Tuesday, May 28, 2013

No More Machida Style For Me

At Kung Fu tonight, I got to spar against Sifu Amanda again.  Now, I'm not a fan of point sparring, but it is excellent training for improving timing and accuracy.  I ended up losing by one point.  No excuses: she won fair and square.  That being said, it taught me several valuable lessons:

1) My defense needs improvement
2) My counter-striking needs improvement
3) I'm not as elusive as I thought I was

Until I improve dramatically in all of those areas, I shouldn't be fighting like Lyoto Machida.  Every martial artist has their own style, and what works for the second best light heavyweight in the world may not necessarily work for me.  I do much better when I go on the offensive, so I am going to change my approach accordingly.  Implementing the advice that she gave me afterwards probably wouldn't hurt either.  At any rate, I definitely need to do something different if I want a better result.  After all, if I am going to compete, I may as well win. 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

UFC 160: Return of Cigano!

Well, it is settled: Cain Velasquez and Junior Dos Santos are going to have a trilogy.  You won't catch me complaining: last night, those two proved that they are by far the best two heavyweights in the world.  Here are my thoughts on each of the fights:

Cerrone vs. Noons: Noons lasted a lot longer than I thought he would, but Cerrone still dominated him for three rounds.  Not only did he outstrike him, but he took him down four times and pummeled him on the mat.  In fact, he hit Noons with so many elbows on the ground that he cut his own elbow open!  I don't think it will be too long before we see "Cowboy" in another title eliminator.

Maynard vs. Grant: In a shocking twist of fate, "The Bully" got bullied after getting dropped by a straight right.  Grant finished Maynard off by smashing him against the cage with knees and punches to get a crazy KO victory.  I hope that Benson Henderson was watching so that he can prepare for this Canadian tornado.

Texiera vs. Te Huna:  I was surprised that this match ended so quickly.  Nonetheless, I was certain that it would be decided via submission and I was right.  After taking Te Huna down, Teixiera locked in a guillotine choke as they got back up to make him tap out.  Hopefully Teixiera will finally get a top five opponent after this.  The winner of Evans vs. Henderson would be a good test for him at this point.

Hunt vs. Dos Santos: Man, the Korean martial arts must be taking off in Brazil, because this is the third KO via spinning heel kick in the past couple of years, all by Brazilian fighters!  Hunt put up a valiant effort, but Cigano simply had too much speed and endurance for him.  That being said, I'm surprised that Dos Santos didn't swarm Hunt after dropping him with that overhand right in the first round.  Maybe he felt like making a statement.  If that was his intention, he succeeded, dropping Hunt with a Ninja Turtle-style spinning heel kick after stunning him with a left hook.  He definitely earned his title rematch.  I wouldn't be surprised if Tae Kwon Do and Tang Soo Do schools had a jump in membership after this bout.

Velasquez vs. Bigfoot:  I personally felt that this match was stopped too early.  Was that a great right hand by Velasquez?  Absolutely.  Was he mauling Bigfoot with strikes to his head after he took his back?  He sure was, even though a couple were to the back of the head.  Nonetheless, Bigfoot was in the process of standing up when the fight was called.  He probably would have at least made it out of Round 1 if the match had continued.  Alas, the referee made his decision and what's done is done.  I do hope, however, that Bigfoot has more success in the division so that he can get another title shot.

On a side note, Mike Tyson was there!  How cool is that?  He came into the octagon with Chuck Liddell to congratulate Teixiera after his match.  Not only that, but Dos Santos climbed out of the cage to shake "Iron" Mike's hand after his own victory.  Does this mean MMA has finally been accepted by the mainstream?  I certainly hope so.  Not least because I want to see more boxers enter the sport to test their mettle.  At any rate, it was a good sign of things to come and I look forward to seeing what will happen in this sport in the future.    

Saturday, May 25, 2013

UFC 160 Predictions

Tonight's card is so freaking stacked that if it was a burger, it would be as tall as the Empire State Building!  We have a surging monster in Bigfoot vs. an MMA killing machine in Velasquez, the unstoppable force of Junior Dos Santos vs. the immovable object that is Mark Hunt, and two granite-fisted light heavyweights in Texiera vs. Te Huna!  Not to mention that it's being kicked off by "Cowboy" Cerrone and Gray "The Bully" Maynard!  Here are my predictions for this totally awesome PPV!

Cerrone vs. Noons: This is a no-brainer.  While Cerrone has trouble in title eliminators, he usually dominates in any other match.  I see "Cowboy" welcoming K.J. to the UFC with a brutal KO.

Winner: Cerrone by KO.

Maynard vs. Grant: This one is going to be a little closer than Cerrone vs. Noons, but still a no-brainer.  Maynard is going to out-wrestle Grant on his way to yet another lightweight title shot.

Winner: Maynard by decision.

Teixiera vs. Te Huna: Kudos to Te Huna for taking on the most feared man in the light heavyweight division not named Jon Jones.  That being said, I believe Teixiera is on a whole different level.  Will he KO Te Huna?  Probably not.  Will he go for the submission after Te Huna doesn't go down as easily as he hoped?  I'm practically certain of it.

Winner: Teixiera by submission. 

Hunt vs. Dos Santos: This one is tougher to call.  Both men are fantastic strikers who can take down a bull elephant with one punch and they have pretty strong chins.  For that reason, I believe this will be decided on the ground.  I'm definitely rooting for Hunt, but logic dictates that the more well-rounded Dos Santos will whip out his Brazilian jiu-jitsu to take this one.

Winner: Dos Santos by submission. 

Velasquez vs. Bigfoot:  I made the mistake of underestimating Bigfoot Silva before.  It ended up with me picking my jaw up off the floor after watching him break Overeem's face.  I think he will put up a much better fight this time around than he did in his previous bout against Velasquez.  That being said, unlike Overeem, Velasquez doesn't hold Bigfoot in complete and utter contempt.  Due to that, I don't see him foolishly dropping his hands and toying with Bigfoot until he gets his teeth knocked down his throat.  I see Velasquez getting another victory, albeit in the third or fourth round instead of the first this time.

Winner: Velasquez by KO.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Empathizing With Greg Jackson On Preparing For Different Opponents

Tonight, I learned firsthand how tough it is to fight two different, high-level opponents.  While I still don't agree with Greg Jackson saying that 8 days wasn't enough time for Jones to prepare for Sonnen, I now understand why he felt that way.  When dealing with high-level opponents, strategy and preparation matter a lot more than size, strength, and speed.  I found that out when sparring Jeremy and Sifu Amanda.

Jeremy is swift and strong  He is very creative with his striking and combos, hitting from every angle imaginable.  I compare his style to that of Anthony Pettis: you never know where the next attack is going to come from. 

On the other hand, Sifu Amanda is technical and calculating.  She patiently figures out your rhythm before hitting you with accurate, well-timed kicks.  I compare her style to that of Mauricio "Shogun" Rua: wherever she aims, she hits.  It's that simple. 

Against Jeremy, I had the most success when I crowded him and cut off his space, turning the match into more of a brawl.  Against Sifu Amanda, I found that it was better for me to keep my distance and counter-strike whenever she went in for the kill.  In other words, against Jeremy, I fought like Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, whereas against Sifu Amanda I fought more like Lyoto Machida. 

I still have make some adjustments to my fighting style.  For example, even though I tired Jeremy out and made the fight more competitive, he still landed more strikes, so I need to improve my defense while in the clinch.  When it comes to Sifu Amanda, on the other hand, I need to apply more pressure to break her focus and concentration.  One thing is clear: I can't fight Jeremy the same way that I fight Sifu Amanda and vice versa. 

Jeremy would run circles around me if I tried to evade and counter-strike, whereas Sifu Amanda would kick me into oblivion if I tried to brawl with her.  I could only imagine how hard it would be to adjust for differences between two UFC-level opponents.  So when it comes to Greg Jackson, I can definitely empathize with him.  While I don't agree with his opinion on that particular event, I do agree with this: it is important to tailor your approach to each individual opponent. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Becoming My Best

As a 28-year-old man, I only have a few more years before my body starts to decline.  Due to this, I have decided to become as fit as possible.  I now run two miles a day and want to increase it to five by July.  I will also focus more on technique, leverage, and my mental fortitude during martial arts practice, so that I can still protect myself and others even after my strength and speed deteriorate.  I may not become as great as Anderson Silva or Jon Jones, but I will not rest until I become my absolute best!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Real-Life Martial Arts: Strike First Or Die

My heart goes out to Ricardo Portillo's family.  He was killed for doing his job.  Long story short, he was refereeing a soccer game when he gave a player a yellow card.  The 17-year-old goalie showed his disapproval by punching Portillo in the head.  Portillo wound up in a coma and died yesterday. 

This tragedy confirms a universal truth about martial arts: you never wait for your opponent to strike you first.  As soon as you perceive a physical threat against yourself, a loved one, or an innocent bystander, you must spring into action.  Otherwise, it will be too late. 

Obviously, this doesn't mean that you lay the smackdown on everyone who gives you a dirty look.  It just means that you prepare for the worst if someone rushes you.  Escape should always be the first option.  However, if you cannot outrun your assailant, you need to go on the offensive before they put you in the hospital.  Or worse, the morgue. 

To learn more about this tragic story, click here: