the same man who ruled this division with impunity for so many years. 

Michael Bisping, on the other hand, might be losing a step as well. The UFC's biggest British star since . . . well, it seems like forever, Bisping has a reputation for endless cardio, which is why it was so surprising to see him slowing down and panting between rounds in his last fight. 

Nothing lasts forever, but this could be our only chance to see two of the middleweight division's mainstays compete with one another, after years of missed opportunities. On this week's Heavy Hands, we break down the individual skillsets of these two great fighters, and analyze the matchup between them. 

Direct download: 92_silva_bisping.mp3
Category:UFC -- posted at: 11:02pm EDT

Kimbo Slice vs Dada 5000 doesn't look like a good matchup. In a lot of ways, it isn't. But there is something compelling about it. A pro fight between two men whose collected experience comes almost entirely from backyard brawls is certainly unique. And both men seem to perfectly encapsulate just what separates a pro fighter from the average man, while at the same time embodying the gulf between regular pro fighters and truly elite combat athletes.

Our tagline for the bout: "It is what it is, but it's not as bad as you think." You can thank us later, Mr. Coker.

After the Fight of the Century, it's on to this weekend's injury-riddled UFC event, headlined by a pair of "Cowboys." Alex Oliveira doesn't have the name recognition of Donald Cerrone, but he is absolutely a fascinating prospect, and could very well be cut out for a top ten slot should he continue to fight in the welterweight division. And nearing his 33rd birthday, Cerrone makes his own welterweight move, forcing us to question just how much he will need to rely on experience to get an expected win this weekend.

Marlon Moraes, Cody Garbrandt, Dennis Bermudez . . . there are plenty of interesting fighters stepping into the cage this weekend, and we give 'em all the Heavy Hands treatment. 

Direct download: 91_kimbo_vs_dada.mp3
Category:UFC -- posted at: 10:56am EDT

Stephen Thompson was always going to be a dangerous matchup for Johny Hendricks, but who could have imagined that he would so utterly dominate the former UFC welterweight champion?

Distance management was the key to Wonderboy's victory on Saturday, and that's the topic of our show today. We talk about how Thompson used his keen control of the distance to keep Hendricks at bay, keep himself off the fence, and ultimately walk "Bigg Rigg" into a series of devastating counters.

The larger question is whether Thompson, with his striking-based American Kenpo style, is an outlier, or a forerunner of a new breed of welterweights. In the post-GSP era, we discuss how the division may be on the cusp of a striking breakthrough. 

Direct download: 90_wonderboy_wins.mp3
Category:UFC -- posted at: 10:19am EDT

Lots of things to break down this week! 

First off, Ryan Bader witnessed the epic implosion of his dearest hopes and dreams when Anthony "Rumble" Johnson finished him in the first ground. As soon as they're done peeling "Darth" off the canvas, he'll have a lot more refining and hard work to do yet before he gets a shot at the division's title. 

Next, it's on to "Super" Sage Northcutt, who found his kryptonite in the form of young journeyman Bryan Barberena. Barberena was durable, unflappable, and able to force Sage into the kind of prolonged exchanges in which he can't just athlete his way to victory. We get into the reasons behind Northcutt's loss, and the ways he can improve in the future. Following through on his plan to train at Tristar MMA would be a great start.

We wrap up the topical analysis Johny Hendricks vs Stephen Thompson, a fantastic welterweight fight between two bafflingly underrated fighters, before answering a few questions from you, our lovely listeners. 

 

Direct download: 89_hendricks_wonderboy.mp3
Category:UFC -- posted at: 9:51am EDT

You may not like Anthony Johnson. You may not care about Ryan Bader. When you really look at it, though, the matchup between them is extremely compelling. 

Bader is the unremarkable personality who never stops improving. He faces Johnson on the heels of the three best wins of his career, all over top 10 light heavyweights. Johnson is an interesting--some might say "repulsive"--personality, but he is better known for his ridiculous knockout power. He is also known for being a front-runner who loses when fights don't go as planned. 

So when the two meet, we will have what Pat terms a "two true outcome" fight. Does Bader turn "Rumble" into "Crumble," or does he run headlong into a new ceiling and suffer yet another spectacular finish? Only time will tell. 

In the latter half of the show, we talk prospect development a la "Super" Sage Northcutt, and technical leg-kicking a la Tarec Saffiedine. Plus, the mid-tier middleweight oddness of Rafael Natal vs Kevin Casey. Check it out. 

Direct download: 88_mp3.mp3
Category:UFC -- posted at: 9:51pm EDT

Controversial decisions are the stock and trade of close fights between elite fighters. When two top level athletes go head to head, a close contest is the best thing you could possibly hope for--and yet half of us are left unsatisfied when the decision is announced. 

In an effort to combat this unfortunate truth. we aren't discussing the scoring of Dillashaw vs Cruz on this episode of Heavy Hands. In fact, we complain more about Pettis-Alvarez than we do the main event. Instead, we vie to appreciate this fight for what it was: an incredible display of technical skill, toughness, and pure fighting talent. 

The ups and downs, the adjustments, the defensive virtuosity--all of that and more is on the table this week, plus a breakdown of Pettis-Alvarez and a few frustrated words about a sad situation involving fighter-cum-analyst Kenny Florian. Check it out.

Direct download: 87_dillashaw_cruz.mp3
Category:UFC -- posted at: 8:36am EDT

This week on Heavy Hands, we're delving into one of the most anticipated matchups of the last two years. It was a surprise when TJ Dillashaw smashed Renan Barao to become the undisputed UFC bantamweight champion, but since then his place at the top of the pecking order has been fully accepted. Accepted that is, by everyone but Dominick Cruz, one of the few ex-champions in UFC history never to have lost his belt in the Octagon. Returning from yet another injury layoff, Cruz will attempt to remind us just why he was such a dominant champion five years ago, while Dillashaw will vie to represent the new breed with style and grace. 

Goodness, it's a great matchup. 

After breaking that down, we move on to the co-main event battle between former UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis, and former Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez, another fantastic fight between elite strikers. 

The man to beat Anthony Pettis in yet another stunning upset was Rafael Dos Anjos, and we wrap up the show discussing him and fighters like him. Daniel Cormier, Demetrious Johnson, Conor McGregor . . . Pressure fighters seem to be swarming the upper echelons of this sport, and we ponder their tremendous effectiveness before sifting through the rankings of each division in search of the styles to defeat them. 

 

Direct download: 86_dillashaw_cruz.mp3
Category:UFC -- posted at: 12:15pm EDT

Yeah, yeah, the judges' decision was unsatisfying to many, but let us not forget what really matters: Robbie Lawler vs Carlos Condit was absolutely insane, a back-and-forth fight that culminated in one of the craziest rounds any of us has ever seen. Lawler put on a vintage performance--maybe a little too vintage in some ways--and Condit fought masterfully. We break it all down on today's episode of Heavy Hands. 

After that, it's on to the night's other highlights. Namely, Dustin Poirier exceeded expectations, as did his entire fight with Irish Joe Duffy. Poirier's wrestling and MMA-integrated grappling has come along in leaps and bounds, and it brought him to victory against an extremely tough, if somewhat untested, opponent. Albert Tumenov and Lorenz Larkin put on a tremendous fight as well, with both men exceeding and defying expectations. 

All of that and more on this latest episode of Heavy Hands.

Direct download: 85_ufc_195_recap.mp3
Category:UFC -- posted at: 7:55am EDT

Robbie Lawler and Carlos Condit are both fascinating fighters, and their UFC 195 clash could very well end up being one of the greatest fights in welterweight history. Both Condit and Lawler welcome the blood and the guts of combat with open arms; and yet both are intelligent, crafty fighters with undeniable skill. Their fight will be a contest of adaptation, and we spend the bulk of this week's episode sussing out the different ways in which these two great warriors adapt. 

In scouting this fight, we also examine what we consider the best and worst qualities of each fighter. After that it's on to Lorenz Larkin vs Albert Tumenov (don't mind the sound of drool hitting the mic) and the fortunately rescheduled Dustin Poirier vs Joe Duffy, both phenomenal action fights. 

The show wraps up with a few questions from our listeners.

Direct download: 84_lawler_condit.mp3
Category:UFC -- posted at: 10:59pm EDT