Back on “Big” FOX: Heavy Hands and Heavweights

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Dare I say that this is the best UFC card of 2014? As always, we have to wait until the fights actually go down to judge the quality of the booking, but on paper, this is as solid as it gets. I mean for Pete’s sake, Khabib Nurmagomedov (I can spell that name first try now, FYI…) and Rafael Dos Anjos are on the freakin’ FS 1 prelims! Same with Pat Healy and Jorge Masvidal! You are telling me that we are supposed to throw down $60 for next week’s UFC 172 Pay Per View to see Andre Fili and Max Halloway, yet these two fights are going down for ‘free’ on FS1???!?! Sometimes MMA logic hurts my already beleaguered brain…

The last few “Big” FOX shows have all featured the lighter fighters and weight classes of the UFC. I am glad that the organization is using their larger cable audience to showcase what the ‘casual’ fan wants to see: Big dudes throwing big punches. FOX requested the Travis Browne and Fabricio Verdum fight for their airwaves and I don’t blame them, this thing should be a true test of each athlete’s mettle. Throw in the fact that this has become a Heavyweight Title eliminator with the winner getting a date with Cain Velasquez in Mexico, and aside from the JDS/Cain launch tilt, this could be the biggest fight on FOX to date. On to the preview!

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Wednesday Night Fights! A Quick Look at the TUF Nations Finale

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Well, this one crept up on me! I was gearing up for the FOX card on Saturday and realized that there is a random Wednesday event from Quebec going down first.  Neat-O! Now, I haven’t watched a second of TUF Nations so I won’t touch on those Finale tilts, but I will give you a quick preview of my favorite three fights on the card. You know you are getting your money’s worth when Michael ‘The Count’ Bisping gets back in the cage! On to the preview.

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Moai Martial Arts Contest

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Let’s do it again, brother! A Quick Take on Shogun v. Hendo II

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Now, I will never complain when Dan Henderson or Shogun Rua are scheduled to enter the Octagon, but with this booking it seems like the UFC is attempting to catch lightening in a bottle a second time. Their first fight is my favorite fight of all time. From Hendo’s early dominance to Shogun’s late round resurgence, I was going absolutely bananas throughout the entire 25 minutes. Now remember, that was 2011, this is 2014… Both fighters are much older and much further away from the title picture. Will they willingly go toss haymakers for five rounds like last time? Or could we see a conservative effort from the duo in order to preserve their aging careers?

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Want to Be a Better Fighter? Try Video Games!

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This isn’t exactly what I mean . . .

How many times have you heard Joe Rogan or practically any other MMA announcer call fighting a “game of human chess”?  It’s true, of course: many athletes sharpen their thinking by playing the classic strategy game.  What better example of a martial artist whose chess playing has influenced his practice than Searching for Bobby Fisher‘s Josh Waitzkin?

Here are a few videos to show you what I mean.

Josh Waitzkin and Tai Chi

Josh Waitzkin and BJJ

A tai chi world champion and jiu-jitsu black belt under Marcelo Garcia, Waitzkin describes his transformation from chess phenom to martial artist in his excellent book, The Art of Learning.  Much of his thinking about martial arts in terms of combining techniques, beginning and end games, and the mental state of “flow”, all stem from chess.

After reading this book, I even decided to try to add chess to my mental training regimen.  There was a slight problem, however.  Unlike Waitzkin, I spent my childhood playing video games, not chess.  Without the years of practice, I found myself losing time and time again to online and live opponents–even young kids.

So what’s a former couch potato to do?  Play more video games!

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UFC 171: Crowning a New Welterweight King

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Well, my MMA diet feels like it has taken a vegan turn over the last few months… We had a bountiful meaty feast back at UFC 168, and a decent chicken dinner for UFC 169, but every other event hasn’t satisfied my appetite for serious MMA protein. With this Saturday’s UFC 171, Zuffa is dropping a choice-cut Filet with a side of bacon on our plates. This isn’t a random card going down in some East-Asian gambling haven, or a mediocre card in Europe to appease that dedicated fanbase.  This as an old fashioned must-see UFC Pay-Per-View.

Upon first glance, the undercard looks highly watchable and is capped off with a nifty scrap between TUF Winner Kelvin Gastelum and Rick Story. The Pay Per View portion of the evening features six of the best welterweights in the world, along with a lightweight tilt between a highly touted prospect and a wily veteran. Oh yeah… At the end of the night we are crowning the first new Welterweight champ since 2007. Kind of a big deal. On to the preview!

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The Oni – A Karate Poem

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Oni are demons recounted in Japanese folklore. Can we fight them, or must we hide in fear?

After training alone in my home dojo this week, I recognized that without consistent practice in kata, I would probably go crazy.  It is a wonderful gift passed down from generation and generation: intricate movements worth mastering that provide self-defense and self-expression.  The focus and discipline honed by performing kata and the catharsis enabled by hard physical and mental training has made me who I am today.  It seems that not many athletes or fighters from other disciplines understand this.

I wrote this poem in honor of my teachers who have given me the skills to protect not only my body, but also my mind and spirit.  I hope to pass along the invaluable lessons I have learned.

Remember that even though we sometimes practice fighting invisible opponents, it doesn’t mean they’re imaginary . . .  Continue reading

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Should you buy UFC Fight Pass?

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The simple answer is: Right now? No, you shouldn’t.

More after the jump.

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Rousey’s Rapid Return: A UFC 170 Preview

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If you ask me, this card is flying wayyy under the radar. Amidst the Winter Olympics and the high points of both college and professional basketball, the UFC is putting one of their supposed top draws on display. No doubt Ronda Rousey is a certifiable star in the eyes of Hollywood execs, but I don’t know if she has the perceived Pay Per View drawing power that Zuffa believes in. Throw in the fact that she is fighting the Tim Duncan of female fighters in Sara McMann and there is little to no buzz about this weekends title tilt. Most of the blogosphere has been consumed with the fact that due to Rashad Evans’ weak knee ligament, Daniel Cormier is fighting a barista with a few weeks of sprawl training. Either way, there are still a ton of meaningful fights on this card, I’m just not sure it is the typical pay per view showcase that comes with one of the company’s top draws. There is no way around it: Ronda Rousey’s true potential as a bona fide MMA star will be tested this weekend. Will you be tuning in? I’ll try to make the choice for you in the coming preview!

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Can the Dreamcatcher slay The Dragon?

A UFC Fight Night 36 Preview

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After a decision heavy UFC 169 card a few weeks ago, the Zuffa brass are hoping that this event going down in Brazil will have plenty of excitement for the viewing public. A slugfest here or there would be nice, but what the UFC needs most out of Saturday night is a legitimate and viable Middleweight contender. Both of the evening’s final two tilts feature highly ranked 185ers that could lay claim to #1 contendership with an impressive outing. The issue is that aside from Jacare Souza, the other three fighters involved in the collective fisticuffs are noted for their ability to act as a proverbial glasses of warm milk before bed… Who knows what could happen when you toss two martial artists in a cage for five rounds though! On to the preview!

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