From the Mat to the Cage: Erin Harpe on Beginning her MMA Career


Erin Harpe is fresh off her first amateur MMA fight, defeating Yarlyn Gonzalez by unanimous decision at the August 16th Florida Championship Fighting event. She’s already made a name for herself, competing in the Abu Dhabi World Professional Jiu Jitsu Championship this year and coming back home with the gold from the 72kg Blue Belt division. I interviewed the 20 year old Royce Gracie Purple Belt to ask her thoughts on her first fight, what training is like and what lies ahead.

Ryan Bradbury: Okay, your first amateur MMA fight was last week, how does it feel to have your entry in the MMA world start with a win?

Erin Harpe: It was awesome being able to step into the cage. I was anticipating it for months, since I was originally going to debut in February, but then got injured so i had to pull out of that. then, I had Abu Dhabi and worlds to compete in, so i had to take time off MMA for those as well. I feel like this last fight was perfect timing though, because my cardio was on point, and although i was super nervous, I kept my composure, and I was actually comfortable striking, so all those months of training paid off.

Do you plan on concentrating on MMA now that or do you see yourself continuing to compete in grappling events?

I will be concentrating on MMA more, but as long as the tournaments don’t conflict with my fights, I won’t stop competing. I love Jiu Jitsu, and competing is my “fun time”. I may not be doing as many of the IBJJF tournaments as I’ve done in the past, but I’ll be doing the bigger events. For instance, I’m scheduled to fight in October, and i will also be competing in No-Gi Pans this September.

Well good luck with both of those! Outside of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, what does your training consist of week to week?

Thank You! So our coach, Matt Arroyo, has our fight team on a Monday – Saturday schedule. The schedule consists of; Muay Thai, wrestling, Boxing, and BJJ training, as well as sparring,and strength and condition. I train about 4 hours a day.

Wow that’s a full schedule, now you’ve recently moved down to Gracie Tampa to train correct?

Yes, I moved down here last August, and it’s been the best decision I ever made.

I finally meet Rob Kahn this summer, and I can say he definitely lives up to the hype. How has training with him and the coaches down there improved you game?

Hobby K (Rob’s nickname) is awesome! He built such a strong organization here filled with amazing black belts and practitioners. That man is a jiu jitsu genius lol he really breaks every technique down for you and simplifies it.

I have to agree, and while I only got to try one class with him while I was down in Tampa but he breaks situations down very well.

now, i do train with Matt Arroyo full time, who is also a mat genius. He was on the ultimate fighter on the Serra vs. Hughes season, so he knows exactly was the UFC is looking for. His only mission as a coach is to do anything he can to train and help us reach our ultimate goal, to become UFC champions. He has complete faith in us, so we must treat training seriously. Matt is one of the best coaches I’ve worked with.

Yes I remember when he was on that season, he did very well.


Your Father, Royce Gracie Black Belt James Harpe is the head coach at Gracie Agawam, he has to be very proud of you, seeing you follow in his footsteps. Is coaching something you see yourself doing, or do you want to concentrate on fighting now?

Yes, I definitely would love to become an instructor and open my own academy, but that’s 10 years down the road. Right now, I’m focused on getting better in MMA so i can transition into the UFC (in a couple of years), and to continue to excel in BJJ. And yes my father is very proud. He never misses a fight or tournament.

It has to be great to see women’s MMA, especially in the UFC make gains in popularity. Is there anyone in the sport you look up to in particular?

Yes for sure, its a blessing for us female fighters. I look up Ronda Rousey as far as her talent, determination, and heart for this sport. I think her attitude sometimes puts a negative image onto women’s MMA. However, a woman i do idolize is Miriam Nakamoto. She is an amazing fighter who fights in the Invicta FC . She’s not in the UFC yet, but she will be. She very talented, and we share similar headstrong mindsets. I also love Holly Holms. Shes just a natural beasts lol.

I agree, Ronda’s comment on beating any women in BJJ didn’t win her any fans. So does That mean some judo in your future?

Not really… I’m not a huge judo fan. I learning take downs through wrestling. Don’t get me wrong, judo is a beautiful art, but it’s not my cup of tea lol.


Okay just one more question I wanted to ask you about the fight. Your opponent was changed at the last minute correct? Did that play with your nerves at all?

Only slightly. I really wanted to fight, and the girl who didn’t show to weigh ins was the 3rd opponent who backed out, so I was ready to fight anyone at that point. I worked too hard and waited too long to not have a fight. that’s why i have so much respect for Yarlyn, who took the fight on 24 hours notice. Not many women would do that

Wow, that’s not an easy thing to do.

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There are two UFC Main Events this weekend, but are there really?

Macao UFC Fight Night Press Conference

How hard was it to pose these two chaps correctly?

There are two UFC events this weekend: One in the Asian gambling haven of Macau headlined by Michael Bisping and Cung Le, the other in the MMA hotbed of Tulsa, headlined by Benson Henderson and Rafael Dos Anjos. Quick! If I lined up Rafael Dos Anjos, Raphael Assuncao, and Renan Barao in a row, could you tell me who was who? Sadly, I doubt it.

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If Ryan Bader and OSP fight in the woods, does it make a sound?


Now, listen here loyal followers: Even with an event as weak as this Saturday’s card in the boonies of Maine, I wasn’t going to leave you without your ALar fix. In my mind, this card serves one purpose: to let Dana White hang out at his Maine vacation compound during fight week. That’s about it, I mean, OSP/Bader is a solid light heavyweight tilt, but it should by no means be a Main Event in the UFC in the year 2014. You can see the full card after the jump.

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Shohei-Ryu Karate Masters Camp and Dan Test 2014

What a Great Week!

Ed and Jean DeCosta hosted a training camp on August 4 through 9, 2014, in celebration of the dojo’s 40th anniversary. Congrats again to Ed and Jean, and thank you for your many years of dedication and service to others! I think all in attendance can agree that they did a great job planning everything, and the training was top notch.

Master Nakahodo, Master Higa, and Mr. Nakasone viewed and critiqued katas for five days straight and presided over a dan test on the sixth.  I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank them as well!

The opportunity to meet karateka from throughout this country was an added bonus.  We put together an e-mail list for networking purposes.  I know I met a lot of great people I’d like to keep in touch with.  Please e-mail me if you’d like a copy of the list.

A recap of the week including pictures, training notes, and a special video follow after the jump!

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Guest Blog: A Metamoris IV Preview

by Ryan Bradbury

Buy this pay per view, period. This is the best card Ralek has put together yet, with three former UFC fighters, ADCC Champions, alumni from The Ultimate Fighter and BJJ Kumite, and enough combined gold medals to rival the GDP of most small countries.

(ALar’s note: This is Ryan, a long time friend of the crew here at Moai Martial Arts. He has oft been rumored to make his blogging debut. The planets have aligned and that triumphant day has come. He’s a purple belt in BJJ training out of Renzo Gracie’s Academy in Manhattan. My arm still clicks on cold days from a flying triangle he threw on me five years ago, so yeah, he knows what he’s talking about!)

Garry Tonon vs. Kit Dale

The fact that this is the first fight of the night speaks volumes for the rest of the card. Tonon and Kit were both phenoms on the brown belt circuit and are still proving themselves as capable black belts. Tonon has two Pan Am golds, and Kit is one of the most decorated grapplers from Australia. He lays claim to a black belt after spending only four and a half years on the mat.

Dale, while being one of the best grappler’s from Australia, is limited only by that exact fact, he’s the big fish in a small pond. Whereas Tonon is swimming with the likes of Renzo Gracie, Ricardo Almeida and with the advice of the mad scientist John Danaher.  So rest assured he’s got a game plan to combat the “Great White Grip” that Kit has been developing lately.

This match can really go anywhere, Tonon likes to keep his opponents guessing, while Dale is never one to stick to the conventional approach to BJJ. As Giani Grippo and Kit have been discussing the pros and cons of drilling, we get to see him put his money where his mouth is on the world stage. To make things more interesting, Kit’s beard is riding on this victory as he has bet it’s survival on the outcome of the match.

My Bet: Kit’s beard will stay either from a submission in the first five minutes or else it’ll go to a draw.


Andre Galvao vs. Chael Sonnen

Although this fight is still technically at risk due to the Nevada State Athletic Commission and Chael’s personal war on his testicles, it should still be a great match. Chael being a former UFC contender and NCAA All American wrestler looks to challenge one of the modern day legends in the sport. Galvao heads the famed Atos BJJ school has two world championships, seven Pan Am championships, and a few ADCC wins to boot. He definitely has the upper hand on Sonnen for this match, he’s younger, more technical and has one of the best competition teams to train with on a daily basis.

While Chael is in for some trouble, Galvao hasn’t been finishing as many matches as in the past. The size differnce is going to put the fight in Chael’s hands for the first couple minutes, but as the match goes on Galvao’s insane conditioning will be hard to beat.

My Bet: Galvao with a mid-late match submission.


Saulo Ribeiro vs. Rodrigo Medeiros

Saulo Ribeiro and Rodrigo Comprido Medeiros are some old school legends in the sport, this match will be very technical. Saulo and his brother have collected an astounding number of wins over their careers and Comprido has had his share wins and fame from being the coach of Brock Lesnar. Ultimately they each will be weary of the other’s ability and take the match to a draw.

My Bet: Draw

Dean Lister vs. Josh Barnett

There is a old proverb, “if a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” Well that might be BS, but what may be true is that a Metamoris doesn’t really take place unless Dean Lister is present. And for good reason, the man is one of the best grapplers in the world, he’s gotten plenty of ADCC wins. He even went on to fight in Pride and the UFC.

Josh Barnett is a beast on the mat and in the Octagon. He’s fought in UFC, Strikeforce, Pancrase, and Pride, as well as spending some time on the professional wrestling circuit. Side-note: he’s won Revolver Magazines Most Metal Athlete in sports, as well as being a an avid player of Magic the Gathering, in other words the dude knows how to party.

While Barnett will no doubt be a worthy opponent, Dean just has too much experience on the mat. If this was an MMA bout, my money would be on Barnett, but the Boogeyman has every tool in his grappling arsenal to deal with whatever is thrown his way. Plus, after Saturday, Dean will have competed in 3 out of 4 Metamoris’s so the pressure will be on Barnett for this one.

My Bet: If Dean wins with anything but a Heel Hook I will start going to church again.


Keenan Cornelius vs. Vinny Magalhaes

In case you’ve been under a rock for the past couple years, let me fill you in, Keenan is to Jiu Jitsu what Lebron was for Basketball. The kid has been on the mats since the age of 14 and has trained with the likes of BJ Penn, competed under the infamous Team Lloyd Irvin, and is now one of Andre Galvao’s top new black belts. Not only has he been bulldozing through virtually everyone he’s competed against, including notable wins over Leandro Lo, Dean Lister, Gary Tonon and Braulio Estima, but he has been evolving the game with the use of the worm guard. This new guard has been so effective that Copa Podio has declared they will be penalizing anyone using it in their next Grand Prix.

Vinny Magalhaes is not without his own accolades, making it to the finals of The Ultimate Fighter: Team Nogueira Vs. Frank Mir only to lose to Ryan Bader via TKO. He’s experienced success in M-1 Global and various smaller promotions while floating in and out of the UFC. He’s a BJJ black belt under Royler Gracie and holds plenty of medals in the Mundials and ADCC championships.

This fight should be exciting, both fighters have a depth of experience and have proved themselves on various stages of competition. Look out for the worm guard to be used by Keenan, which will match up nicely against Vinny’s aggressive style.

My Bet: Keenan with a quick submission off of the worm guard.


Secret Match

Another highlight of the night is the “secret match,” where not even the fighters will know who is walking onto the mat until they announce their names.

Three possibilities I’d like to see that are:

Eddie Bravo vs. Royce Gracie – Would be a ‘too good to be true’ follow-up to the infamous scuffle of last Metamoris.

Marcus “Buchecha” Almeida vs. Roldolfo Viera – While they have fought before, it is always exciting, see 2013 IBJJF Worlds Finals.

Jeff Glover vs. Kenny Florian – This would be a great fight, both announcers are technical masters of the sport and would undoubtedly put on a good show.


Metamoris 4 takes pace this Saturday at 8pm. If you’re a true fan of grappling, skip going to the bar, take that $30 you were going to throw at the shot girl for watered down Kamikazes and buy the live stream you won’t regret it… (plus shot girl wasn’t going home with you anyways)


Hit me with your Metamoris 4 impressions on Twitter at @NotRyanBradbury

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Shohei-Ryu Karate Training with the Masters 2014

If you practice Uechi-Ryu or Shohei-Ryu karate in New England you likely know that my senseis, Ed and Jean DeCosta, owners of the Okinawan Karate Dojo are hosting a training camp on August 4 through 9, 2014, in celebration of the dojo’s 40th anniversary.  Congrats Ed and Jean!

Seminars will be during mornings and evenings this week.  Master Tsutomu Nakahodo, 10th dan, Master Toshio Higa, 10th dan and the President of Okikukai, and Asao Nakasone, 4th dan, kata champion in 2010, 2011 and 2012 of the Okikukai World Championship are the special invitees.  They will hold a special dan test at the end of the week followed by a farewell banquet.

I hope to see many of you in attendance.  Either way, check here for notes, pictures, and some of the training tips I gather throughout the week!

PS – I have been fortunate enough to train with Masters Nakahodo and Higa in the past.  Here’s a clip of Nakasone san performing Sanseiryu.  If you watch it, you’ll see why I’m so excited to meet him this week!

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Finally! An Update on Our Karate Children’s Book!

Like a million years ago (ok, last December) I announced that local artist, Marissa Dziedzic, and I wrote and illustrated a children’s book all about Shohei-Ryu karate.  The title is Cranky Kenny Learns Karate, and, if you couldn’t guess, it’s all about how karate helps a young boy to control his temper and to treat others peacefully and with fairness.

We promise the book is fun as well as educational–even for kids not interested in the martial arts.  The original publication date has been pushed back a bit, and we hope to have the final draft out by the holidays.  Here are two things to tide you over until then . . .

(Psst! A leaked preview of the book is after the jump!)

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UFC on FOX: Lawler vs. Brown is a must-watch for anyone with a pulse

Tonight’s Main Event FOX has all the makings of a legendary fight. One fighter possesses an iron will that simply refuses to let him lose, while the other combatant unleashes unbridled brute force with every swing of the fist. When you ask fight fans about Matt Brown and Robbie Lawler, you will get fervent responses telling of vicious knockouts, righteous comebacks, and outright dominant performances. Both fighters have put together some of the best UFC fights in recent memory and now are meeting to determine the number one contender for Johny Hendricks’ Welterweight strap. What more can you ask for?


Truly Immortal.

Even though both of these athletes take up residency at the top of the 170 lb. division, each took a different route to get there. Matt Brown is the everyman. He is the ultimate story of resolve and determination. In the midst of legal troubles and a drug addiction, Brown decided to leave his party life behind and commit himself to the fight game.


Seeing him walk into the house on TUF 7, you never thought he was much more than a bar brawler with a ton of heart. He seemed like a guy that would be sitting alone at the end of the bar, sipping a snifter of Wild Turkey, that you had ZERO intention of messing with. Nothing more. Even after earning a UFC contract due to his attack first, ask questions later style, we didn’t think the scrappy Brown would amount to much. Boy, were we wrong…


Comeback city, population Matt Brown.


After a seemingly fireable three fight losing streak in 2010, Brown has completely turned over a new leaf in the cage. He says defiantly that, “No one wants this more than him,” and it is hard to argue with that fact. He has rattled off seven straight wins with six (friggin’ six!) coming by KO or TKO. The man has a will that I have never seen in the cage before. He can battle back from the limits of consciousness and return fire to his opponents with reckless abandon, bombing his way to victory. Simply put, the man is must watch TV.

Opposing the “Immortal” Brown will be long time veteran and fan favorite Robbie Lawler. It is tough to not like a guy that has been storming into his opponents range and throwing brutal hooks, straights, and kicks for over a decade. At first, Robbie Lawler was a phenomenon akin to BJ Penn. They showed up early in the ZUFFA era, kicked ass, and went home. They each had “debates” with UFC management and left to find greener pastures. Lawler saw some success in EliteXC and Strikeforce, but his heart never seemed to be fully in the game in those days.


Ruthless victory.

A return to the UFC sparked something in Lawler. It turned him into one of the fiercest fighters to ever walk on the planet Earth. Like Brown, Lawler punches first and thinks of the consequences at a date to be determined later. In his second UFC run, ‘Ruthless’ has perfected a hybrid of punishing power and complex technique. The way he slipped punches in his title fight with Hendricks was nothing short of masterful. The beating he put on the technically gifted Rory MacDonald was an awakening. No longer was Robbie just a brawler, he was a technical striker that learned to harness his otherworldly power.

To reiterate an aging trope, this fight is a physical representation of the unstoppable force meeting the immovable object. What will give in first? Brown’s iron chin or Lawler’s infallible technique? Either way, this is going to be a hell of a fight. As Dana White always says, “fighting is in our DNA.” Turn on a good fight, and everyone in the room will watch. This is the fight to invite your “casual fan” friends over to watch. This fight could be the Griffin/Bonnar of the FOX era. Make sure you are on your couch with a frosty brew in hand to witness it. I know I will be. (Update: I wrote this whole thing before Brown missed weight, but regardless, it should still be epic!)

Are you not entertained?

Are you not entertained?

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Is Conor McGregor the Star the UFC Needs?

In case you have been living under a rock for the last week, Dublin’s own Conor McGregor is headlining a UFC card in his hometown on Saturday. If you don’t know, McGregor is the brash, cocky, and deftly skilled featherweight that has been plastered all over your favorite MMA news site for the last 7 days.

In the vacuum created by the extinguished stars of Brock Lesnar, Anderson Silva, and Georges St. Pierre, the UFC universe is in dire need of a fresh hero. In my opinion, Conor McGregor is just the man for the job. That isn’t just the Irish blood running through me saying that either, I believe the organization could bank on this kid for years to come.

article-0-1C1D0A0700000578-862_306x423First, the Notorious One can handle the media like no other. Few fighters can give a thought-provoking and entertaining interview like Conor can. Just look at any of his appearances on The MMA Hour or his recent walk and talk with Ariel Helwani. He has a dignified, yet defiant tone when he speaks. He can talk intelligently about the sport’s past and where he is going to bring it in the future. All while letting you know he is undoubtedly going to crack his opponent’s skull come fight night. Do you think any other fighters the day before weigh-ins are going to take the time to fully engage an MMA journalist? I doubt it. His personality comes naturally, which is a rare trait for athletes in this sport.

McGregor has a colorful personality that is genuine, yet still cocky enough to sell a scrap. He isn’t the type of guy to say he will fight, “whoever the UFC wants” next. He will loudly call out anyone and everyone from the Featherweight title holder to the Lightweight champ if he wins come Saturday night. In an organization lacking characters, McGregor fills a role that desperately needs to be casted for the sport to continue to thrive.



Second, the man has a nation behind him. As Helwani pointed out in that interview, the last time we saw a country show such rampant support for an MMA fighter it was with GSP and Canada. This event in Dublin was the quickest sell out in the history of the UFC. That was with Conor slated to fight the humdrum Cole Miller. Diego Brandao isn’t much of a step up, but he will show the fans in attendance the definition of a ‘stand and bang’ scrap. Conor said it himself, he is bigger than the UFC in Ireland. More people know who he is, rather than what he does. That will change come Saturday night, when Ireland is introduced to the addictive UFC machine.


Even after putting on the performance of a lifetime against Jon Jones, Alexander Gustaffson didn’t have enough pull to get the rematch booked in a stadium in his native Sweden. Conor McGregor could pack a stadium in the UK to the rafters, with thousands left standing in the parking lot. I don’t think it even has to be a title fight. Throw him against Swanson, Edgar, or say… Nate Diaz in a soccer stadium and let the seats fill themselves. He has the market cornered and can basically authorize the UFC to print money in the UK.

Finally, and most importantly, the kid can fight. He always puts an emphasis on his movement and how it is just… different. “I don’ move like errbody else in dis division,” he says. He’s right. His low base and rapid direction changes make him one of the most unusual fighters in the sport. His striking technique seems to be a combination of boxing, karate, and stuff he saw on YouTube then tried in the gym. Have we seen his ground game fully tested? Not really. Training with a mat stud like Gunnar Nelson on a daily basis certainly should help improve that area though, right? The kid has it all. A will to finish, a warrior’s spirit, and elite technique. If you ask me, that is all you can ask for when creating the ideal UFC fighter.


Conor’s prediction of holding UFC gold prior to the end of 2014 may be a bit of a stretch, but would you bet against the guy? He has triumphed over every goal he has created for himself.

Sign with the UFC? Check.

Earn a stoppage in his first UFC fight? Check.

Overcome a major knee injury? Check.

Bring the UFC back to Ireland? Check.

What’s next? A title fight on European soil? Being the third two-division UFC champion? Who knows… Though, let it be know that the sky is certainly the limit. I for one, am putting all of my eggs in the Conor McGregor basket. He is not the fighter the UFC deserves, but the fighter that the UFC desperately needs.


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Cowboy Up! A Quick Look at the UFC Fight Night 45 Main Event


Tonight two of the most electrifying Lightweights on the planet will tangle in Atlantic City. In a city used to a Jager fueled boardwalk scuffle, this tilt should put all of the intricacies of MMA on full display. You can’t ask much more from a Wednesday night card with other notable fighters like Edson Barboza, John Lineker, and Pat Healy entering the cage. This specific post will take a look at the icing on the cake of this event, the five round scrap between Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone and New Jersey native Jim Miller. On to the preview!

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