Names in the Game from the Magazine

Names in the Game from the Magazine

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Webster is a total freakin’ idiot, and I say that with complete and utter certainty. In his  world-famous reference manual, which can be found in every library on the planet, that sonofabitch actually had the gall to define training as, among other things, “the action or method of preparing someone for an athletic contest; the process by which one is made proficient or qualified.” Yeah, right! As far as I’m concerned, that longwinded gobbledygook can be tossed out in favor of a kiss-simple, three-word summation: absolute fucking torture.

Funny thing is, (or sad, depending on how you look at it) I haven’t even exposed myself to any real mixed martial arts or fight-specifi c tutelage yet – at least, not in terms of live-action instruction. It’s far too early for that. The way I see it, my situation closely resembles that of a world-class chef preparing his signature steak. The selected piece of meat needs to be properly tenderized, marinated, and seasoned long before being subjected to the flame. Well in this case, I am that aforementioned piece of meat and it appears as if I’m on an unswerving collision course with the flame. And as much as

I hate to admit it, I’m already starting to feel the heat.

Of paramount importance is getting my body in the proper shape – or, at the very least, some semblance of shape – not just to survive my eventual pro MMA bout, but also emerge victorious. But at the moment, the form I see every time I stare into a full-length mirror (or whenever I review one of my daily submissions to www.youporn.com) is somewhere along the lines of a quadrilateral or one of those dodecahedrons. Alas, all is not lost. Because beneath the corpulent surface of this established literary mercenary lurks a fairly decent athlete – at least, that’s what some agent from the NSA wrote in my secure file. The glaring problem I’m facing is that I’m not quite sure just how many layers of debauchery and decadence my former self is buried beneath. Like it or not, in order to properly pull off this op, it appears as if I’m gonna have to go deep.

Some of the suffering I’m whining about is most assuredly the result of my age. It’s that whole “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” thing. And at 37, my body just doesn’t recover as quickly as it used to. While Father Time has been relatively kind to me over the years, leaving me capable of handling just about any physical task within reason, the arduous process of prepping myself for structured, hand-to-hand, close-quarters-combat is truly a horse of another color. Much to my dismay, the local vitamin shack doesn’t offer a powder or a pill to instantaneously achieve the desired results; trust me, I checked. Sure, I could pay a visit to a little-known false-door laboratory that’s rumored to be frequented by a bevy of NFLers, a fair amount of MLBers, and a track athlete or two but, c’mon, seriously, what fun would that be? And besides, how the hell am I gonna skate through the post-fight blood test? Just ask ex-pro wide receiver Johnnie Morton about that one. He got his head handed to him in his MMA debut and then got his ass kicked by the tox-screeners at the hospital, which, in all probability, will see him banned from the sport. Bottom line: there is no shortcut. Blood, sweat, and tears, baby!

And therein lies the rub.

These days, 30 minutes of stretching is akin to 30 hours on a medieval torture rack. And at the end of an extended weight session, my muscles are seriously considering fi ling assault charges. In fact, I think my lats and pecs may already have chipped in on a bounty on my head. If out of the blue I happen to drop stone cold dead with no obvious explanation as to the cause, at least the detectives will have a lead on the likely culprits. That brings me to the state of my cardiovascular condition. Man, I’m still trying to figure out exactly how much my heart can take before it simply explodes. I’d bet a jigger of Don Julio that a senior citizen kickball team has more endurance than I do right now.

But give me time. I’ll get there. I’m not taking this challenge lightly. When I eventually step into the cage – or get thrown in, depending on how hard I resist – whoever is standing across from me had better be ready to throw down – a white towel preferably. Win or lose, I have no intention of embarrassing myself. I’ll be coming to fight and bringing my A-game (if it looks more like a Z, that’s just because I’m a writer with horrible penmanship); my eventual opponent would be wise to remember that. Whoever he is, I hope he’s cool with bribes. And if not, maybe the ref can be bought. Perhaps ex-NBA official Tim Donaghy will still be looking for a new gig, (Hey Tim, if you’re reading this, I may not be able to match the funds you routinely received for tainting pro hoops games, but I’ll definitely make you an attractive offer.)

To fully understand exactly what I was getting myself into, I decided it’d be best to go and check out some MMA events live, in the flesh. Prior to the start of this vision quest, I had only seen MMA on television or pay-per-view. Let me tell you, seeing the extreme action up close and personal is so insanely different from watching it on a screen that it makes you appreciate the difficulty of the sport and the dedication of its participants a zillion times more. My first observation: Holy fuckin’ shit, the fighters are fast! Punches, kicks, knees, throws, chokes – even the slow maneuvers are carried out with deceptive speed. And then there are the impacts – goddamn they’re loud! Even with synthesizers and a fully equipped, multi-million-dollar soundstage at their disposal, Foley artists (the folks who simulate the sounds of kicks and punches connecting, among other things, in movies and on television) simply can’t compare to the real deal.

Since I was in Phoenix, Arizona, working on a story for another publication (you’ve all heard of Bluff Magazine), I headed over to the Celebrity Theatre for Rage in the Cage (www.rageinthecage.com). Promoted by Roland Sarria, also the owner and head instructor at the RITC Training Center (www.ritctrainingcenter.com), I was truly impressed with the level of expertise and professionalism that all the fighters displayed. Every bout was highly competitive and loaded with full-tilt, non-stop action. Even the amateur fi ghts, which did not allow closed-fist strikes to the head, were still high-octane conflicts that kept the audience on their feet for their duration.

Prior to the first bout, I had the good fortune of chatting with six-time world champion Rick “The Jet” Roufus, in attendance to corner for one of his students in a Muay Thai fight. Unquestionably the most famous American kick-boxer ever, now 40, Rick’s body looks like a fleshcovered steel battering ram and his eyes showcase the identical ultra-intense gleam from the days when he was knocking out his opponents within the first minute of the first round – a feat he can still pull off.

Hoping to garner some solid advice from a man who has seen more hardcore ring time than just about any professional fighter alive, I asked The Jet if there was one factor above all else that he could cite for his incredible success. His response was immediate: “Discipline. In life, in training, and in the ring.” Rick went on to say that he was living the dream and it all boiled down to his unfl appable work ethic, eye-on-the-prize mindset, and the fact that he always fought t
he best there was, without exception. When our impromptu Q & A was complete, I made a mental note to drop by his Tempe-based school (www.roufuskickboxingcenter.com) at some point in the near future. If I was going to build up my pugilistic arsenal, Rick Roufus seemed like a pretty solid guy to learn from.

Next came UFC 71 in Sin City, and the highly anticipated match-up between challenger Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and the then-current light heavyweight champion of the world, Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell. Mixed martial arts had experienced a nuclear algae bloom level of growth as of late, and Liddell had become the unofficial poster boy during that stratospheric surge. His picture was everywhere, and the list of requests for his presence was longer than the line in front of Pamela Anderson’s kissing booth. Heck, Liddell even did a cameo on an episode of HBO’s hit series Entourage.

But before the main event, there was some incredible action in the preliminary bouts. Karo “The Heat” Parisyan won a three-round unanimous decision over Josh “The People’s Warrior” Burkman, courtesy of his flawless Judo skills and a no-quit motor. Watching Karo work provided me with kick-in-the-nuts proof that the fighters competing in MMA’s upperechelon events had spent years training at the highest level. No way could I possibly amass that kind of expertise in such a short time. My only hope was to learn a few solid techniques (both offensive and defensive) and master them as best I could. The way I figured it, even a one-trick pony could still dole out a helluva kick.

Another under-card match, Houston “The Assassin” Alexander versus Keith “The Dean of Mean” Jardine, looked like it was going to be an all-out war. That is, until the fight began. Less than fifty seconds later, the heavily favored Jardine was on Queer Street, trying to get the license plate of the truck that had flattened him like a Redwood falling on a snail. Alexander’s potent combination of speed and strength quickly overwhelmed the highly regarded UFC veteran, quickly dispelling the myth that a pedigreed name is more important than ferocious determination.

Interestingly enough, that fight set a precedent for the bout the world had been waiting for. Many in attendance, along with the vast majority of MMA pundits, believed that the Iceman’s superior octagon experience and sledgehammer fists would make short work of the far less heralded Rampage. As it turned out, the looking glass all those prognosticators were peering into must have been turned upside down. For two minutes into the first round, Rampage completely melted the Iceman with a barrage of blows that could have stopped a Mack truck, let alone a flesh-and-bone, upright-walking life form. Liddell is a tough guy, a fact no one will ever dispute, but on that night, Quinton Jackson was a man on a mission not to be denied what he believed was rightfully his – that being the UFC light heavyweight crown. Quinton’s upset win gave me hope. Maybe, just maybe, steadfast resolution and total belief in one’s self was all I would need to prevail.

Chances are I would still need a lot of help.

Amazingly, help was on its way. Apparently, my self-imposed challenge had already attracted a fair amount of attention. Sponsors from far and wide were reaching out to me, offering all forms of assistance. Either they truly believed in my cause or they just wanted some decent PR if and when I got my brains beat in. Either way, I was grateful for the assistance. At this point, I’d happily accept any lifeline thrown my way.

Suunto (www.suunto.com) sent me an ultra-high-tech T4 heart-rate monitoring watch along with a speed-and-distance-sensing foot pod to help me achieve cardiovascular supremacy. Although the timepiece is easily smarter than I am and slightly more complex than Melania Knauss-Trump’s pre-nuptial agreement, after only few minutes I figured out how to operate all of its many functions and was well on my way to a higher state of fitness.

Two different limousine services offered me free luxury transportation to and from the gym and/or dojo, allowing me the opportunity to push myself to the edge without the fear of being too exhausted to drive home. I haven’t selected one of the companies yet; if and when I do they will certainly be mentioned.

Paladin Press (www.paladin-press.com), “Home of the Action Library,” sent me a quartet of DVDs as a precursor to my combat training. Mark Hatmaker’s Submission Encyclopedia Volume I is filled with effective submission techniques. Considering that I currently don’t know any, this was a welcome gift. Also by Hatmaker – a lifelong student of the martial arts widely known as “The Professor of Grappling” – are the ABC’s of NHB: High-Speed Training for No-Holds- Barred Fighting, Volumes 1, 2 and 3. This set will provide me with an extensive array of extreme boxing chain drills, shoot and takedown progressions, and plenty of additional grappling and submission progressions.

Turtle Press (www.turtlepress.com), one of the best martial arts reference resources around, also sent me a slew of material. On DVD, they sent Jujitsu 1 and Jujitsu 2 by former SWAT team member and law enforcement instructor James Kodzis, and Championship Sambo by world-renowned Sambo coach Steve Scott. The books included two more Steve Scott titles: The Grappler’s Book of Strangles and Chokes and the Armlock Encyclopedia. At the very least, when someone slaps a painful hold or suffocating choke on me, I’ll know exactly what it is. A third volume, Boxing: The American Martial Art, by former amateur champion and Sarasota, Florida boxing school owner R. Michael Onello, should do wonders for my stand-up, although I’m still confident my fight’s sanctioning board will grant me permission to bring a 2×4 into the cage. Hey, The Rock got to use one— why not me?

And finally, Fight Resource (www.fightresource.com), the online mixed martial arts directory, was kind enough to ship me the voluminous, end-all manuscript for ground game combat, 1001 Submissions, written by David Roy and Kirk Jenness. Featuring over 850 pages and more than 6,000 photographs detailing submission techniques from Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, Judo, Sambo, submission grappling, and more, if this book can’t help improve my ground game, then I’m really fucked!

So, where am I going with all this? Downhill, quickly.

No, seriously, calls are already out to Danny Bonaduce’s people, trying to set up a fight. I figure the possibility of getting my ass kicked by Danny friggin’ Partridge should motivate me to a higher level. Granted, Danny is a seasoned kick-boxer and he may or may not be on synthetic juice (along with a host of other substances, by his own admission, of course) but that’s the chance I take. So c’mon, you Burger King-lookin’ airwave assassin, nut up and throw down with me.

If anybody out there has any suggestions or ideas, I’m more than happy to listen. Email me at ASlutsky@FightMagazine.com. Fight challenges, training tips, nickname suggestions, c’mon people, don’t hold back. Hit me with everything you’ve got. Now all I have to do is survive the training!

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Determination is the root of victory, and for mixed martial artists it is as essential as air. It gets a fighter through the rough times, and keeps him focused on his goal in the good times. Determination leads to mental and physical toughness, skills, and knowledge.

It gives one the ability to execute the correct decisions that lead to accomplishing one’s goal. This single concept is not only the key to athletic competition, but it is also a vital component to anything tackled in life. The specific achievements of each person’s life, and the skills utilized in accomplishing those achievements vary widely, but determination, or the adherence to the process of achieving the goal, is a virtue common to them all.

To many people, determination is seen as a dramatic passion that pulls a person through unbelievable odds. While this is true, and a very important aspect of determination, a lesser known but equally important attribute is this: determination is the chief method for acquiring skills. Before attempting to accomplish anything, a goal is set. The goal can be as ambitious and precise as becoming a world champion, or as simple as committing to learning a new capability in life. The skills that are needed to achieve a goal can be measured in both the tangible (getting physically stronger or quicker) and the intangible (the ability to not quit).

Look at someone committed to being an elite mixed martial artist. In order to fulfill that goal, determination will motivate him to find a school at which to train. When training begins, he will have to master both simple and complex moves. At the same time, a potential fighter must also begin to build mental toughness. This is a grueling process that can only be undertaken with the power of determination as a driving force.

The process of developing mental toughness is undertaken through physical conditioning and psychological coaching which breaks a man down to the fundamental nucleus of his personality. When the rational mind says to stop, there must be a little place inside that will not quit. This is the determination that keeps him going. After repeating this process many times, a fighter gains the mental strength required for elite competition.

Courage and confidence are essential in martial arts competition and many people think that these qualities are something that a successful person is born with. In fact, courage and confidence are created inside, just like technical skills, physical conditioning, and mental toughness are developed. These character traits, which seem as fundamental as determination, are actually the effects of determination.

Another crucial aspect of martial arts training is balance and consistency in the face of ever-changing circumstances. The successes and failures of elite mixed martial artists are witnessed by peers, fans, and detractors worldwide. When times are tough, discouragement does battle with determination. The embarrassment of a loss, of a fighter letting himself and others down, can stifle the fire that drives him to succeed. The determination to succeed allows a fighter to learn from the loss and keep his passion ignited to try again.

When things are going well on the other hand, the adulation of others becomes intoxicating; people are a distraction. Media, fame, and fans are all drains in a fighter’s time. It’s easy to lose the hunger. Determination maintains focus, like the anchor of a boat in a storm. The waves and wind will rock the boat, but it is held in place by the anchor. Staying anchored in the midst of the distractions and pitfalls of success is a conscious and trainable skill. The adherence to the process of achieving a goal, in other words, determination, is the means by which any athlete can stay both anchored and hungry.

To see the power of determination consider the story of Earnest Shackleton. In 1914 Shackleton, along with a 28 man crew, was attempting to be the first to cross the Antarctic Continent on foot. The expedition failed when their ship, the Endurance, was trapped and eventually crushed by the sea ice. Shackleton and his men had to brave the Antarctic elements with whatever they could salvage from the wreckage. They traveled by three small lifeboats in the most dangerous waters in the world, and found a small, barely habitable island. Still, if they were to survive, some of them would have to go and reach civilization to get help. Shackleton and a few of his men took a lifeboat and made one of the most amazing sea voyages in recorded human history. When they finally reached an inhabited island, the only settlement was a whaling station on the other side. They hiked across rugged terrain and mountains with little food or water. Once civilization was reached, it took several attempts and many months to go back for the stranded crew. Finally, after an ordeal that lasted more than two years, Shackleton managed to rescue his entire crew without one loss of life.

Determination was the seed from which Shackleton’s success as a leader, explorer, and survivor grew. Previous to his adventures on the Endurance, Shackleton had been a crew member on another failed polar expedition led by Sir Robert Scott. On this expedition, Shackleton coped with starvation and scurvy, but he also learned to survive. The experience hardened him and prepared him for what he would face later. His mental toughness, leadership, and heroism during these horrific adventures are no less of examples of acquired expertise than the skills of mountaineering, navigating, and steering the lifeboats. Shackleton’s story is an inspiring example.

There are many great examples of determination found in mixed martial arts. One of these is an early match between Dan Severn and Royce Gracie. Royce had to ride out the storm while being dominated by a bigger and stronger opponent. Gracie’s determination kept him mentally tough and agile, and allowed him to make the right decisions at the right time to secure the victory with a triangle choke.

Another more recent example is Keith Jardine vs. Wilson Gouveia. In this match, Keith came in injured, and was outmatched in the first round and took some heavy shots. Keith’s training and determination allowed him to come off of a bad first round, push the pace, and ultimately take the victory over a very tough Wilson Gouveia.

In instances like these, fighters have a crucial moment in a fi ght, the moment when all hope may be lost, and it seems easier to let the beating stop and quit. In that moment, a fighter has an on/off switch. Determination allows the fighter to flip that switch on, turn the tide of the fight and transform hardship and near defeat into victory and success.

Whether facing a martial arts match or another of life’s challenges, determination is fundamental to success. Determination is the choice made, again and again, to do the hard thing. It is what sets one man apart from the rest, and it is what makes ordinary people accomplish great deeds.

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When the editors at FIGHT! asked me to write an article on the history of mixed martial arts in the military, my first thought was about how it is being rewritten as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan rage on.

Sure, there is a story to tell about the evolution of training programs, doctrine, and methods the military has used to train its troops. But as Americans in uniform march toward their seventh year of the fi rst protracted US military engagements in more than 30 years, never has the value and critical nature of strong hand-to-hand combat skills been more apparent. Training in mixed martial arts is spreading like a virus among the troops.

This explosion of training is being driven by the demands of the battlefield, and has resulted in the birth and rapid growth of a truly American brand of martial arts in the Army and Marine Corps. We at the Army Combatives School have conducted hundreds of post action interviews with soldiers who have been involved in actual hand-to-hand combat. These soldiers have recounted in colorful detail instances where potentially lethal encounters with combative Iraqi citizens were quelled with a choke, or where armed bad guys were disarmed with a joint lock, no shots fired.

We have also documented cases in which soldiers have survived gruesome one-on-one fights to the death with a determined enemy, by using a combination of proven techniques and a more than just a pinch of the will to live. That’s what separates the training regimens at civilian mixed martial arts schools and what the military must teach. Men and women in uniform are far more likely to face an armed opponent in a narrow, dark room, unlike a civilian facing another fighter wearing board shorts in a brightly lit cage. The fusion of these two scenarios is what has propelled men and women in the armed forces into utilizing their gritty survival skills as a sport.

In the two years since the first Army Combatives Championships in November of 2005, combative tournaments have popped up like daisies across the Army. Units such as the 101st Airborne Division, which has spent two of the last three years in Iraq, and the Armor Training Center, where soldiers learn to drive the 70 ton Abrams main battle tank, are having official unit championships. Regular soldiers compete for the right to represent their unit in the Army Championships at Ft. Benning, Georgia.

Beyond the barracks, the Army and Marine Corps each have fearsome professional fighters who kick butt at home championships while also making names for themselves in the larger arenas.

Staff Sergeant Tim Kennedy, a Special Forces soldier who was the 2005 and 2006 Army Combatives champion and has a victory over Jason “Mayhem” Miller, recently defeated both Dante Rivera, Renzo Gracie’s 205 pound fighter, and Ryan McGivern, Pat Miletich’s 185 pound fighter, in the IFL. Staff Sergeant Damien Stelly, an Airborne Ranger, won the 2005 All Army championship and is an instructor at the Army Combatives School where he learned his skills. He is 7-1 as a pro and has been fighting on the Art of War cards in Texas. Additionally, Marine Lt. Brian Stann, a martial arts instructor trainer who began his training at the Marine Corps Martial Arts Center of

Excellence at Quantico, Virginia has been dominating his opponents in the WEC. These warriors are combat veterans with multiple tours to Iraq and Afghanistan. Kennedy and Stelly have each turned down opportunities to fight in the UFC in order to deploy with their units.

While each branch of service has a training program with distinct differences, the demands of training for the battlefield have led Kennedy, Stelly, and Stann to develop similar mixed martial arts abilities. This is where a little history will help explain the diverse philosophies in their approach to the fight, and why combatives is gaining popularity as a sport among the troops.

The root of today’s modern Army combatives program is in the 75th Ranger Regiment. In 1995, as a member of 2nd Ranger Battalion, I was asked by the commander to help develop a better method for training hand to hand fighting.

At that time, the Army had a combatives manual but no program to produce qualifi ed instructors or an implementation system. The program was left to the local commanders’ discretion. Even new soldiers in basic training laughed at the combatives techniques they were being taught.

J. Robinson, a Vietnam era Ranger and the head coach of the University of Minnesota wrestling program, had coached our battalion operations officer at the University of Iowa. He came out to evaluate the emerging program and gave some valuable advice, mainly that a successful program must have a competitive aspect in order to motivate soldiers to train, and that it must include live sparring to address the real combat needs of armed conflict. We began to develop a mixed program based on wrestling, boxing, and the various martial arts we each had experienced, such as Judo and Muay Thai. Eventually, after looking at many different systems, we sent several men to train at the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy in Torrance, California.

The Jiu-Jitsu taught at the Gracie Academy fit many of the battalion’s needs. It was easy to learn, had a competitive form, and was proven effective within the arena of mixed martial arts fighting. But it had some shortcomings for the military. Gracie Jiu-Jitsu was principally designed for one-on-one arena fighting without time limits..

As our system, matured we began to realize what it was about the techniques of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu that made them work; you could practice them at full speed against a fully resistant opponent, the same as wrestling or boxing. With this knowledge, we were able to determine which techniques did not work and abandon them. We also began to draw from other martial arts that share various levels of this live training to fill in the tactical gaps of pure Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. The classic plan of takedown and submission works well in the arena, but in the real world the techniques must fit the tactical situation, and this basic take them down and finish them on the ground approach wasn’t
enough for our needs.

With success in the Ranger Regiment, the program spilled over into the conventional Army with a new field manual which I authored in 2002. The training methods are now doctrine and they continue to evolve.

As we began to explore the various training methods of the other “feeder arts,” the ways they complemented each other and exposed each other’s weaknesses become clear. The concept of positional dominance from Jiu-Jitsu was expanded to the other ranges of combat, and blended with techniques from wrestling, boxing, Muay Thai, and Judo. With weapons fighting lessons from Mark Deny of the Dog Brothers, and the inclusion of western martial arts, by Sept. 11, 2001 we had developed a totally integrated system of Close Quarters Combat, and laid a sound foundation from which to learn the lessons of the battlefields to come.

Realistic training, driven by feedback from the battlefield, and competitions as a tool to motivate soldiers to train remains the cornerstones of the program. Today there are official Army Combatives competitions anywhere soldiers are stationed, from Italy to Korea, from Kansas to Guam. There have even been Combatives Competitions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

To avoid having soldiers specializing in one range of combat, competitions follow a graduated set of rules. Preliminary bouts are submission grappling, with rules derived from BJJ, although better takedowns are rewarded more highly, like SOMBO or wrestling. More techniques are allowed in each round, with the semi-finals being similar to Pancrase rules, until the finals are full-on MMA.

Winners of unit championships qualify to come to the US Army Combatives School at Ft. Benning, to represent their unit in the All Army Combatives Championships each fall.

The Marine Corps Martial Arts Program, known as MCMAP, began in 2000 as an initiative of the Commandant of the Marine Corps. The program was built around the three pillars of mental, character, and physical discipline. At the same time they are learning combative arts and conditioning, Marines study martial cultures such as the Zulu and Apache, as well as case studies of Marines who have displayed heroism in the past. The program is designed to synergize the three disciplines and blend them into a complete system.

Although the Marine Corps does not have official MMA competitions, there have been Pancration tournaments held at Camp Pendleton. Marine Corps recruiting has sponsored both the UFC, which held an event on Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, and the WEC. Many Marines such as Lt. Stann are doing quite well in MMA with what they have learned from the MCMAP.

With the demands of the battlefield driving the training, realistic Combatives training is spreading to the other services as well. Air Force personnel who are deploying with the Army receive training in Modern Army Combatives, and small elements of the Navy receive training from either the Marine Corps or the Army.

With literally hundreds of thousands of students, the military combatives systems cannot help but become an ever larger part of the American martial arts scene. With soldiers fighting MMA as a part of their job, it won’t be long until Combatives begins to be a major force in the world of mixed martial arts.

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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.

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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!!

Bas

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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.

�� �� ��

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:

Striking

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.

Conditioning

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.

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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.

PAT MILETICH VS. GEORGES ST. PIERRE

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.

ROYCE GRACIE VS. BJ PENN

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.

DAN SEVERN VS. RANDY COUTURE

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.

RICKSON GRACIE VS. FRANK SHAMROCK

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.

TITO ORTIZ VS. RAMPAGE JACKSON

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.

BAS RUTTEN VS. CHUCK LIDDELL

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.

MIRKO FILIPOVIC VS. BROCK LESNAR

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.

WANDERLEI SILVA VS. RAMEAU THIERRY SOKOUDJOU

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.

KAZUSHI SAKURABA VS. ANDERSON SILVA

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.

 

BRUCE LEE VS. FEDOR EMELIANENKO

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.

CHUCK NORRIS VS. CHUCK LIDDELL

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.

MUHAMMAD ALI VS. ROYCE GRACIE

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.

MIKE TYSON VS. RAMPAGE JACKSON

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.

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