Posts Tagged ‘wrestling’

UFC 100

Monday, July 13th, 2009

Everyone I know who follows the UFC was looking forward to the one hundredth episode; there were to be three huge fights, GSP versus Thiago Alves, Brock Lesnar versus Frank Mir and The Ultimate Fighter Season 9 coaches’ fight between Dan Henderson and Michael Bisping. There promised to be talented fighters, and, hopefully, some thrilling fights and action (physical, emotional and psychological).

The first broadcast match was between a judoka, Yoshihiro Akiyama, and Alan Belcher, a muay thai guy. This one went the distance, with strong kicks by Belcher, such that Akiyama’s lead leg was continually whacked, resulting in his limping by the end of round two, and take downs by Akiyama (catching the kicking leg and throwing a straight right). While on the ground, Akiyama ground forearms into Belcher’s face and applied elbows. While standing, the judo guy threw some potent punches and was accurate with his kicks.

By the third round, Akiyama was obviously fatigued and Belcher attacked the lead leg again (as far as I could see Akiyama never changed his stance, a useful thing if your leg is becoming tenderized). Akiyama must also have received a poke to his left eye: his blinking was noticeable, but nothing came of it. Despite being tired, he did a spinning back kick. Belcher did a Superman punch, using the fence to gain purchase, basically launching himself off the fence.

Akiyama had a final take down with a solid left-sided o soto gari and remained on top until the end of the round.  It was a fun fight with both men applying themselves well. Although we thought Belcher won round three, the decision was split in Akiyama’s favour.

Next up were the coaches from The Ultimate Fighter Season 9Dan Henderson and Michael Bisping. Henderson had made it known during the series that Bisping was not his favourite person, calling him a “douche bag” and wanting him to stop talking. After the finale of the series, in which three of the four finalists were from the U.K., I think he may also have wanted to prove that the U.S. was capable of winning too.

Henderson is thirty-eight, ancient in fighters’ years against Bisping’s thirty. He looked strong and far heavier than Bisping, who, since his change to middleweight, looks skinny to me. 

The first round had Bisping light on his feet, backtracking most of the time, his legs in an extremely wide stance which had the potential for being off-balance. Henderson kept his eyes on the target and followed Bisping around the octagon, connecting with a leg kick, an uppercut and multiple shots and then, when in the clinch, an elbow. Bisping had a high kick and a looping right punch.

When in another clinch, Henderson used his knees. Bisping tried a take down (against a two-time Olympian in Greco-Roman wrestling) and walked into Henderson’s right hand.

During the break, Bisping’s crew told him to move to the right, essentially away from Henderson’s right hand. In the second round, Bisping almost continually moved to the left. Henderson threw a big right, knocking Bisping out on his feet. When Bisping toppled over, Henderson jumped on him and threw another right to his jaw, more than unnecessary. Bisping was unconscious for some time. Knock Out of the Night.

Georges St-Pierre‘s bout against Thiago Alves was up next. In terms of statistics, the most amazing aspect was St-Pierre’s six inch reach advantage, although the men are only one inch difference in height.

Alves is a very strong guy. Taken down by GSP many times (eight?) during the five rounds, he muscled his way up time after time. He was unable to accomplish anything while on the bottom though. St-Pierre did not always control the match and ended up on his back once, an unusual happening for GSP, but he proved that the belt was all his. He took Alves down, would get both hooks in, force Alves to hold all his weight. He would squash Alves against the fence when standing. He switched stances - a useful thing to throw people off and protect your lead leg.

Unanimous decision in Georges-St-Pierre’s favour. GSP was gracious, saying that Alves was strong and young and would become dangerous.

This was GSP’s first fight since “greasegate”, so it was interesting to see how his corner reacted to everything, whether they would change their behaviours. They had maintained that the rubbing of his back was one of the ways they got him to calm down between rounds. That is in fact what they still did. His corner rubbed his upper back, talked to him, forced him to focus his breathing, talked about what they expected him to do in the next round, had him repeat it. When, after round four, he told his corner that he had pulled a groin, they talked him out of focussing on the groin pull. Fascinating psychological aspects to this fighting business.

The main event was between heavyweights Frank Mir and Brock Lesnar. Mir’s background is in jiu jitsu, with most of his fights ending in submissions in the first round. Lesnar is a college wrestling champion and a former WWE guy. Lesnar is also the biggest guy in the UFC right now, weighing in at 265; he might have been 285 on fight night. Mir weighed in at 245. Mir had a haematoma on his right forehead, acquired during practice, and had his left knee wrapped up completely, as well as both ankles.

Lesnar was there to avenge his only loss in the UFC, which was to Mir. He refused to touch gloves to begin the match and, from the bell, attacked Mir. He used an inside leg kick and straight punch, took Mir down, employing all his massive weight chest-to-chest. He held Mir down by grabbing Mir’s neck with his left hand, thumb applying pressure. He then wrapped his left arm around Mir’s head, controlling his head off the mat and punched short shots to Mir’s face and ribs with his right hand.

Round two had Mir on the attack with a flying knee, a variety of punches and a low kick. He was taken down again, though, the same as in round one. This time, however,  he was at the fence and Mir could not protect himself from the onslaught of Lesnar’s punches to the head and face. TKO referee stoppage.

The audience does not like Lesnar and showed their disdain. Lesnar then gave them two one-finger salutes and went around the octagon screaming, spitting and cursing. There was no need for this behaviour. It is not the WWE. He’s rude and obnoxious in the ring.

The final broadcast fight was between Jon Fitch and Paulo Thiago. Fitch is a jiu jitsu guy with wrestling and submissions as a specialty, whereas Thiago is a jiu jitsu guy with strong boxing skills. Thiago also came into the match undefeated.

This match was very technical, mostly on the ground. Fitch took Thiago down multiple times; Thaigo tried front guillotine chokes while Fitch was in his guard. Fitch seemed not to care about the chokes and at one point actually put his head back IN to the choke. Fitch took Thiago’s back with hooks in, applying many punches to Thiago’s face and ribs. In the third round, Thiago was in Fitch’s guard for some seconds, but ended up on the bottom again with another guillotine attempt. Fitch took Thiago’s back, got the hooks in and rolled with him.

Fitch dominated the match and won by unanimous decision. Unlike Lesnar’s fight against Mir, Fitch offered his hand to Thiago to help him up.

As for Fight of the Night, I can’t decide. Akiyama and Belcher’s fight was exciting and busy. It definitely wasn’t Henderson versus Bisping because Bisping didn’t accomplish anything. GSP versus Alves showed St-Pierre’s dominance in all aspects, including stamina. Lesnar versus Mir showed Lesnar’s strength and size mainly. He put his 900 pound body on Mir’s chest and pounded Mir’s face to mush. Then he was an obnoxious buffoon. Definitely NOT Lesnar versus Mir. I think Fitch versus Thiago had more Fitch than Thiago, so that fight is out.

So it could be GSP versus Alves or Akiyama versus Belcher and I’m leaning toward Akiyama and Belcher.


July 13, 2009

p.s. The Fight of the Night was given to Akiyama and Belcher.

UFC’s The Ultimate Fighter Season 9 Finale TUF9

Sunday, June 21st, 2009

The Ultimate Fighter Season 9 Finale (TUF9) was one of the best events the UFC has put on.  Not only was it free (yay), the fights got better and better, from one fight to the next. Even Joe Rogan changed his mind about which fight was the Fight of the Night.

The first broadcast fight was between Nate Diaz and Joe Stevenson. You’ll recall that in his bout with Diego Sanchez, Stevenson kept the fight standing and lost. In this battle, he and Diaz spent a great deal of time on the ground, trading guillotine choke attempts. Stevenson had Diaz at the fence several times applying knees. To avoid knees to the head, Diaz put one knee on the ground, but Stevenson was in control each time.

The best segment of round one had Stevenson trapping both of Diaz’s arms, one with his legs and the other with his arm. Diaz was at the fence and rolled over, but his arms were still trapped, with Diaz on the bottom. Diaz managed to escape, but then got put in a very tight guillotine, which came close to ending the fight.

Round two was more of the same, guillotine attempt by Diaz, Stevenson in Diaz’s half guard, Diaz turtling and Stevenson’s applying knees. Stevenson controlled the round while standing and on the ground.

Round three had Stevenson attempting a single leg take down, but Diaz did an harai goshi, ending up in Stevenson’s half guard and then full guard at the fence. Diaz managed to pass the guard.

Stevenson then did his own take down and kneed Diaz’s side at the fence.

Standing again, Diaz tried a take down and many, wild strikes, but little was connecting.

Unanimous decision in Stevenson’s favour.

The Ultimate Fighter lightweights were up next – Ross Pearson versus Andre Winner. I must admit, I thought Pearson had a wider range of skillsets than Winner, and would completely dominate Winner, who is mostly a stand-up guy.

Almost the entire match was standing, with many clinches at the fence as the men worked for superior positions. (I heard no booing here and this fight was not much different from the UFC 99 fight between Spencer Fisher and Caol Uno in which the audience booed throughout as the fighters jockeyed for position.) They traded knees, used dirty boxing, with Pearson throwing huge overhand looping strikes and Winner a flurry of body strikes just before the end of round one.

Round two had Pearson kicking to the head and body, trying a take own, and connecting with knees, while Winner managed a strong uppercut and knees of his own. The round ended with Winner’s flurry of strikes again.

Round three had the men in the clinch for a good portion again, trading strikes and knees. Pearson’s uppercuts were effective as was his take down of Winner. Winner went down to one knee and up again. While in the clinch, Winner had some shoulder strikes and short jabs. Pearson had a straight jab which rocked Winner.

Unanimous decision in Pearson’s favour, but Winner was not easily dismissed.

Chris Lytle and Kevin Burns came up next. Lytle had fifty-seven professional matches coming in to this fight.  Burns came in with ten. Lytle wanted to have fight of the night and knock out of the night, so we expected big things.

Lylte came out with huge punches, big looping strikes, and big kicks. Burns applied leg kicks, high kicks, body kicks, knees and strikes. He rocked Lytle with an uppercut, tried to deal with him on the floor, but Lytle came to. Burns followed up with many strikes and knees up to the buzzer.

Round two had Lytle rocking Burns with his overhand shots. Burns managed a take down, ending in half guard.

While standing Lytle kept striking Burns’s left side, doing combinations, one strike to the head, the other to the ribs. Burns backed up throughout most of the round, half turning his body as he went.

Round three began with a huge overhand right by Lytle which produced an enormous cut over Burns’ left eyebrow, with blood pouring down his face and chest immediately. That did not stop Burns, though, as he answered with a knee and body kick.

Lytle punched Burns’ left temple again, causing him to stumble. Burns tried head kicks and strikes, but he was exhausted.

Unanimous decision in Lytle’s favour.

The Ultimate Fighter welterweights Damarques Johnson and James Wilks fought next. Johnson mouthed off a great deal during season 9, opinionated, and expressing real hate toward Wilks.  Johnson was also regarded as the U.S. team’s best chance.

What we saw from start to finish of this fight was complete domination by Wilks. He began with strong jabs and knees, such that Johnson was protecting himself at the fence, unable to reciprocate.

Wilks took Johnson down and while in Johnson’s guard, tried a heel hook. Johnson slipped out of it, but a few seconds later Wilks tried it again.  Wilks then trapped one of Johnson’s legs and compressed it, while Johnson struck Wilks on the head many times as he tried to extricate from the leg compression.

While in Johnson’s guard, Wilks tried an oma plata, and as Johnson moved around, the arm got more and more trapped, such that people on our boat were groaning, imagining the worst.

Wilks grapevined Johnson and tried for the choke, but Johnson’s chin was down. For some seconds they fought this until Wilks trapped one of Johnson’s arms with his leg and tried for the choke again. Tapout at six seconds before the buzzer in round one. Technique of the Night.

Wilks’s battle with Johnson had the potential to be fight of the night until Diego Sanchez came out against Clay Guida. Both these fighters have at least two dozen professional fights. Sanchez is a BJJ black belt with one school and brown with his current school. Guida is a wrestler wth fantastic cardio, who came out singing and jumping.

The match went the full three rounds with both men succeeding in take downs and ground and pound. In round one, Sanchez connected with a head kick to Guida and Guida hit the dirt. We thought it was a knock out as his head bounced, but amazingly, Guida got up straight away.

Round two had Guida in Sanchez’s full guard and Sanchez elbowing the top of Guida’s head. Now Guida had blood from his nose and from the top of his head. Sanchez tried a Kimura, but Guida freed the arm and did some ground and pound. He then trapped Sanchez’s arm behind his back (we’d just mentioned it as a possibility).

Round three had Guida chasing Sanchez with strikes and combos. Sanchez really had slowed down by this point, even though he wasn’t the one bleeding profusely everywhere. Guida attempted a take down and Sanchez, an arm triangle, which Guida spun out of. While in Sanchez’s full guard again, Sanchez attempted the Kimura again. Blood was everywhere and Guida was slick, resulting in his avoiding all the arm bars.

Split decision in Sanchez’s favour. Fight of the Night. In the post-fight interview, Guida was still jumping around as he’d been before this brutal match. He’s amazing.


June 21,1 2009

UFN Ultimate Fight Night Live 18 – April 1, 2009

Thursday, April 2nd, 2009

Last night’s UFC Ultimate Fight Night Live UFN18 proved to be lots of fun with all but one of the main card fights going the distance.

First up were Cole Miller and Junie Browning with no love lost between these guys. Miller is a brown belt in BJJ and Browning a freestyle fighter who is training full-time.

From the start bell and onward, Miller was in control, showing complete domination of Browning. He took Browning down, attempted an arm bar, which didn’t work landing him with his back to Browning. He managed to get up and punched Browning in the face and took him down again. On the ground again, Miller applied a guillotine choke to Browning and we had tap out. Note: Miller kissed his brown belt a couple of times. Weird. I have a brown belt and would never think of kissing it. A belt is just a belt; it’s what you learned along the way that’s important, including being gracious when you’ve clobbered someone.

The second match was between Tyson Griffin, who loves to punch and ground and pound, and Rafael Dos Anjos, a black belt in jiu jitsu, who is great at submissions. They came into the fight with almost even records, but Dos Anjos is three inches taller and has a three inch reach advantage.

The first round had Griffin applying deadly inside leg kicks (his legs are like tree trunks), solid punches and a head kick to Dos Anjos. Dos Anjos couldn’t get in close enough or find his rhythm for a long while. When on the ground, though, Dos Anjos had Griffin in the most painful-looking leg lock, holding Griffin’s leg bent backward at the knee and sideways, while his own legs were in a figure of four. That held for some time and I expected an end to the match. Griffin managed to survive and stand up, but his leg was odd-looking afterward and he had no oomph to his punches for the rest of the round.

Round two had Griffin still looking somewhat off. Dos Anjos seemed to get stronger, using good punches and kicks which connected. Griffin attempted a takedown and Dos Anjos tried an arm bar. At the fence, Griffin applied some nice elbows and knees.

Round three had Griffin bouncing on the leg that had been reefed on, so both guys were punching and connecting. Griffin looked frustrated a few times, with arms down, perhaps tired of chasing Dos Anjos around the ring? His inside leg kicks were brutal and he had a huge overhand right, as well as some punches to the jaw that worked. Dos Anjos did a flying knee. At the fence again, Griffin used knees and punches to the ribs and face of Dos Anjos until the bell. Unanimous decision in favour of Griffin.

The third fight was between light heavyweights Ryan Bader and Carmelo Marrero. Bader is The Ultimate Fighter winner, an all-American wrestler. Marrero is a wrestler, known for his take downs, ground and pound and conditioning.

This fight once again went the distance, with some interesting differences from the previous: Bader took Marrero down a LOT, very quickly and efficiently. Marrero must not be used to being on the bottom because, although he was defensive, he couldn’t get out readily during the first two rounds.  Bader tried a juji gatame, but Marrero did get out of it. They switched positions with Marrero applying elbows.

When standing, Bader would apply a couple of kicks, Marrero would throw some punches and again Bader very quickly took Marrero to the ground. Marrero’s wrestling and conditioning stopped Bader’s attempts on the ground, but he had difficulty getting out from under the heavier-looking Bader.

Round three had Marrero stuffing the takedowns better, but still not well enough. Bader attempted a choke, but was not successful.  When standing they traded punches and kicks, but Bader took Marrero down again. Unanimous decision in Bader’s favour.

The final fight was between headliners Carlos Condit, with a 23-4-0 record, and Martin Kampmann, 14-2-0. Condit is two inches taller and has a four inch reach advantage over Kampmann. I had no information on Condit’s marital arts background and lots on Kampmann so I just did a quick search. I now know why they are so similar: both are kickboxers (Kampmann is the Danish Muay Thai champion) and both are jiu jitsu guys. Their match was great! They were so evenly matched and their skillsets so closely aligned that what one tossed into the octagon, the other dealt with succinctly.

They traded take downs, guard positions and, when standing, punches and kicks. They each tried submissions, arm bars and chokes, and the other successfully fought each attempt. The only serious injury was a cut under Kampmann’s left eye which came courtesy of an elbow and got bigger thanks to a knee (Oh, and an inadvertent eye poke to Kampmann as well).

The third round was controlled by Kampmann, but really they did more of the same as in the first two rounds. It was a match between equals at the top of their game. Kampmann won by split decision. Fight of the night.

The UFC Ultimate Fight Night Live is becoming an event all on its own: talented MMA people showing their wares to the masses for free. Pretty nice.


April 2, 2009

Traditional Versus Non-Traditional Judo

Tuesday, January 6th, 2009

Over the last several weeks this topic has been ruminating in the back of my brain, partially because of a comment on judoforum after someone had accessed our brand new website.  This person who was a black belt in judo reacted in a somewhat negative way to our site: he stated that instead of showing judo going to MMA, it should be the other way around, i.e. MMA going to judo. This, of course, is not practical, or reasonable: mixed martial artists are by definition combining skills from multiple martial arts.  They would not go from many to one, unless that one (in this case, judo) were the martial art they started from.

Our club has always had an amalgam of other martial arts: Our previous sempai and sensei had interests ranging from wrestling to aikido. Chris Miller, whom you can see in a number of our videos, practiced kendo for several years. A few years ago, Chris’s wife, Hyekyong, was a member of our class. Her background is in hapkido. Dave practiced the jo for many years and is picking it up again.  We had a Korean fellow in our class for a few months who taught us the basics of taekwondo. We’ve all been to jiu jitsu clubs. Perhaps because of our exposure to these other disciplines, we are more apt to discard the judogi and apply our skills to mixed martial arts.

That does not mean that we have abandoned traditional judo. In fact, to advance in our club, no matter the judoka’s previous experience, he or she must follow the curriculum. If people are keen to learn judo and obtain the higher belts, then they must come to the requisite number of classes and be tested for each belt in succession.

If the class members are not interested in traditional judo on a particular day, we are fine with that as well. We teach and re-teach some traditional judo always, though. Breakfalls are crucial. Many people have come into our dojo saying they know breakfalls and that is definitely not the case. Throws and other techniques are taught the traditional way; however, non-traditional methods are also taught.

If a judo club teaches mostly sport judo, then the traditional judo is essential. The judoka who participate in tournaments must all have the same backgrounds in order to compete in the matches. Other than one person in our wee club, we do not compete. We get together to have fun, learn new techniques and practice old ones.

We rarely bow before the dojo or call Dave, “Sensei”, although we used to do both in our old club at Dalewood. I suspect this comes from two years in the Mouse Room. We have no set rules about judogi. If someone wants to come to class and has no gi or a white jiu jitsu top and black pants or any other variation, we’re OK with that. I’m sure that comment will grate on all those in judo-land who are fanatics about white gis (you know who you are). The point of our club is not to wear a certain garment, but to learn and participate. Eventually people serious about working on judo obtain judogi because they are hardy clothes and appropriate for judo techniques. We can show respect to Dave without bowing and calling him, “Sensei”. We can show respect to the dojo without bowing in and out. We do bow before randori or ne waza matches, though.

I’m not certain why North Americans and Europeans feel a need to be so Japanese and so traditional in their attitude in judo.  Judo really has not been around very long – 127 years – and yet we treat it and Jigoro Kano with a reverence that’s stifling. If judo is to continue, we must broaden our approach, let other ideas in, basically evolve the martial art. We can take the best of judo and use it in other areas, other disciplines. Traditional boxing is going the way of the dinosaur, being incorporated into mixed martial arts. I think that judo is far more complex than boxing and has far more to offer mixed martial artists; however, judo clubs must loosen the rules a bit. Even the English language adds new words continually; although some are stupid (e.g. “meh”), others embrace changing technologies and workplace situations (e.g. “upskill” – to learn new skills).

You know the old definition of tradition without change? It’s constipation. Change without tradition is not any better. It’s diarrhea. We are proposing to meld traditional judo into a non-traditional sport, that of mixed martial arts, using the best of both.


January 6, 2008