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TUF Season 22 – Episode 10 Re-cap : The Rise and Fall, Rise and Fall, of Ryan Hall

AJ Camacho

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Last week, Team McGregor’s veteran fighter, Abner Lloveras out-worked Team Faber’s Jason Gonzalez in a dominate but plodding two round unanimous decision victory. The win left only two Team Faber fighters in the tournament as the show was set to progress into the quarter-final matchups that would pit team member against team member in a dominate spread of Team McGregor fighters.

This week is another double header and let me be clear. As a Jiu-Jitsu practitioner, I have an utterly disgusting lack of objectivity here. For many of us, Ryan Hall is our Great white BJJ hype. His systematic dismantling of each opponent via the use of “sports BJJ” attacks has been the sort of validation that many of us savor. Sure, we already have our Damian Mais and our Masakazu Imanaris but these days, the grappling prodigies in MMA are few and far between. For many of my BJJ friends, it’s the only reason why they have even a glancing interest in this season’s TUF.

The show opens on Chris Gruetzemacher thinking of giving up on MMA. Through a weepy eyed side-interview, he contemplates if all of the struggle and trauma is even worth it all.

Then, it’s revealed that Martin Svensson injured his arm in his bout against Thanh Le. After an MRI scan, a nagging sore arm would turn out to be a broken elbow that Svensson suffered during the then seemingly futile arm lock attempt that Thanh made during their bout.

The news puts “Gritz” back into the game show. In many ways, it’s a poetic matchup, considering it was Artem’s re-entry into the show that created the extra matchup that left an uneven fighter count for the quarter-finals, which subsequently got “Gritz” kicked out for his lackluster victory.

Still some time before the fights. In a move that was sure to make the wives and girlfriends happy, Dana threw a house party for all of the fighters complete with random friendly women in bathing suits that nobody seemed to know. It was a magnificent display that would rival any generic Coor’s Lite ad.

Back to business, Conor discusses Artem’s unorthodox fighting style. Chin up, arms down, but angles upon angles, on top of angles with powerful strikes. All of that against the grappling lead chinned style of “Gritz”.

Fight 1 Re-Cap
Artem Lobov (McGregor) vs Chris Gruetzemacher (Faber)

Round 1:
Chris worked to keep Artem at range with leg kicks, but he would still walk into Artem’s counter strikes. Everytime Chris would come at Artem in his Orthodox stance, the Russian southpaw, would crack him with his impressive style of off angle hooks.

Eating damage by the pound, Chris used the blunt trauma of his face to eat strikes while pressuring Artem into the fence. Gruetzemacher was tenacious, desperately looking for an opening to keep the fight in a dirty clinch against the cage. Chris would land some good shots, but Artem’s sheer volume of strikes would easily outpace Gritz’ efforts.

Round 2:
Gritz came out in an orthodox stance leading away at the southpaw with his jab. His combinations were routine and expected, Artem countering off of each exchange. Artem, seemingly a little more sluggish in the 2nd round, giving up more strikes and making for a close exchange between the two. Off of a lead leg kick, Chris would get caught off balance and hit clean dropping to the canvas. He would recover and get up but from there he would just erode after each punch until he eventually crumbled from a powerful left hand against the fence.

Artem Lobov wins by KO.

In the build up for the Rogers vs Hall fight, we get treated to another Team McGregor cram session in leg locks. With such little time to cover everything, they focused more on preventive leg lock measures rather than counters and late defensive tricks. It’s a sound approach considering the narrow time frame, but it’s clear that if Hall can isolate Rogers’ leg, that the Englishman is fucked.

Fight 2 Re-Cap
Saul Rogers (McGregor) vs Ryan Hall (Faber)

Round 1:
Both fighters came out timid of the range. Pawing and probing their lead hands into each other, Rogers didn’t want to give up an easy leg submission to Hall. Rogers would instead lunge from the outside with power strikes wanting to stay clear out of the takedown range.

The match turned into a strange meta game of range and distance as Hall threw kicks from the outside as Rogers darted in and out from long range never wanting to press Hall against the fence or commit to closing distance. In a rare clinch, Rogers gained double under hooks on Hall, Hall glanced for the rolling knee bar but Rogers would disengage the clinch remembering who he was fighting. Neither fighter took much damage in the round with Saul edging out Hall in the striking.

Round 2:
More outside range fighting until Hall gained the double unders and the clinch. Saul would hit the trip but hit the floor in Hall’s guard, just as Hall had intended. Saul defensively pressured Hall into the bottom corner of the fence to restrict Hall’s mobility in an attempt to negate Hall’s guard before he could pull away and get the fuck out of dodge.

Hall was clearly looking for the takedown shooting for a long range double leg. Hall was clipped hard after the failed double leg and became desperate; lunging, Granby rolling, and doing anything to keep in grapple range against the evasive Rogers. McGregor’s preventative measures would pay off as Saul would skip, hop, and river dance out of Hall’s attempts to rip off his legs.

Hall’s tenacious efforts were rewarded with a handful of clinches, but he couldn’t capitalize on the transition to the back or the follow-up armbar attempt. Each time Hall would roll upside down for a submission attack, Rogers would lean back, retain his posture, and disengage from the tangled flurry of Hall’s limbs. Hall kept re-attacking with intentional failed double leg takedowns to try and get himself buried underneath the hips of Rogers. It would continually place him in the corner with full guard unable to put a solid submission attempt onto Rogers.

Winner by majority decision, Saul Rogers.

Well… shit.

Rogers showed an immense level of self-control only engaging on his own terms. For all of the talk about power versus finesse, it was Rogers who demonstrated tact and skill to win this bout.

Next week will be another double header as the lone American, Julian Erosa, faces off against Team McGregor’s veteran fighter, Abner Lloveras. We’ll also watch the inter-euro incest beating of Marcin Wrzosek (McGregor) vs David Teymur (McGregor).

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Conor McGregor

[Watch] First trailer for Conor McGregor: Notorious released

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Many have wondered when we would get to see Conor McGregor have his own documentary film in cinemas. After months of waiting and teasing at it through social media we finally have the initial trailer. The trailer shows some fantastic little clips from throughout his career. From a first glance this is without a doubt one to be looking forward to, enjoy. Conor McGregor: Notorious will hit theatres November.

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What must Conor McGregor do to be considered the undisputed G.O.A.T?

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In November 2016, Conor McGregor cemented his legacy as an all time great by becoming the first simultaneous two weight world champion holding both the Featherweight and Lightweight belts. In that year McGregor also won three fights at three different weight classes.

“The Notorious One” has the fourth highest win percentage in the UFC at 90%, and he owns the fastest finish in a UFC title fight. This may upset a few MMA purists as McGregor only has 10 UFC fights to his name, but he is certainly in the G.O.A.T discussion now more than ever after his recent bout with Floyd Mayweather Jr.

There are three possible ways to define the greatest of all time.

  1. Whether or not the individual is a pioneer of the sport and earns plaudits for their innovation and creativity, e.g. Royce Gracie is a perfect example.
  2. Whether the fighter has done a lot to help develop and grow the sport e.g. Chuck Liddell isn’t always top of everyone’s list but he’s always in the conversation due to the way he brought the UFC to mainstream audiences.
  3. Judging a fighter on their skill set and MMA record, e.g. Jon Jones who has a perfect MMA record with some high calibre opponents on his list of victims.

Conor McGregor fits in to each category on this list and deserves to be in the G.O.A.T discussion, but he’s not quite the undisputed number one just yet. Here are some of the things McGregor needs to do to become the undisputed greatest of all time.

Defend His Belt

Conor McGregor two belts

What do Demetrious Johnson, GSP, Anderson Silva and Jon Jones all have in common? They all have multiple title defences and they’re all in the G.O.A.T discussion because of it. Jon Jones has the least out of those named competitors with 8 consecutive title defences. Conor McGregor currently has 0 title defences despite being a UFC champion since December 2015.

In defence of McGregor every time it’s looked like he would be defending his belt a much bigger opportunity has arisen. When the time came to defend his Cage Warriors belts he was off to the UFC.

After winning his featherweight title at UFC 194, he was scheduled to make history by facing Rafael Dos Anjos for the lightweight belt at UFC 196, before facing Diaz. After losing on March 5th, McGregor then re-matched Diaz in the biggest fight in UFC history with the event playing host to the UFC buy rate record with roughly 1.6 million buys.

Then it was time to make history at UFC 205 where he became the first simultaneous two weight world champion. And when it finally looked like he would defend his belt he faced Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the biggest fight of all time for $100 million.

But now it’s finally time for McGregor to defend his belt. I’m not necessarily saying he has to match Jones’ 8 title defences, as I believe he will retire long before he even gets there. But maybe 3 or 4 title defences against competitors like Diaz, Khabib Nurmagomedov and Tony Ferguson will prove he is championship material, and has what it takes to keep hold of the belt in a shark tank division stacked filled with trained killers.

It would be a move to silence the haters and stake his claim as the best to ever do it.

Become the First Fighter to Beat Khabib Nurmagomedov

McGregor is no stranger to doing something no other man has ever done before. So it would be no surprise to see him be the first fighter to beat Nurmagomedov.

Say what you like about Khabib, whether you think he’s an elite fighter or just your average Joe with a padded record (he’s not), but there’s one thing you have to say about him, he’s undefeated.

Fans on Twitter are constantly claiming Khabib is the man to dethrone McGregor. If that’s the case, then it would be equally impressive to see McGregor defend his crown against Khabib and hand him his first loss, adding another historic moment to his storied career. It is a win that would truly legitimise his G.O.A.T status.

Win the Third Fight Against Nate Diaz

McEnroe had Borg. Brady had Peyton Manning. Messi has Ronaldo. And Conor McGregor has Nate Diaz. Every great needs a great rival to make them better. Just look at Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones for example, those two men pushed and motivated each other to be better for years.

The problem with these great rivalries is that they have to be won to secure your legacy, nobody remembers the loser. Winning the trilogy fight against Nate would make Conor the clear winner in this rivalry and answer all questions asked from his doubters, it would see him earn a huge amount of respect and would catapult him to a legendary status.

However, the flip side to that is that if Nate won the third fight then Conor has even more questions asked of him, he may lose some of his star power and could also drop out of the G.O.A.T discussion.

Win the Welterweight Title

McGregor has already won the featherweight and lightweight belts, but he has claimed he’s coming for “all the belts” and I believe him.

If McGregor was the first man to become a three weight World Champion it would be hard to argue he is not the greatest mixed martial artist ever. Especially if he was to beat a top level fighter like Tyron Woodley, GSP or Robbie Lawler to become the welterweight champion. It is another impressive feat that would put him above the rest. It’s a big ask but that’s why it would make him the G.O.A.T.

Stay Clean and Know When it’s the Right Time to Retire

It sounds simple but one of the things that has hurt some of MMA’s biggest stars be considered the greatest has been their inability to stay clean and leaving the game before their inevitable decline.

Some notable stars like Chuck Liddell and B.J Penn’s cases of being the G.O.A.T have been damaged by the later stages of their careers, where they could not perform like they were capable of in their prime, leaving a sour taste in the mouths of many fans who may only remember the last few fights they had.

If McGregor quits whilst he’s ahead he won’t be fighting unnecessarily and tarnishing his legacy by competing when his chin has gone, and his athleticism has declined.

If McGregor can stay clean, which I have no doubt he will as he has always been an honest fighter, then he already has one up on those that have been caught taking steroids. Fighters like Jones and Silva’s legacies have not been ruined by testing positives but people will always view them differently because of it.

Conor has always made his intentions clear, “Get in. Get rich. Get Out” and a retirement in his early 30’s is more than likely, especially with a smart coaching team around him who want to see him happy and healthy. We will look back on his career fondly rather than thinking what could have been.

Let us know what you think Conor McGregor must do to be considered the G.O.A.T.

 

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Seriously, How is Joanna Jedrzejczyk Not in the Top 5 P4P Rankings?!

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Honest to God question here, how is Joanna Jedrzejczyk not in the top 5 of the UFC’s Pound for Pound rankings?

Jedrzejczyk is arguably the greatest female fighter of all time, yet she’s stuck behind three fighters who don’t even have a title defense on their record. Yes, these fighter rankings don’t hold much weight but put some respect on her name. Ranking Joanna at number seven is absolute blasphemy.

Official Pound for Pound rankings as of September 28, 2017. Source: UFC.com

The amount of disrespect the UFC shows to their fighters is at an all-time high so we shouldn’t really be surprised here. It’s understandable that Joanna is behind the likes of Conor McGregor and Demetrious Johnson in the rankings — but after that, it can be argued that she deserves that number three spot on the list.

Let’s take a look at just a few of Joanna Jedrzejczyk’s accomplishments:

  • Five successful title defenses (second most in UFC women’s division history)
  • A perfect 14-0 record, 8-0 in the UFC
  • Most leg kicks in a fight in UFC history
  • Highest significant strikes thrown in a UFC championship bout
  • Highest significant strikes differential in a UFC championship bout

Joanna has more title defenses than Conor McGregor, Stipe Miocic, Max Holloway, Daniel Cormier, and Cody Garbrandt — COMBINED. That alone should at least warrant her a top five spot on the list, yet all five of those fighters aforementioned are ranked ahead of her.

The common argument against Joanna is the “lack of competition” that she has faced, and while that is partially true, let’s not forget about the “competition” Demetrious Johnson has been up against — and he’s sitting comfortably at number one on the list. Also, we just saw how vicious both Jessica Andrade and Claudia Gadelha are at UFC Japan, and Joanna dominated both women and virtually neutralized their attacks. So that flawed “lack of competition” argument is irrelevant.

Joanna Jedrzejczyk has looked nothing short of spectacular in her time as UFC strawweight champion. Credit: Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports

It’s about time that Joanna Jedrzejczyk starts getting the respect she deserves as a UFC champion. She is undoubtedly the best striker in the women’s division and may be the best striker overall on the UFC roster. Joanna has the second most title defenses currently of a UFC champion and if that doesn’t earn her a top three spot on the list I don’t know what will.

If top three is a little too rich for your blood, that’s understandable. But there is no way she should be outside of the top five and there is no arguing that. As Khabib would say, “This is number one bullsh*t!”

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