Names in the Game from the Magazine

Names in the Game from the Magazine


I get a lot of letters, so I thought it would be good to let you guys in on the answers to some of the questions I am frequently asked!

Hey Bas,

Just want to say mate that I loved your self-defense clips on YouTube. Good stuff. Can I ask about you learning submission/ground fighting? I’m in the same boat, as I’ve few grappling skills and think I should work on them to round out my skills.

How long did it take you to become proficient in grappling? How intensely did you train (how many times a week, etc)? How did your other skills suffer? One of the reasons I’ve not gotten into grappling is I don’t want to forgo my Capoeira and stand up sessions.

After my second loss against Ken Shamrock, I realized that nobody was going to stand with me. Heck, even Maurice Smith took me down! I started to train twice a day only doing submissions. Three times a week, I did the Thai pads, because I knew striking already, so I concentrated on the submissions. It paid off, because I won the next eight fights by submission!

My record of wins is half by submission, half by TKO. The part that I am really proud of is that they are all different submissions and KOs. That‘s what I believe a true MMA fighter should be capable of doing. When an opponent makes a mistake, capitalize on that and take whatever he gives you.

It really has to depend on you, how far do you want to take it? It’s very simple; don’t do something just because somebody tells you. See if you can make a submission better.

Most of the time you can’t, but sometimes you can! Even when you can’t, consciously thinking about a submission will make you better at it. This helped me a LOT!

Some people are strikers and just want to learn defenses for takedowns and submissions.

However, they don’t realize that when they learn to take people down or to submit them, they also understand how to stay out of those submissions, or even to escape them.

Write down things that pop up in your head, and try them out in training. Trust me, that’s what happened to me. My students now prefer to stand up with me than go to the ground.

You do need a good training partner. I had only one in Holland, and he was also new, but he learned fast. That meant that when I put an arm bar on him, within a couple of tries he knew how to stay out of it. So I needed a new set up for that same arm bar. He’d learn to defend that one after a few tries, so I’d come up with another one. This really made me think and create different ways to set up techniques and that made me better. It was good for him as well. Don’t forget to apply that advice to stand up combinations as well.

Remember, it’s not about knowing the technique. Anybody can learn a simple figure four submission in a minute. It’s about setting it up so your opponent doesn’t detect it.

Good luck! Don’t become fixated on complex techniques. If it’s too complicated and you don’t feel it, that technique is just not for you. Not everybody can pull off a gogoplata. Also, try to counter attack right away after an escape. Your opponent is still thinking about you escaping his technique, and he’ll be distracted!

Godspeed and Party on!



Height: 6 (183 cm)

Weight: 170 lb (93 kg)

Division: Welterweight (170bs)

Hometown: Ft Wayne – Indiana

Professional Record: 15-2-1 (Win – Loss – Draw)

Biggest Win: Defeated Diego Sanchez at UFC 76.


John Fitch is feeling relatively carefree. On this autumn afternoon, the 29-year-old is driving to Friant, California. Although he keeps both eyes on the road while cruising down Pacheco Pass Highway, he spends a considerable amount of time talking on a call phone that occasionally loses reception.


Two and a half hours later, the powerful welterweight stops chatting on his mobile device and pulls into the parking lot of Table Mountain Casino. He’s about to walk into the venue and help some of the fighters from his team, American Kickboxing Academy (AKA), strategize for their matches at tonight’s event, Melee on the Mountain.

While Fitch enjoys helping the younger guys develop their skills, he is also excited about the direction of his career. The Fort Wayne, Indiana-bred mixed martial artist is currently riding a fourteen fight winning streak. At UFC 76: Knockout, he earned his sweetest victory, by defeating the ultra popular Diego Sanchez via split decision. As a result, he emerged as one of the top five welterweights in the world. But despite his recent accolades, he has still needed a second job to support himself.


Fortunately, he is getting mainstream exposure. Up until recently, Fitch has barely received any airtime. Although he has been with the Ultimate Fighting Championship since 2005, it took nearly two years before one of his matches was promoted for a live television event. But that hasn’t stressed Fitch out.


“I don’t think of it as a big personal thing, because as long as I’m getting the fights I want and being paid, I’m happy. But it does bother me to see some guys get more TV time and being pushed more, because there are a lot of guys who fight hard and been through a lot of tough fights that don’t get much respect,” he says. “I think you should market a guy according to skill level, not according to marketability and how popular you are. I have a general dislike for how they do that, but they’re just trying to make money. Whatever. They’re paying me, so I’m fine with it.”


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Once Fitch graduated Carroll High School in Fort Wayne, Indiana, he opted to stay close to home and walked-on to the Purdue wrestling team as a freshman in 1997. The spirited warrior spent the next five years there under the tutelage of assistant coach Tom Erikson. By his senior year, he was chosen by his teammates as a co-captain, along with two-time All-American Jake Vercelli. He graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Physical Education in 2002, and he was one of three student athletes to receive the Red Mackey Scholarship, which allowed him to attend graduate school for a full year.


Although his collegiate wrestling days were over, he continued helping out the squad, and as a result became attracted to mixed martial arts. Coach Erikson competed in PRIDE and served as a direct influence. Also, Gary Goodridge and Mark Coleman stopped at Purdue from time to time to train. After Fitch heard about MMA’s lucrative paydays and prime competitiveness, he decided to give it a shot. “I thought this could be a fun thing to do, and I could make some money doing it,” he recalls.


“I thought I could try it for a little while instead of starting to teach right away.”


While Fitch attended grad school, his professional fighting career launched in 2002. But his first few fights didn’t go as planned, leaving him with one win, two losses, and a no contest. Not the best start. Though the former Purdue wrestling captain could’ve called it quits and begun a profession in teaching, he didn’t let the vibe bother him too much. “You’re discouraged on a daily basis,” he admits. “But luckily with discouragement, you got encouragement too. So it balanced everything out.”


Once he finished
his final exams in May 2003, Fitch relocated to San Jose, California to train with the elite camp at AKA. He meshed well with the team, and vastly improved his skills in every area including striking, Jiu-Jitsu, and even wrestling.


Though he had started his impressive winning streak, Fitch wasn’t yet getting the paydays he once imagined. To keep his income fl owing, he needed a side gig. “I worked four nights a week at a bar and spent a couple years bouncing. Then eventually, I got a bartending job,” he explains. “Being the bartender is way better. You have a barrier between you and the drunk people for one. If anything happens, you don’t have to do anything about it. You just pour drinks and make money. The biggest thing is the money thing, because you make more money for doing less work, and you get plenty more time to sleep, rest, and train.” In 2004, it looked as if Fitch was about to stop mixing drinks for random partygoers. When the UFC was recruiting mixed martial artists to partake in their premiere reality competition The Ultimate Fighter, his manager and trainer Bob Cook urged several athletes from AKA to record audition tapes.


The organization seemed highly interested in the former Purdue standout. And it looked as if he would join the show. But while he was sitting at the airport, he received some disturbing news. “I only had ten or fifteen minutes left to board, and they called me and told me not to get on the plane,” he recalls. “So I had to get people to get my bags off the plane and everything.”


Once he retrieved his luggage, it was back to San Jose and working as a barback. Despite the discouragement, he moved forward and in October 2005, he was offered a fight against Brock Larson. Fortunately, Fitch made the most of the opportunity as he ground out a hard-earned decision.


The hard part was over. Fitch got the attention of the UFC brass, and all he had to do was keep it. He steamrolled through his next opponents, including Josh Burkman, Thiago Alves, Kuniyoshi Hironaka, and Luigi Fioravanti. Although none of those bouts were televised, he had a nice surprise awaiting him in June when he took on Jiu- Jitsu wiz Roan Carneiro. The fight occurred during the televised portion of Ultimate Fight Night 10. It was a tough test, but Fitch submitted the black belt with a rear naked choke in the second round.


Not only was Fitch climbing the ladder in the UFC, but was becoming ranked as a top ten welterweight. The paydays still weren’t good enough for him to leave his job, although he worked only two nights a week. But on September 22 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California, the Fort Wayne warrior defeated Diego Sanchez via split decision in an electrifying showing.


That night, Fitch transformed into a 170-pound threat in the eyes of the mainstream audience and it changed his life. “After the Diego fight,” he says, “I finally stopped washing dishes.”


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As Fitch entered the Table Mountain Casino in Friant, California, he reflected on the past couple of months. Though most of his fights in the UFC have been on the under card, he has secured main slots on the televised portion of events and has taken advantage of those crucial opportunities. Now, Zuffa is promoting Fitch more than ever. “They’re starting to push a lot more. They’re putting me on a lot more TV stuff. A lot of my fights are playing on Unleashed and on UFC Wired,” he casually mentions. “They’re pushing me now. So no worries.”


Though Fitch would love to walk around with the UFC Welterweight belt around his waist in the near future, he acknowledges that the championship opportunity won’t happen for a while. In the meantime, he is planning to fight sometime this winter and is looking to tighten up his game.


“A lot of people have huge glossy goals they write down or put up on the wall. I think that’s too general and too big. I’m more concerned about the daily development of my skill set,” he explains. “I make it small and basic, so that way, it’s e
asier to beat the goals, stay positive and makes it more fun. The big goals end up taking care of themselves if you do all the small things.”


That’s the carefree attitude kicking in.


Flashing lights, TV screens, ring girls clamoring for your jockstrap; the world of fighting seems quite enjoyable from this particular angle. But we live in a three dimensional world where we sometimes have to look at things from all angles, even, at times, the ugly ones. I decided this month to dig down and inspect both the positive and negative aspects of being a professional mixed martial artist. Not that it’s a far journey for me; I don’t have to follow anybody around for a week documenting everything he does and how he feels at each moment. Well in a way, I suppose I do. So here goes my attempt at listing the best and worst parts of being a fighter.





Oh man, your teenage desires may all be met, if you are lucky and hardworking enough to become a popular MMAer. Hell, even if you don’t fight, you can ride the poon-tang wave caused by your buddy who made it into the fight game. Ask my friends, now that I’ve shacked up with my ol’ lady. Back in the day, I was the only fighter in my hood, so I was the fighter, until some local tools figured out that they too could get some booty by saying things like, “Yeah, I’m a blue belt. It’s kind of a big deal.” My lines were much more subtle, like “I’m sorry, what was your name, I get punched in the head for a living.” Girls are as dumb and horny as you are, so it is possible you could be in for a wild ride if you play your cards right.



If it wasn’t for Triumph United (, Pro-elite, and Osiris shoes, I would have been either panhandling or hookin’ on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood to make ends meet during my recent sabbatical from the cage. Sponsors are like a beautiful welfare system for those addicted to violence. I cash in my food stamps on the first of every month so that I can support my habit for just a little while longer, and inject a fresh batch of face punching right into my vein. I hop my parents don’t read this and schedule an intervention.


Free Stuff

“Here Mayhem, I got this one.” I respond, “Okay,” without even pretending to reach for my wallet. Where were all these nice people when I was starving between training sessions? Ah well, best not to ask too many questions and just soak up the limelight while I can, until I have to buy my own over-priced filet mignon. “Dude, Mayhem, I just want to give you a t-shirt.” I respond, “Duh, okay,” adding another one to the ever-expanding pile in the back of my truck. If I would’ve known that at my age I would be running a goodwill donation center that specializes in fi ght fashion, I would’ve bought a bigger truck. I have enough skull printed fabric back there to decorate a haunted mansion for a decade.


Fan Love

Going in the same vein as free dinners from people you hardly know is the common fan love. The Mayhem Monkeys are well documented and will basically go bananas (pun intended) whenever I show up at an MMA-related event, but sometimes I get a high five simply walking through Wal-Mart’s parking lot. “Hey, you’re that guy!” Yeah, I’m that guy, I guess. “Dude, Mayhem I saw that video you did on YouTube, with the guy, and you had a funny hat on, ha! You rock!” Thanks. Now, do I need this constant ego stroking? No, not at all. I believe I have surpassed that point in my life and no longer feel insecure with myself where I need the validation of strangers to make me feel good. But any fighter is lying if he says he doesn’t appreciate signing autographs, giving hugs to fans and the like (see Girls Girls Girls). I’m getting paid for doing what I love.


Did I mention I get paid to kick ass?

Besides the fact that I get to wear whatever clothes I feel like every morning when I wake up, I am able to make beautiful dollars to punch, kick, and choke another grown man, free of prosecution. Of course this is a given, so I could have neglected to even put it in this article, but then I may come under fire from the editors of FIGHT! Magazine. Then I may have a problem running into prosecution with the whiny little sissies, and they will refuse to pay me, until I pound them into the pavement outside of their offices, as they scream and call the cops, girly-men that they are.


Writing articles for FIGHT!

Um, about that last paragraph, I was just a bit flustered, and
that wasn’t about the editors, that was about something else. I mean, I just got off the phone with my girl, and I’ve been training really hard. Anyway the point is, I really enjoy getting to write for FIGHT! Magazine, it is awesome, and by far the best magazine, with the manliest editors of all time. I really feel like I have fulfilled a childhood dream to have people read what I write down, even if it isn’t in a video game or skateboarding magazine. It definitely ranks up there with the best things about being a fighter.




Girls Girls Girls

Remember when I said all of your teenage fantasies may come true? Well, they may, but remember, there is no free lunch, and those carnal desires come at a price. I could leave it there, but I think you should wrap your mind around how ruthless, conniving, and what an overall liability that young women can be. When I was seventeen, I would spar with the pro boxers at my local gym, and constantly get my ass kicked by an older boxer called “Boo Boo”. One night, after a particularly brutal beating, Boo Boo leaned over to me and said through his gold teeth, “Jason, man, stay away from women.” I laughed at the time, but now almost ten years later, I know exactly what the hell he is talking about. Freaky women tend to carry social diseases and that can lead to pissing razor blades. But that can be the least of your worries. Let one of those harpies become inseminated by you and see what happens. Boo Boo had baby mama drama, and while I luckily avoided that (to the best of my knowledge), I had plenty of dating this girl and that girl drama. Girls getting drunk and crashing my car, girls getting me shot at, girls threatening other girls that I was “dating” (read: banging). The dumb ones are attracted to the fame and desire to shine in your spotlight, and the longer it takes to realize it, the worse off you will ultimately end up.


Fake Friends

Along the same lines as the crazy girls come the fake friends. I still know a few fighters that haven’t quite figured out that they have the same kind of friends Vanilla Ice had, the same ones that milked him of every last cent, hung at his overpriced Miami Beach house, and told him that he should definitely do the movie Cold as Ice. These people have the desire to share the limelight, but have less talent than strippers. Instead, they resort to being your “yes men,” filling you up with every substance known to man, regardless of the possible repercussions. Don’t get me wrong, this is your responsibility, but when everyone is putting another drink in your face, it’s tough to turn them down, especially coming from people you consider close to you.


Psycho fans

Remember the fan love I hold so dear to my heart? Well, there comes a line that a few deranged individuals may be all too happy to cross. It can be great to send a self-addressed stamped envelope to the home of your favorite fighter, but it isn’t so great to be waiting at the steps to his apartment complex with a nine-millimeter and a string of doll heads, wearing a wifebeater with his name and a heart scrawled out in your own blood. The line of reality is quite blurred for some fans, especially when I have unwittingly become the spokesperson for the crazy people that happen to watch fights. All I ask is that no matter how much you love me, please don’t murder me and wear my skin as clothes. That’s no way to honor a cult leader. Thanks.


AM Training

I love to train. It is one of the joys of my life to be able to do what I love for a living. That being said, I could kill Dr. Ryan Parsons when he wakes me up at the asscrack of dawn to run sprints on a muddy soccer field, Sokoudjou slinging mud from his brand new Nikes as he charges out in front of me, birds cheerily mocking me, and old people, lots of old people. What the hell are old people doing walking around at this time of day? Why? Is there some type of sale on ED pills that is only available to the seniors that wake up with the sun? Is that why they look at me so strange, or is it the pinstripe of wet mud that runs down my face and on to my Triumph hoodie? I’m going back to bed.



Worse than deviating from my night-owl schedule is having the misfortune of being injured. One of my few positive traits is being pretty durable, so this has happened very rarely, but the times it has are some of the most disheartening in life. Remember when you were a kid, and got in trouble at recess for throwing a softball at Amanda Do-Gooder’s head, and had to sit and watch everyone play? Well I do, and it sucked. Getting injured is the adult version of that. You have to sit your ass on the sidelines and watch all your friends laugh and play. I recently broke my hand during a fight, and just my luck, some of the best guys in the world came through Team Quest, where I watched my friends wrestle with future Olympian Mo LaWall, and grappling champion Marcelo Garcia. Enough to melt my cast with tears.


The Politics of the Fight Game

Say the wrong things, piss off the wrong people, and flush your career. I’ve said too much already.


Well that’s that. I think the positives well outweigh the negatives, especially since I’m kind of past the pay my dues stage of my career. Every day is a struggle, but I’d much rather be struggling at practice, with sponsors, and with fight promoters than struggling with traffic, cubicles, and bosses who micromanage me. I’ll happily sprint down the hallway, avoiding groupies, risking being John Lennon-ed by a guy who thinks I’m talking to him in my interviews, and weed my mayhem garden of plastic friends to be able to go on this wild ride of mixed martial arts. Traveling the world and getting paid for my first true love is worth it, even if it occasionally means catching the early bird special with somebody’s Nana.


Houston “The Assassin” Alexander doesn’t take sabbaticals, even when he has a good reason to celebrate. At UFC 75: Champion vs. Champion in London, England, the 35-year-old light heavyweight improved his professional record to 8-1 by dropping Italian- bred Alessio Sakara with a vicious knee to the chin before finishing him off with a flurry of punches.

It’s been five days since that victory, and instead of sipping cognac at a club, Alexander is training at Mick Doyle’s Kickboxing and Fitness Center in Omaha, Nebraska. “I stay in the gym just to make sure the sword is sharpened,” he explains. “If you sit around and let the sword sit out, it’s going to get dull and become rough. It’s better for me to be in the gym than to be out of it.”

However, his workout is constantly interrupted as reporters blow up the light heavyweight’s cell phone to conduct interviews. The impromptu press day takes up most of his afternoon, but Alexander courteously answers everyone’s questions. Around three o’clock, he leaves the large facility with a nearly dead cell phone, and walks towards his ’99 Pontiac Grand Prix. He opens the door, maneuvers his 6’0”, 205 pound muscular frame into the vehicle, and starts up the engine. Then, he rolls out of the parking lot to pick up his children from school wearing black pants, a long sleeve Team Doyle shirt, and a black Chicago White Sox baseball cap. Oversized medallions and platinum grills aren’t included in his wardrobe.

Without a thick skin, a kid growing up in East St. Louis, Illinois usually winds up as prey for the neighborhood vultures. The poverty-stricken metropolis is one of the most dangerous areas in the United States, with alarmingly high rates of assault, murder, and rape. Alexander spent his early childhood there. As a youngster, walking down the street without being harassed was rare. “It’s a pretty rough place. I remember as a kid, I had to

end up fighting every other day because the guys down there are pretty rough,” he says. “If you don’t know how to fight in East St. Louis, you got picked on a lot.”

When Alexander was eight, his mother relocated the family to Omaha, Nebraska to be closer to relatives and escape hood life. There, he blossomed. In high school, he excelled on the football field, on the wrestling mats, and even in the classroom. During his senior year, he was planning to attend the Savannah College of Art & Design in Georgia, but that plan was scrapped when he learned he was about to become a father. “I chose to stay with my daughter verses going to school,” he admits. “I chose priority over school.”

After graduating highschool, Alexander had his first baby girl and took a job as head machine operator at an asphalt company. He worked there until he applied his impeccable drive to other ventures.

As a teenager, Alexander had submerged himself in the hiphop culture after seeing the graffiti art in Beat Street and witnessing the legendary Rock Steady Crew break-dance in Flashdance. Since then, he had become a breathing Wikipedia of urban knowledge.

In 2000, he turned his passion into an occupation by interning at the local radio station. He spent the next year learning the ropes, and eventually he was hired as an on-air deejay. He has a weekly program entitled Sunday Nite Raw, and was the mastermind of the Culture Shock School Tour, an ongoing project that educates children and young adults about the essence of hip-hop.

During his internship, he wasn’t getting paid. As a result, when he attended an amateur MMA show at Club Amnesia, he accidentally fell into another profession. “A friend of mine, who knew I liked to roughhouse, dared me to get into the ring with one of the guys who was actually one of the champs,” Alexander recalls. “So I signed up for it, got in, and ended up being the winner that night. I kept going back and it’s been a whirlwind experience after that.”

Alexander began competing locally for promoter Chad Ma son and earned between $600-2,000 per fight. For the next several years, he trained alone at a rinky-dink gym located inside an old library in Omaha. He concentrated on boxing, cardio, and muscle strengthening. His peculiar solo workout regimen worked; he kept winning matches, amounting to hundreds of amateur battles. “When I tell people I had over two hundred fights, they probably don’t believe it. But I fought every weekend,” he explains. “Sometimes it would be one person, sometimes it would be two people, and sometimes, it would be six people. I’ve been doing this every weekend for six or seven years.”

Despite being choked out in his pro debut in 2001, Alexander has become unstoppable since then, defeating his next five professional opponents in impressive fashion and continuing to decimate locals by the dozen. In early 2007, Monte Cox became his manager and the knockout artist competed in a tournament at Cox’s Extreme Challenge promotion in March. The Assassin fought two oversized heavyweights and laid ‘em out.

One week later, Alexander was bonding with his children in the park when Cox called his cell phone (it was charged, this time) and asked him about fighting in the UFC. The light heavyweight accepted the offer, even though he never heard of his opponent, Keith Jardine.

Fortunately, he started training with Mick Doyle, an accomplished Muy Thai Kickboxing Champion, and learned more effective striking methods. Alexander utilized those techniques against Jardine in May at UFC 71: Liddell vs. Jackson, ferociously

uppercutting him in the chin. After 48 seconds of fury, Jardine was on the ground and his mouthpiece was several feet away.

Apparently, Alexander didn’t have any octagon jitters. “I did feel anxious, but I wasn’t nervous because I was doing smaller shows for seven years and I was doing my program every week for five years in front of crowds,” he says. “I felt really comfortable.” Later that night, UFC President Dana White gave him a nice bonus in the locker room and rewrote his contract.

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Alexander pulls his Grand Prix up to his children’s school, puts his vehicle in park, and waits for his kids to come out. As he sits at the wheel, he reflects on the past several months. He transformed from a regional gladiator to one of the sport’s rising stars, having knocked out two of the UFC’s most promising light heavyweights – Jardine and Sakara – in less than two minutes combined. The mainstream visibility boosted not only his MMA career, but it has shined more light on his radio program and his Culture Shock School Tour.

Now, he is inching closer to achieving his lifelong aspiratio
ns. “The goal is to get the belt. There is no other goal but trying to get the belt and give the fans what they want, which is some excitement and passion in the octagon. They’re tired of seeing boring MMA fights in the UFC. I want to keep it exciting for people, and everyone loves drama,” he explains. “Outside the ring, I’m trying to educate people on the sport and educate people on hip-hop.”

Alexander is certainly getting the best of both worlds.


Technical Breakdown:


Houston Alexander is a premier knockout artist. Though he practiced boxing during his teenage years, his striking game has risen to a tremendously higher level since training with Mick Doyle, an accomplished Kickboxer and Muy Thai specialist. “The Assassin” showed his diverse stand-up skills by stunning Keith Jardine with an array of uppercuts and dropping Alessio Sakara with a devastating knee from the clinch. He has proven to have as much power as anyone in the light heavyweight division.

Grappling & Submission

Despite several seconds of pounding Sakara on the octagon fl oor, Alexander hasn’t truly displayed his ground game just yet. In his defense, he hasn’t had the opportunity to show and prove because most of his fights end via knockout in the first round. Although he currently doesn’t hold a belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, he maintains having good submission skills. However, he does have a wrestling background and from the little bit that’s been seen, he has excellent takedown defense.


Alexander has pushed the pace in all of his battles. While only one of his nine career fights has gone the distance, Alexander maintains that he has excellent cardio. He runs daily and has a rigorous training regimen with the tough coaches at Team Doyle, which explains why his speed, explosiveness and raw power are top notch.


Anderson Silva has taken on some of the most talented fighters of his time, even knocking out one of the longest-reigning champions on his way to the belt. Unfortunately, the debate over whether or not Silva is the greatest middleweight of all-time can’t be decided because, after all, he can’t fight the champions of decades past. Or can he?

In this segment, FIGHT! approached three of the most renowned trainers in the sport: Greg Jackson of Greg Jackson’s Submission Fighting, Robert Follis of Team Quest, and Pat Miletich of Miletich Fighting Systems. Each has worked with numerous champions throughout the years, they’ve seen more fighters come and go than we can count, and they certainly aren’t shy about their opinions.

We asked each trainer how the fight would go if the legend were in his prime and the modern superstar was in his current state. They were asked to pick a winner and shed some insight as to why the fight would progress as their expert opinions saw it.


Greg Jackson: I have to go with GSP. He’s incredibly strong, he’s technical, he’s an amazing athlete, and he’s one of my guys.

Robert Follis: GSP’s style is so strong and he can control where the fight would go. He can control the wrestling and he’s so athletic. If you take the fight back to Miletich’s day, I think it’s a different look.

Pat Miletich: Tough fight. That’s a toss up. Georges is a great athlete, well balanced like I was, so I can’t decide.

Verdict: Despite Miletich humbly calling a draw in his own bout (even after being pressed three times), the decision goes to St. Pierre on account of his strength and technical prowess. Georges St. Pierre 2-0.


GJ: I would say BJ Penn wins it because he’s got much better stand up and his Jiu-Jitsu is better.

RF: BJ Penn for sure. He is too much. When he’s in shape, he’s a nightmare for anyone at any weight class. The way he trains, his stand up, how hard he is to take down, he would win easily.

PM: BJ Penn is too well rounded; he’s too good an athlete. He’d win.

Verdict: A clean sweep for BJ, who the experts see as being one of the most unstoppable and purely talented fighters in the game. Whether standing up or on the ground, the consensus is that BJ could handle it. BJ Penn 3-0.


GJ: Randy Couture would win because he’s a better wrestler.

RF: Randy’s game is more complete; he’s got a great ability to fight standing up. Randy can work stand up, stop shots, has submission skills.

PM: Randy Couture. He’s a good enough wrestler, better than Severn was, and he’s got better stand up.

Verdict: Another sweep, this time for The Natural, who the experts see as the superior wrestler and the more complete all-around fighter. Considering his career, would you want to bet against Randy? Randy Couture 3-0.


GJ: Rickson would win because he’s got superior ground skills.

RF: It’s difficult because Rickson didn’t fight the same competition that Frank did. Rickson has this aura of being unbeatable. I’d have to edge Frank Shamrock, because if he kept it standing, he’d kill Rickson. Rickson on the ground poses a great problem, but the fight game has progressed and Frank could keep it standing.

PM: Frank Shamrock because he couldn’t be taken down by Rickson, and when he’s standing up, he’s just better.

Verdict: Our experts seemed to agree that if Frank could keep this fight standing, he would dominate. If he were taken to the ground, however, it would be a different story. Despite this weakness, Follis and Miletich agree that he could avoid ending up in the Gracie’s guard. Frank Shamrock 2-1.


GJ: Rampage wins because his style matches up well with Tito and his wrestling is solid. He’s got heavy hands too, so the edge in power and wrestling goes to Rampage.

RF: I don’t know that Tito has reached his prime. If Tito was training was correctly, he could hit his prime. If we’re taking what their primes have been, I give it to Rampage.

PM: I’m going to go with Rampage because Rampage hits hard, and Tito doesn’t like getting hit.

Verdict: Even though Follis suggests that Tito hasn’t hit his prime (quite the interesting proposition), all of our experts agree that Rampage’s heavy hands would lead him to the big victory. Rampage Jackson 3-0.


GJ: I’d have to say 50/50 on this one. They’re both great strikers, Bas is good on the ground, but Chuck can get up.

RF: That would be a battle. Bas is probably a little more well rounded, but his wrestling might not be good enough get Chuck down. That’s a coin toss.

PM: Bas Rutten because he’s too well rounded and too accurate of a striker.

Verdict: Only one of our experts was brave enough to weigh in on this bout, but he gave the edge to Rutten on account of his accurate striking. Although two of our experts chose not to pick a winner, all agree that it would be a brutal war. Bas Rutten 1-0.


GJ: Cro Cop would win that. He’s the superior striker and he’s got good sprawl.

RF: I would give it to Cro Cop. Give Brock three years and he’s a tough match up. Cro Cop is just too tough.

PM: Brock Lesnar because no one will stop Brock’s take downs. In fi ve years, Brock will have a belt.

Verdict: Cro Cop takes the edge, being the superior striker in his prime. Two of our experts agree that Brock will be a force within a matter of years, but tonight, it goes to the Croatian. Mirko Filipovic 2-1.


GJ: I’d have to say 50/50 again. They’re both explosive strikers so whoever lands the big one first would win.

RF: I think Sokoudjou can beat anybody. If you put him in there right now, his athleticism and movement would carry him to the win. If you were to take Sokoudjou from three years from now,
it would be ridiculous. That’s a tough fi ght but Sokoudjou could tear him up.

PM: Sokoudjou. He’s too good of an athlete.

Verdict: In what has to be the most astounding upset of the night, Sokoudjou has won the support of the majority of the panel, thus defeating the most decorated light heavyweight champion in MMA history. They point to his sheer athleticism and explosive striking as reasons for such confidence in the young Sokoudjou. Rameau

Thierry Sokoudjou 2-0.


GJ: Anderson Silva would win due to his striking ability. He just would need to stay off the ground.

RF: Sakuraba is just too crafty. I don’t think Silva would end up TKO-ing him, which is the only way he would win. I’m going with Sakuraba

PM: Sakuraba without a doubt. He was amazing in his prime.

Verdict: Even with Anderson Silva’s recent tear through the UFC, the consensus of our experts is that he’s still no match for Sakuraba in his prime. Sustaining the aura around

“The Gracie Hunter,” the trainers offer little else in their explanations other than “He’s just Sakuraba.” Kazushi Sakuraba 2-1.


For this second section, we pitted legends of mixed martial arts against masters of single disciplines. We then asked some of the same trainers to weigh in on the fantasy bout. But, there’s a catch. The master of the single discipline gets a year of complete MMA training at any school he chooses.



GJ: Fedor would win because Bruce Lee is too light.

RF: Bruce Lee is too small. Bruce was a great athlete but part of what made him special is that he was creating MMA. I think with five years training, he could do something, but he’d never be athletic enough to beat Fedor.

PM: Fedor by destruction.

Verdict: The trainers all agree again, giving appropriate respect to the father of MMA, but recognizing that Fedor is too big, too strong, and too good. Pat Miletich even took it upon himself to invent a new way to win a fi ght (apparently, submissions and knockouts are for mere mortals; Fedor wins by destruction). Fedor Emelianenko 3-0.


GJ: Chuck Liddell would win because Norris is too light.

RF: Liddell. Chuck Norris wouldn’t even come close, even with a year of training.

PM: Chuck Liddell because Norris was a good point fi ghter and a decent kick boxer, but he couldn’t deal with Chuck’s style.

Verdict: Another shut out for the MMA superstar. Despite that the fact that Norris has excellent kick boxing skills, a good amount of BJJ training, a black belt from the Machados, and years of experience selling Bowfl ex machines to late-night TV viewers, our experts chose the heavier and unorthodox Liddell. Chuck Liddell 3-0.


GJ: Royce would win because he could probably get him down.

RF: Muhammad Ali, with as good of range control as he had, he would win. If you could teach him to stop the takedown, he’d be great.

PM: Muhammad. You’d have to teach him how to stuff a takedown, but he’s a great athlete so he’d be fine.

Verdict: It is fitting that the first single discipline fighter to be awarded a decision is the incomparable Ali. The majority of our experts have him winning with his outstanding range and all expect that he’ll spend the year at their facility learning how to stuff the takedown. His athleticism and pinpoint striking are unlike anything Royce (or any other MMAer) has ever seen. Muhammad Ali 2-1.


GJ: I’d have to say 50/50 because if Mike Tyson connects with 4-ounce gloves, it’s over. But if Rampage can get him on the ground, he would win.

RF: Mike Tyson with a year of learning sprawl and a ground game, he’d be a really tough match up. I’d still go with Quinton because I think he could get it to the ground. Give Tyson two or three years and I change that story.

PM: Rampage Jackson takes this. He’s too strong and he’d be able to take him down.

Verdict: Even though the trainers offer proper deference to Mike Tyson with 4-ounce gloves, they’re confi dent enough to pick Rampage unanimously. So, who wants to tell Mike the bad news? Rampage Jackson 3-0.


Name: Brian Bowles

Professional Record: 4-0

Height: 5’7”

Weight: 135lbs

Discipline: Wrestling

Notable Wins: Charlie Valencia


A rugged wrestler from Georgia, Brian Bowles burst onto the bantamweight (135 pound limit) scene in a big way at his World Extreme Cagefi ghting debut, taking out former King of the Cage champion Charlie Valencia in June.

With the WEC now showcasing both the featherweight (145 pound limit) and bantamweight divisions, it gives smaller fighters like Bowles a place to shine. Until recently, they didn’t have that opportunity.

Bowles trains out of the Hardcore Gym in Athens, Georgia, with fighters such as

Ultimate Fighting Championship veteran Rory Singer, and WEC veterans Stephan Ledbetter and Micah Miller. Building on a solid wrestling base, he has slowly been developing the rest of his mixed martial arts game.

Bowles surprised many in attendance by bringing the fight straight to Valencia, who was coming off an impressive knockout of former WEC champion Antonio Banuelos. He controlled the pace of the fight with crisp punching combinations, and by out-hustling Valencia on the ground. Valencia had no answers for the young fighter, and succumbed to a rear naked choke in the second round.

Going into the fight, Bowles had limited experience, having only fought three times in his young career. All three were victories, but against lesser competition than he was slated to face in the WEC, which houses some of the best bantamweights in the world.

Bowles no doubt has his eyes on the prize, the WEC Bantamweight Championship, but in order to get there, he must work his way up the ladder. Slated to face Marcos Galvao in his next bout, Bowles is likely vying with the Brazilian export for a shot at current champion Chase Beebe sometime in


Name: Marcos Galvao

Nickname: “Louro”

Professional Record: 5-0

Height: 5’7”

Weight: 135 lbs

Discipline: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Notable Wins: Kenji Osawa, Naoya Uematsu and Fredson Paxiao

A black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Andre Pedernieras, Marcos “Louro” Galvao is primed to make a splash in the United States when he makes his WEC debut against Bowles.

Galvao trains at the world-renowned Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu factory, Nova Uniao. This camp has produced such decorated MMA fighters as Vitor “Shaolin” Ribeiro, Thiago Tavares, and Thales Leites.

He was thrown to wolves when he made his MMA debut several years ago in Shooto, going up against some of the best bantamweights in world with no experience. Galvao held his own, going 4-1 in the venerable Japanese promotion, with his only loss coming to current Shooto Featherweight Champion Akitoshi Hokazono. In his native Brazil, Galvao has gone 2-0 with victories over Naoya Uematsu and Fredson Paxiao in impressive fashion.

His breakout fight was at Shooto Back to our Roots 3, where he took on highly regarded striker Kenji Osawa, in what was considered to be a number-one contender’s match for the featherweight title. Galvao employed an excellent strategy against the dangerous Osawa, neutralizing his striking by clinching and getting the fi ght to the ground. Osawa had no answer for the strategy, as Galvao earned a three-round unanimous decision.

Someone was paying close attention to that fi ght, as the WEC quickly made an offer to Galvao, which would see the Brazilian fighter make his way to the United States. He is set to make his stateside debut in December.

“This is a great opportunity in my life, and I’ve been looking forward to fighting in the United States,” said Galvao. “Now I have my opportunity and I will give it my best.”

He has proven over the years to be an excellent ground fighter, dominating his opponents with his slick and technical ground game. He muscles his opponents to the mat, controlling them from the top.

“I’m a very calm and technical fighter during the fight,” commented Galvao on his style.

 When he faces Bowles, Galvao will be the first fighter to make the transition from Shooto in Japan to the WEC in the United States. This will be his first fight in a cage, but that shouldn’t have much affect on the calm and collected style of the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu guru.


Name: Jorge Masvidal

Nickname: “Gamebred”

Professional Record: 12-2

Height: 5’10”

Weight: 155 lbs

Discipline: Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Key Wins: Yves Edwards, Matt Lee, Keith Wisniewski and Joe Lauzon


He’s young and cocky, but he has the skills to back up his brash attitude in the cage.

His name? Jorge “Gamebred” Masvidal. Masvidal has fought in several different weight divisions, but has recently found a home at lightweight (155 pound limit). It’s one of the more talented and crowded divisions in the sport, but he is looking to make waves all the same.

He made a name for himself in Florida, fighting for American Fighting Championship, and was soon noticed by the fledging Bodog Fight promotion. He made his Bodog debut at welterweight, winning a convincing decision over UFC veteran Keith Wisniewski. The fight got him noticed by the MMA community.

After contemplating it for a time, he decided that moving to lightweight was in his best interests, as was a move to American Top Team, which soon followed. Now at home with the world famous ATT, Masvidal works on his game in an already crowded gym.

“Its fun,” he said of training with so many of the top names in the sport, “especially when you’ve got them all in succession. I got Gesias “JZ” Calvancante around, then Din Thomas, then Marcus Aurelio, and then someone in a higher weight class who is also in the top ten.”

Since beginning his training at ATT, Masvidal has been gaining notoriety with his impressive in-ring performances. In July, Masvidal took on highly regarded lightweight Yves Edwards, who is a UFC and PRIDE veteran. He showed his versatility as an MMA fighter by knocking out Edwards in devastating fashion.

Masvidal continued his winning streak when he made his Strikeforce debut in September at the Playboy Mansion. He took on fellow Bodog Fight veteran Matt Lee, who was coming off a solid, albeit losing, performance against Eddie Alvarez in July. Masvidal attempted to take the fight to the ground, but Lee defended well and kept it standing. That would soon be a mistake, as Masvidal unleashed a furious flurry of elbows
that dropped Lee before finishing him off with strikes on the ground.

In Strikeforce, he has the opportunity to face two of the best lightweights in the world in Josh “The Punk” Thomson and Gilbert Melendez. A win over either of these fighters would vault Masvidal into consideration as one of the top fighters in the division.

“I’d love to fight either of them,” he stated. “I’d come out the victor too. I’m dead serious. I’d bet the house on it. If we fight, I’d put a whooping on either of them.” Although he is cocky, this young brash fighter appears to have a bright future in MMA.


The IFL Finals are in the books, and the SilverBacks/Pittbulls match was a great show!

Jake Ellenberger had the first fight with Delson Heleno; it was a great fight. Ellenberger took the fight to Heleno, and was absolutely not afraid for a takedown. He was standing straight up and defended every takedown defense that Heleno had. When Heleno did take

him down and got the mount, Ellenberger rotated to his stomach. Heleno wanted to go for a rear naked choke, but then Ellenberger rolled inside Heleno’s legs and got into his guard. Heleno went for a straight arm bar; Ellenberger tried to get out by rolling out over his shoulder, but Heleno rolled with him, finishing the fight by way of a straight arm bar in the first round.

Fight number two came up: Deividas Taurosevicius was facing Bart Palaszewski. Both fighters came to fight, both pressing the action. Bart was doing well, and staying just outside Deividas’ reach so he could counter, but Deividas fought back, throwing a few high kicks in the process. Bart went for a takedown and ended up in Deividas guard. Deividas right away went for a straight arm bar, he pulled it, Bart slapped Deividas’ thigh

once, and Deividas let go. Later he would tell us that he felt the arm pop. Some say Deividas kicked Bart by accident in the face; it was more of a “sickle kick,” if you can call it a kick, because if wasn’t even meant as a kick, with the outside of his foot. So it wasn’t intentional and even if it was, it wasn’t illegal because Bart was on both his feet.

The ref saw Bart’s “pain face” from the arm bar, plus Bart turned away from his opponent, so the ref stopped the fight. We found out that one of Deividas’ toes got into Bart’s eye, and he couldn’t see. That was the reason he turned away.

The Pittbulls were now up two fights. Nobody in IFL history ever made a comeback after that, so the Silverbacks were under pressure.

Ben Rothwell was up next, against last minute replacement Ricco Rodriquez. Ricco looked good; he had lost about 40 pounds, and this fight was going to be the biggest test for Rothwell in his career. Rodriquez, a former UFC heavyweight champion, came out strong, as did Rothwell. Ricco put some strikes in to set up a takedown. Rothwell was a little cautious, and didn’t really commit to his punches, being afraid of course of the takedown. After a few takedown attempts from Ricco, Ben felt that he was able to start punching with more power and commit more to his strikes.

Round two was off, and I gave that one to Rothwell. Rothwell came forward faster, and started to land some strikes. Ricco landed a low kick in Rothwell’s jewels, but Rothwell didn’t take too much time to start again, realizing that Rodriquez started to gas a little bit. Like I mentioned, Ricco took the fi ght on four days notice. Although he was training, he was of course not in the best shape he could be. Rothwell also landed some right straight body shots, which are always good to set up another punch. Ricco got in a few guillotine chokes, but wasn’t able to finish Ben with them. It went to a judge’s decision, who ruled in favor of Ben Rothwell! Great victory for Ben; he knows now that he’s up there with the best of the heavyweights!

Ryan McGivern against Fabio Leopoldo was up next. Fabio beat Ryan last time they met, by way of a straight knee bar in the second round. He told us that he had many distractions the last few fights, but that he was ready this time. Boy was he! Leopoldo threw a few high kicks, but Ryan kept pressing the action and throwing huge upper cuts. In round two, one of those connected, and that was the end of the fight!

I always say that you have KO power or you don’t. It’s hard to learn that, but McGivern showed that I was wrong. His footwork looked good, and also his power in his punches. When that comes together; good footwork gives you great power! Good win for the newly wed McGivern!

Now it was 2-2. Whoever would win the last fight would give their team the Championship. No pressure!

Last time Mike Ciesnolevicz and Andre Gusmao met, Gusmao won the fight, so Mike C had revenge on his mind. Mike C came out strong and tried to take Gusmao down, but Gusmao had different thoughts. He stopped the takedowns and got a great position. Mike C was standing, but had one knee on the ground. Gusmao was waiting for Mike C to release that knee from the mat so it would be legal to knee him in the head. As soon as that happened, he threw a knee and it landed right on the button. It was “lights out” for Mike C. What a victory! The whole Pittbulls camp jumped in the ring! Last year they didn’t win a single match, and this year they came out winning it all…what a turnaround!

It was another great night from the IFL.


Till next time, like El Guapo always says: Godspeed and Party on!!