The Ultimate Fighter
Okay, BJ Penn is coming out of retirement again to fight Yair Rodriguez. After a two year lay-off he is at it again and wants that UFC gold. That’s great. I will never knock a man for chasing his dreams. Trust me, I want Penn to win. I bought his books, watched his BJJ channel religiously and even learned a couple of his boxing combinations. I never used them because I thought the four punch combo would leave me too open.
However, Rodriguez is a live wire, unpredictable and has momentum. He is 24, full of fire and venom and has been training non stop for the past few years. Penn just turned 38 and has had long layoffs in the sport. I think this is a dangerous fight for him on many levels and not just because of his age. Age is a factor, but I think retirements are a major factor in tripping up many fighters who return to their sports.
I am recognizing a trend that is prevalent in many sports, but more so in combat sports such as boxing and MMA. Fighters retire and then come back after long lay-offs and put themselves in dangerous positions. They are convinced they are hanging up the gloves and going off into the sunset. However, since a fight is a fight and anything can happen a retired fighter can almost always get an upper tier or championship fight after doing nothing for years. Therefore, they keep coming back.
When I say stop it. I mean stop retiring. I propose that instead of fighters retiring, they instead state they are placing themselves on Inactive Status until the age of 46. By doing this they can avoid many things.
1: Lessen Ring Rust
By claiming an Inactive Status they will know that they will most likely fight again. Therefore, they can continue to train, learn new techniques, evolve as a fighter, stay up to date with inevitable changes in the sport and always be in shape. No, they do not have to train at full tilt. However, they should train hard and smart enough to maintain skills, flexibility, endurance, etc.
2. Spend less Money
By training and staying in shape they can avoid bad habits retired people and people with a lot of money and nothing to do fall into. These habits include eating too much, traveling too much and spending money on unnecessary items to entertain oneself.
3. They will be realistic
Many fighters who go out on top or near the top still believe they can ‘whup’ anyone placed in front of them. All they need is to join up with the best trainer and a great camp. Hogwash! Yes, I said hogwash. They do not know how much they have declined and carry false ideas of greatness.
It is similar to the 40-year-old who thinks he can beat his nephews who run high school track because he used to be a Division I track athlete. He remembers his old glory and doesn’t realize how much he has declined. However, by claiming an Inactive Status (with the full intention of fighting again) he will continue to train and will know how he measures up against up and comers. He will not get surprised. People in your camp and who you bring in to spar and help you out are not going to tell you that you don’t have that “It Factor” anymore. They are just going to pump you up and in worst case scenarios, collect a check.
4. Avoid Missing the Game and coming back to do something stupid
Finally, by claiming an Inactive Status and continuing to train with the full intention of getting better and improving I believe many of the guys who do eventually return will fare better. They will accept or take more appropriate fights and know their limits or if they have any. Also, it will lead to a more disciplined life. When they turn 46 they can hang it up knowing that they had a full fighters experience and don’t have to return to try to check off some boxes they left untouched.
***Fighters who have suffered severe injuries, concussions and other health maladies should never continue fighting. Fighters should always train safely to minimize the effects of CTE and other maladies that come along with combat sports.
What do you guys think?
You can read Bakari’s books: Grappling 101: How to Avoid being Bullied on the Mat, Psychology of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Grappling Games: BJJ & Submission Wrestlers, Tapmonster: Ideas about Grappling for BJJ and Submission Wrestlers, Grappling for Newbies, 20 Ways to Increase Grappling Skills off the Mat, The Lazy Man’s Guide to Grappling and much more.
I was very sad to hear about Michael Clarke Duncan’s passing today. I heard about his heart attack several weeks back, but I always assumed he would be okay. Not to mention that his family, friends and close ones lost someone dear to them, but he also made a huge impact in our world.
Not just from great films that he starred in, but Duncan is also a cultural icon; especially when it comes to BJJ and MMA. Although the man was a giant among men (6’5 300 lbs), he still loved BJJ (he was a Purple belt) and took the time to learn the art. Here is a man who probably never, ever, EVER, needed to know a ‘lick’ of grappling who respected the art and heralded it. I have seen him many times at UFC events, front and center, and heard about his ventures training with the Gracies and in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
He’s a part of my cultural landscape and I wish him good travels.
Michael Clarke Duncan wrestles Tom Arnold below:
Michael Clarke Duncan discusses MMA, NBA, Boxing and tries to avoid looking at Eva Longoria.
It’s my birthday and I just spent all day celebrating. I am finishing the night by watching UFC 91. This is the last thing I will do that’s BJJ related until tomorrow, which will be the one year anniversary of Jiujitsu365 and my project. Oh yeah, I also bought Eddie Bravo’s “Mastering the Twister” today. More about that in a later post.
Thoughts on the fights:
Demian Maia vs. Nate Quarry: I knew Quarry was in trouble when he said that his game plan for the fight was to stop Maia from taking him down with his fists and his hips. How many guys can stuff takedowns an entire fight? Once Maia took him down it was like watching big brother versus little brother as he quickly submitted Quarry for the choke.
Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Josh Hendricks: Oh my goodness!!! Gonzaga is still a monster. It was like watching rams butt heads. I am going to be honest with you though. Even though Hendricks has won his last ten fights I think this fight was an easy way to put Gonzaga back into the ‘mix.’
Matt Brown vs. Ryan Thompson: It is hard commenting on the newer fighters. The UFC runs through these guys. I remember Matt Brown from TUF, barely, so I rooted for him. Brown provided a solid performance for the win.
Dustin Hazelett vs. Tamdam McCrory: These guys fully committed to their strikes. Hazelett’s kicking ability saved him at the beginning of the round and then the omoplata saved the day.
Also, what’s up with the mountain man look in MMA these days? I watched an old King of the Cage last night with TUF’s Kyle Kingsberry and he took the beard look to an entirely different level. I think the IFL guys had the best beards though. I guess if you don’t have to shave, you don’t have to.
Rafael dos Anjos vs. Jeremy Stephens: It looked like Silva threw Stephens to the wolves with the choice of dos Anjos in the first round. Anjos has strikes, takedowns and Jiu-jitsu. Stephens has heart though and pulled it out with that vicious uppercut. I hope we get to see dos Anjos again.
Kenny “Ken Flo” Florian vs. Joe “Daddy” Stevenson: First of all, Bruce Buffer gets too excited. Kenny Florian definitely outclassed Stevenson in standup, but you could see that rear naked choke 10 seconds before it happened. What was Joe the Grappler thinking? (Sorry..)
Brock Lesnar vs. Randy Couture: As I turned 35 today, I have an investment in Randy Couture. However, my father who is in his late 50s looks (mostly) like he is in his late 30s, early 40s. So I think I will be okay.
But I’m worried for Randy this time out. I hope I’m wrong. Technically, Couture should win but Lesnar’s size and strength gives me the jitters. They need to create a new division (235 to 265).
1st round: Wow! That was the first time tonight that I jumped out of my seat. Couture proved right away that the fight would be even.
2nd round: Man….. Lesnar’s meat hooks clobbered Couture with what looked like a grazing blow. Also, I think the referee waited too long to stop the fight. But what can you do?
Jorge Gurge vs. Aaron Riley: It’s difficult to watch Gurgel’s fights. A Black belt that plays to his weakness. His punches looked like slapping blows. Why wait until the second round to take the guy down?
Alvin Robinson vs. Mark Bocek: A grappling fest. Bocek was impressive with his RNC victory.
Some people have complained about TUF having the guys fight before allowing their characters to develop. But I think it was a good idea to shuffle things up. I think they could have at least let the fighters know that they would have to fight their way into the house. It might have been 30 seconds of good TV to catch the look of surprise on their faces, but these guys give up a lot to be on this show.
Plus, did they get paid for these pre-fights?
As far as BJJ is concerned, Timothy Credeur and Matt Brown stood out. Timothy Credeur easily dispatched his opponent and Brown demonstrated fluency not only in BJJ but has an all around game. I love to watch MMA but I wonder how the sport will look when everyone has black belt level Jiu-jitsu skills (or the equivalent) and have striking skills to match.
One last point: Do some fighters know their opponents are out and ‘go for the kill’ anyway? It seemed as if Matthew Riddle, who made Dan Simmler moan uncontrollably after pounding him senseless after he knocked him down, could see that his opponent was out. In MMA they say go until the ref stops it, but if someone really gets hurt because of just one senseless punch, MMA may be relegated to the underground again….
I am sitting on my couch waiting in anticipation (6:58 P.M.) for UFC Fight Night Live and the TUF premiere. My wife is visiting her folks and I can watch with no guilt. I have been feeling a drought as of late and if I have to watch one more episode of UFC Unleashed, WEC or TapOut re-runs I am going to flip…. I am running out of MMA events to order on Netflix and I don’t think I can stomach watching another MMA event filmed in 1996.
My only prediction tonight is that Kenny Florian will beat Joe Lauzon…
I think Burkman ‘was robbed.’
Corey Hill won his fight. Can we see him in a televised bout?
Nate Diaz looked like he was putting on a clinic.
What’s up with the Rambo Replay???
Do we need interviews with Joe Rogan’s buds?
Finally, I enjoyed the fight between Omigawa and Tavares (minus the stand-up). I enjoyed watching Omigawa use the open guard to control his opponent and how often he was able to stand up. He timed it just right so he would duck as Tavares would instinctually throw a punch as he was rising to his feet. I also liked Omigawa’s attempts to armbar him from unorthodox positions.
His armbar attempts reminded me of my first tournament match as a Judoka. I (a white belt at the time) went up against a brown belt. New to the sport, I went for a double leg and caught him by surprise. As I rose up I found myself in an armbar. My right hand was planted on the mat between his arm and chest and he wrapped his arm around my elbow to force the tap when I naively sat up in his guard.
Overall, I would say that the Omigawa/Tavares match was the most interesting fight for me. I also had an 80 percent accuracy rate on my predictions…..
It will be pleasant to watch a UFC event that is not old or without having to fork over $39.95 for a pay per view. The fights they are putting on this week should help determine the next line of viable contenders for belts (long way to go though).
Here are my predictions (which hold about as much weight as the pollsters for the New Hampshire primary):
Mike Swick is going to make his debut at 170, but I think that he is going to find out that he will have a tough time in any division and that Josh Burkman will give him all that he can handle. Although Swick has the better hands and ground skills, I think Burkman will be stronger and will out muscle him for a ground and pound victory.
Predicted Winner: Burkman
The next matchup is between Drew McFedries and Patrick Cote. Although many people called Cote’s win over Kendall Grove a fluke when it happened, I think everyone forgot about his nullification of Tito Ortiz. Although he didn’t win that bout, I think he will have the stand-up edge as well as UFC experience edge over McFedries.
Predicted Winner: Cote
Although Alvin Robinson was able to beat Jorge Gurgel, I think he was in too deep with Kenny Florian. I believe his matchup with Nick Diaz is meant to be a build-up fight for Diaz. The reach advantage Diaz holds over Robinson will be too much and I think he will outclass the BJJ brown belt, Robinson, on the ground.
Predicted Winner: Diaz
Concerning the matchup of Thiago Tavares and Michihiro Omigawa, I believe it will be an easy victory for Tavares. I believe that Omigawa is the classic case of a strong primary sport star (Judo) being thrown too early in to the mix of MMA. His 4-5-0 record indicates that he probably is not much of a striker and relies on his Judo skills for wins.
Predicted Winner: Tavares
One more note: We may finally get to see Corey Hill in action, but it will depend upon the pace of the other fights. Hill could be devastating if he found the right camp. Further, Joe Silva gave him an opponent who is 5ft 6in, so he will most likely be able to pick apart his opponent and sprawl and brawl to a victory. I would venture that they want to keep Hill around so he won’t be fighting a monster.
Predicted Winner: Hill