Saturday, November 19, 2011

Who's the best?

One of the great things about sports is that it never fails to foster discussion and passionate debate. Perhaps the best topic of discussion is ranking which team is the best in their respective sport. College football does this better than anyone, with its multitude of rankings. But Bleacher Report, a nationwide sports website, recently put out a list of the best mixed martial arts fighters in each state, and in Maryland they decided Mike "The Hulk" Easton was the Free State's best.

Easton appeared to state his case as the best in Maryland in his last fight, which was his UFC debut at a live event in Washington, D.C. last month. Easton knocked out his opponent in the second round, much to the delight of those in attendance, which included his teammates from Team Lloyd Irvin in Camp Springs.

But is Easton, a bantamweight, really the best fighter in all of Maryland? I am in no way disparaging his skills as a fighter. So far he is undefeated and had about as good a UFC debut as a new prospect can hope for. But since MMA has several different weight classes, I've always felt it's somewhat difficult to determine who the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world is. Even though almost everyone agrees that when it comes to the best in the world, UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva and UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre are 1-2, respectively.

But when it comes to Maryland, there are so many gyms that produce fighters. From Lloyd Irvin to Evolve Academy in Gaithersburg to Team Ground Control in Baltimore, my home state has no shortage of fighters coming out of the woodwork.

While I have not been to every MMA event in Maryland and have not personally visited every single MMA gym in the state, I have been to a few MMA events in Maryland and I think I have developed at least a slight idea as to the talent level in this state. There are fighters like Easton at Lloyd Irvin and fighters like Dan Root, Ryan Mackin and Dave Daniecki at Team Ground Control. There is also Jacob Kirwan, who fights with Clinch Academy in Frederick and has fought for organizations like Bellator Fighting Championship.

If Easton can build on his momentum of his UFC debut victory, he very well can stake further claim as to being the best fighter in all of Maryland. Much like college football rankings, the debate over who's the best in MMA doesn't appear to be ending anytime soon.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Varied Interests: Secret Service, Politics...and MMA?

This is probably as political a post as I will ever make on here. But I came across this article in The Washington Post about a former Secret Service agent who lives in Severna Park and filed his papers to run against longtime Maryland representative Ben Cardin. Why am I discussing politics on a MMA blog? Simple (from the article):

"Bongino and his wife, Paula, own two small businesses: a mixed martial arts clothing company and a web design consulting firm."

It's really not uncommon for someone who has an interest in MMA to find himself in a position as a Secret Service. I don't know currently if this guy has ever practiced MMA or what the name of his clothing company is. But many MMA fighters have a military background and there are those in the military who decide to join ranks such as the Secret Service. While they look like GQ models in their suits, it's a safe bet Secret Service know how to kill you quickly with their bare hands.

In fact, it's also a safe bet that many agents learn techniques by participating in events such as the Maryland Grappling Championships, which will take place in January in Baltimore.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Top of the Heap

I've written before about how some of mixed martial arts' most well-known names make their home in Maryland. Among the biggest names are Team Lloyd Irvin in Camp Springs and Yamasaki Academy in Rockville. Yamasaki Academy is of course owned by UFC referee Mario Yamasaki, which has produced many fighters who compete in both regional shows and local shows like Shogun Fights.

Team Lloyd Irvin is run by the Master of the same name, Lloyd Irvin, and has produced many fighters who compete locally, regionally and nationwide, with the most well-known fighter currently being UFC Bantamweight Champion Dominick Cruz. Team Lloyd Irvin has produced other UFC competitors, include Brandon Vera and Mike "The Hulk" Easton, who won his UFC debut last month at UFC's first event in Washington, D.C.

But while gyms like Yamasaki Academy and Team Lloyd Irvin are known for producing fighters, its students also competing at numerous tournaments nationally and worldwide. One of those is the Copa Nova Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Championships, and Yamasaki Academy and Team Lloyd Irvin finished 1-2 in the October 2011 team tournament.

The two gyms won first and second place among a field of 50 competitors, which included squads with such prestigious lineage as Royce Gracie and Pedro Sauer. For two of Maryland's most well-known MMA gyms to be able to emerge on top of such a deep and extremely talented field only speaks to the depth and quality of talent in our state.