Thursday, May 30, 2013

Marlon Moraes interview

I recently interviewed Marlon Moraes, who is a World Series of Fighting rising star. In this interview, I asked about the use of kicks. Recently in MMA, with good sprawls and footwork, kicks have become a bigger part of the striking game. After watching Josh Thomson vs. Nate Diaz, I became more interested in that.

I asked Marlon several questions with that in mind. Some answers were as I expected but others were not. That is the fun of an interview. I hope you enjoy how my outlook and Marlon's intersect here. Of course, he surprised me with his unexpected charm.

- You learned striking from Mark Henry and kicks make up a key part of your striking style. You used your kicks often in the Miguel Torres fight, but never got taken down even when he caught them. What are your thoughts on using kicks and still maintaining good takedown defense?

Actually, I first learned striking with my coach from Brazil, Anderson Franca, who was with me for 15 years. I have been working with Mark since my Torres fight and I’m learning a lot every day. He is an amazing coach and person, and he is now my head coach. My thoughts about kicks and keeping good takedown defense are that I’ve kicked all of my life and kicks are a part of my game. How can I stop kicking? We are mixing it up with kicks, boxing, wrestling and BJJ, but for us the timing is very important. The time after the kick; speed and movement.

- Despite Torres’s long reach, you outstruck him by using angles and a variety of strikes. Is being unpredictable an important part of your striking game?

Yeah, it is. I have been working every day, because I know that a good MMA fighter has to be ready in all areas of the fight. If your opponent doesn't know what you are going to do, he’ll be in trouble.

- In recent times, the jab has become a more clear way to control fights on the feet, but some fighters include kicks to control the exchanges because they provide a greater reach than punches. Do you think that this trend will continue in the future?

I don't know. In my opinion, if you have a good jab you can control the fight.

- Please tell us about Valor Martial Arts. In New York where you train with Ricardo Almeida, Mark Henry and Frankie Edgar. In Florida, you train with fellow Brazilian Edson Barboza, but who is your main coach there?

Valor Martial Arts is a new gym in Palm Beach Gardens. I teach kickboxing with Edson and we have Raphael Chaves, who is Checkmat's black belt, running the BJJ program. We are growing and hopefully we can get some more training over here. When I am in New Jersey, I train at RABJJ for MMA sparring and BJJ. At Mark's, I do boxing, and Frankie does help me with wrestling sometimes at Elite, Hoboke and Rutgers.

- You train your grappling with Ricardo Almeida, who is an excellent teacher, but your last loss came via submission in 2011. How much has your grappling improved since then?

I did make a couple of mistakes in the past, but I’m working hard every day here in Florida with Raphael Chaves, Pablo Popovich and Vagner Rocha. And also, when I’m in camp, Ricardo is helping me every day. I’ll be ready wherever the fight goes.

- You got married last year. How has that affected you as a fighter and a person?

We have been together for six years, and living together for three. Izabella is my best friend and she is my number one supporter. I'm so happy and I think without her everything is harder.

- What is your favorite non-sports activity? Favorite book and music?

Movies, the beach and eating good food. Falcao Meninos do Trafico, and my favorite music is Brazilian Rap (Mv Bill, Racionais, Pregador Luo, etc.), Reggae and Gospel. I like lots of types of music.

- You have fought and beaten Miguel Torres and Tyson Nam, who are well-known in the fight world, and you are now one of the World Series Of Fighting’s first stars. However, you have not fought in a WSOF main event yet. Do you think that you deserve main event status when you return to World Series Of Fighting or would you first like to build up a greater name recognition by fighting more former UFC fighters?

I have my dreams and I’ll be training hard to get there! Right now, whatever WSOF decides, I’ll do.

- Joe Murphy, Fabio Mello, Chris Beal and Carson Beebe are all on the World Series Of Fighting bantamweight roster. Do you have a special interest in facing any of them? Is there any other fighter you would like to face in World Series Of Fighting or are you mainly interested in fighting UFC talent in the future?

I don't know. Carson Beebe is fighting on the next show against another guy. I think it makes sense to have me fight against the winner in the August 10 main event. lol.

Marlon Moraes Official Twitter

Big thanks to Robert Sargent  (MMA Rising) for English editing. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Sneak Peek into the P's Lab with Yuki Kondo

I received mail again from a customer who was wanting to do some personal training with fighters. Last time, it was regarding a kickboxing gym, but this time it was for MMA.

I brought my customer to P's Lab, which is the gym for the Pancrase organization, and arranged for the customer to train with Yuki Kondo.

P's Lab

JMMA fans commonly associate Rumina Sato as a symbol for Shooto, and Yuki Kondo is that symbolic person for Pancrase. Early Pancrase did not have weight classes and Kondo took many fights against opponents who were much bigger than him.
These days, Kondo's performances look poor because of the damage that he has incurred over time, but he remains an active fighter for the Pancrase organization. Even in the worst of times, he continued to compete for Pancrase and won championships in multiple divisions.

P's  Lab

When I asked Kondo why he didn't make his own gym, he humbly said, "I'm not good at teaching." However, I heard my customer say that he had never been instructed with so much detail before. I was also impressed by Kondo's spirit of service and humbleness while I translated between him and my customer. My customer paid 10,000 yen ($100 USD) for two hours of personal training. $60 USD plus expenses ($40 USD this time) for my guidance and coordination fee. I don't believe that you can get a deal like that in the United States. Kondo teaches striking combinations, takedowns, sprawling, positioning, submissions and a special grappling session.

Yuki Kondo

 I recently talked about Japanese MMA's prospects and future because I felt that it was not discussed enough in the Japanese scene, but I also respect historical fighters like Kondo. Not only for his legacy but also for his personality. I hope that people don't forget that fighters who fall out of major promotions still have a life after that, and many of them still contribute to MMA and local MMA businesses.

Submission Wrestling Greats

Pancrase has struggled financially for long time, but now, finally, Pancrase's new leader Masakazu Sakai has decided to offer Pancrase events on international online PPV at Ustream. This also provides opportunities for foreign fighters to make a name in the Japanese scene like they could in the old Pancrase. Since Sakai is now more inclined to sign foreign fighters with this decision to use online PPV, I hope that international Japanese MMA fans will support it. While I don't think that this first PPV card is the best that Pancrase can offer, international Japanese MMA fans have waited a long time for this opportunity. The PPV (Live May 19. Can watch recorded video until June 18) link is here:

Big Thanks to my anonymous customer, Yuki Kondo for cooperate.Robert Sargent (MMA Rising) for English editing.