Heavy Hands

It's been two years since Khabib Nurmagomedov last competed in the Octagon, but "The Eagle" makes his long-awaited return at UFC Tampa, and the hosts of Heavy Hands couldn't be happier. 

Joining us in our elation is MMA Fighting's Luke Thomas, the man behind such beloved series as Promotional Malpractice and Technique Talk. With Luke, the discussion includes Nurmagomedov's incredible transitional fighting, his awkward-but-effective striking style, and the superpower that is his cardio. 

After that it's on to the rest of UFC Tampa, which boasts a surprisingly solid undercard. Your hosts break down the improvements made by Rose Namajunas, and whether they will be enough to reverse the result of her first fight with fellow super-prospect Tecia Torres. We talk Dober vs Makhachev, the perfect comeback fight after Makhachev's devastating loss to Adriano Martins. Cezar Ferreira and Oluwale Bamgbose are fighting too. Yep. 

And then it's the return of Punch/Counterpunch, wherein your hosts go to bat for two opposing fighters, debating the outcome of the fight. It's a 4 oz glover's quarrel wherein Connor tells Pat why his fighter is Buschwhacked, and Pat asks, "Why, man?" The subject of this debate: Randy Brown vs Michael Graves.

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

 

Direct download: 99_luke_thomas_khabib.mp3
Category:UFC -- posted at: 10:13am 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

On this week's Heavy Hands, we're talking prospects, up-and-comers, and all other manner of important fighters that maybe haven't quite earned your attention yet. We discuss not only what makes these men such promising fighters, but what improvements we expect to see out of them in the future, and how they have developed as fighters so far. 

At the top of the show, however, it's all about adaptive fighters. Men like Jon Jones, Georges St-Pierre, Jose Aldo, and Anderson Silva--a who's who of all-time greats--held onto their titles and win streaks for so long because of how well they adapted in the cage. And yet all of them fight in very different ways, with clearly different priorities. We discuss what allows a fighter to make the split-second adjustments and smart decisions that keep him on the winning track, and even get into the dense tangle of virtues and foibles that make a fighter who he or she is.

Direct download: 97_adaptive_fighters.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:07am EST

A veteran of the UFC and former WEC champion, color commentator Brian Stann has a voice that fans and fighters alike have come to trust. Brian brings his extensive experience to Heavy Hands this week for an in-depth interview on all things fighting.

Stann shares his advice for young fighters caught between loyalty and ambition: "Sit down and ask yourself those hard questions. Talk with people you really trust--not coaches and management--and ask, 'am I getting better?' . . . It's hard for a fighter to look a beloved coach in the eye and say, 'Look, I have to go train here. There's nothing new you're gonna tell me, and doing the same thing every fight, I'm not winning. I'm stale. People have figured me out. I've gotta go add some new wrinkles to my game.'

On building a brand in a fight game dominated by brash personalities: "Open up. You have got to give access to [journalists] who write about this sport. You get so many guys--look at Jose Aldo. Hates doing media, hates the week of the fight, doesn't like all the stuff that goes with it. He's so phenomenal that it doesn't matter; he was able to go undefeated for a decade, right? But that's not the way to go about your business. You've gotta give access."

On Jones-Cormier II: "Daniel [Cormier] is an excellent competitor and a very underrated athlete. I've trained with him personally. You don't become an Olympian--this is a guy who turned down a full ride to go to LSU for football to go wrestle--he's a massive athlete . . . In rounds two and three against Jones he was getting inside and he was striking him. I thought he was turning the momentum of that fight. But he took a round off in round four and that was the main difference. You can't do that with Jon . . . I haven't seen anything technically that leads me to believe he's gonna be able to take Jon down consistently. Especially now that Jon has discovered weight lifting."

"And Jon's a unique athlete. Never lifted weights but you try to get your hands on him and his instincts for leverage and wrestling are phenomenal. I've watched him train with heavyweights and make them look really, really bad."

Stay tuned till the end of the episode for a UFC Brisbane recap and a few questions from our listeners.

Direct download: 96_brian_stann.mp3
Category:Interview -- posted at: 5:43pm EST

With UFC Brisbane less than a week away . . . we realized we weren't very interested. Yeah, there are a few really solid matchups there, but the card doesn't exactly get the blood pumping at first glance. I mean, it's fine I guess. 

So this week's Heavy Hands is a rare, non-schedule episode! Free from the strictures of the brutal UFC calendar, we tackle the topic of training camps, coaches, and sparring partners. There are a lot of different approaches to training in MMA, and even more in boxing. Are sparring partners more important than coaches, or can a good trainer beat all? Is MMA best seen as a team sport, or should camps be built around the fighters? Does iron truly sharpen iron? And what is a training camp, anyway? 

Unable to resist, of course, we give you the rundown on our favorite matchups from UFC Brisbane at the end of the show. Short and sweet, you know. 

Direct download: 95_who_do_you_train_with.mp3
Category:UFC -- posted at: 12:27am EST

WARNING: Explicit content, motherf*ckers!

The analysis on this week's Heavy Hands is as in-depth as ever, but an air of giddiness suffuses everything. Because NATE DIAZ DID IT. We just can't believe what we saw, and we take great pleasure in breaking down every aspect of the shocking upset, including Diaz's excellent jab, his underrate footwork, and the masterful jiu-jitsu with which he ended the fight. 

Of course, we have to ask what's next for Conor McGregor. Has he wandered too far down the puncher's path, or is this fight a saving grace for him? Is it possible that McGregor will prove to be a front-runner for the rest of his career, or is experience the cure? 

To wrap things up we discuss Miesha Tate's own upset win, breaking down the choke with which she put Holly Holm to sleep in the fifth round of her bantamweight title fight. A few questions from our wonderful listeners, and that's the show. 

STOCKTON. 

Direct download: 94_nate_diaz_stockton_wut.mp3
Category:UFC -- posted at: 3:00am EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST

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 EST