The Monkey Speaks: UFC 79

The Monkey Speaks: UFC 79

The start of what I hope will be a regular column. It all depends on how motivated I am and how much I crave the adulation of my faceless internet peers.

You won’t see the usual stuff in this column: I won’t introduce fighters as “UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Donnie Brungle-cheeks” or “Former Welterweight Champion Snarbang Groodlegerg”. I expect you to know who I am talking about, I am talking to the average fan, here.

So, the show starts with the same stupid gladiatorial intro. And it is definitely time to change that introduction sequence. I’m all for brand identity and consistency, but I’d love to see something a little more innovative. With all the talent-poaching from Pride, why not bring over Sato Daisuke, the genius behind all the Pride intro videos? Nu-metal, face-punching montages are sooo 1990’s. Let’s get some Bach or some Wagner with shots of fighters crying, or holding up babies, or planting flowers or something.

Anyway. For about the 60th time, Mike Goldberg declares the night to be one of the biggest nights in MMA history. Rogan wisely ignores him as usual and screams out his opinion. Man, I’d hate to see that guy’s vocal chords. I’d imagine they look like crumbly old mini French breadsticks.

Guillard against the man with the strange eyeballs, Rich Clementi, begins. There is muchos “trash talking”, or rather, trash gesturing, with Guillard flipping the bird and Clementi, um, caressing his hip flexors in Guillard’s general direction. In my head, I’m hoping someone says to Clementi “Hey man, why are you staring at me like that?” and Clementi says “You insensitive asshole, that’s the way I was born! Have at thee!”

That all out of the way, it is a good fight. There’s nothing I love more than the clash of two big personalities. It adds a certain excitement to fights that is missing when the two fighters feel nothing towards each other. Every punch thrown, every takedown stuffed, is infused with a kind of urgency that sucks you in. Clementi wins with a nice rear naked choke from a body triangle. Guillard looks like he’s taking the loss well, but then Clementi does some kind of pelvic thrust / groin stroking gesture at the back of his head, which naturally gets him pissed off. I know if it was me, I definitely wouldn’t stand for a bearded man with bug eyes thrusting anything towards the back of my head, especially if it was his pelvis. So Guillard hops around and does the “Hold me back, man, hold me back!” thing with the ref for a bit. Clementi does a little hand waving thing, which definitely makes him awesome in my books! Ooh, can you taste the sarcasm? Rogan momentarily transforms into the crinkly old Asian guy from Conan the Barbarian and says… “The time for fighting is past.” What a wise old sage that dope-smoking jiu jitsu guy is. In the replay, I notice a nice manouvre by Clementi… taking the back, he steps right across, ignoring putting the hook in, and goes straight for the body triangle. Clementi is either so pumped from the victory (and groin thrusting gestures) his mouth isn’t functioning properly, or he’s dyslexic, because he says “I wanted to stand long enough to let people know my stand up ain’t bad and Melvin eat shit and then I do what I do. Done deal go practice jiu jitsu Melvin.” Yes, and a got in the take of going to fuck on the groundfighting eating sandwhiches shit. “He’s just upset because I validated what he is been knowing for six years that I’m the better man.” He’s upset because you pumped your nuts in his face, dude.

Next fight. Sokodjou comes out with a fairly awesome Predator mask. I listen to Rogan ranting on about Sokodjou possibly being the greatest 205 pounder in the galaxy, and then I remember that all I’ve see him do is throw about three punches in Pride. He did, however, use two of those punches to knock out two of Brazilian Top Team’s big guns in Arona and Noguiera. The first one I can understand being a fluke. The second? Who knows? But third time? I decide that either he wins this one in the same way and thus becomes the bestest fighter ever, or he loses and we realise he wasn’t what everyone thought he was.

Rogan has orgasms about Lyoto’s “elusive” (polite word for “boring”) style, and about Sokodjou’s “explosive athleticism” (a Roganism for “black”.) I feel a lot rests on this fight. Machida could move up into title contention, Sokodjou is sitting on the fence of destiny, with “what were we thinking?” on one side, and “next big thing” on the other. Lyoto has chosen the least original nickname in the universe, the Dragon.

I actually enjoyed Lyoto’s performance in this fight. Very confidence, very skilled, and not at all intimidated by Sokodjou strength, athleticism, or dreadlocks. One of which, by the way, seems to get chopped off during one of Lyoto’s ground and pound sessions and skitters across the mat. Sokodjou looked majorly sucky on the ground. He let himself get flattened out, didn’t try to explode at all, didn’t move his hips. He even committed the cardinal sin of trying to guillotine from under half guard. There’s an interesting moment where Lyoto begins to secure an arm triangle. Someone, no doubt a highly educated combat expert from the crowd, takes time out from chugging beers to boo loudly. Yamasaki hears it and immediately jumps in to stand the fighters up.

In the end, Machida gets that arm triangle and looks very impressive in doing so. Bravo. Rogan comes up with a delightfully musical turn of phrase, claiming that on the international scale, Sokodjou was very highly touted. Lyoto leaves hopefully to prepare for a title shot, and Sokodjou leaves to go crush up some bathroom tiles, mix it with some radioactive glue and put it on his injuries. You have seen Predator 2, right?

Sao Palolaoileielei fights Eddie Sanchez. It’s really boring, except for a couple of times where Sanchez says “woo.” What is it with heavyweights and the desire to lean against each other on the cage? I blame Tim Sylvia. I also blame Tim Sylvia for the broken toe I got in training last night, global warming, and mosquito bites. Someone yells “Diry Sanchez” which is rather amusing. Sanchez wins via hurting Sao Palualasol’s face a lot with punches. Then he stands around mugging towards Poolololol and swearing and shouting, them does a complete double take in the post fight interview by saying he loves his opponent and want him to thrust his groin in his face.

Then comes Silva – Liddell. Silva’s music blasts into the arena and I feel my blood boiling and my toenails curling off. It’s quite surreal, but incredibly satisfying as a fan, to see Silva making his entrance in the UFC with Rogan wailing over the top of him. Silva is looking pumped, and wiggles his neck around spectacularly. I try it and hear something click and get one of those annoying pains that you get when you turn your head too fast. I recover in time to see Wanderlei slip up on his way to his corner. Is it a bad omen? Possibly, but then I remember Fedor slipped up on the way into the ring once.

Chuck comes in looking focused, hard-edged and soft bellied. I love Chuck’s body shape. He waddles around like a drunken baby with a pot-belly. Silva starts the wrist rolling thing a little too early and has to do it for what seems like an eternity while Bruce Buffer mumbles his way through the introduction.

The fight starts, and all I can do is hope it lives up to even half of the expectations. My worst nightmare is in the first seconds of the fight, Chuck lunging for a KO and his leg unexpectedly snapping in half and clattering to the floor before shattering into a thousand pieces, or Silva trying to clinch and then his pancreas failing and squeezing out of his ear like brown toothpaste. Basically, I really don’t want some random event to cut this fight short.

The fight doesn’t disappoint, and the crowd roars with every back and forth exchange. As I kind of knew but didn’t want to admit, Chuck’s pinpoint, power punching style works out better than Silva’s balls out, haymaker attacks. The fight delivers a constant stream of excitement and for once, lived up to the hype. Chuck does a nice backfist that wobbles Silva, and closes in for the kill. Somehow Silva survives and bobs and weaves nicely.

Although there was no KO finish, Chuck won fair and square. It was smart of him to go for a couple of takedowns, which definitely helped him secure the win. Without those takedowns it would have been a lot harder to call. With them, it was a done deal.

Both fighters give good post-fight interviews. I always wince when a foreign fighter gets interviewed. I’m worried about the crowd. The Americans can be, how I say, less than welcoming to foreigners? The average fan seems to be like your stupid friend that you hesitantly introduce to your other friends, hoping that he doesn’t dribble on his shirt or ask to smell their underpants or something. Luckily they behaved themselves and cheered for Silva in all the right places.

Still recovering from the excitement, I realise with a small squeal of glee that it’s not over yet! I’m disappointed with Silva losing, but I feel that all will be right with the world if GSP spanks Hughes.

And he does.

Hughes looks his usual, confident self. In the staredown, GSP is able to firmly look Hughes in the eye. He’s come a long way from staring at the ceiling and hopping around during the first fight staredown. GSP looks absolutely phenomenal in the fight, stuffing Hughes’ takedowns, bouncing around, landing strikes, and taking Hughes down at will.

First round is over and the commentators aptly say that GSP is administering a Hughes style beatdown on Hughes himself. Hughes comes across as a complete anus when somebody in his corner reassuringly says “You’re OK,” and he snaps back “I know.” Uh, dude, he was being nice to you. You are getting your salad tossed, riddimically, by that French-Canadian.

Second round continues in much the same way and GSP secures a dominant position, goes for the kimura, Hughes uses super-ultra-mega farm power to blast out of it but St. Pierre is all over him and transitions to an armbar. Hughes eschews the traditional method of submitting and decides instead to call the ref from the other side of the octagon to rescue him.

Badda bing, badda boom, one of the best UFCs for a while is in the books.

Can’t wait for the next one.

In the meantime, can’t wait for Yarennoka! and Dynamite!!

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Damien Maia – Science of Jiu Jitsu

I watched some of Damien Maia’s Science of Jiu Jitsu, which you can buy here.

It was pretty good. His explanations were sometimes a little hesitant but I think that’s because he is speaking English rather than his native language. And more power to him, very impressive. I am sure later instructionals when his English has improved will be even better.

There were a few pointers he gave about the triangle that I liked.

– He pointed out something we all know but was good to get a solid reminder. When the opponent’s elbow is close to the body (“closed” as he called it) they have power. When the elbow is brought out, like a chicken wing, it loses a lot of power (“open”.)

– A recurring theme, then, was rather than fight an opponent’s grip on your pants by grabbing at his gi on the wrist and yanking, you should instead open his elbow so that he has less power, and then kick your legs. Much easier.

– Countering the half guard pass, somewhere I find myself a lot: You are on your right side, opponent is passing to your right. You have the half guard on his right leg, he has right underhook. As he puts his weight on your body and grips your inside right pant leg to pin your leg to the floor and pass, you grip his wrist with your right hand and straightarm him. Using the straight arm gives you more stability than a bent arm. It is structurally stronger (but only in certain situations.) Maintain this grip and straight arm, then kick your right leg out and over his head. The triangle is there for you already. You can only do this when his weight is up and on you, as he is passing. If he is sitting low to the floor you don’t really have room to manouvre.

– Another triangle setup: after a failed hip bump, he moves his hand back to counterbalance, you slap on the triangle. More detail: I hip bump to my right. My right arm on the floor, hips pushing into his left side. He puts his left arm back to post out on the floor. I continue the turn until my chest is facing the floor. Then, I have space to bring my right leg out from under his arm, then spin back around and onto my back, pulling him down into the triangle.

Goal is to try these out next training session. My triangle is coming along well, so the more I can add to it, the better it will be.

ぼくのとけいわざですよ!

Good training

Training update:
BJJ and Judo are going good. BJJ two times a week, judo once a week, and at least one good hard round on my chin up bar and free weights at home, and I’m really seeing a difference.

Judo
I need to: practice my drills. I have learnt an inside sweep, outside sweep, and an over-the-back throw. Crap, my mind is all fuzzy at the moment but when I get back to judo, I will remember the names and write an outline here for myself, to help me remember.

Jiu Jitsu 
Training is going good. Today I rolled with a pro-shooto fighter who was in town for something or other. He Darce choked me about eight times in a row, ankle-locked, kneebarred heel hooked my face off. The only thing I managed to do was pass his guard, keep side position for about a minute, then transition to knee on belly and go for the baseball bat choke. It was really fun though, and, like many Japanese fighters, he was super-humble, and knew when he had a submission–he didn’t need to crank anything, so I didn’t get injured.

Random thoughts:

– My triangle choke wasn’t working lately. I figured out how to cinch it now, though. Always hide my opponent’s shoulder under my thigh. If I can see their shoulder, they have breathing space. Also, until now, I’ve been getting into position, and then just squeezing, which usually doesn’t work. What I need to do is get into the best position, squeeze, then adjust my legs tighter, squeeze again, and keep adjusting until it is cinched as deep as possible. Then raise the hips and pull down on the head. It’s all things together, not just squeezing.

– Passing: For example, passing from standing, to my left (opponent on the ground, their right.) Until now I have been passing by pushing their legs to the right, then circle stepping in with my right leg, jamming their legs and transitioning to side or knee on belly. My coach has changed the sequence now, so that as soon as we are clear of the legs, we switch our hips and put the left leg forwards, ideally to knee on belly. Then, sit on their chest, facing away from them. Keep hold of the legs so that they cannot shrimp or sit up.

– Using the half guard on judo people. From half guard, instead of going for butterfly or sweeps, I’ve found that half guard attacks and sweeps work better. X-guard (mine sucks), so that I control one of their legs with my legs, and the other, I hook my arm under their knee. Pass their hand to mine and hold there, take the balance and sweep.

– Been trying to use some Eddie Bravo stuff. I’m not ready to plunge into the rubber guard yet… after all, I can use the gi to control people and I am still working on my traditional guard and open guard. But I like the lockdown, whip up, and half guard work from there. I’ve been able to make use of old school.

PUMPED about NYE?!?!?!

So the New Years Eve MMA scene in Japan went from being about as exciting as watching men’s figure skating to as awesome as inhaling TNT whilst boning Lucy Liu during an earthquake with two tiny crocodiles nibbling on your nipples.

First, K1’s Dynamite spectacular.

We are going to see Rani Yahya against Yamamoto Kid. Kid showed in his last fight that he can be really pushed by a strong and skilled, elite-level BJJer. Yahya may not be as strong as Bibiano Fernandes, but his BJJ is world-class (as Joe Rogan would say in between frowning at Mike Goldberg’s overenthusiastic use of the word “teep”). Kid is always exciting, so this should be a fantastic fight.

We are going to see Sakuraba against Funaki. Putting aside the fact that these two guys combined ages probably reaches over 100, this is going to be awesome. Two absolute legends, and they both like a bit of the old grapple grapple, so it should be a chessmatch between two greats. Here’s hoping it’s not a fly-swatting match between two pensioners, or a yawn-inducing snooze fest a-la Gracie Sakuraba II.

Then there’s the rumours of Kharitonov, Minowaman, Tokoro, and Melvin Manhoef (last spotted ripping the heads off babies and skewering them on his penis) all competing which pretty much make this a can’t miss.

Second, the revival of Pride… or is it? A quick glance at the website ( http://www.yarennoka.com/ )reveals that Pride’s Japanese web designer clearly wasn’t out of a job for long… I also hear that Sato Daisuke will be involved. He’s the one who made all the majorly pump-tastic introduction clips for the Japanese broadcasts of Pride… I compiled a couple here.  Basically, everyone who was involved in Pride is involved in this special event. Yarennoka means “Can’t we do it?!” and was one of Antonio Inoki’s catchphrases. His others being the equally as inventive “ONE TWO THREE DAAAAAAAAAAH” and its derivate, “DAAAAAAAAAAAAA” (while slapping you in the face.)

Basically a bunch of the Japanese MMA scene’s bigwigs got together ( Monte Cox (CEO of M-1 Global), Shigeru Saeki (DEEP) and Sadaharu Tanigawa (FEG)) and decided to make a totally awesome MMA spectacular, and a shitload of cash for themselves. They all claim this is a farewell to Pride, rather than a revival. Takada is on board… you may remember him from such disasters as “Man with a nappy on bangs a huge drum for ten minutes”. Takada said he’d only get involved with Yarennoka if he could get Gomi on the card. Well that didn’t happen, but still…

We are going to see Shinya Aoki against Gesias Cavalcante. This has got Japanese MMA fans salivating harder than Gabe Ruediger in a Mister Donut. Can Aoki’s high-flying submission style beat the ape-like strength and aggression of “JZ Calvan”? (Hint: no. Aoki will take too much punishment trying to reverse boston crab JZ’s earlobes.)

Then there is the strong possibility of Fedor fighting the Techno Goliath, Choi Hong Man. While I am disappointed that such a great man has been reduced to a comedy match worthy of a K-1 main event, I am also pretty pumped to see Fedor pummelerizing the be-tumoured one’s rather large head into a giant Korean flavoured pancake. Other rumoured competitors include Mitsuhiro Ishida, Tatsuya Kawajiri, Kazuo Misaki, Joachim Hansen, Luiz Azeredo, Ricardo Arona, Gilbert Melendez, Aleksander Emelianenko, Mark Hunt… basically, it is going to be sweeeeeeeet as.

I’m pretty pumpalised about the whole thing, really.

If you’d like to keep up with Japanese MMA news, I recommend the following sites. Bookmark them if you haven’t already!

http://nightmareofbattle.wordpress.com/
http://sukimma.blogspot.com/
http://www.fightopinion.com/

My comp from a few months ago

First blue belt competition. I knew I’d lose, but just wanted to guage the waters.

Result? Deep!

I lost.
No excuses, everyone was way better than me. But I had a great time. It was only my first time as blue belt, so I am not too bothered about the losses. I had a good day.

In the first fight, I only wanted to do one thing… surprise the guy. He was the favourite to win the whole comp, and instead of being timid, I wanted to really go for it. I told my team -I am going to do a surprise move at the beginning of the fight. Just watch!- Man, I could watch the first sweep again and again… 🙂 He choked me out fairly convincingly in the end though. I was seeing stars.

The second fight went a little better, I just lost position towards the end and lost points. I had been going well until then with a couple of nice sweeps. It was a good fight though and he has a lot of experience on me.

I got a good feeling for what it is like to compete at blue belt level, and I got away without any injuries, so all in all, a good day.