Diary Of…Daniel Gracie – February 13, 2011

 

The past few weeks have seen three submission victories for Team Renzo Gracie fighters – Roger Gracie, Igor Gracie and John Cholish.  Each fighter did what they do best.  They each won by going to their foundation to give them the strength to finish the fight.  Watching these fights further reinforced my choice to stay true to my roots.  It is Gracie Jiu-Jitsu that has made me the person I am today. 

Learning BJJ from my family in Rio de Janeiro during the eighties and nineties was my upbringing.  Gracie Barra.  Two words that speak volumes.  It is the home of champions.  Back then, it was a simple tatame on the top floor of a local gym.  With a corrugated metal roof, the academy became a sauna.  This was no place for those who did not wish to become champions.  You gave it your all and left your ego at the door.  Our team was born in this academy and we carry on the tradition today.  Team Renzo Gracie is the 21st Century re-incarnation of the friendship, brotherhood and unity that made us all champions.  These are days that I will always remember and look forward to as well. 

 There are positions, moves, submissions and chokes in BJJ that are classics.  These are the go to moves for us.  Roger Gracie and Igor Gracie both used classic moves with their respective classic approaches to submit their opponents.  John Cholish took a page from the history books when he submitted his opponent by kneebar.  It was beautiful to see him pull this move in the same way that Oleg Taktarov used to submit many opponents in the early days of MMA and the UFC.  Fast forward to today.  I am training for the Light Heavyweight Tournament in Bellator.  Tournament.  This is a word that I do not take lightly.  This is my opportunity to compete against seven other men all vying for the same belt.  This is not an opportunity to win a championship that is simply offered to you. 

This is one that will be won the hard way.  With hard work.  This past week personified hard work.  Traveling as usual between Connecticut, NYC, the Bronx and New Hampshire, I spent each day giving it my all.  Training on Monday in John Danaher’s class at Renzo Gracie Academy saw a packed mat with UFC and Strikeforce fighters.  This is my time to train with some of todays best MMA fighters.  In the middle of the week, when the Bellator crew arranged to film me for the fight promo, the scheduled day fell on my day to train at John’s Boxing Gym.  After four hours of non stop sparring, padwork, BJJ, working out all the while being filmed and making commentary, they got the images they wanted.  I was honored to share my story with Bellator and it was another realization for me that this tournament is one week closer. 

 The end of the week saw another trip to New Hampshire.  Tough MMA training twice per day with other Bellator fighters.  With workouts during the middle of each day, there was no down time.  This is my life.  A life that I am honored to lead.

Diary Of… Daniel Gracie (February 6, 2011)

Checking the calendar is not something I do often.  For me each day is just that.  A day in my life.  24 hours with which to explore my possibilities and push the boundaries of my training.  I know that my first fight in the Bellator Light Heavyweight tournament is about seven weeks out.  I know that I must be prepared to go the distance of three fights in a relatively fast succession.  I know that I will do this.

 

My mindset is focused.  Spending four years away from fighting was a tough choice for me.  I spent those years keeping one foot in my training and the other firmly planted on the tatame teaching BJJ at my cousin Renzo’s academy in New York City.  The day when my manager contacted me about the fight in the IFC, was the day that I placed both feet back into training.  I knew it was the right time.  That comeback win for me was The Return of Ikemen.

 

This nickname was given to me at my first MMA fight in Japan for PRIDE back in 2001.  70,000 fans in a packed arena with all eyes on the Gracie newcomer.  It was go time.  I fight for my family.  The Gracie family pioneered MMA and I will carry on the tradition.  Now, back to today.  MMA fighting is not what it was, even just a few years ago.  Then, a couple disciplines dominated the fights and opponents were often caught off guard by the others expertise.  This is no longer the case.  Today’s MMA fighter must have a BJJ foundation and must also be extremely well versed in several other disciplines.  This can of course lead to a lack of focus if spread too thin.  This is the paradox for todays MMA fighter.  How to balance.  My training has seen me traveling to Boston to train with Mark Della Grotte at Sityodtong, to the South Bronx to train with Kwame Asante at John’s Boxing Gym, to Renzo Gracie Academy in New York City to train with our team, to New Hampshire to train with Tim Barchard of Pro Martial Arts Academy and this is often done in one week.  Left unchecked, the demands of training placed on an MMA fighter would burn him out weeks before his fight.

 

This is where you dig deep.  This is when you ask yourself how badly you really want it.  This is why I fight.  A lot of people want to know my schedule, my diet, my regimen.  That may be where I differ from others.  I listen to my body and give it what it needs.  Extra time at the gym, or that slice of pizza or that day off to spend with my family.  It is this that keeps me balanced and focused.

Will “Kong” be King in 2011 – A Guest Article by MMA UK fan, Lawrence Riva

According to the Chinese Zodiac 2011 is the year of the Rabbit, but to the MMA Fan could this be the year of the Gorilla. On this little Island of ours we have a rich history and talent for fighting. Some would say it is what Great Britain was founded upon.

One fighter that the British MMA Community has been talking about again since our own year of the Rabbit began is the 28 year old from our own shores, Tom ‘Kong’ Watson. Anyone who follows the UK MMA scene will know exactly who Watson is and may have even been to see him fight. For those who haven’t seen him fight or know who he is, here are some quick facts. Watson turned Pro in 2006 bringing his background of Muay-Thai and traditional Boxing to the cages of Mixed Martial Arts. and fights at what is believe is a realistic weight of 185 pounds (Middleweight) for his frame. His current record stands at 13 – 4. However if you are wondering why you haven’t bumped in to the big Gorilla at your local shops, it is down to the fact that these days he trains and spends most of his year in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

However could 2011 be a turning point in the career of Tom Watson?

If any of you follow the popular social outlets such as Twitter or Facebook that give us 24 hour access to the sport we love, you will no doubt like me see the many ‘@’ messages towards Dana White or the UFC demanding that they finally sign Tom Watson and finally get him fighting in the big show with todays biggest stars.

One of the benefits of being the the writer of this little piece,is that  I get to air my opinion on this matter, and an even bigger benefit is that there is nothing we MMA fans love more than a good debate. Well, other than the heart pounding adrenaline that comes from watching our favorite athletes leave their heart and sometimes a few pints of there blood in the cage. Ask UK MMA fans about Watson and there is an overwhelming show of respect for him, but is there enough? There is however a split from where i stand. The hardcore Watson fans would love to see him in the UFC no matter what, and will endlessly tell you that it is his time and has been for a while now. My honest opinion is, I am on the side that says while Watson is a great fighter, (he has achieved Knock-Out of the Night, with a solid head kick to Travis Galbraith at MFC 24 and of course the Knock-Out up kick that the ‘Kong’ fans will always remember.) I like most have great respect for him, but personally think he has to be careful at this potential turning point in his career. For me, I would love to see Watson get in to the US organizations, and I can bet by me saying ‘US’ instead of UFC you know what I am about to say.

Starting in an organization like Bellator Fighting Championships or Strikeforce with it’s ever growing talented fighters in my opinion would be the best option for him, as it would give him the chance to find his feet and prove him self against some of the best in the world and get some more mainstream exposure without the huge pressure that would be a UFC debut. For example a 3 or 5 fight Bellator or Strikeforce contract is what he needs. To see if he can handle what are known to be the best in the world and give him the room to adapt to what is in reality a very different game and pool to the UK organizations. As I was saying the UFC comes with such pressure to perform, and while the few fight upstarts can come in with nothing to lose and leave it all on the line. I would hate to see Watson finally getting the UFC start we have all been waiting for and end up being remembered alongside the likes of Kimbo Slice or worse the two fights and gone Todd Duffee.

While all these fighters left under different circumstances unfortunately they are remembered for ending their UFC careers very much quicker than people thought after only a few fights.

If Watson can rise up in a US organization that comes with less pressure, where the grim reaper maybe sits a few rows further back than the ring-side seats he gets at the UFC. Then i think with his skills and after a few fights he can really up his game and compete well against the fighters that currently reside in some of the top US camps. Then unfortunately for a certain Mr Dana White, the Blackberry he is famously glued to will be going non-stop, vibrating with Twitter messages from the sea of fans around the world that have jumped on-board to get our very home grown primate into the UFC. Good luck to Tom and we all know this will be another spectacular year for the sport we all love.

Fights We Want To See in 2011: Lightweights

Frankie Edgar Vs Gray Maynard

The next UFC Lightweight title fight, looks to be an interesting affair between these two savages. Edgar wants revenge for the only loss on his record, but Maynard wants revenge as he feels that Edgar has a title that belongs to him. It’s pretty captivating stuff, and whoever wins on January 1st, it will certainly be a war.

 

Cole Miller Vs Donald Cerrone

If you don’t know this already, there’s a bit of bad blood between these two fighters. Cerrone came out recently and said that he disliked Miller’s attitude after Miller beat Garcia back at UFC Fight Night 11. We all know that if Cerrone is fighting someone he doesn’t particulary like, we’re going to get a pretty awesome brawl. Miller is maturing into a fantastic fighter, with good stand-up and great jiu-jitsu. This would be an interesting fight to see if Cerrone can be a player in the UFC lightweight division.

Shinya Aoki Vs Gilbert Melendez

Shinya Aoki got absolutely handled in their first meeting, but if they were set to fight in a ring instead of a cage, it may be in Aoki’s advantage. Aoki would be dangerous for any opponent you put against him, but Melendez has a significant strength advantage. Plus, Melendez isn’t a slouch on the grund as he’s coached by Cesar Gracie. This is certainly an interesting match up for those that are interested.

Gray Maynard Vs Anthony Pettis

“Styles make fights” – never truer words were spoken when it comes to this potential match-up. Whatever happens, I see these two fighting at some point in their careers. Maynard is probably the best wrestler in the division and will takedown any fighter that you put in front of him. Whilst Pettis, loves to throw amazing kicks and flashy submissions. Whatever happens, we both know that these two lightweight fighters would have an absolute war with each other and it could possibly be fight of the night.

Takanori Gomi Vs Clay Guida

This has non-stop brawl written all over it. Neither fighter really gasses and both are looking to finish from wherever they are on the cage. The good news is that we only have to wait a couple more weeks for this fight to happen.

George Sotiropolous Vs Ben Henderson

I’m going to put this one out there and say that this could be a pretty interesting match-up indeed. Sotiropolous is a shoe-in for a No1 contendership and Henderson is one of the best lightweights in the world. It would be interesting to see where both fighters are at in their current careers and this would be a great way to find out, whether they are truly in the top tier of competition.

Joe Lauzon Vs Shane Roller

If Lauzon can have another performance like he did against Gabe Ruediger, he’ll be considered one of the most dangerous men in the UFC, but he looked lacklustre against Sotiropolous and will look to come back in a big way. Shane Roller vs Joe Lauzon would be a great fight, simply because they are both entertaining fighters, but underated in my eyes.

Jim Miller Vs Evan Dunham

Both on the rise in the UFC, this would cement them a place in the top tier of the robust lightweight divison. Neither fighter backs away, so expect a finish from either man.

Kenny Florian Vs Sean Sherk

Florian stated that after his fight with Gray Maynard, that he needed to work on his wrestling a lot more. If that’s the case, then give Florian one of the men that has beaten him, Sean Sherk. Florian will want to test himself against a quality wrestler and he’ll get that with Sherk.

Eddie Alvarez Vs Gilbert Melendez

There’s been a lot of talk regarding this fight and whether or not it will happen is a different story, but it’s certainly something that MMA fans want to see. Melendez has made it clear that he wants to fight Alvarez and Alvarez wants the same thing. At this point, it’s all about logistics between Strikeforce and Bellator, but what a fight that would be.

Fights We Want To See in 2011: Bantamweight

MMA UK look at the potential fights that we might see in 2011 for the Bantamweight division.

James Lutman Vs Cory Tait

UCMMA Bantamweight Champion, James Lutman had an absolute dog fight at UCMMA 17. Both fighters gave it their all, but Tait was controlled on the ground. The plus sign for Tait is that in the 3rd round, he could have finished Lutman, but due to time constraints and Lutman’s fantastic grappling skills, he was unable to get the job done.

No-one knows the current status of London Shootfighters, Giorgio Andrews as he’s injured his rib, so this may be the fight that’s next for both fighters and it would be a great rematch.

Miguel Torres Vs Urijah Faber

This is a dream match in my eyes. Miguel Torres is one of the greatest fighters to ever grace the cage and so is Urijah Faber. With both of them in the same division now, this could easily headline a card or co-main event.

Norifumi “Kid” Yamaoto Vs Demtrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson

This promises to be an absolute battle. If it goes to the ground, I’ll give Johnson the advantage, but as we all know, every fight starts on its feet and if that’s the case the Yamamoto has a significant advantage.  Unbelieveably, the card the UFC 126 just got bigger with these two Bantamweights fighting out for early supremacy in the UFC.

Urijah Faber Vs Dominic Cruz

There’s been a little bit of smack talk between these two, with a rivarly that has goes back a few years. Faber will have to either go through at least one more opponent before he faces Cruz, but if Cruz loses his fight against Scott Jorgensen, then this sets up another dream fight between two Bantamweight legends.

Joe Warren Vs Joe Soto

Yeah, I know, they’ve already fought this year, but the first round of that fight was so convincing that I wouldn’t mind seeing these two go at it one more time. Soto won’t be so cocky this time and will go for a finish, but will Warren have worked on his striking offense and defense enough to match his steller wrestling? It’s a fight full of questions, that fans such as myself want an answer to.

Submission Of The Week – Neer Ending Choke

Knockout Of The Week – The Cuban Savage

What can you say about Hector Lombard, besides from the fact that the man is an absolute beast. He makes his opponents look like rookies and just lays them out. Check out this knockout against Whisper Goodman.

I will say this though. How does a black belt in Judo manage to destroy opponents in such a brutal fashion. Answers on a postcard please.