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Category Archives: Martial Arts

Flying Side Kick

Flying Side Kick is a fancy looking kick, which in most peoples’ minds is reserved for the movies, demonstration and breaking. However from a power point of view, it combines two monsters:
• One is a the strongest muscles in the body, the compound leg extensors. Same muscles that helps one squat and dead lift heavy weights.
• That not being enough Flying Side Kick also pack the full weight of the body, being accelerated into the target.


From a practicality point of view it’s not as easy to land as a Jab or Back Fist. And yet the kick had been landed in the ring and on the street. If the two steps are removed the Flying Side Kick becomes a rear leg side kick with a hop. Done properly still a very powerful kick.
So now let’s take a look at the Kinesiological Analysis of the kick.

Phase One: Take Off
There are various schools of thoughts on how the chamber should be raised.
• Some styles and individual practitioners come up with vertical shin.
• Others add rotation at the take off.
We will analyze a vertical lower leg:
The chamber comes up similar to the front kick and the rest of the body resembles a basketball layup.
On the kicking leg: the hip flexors assisted by the adductors flex the hip. Hamstrings flex the knee. Tibialis Anterior dorsi flexes the foot to expose the heel as the point of impact.
In the supporting leg: the Quadriceps extends the knee, Gluteus Maximus assisted by the Hamstrings extend the hip. Gluteus Medius and Minimus stabilize the hip. Calf completes the push off.
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Spinal Extensors and Quadratus Lumborum are primary core stabilizers, especially if the torso is not completely vertical prior to take off.
Even at this stage, where flexibility does not seem to be a large factor. Allowing the muscles to lengthen properly will boost the take off.
In the right leg Quadriceps Vastii (Three Short Heads of the Quadriceps) lengthen to all the knee to flex. Gluteus Maximus, Adductor Magnus Ischial Fibers and Adductor Longus stretch allows the knee to gain its maximum height. Calf, especially Soleus flexibility, permits the heel to be exposed as the point of impact.
In the left leg Hip Flexors and Adductors Lengthen to allow for full hip extension. Tibialis Anterior allow the foot to point.
Phase Two: Impact
“You watch too many movies” maybe the right phrase used here.
Not always, but rather frequently the kick extended prior to impact. This looks great as the audience get to see how a fully extended kick looks like.
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However in practicality it’s like extending a punch straight at the elbow and trying to push someone with it. The leg must not be straight at the point of impact.
• More biomechanics at the upcoming articles. Right now let’s take a look at the muscles involved in delivering the force of the kick to the target.
Muscles Involved
At the full extension the kicking leg is medially rotated and abducted. Three muscles carry out these two actions:
1. Gluteus Medius
2. Gluteus Minimus
3. Tensor Fascia Latae.
The impact however falls on the shoulders of two giants:

1. Quadriceps
2. Gluteus Maximus.
The Former extends the knee and later extends the hip. Tibialis Anterior makes sure the proper point of impact slams into the target.
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The supporting leg is characteristically flexed at the knee, abducted and externally rotated at the hip. There many variations to this position.
• Some kickers have their legs just slightly bent during Flying Side Kick
• Others lift the heel as high as the abdomen.
The main point of folding the other leg, is prevent the foot from touching the floor, before the kick does it job. After all the force must be transferred, while the fighter is airborne. The left leg position resembling a “half-butterfly” is Sartorius favorite. Other muscles assist at the hip and knee.

A complete lateral flexion calls for contraction of all the core muscles on the right side. Right Obliques, Right Side of the Rectus Abdominis, Right Quadratus Lumborum and Spinal Extensors hip to pull the Iliac Crest and Floating Ribs together. Psoas Major and Minor also assist.
Lengthening
While the non-kicking leg flexibility can make a kicker look good, it’s the core and kicking leg flexibility that really counts.
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• In the left leg the adductors and pectineus are the primary muscles that get stretched, providing that the heel comes up to the groin or abdomen.
• The right adductors and pectineous also lengthen to allow abduction. They are not at full stretch however, due to medial rotation of the side kick.
• A lesser mentioned muscle called Quadratus Femoris, is both and adductor and an external rotator. It is completely elongated during the kick.
• Of course Calf is stretched to allow dorsi flexion.
• In the core all the muscles on the left side of the body are expanded, to allow flexion to the right.

Part Three: Recovery and Landing
If a martial artist wants to keep doing this kick, he must learn how to land. Two actions are combined here.
1. Pulling the leg back from the kick
2. Absorbing the force of landing.
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Landing
Not everyone lands the same way.
• Some kickers land with a front kick chamber
• Others with abducted and medially rotated side kick chamber.
• Due to a frequent attempt to utilize Glutes in the kick, many kickers land sideways and even turned away from the target.
We will analyze a landing with the kicking leg medially rotated and landing leg laterally rotated.

• Tensor Fascial Latae is at great mechanical advantage, when the hip if flexed and medially rotated.
• Gluteus Medius and Minimus favor the medial rotation.
• Pectineus and adductors want to help, but be completely or partially negated by abduction, if the is on the side as opposed to being in front.
• Other hip flexors favor the lateral rotation, so they will be negated with increased internal rotation of the femur.
On the landing leg, the Quadriceps and Calf will absorb the brunt of impact.
• Medial and Lateral Rotators will work to stabilize the hip.
• If the torso falls slightly forward, Gluteus Maximus and Hamstrings will fire to keep it in check. This usually happen with very internally rotated kicking leg.
On the other hand if the kicking leg recovers into front kick position, the torso may fall back slightly(shoulder behind the hips) and hip flexors combined with adductors will keep it in check.
Core
Muscles of the core will mimic the position of the torso and fire in chain with the lower body.
For example:
• Spinal extensors and quadratus lumborum will contract with glutes and hamstrings if shoulder move in front of the hips.
• If the shoulder moves too much back, abdominals and obliques will activate.
• Right sided core muscles will contract, if the right hip is raised and an attempt is made to keep the torso vertical.

Paul Zaichok IDAUTHOR: Paul Zaichik is the founder of the Elastic Steel method of Athletic conditioning. With an interest in Martial Arts from early childhood Paul during his Martial Art training realized that many advanced students could barely kick to the head level. He had begun to experiment in this area. As a result Paul transformed many Eastern European Stretching and Gymnastic techniques to meet the needs of the modern martial artists. More and more students were practicing Paul’s techniques, acquiring great strength and flexibility in return. As a certified Exercise and Nutrition instructor Paul has been able to develop over the years many effective techniques that became to be known as ElasticSteel.

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Life Patterns and Flexibility

Life Patterns and FlexibilityEvery day we are faced with challenges of routine, whether it is creating a routine, maintaining a routine, or changing a routine. More often than not, these happen without intervention, and the results present themselves whether you designed them or not.

The Morning Routine

The day breaks either at whatever time your body clock is set, or the time of your alarm clock. The latter is not ideal because it is an unnatural rising and you’re off into a forced routine. The trouble with this is that you will undoubtedly feel stiff, and your day starts with a ‘forced’ movement, and muscles can stiffen accordingly.

I was on this path for a long, long time, and never considered myself a ‘morning person’ – and always battled with normal, every-day flexibility when starting my day.

The solution: I decided to buy a “Lumie” alarm clock. This was designed to wake you up without noise, without sudden rising, and mimics ‘real light’ to gradually wake you up. The result? By naturally waking up, your body automatically adjusts over 20-30 minutes without you having to do anything at all; the result being you reduce and even remove the standard stiffness you can feel in the morning. Check the light out here:
Lumie Bodyclock ACTIVE 250 Wake-Up Light Alarm Clock with Extra Audio Options

Once you’re up, you must, must, have a quick morning stretching routine, to get the muscles moving, blood flowing, and generally loosen up. If you don’t do this on a daily basis, or even miss a few days, you perpetuate a stiffness that will lock up your joints, muscles, and hamper any of your sporting and martial arts. My morning routine consists of me pressing myself against the skirting board (!) to push my legs wider and gain myself that bit of leverage. It doesn’t take long before I’m pressed fully against the wall and have full flexibility once more.

All Sit Down?

We’ve all seen the evolutionary picture of ending up crouched over a computer desk, typing away with a hunched back. This is, unfortunately, extremely common and very true. The truth of the matter is, we are more certainly not designed to sit in a chair. Chairs are destructive to our mobility, flexibility, and our overall posture. If you are sitting in a chair, set yourself a simple timer for 15 minutes every day to ensure you get up out of your chair, move about, loosen up, and stop those joints from stiffening up. If you ca, get a standing desk – they will increase your productivity, improve your muscle tone, even burn more calories, but most important they will stop your spine from becoming compressed and causing disc and sciatic injuries.

If you are already in the unfortunate position of having back pain, please check out these videos for relieving sciatic nerve pain.

Beware the Slow Tense

Regardless whether you are in a chair, standing, leaning, kneeling etc. Be very conscious of your body and its positions. Again perhaps use a timer such as a “ring timer” (see below) to force you to check every 5-10 minutes until you make it a habit. What you’re checking for is any constant tension in the shoulders, arms, elbows, buttocks and particularly lower back. Modern day work demands hours and hours of constant work and tension, which too often results in over-tightness of particular areas, which in turn leads to over-compromised positions, disrupting your natural posture. These are very difficult to break unless you pay particular attention to it.

Check out a round-timer to force yourself to check every few minutes for it:
Boxing training round interval timer. Perfect for Boxing MMA Interval Tabata Training Kettlebells by Athlete Technologies

Stretching Before Sleep

Just as you should stretch when you wake up, it is equally important that you stretch yourself out before going to sleep. This will ensure that any tensions you have picked up throughout the day will not stiffen further overnight, and cause the typical and all-too-familiar trapped nerve sensations and full-body stiffness syndrome of the morning.

Conclusion

These routines are not exercise, they are not training, they should be part of every day of your life, and are indeed mandatory in many Japanese companies, where they have the best employee health and fitness ratios in the world.

You need to concentrate on them and do them mindfully, otherwise naturally bad patterns will creep into your life and compromise your body, flexibility and fitness.

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The Faulty Fact about Martial Arts

Recently, there was a topic about some people getting rapidly promoted in the martial arts. Example: Jumping a few black belt ranks in a very short amount of time. Personally, I’m not into other people’s politics or drama. A side discussion on that I briefly mentioned was the topic of standards. We have standards in just about every occupation. My question is, what happens when standards are not followed? Depending on the occupation it could be damaging to people, jobs and etc.

As a martial arts school owner what I’m about to say is not the smartest thing in the world to say, but I feel truths and facts should be shared. Failing to do so could indeed seem like a lie. I hate to be lied to.  It’s a negative violation of trust. I’ve seen a lot of commercials and articles about a statement that I do not agree with and I’m sure there will be folks who will wish to share a contradicting statement and opinion of what I’m about to say. However, as the old saying goes…”we can agree to disagree”.

The statement I heard and don’t agree with (because of the standards point of view) is that

“ANYONE CAN DO MARTIAL ARTS, REGARDLESS OF “XYZ”.

Though I do feel that anyone can “start” training martial arts, however, not “finish” martial arts. Meaning, making it a long and life time journey. How many times have you seen postings on Facebook that shows that thousands will join, hundreds will only make it beyond green belt and very few ever make it to black belt? We see this all the time and it’s all TRUE. There are many reasons why students quit their journey. Some of them are VERY understandable. They may include, but not limited to changes in family or work situation, damaging economy and etc.

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However, there are other reasons why people do not continue. They watched a movie and thought they could learn to do all those things they saw in a minimal amount of time, not catching on to some of the material and internally feel inferior about it because other class mates have gone beyond them, it’s too hard and the instructor is too strict for them.

I have come up with a solution that can help with retention and keeping standards. They include the following:

  1. Communication with the Instructor. Some of the reasons (not all) can be worked out with a school owner if given advance notice or simply bring up your concerns. Naturally, this should be done in a private setting.
  2. Pay for private lessons. An instructor who runs a class has to share his or her training, time and attention to multiple students. Private lessons ensures that the individual gets individual attention for their training needs and wants. Now, be advised, private lessons cost more money. In the end, they are normally worth it.
  3. Up YOUR game. Many students training ONLY at the dojang. Just like high school or college, a student is expected (read that word again) to practice outside of the dojang. Practicing at home is FREE. Maybe partner up with a fellow class mate and work on material together.
  4. Look in the mirror and realize you will not be perfect at everything you do in a martial arts class. Guess what?! If you have any kind of a good instructor, they know this too. Your continued effort and hard work is what many good instructors are looking for.

In conclusion, if you communicate, work hard and continuously motivate yourself, you can increase your chances of being in the percentage of folks who earn their black belt. Good luck and train hard. Again, anyone can START martial arts training, but it’s up to you to follow through.

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Tournaments Won't Necessarily Make You Better Martial Artists

Do you wish to have a competitive career? Then you have to prove yourself at tournaments because the environment is incredibly competitive.

If you want to effectively defend yourself, then don’t train at a school that focuses primarily on tournaments. You’ll develop bad habits in the long run.

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Does Taekwondo Have a Clinch?

The clinch is a close-range grapple technique which either immobilizes the arms or places the players at a position of control to execute elbows, knees, and/or take-downs.

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The art of destruction and why you should practice it

I have observed that destruction has been prevalent in and around discussion topics of training methods, gradings, demonstrations and technique; but why?

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Toxic Environment | 9 Signs How to Spot a Bad Martial Arts Club

A toxic environment in your martial arts school can sometimes be hard to recognize. The inability to see what was right in front of your nose is simply denial, an emotional defense mechanism. At the beginning you saw the warning signs but you rationalize them away. After all, you are new, want to create a good impression and already idolize this instructor from watching their videos on youtube. This fellow human being is more than human to you –  he/she is divine.

Training in martial arts shouldn’t be about inflating your instructor’s ego and feeding their overwhelming need for power and respect.

Ask yourself – is your instructor truely helping you with your self-development or are you just another sheep in his/her flock of adoring fans?

Blind conformity seems to be the root of much anguish and regret in this world. Many wars and conflicts have been fought because people placed their blind trust in national leaders. Slavery, Nazism, racism, sexism, religious extremism, homophobia, cultism, organized crime, abusive relationships, workplace bullying and other forms of oppressive social institutions have always thrived on blind conformity. The Martial Arts industry is no different.

toxic environment | krav maga london apolakiAs a martial arts instructor I am often viewed by people as a “leader”. I am more of a guide. A guide that helps her students physically and mentally lead themselves on their own path. In my opinion, Instructor’s that “lead” their students are those that are teaching for the wrong reasons – to be followed blindly and without question, worshiped like a God, to be called “Master” and to be paid ridiculous amounts of money to be accepted as part of their cult…I mean club…

Not sure if you have found yourself in a martial arts toxic environment?

Toxic Environment Checker | 9 Signs How to Spot a Bad Martial Arts Club:

  1. Does your instructor tell you he/she is the best and all other instructors of the same style are teaching BS? (Even though your instructor has been studying and teaching the art probably half the many years as other, more well known and more well respected instructors in the industry).
  2. Does your instructor tell you that you can’t train with other instructors, even telling you if you do then you are out of the cult?…I mean club…
  3. Is your instructor ALWAYS right?
  4. Are you even ALLOWED to ask questions?
  5. Are you, other students, facebook fans and so on using excessive glorification and admiration towards your instructor to the point of virtual divinity?
  6. Does your instructor refer to themselves as “Master” on a regular basis, such as on their own facebook statuses?
  7. Do you find yourself paying more and more to keep his/her demands met? Master loves his/her fancy hotels, restaurants (even shopping trips in some cases I’ve heard) when he/she visits your school?
  8. Do most of the students in your club come from different martial arts styles? But I thought your instructor is the best in their style…surely that would mean most students would be migrants from other clubs of the same style no?…Well…it’s easier to claim point 1 on the ignorant isn’t it…
  9. Does your instructor tell you not to continue friendship/communication with those that leave or are kicked out of the club (usually for choosing not to follow point 2)?

Here is what I tell my trainee instructors and students at Apolaki Krav Maga & Dirty Boxing:

toxic environment | krav maga instructor londonUnless this instructor has trained with every single instructor of their style, then how can they possibly claim to be the best and everyone else is teaching BS? Especially when they probably haven’t even traveled much or even trained with the true Masters and Grand-Masters of these systems in the country of origin. There is ALWAYS someone better than you, no matter how many years you have been training.

NO-ONE has the right to tell you what you can and can’t train, and who you can and can’t train with. This is YOUR martial arts journey – not your instructor’s. The only person that should be controlling your training is YOU. Why do they do this? Because 1. He/She is scared you will discover what they are teaching isn’t that magical after all…Club ABC down the road teaches exactly the same thing shock horror! 2. You might learn something they don’t know.

You have the right to ask your instructor questions. This is your training, which YOU are paying for.  You are there to learn and grow. This requires asking questions and developing your understanding – just like any educational environment.

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UFC Needs To Sign Megumi Fujii To Women's Strawweight Division

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The results of the final fight in the finale of The Ultimate Fighter 20 aka TUF: A Champion Will Be Crowned was upsetting, but it should not have been surprising to those that have enough understanding of mixed martial arts (MMA). Part of me was cheering for Rose Namajunas because of her extensive martial arts background and the fact that she was exciting to watch.
I doubt Namajunas would not have gotten that far let alone to the finale because of her lack of fight experience. You can debate the reasons Namajunas made it that far, which is an impressive feat. At the end, Namajunas fell to Carla Esparza, a seasoned veteran and the former Invicta FC Strawweight Champion, before she vacated the belt to join TUF 20.
Why did Namajunas lose?
The first logical reason was the gap inMMA experience, which is wide between Namajunas and Esparza. There was that sliver of hope that Namajunas could have won because of the outcome of the quarterfinal match between Esparza and Tecia Torres, with the latter having the same amount of pro-MMA experience as Namajunas.
That gap was apparent when Esparza defeated Angela Hill in the first match ofTUF 20.
The second logical reason is that Namajunas faced a true wrestler, Esparza, who has a scholastic and collegiate background. Wrestling wins fight, but does usually finish them. A fighter, whose background is Wrestling, can keep scoring takedowns and securing certain positions until the end of the match.
Like it or not, many matches go to a judges’ decision, which usually ends up in the favor of whoever gains ground superiority. Wrestlers, who are masters of ground superiority, usually win those decisions.
For that reason, Esparza won over Torres by judges’ decision. It doesn’t matter how much you hurt your opponent with your strikes in the match if you don’t get either a KO or TKO victory.
It’s important to understand that all college wrestlers are good or they wouldn’t get a Wrestling scholarship in the first place.
All national level wrestlers are good or they wouldn’t get a spot on the national team.
All Olympic wrestlers are good or they wouldn’t make it far into the trials let alone make it onto the Olympic team.
There’s a sizable gap between Scholastic Wrestling, which Namajunas took up in high school, and Collegiate Wrestling, which Esparza competed in during college.
I was disappointed that Namajunas lost, but wasn’t surprised. Bleacher Report said it best, a good wrestleris a major obstacle for fighters. If you are unable to effectively deal with wrestlers, you will not get far in MMA. Namajunas fought against and lost to a true wrestler.
Wrestling, since the UFC came to be in 1993, was the dominant style used by the fighters. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu came second because more fighters wanted to improve their ground game, which this style more than offered. It’s not uncommon for Wrestling-based fighters to train in BJJ during or after college.
For that reason, I wrote an article onMoosin making a case for MMA fighters to take Yudo (Korean Judo) to compensate for a lack of Wrestling training.
The third logical reason, which is an extension of the second reason, is because Esparza’s a former champion. Namajunas faced a true wrestler and a former champion.
Now the UFC is faced with the task of building its new women’s strawweight division and fighting viable opponents for Esparza. Don’t even assume for a second that should ever validate and legitimize UFC’s recent action in signing Phil Brooks, who was known in the WWE as CM Punk.
There’s a fine line between an actual wrestler and a TV wrestler.
Former Invicta FC Atomweight Champion Jessica Penne, though proven an effective fighter, might not be an option because of her strong friendship with Esparza. There is also the factor of Penne’s age, which many consider old in MMA.
If Penne starts losing, there may be a call for her to retire.
There are two viable opponents for Esparza.
The first opponent is Jessica Aguilar, the current World Series of Fighting Women’s Strawweight Champion. The two fought with Aguilar winning by split decision. Aguilar wouldbe a good addition to the UFC, but is currently signed with WSOF.
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The second opponent is Megumi Fujii, who recently retired. Fujii pleaded to the UFC last year to create a women’s strawweight division. As she is retired, Fujii is not signed with any promotion, which means the UFC could ask her to temporarily come out of retirement.
The UFC should convince Fujii to come out of retirement. If she refuses, offer her enough money for the fight to do so.
Why?
Fujii holds a 26-3 record in MMA. When you look at a fighter’s losses, you have to examine the reasons behind the loss. You could lose by a judges’ decision even if you thought or everybody else thought you should have won the fight.
All three losses on Fujii’s record wereby decision.
Her first loss, which was against Zoila Gurgel, was a split decision. Her second loss, which was against Jessica Aguilar, was by unanimous decision, which was deemed controversial. Her third loss, against Aguilar again, was originally declared no contest by accidental eye poke, but was overturned and became a majority decision.
No fighter has beaten Fujii by any ruling other than judges’ decision. She was neither KO’ed nor submitted. There’s a huge gap between Fujii’s ground skills and Esparza’s ground skills.
At Bellator 24, Fujii submitted Esparza almost one minute into the second round. She’s the only person to defeat Esparza with a submission. Nobody has yet to knockout Esparza. Aguilar defeated Esparza at Bellator 46 by split decision.
Fujji has defeated Lisa Ellis, who Penne has defeated twice, and Seohee Ham, who lost to Joanne Calderwood at the TUF 20 Finale.
At ADCC 2005, Fujii won the bronze medal after she was defeated in the semifinals to Kyra Gracie,who went on to win gold.
Having a background in martial arts before MMA training proves to be useful. Fujii developed a strong background in Judo, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and Russian Sambo. Fujii is technically a triple black belt though Sambo uses competitive ranking instead of formal ranking. It is an understatement to say Fujii has her ground game covered.
Fujii holds the title “Queen of Jiu-Jitsu” and “Princess of Sambo,” with most of her wins being by submission.
This is exactly the opponent that Esparza needs to face to prove she is deserving of the UFC Women’s Strawweight Title. There is a sizable gap between her skills and most of the strawweights. It is doubtful that the likes of Lisa Ellis, Heather Clark, Felice Herrig, Angela Hill, Randa Markos, Alex Chambers, Bec Rawlings, Paige VanZant, or Seohee Ham will ever defeat Esparza and take the title from her.
Like Esparza or not, you have to accept the reality that she’s going to be champion for a long time.
Unless the fighters, with the exception of Penne, can effectively deal with wrestlers, they won’t win against Esparza.
Torres was close to beating Esparza, but there’s a time gap between the final episode and the finale, which is a lot of time for Esparza to train and improve. The next time they meet in the cage, hypothetically, the outcome may be different, but still be in Esparza’s favor.
The UFC needs to sign fighters who can pose a threat to Esparza. Fujii is one of those few critical threats. If the UFC wants a good fight, Dana White and the Fertita brothers need to convince Fujii to step out of retirement for a few years.
Originally written for and posted on The News Hub.
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Signing CM Punk, UFC's Lack of Transparency

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Former WWE wrestler Phil Brooks, famously known as CM Punk, refuses to stay silent and refuses to fade into obscurity. The WWE better take note in the future because it may have hurt itself in the long run by getting rid of Brooks, who informally left the company early this year, but was officially fired in June.

Of every day in the month of June, Brooks received the news of his firing on the day of his wedding. If you didn’t know, Brooks is currently married to WWE Diva AJ Lee, known as April Jeanette Brooks (nee Mendez). This is one of those bits of news that no person should ever receive on their important day of happiness.

Brooks said that he received a FedEX delivery that contained his termination contract. There was supposed to be a meeting with Paul Levesque, known as Triple H in WWE, according to Brooks. The meeting never happened because Brooks was handed his pink slip.

He left WWE on less than pleasant terms.

On the bright side for Brooks, he is free to do whatever he wants with the rest of his life. It is doubtful that Brooks will return to professional wrestling let alone work with the WWE.

Brooks is going to compete in professional MMA fights. At UFC 181, which took place recently, Brooks was one of the guests in attendance. He gave a shocking announcement of his plans to fight in the UFC sometime next year.

UFC President Dana White is keeping an open mind as he signed Brooks for the promotion. It is safe to assume that signing Brooks is ultimately for the money, which is logical. Brooks retains a large fan base, which will likely want to watch him in action.

Brooks is confident about his abilities though he has never competed in an actual fight before. It is known that Brooks is a practitioner of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, but Brooks said that he also holds a background in Kenpo.

That means Brooks does have a striking and grappling base, but lacks a true wrestling base. A Collegiate or Olympic wrestler is going to give Brooks a problem in the cage. He plans to fight in a weight class that is under 205 lbs.

MMA training is going to be brutal for Brooks, who supposedly weighed 215 as a wrestler. He’ll have to change his diet and learn to cut weight. Weight cutting is going to be a brutal ordeal for Brooks.

I wouldn’t mind watching Brooks fight. I’ll keep an open mind about it. The drawback of the Brooks situation is that the UFC has again shown its lack of transparency, which antagonizes most fighters.

It is similar to the controversy of White’s plans to sign Gina Carano, former Strikeforce Women’s Featherweight Champion, to the UFC to fight against UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey.

The fight between Carano and Rousey was supposed to take place over the weekend at UFC 181. She was supposed to receive a chance to win the title from Rousey.

Why does that show a lack of transparency?

Carano, after losing her title to Cris “Cyborg” Santos, never stepped in the cage or ring again. Since 2009, Carano has been busy with film and TV roles, which means she hasn’t fought in five years. The UFC, knowing Carano hasn’t fought in that amount of time, was quick to sign her.

There’s no transparency, but I understand the logic. Carano was the women’s face of MMA before she lost to Cyborg. Cyborg never became the new face for many reasons such as testing positive for PEDs in a post-fight test after her successful title defense against Hiroko Yamanaka.

Cyborg was stripped of her title and placed on a 1-year fight suspension. She is currently fighting for Invicta FC as the current Featherweight Champion and is supposed to make her bantamweight debut in the near future.

Since returning to the cage after the suspension, Cyborg has tested clean, but is still dissed regardless about the drug test. If you follow MMA, Cyborg receives more criticism that Chael Sonnen, Wanderlei Silva, and Vitor Belfort combined.

White’s decision to sign Carano was not without criticism. UFC fighter Miesha Tate, former Strikeforce Bantamweight Champion, called the potential Rousey vs. Carano fight a “joke.” The talks to sign Carano had broken down and White blames the people in Hollywood for their “scheduling problems.”

The potential Carano vs. Rousey fight is a pipe dream.

Rousey and Cyborg continue to verbally attack each other. Bellator fighter and UFC Hall of Famer Tito Ortiz, who used to be Cyborg’s manager, continues to make his case for Cyborg and Rousey to fight at 145. He does make a point with Cyborg, with the lack of transparency with Rousey willing to fight Carano, but fails to understand that UFC doesn’t have a Women’s Featherweight Division.

It’s doubtful that the UFC will ever have one.

Like Tate, who criticized Carano’s title shot, many fighters have voiced their criticism of Brooks signing with the UFC.

Ben Askren, the current One FC Welterweight Champion, mocked the UFC of signing a “fake wrestler” instead of an Olympian, referring to himself. Bellator fighter King Mo tweeted his support to Askren.

Rousey’s support of Brooks joining UFC isn’t surprising as she is a huge WWE fan.

The criticisms are understandable though. They are fighters that work hard and have built their records. When you look at things from a level of merits, these fighters deserve a contract with the UFC more than Brooks does.

Bellator fighter Phil Baroni, a former UFC fighter, said that Brooks would end up with a broken neck if he competed.

Ralek Gracie expressed skepticism of Brooks’ success. He added that Brooks would lose quickly in a Metamoris match.

If you don’t know what Metamoris is, it is a grappling-only promotion set up by Ralek Gracie. Former UFC fighter Chael Sonnen, who was handed a 2-year fight ban by the NSAC and a firing by the UFC, competed in the previous event. I have to agree with Gracie as Brooks doesn’t have a competitive grappling record either.

Hypothetically if Brooks did want to compete in Metamoris, there would be a lot of grapplers voicing their criticism.

Maybe Brooks should shoot for something a bit smaller than the UFC, but there is the appeal of him competing in a world stage. If and when Brooks fights, the match will probably take place in Las Vegas because of the UFC’s relationship with the NSAC.

There is a process that has to be done before competing in the professional leagues. You have to fight for the amateur promotions to get used to fighting in front of a large crowd, then you fight in the professional leagues, but have to build up your fight record.

You have to climb that proverbial latter, but the UFC is allowing Brooks to bypass the process. This will probably backfire on the UFC. Then again, something could happen that forces Brooks to pull out of the match.

It is unknown who Brooks is going to fight or when he’s going to fight.

Jason David Frank, who holds a 1-0 professional record, is offering to be Brooks’ first opponent. That might be a plausible opponent for Brooks to have for his UFC debut. Brooks is 37 and Frank is 40. Brooks is already known as CM Punk, but Frank is more known for his role in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers as Tommy Oliver, who was the Green Ranger and the White Ranger.

That is a logical fight to make as both of them are celebrities in their own right.

I do feel that maybe Brooks shouldn’t fight in the UFC because of his lack of a professional record. The UFC would take a hit to its credibility for allowing the fight to happen, which its competitors will be watching closely.

If Brooks wants to have an MMA fight and is willing to take on Frank, an exhibition match setting would be better off.

Don’t expect Brooks to fight until late-summer 2015 to winter 2016 at the earliest. The WWE issued a one-year “no compete” clause with the UFC in Brooks’ exit contract.

You can argue that Brock Lesnar and Bobby Lashley competed in MMA, but Lesnar is an NCAA Division I Wrestler and Lashley is an NAIA National Wrestling Champion. Unlike Brooks, Lesnar and Lashley have a true Wrestling background.

Love or hate him, Brooks may be fighting in the Octagon late 2015. That leaves Brooks plenty of time to train, prepare, and cut weight. That also allows the UFC to find a suitable opponent for Brooks.

It has to be stressed that the UFC will have a credibility problem in the future. The promotion is signing a person with no MMA record. You can’t do that and claim to be the one promotion that sets up the best fights.

Once again, the notion of an MMA meritocracy is thrown out the window.

UFC, however, is still the big daddy in the MMA world. It can get away with the lack of transparency, but the UFC can only go so far with that in the long run. Many promising fighters will voice their criticism with the UFC. If they don’t get signed, other promotions may pick them up.

On the flip-side, when you think about it, the fight should generate a lot of money, which the UFC could use.

In the post-UFC 181 press conference, Brooks said that the people in the UFC will respect him after he steps inside the cage. It is doubtful because he bypassed the process. For that reason, I doubt many fighters will respect him for stepping in the cage. They’ll still look at the fact that Brooks was signed to fight in the UFC even though he doesn’t have a record.

That’s no different from giving a passing grade to a failing student because s/he is related to someone rich and influential.

Nobody takes kindly to people cutting in line, MMA fighters are no exception.

Originally written for and published on The News Hub.

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What's Next After The Ultimate Fighter 20?

We’re almost into the quarterfinals for The Ultimate Fighter 20 aka The Ultimate Fighter: A New Champion Will Be Crowned, which is the addition of the new women’s strawweight division. The winner of the finale will be crowned the inaugural UFC Women’s Strawweight Champion. Jessica Penne and Carla Esparza, respectively the former Invicta FC Atomweight and Strawweight Champions, have made it to the quarter-finals as expected. In their first fights, Penne made quick work of Lisa Ellis and Esparza made quick work of Angela Hill.

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Penne capitalized on Ellis’ “cage rust” as the latter hasn’t fought in over a year due to having another child.

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Esparza capitalized on Hill’s inexperience with the latter only having fought in one professional MMA match before being a selected contestant for TUF 20. If you have watched all the recent episodes of TUF 20, you can see the gap of training and experience between all of the selected contestants.

Over half of the contestants, marginally, have little experience as professional MMA fighters. The first few fights have shown that being an experienced martial artist and being an experienced professional are worlds apart. We can look at the first loss handed to Tecia “Tiny Tornado” Torres from Randa Markos. However, Markos only has one fight more under her belt than Torres.

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Addressing her loss to Markos on the show’s first episode, Torres said she got a little injured before fighting. Anthony Pettis and Gilbert Melendez decided to evaluate the fighters before picking their teams; Pettis put them through a circuit of workouts and Torres pulled her back in the process.

I recently posted an article on The News Hub predicting that the TUF 20 winner being either Penne or Esparza. But I also mentioned Aisling Daly as being a potential “dark horse” due to the number of fights under her belt along with being able to finish fights.

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The reason I didn’t mention Felice Herrig was because most of her fights were won by decision.

But what’s next after TUF 20?

I don’t mean a future season of The Ultimate Fighter. After TUF 20, the Women’s Strawweight Division will officially be added to the Ultimate Fighting Championships. But, the strawweight division will have its own share of problems compared to the women’s bantamweight division.

Looking at the bantamweight division, it’s still very weak and overly dependent on Ronda Rousey.

Rousey, if you don’t know, is the female face of the sport. Like/admit it or not, Rousey is the sole reason that UFC President Dana White added the bantamweight division as the first ever women’s division. Being made the inaugural women’s bantamweight champion, Rousey has successfully defended the title one fight after another.

Nobody’s been able to get past her signature armbar. In her recent fights against Sara McMann and Alexis Davis, Rousey has shown that she could win other than the use of the armbar. Rousey represents a multifaceted problem of the women’s bantamweight division.

She was cast for The Expendables 3 and for the upcoming 2015 film Fast & Furious 7. It has been established that Rousey has film aspirations. Even though Rousey said she wants to be Hollywood’s highest grossing performer, that’s perhaps the one goal that will be nothing more than a mere pipe dream.

For any circumstance Rousey leaves MMA, even to focus on film and TV regardless of the amount of success, the women’s division of the sport will suffer from a deep and hard-to-repair void. WMMA suffered that void when Gina Carano, Rousey’s predecessor as the female face, took a hiatus since 2009 after suffering her first and crushing loss to Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos.

Under a meritocracy, Cyborg would have should have been the new female face of the sport. That didn’t happen.

Because WMMA depends on the “sex sells” paradigm in addition to winning and being entertaining, Cyborg doesn’t fit into that. Most people don’t want to see women that look like jacked up dudes. That includes many female viewers and spectators that want to see the buff topless guys. A post-fight drug test, after Cyborg’s successful title defense against Hiroko Yamanaka, showed she tested positive for steroids. Cyborg was stripped of her title by Strikeforce.

Since the fight was in California, the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) handed Cyborg a one-year ban from fighting and a fine.

A culmination of these factors contributed to the void of WMMA. Nobody was there to fill Carano’s shoes. That changed with the emergence of Rousey, who is a Olympic bronze medalist in Judo. She is one of the very few female fighters with an Olympic background. Sara McMann is the other as she has a silver medal in Greco-Roman Wrestling.

Rousey set the bar high. MMA pundits keep asking: Could Rousey go the distance? That means if Rousey can take a fight all the way to the end.

Who knows? None of the opponents Rousey faced were able to test that out.

None of the female fighters are at her level and most likely will never be at her level. She has a strong background in Judo, an Olympic background, and a very important killer instinct. Even if Miesha Tate fights Rousey 100 times over, the end result is still the same: Rousey comes out on top. It’s ultimately Tate’s 2-4 years of Scholastic Wrestling versus Rousey’s 10+ years of Judo. You also have to factor Tate’s Scholastic Wrestling experience versus Rousey’s years of Olympic Judo experience.

There’s really nobody for Rousey to fight. That also creates a void in WMMA. Rousey could get bored, vacate the title, and retire from the sport.

Hypothetically if Cyborg and Rousey fought with the former being victorious, it would create the same void created when she defeated Carano.

The problem of the women’s bantamweight division is that it is heavily dependent on Rousey.

The women’s strawweight division has its own unique problem: the pool of talent. Most of the fighters aren’t necessarily that experienced. It seems most likely that Penne, Esparza, and Daly will be given contracts. These three have the most experience in professional MMA. Penne has been doing this for roughly eight years while Esparza has been doing this for roughly 3-4 years. Despite that, they have almost an equal number of fights on their resume.

That’s way more compared to the likes of Joanne Calderwood, Rec Rawlings, Tecia Torres, Rose Namajunas, and Angela Hill. Hill only has one fight under her belt making her the most inexperienced of all the TUF 20 contestants.

Paige VanZant, originally cast for the show, was removed due to being too young. But, she does get a direct contract from the UFC. Due to her inexperience, I do see her getting cut from the promotion very early. If that happens, she can go back to Invicta FC and win a few more fights. Hopefully for her, she could get re-signed with the UFC. If not, there are plenty of promotions willing to sign her.

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After TUF 20, the UFC needs to make an impressive strawweight division. There’s the question: Who to sign?

A promising prospect would be Polish fighter Joanna Jedrzejczyk who recently won her first UFC fight at UFC on Fox 12: Lawler vs. Brown. Her current record is 7-0.

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Felice Herrig’s personality, which is fully displayed on TUF 20, would be an asset to the strawweight division. She does have a number of wins under her belt as well. Herrig could be a trash talker like Rousey or Chael Sonnen.

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Joanne Calderwood, despite only fighting for about two years, is a good prospect to sign. Her official record is 8-0. Calderwood would be a good way to appeal to Scottish fans and future prospects let alone female fighter prospects. The calculating way that Calderwood deals with her opponents is an asset to the UFC.

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There are a number of prospects to sign, even if they’re not contestants on TUF 20.

Jessica Aguilar is another prospect to sign. She is currently the strawweight champion of World Series of Fighting. After losing to Zoila Frausto Gurgel at Bellator 31, Aguilar has yet to lose a fight. She’d be a good addition to the UFC strawweight division and a potential opponent for either Penne or Esparza.

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UFC could also sign Mika Nagano, despite her recent loss to Emi Tominatsu at Deep – Jewels 2, who was on a 4-win streak.

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South Korean fighter Seo Hee Ham is a possible prospect to fill the strawweight division. Due to her background as a kickboxer, Ham would make an ideal opponent to Herrig if she ends up with a UFC contract. Ham’s problem is finishing her fights instead of them going all the way to judges’ decision.

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Like Herrig, Ham won most of her fights via decision.

Ultimately, the UFC needs to pony up enough money to convince Megumi “Mega Megu” Fujii to forgo retirement. She has racked up an impressive win record. While she has lost three fights, they were by decision. No fight has been able to submit or KO Fujii in a fight. She even submitted Esparza in a fight.

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Being the equivalent of a triple black belt, holding Dan ranks in Judo & Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu with an equivalent in Russian Sambo, Fujii is one lean mean grappling machine. She would be a challenge to Esparza and Penne. This is a fight that could help Esparza out. If Esparza manages to avenge her loss to Fujii, it would be a big victory in her fight career. Being able to defeat Fujii in a fight, instead of letting it go to judges’ decision, would be a major highlight for any strawweight fighter.

Sooner or later, we will see Michelle “The Karate Hottie” Waterson competing in the UFC. Right now, Waterson’s enjoying herself in Invicta FC.

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What about the other contestants of TUF 20?

Torres, whose fights were won by decision, needs to fight in Invicta FC for another year or two. I wouldn’t imagine Torres fighting in the UFC afterward immediately, but I do see a possibility of her getting signed with Bellator or WSOF. Maybe she’ll fight for either promotion or stay in Invicta for a few years more before possibly getting signed with the UFC.

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Namajunas, who has three official fights under her belt, is still inexperienced like Torres is. But, she has proven to finish fights compared to Torres. It wouldn’t hurt for Namajunas to stay in Invicta FC for a few more fights. Like Torres, she’ll could get signed by either Bellator or WSOF. Due to her Lithuanian heritage, Namajunas could sign with M-1 Global if it ever adds a women’s division.

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She’d be a hit in Russia and Eastern Europe.

Both could even fight for Titan FC, where the strawweight belt is vacant. They are both seasoned martial artists with both of them having extensive backgrounds in Tae Kwon Do in Karate. Before fighting in the bigger promotions, they need to get more used to the MMA format. Plus, they need to be more aggressive. They could become future versions of Michelle Waterson.

In the future, I can imagine them both being very impressive fighters. They simply need to get more fights on their record.

For Angela Hill, it’s too early for her to be fighting in front of the cameras. She needs to spend a few years before she gets signed by any of the promotions. Professional MMA will be a long road for Hill. She needs to win fights and build up that record. Casting Angela Hill as a contestant was a bad call.

I don’t imagine WSOF, Bellator, or Invicta FC picking Hill up any time soon. She’s still green and her loss to Esparza proves it.

Ultimately, the UFC women’s strawweight division needs a sustainable roster of fighters. I can imagine the likes of Penne, Esparza, and Herrig being the faces of the division. But at 31 years old, it’s unknown how long Penne is going to be fighting for. While she’s still young, that’s a pretty old age to be competing in such fights. Giver or take 2-3 years, Penne could end up retiring from the sport.

Esparza, still in her 20s, has a few years left.

Professional MMA is a sport that’s not usually kind to people past their thirties. Javier Mendez, the owner of the American Kickboxing Academy, said that 30 is still young in an episode of Fight Factory. He also added that in professional fighting let alone MMA that’s considered old.

You have experienced fighters with proven track records, who could retire in the next few years, and you have professional fighters that need a bit more experience or have very little experience at all.

After TUF 20, it’s a matter of who’s going to fill the women’s strawweight roster. It could help or hurt WMMA depending on what happens after.

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