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BJJ Coach Eddie Bravo Explains Why Heel Hooks Are Crucial to BJJ and MMA

AJ Camacho

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Often seen as the boogeyman of the submission grappling world, the heel hook is a brutal submission notorious for shredding knee tendons and fracturing shin bones. MMA has always had a handful of niche leg lock specialists capable of inducing career ending trauma into the limbs of their opponents. From the tricky theatrics of Masakazu Imanari to the gorilla-like power of the muscle loaded Rousimar Palharis, the heel hook has always carried an element of fear both on the mats and in the cage.

With Ryan Hall’s recent performance on The Ultimate Fighter, leg locks and heel hooks have once again been pushed to the forefront of the MMA scene. Hall’s performance was especially notable as his success could foreshadow a new wave of Sport BJJ practitioners ready to bring their special brand of new school BJJ into MMA. In the BJJ scene, coaches and practitioners like John Danaher, Garry Tonon, and Eddie Cummings are rewriting the perception of the leg lock game for BJJ. Even if you don’t know who these guys are, trust me when I tell you that MMA fighters are definitely taking notice and paying attention to a trend that could soon penetrate MMA in a larger way than just Ryan Hall.

In a recent interview with Flo Grappling, renowned Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt and Coach, Eddie Bravo gave his opinion on why leg locks have become crucial to sports Jiu-Jitsu and how they have progressed in MMA.

“In the submission only game if you’re not up to speed with the leg lock game you’re going to get destroyed.” – Eddie Bravo

“In MMA, heel hooks aren’t the safest submission to go for, but in the submission-only game, they’re very important…” said Bravo. “Eddie Cummings is just crushing people with leglocks, so is Garry Tonon. In 10th Planet (Bravo’s own gym association) we were never heavy on heel hooks. Now we’re heavy on heel hooks. In the submission only game if you’re not up to speed with the leg lock game you’re going to get destroyed.”

For a long time, leg locks in MMA have been seen as a deadly game of Russian Roulette. If successful, a losing fighter can instantly turn the tables and decisively win the fight. However, when a leg lock fails it can usually place the attacker in a dangerously bad position where then can be concussed with undefended strikes to the head. Despite this, Eddie explains that a solid leg lock game is still a crucial element to have as an alternative option when all others fail.

“It’s still not out of the woods yet – in MMA – but you’re seeing, at the every least, having a good heel hook game is good for your third option in Jiu-Jitsu,” explains Bravo. “Maybe if you can’t take a guy down, if the guy is beating you on his feet, or you do take him down, you can’t pass his guard and time’s running out, and none of your good bread and butter Jiu-Jitsu is working. If you have a solid leg lock system in your arsenal, you always have a chance you could pull it off.”

“So, at the very least heel hooks are important in MMA when none of your other grappling is working.” – Eddie Bravo

Bravo recalls a classic battle between Gary Goodridge and Marcos Ruas back in 1998 at Pride 2 where the heel hook was used to reverse the tide of the match. He still believes that leg attacks and heel hooks are a risky endeavor but more and more we continue to watch the technique evolve and change keeping pace with the sport of MMA.

“Back when Marco Ruas [fought] Gary Goodridge,” said Bravo. “When Gary Goodridge was beating down Marco Ruas the whole match, and at the end, Marco Ruas pulled off a heel hook. So, at the very least heel hooks are important in MMA when none of your other grappling is working. Maybe it is still too risky early in an MMA fight – before you’ve tested everything else – but you’re seeing guys like Ryan Hall, Rousimar Palhares, and Marcin Held and you’re seeing that leg locks are effective.”

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Exclusive: Derek Brunson: “Anderson was definitely a little lubed up”

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Derek Brunson fought Anderson Silva back in February of this year, at UFC 208. Brunson would go on to lose the fight by controversial unanimous decision. However, the controversies didn’t stop at the questionable decision, Brunson also claims Silva was greasing during the fight. The Wilmington, North Carolina native, posted about it on Twitter a few days ago:

Speaking with MMA Latest, Brunson explained why he believes Silva was greasing during the fight. “Anderson was definitely a little lubed up. Every time I grabbed him he was just slipping out of everything, and his takedown defense was really good that night. I was definitely curious to know why he was very slippery, which I definitely think he had some kind of substance on his body. He knows I’m a wrestler obviously, he’s an old, savvy veteran, so he was definitely trying to play all the rules and be very strategic, and make it harder for a wrestler to grab him.”

Brunson is set to face Lyoto Machida come October 28, when asked about whether he was worried about Machida greasing, considering Gegard Mousasi accused him of doing so in their fight, Brunson admitted he wasn’t too worried.

Well I’m not too worried, but like I said, I put it out there because I know they’re friends and I know, obviously, that’s kind of what the guys do when they know they’re fighting a wrestler. They want to lube their body up really good to make it hard to grab hold, Anderson did a great job defending my takedowns. It’s because he was all greased up so he was able to stop a lot of them. When I grab guys in the clinch, it’s very tough for them to get away and I’m pretty good with my Greco takedown. He was pretty much pulling through my clinch when I had a tight grip on him and if you have some kind of substance on your body it’s easy to pull them.”

Neither Silva nor his management have commented on the greasing allegations. Anderson Silva makes his return against Kelvin Gastelum later this year, in China. While Brunson makes his return to the Octagon on October 28th, in Brazil, where he looks to add Lyoto Machida’s name to his impressive list of victories.

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Bellator

Michael Page Not Focusing on Opponent Ahead of Boxing Debut

Harry Davies

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MMA Latest spoke to Bellator’s Michael ‘Venom’ Page, as he makes his boxing debut this Friday at the Hayemaker Ringstar Fight Night.

Page (12-0 MMA) is renowned for his entertaining fight style inside the cage, with most of his knockout and submission victories ending up in highlight reels online, that almost always go viral.

‘MVP’ was supposed to make his boxing debut on the undercard of David Haye vs Tony Bellew in March of this year, but due to ongoing negotiations with Bellator, his debut was delayed. Shortly after Page signed with Haye’s promotion “Hayemaker Ringstar.”

Q: So, Michael, we’re about five days out now from your big boxing debut, and still we have no name of an opponent? Can you break the big news, who will you be fighting next week?

I honestly couldn’t even tell you his name right now! I know I’ve got an opponent, but I haven’t even looked at him because it has changed so many times. I don’t like to pay too much attention to it, because it’s added stress. For me it’s just a case of turning up, and firing punches at whoever is across the ring.

Q: Is this fight 10 or 12 rounds? Given a standard boxing fight is a lot longer than your typical 15-minute MMA bout, has there been an emphasis on cardiovascular work in your training camp?

Depending on the opponent, I think it’s 6-rounds. The preparation has been different, I’m having to stress out my shoulders and core a lot. The kicking distance as well is very different, getting used to having people a bit closer. I’m getting used to the corners of the ring, I’ve done it before but not to this extent so I am familiar of it, but my body wasn’t really used to it.

Q: So, is this kind of like a one fight deal for Haye’s Ringstar promotion? Regardless of this fight’s outcome, will you return to MMA?

Not at all, I’m taking it seriously. Otherwise, I would have just had a super fight against a big name like McGregor did. This is why I can’t just jump into a 12 round fight, I need to adjust my body and get it prepared for boxing.

There’s no future plans yet, I’d like to have an MMA fight again before the end of this year, as I haven’t fought this whole year, but another opportunity for boxing may come up and I might get a chance to jump on that, so it depends.

Q: Were you frustrated that Bellator booked Paul Daley vs. Lorenz Larkin, and if you could send a message to Daley right now what would it be?

I have no interest in him anymore. It feels so pathetic and unnecessary now. I don’t think he deserved that fight with Larkin right after the shocking display he put on in Wembley against Rory MacDonald. But good on him he beat Larkin, however he calls me out immediately after then goes on to say he’s past that fight, it just doesn’t make sense.

Credit – michaelpagemvp – Instagram

Q: A statement we hear a lot is “MVP is the only guy outside the UFC that I want in the UFC” People criticise the talent in Bellator and say you’re fighting nobodies, what do you say back to them?

The amount of times you hear “you shouldn’t fight this person, you should have fought that person.” Everyone’s got an idea of what the correct steps someone should make are, but at the end of the day it’s their career. People are so fickle and easy to forget. If you are a fan of somebody, just be a fan of them regardless of win or loss.

Q: I’ve got to ask about how things are with Bellator, because from the outside looking in it’s quite unclear. How is it relationship at the moment?

Yeah I get on with most of the guys, it’s like a small family. I’ve still got a couple of fights left with them, they’re growing very well, the only problem is I feel like they’re focusing a bit too much on ex UFC fighters. For me it says you’re classing yourself as second best. Bellator generate some amazing superstars and young talent, they should continue to promote them.

You can watch ‘MVP’ make his boxing debut this Friday night, as the Hayemaker Ringstar Fight Night will air at 21:00PM on Dave.

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BAMMA

Exclusive: Alex Lohore “Didn’t Know” Who Richard Kiely Was Before BAMMA 32 Booking

Harry Davies

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We spoke to the recently crowned BAMMA welterweight champion Alex Lohore, as he prepares to defend his title against Richard Kiely at BAMMA 32 in Dublin.

Lohore (13-1) won the vacant BAMMA welterweight title last month at BAMMA 31 in London. Fighting his longtime rival Nathan Jones on the night, Lohore knocked out “Mr Bag & Tag” with a knee in the first round.

Q: Obviously the rivalry between you and Jones had been going on for years, but you finished it in brutal fashion. Did you to speak to him after the fight?

Yeah I did have a chat with him. I was telling him that it was a great fight and we should train together sometime, but he was he wasn’t really keen on it. I guess he was still a bit sore about the defeat.

Q: In the cage after your win, you called out Richard Kiely, now you’re fighting him. Are you happy you got the opponent you asked for?

Everyone keeps saying I called him out, I didn’t call him out, he called me out! I didn’t even address his name, I said ‘this Irish kid has been running his mouth we’re going to go out there and shut him up.’ I didn’t even know who he was. He’s been mentioning my name and talking a lot of rubbish on my social media disturbing me and my fans.

Q: The finish against Jones was picture perfect. From the elbow, to the right hand, to the knee, was it the best of your career?

Yeah I think it is, by far! It was perfect technique. I knew as he was going he back he would try to duck in for the takedown. Because I was throwing the head kick anyway all I needed to do was just switch it to a knee. I couldn’t ask for any better.

Q: Given it’s in Dublin and Richard is Irish, How do you feel about going into enemy territory at BAMMA 32?

That’s great, that’s why I’m doing it! I need to be comfortable in every environment, so going out there will test. I wanted to be on the Dublin card, now I can teach him a little lesson too, I can’t wait.

Q: As you know the Geordie Shore star Aaron Chalmers has brought a lot of attention to BAMMA recently, what are your thoughts on him? 

He’s good man. For someone who doesn’t come from a fighting background and does reality TV stuff, he’s doing good. How can people say he should fight someone more experienced, because he is taking  guys that are on his level and he’s doing good.

He’s helping MMA fighters because he has got a big following so more people are going to be watching MMA and learning about MMA so it’s a good thing having him on board.

BAMMA32 will take place at the 3Arena in Dublin on November 10th. Tickets are now on sale at ticketmaster.ie. The card will air live on both UNILAD’s Facebook page, and Dave.

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