Cornermen III: The Man Behind the Huntington Beach Bad Boy

YouTube Preview Image

Tito Ortiz is a monster. If you watch the video above, this isn’t news to you. Not only did he send Wes Albritton packing in 31 seconds in Ortiz’s first UFC fight, he did it with punches, not submission. Whoever taught this guy must be the greatest MMA fighter to ever say the word “Octagon,” right?

YouTube Preview Image

The Pan American, MMA King of Kage, No-Gi Pan Am, 6x Brazilian, Mundials, and Black Belt Challenge champion, not to mention Jiu-Jitsu master (whew) is Cleber Luciano, Tito Ortiz’s mentor and a helluva fighter in his own right. The video says it all, but wow. This guy can kick butt and then some. Ortiz began training with Luciano when his MMA career was in it’s infancy in 1997. Ortiz was still in college, but he had been wrestling since high school. That was the problem: he needed to expand his horizons beyond wrestling to comepete seriously in MMA. That’s where Luciano came in; he taught Ortiz his trademark styles of Jiu-Jitsu and Judo.

Flash forward a few months to UFC 13, a.k.a the video at the start of this blog. Looks like someone learned from someone else who’s pretty damn good at this whole fighting thing, doesn’t it? Over the next decade, Luciano watched his star shoot to the top of the MMA world, but his career wasn’t completely over. He fought a few fights, split wins and losses, but his attention was much more focused on something he realized he was great at: training fighters. Including Ortiz, Luciano trained fighters with his new Cleber Jiu-Jitsu Rio-Brasil organization, specializing in training fighters in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Those who love to do, eventually teach others how to do just as well, if not better. Cleber Luciano taught Ortiz how to fight, and the latter could probably hold his own now against any fighter/NFL lineman out there. Luciano’s a great trainer and coach, and that’s why he’s highlighted here as on of the great cornermen.

Enjoy this little video of Ortiz training at Cleber Jiu-Jitsu Rio-Brasil. The Rocky music adds a nice air of, ‘i-wanna-go-kick-some-butt-too.’ Although I’m probably just gonna keep sitting at the computer, not training to beat Tito Ortiz.

YouTube Preview Image

Twitter Recap

Ah, Twitter.

I, like many people (I hope), still don’t know everything about it and am treating it with the same mixed amount of faux interest and curiosity as I do the H1N1 virus. People tell me it’s addicting and fun, so I listen to how they ‘tweeted’ about how good their Thanksgiving dinner was and all the silence the family endured at their dinner table because everyone was looking down at their laps texting.

It was a very…interesting story.

Although it may be a long time before I sign up for an account with which I can ‘tweet’ all day, UFC has a great web page dedicated to Twitter that keeps fans in the know with up-coming events.  With Thanksgiving, the goings-on in the MMA world were limited, but still alive. UFC 107 preparations, Thanksgiving plans and UFC 106 recaps were most prevalent, but don’t take my word for it; check it out here.

Again, not a whole lot of news for this week, but it’s worth checking out the link above to see Jenna Jameson sitting Octagon-side at UFC 106. Pique your interest yet? No? Oh well…what do I know? I’m still a non-tweeter.

YouTube Preview Image

Knock Out of the Year

There’s much debate as to which fighter should be awarded this prestigious honor.  I’ve seen a lot of great fights this year but not many ending in life-changing knock outs.  Two are up for discussion.

When Fedor Emelianenko took on Brett Rogers at the Sears Centre in Illinois on November 7, MMA watched supporters boo an American and root for a Russian.  Both fighters were ranked, Emelianenko at No. 1 and Rogers at No. 8 in the Heavyweight division.  No one was quite expecting the knock out that would occur when Rogers was left at the mercy of Emelianenko’s fists of fury.

After the first round, Emelianenko was only up 10-9 as they both scrambled to get punches in and fought to keep their battle in the center.  Emelianenko already had a busted nose and had missed Rogers on his first jab.  In the second round, things changed.  Rogers met Emelianenko’s right hook and was flat on his back to end the match at 1:48 in the second by TKO.

I would say, that is pretty impressive but have a look for yourself.

YouTube Preview Image

Now, Lyoto Machida knocked out Rashad Evans last May and that, too, was impressive and rather painful to watch.  Machida and Evans faced off in the octagon at UFC 98 in Las Vegas, Nevada for the light heavyweight championship.  Prior to the match, both fighters we undefeated.  Machida remained so, having never lost so much as a round through this match up.  Evans, was taken down, knocked completely unconscious with his back still up against the cage.  It appeared as if his legs just gave out from underneath him and he fell to the canvas like a deflating balloon.

Machida laid it on him in the second round of their fight.  Machida just dominated the match, making it look like Evans didn’t see any of it coming.  He earned the Light Heavyweight Championship title and Knockout of the Night honors.

YouTube Preview Image

So really, I’d give my vote to Machida but everyone knows that Emelianenko is a strong candidate as well.  This is one that can’t really be decided by just me.  What’s your choice?

Cornermen: Forrest Griffin

Forrest Griffin started as a fighter and law enforcement officer outside Augusta, Georgia during his college years.  After some time, and some success, he quit his job as a law enforcer to pursue a professional career in Mixed Martial Arts.  Who would have though that a college degree, a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and years of experience would result in him pursuing his dreams? Well, isn’t that hows it’s supposed to work?

Griffin, known best for winning The Ultimate Fighter 1, has since progressed into a 17-6 fighter.  He trains and instructs at the Warrior Training Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.  There, he works with Ricardo Cavalcanti, Rick Davis and Norm Turner to train and help train fighters like Heath Herring, Bryan Humes, John Wood and Brandon Sene.

Griffin strives to improve his fight, having faced Tito Ortiz for the second time just this past Saturday.  This time, unlike the first, he walked out of the Octagon victorious.  Griffin fought smart enough to earn another split decision but with his name as the victor in 2009.

Even though he trains and instructs, he’s had his fair share of defeats.  Most recently, he was knocked out by Anderson Silva in August 2009 in Philadelphia, PA at UFC 101: Declaration.  Griffin was out of the Octagon before the referees could even raise Silva’s hand.  Since then, he has not mentioned the fight other than to say he was not with it that day.

He also lost a controversial match against Ortiz in 2006.  Though he lost the decision, he won over many fans for being able to withstand any punch Ortiz threw at him.

Griffin was also featured as a coach in The Ultimate Fighter: Team Rampage vs. Team Forrest which aired in 2008 where he coached Luke Zachrich and Nick Klein among others.

In an article published by Brett Okamoto in the Las Vegas Sun, Griffin displayed his true colors.  A fighter and instructor by day, Griffin moonlights as a regular comedian.  Okamoto opened with “In even the shortest of conversations, it’s a safe bet that Griffin will stray completely off topic, make fun of himself and others, and crack at least one joke that no one knows is a joke and, therefore, doesn’t laugh at.”

I guess some guys just get it all; the fight, the gym and a sense of humor.

YouTube Preview Image

San Diego's Finest

YouTube Preview Image

The Arena: San Diego’s premium mixed-martial arts gym. Training fighters all over the nation in boxing, Jiu Jitsu, Muay Thai, wrestling and of course, MMA. The victorious fighter in the video above, Pat Speight, may look scrawny, but the Arena has taught him well. I mean, just look at how he man-handles Ishmael Gonzalez in just three minutes!

The Arena stays away from traditional classes such as cardio and strength training. Instead, the gym hones fighting skill, both mentally and physically. The result: a cardio-infused, strength-training based, no-holds barred selection of classes to not only keep fighters in shape, but to shape the fighters into warriors.

The Arena needs no publicity; the greatest fighters in the world know all about it. It was, however, given plenty of spotlight recently thanks to a little event called UFC 107: Penn vs. Sanchez. The Sanchez in that title is one of the Arena’s best known fighters, and as a result, the Countdown show for UFC 107 went to San Diego to go behind the scenes and learn more about Sanchez’s training and coaching. The traditional preview show will debut the second week of December, so keep an eye on Spike TV or good ol’ Youtube.

The gym is home to many famous Californians and MMA fighters, including Jiu Jitsu master Rani Yahya, 6x Jiu Jitsu World Champion Saulo Ribeiro, UFC 107 headliner Diego Sanchez, boxing phenom KJ Noons, and the submission-favoring Fabricio Camoes.

Of course, you probably won’t find one of San Diego’s most well-known residents, anchorman Ron Burgundy, working out there. He’s a little bit busy it seems…

YouTube Preview Image

Red Devil Sport Club

Ever wonder what gym Fedor Emelianenko calls home?  Based out of St. Petersburg, Russia, Emieianenko, his brothers Aleksander and Ivan, his childhood coaches Vladimir Voronov, and Aleksander Michkov, and many other Strikeforce favorites call Red Devil Sport Club home.

YouTube Preview Image

Red Devil Sport Club began as a Combat Sambo training ground and as recently as the union of Red Devil and the Emelianenkos in 2005 has migrated with quick succession in the direction of mixed martial arts.  Most of the athletes are Russian or Armenian and train in a variety of specialties ranging from Sambo to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu to Muay Thai to MMA.  Founded by Vadim Finkelstein, also the creator of M-1 Global, an MMA promotion naming stars such as Arman Gambaryan and Ibragim Magomedov.

With the strength of F. Emelianenko and currently the rise in fame of his brothers, many MMA stronghands (Victor Nemkov (below) and Aleksander Garkushenko, for example) were drawn to train at the Red Devil.  The team has created a strong name for itself by consistently performing as one of the top MMA teams in Russia since the start of M-1.

For spiritual reasons, F. Emelianenko requested that the Red Devil Team be referred to as the Imperial Team.  The name stuck around after due to Emelianenko’s excessive fame.  He is easily considered the top MMA artist in the sport.

In 2009, A. Emelianenko left Red Devil with little to no explanation but continues to practice with is brothers, coaches, and family friends.

As 2008 M-1 Challenge Champions, Imperial Team entered the 2009 challenge looking for success.  They came up short, failing to win the competition this year, largely due to the constant change in fighters.  Imperial Team often encourages newer fighter to be entered into the fight so that they may gain experience.  While this is a kind gesture and good training strategy for the athletes, it is not helping the team overall.  The team will be looking to reclaim their title in 2010.

Webb's Pick: Submission of the Year

Arm bar. Guillotine. Kimura. Crucifix Neck Crank.

If you’re a fan of mixed-martial arts, these words are music to your ears; for these are among the greatest submission holds that a viewer can view and a fighter can perform. Not all submissions receive acclaim, however. Thus, I present my pick for submission of the year. I have taken into account the fighters, the stages and the circumstances of the fight. And the winner is…(drum roll)…

YouTube Preview Image

Rear naked choke. UFC 101. A fight for the Lightweight belt. Bad news for Kenny Florian, great news for you. Let me tell you why.

B.J. Penn had it all. That also meant he had it all to lose. Born in Hawaii, Penn trained in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Ralph Gracie, the Brazilian martial artist known not so affectionately as “Pitbull,” and only gained ground from there. In 2000, he became the first American-born winner of the World Jiu-Jitsu Championship in the black-belt category. Penn received his first MMA championship in 2004 at UFC 46. Penn jumped up in weight classes to challenge the five-time defending UFC Welterweight Champion Matt Hughes to fill a title contention slot.  Heavily favored to win,  Hughes lost the fight four minutes into the first round by what would become one of Penn’s signature moves, the rear naked choke.

Penn lost the title in 2006 when Georges St. Pierre defeated him by unanimous decision for the welterweight title. By 2008, Penn had thought his career as an MMA fighter was coming to an end. He had plenty of wins under his belt, but the losses were starting to mount. A stint on The Ultimate Fighter 5 as a coach helped boost public appearance, but Penn missed his fighting days. Determined to prove to himself and the world that his reign wasn’t over, Penn stayed at lightweight to challenge Joe Stevenson at UFC 80 for UFC Lightweight Champion. And guess what? Penn won. He became only the second person to win a title in two different weight classes (the other being the immaculate Randy Couture).

Kenny Florian only had seven fights under his belt prior to his fight at UFC 101. Penn had thirty-three. Penn had everything to lose in this fight. It was a crucial part of his comeback: defending the title. Being what Sherdog and MMAWeekly calls the best lightweight fighter in the world, Penn deserved this win after four long rounds.  Winning two titles in two different weight classes is one thing. Defending that title and defending it successfully, well, that’s something that I deem worthy of submission of the year.

Fight Notes: Danny Castillo vs. Shane Roller

Danny Castillo vs. Shane Roller

Shane Roller – Strong wrestling, though did get taken down. Favors the guillotine. During the striking, he had a tendancy to turn his face away from the opponent while covering up for a jab cross, leaving him blind for a 3rd or 4th strike. Managed to survive a mount, and get the choke for the win.

Danny Castillo – Strong punches, especially his straight punches. Tends to loop his hooks a little bit, and square his hips, leaving him open to strikes, especially to the body. Showed strong takedown defense against the accomplished roller, but couldn’t hold off for three rounds, and though gaining the mount once, was eventually the victim of the battle for position, and gave up the rear naked choke.

Roller By Submission in the 3rd
Submission: Rear Naked Choke
Position: Rear Mount

Cornermen II: Mike Pyle's Legacy

Anyone watch UFC 105: Couture vs. Vera? The titular fight pit legendary heavyweight Randy Couture against UFC regular Brandon Vera. It was a three-round slugfest that concluded with a Couture victory via unanimous decision. How, at what the sports world would consider a grandfatherly age of 46, did Couture pull off a UFC victory and stand tall as a heavyweight contender? It might have something to do with his cornerman.

Mike Pyle wasn’t a champion from the get-go. His first mixed-martial arts fight was a loss to soon-to-be-great Quinton “Rampage” Jackson.

He worked hard, though, and came up big, smacking around guys like Jon Fitch, Brett Bergmark and Shonie Carter. The losses came just as the wins did. Pyle realized he was a good fighter who had potential, but knew his skills could be utilized elsewhere as well. Training was calling his name.

Pyle joined fellow fighter Couture’s training organization, Xtreme Couture, and the rest, as they say, is history. Providing training, encouragement and a few water bottles to fighters like Couture, Pyle has distinguished himself from the pack as an elite cornerman.

It is pretty sweet to see “Quicksand” Pyle beat up on some fighters, so here’s a video from his heyday.

http://myspacetv.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&videoid=333998

Too lazy to watch and just want a summary of that fight? Shonie Carter gets a beatdown. The end. That, my friends, is the awesomeness of Mike “Quicksand” Pyle and reflects his nearly-insuperable skills as a trainer.

Cornermen: The Legend of Pat Miletich

YouTube Preview Image

Some called him The Croatian Sensation. Most knew him as a UFC regular. Still others know him as…a trainer?? AND he’s trained fighting greats such as former UFC Welterweight Champion Matt Hughes, former UFC Heavyweight Champion Tim Sylvia and former UFC Lightweight Champion Jens Pulver?! Who is this guy?

YouTube Preview Image

Pat Miletich was born in Davenport, Iowa. He grew up wrestling (greatness scouted him early: he shared the high school wrestling mat with future MMA phenom Mark Kerr) and playing football. After a few years, Miletich began MMA training at age 26. He brought his knowledge of wrestling with him, but took up Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Miletich won his first 15 fights as an MMA fighter, then in 1998 lit his UFC torch and, with a handful of TKOs and submissions, introduced the world to “The Croatian Sensation.”

Miletich ended his career in the UFC with a loss, and after two comebacks (a 2006 loss and a 2008 win, bringing his record to 29-7-2), he decided to indefinitley hang up his gloves. Miletich was far from being on the outskirs of MMA Land, however; he had a little idea back in 1997 that had grown into one of the most successful training programs in the world by the time he was done fighting.

Miletich Fighting Systems had grown from an idea to a wildly popular training organization that Miletich founded around the time he began his UFC career. The training is specialized from person to person, and there are ten locations scattered all over North America. So, it seems our dear friend Pat is still very much involved in the world of mixed-martial arts and intends to be for a while. He is known anywhere there is an MMA fight as either a brilliant fighter or a brilliant coach. Training an almost endless list of fighters with MFS who have gone on to become champions is certainly something to be proud of.

Miletich went from being a great fighter to a great cornerman who created a world-renowned training org.  And about his future in the UFC? Will there will be another comeback? Well, you’ll just have to watch the video below to see.

YouTube Preview Image

WordPress Themes