Totowa MMA: A look inside NJ United Mixed Martial Arts Academy

Why EVERY Police Officer Should Be A Good Martial Artist

Ask any martial artist worth his or her salt, and they’ll tell you that it’s imperative for police officers to learn and regularly practice a solid martial art. This isn’t due to bias and preference; it’s due to the simple nature of what happens when a suspect resists arrest and, quite simply, puts you in a fight for your life. It’s one thing to be proficient at a wide range of self-defense moves in isolation. However, it’s an entirely different thing to be able to consistently protect yourself as you face down and subdue a wildly resisting, unpredictable opponent. Sadly, there are many officers who have learned this the hard way. Officer Sean Hyman is among them.


Officer Hyman’s struggle with Lance Carr is an unnerving but valuable cautionary tale about being unprepared in basic self-defense situations.

Alone on patrol late at night last November, Hyman received a noise-complaint regarding a white car whose driver was playing music too loudly. The driver turned out to be 25 year-old Lance Carr, who was wanted on a felony theft warrant. Upon discovering this, Hyman asked Carr to step out of his vehicle. Carr complied, and things seemed to be going pretty routinely until Carr spun around and attacked Hyman. It was only a few seconds into their struggle that both men fell to the ground. Take a moment to watch the dash-cam recording of the incident here. When Carr quickly gets the upper hand on Hyman, and when Hyman realizes his helplessness, things get harrowing and unpleasant, to say the least.

Hyman did not have to be a world-class grappler to subdue Carr. If Hyman possessed a thorough, well-practiced knowledge of grappling basics, then the altercation would have likely turned out favorable for him. In fights, things happen for technical reasons – not just because one person was stronger or faster than the other.

At 1:30 into the video, Hyman and Carr have gotten back up to their feet and are clinched. However, Carr is able to bring Hyman down again with surprisingly little effort. When Carr gets on top, he looks to be shambling and have poor posture, but he’s still able to keep Hyman down! There are plenty of opportunities for Hyman to get superior grips on Carr and perhaps clinch with him in a neutral position. But Hyman doesn’t have this knowledge, and he begins screaming for help early. And unfortunately, that’s all that he’s able to do throughout the beating that ensues. There were many opportunities to exploit Carr’s sloppy punches, bad posturing, and poorly applied choke hold. However, Hyman couldn’t see them. The experience was completely foreign to him.


It took about three minutes for backup to arrive and help Officer Hyman. Shortly thereafter, he collapsed from his struggle with Carr.

The solution to Hyman’s problem is that he should have been simulating this experience regularly, with knowledgeable training partners and instructors in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and wrestling. This is not to say that Hyman should have made grappling his life, but rather a facet of his life. This is especially true since he’s in a profession where the likelihood of needing such training is a lot higher than it is in most other professions. It makes perfect sense: If you drill techniques and spar with quality instructors and students of the grappling arts, then your encounters with people like Carr will be much more manageable. And if you train consistently for a few years, then some such encounters can even be easy.

JJ Mike

Come train at NJ United Mixed Martial Arts and take advantage of our 7-day free trial offer! Whether you’re an aspiring competitor or casual student, you will benefit from training in our friendly, professional, and ego-free environment. Call us at 973-638-1570 to schedule your first class, and visit us on the web at for more info.

Eat as Smart as You Train!

I used to hate nutritional advice articles. But then again, that was when I was in my early 20’s and I was worried about the fat-content of peanuts and walnuts. In other words, I was a white belt in basic nutrition because I considered it a hassle to deal with (i.e. why should I “fix” my body if it wasn’t broken?). I didn’t eat poorly, but I didn’t tailor my diet with any intent either. That wasn’t exactly forward-thinking of me. Additionally, I thought that a diet customized to my jiu-jitsu and Muay Thai training would be expensive and restrictive. But thankfully, that didn’t turn out to be true, so here is the fruit of my personal diet-homework throughout the years. What follows are what I believe to the most healthy yet inexpensive meals befitting the martial-arts-lifestyle. My goal isn’t to explain all the scientific nuances of why these foods are good for you. Other sources such as will help you out much better there. Rather, I want to highlight some practical ways for you to integrate them into your life.

Organic, Virgin, Unrefined Coconut oil in hot oatmeal, or morning coffee.

This type of coconut oil (not the refined or fake stuff) is a nutritionally-dense “superfood” like the avocado. It’s amazing for heart and brain health, and fat-burning too. It tends to solidify in cold liquids, so it wouldn’t go well with your cereal and milk. Instead, add a teaspoon of it to your hot oatmeal and mix it in as it melts. I’ve found that it also goes well in hot coffee, and it definitely beats the artificial flavorings that you can get in popular coffee shops.

tuna+vegCanned tuna and your choice of raw vegetable slices, sprinkled with a dash of vinegar.

Loaded with protein and omega-3 fatty acids, tuna is easy to prepare and very cheap (and not in the bad sense of the word). Put some in a small Tupperware container, add pieces of raw vegetable (your choice), and sprinkle it with vinegar. Now, you’ve got a post-training lunch that’s very healthy and less expensive than the designer-meal version of the same thing that you could get at a high-end food market.

m+p+bMilk, bananas, and peanut-butter.

This is my favorite pre-training snack. Some people like to eat shortly before training, and others like to eat several hours before training. But in any case, these three foods ARE a superfood of sorts, in my opinion. Peanut butter is rich in protein and provides a great calorie-boost. Bananas are rich in natural sugar and potassium. Milk makes the two come together excellently. Maybe it’s just me, but dipping banana-slices in peanut butter with a glass of milk on the side is oftentimes better than stopping for a formal lunch. Alternately, you can make a good milkshake out of these ingredients if you have a blender. And of course, you can substitute regular milk with soy or rice milk if you want!

a+eAvacado slices, eggs, and hot sauce (or pepper).

Put scrambled eggs and avocado-slices in a Tupperware container, sprinkle them with some mild hot sauce, and you’ve got what I believe to be the best post-training meal ever. Check out the extensive health-benefits of avocados here:, as they’re too numerous to do justice to in a single paragraph. If you don’t like hot sauce, then be creative with the seasoning (if any) you put on this combo (if any).  You can sprinkle it with pepper, or cut some whole wheat bread into crouton-like cubes. Regardless, this is an easy meal to make . . . although it can initially be difficult to find the point at which avocados ripen perfectly. Just store them with your bananas, and they’ll ripen better and quicker.

g+fGlucosamene and Fish Oil capsules.

These are excellent for joint and heart health respectively. Whatever your motives are for your striking or grappling lifestyle, your joints and your heart are, to put it lightly, pretty important. For the sake of athletic longevity and resilience against injuries, integrate these supplements into your diet sooner rather than later.

 Wrapping It All Up!

I’ve had my share of injuries in Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai. I’ve also had some injuries outside of martial arts which could have ended my career if I hadn’t been physically ready for them. So, what would my personal life and training regimen be if I hadn’t tailored my diet to my lifestyle? Honestly, I ate well so that I wouldn’t have to find that out. I think it would be wise for others to do likewise.


JJ Mike

Come train at NJ United Mixed Martial Arts and take advantage of our 7-day free trial offer! Whether you’re an aspiring competitor or casual student, you will benefit from training in our friendly, professional, and ego-free environment. Call us at 973-638-1570 to schedule your first class, and visit us on the web at for more info.

Popular “Wrestler vs. Mountain Lion” Story is a Hoax! What We’ve Learned.



Robin Olson preyed upon the susceptibility of martial arts communities via his tall tale about killing a wild mountain lion with a headlock.

Over the past couple days, one of the little, viral stories that began circulating through the internet was that of a man being assaulted by a mountain lion and then using a headlock to break the animal’s neck. Here, KSBY News reported that former NCAA wrestler Robin Olson had been hiking outside of a designated trail area in Prefumo Canyon, California, when a mountain lion attacked him. Allegedly, Olson fought with the animal and endured several scratches before catching it in a headlock and breaking its neck. However, Olson’s story was revealed to be a hoax less than two days ago. There’s a simple lesson in play here: Don’t believe everything you read on the internet. But Olson’s story is indeed possible. Sure, mountain lions are capable of being choked-out or headlocked, and life is full of stranger stories that have happened. Regardless, training a martial art smartly and consistently will give you the discernment needed to identify the false advertising done in the name of the martial arts that you love.

The 80s were a hotbed of mullet-sporting martial arts hoaxes that people got a kick out of debunking decades later. Now that the public’s perception of practical martial arts is more informed, it’s much rarer that we read stories or watch videos of Chi-masters stepping up to well-trained strikers or grapplers and getting comically decimated. But in our search for good stories that help us preach the gospel of modern martial arts, it’s wise to be selective and to ask other martial artists about a given story’s plausibility.

I’ve been practicing wrestling and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for a quite a while, and I’ve been put in many headlocks by many skilled and strong fighters. But honestly, I’ve never felt that my neck was about to snap from any of them. By extension, a mountain lion should have better headlock-survival potential than little old me. I imagine that if I had possessed claws when I was getting headlocked, then my headlock escapes would have been utterly amazing! So when and blow up with a story about a mountain lion getting its neck snapped Steven Seagal-style during a scuffle with a wrestler, I’m more than a little skeptical.

dont_believe_everything_you_read_on_the_internet_2_inch_round_button-r5165d6d9d73a474c9f39842baf85ddbd_x7efx_1024Can a human or animal suffer a broken neck from a headlock? Absolutely. But is it likely given the specifics of Olson’s story? I think not. I love good self-defense stories about the grappling and striking arts being used dramatically and dynamically. However, if you’re not training regularly in a time-tested martial art, then unfortunately you’ll be susceptible to stories like Olson’s. Make grappling and striking part of your lifestyle, and you’ll have the practical knowledge to discern between probable facts, stretched truths, and outright lies in martial arts. If anything, you’ll learn why a rear naked choke or a guillotine will serve you better than a headlock or kesa gatame in your next mountain lion fight on the mean trails of Prefumo Canyon.

JJ Mike


Come train at NJ United Mixed Martial Arts and take advantage of our 7-day free trial offer! Whether you’re an aspiring competitor or casual student, you will benefit from training in our friendly, professional, and ego-free environment. Call us at 973-638-1570 to schedule your first class, and visit us on the web at for more info.

The Danger of Having an Un-Crushed Soul as a Fighter

The Toughman boxing contests of yesteryear did not always showcase great technical skill. However, they certainly revealed what fighters were made of after victory or defeat.

The Toughman boxing contests of yesteryear did not always showcase great technical skill. However, they certainly revealed what fighters were made of after victory or defeat.

In the early 2000’s, before beginning any martial arts training, I was a fan of Toughman boxing contests on TV. The draw of these bouts was their human-interest factor: two non-professional fighters would don headgear and 16oz gloves, meet in the ring, and slug it out for three one-minute rounds. This premise was ridiculous but appealing, and the entire show was a soap-opera that revolved around pride and broken egos. But championship-level martial arts are different; champions are champions partially because they embrace loss and defeat as a lifestyle. This is especially true of MMA, as there will always be some specialist who is several steps beyond you in at least one aspect.

In my previous blog, I noted how the clichéd but invaluable principle of “Cry in the dojo, laugh on the battlefield” implied training hard AND smart, which held true for Dominick Cruz’s lifestyle and accomplishments. But on the other side of the coin, it’s also a principle that Ronda Rousey ignored in her recent and often-discussed fight against Holly Holm. Sure, Rousey trained hard, but her strategy against Holm cannot be described as smart by any means. She struck with and overly aggressed against a counterpunching, professional boxer, which led to her one-sided defeat, which led to the breaking of her ego, which led to an odd existential crisis of sorts. This led to her going AWOL for about a month as journalists had a field day wondering what was going on in her head. Rousey’s sister Maria Burns-Ortis stated that the loss crushed her sister’s soul, and that “[W]e expected Ronda to win. Just like we always do. Just like we always will. But she didn’t.”


Rousey is a great fighter, but she now faces a crossroads where her loss can either make her greater or end her career.

At the risk of sounding cold, I’ll admit that this whole situation of Rousey’s doesn’t garner any sympathy from me. Rousey’s ‘soul crushing’ disillusionment is what I and many other martial artists experience on a daily or weekly basis. We’re able to keep going because we know how to rebuild ourselves after each crushing, so therefore getting re-crushed really isn’t all that bad. True, if you’re a dedicated and champion-caliber athlete, then you’ll interpret your losses differently than the average fellow does. But you will suffer disappointment rather than disillusionment, and the former is far, far easier to deal with than the latter.


The Gable vs. Owings matchup form 1970 is a legendary display of wrestling technique, incredible endurance, and heart.

Legendary wrestler Dan Gable owns a near-perfect record of 181-1, having lost the final match of his collegiate wrestling career and describing it as “like a death in the family.” But I’ll never put Rousey and Gable in the same boat. His loss against dark horse Larry Owings was by a razor thin margin and a miniscule tactical error (you can watch their match here). And of course, Dan Gable is Dan Gable, so he soon bounced back from it stronger than before. However, Rousey’s loss was due to approximately six minutes of consistently bad strategy. The old cliché of “Insanity means doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result” applies perfectly to Rousey vs. Holm, and there’s already plenty of internet-debate out there regarding whether or not Rousey has learned a transformative lesson. I think she has, although what she’ll do with that knowledge remains to be seen.

There’s really no end to the coulda’-woulda’-shoulda’ of post-fight analysis. But it is very dangerous to fight while possessing a soul that has yet to be crushed and remade several times. After all, there’s a reason why those old samurai swords hold their mystique – their steel was carefully refined and folded over upon itself to create thousands of layers of enduring toughness and beauty.


JJ Mike



Come train at NJ United Mixed Martial Arts and take advantage of our 7-day free trial offer! Whether you’re an aspiring competitor or casual student, you will benefit from training in our friendly, professional, and ego-free environment. Call us at 973-638-1570 to schedule your first class, and visit us on the web at for more info.

Guerilla Warfare and Training Uphill: Post-Fight Thoughts from Dominick Cruz vs. TJ Dillashaw

Big losses and long stretches of inactivity can do strange things to fighters. Some of them will develop a new shtick, or use an old one to set off the media drama that will win them another fight and possibly a bigger paycheck. But the strangest thing it can do to a fighter is to reveal his or her true character – the stuff they’re really made of.

The subjectivity of split-decisions can start endless debate. Regardless, Cruz proved that he is still championship-caliber whenever he’s healthy enough to fight.

Before a difficult test or trial, we don’t often know what we’re made of. This means that our success or failure can be one of two things. It can be a discovery (pleasant or unpleasant, depending on whether or not you win!), or it can be the unsurprising result of having prepared yourself by stepping up to greater challenges earlier in life. I think that this is represented well in the recent battles between Dominick Cruz and TJ Dillashaw, and Ronda Rousey and Holly Holm. The former is a lesson in victory coming as a result of smart preparation and knowing yourself, and the latter is a lesson in waking up to cold realities that have been ignored for too long. I’d like to highlight Cruz’s success here, and focus on the cautionary tale of Rousey’s loss in a follow-up blog.

I’m a fan of Cruz because he seems to me like a combination of Randy Couture and Connor McGregor. Cruz is a chill and approachable guy with a healthy, blue-collar work ethic, but he also has an informed, brash confidence. Those things together are the bedrock of a convincing and sustained champion. True, Cruz has been plagued with injuries, but he’s taken care of them outside the limelight, and he never let them shape his character for the worse. His recent split-decision, championship victory over Dillashaw at UFC Fight Night 81 is proof of that.

As with any split-decision, there can be endless debate over who should get the W. But I think that Cruz’s resilience in the face of adversity and disillusionment was instrumental to his win. He’s at this point because outside of the limelight, he regularly trains with people better than him (at least in specific martial arts within the scope of MIXED martial arts). After his win over Dillashaw, Cruz said that Dillashaw “brought new dynamics” into the fight, but “I swear, he’s nothing that I haven’t seen before. [. . .] The guys that I’ve competed against, I’ve seen all levels of all aspects of MMA, to be built into the champion that I am. So because I’ve felt those things, when I face each person, they’re always not as strong as one of those guys that I’ve faced in one of those dynamics.”

cruzquote2We can learn two important life-lessons from Cruz here. The first is a basic understanding of solid guerilla warfare. Nobody is perfect at every aspect of every art, so use discernment in finding out the weakest facet and attack it intelligently. The second is less tactical-sounding but just as important: it is the serious and sustained humility that it takes to train with fighters who have your number. If you’re a fighter who is not tapping out or getting beaten to the punch regularly, then you’re doing something wrong and you’re destined for some serious disillusionment at some point. These principles are embodied in the cliché of “Cry in the dojo, laugh on the battlefield,” which is honestly just the tip of the iceberg in terms of martial excellence.

As I mentioned earlier, I’ll be using my next blog entry to highlight what happens when people ignore these principles. Rousey learned her lesson the hard way in her fight against Holm, and now she’s at a point where she can either re-create herself and excel, or hang up the gloves.

JJ Mike

Come train at NJ United Mixed Martial Arts and take advantage of our 7-day free trial offer! Whether you’re an aspiring competitor or casual student, you will benefit from training in our friendly, professional, and ego-free environment. Call us at 973-638-1570 to schedule your first class, and visit us on the web at for more info.

A Quick Breakdown of Jose Aldo vs. Conor McGregor at UFC 194

aldo-mcgregor promo

At last, Jose Aldo and Conor McGregor are going to fight. The trash-talk, wordplay, and toughguy-drama (mostly fueled by McGregor) is settling down, and this is the quiet before the storm that will go down tonight at UFC 194. Unless one of these guys plays an unexpected takedown game, we’re going to see a brutal and technical striker-vs.-striker matchup no matter who wins. So here’s my analysis of how things may pan-out technically.

McGregor’s corkscrew punches (specifically his left cross) are excellent.

On one hand, this could be a horrible matchup for Aldo in that he’s never fought someone as unorthodox and confident as McGregor. Sure, anyone can be confident, but informed confidence is extremely dangerous, and McGregor has this in spades. Also, Aldo is orthodox while McGregor is a southpaw. This will have an effect on Aldo’s timing and discernment in terms of leg kicks, since McGregor will be leading with his right leg. If Aldo throws a leg kick with his back (right) leg, then he’ll have to aim for the inside of McGregor’s leg instead of his quad. While this can disrupt McGregor’s stance, it won’t be as painful as a shin to the thigh, and it could leave Aldo open to McGregor’s powerful left cross. No doubt Aldo’s trainers have prepared him for such possibilities. However, one could train for years to stop the takedowns of a prime Randy Couture, but his takedown would be near-inevitability regardless. McGregor is certainly no Couture, but his left hand is a heat-seeking missile that is becoming more and more accurate. While Aldo likes to wear down opponents over time, McGregor just needs one good chance to put his reach advantage to work, and if he does then it’s all over.

On the other hand, Aldo is no fool, and he is more than capable of imposing or adapting his game as necessity dictates. He seems to lack the KO-power of his days fighting in the WEC, but that just means that the quality of his competition has improved and that his tactics are evolving. Also, Aldo will exploit any minor imperfection in his opponent’s stance and chop him down patiently. Take a look at this leg kick highlight from his fight with Urijah Faber:

If the fight becomes a drawn-out matter of irresistible-force-vs.-immovable-object, then Aldo may play conservatively and chop McGregor down gradually. I don’t think that Aldo will figure out McGregor as thoroughly as he did Faber, but he CAN figure out the Irishman, and I don’t see Aldo’s shin snapping like Anderson Silva’s during his Chris Weidman fight. Aldo’s got a smart head on his shoulders, and if he can outclass McGregor on the feet past the second round without McGregor knocking it off, then I’ll venture to say that McGregor’s footwork (the basis of his amazing striking) will be so compromised due to leg kicks that Aldo will chop his way to a win.

Two x-factors are worth mentioning here:

  • McGregor also has an amazing chin. If he can check or evade a critical leg kick by Aldo, and then impose his boxing game, then he will probably have the edge as far as throwing leather is concerned. His four-inch reach advantage will come in very handy here.
  • Aldo’s Muay Thai is so good that it steals most of the limelight from his jiu-jitsu. However, Aldo is indeed a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, and it’ll be interesting to see if he uses his grappling to negate the striking part of the equation altogether.

I’m honestly not big on fight-hype or big pre-fight talk between fighters. But Aldo vs. McGregor will live up to all the hype and talk, even if the match ends early. Aldo’s 25-1 record will not be tarnished without precision judgment and technique, and McGregor’s raw talent and tenacity also cannot be brushed away without equally sound judgment and technique.


JJ Mike

Come train at NJ United Mixed Martial Arts and take advantage of our 7-day free trial offer! Whether you’re an aspiring competitor or casual student, you will benefit from training in our friendly, professional, and ego-free environment. Call us at 973-638-1570 to schedule your first class, and visit us on the web at for more info.


Making Sharp Techniques Sharper: 12/5 Tournament Results

Last Saturday, I coached my teammate Rubin Pushpangathan at The Good Fight’s Winter BJJ Open submissions-only tournament. He took 2nd place in white belt gi – a division I love to watch due to its elimination of avant-garde leg-lock games that are typically used to stall. Anyway, with two submission wins, a grueling back-and-forth in the sudden death portion of his second match, and an epic finals match, Rubin’s performance was highlight reel material. I correctly believed that he would do well, but I never suspected that his loss in the finals would be partially due to a misjudgment by the ref. I say “partially” because Rubin allowed his opponent to get into a compromised position where the ref could make a judgment in his opponent’s favor. Naturally it can be frustrating to lose in this way, but such a loss can actually provide insight into technical details that are needed to sharpen your game – but that you didn’t know you needed.


As Rubin was escaping the beginnings of a mounted triangle from his opponent, the ref thought that he heard Rubin verbally tap out, and he stopped the match. Rubin denied tapping. His opponent denied ever having heard Rubin tap. I was more focused on Rubin’s elbow-knee escapes and good posture, so I didn’t hear or see his alleged tap either. Rubin and I argued for the match to continue, but after the ref consulted with his superiors, he regretfully told us that the decision had to be regarded as final. Upon first glance, the lesson of this story is that you can sometimes face two opponents on the mat: your opponent and your ref. But there’s also a third opponent: your own self, and all of the flaws that entails. It’s always more convenient to find fault with your opponent and ref, or to claim that you’ve been “robbed” by a bad decision. And yes, sometimes people are robbed in this way. But regardless, you can never tell just how badly your opponent will exploit your errors, or how badly the ref may interpret them. Therefore, the healthiest long-term move is to put the weight of the result squarely on your own shoulders. Rubin did this, and he’ll be a better competitor and all-around human being because of it.

During his final match, Rubin locked in four different triangle chokes from his open guard. Admirably, his opponent defended them four different times. One could argue that if the ref hadn’t made a bad call, then the match would have continued, and Rubin may have found a final triangle opportunity that would have turned the match in his favor. In an ideal world without x-factors or bad refereeing, this possibility may have become an actuality. I’ll say without bias that Rubin has the skills to have made it so. But since events panned out differently, Rubin and I took the next-best thing – we were on the mat the next day, and we did an in-depth study of how to preempt and break down the specific triangle-defenses that he encountered in the finals. For the reader who is a spectator of martial arts or has just starting out in jiu-jitsu, the video below will illustrate some solid triangle basics. In short, it’s a sneaky, technical choke that can be either simple or complex, depending on the opponent’s defenses.

Sure, it’s always preferable to win than to lose. However, every practitioner’s jiu-jitsu game has flaws and limits, and competition is a great tool to expose them. After all, problems are best solved when they’re first properly defined and analyzed. And sometimes, it takes a loss to truly gather this data. Rubin isn’t to blame for a ref’s subjective decision. After all, the ref could have made a similar call in Rubin’s favor during one of Rubin’s own tight triangles or armbar attempts. And if that had been the case, then the same lessons would apply to Rubin’s opponent! But in any case, the tournament was valuable in that it drove home a critical lesson that martial artists learn and re-learn throughout their whole lives: regularly improve your best techniques so that your opponent won’t have the opportunity to escape them again.

JJ Mike


Come train at NJ United Mixed Martial Arts and take advantage of our 7-day free trial offer! Whether you’re an aspiring competitor or casual student, you will benefit from training in our friendly, professional, and ego-free environment. Call us at 973-638-1570 to schedule your first class, and visit us on the web at for more info.

The Need for Guerilla Warfare in the Cage: Why Holly Holm Beat Ronda Rousey at UFC 193.

Holly Holm's well-timed high kick, which finished a stunned Ronda Rousey.

Holly Holm’s well-timed high kick, which finished a stunned Ronda Rousey.

Well, I’m glad I’m not a betting man, because I would have lost a lot of money last Saturday at UFC 193. I would have put all my money on Ronda Rousey beating Holly Holm via superior clinch work, takedowns, and ground control. Holm certainly prepared well, as she negated almost all of that. But looking back on things, Holm’s victory shouldn’t be too surprising (hindsight is always funny that way). In my last blog, I gave Holm a bit of a puncher’s chance, but I should have given her far more. That’s because she didn’t win solely by superior striking. She won via superior guerilla warfare in the cage – adapting her tactics, exploiting Rousey’s faults, and imposing her will from all angles. Fights are won or lost due to specific reasons, and here are three very important reasons that sealed Rousey’s fate.

#1. Rousey fought like a starving challenger, not a champion.

“Fight like a champion” is a cliché that means many things to many people, but it usually denotes fighting with high and consistent aggression. And while there’s a time for that, there are also times when such an approach will get you knocked out or tapped out.

Rousey stalked and hunted down Holm for much of the fight, and this fed perfectly into Holm’s powerful hit-and-run strategy. From cageside, Joe Rogan even said that “Ronda needs to be careful not to chase TOO much.” The situation should have been reversed. Rousey was the champion with something to defend, and Holm was the challenger with something to prove. Aggression and offense are all well and good, but there are times to fight defensively. It’s a well-discerned mixture of those two approaches that truly defines champion-level tactics.

#2. Rousey used Judo during times when wrestling was the better option.

I love Judo, especially love Karo Parisyan’s MMA-tailored Judo (which is a lot like Rousey’s). It wins fights, looks amazing, conserves energy, and lands you in superior attacking positions. However, there are times in fighting and in life when the thing you’re best at is not the thing that best applies to the problem at hand.

Holm’s standup grappling defense was unexpectedly amazing. During Rousey’s clinch work, Holm did a good job of tucking in her elbows and re-positioning her hips. Holm’s defense against Rousey’s throws and trips, amazing as they were, left her open for single legs, double legs, and head-snaps, especially against the cage. So while I’m not saying that wrestling would have won Rousey the day 100%, I do believe that Rousey would have been wise to put more Randy Couture in her game.

#3. Rousey didn’t pull guard.

I could catch flak for this, but Rousey could have done better if she had aggressively pulled guard (preferably closed guard) on Holm. I’m not saying that it’s best to pull closed guard in MMA. But when your opponent’s striking is miles ahead of yours, and when your opponent can negate your Olympic-level Judo, and then when that opponent can take YOU down instead, then pulling a secure closed guard is a viable option.

This strategy can and does work. Kron Gracie pulled closed guard in his MMA debut and used it to win via armbar. Shinya Aoki’s jiu-jitsu is so sharp that he can simply sit down in front of his opponent in the cage, and Nick Diaz is confident enough in his guard that he was willing to lie down and looking like he was lounging on the beach during his fight with Anderson Silva. Big Nog even used the halfguard effectively against Tim Sylvia at UFC 81. But I think the most impressive example of resorting to the bottom position in MMA has to be Ryo Chonan’s flying scissor heel hook win against Anderson Silva. After getting beaten up for most of their fight, Ryo’s under-popularized comeback must be seen to be believed, and fortunately you can watch it here (the submission is at the 20-minute mark):

It’s difficult to give post-fight advice without looking like an armchair critic. I don’t do MMA, and if I did, I bet that my coaches would be able to write articles like this about my own style and faults. Nevertheless, Holm downright out-classed Rousey, and she has a superior, flexible strategy to thank for that. It’d be wise for every striker, grappler, or MMA fighter to learn from this.

JJ Mike


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Why Rhonda Rousey will Probably Win vs. Holly Holm at UFC 193, and Why You Should Watch the Fight Anyway

If Holly Holm was fighting anyone less than Rhonda Rousey on UFC 193 this Saturday, then the UFC hype-train would have some top-grade coal to burn. I’m not saying that Holm can’t win; her MMA record stands at 9-0, and that’s nothing to scoff at. Some argue that Holm has been fed nothing but tomato cans, but her recent victories over Raquel Pennington and Marion Reneau show otherwise (and on that topic, I don’t think anyone with the guts to step into the cage should be called a can). But it wouldn’t matter if Holm’s record was 500-0. Rousey imposes her game and exploits weaknesses in ways that Holm’s opponents have barely, weakly tried to. So while I believe Rousey will win, I’m specifically interested in the methods she’ll use to do so. And if Holm KO’s her, then I look forward to completely re-thinking some of the things that I think about MMA.

Holm is 33-2-3 in pro boxing, and some regard her as one of the best female welterweight boxers ever. In her recent fights, she’s shown a reliance on leg kicks, jabs, and teeps from a solid distance, out-scoring and wearing down her opponents over time. Rousey, however, is a steamroller with the brain of a chessmaster. Upsets can happen, but they happen for specific reasons, and Rousey is masterful at quickly shutting down those reasons and cutting down on variables.

If Holm doesn’t catch Rousey sleeping, then she’ll have to win by drawing the fight out on her terms. Rousey has never let anyone school her like this, because she either brawls her way out of problems or takes things to the ground. Fun fact: Holm has a 100% takedown-defense rate. Fun counter-fact: the takedown attempts from Holm’s opponents have been noncommittal and lackluster. If you know anything about Rousey, then you know that’s NOT how her Judo and wrestling work. Also, we’ve yet to see Holm’s ground-game manifest in MMA.

So yes, Holm can win. But in order to do so, I think that one of three things will have to happen:

  1. Holm will have to capitalize on Rousey’s tendency to leave her chin up when she brawls. Given Holm’s boxing credentials, she certainly can do this if Rousey gets overconfident.
  2. Holm will have to draw the fight out and land more points-shots on Rousey than Rousey lands on her.
  3. Holm will have to have an amazing ground-game or counter-ground-game that we’ve yet to see.

I only see Rousey losing due to the first reason. It’s the reason why Anderson Silva got out-struck by Chris Weidman in their first match, and no successful fighter is impervious to such overconfidence. I don’t see Holm winning by method #2; that’s the WORST strategy to employ against an experienced, natural talent like Rousey. And lastly, I don’t see #3 happening at all. I don’t think there’s a reason to. Sure, I’d be pleasantly surprised if Holm had secret and amazing submission skills, but I know enough about Rousey to not bank on that.

So yes, Rousey vs. Holm will be absolutely worth watching. But I think it’ll be worth watching from a technical standpoint. Rousey should win this fight, but the fight’s excitement should stem from how she does so. Time will tell whether she exploits Holm’s untested groundwork, or stands with her to prove a point.

JJ Mike


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Street Fighter Finally Gets Its First Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu-Themed Character

One drawback to martial arts in general is that you simply can’t train all day. So when you’re resting or injured, it’s good to have other ways to fulfill your nature as a fighter, but without choking or punching actual people. This is where good videogames come into play. I’ve been a fan of Capcom’s Street Fighter series of fighting games since I was a kid, and I’m happy to see that they’re going to feature Laura Matsuda, their first Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu-themed character in Street Fighter 5, which should be released this coming February.

There are some hocus-pocus martial arts in the Street Fighter universe (which actually adds to the fun-factor), but Capcom has done justice to several legitimate styles throughout the years. There has been Sagat the Muay Thai master (his Muay Thai is actually pretty sick), Zangief the Russian wrestler (fighting him with the difficulty-level ramped up is like fighting Randy Couture), and Dudley the British gentleman boxer (a combo-machine who combines the best of Mike Tyson and Floyd Mayweather). There has also been Makoto the karate prodigy, whose unusual mix-up game and strategic potential has been refined and expanded by players since 1999. Now, it should be interesting to see how Capcom’s developers showcase BJJ in a traditional 2D fighting game. I’d personally like her to be the next Makoto and breathe new life into the series.

Judging from Laura’s character trailer here, and from combo-videos from the Street Fighter V beta, Laura uses Capoeira as the basis of many of her normal punches and kicks; however, those attacks are linkable into triangles, armbars, and kneebars. She has a special move that lets her dash through projectiles to set up throws, and she has an anti-air grab that lets her pick leaping opponents out of the air and slam them back to the ground with a shoulder lock. She also has an electric fireball (my instructor hasn’t taught me THAT one yet), so it appears that Capcom is continuing their theme of Brazilians having control over electricity. This theme started with Blanka in Street Fighter II, and I’m sure that 27-time Mundial champion Renato Laranja would testify to it being true in real life. He also probably helped Capcom in terms of Laura’s character design and costume.

For real though, Laura’s fireball appears to open up some interesting strategic doorways because it’s slow-moving – you can throw it out there, let it travel for a bit, then attack from a different direction. Those of you who used Guile’s slow-moving sonic boom in earlier Street Fighter games should be able to see how Laura’s mix-up game can keep opponents grounded and defensive, opening them up for continuous strikes or grab-setups.

Time will tell how practical Laura is as a character. Regardless, the inclusion of her style is a gutsy move from Capcom, who could have played it safe by releasing a Ryu-clone (yawn), a decades-old revamped character with the same old moves (which they’re actually doing elsewhere), or another in-your-face-ethnic character (although now that I think of it, a Canadian lumberjack-fighter who talks like South Park’s Terrence and Phillip would be amazing). Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to Advanced Gi class, where I’m going to work on my 20-rotation electric Sonic-the-Hedgehog-style tomoe nage throw into rear naked choke super combo finish.

JJ Mike


Come train at NJ United Mixed Martial Arts and take advantage of our 30-day free trial offer! Whether you’re an aspiring competitor or casual student, you will benefit from training in our friendly, professional, and ego-free environment. Call us at 973-638-1570 to schedule your first class, and visit us on the web at for more info.