Heavy Hands

Heavy Hands

United States

Heavy Hands is a combat sports podcast that focuses on technical analysis. If you're a fan of fighting sports and martial arts and you want to expand your understanding of the finer points of face-punching, then this show is for you.

Episodes

142 - Greg Jackson interview, Rodriguez-Penn discussion  

Greg Jackson has accomplished the rare feat of making himself an MMA celebrity without ever stripping down and setting foot into the Octagon. He has become a star trainer, and not without a whole host of good reasons. For one, Jackson has been teaching mixed martial arts since 2000 at this point. He has played a crucial role in the careers of many champions and all-time greats, including Georges St-Pierre, Jon Jones, Carlos Condit, Donald Cerrone, and more.

Throughout all of this, Jackson has garnered a reputation as one of the best strategists in the sport. They've called him a sport-killer and a hero, but no one can deny that Greg Jackson knows how to come up with a gameplan. On this week's Heavy Hands, Greg sits down with us to discuss his process. How does gameplanning differ from one fighter to the next, how does he know what to look for, and how does it all come together in the corner?

The back half of the show features a discussion of matchmaking in the UFC as it pertains to our surprisingly entertaining UFC Phoenix card. We break down Yair Rodriguez's dominant win over BJ Penn and Sergio Pettis' win over John Moraga through that lens.

141 - Whatever happened to BJ Penn?  

Remember when it felt like BJ Penn was probably going to win his next fight? Us, too. It was a magical time, when “just scrapping” was a viable way to find wins in the UFC. A time when talented rich kids could float breezily through a schedule of fights that would kill a normal man. A time when BJ Penn was king.

We have a simpler way of describing this mythical era, and the language involved is bound to offend friends, relatives, and fans alike, as well as Baby Jay himself. We call it “over six years ago.”

Yep. The age of Penn has come and gone, but here we are, with The Prodigy himself raring for another comeback, and this time against one of the most dangerous young prospects in the UFC, Yair Rodriguez. On this week’s Heavy Hands, we discuss the methodologies of Penn and Rodriguez (they’re not as different as you might think), and reflect on Penn’s legacy as a martial artist.

But that’s not all. We’re also breaking down the way that Joe Lauzon so artfully manages to both live and die by the sword (or submission, as the case may be), offering our reasons why you shouldn’t yet give up on Sergio Pettis, and answering listener questions.

140 - Ronda Rousey's doom, Cody Garbrandt's big surprise  

At UFC 207, Ronda Rousey flashed in an out of existence like a Higgs boson, her comeback undone by the particle collider of Amanda Nunes' fists. Cody Garbrandt unveiled hitherto unseen discipline and skill, not only handing Dominick Cruz his first loss in 10 years, but outboxing and outfoxing him in the process. And TJ Dillashaw made a strong case for a shot at Garbrandt's new title, using his well-rounded game to transform John Lineker, dangerous power puncher, into John Lineker, broken man. 

If that purple prose is any indication, we could go on about these three fights forever, and that's just about what we did on this week's episode of Heavy Hands. We break down Rousey's second consecutive loss, and the path which brought her to this point. We talk about Amanda Nunes' future. We analyze the possibility of a Garbrandt-Dillashaw title fight.  We even discuss our own ignorance and try to understand why we were so shocked to see Cody Garbrandt's final form.

All of that and more on this week's Heavy Hands. Enjoy!

139 - Ronda Rousey's return & Cody Garbrandt's big puncher's chance  

Christmas has come and gone, but it's Easter for Ronda Rousey, as the former champion finally makes her return after just over a year away from the Octagon. Much has changed since Rousey lost her bantamweight strap. It seems we barely had time to discuss a potential rematch with Holly Holm, the first woman to beat Rousey, before Miesha Tate became the first mixed martial artist to beat Holm. Nor would Tate face the biggest name in women's MMA, as she too would lose the title after a few months, leaving it around the waist of Amanda Nunes.

Not only do we get Nunes vs Rousey, but Dominick Cruz vs Cody Garbrandt as well. Cruz has been sterling since his long absence due to a litany of injuries, winning back and then defending the title that he never really lost. The bantamweight champ seems intent on staying active, too, as this will be his third fight in 2016, even if that makes it just his fourth fight in the last five years altogether. Does Cody Garbrandt have more than just a puncher's chance? If not, the winner of TJ Dillashaw vs John Lineker will surely be eager for a crack at Cruz's belt.

Three big fights, three in-depth breakdowns. These are some of the episodes we love the most, and we hope you enjoy the show. 

138 - Prospect's Journey: Paige VanZant, Shade Northcutt  

The UFC catches a lot of flak for their handling of prospects--and fighter development in general. Whether throwing a newly signed novice to the wolves or refusing to let shopworn contenders take even a momentary step down in competition, the Octagon has garnered a reputation as a stage where fighters are told to either sink or swim--no exceptions.

It is hard to blame matchmaking for this, though. Paige VanZant and Sage Northcutt are, in a way, cut from the same cloth. Both athletes look more like Disney Channel stars than fistfighters, and the UFC has doubled down on that incongruous appeal, often to the frustration of their hardcore fanbase. Both VanZant and Northcutt are legitimate prospects, however, and the UFC has consistently matched both pretty well. So when VanZant and Northcutt show few signs of improvement from one fight to the next--and even seem to regress in some areas--they have no one to blame but themselves. Or their parents. Or their camps. 

Point is, the UFC is not to blame for what happened at UFC on Fox 22, when both VanZant and Northcutt were beaten. Now really is time for the pretty blonde prospects to sink or swim. And on this week's Heavy Hands, we're talking about the techniques and practices that could either keep them afloat, or act as the cinder blocks around their ankles.

 

137 - UFC 206 recap and VanZant-Waterson preview  

UFC 206 was so good, you know we had to dedicate a solid chunk of this week's show to it. This week on Heavy Hands, Max Holloway's brilliant style is dissected, as are his chances in potential future matchups with Jose Aldo and Conor McGregor. As for Anthony Pettis, who was stopped for the first time by Holloway, we get into the reasons for his continuing decline, and discuss which matchups and methods could get him back on track as he prepares to return to the lightweight division.

Cub Swanson and Doo Ho Choi staged a classic, back-and-forth war, stealing the show from a number of other excellent fights. We break down Swanson's special swagger and the changes Choi will need to make to avoid a repeat beating. Donald Cerrone and Matt Brown, Kelvin Gastelum and Lando Vannata--this is the show for you if you're still stuck on that UFC 206 high. 

As for the final segment of the show, we look forward to fan favorite Paige VanZant's second main event appearance and the testing of Mickey Gall by Sage Northcutt, all set to take place next weekend.

136 - Max Holloway vs Anthony Pettis preview  

Jose Aldo is the featherweight champion once again. With former champion Conor McGregor being stripped and/or "relinquishing" the belt, it is officially the weirdest title change since Josh Barnett and Randy Couture back in 2002. But what is a championship of questionable validity without an even more questionable interim championship? 

Now, if I'm being honest, this cynical tone does not truly reflect my feelings for this fight. Max Holloway and Anthony Pettis are two of the most consistently entertaining fighters in the UFC today, and the mere prospect of either man facing Jose Aldo next year is tantalizing. That they also happen to match up so well with one another is just more reason to celebrate. The politics might be weird, but the fights are still good, and that's what matters. 

We're not only breaking down Holloway-Pettis on this week's Heavy Hands, but also looking ahead to Donald Cerrone's welterweight clash with Matt Brown. In addition to the previews, we look back at Demetrious Johnson vs Tim Elliott and Joseph Benavidez vs Henry Cejudo, two excellent fights and two strong ads for the UFC flyweight division.

135 - Joseph Benavidez vs Henry Cejudo, Vasyl Lomachenko  

Demetrious Johnson is fighting a particular challenger this weekend, but we can't talk about that just yet. Instead, we get to look at the flyweight champion's place in the hierarchy of MMA greats, and discuss potential future fights that we would like to see. 

As for fights we can talk about on this episode, Joseph Benavidez and Henry Cejudo are set to throw down, almost certainly with a shot at Johnson's belt on the line. Benavidez is one of the most experienced fighters in the UFC at this point, and his veteran savvy makes him a tough out for Cejudo, but if Henry took the right things away from his lopsided loss to the champion earlier this year, he has a chance to redeem himself.

Finally, how could we miss the chance to talk about the crazy thing that Vasyl Lomachenko did last weekend. The guy is an amazing boxer; we all knew that already. But Nicholas Walters was supposed to at least make him work for the win. Instead Lomachenko effortlessly outclassed the elite puncher before forcing him to quit on the stool after just 7 rounds. Yeah, we had to talk about that.

134 - Whittaker-Brunson, Kovalev-Ward, FIGHT SMORGASBORD  

Sometimes in the fight game you just come across a plate heaping with delicious face-punching. A smorgasbord of combat, if you will. Such is the case on this week's episode of Heavy Hands. We talk about the impressive performances of some of the UFC contenders who competed last weekend: our constant companion Thomas Almeida, our sleeper favorite Krzysztof Jotko, Stevie Ray (now the new Ross Pearson), and welterweight insurgent Kamaru Usman.

Then it's on to future affairs, namely the middleweight showdown between fringe contenders Robert Whittaker and Derek Brunson, a matchup which should vault one of those men into serious title contention.

Finally, a recap of the epic battle between Sergey Kovalev and Andre Ward. These two pound-for-pound kings fought hard, forcing one another to adjust constantly, and proving that they are both living legends of the squared circle. The result was controversial--in fact your two hosts each scored the bout differently, but the fight gave fans of fisticuffs reasons to celebrate, and on today's show we do just that.

 

132 - UFC 205 in review: Conor McGregor and the gang  

It happened, and it was glorious. Now is the time to bathe in the afterglow of UFC 205, and I can think of no better way to do that than to break down some fights!

At the top of the docket is, of course, Conor McGregor. In becoming the first two-division champion in UFC history, McGregor has truly established himself as the stuff of legends. He absolutely walloped Eddie Alvarez, and in the process set up for himself a murderer's row of hungry contenders. We break down in brief the idea of MGregor versus Tony Ferguson, Khabib Nurmagomedov, Nate Diaz, and Jose Aldo--four of the most likely challengers for one of the Irishman's belts. 

Conor McGregor was not the only man to turn in an entertaining performance at UFC 205, however, and we spend some time talking about a few of our other favorites. Namely, Tyron Woodley, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, and Yoel Romero. 

Enjoy the show, folks!

131 - Conor McGregor vs Eddie Alvarez preview analysis  

The time is upon us. Americans, we survived the election. Non-Americans, we made it through a terrible, debilitating three-week UFC drought. Tony Ferguson's remarkable win over Rafael Dos Anjos was just the appetizer. This, UFC 205, is the main course of all main courses. 

And at the top of it all, Conor McGregor vs Eddie Alvarez. The first champion versus champion fight since 2009, and Conor McGregor's chance to truly enter into the pantheon of MMA greats. On this week's Heavy Hands, we are breaking down the main event exhaustively. What strategies might work for either fighter? What did we learn from their recent fights? And, of course, who do we expect to win? 

After that, it's on to the co-main event, an intriguing matchup between newly crowned welterweight champion Tyron Woodley and the oddball contender favored to beat him, Stephen Thompson. Thompson may look like he belongs in a pair of shiny gi pants rather than Reebok board shorts, but he has proven himself against a litany of top fighters--that includes knocking out the invincible Johny Hendricks, and dismantling the cerebral Rory MacDonald. 

And finally, Kelvin Gastelum vs Donald Cerrone. It will be Gastelum's toughest test, and arguably Cerrone's as well. We discuss whether Cowboy's impressive welterweight run is doomed to fail, or whether he can overcome the odds yet again to defeat a naturally larger, more powerful opponent. 

My goodness, is it gonna be good! 

130 -  Jedrzejczyk vs Kowalkiewicz & Dos Anjos vs Ferguson preview  

You know UFC 205 has too much good stuff to be covered by just one show, so we're previewing a few of the tentpole event's biggest fights on this week's show, and then covering the rest next week. This week, we talk Joanna Jedrzejczyk's strawweight title defense against fellow Pole Karolina Kowalkiewicz. Every Jedrzejczyk fight is an event to look forward to, and this time, matched with a relentless volume puncher with killer clinch skills, should be a barnburner. 

Our other UFC 205 fight is a meaningful battle between top lightweight contenders, namely undefeated Khabib Nurmagomedov and Michael Johnson, a fast and mobile striker. Nurmagomedov has never faced such a fighter, and Johnson may just have the style to beat the man no one else has.

UFC 205 isn't the only exciting event on the horizon, however, and we also devote time to UFC Mexico's big main event, a thrilling matchup between former champion Rafael Dos Anjos and maniacal up- and-comer Tony Ferguson. In addition to that slobberknocker, we talk about the UFC debut of Invicta star Alexa Grasso, a talented striker and one of the most promising prospects in the stacked strawweight division. 

There is nothing better than breaking down such a collection of fantastic fights, and we hope you enjoy the show!

129 - Can Sergey Kovalev outsmart Andre Ward?  

If there is one good thing about a lull between UFC events (and there are probably several), it is that it gives us fight analysts time to talk about other things. Exciting, fascinating things like the upcoming fight between Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev. I mean . . . what a fight. 

We spend the bulk of today's episode breaking this one down. Andre Ward makes good on his promise to establish himself as a top light heavyweight, and the veritable boxing genius seems well-suited to the task. We talk about Ward's intelligence both in and out of the ring, the calm, cerebral style that got him where he is today, and the fact that Sergey Kovalev is undeniably the most dangerous man Ward will have ever faced.

As for Kovalev, how will he cope with his most frustrating opponent to date, and can he prove that his transformation from brawler to boxer-puncher was really profound enough to beat a dyed-in-the-wool, classic American slickster? 

To cap off the episode, we spend a segment answering a question from one of our patrons. Namely, what one trait would we add to make various top five mixed martial artists into championship material? It's a good one, and we hope you enjoy it.

128 - Styles Make Fights; Can they Predict them?  

A while ago on Heavy Hands, we began a series called "Styles Make Fights." Original, I know. The idea of the series was to dissect what we saw as the five overarching styles of fighting: out-fighting, counter fighting, pressure fighting, boxer-punching, and brawling. Listeners liked it; we liked it. It was a lot of fun, and we've been hearing requests for the series to make some kind of comeback for a while now. 

Well, voila! 

In order to make a meaningful addition to our existing conclusions--whether that means bolstering them or changing them completely--we will be using those five style archetypes to categorize UFC fighters, and then predicting the outcomes of their fights based solely on the style matchup. So when we ask if Frankie Edgar will beat Jeremy Stephens, we're really asking whether an out-fighter beats a boxer-puncher. When we pick the winner of Yoel Romero vs Chris Weidman, we're really picking between boxer-puncher and pressure fighter. 

Not only does this give us a chance to identify flaws in the system--what about those fighters who don't fit neatly into any single style archetype?--but a chance to understand the usefulness of identifying styles in the first place. We'll continue the series in the future, and catch up on all the fights for which we make predictions. Until then, enjoy this latest episode of Heavy Hands. 

127 - Hendo's Last Stand & Aaron Pryor Tribute  

Prior to October 8th, 2016, it was said by a certain MMA writer that Dan Henderson had put on his last great performance against Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, five depressing years ago. Well, that guy's name is Connor Ruebusch (he hosts a really cool show you should check out) and he was wrong. As it turns out, Hendo had one last titanic effort left in him yet, and he let it out at UFC 204, in a fight for the UFC middleweight championship.

Michael Bisping deserved the win, most of us can agree. But at 46 years old, well past good expectations, Dan Henderson came damn close to ending his career with a belt, and reminded us in the process why we have been amazed by him for so long. On today's episode of Heavy Hands (that's what that show is called!) we're breaking down Henderson's transformations over the years, from grinder to bruiser to swarmer to counter puncher. We're also looking at the career evolutions of men like Vitor Belfort and Gegard Mousasi, who also clashed at UFC 204. 

And to close things out, a little celebration of the skills and talents of Aaron Pryor, probably the second best boxer ever to come out of Cincinnati after Ezzard Charles--though Freddie Miller deserves his credit, too. Pryor passed away on October 9th. He was a week shy of his 61st birthdary.

126 - Bisping vs Hendo: No Fight for Old Men  

Fighters like Dan Henderson and Michael Bisping are the future of fighting. Not that Henderson has a good chance of winning the belt, nor Bisping of keeping it--but they are a pair of old dudes. That's kind of like looking into the future, right?

Funnily enough, Michael Bisping now is probably at the place in his career at which Dan Henderson started knocking fools out--including Michael Bisping. Henderson, meanwhile, has continued to age and, in many ways, deteriorate. On this episode of Heavy Hands, we talk age and experience, and the divergent paths of athleticism and skill. MMA is no sport for old men, but for a special few, the benefits of time and training are too great to be written off completely. We doubt even a hip-replacement could take away Dan Henderson's lethal right hand.

To cap things off, we review the bantamweight clash between John Lineker and John Dodson from last week, which exceeded expectations and tickled us all. 

125 - Can anyone beat Cyborg? + Lineker vs Dodson preview  

Some of us expected Lina Lansberg to give Cristiane Justino a little something to work with. Some of us expected a bit of a back-and-forth before Cyborg notched another inevitable win. Some of us thought that, maybe at least for the first few minutes, Cyborg wouldn't be literally grinning while having her way with Lansberg in the clinch.

Some of us were wrong. 

On today's Heavy Hands, we take a look at the impressive skills and talents of Cyborg Justino, 2-0 in the UFC and undefeated since 2005. In addition, we undertake a mental search for the woman who can finally beat her, whether she truly exists or not. Ronda Rousey? Holly Holm? Miesha Tate? Who will be the Buster Douglass to Cyborg's Tyson?

After that, enjoy a preview of the top two fights scheduled to take place at UFC Portland. We break down the bantamweight clash between former flyweights John Lineker and John Dodson, and Will Brooks vs Alex Oliveira, before using Hacran Dias vs Andre Fili as a jumping-off point to talk about the role of discipline and caution in mixed martial arts. 

124 - Gilbert Burns on being a Complete Fighter, Cyborg-Lansberg preview  

Heavy Hands returns with another interview, this time with the bold, funny, and insightful Gilbert Burns, one of the most promising prospects in the UFC's lightweight division, and a veritable master of the armbar (he has won three of his four UFC bouts using that technique). Gilbert talked to us about . . .

- Training Brazilian jiu-jitsu at Nova Uniao
- Transitioning from submission grappling to MMA
- The benefits of having spent his entire MMA career with the Blackzilians team
- Learning striking from Henri Hooft, sparring hard
- Becoming a well-rounded fighter, rather than fighting like a BJJ specialist
- His teammate Michael Johnson's knockout victory over Dustin Poirier

One of my favorite highlights from our conversation came when Gilbert addressed fellow grappling ace Demian Maia, and his belief that the best victory is one which causes no harm to the opponent."Don't get me wrong," Burns said. "I have Demian as a friend. I love to watch this guy's fighting, but I don't agree with a couple of the things he says. Like, 'Oh, I just wanna finish the guy, don't wanna make damage, next day he can train . . .'

"No, bro. I wanna finish you . . . if I see your face there, my elbows gonna come."

After the interview, we preview the best bouts of the UFC's upcoming Brasilia card, including the main event clash between Cristiane "Cyborg" Justino and Lina Lansberg.

123 - Poirier vs Johnson, & the Best Stylists in MMA  

On today's episode of Heavy Hands, we're trying something new: talking about recent and upcoming MMA fights. Novel idea. 

So to kick things off, we're breaking down the heavyweight title clash between Stipe Miocic and Alistair Overeem, which was both surprising and predictable, and a whole lot of fun. Jimmie Rivera put on a stellar performance of his own at UFC 203, and so did Jessica Andrade, so we're breaking down those fights as well. 

Then, it's on to next weekend's fight night card, main evented by Dustin Poirier and Michael Johnson, and featuring a whole host of interesting undercard fights. 

To close out the show, we're talking styles in MMA, in a segment inspired by one of our dedicated listeners. What are styles in MMA, who are the best representatives of each, and how did some of them manage to overcome innately difficult style matchups?

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