Saturday, January 28, 2012

Hulk smash

The old line with Bruce Banner before he transforms into The Incredible Hulk is "Don't make me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry." In the case of Mike "The Hulk" Easton, a local fighter from Team Lloyd Irvin in Camp Springs, I'm not sure if Easton is angry when he walks to the Octagon, but he sure has a lot of energy.

Easton, also a D.C. native, ran his UFC record to 2-0 after beating Jared Papazian in a three-round bantamweight war at the UFC's inaugural event on cable channel FX last week. Easton and Papazian went at it nonstop for three rounds, with Easton taking home a unanimous decision victory.

Easton made the rounds prior to his fight against Papazian, including here and here. Easton was aggressive from start to finish and frequently had Papazian on his heels.

Easton is another example of Lloyd Irvin churning out fighters who are ready to compete on the big stage in the UFC, joining fellow UFC fighters like Brandon Vera and the UFC's bantamweight Champion, Dominick Cruz. I tweeted after Easton's fight that Maryland is a fertile breeding ground for fighters who I think can perform under the bright lights of the UFC. While Easton is from our nation's capital and I did not discover him myself, I feel that Easton can become a threat in the 135-pound division.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Brothers in arms

There are many well known families in mixed martial arts, which can include brothers who both fight. The most well-known is the legendary Gracie family, considered by just about everyone as the forefathers of MMA. But there are other well-known brothers in the sport, ranging from the Shamrocks to the Millers to probably the most well-known tandem in MMA right now, the Diaz brothers.

In Maryland, among the most well-known fighters is Jacob Kirwan, who trains with his brother Joey at Clinch Academy in Frederick. Jacob has fought on cards in Maryland, including the annual Shogun Fights card in Baltimore. But both Jacob and Joey both got their opportunities lately to compete on a more national stage when they fought in Bellator Fighting Championship, the de facto "competitor" to the UFC.

Jacob, a lightweight, fought Rene Nazare on a recent Bellator card while Joey fought at middleweight against Lewis Rumsey. Jacob's bout with Nazare went the full three rounds and neither competitor had much use for the stand-up game, going to the ground early and often in their fight where Jacob's mat skills earned him a unanimous decision victory.

Joey's fight didn't last nearly as long, as he escaped from a guillotine choke attempt by Rumsey to lock in a guillotine of his own and score a first-round submission victory.

It remains to be seen whether the Kirwans can achieve the kind of success enjoyed by the Diaz brothers, or even further down the line, the Gracies. But both guys appear poised to carry the flag for Maryland MMA for quite some time.

Monday, January 2, 2012

New ways to learn

In mixed martial arts, there's always something new to learn or some new way to learn. Just when you think you've grasped a specific form of MMA, whether it be striking, wrestling, or jiu-jitsu, something new comes along that turns everything around. If you don't have a willingness to constantly learn new things, chances are MMA isn't for you.

One such local student shares his thoughts on training for an upcoming Brazilian jiu-jitsu tournament in Baltimore. The student trains at Bowie MMA and talks about being able to train with different instructors, including those with a military background like himself.

I've talked at length about how many MMA fighters journey to different locations/schools when training for a bout. Some do it to avoid complacency, others do it because they want to absorb as much knowledge as they can from the very best. I've also mentioned how MMA is catching on with members of the military and I should ask my friend who is a member of the Marines if he or any of his fellow Marines have received any kind of training in BJJ or some other form of MMA.

Participants in submission/BJJ tournaments are the very best at what they do. If you want to be able to compete on their level, it helps to get the best training available to hopefully teach you something new.