Mixed Martial Arts

Greg Jackson: 2015 Instructor of the Year Launches Online Mixed Martial Arts Course!

Part 1: If you read the cover story of the June/July 2015 issue of Black Belt, you know who Greg Jackson is. Of course, if you’re a follower of the biggest names in MMA, you probably already knew. The reason you’re reading about him here is he’s much more than a successful MMA coach, as you can see from the comments he’s made in past interviews.

“We, as mixed martial artists, can’t be saying traditional martial arts doesn’t give us anything. In true mixed-martial-arts fashion, we need to take the best of all, and we especially need to grab the social value of traditional martial arts. It has a lot of techniques that we’re using all the time, but the social thing is a big deal. When you learn traditional martial arts, what do you think of? Respect, bowing, discipline — things that are important to the world. We need to absorb that into our culture.”

Greg Jackson on the cover of the June/July 2015 Black Belt

Those sentences indicate that although Greg Jackson spends much of his work week in Albuquerque, New Mexico, coaching MMA fighters like Holly Holm, Georges St-Pierre, Jon Jones, Andrei Arlovski, Diego Sanchez, Tim Kennedy, Clay Guida and Sarah Kaufman, his involvement in the martial arts is much more profound than cage fighting. Perhaps that’s why he’s investing so much time to promote his concept of MMA as a martial art. It entails taking octagon-tested techniques and tempering them with the traditional components he mentioned — respect, discipline and so on — to yield what he believes is a superior system of self-defense, one that develops the qualities the arts have pushed for centuries.

Sign up for the Greg Jackson Mixed Martial Arts Core Curriculum online-education program today. It’s brand-new!

The reason Jackson sees his system as superior is the dynamic nature of self-defense. “It’s context driven, meaning that there are times when you need to be precise and accurate and there are times when you need to sacrifice some of those things to claim the initiative,” he said. “Our system of mixed martial arts, in addition to teaching techniques, also teaches you to think tactically so you can make decisions like that in real time.”

Greg Jackson signing autographs at the 2015 Martial Arts SuperShow

Greg Jackson’s approach is refreshing. It teaches that most MMA moves were borrowed from the traditional martial arts. It teaches that many of the moves that work in MMA are also great for self-defense while others are not so useful.

It also teaches that not all traditional techniques are still relevant for self-defense because of the way society and technology have evolved. So why not cherry-pick the best techniques of MMA and teach them in a progressive manner while reinfusing them with all those treasured intangible qualities?

Greg Jackson enters the Black Belt Hall of Fame

Scores of schools are already on board, and more are sure to follow in their footsteps. For all that he’s done and continues to do to advance the martial arts — both traditional and mixed — Greg Jackson is Black Belt’s 2015 Instructor of the Year.

— J. Torres

Part 2: Greg Jackson Featured in New Online Course From Black Belt!

As you know from reading the first half of this post, Greg Jackson has developed a systematic approach to teaching mixed martial arts that parallels the one that’s often used in the traditional martial arts. In other words, it’s not a random sampling of techniques. It’s a progression that lays a foundation of exercises, drills and basic techniques, then adds more challenging moves. It’s all about taking time to build a skill base that makes sense within the confines of competition and self-defense.

Greg Jackson (top) and Joe Stevenson in a Black Belt photo shoot

We, the people who bring you Black Belt, managed to corral the in-demand coach in our studio, where we had a crew point three video cameras at him. After a lengthy editing session, we ended up with a polished online-education program we’re calling the Greg Jackson Mixed Martial Arts Core Curriculum.

The advantages associated with this set of streaming-video lessons are several. First, every video features Jackson, the talented coach who’s trained Holly Holm, Jon Jones, Tim Kennedy, Rashad Evans, Frank Mir, Keith Jardine and Clay Guida, to name a few.

Greg Jackson tying up the arms of Joe Stevenson before executing an elbow strike

Second, the course uses 21st-century digital technology to beam the lessons to your smartphone, tablet or computer. That means you can learn new techniques or review the ones you already know anytime and anyplace. There are no VCRs or DVD players to lug around and no tapes or discs to keep track of. As long as …

10 Most Memorable Moments in MMA as Remembered by Big John McCarthy

Conventional wisdom states that every story has at least two sides. With that in mind, when the tale involves the most memorable bouts in MMA as witnessed from inside the cage, odds are it’s the third side of the story that will come closest to giving the unbiased truth about what really happened.

“Big” John McCarthy has been just inches from the action as the third man in the cage for many of the biggest fights in history. The sport’s original official sat down with Black Belt to discuss his 10 most memorable moments in the cage. They’re presented below in no particular order.

Big John McCarthy

Date: March 11, 1994

Event: UFC 2: No Way Out

Fighters: Johnny Rhodes and David Levicki

“During the first round, Rhodes ended up spending most of the time stuck in Levicki’s guard. This was in the early days of MMA when the fighters often wore the uniforms from their particular style in the cage, so Rhodes was wearing gi pants with nothing more than a jockstrap on underneath. Levicki kept trying to adjust his guard and was pressing his legs down to keep Rhodes off him.

“The problem with the maneuver was that in the process, Levicki was also pushing Rhodes’ pants down, and I found myself facing a full moon in the middle of the fight! I reached down and pulled Rhodes’ gi pants back up to cover him, but the wardrobe malfunction continued to happen again and again for the rest of the fight. It made the third fight I ever refereed one I wish I could forget, but it’s burned into memory forever.”

Date: November 11, 2006

Event: The Ultimate Fighter 4 Finale

Fighters: Pete Sell and Scott Smith

“I loved the way both fighters interacted throughout the fight. They were beating the hell out of each other, but [they] were doing it with smiles on their faces and were giving each other high-fives after each good exchange.

“The ending was not too bad, either: Smith’s out-of-nowhere knockout punch to Sell in the second round, just moments after Smith took a hard punch to the liver, has been on the highlight reels ever since. They were two warriors who left it all in the cage in that fight, and you couldn’t ask for more.”


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Date: June 26, 2010

Event: Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Werdum

Fighters: Fedor Emelianenko and Fabricio Werdum

“This is one of the most memorable fights because it was the first true loss Fedor ever had inside a ring or cage. Werdum did a great job of utilizing his jiu-jitsu to attack Fedor with beautiful setups and transitions from one submission attempt to another.

“I also admired the way Fedor handled himself after the loss, stating, ‘Every man falls down; it’s how you get up that counts.’”

Date: December 19, 2009

Event: Strikeforce Evolution

Fighters: Cung Le and Scott Smith

“This fight was another miracle comeback for Scott Smith. Cung Le was undefeated in both sanshou and MMA coming into it. For two rounds, Le hit Smith with just about every kind of kick/punch combination you can think of, and [he] hurt Smith several times.

“But as he’s done so many times before, Smith was waiting for the opportunity to land that one game-changing punch — and he got his chance, hurting Le and ending the fight with a barrage of punches that broke Le’s nose. In MMA, the tide of the battle can turn in an instant, and in this fight, another undefeated record bit the dust.”

Big John McCarthy

Date: June 6, 2003

Event: UFC 43: Meltdown

Fighters: Randy Couture and Chuck Liddell

Randy Couture was [over 40], and many people thought the odds were entirely in the favor of the younger fighter, Chuck ‘The Iceman’ Liddell. It also looked like a mismatch because the fighters’ careers seemed to be going in different directions: Randy was coming off a few tough losses in the heavyweight division, while Chuck was the rising star in the light-heavyweight division.

“But Randy fought a beautiful fight and caught Chuck off-guard with a straight-forward attack that utilized good footwork and straight punches that landed before the wide, arcing punches thrown by Chuck ever reached him. It was a great fight that brought Randy Couture back into the spotlight with his first light-heavyweight championship victory.”

Date: May 10, 2002

Event: UFC 37: High Impact

Fighters: Murilo Bustamante and Matt Lindland

“This was a fight where I screwed up big time. Bustamante put Lindland in an armbar, and I saw Lindland tap. I moved down to stop the fight, but then Lindland yelled at me that he didn’t tap, and it made me …

Ring of Combat MMA Series to Hit a Milestone With Its 50th Event

A milestone for any sports promotion comes when it puts on its 50th event, and that’s precisely what will take place on January 23, 2015, when Lou Neglia’s Ring of Combat 50 unfolds at the Tropicana Casino & Resort in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The fight card will feature the best MMA prospects from around the world and include six title bouts.

Ring of Combat is one of the longest-running and most successful MMA shows in the United States — and for good reason. The East Coast promotion has sent more fighters to the UFC than any other MMA series. To date, more than 90 ROC alumni have gone on to compete in the UFC. All the athletes Neglia sent to the world’s largest MMA promotion are enjoying successful careers.

The latest ROC-trained fighters to level up to the UFC include current middleweight champion and 2014 Black Belt Hall of Famer Chris Weidman, as well as Al Iaquinta, Ryan LaFlare, Eddie Gordon, Costas Philippou, Edson Barboza, Uriah Hall and Chris Wade.

As a former world kickboxing champion, Neglia knows what it takes to build combat athletes. “The recipe is very simple,” he said. “Competitive fights challenge you. If you’re not challenged, you won’t change. You get more out of losing competitive fights by improving your game. You gain nothing winning a hand-picked opponent for an easy fight.”

Lou Neglia's Ring of Combat

Left to right: Frankie Edgar, Matt Serra, Lou Neglia, Chris Weidman.

(Photo by BrendanOrmsbyPhotography, courtesy of Lou Neglia/Ring of Combat)

Neglia recalled one instance when the UFC came calling: “The UFC took an ROC fighter who was eight wins with four losses as opposed to a fighter who was 10-0 in another promotion. The matchmakers at the UFC know just as well as I do that it’s who you fought and how you fought that matters.”

Neglia’s matchmaking skills are so solid that the UFC recently announced a bout between two ROC stars who’d already fought each other: Uriah Hall and Costas Philippou. Their first encounter took place at Ring of Combat 34, with Philippou winning a majority decision. Their long-awaited rematch was to be a featured bout for UFC Fight Night on January 18, 2015, but an injury suffered by Philippou has caused it to be postponed.

“When I first heard that the UFC was putting on Hall vs. Philippou, I was very proud,” Neglia said. “These guys are true champions and gave their all at Ring of Combat. The have both come so far since then, and I know they are going to put on a good show for the UFC.”

Neglia’s matchmaking skills and top-notch fighters are causing many to wonder why he hasn’t decided to go head-to-head with the UFC. For Neglia, it was an easy question to answer.

“Not too long ago, I was approached by three very successful businessmen,” he said. “They asked me if I wanted to join forces with them in the world of MMA and [said] their goal was to compete with the UFC and eventually become bigger than them. I thanked them for their time but declined. I am very content with what I am doing and have no desire to compete with the UFC. They have an all-star team with Dana [White], Lorenzo [Fertitta], Marc Ratner and Joe Silva and are doing great things in the world of combat sports. I enjoy finding great but unknown talent and developing them for the world’s biggest stage, and I am happy with the place Ring of Combat has in MMA history, being the American Idol of the sport.”

Neglia is hard at work to develop the next generation of MMA stars, and he believes that many of them will be competing at Ring of Combat 50 on January 23. “Our next event is a very special one,” he said. “Not many promotions have made it to their 50th event, and many have not produced the superstars that Ring of Combat has. I am very proud of all Ring of Combat alumni but also very proud of the new generation of ROC fighters that, by accepting tough fights in the Ring of Combat, is also preparing for the road that leads to the octagon.”

(Featured image at the top of this page by Rich Villa Photography, courtesy of Lou Neglia/Ring of Combat)

Ring of Combat MMA Show Has Stellar Track Record for Feeding Fighters to the UFC!

So you’re an aspiring mixed martial artist with dreams of making it to the big time. You’re probably wondering how to get there — how you can appear on the radar of the Ultimate Fighting Championship and other major promotions.

While there’s no sure way to get noticed by the UFC and finagle your way onto one of its cards, some paths can give you a better chance than others. Perhaps the best is to headline a Ring of Combat show.

An East Coast organization run by Lou Neglia, ROC holds five pro MMA shows a year, primarily at the Tropicana Casino and Resort in Atlantic City, New Jersey, with a helping of pro kickboxing and amateur MMA matches scattered throughout New York and New Jersey the rest of the year. From those events, Neglia has sent 80 fighters to the UFC. Eighty! Among his alumni are former UFC champs Matt Serra, Frankie Edgar and Chris Weidman, Black Belt’s 2014 MMA Fighter of the Year.

***

A former kickboxing champion, Neglia began staging kickboxing matches in his home of Brooklyn, New York, back in the 1980s, both to stay close to the sport and to provide his students with a venue to compete. When MMA came along in the ’90s, he sprinkled in matches and saw the fan interest jump. Having promoted kickboxing in New Jersey, he eventually approached that state’s athletic commission about doing a sanctioned MMA show at one of the Atlantic City casinos. But the state was leery to give its blessing to a sport that was still known as “no-holds-barred fighting.” Neglia offered to modify the rules to mesh with what eventually became the standard for MMA bouts. He got the green light, and Ring of Combat was officially born.

“I think having the fights in a little bigger and more glamorous venue in Atlantic City helps prepare my fighters to go on to the larger shows,” Neglia says. “I’ve seen a lot of guys who succeeded in smaller shows step up to the bigger events and just fall apart from the pressure.”

Neglia is quick to point out that the key to his success lies in the quality of the competition. “I take pride in providing good matchups,” he says. “You won’t see any mismatches or easy fights in my shows. When people come to Ring of Combat, they always get competitive fights. They know they’re going to have action.”

Such competitive matchmaking doesn’t just bring the winners to the attention of the UFC; it gives them the experience necessary to stick around at the higher levels once they get there.

Weidman fought his first four professional matches for ROC before moving up to the UFC in 2011. He credits his experience there for his successful transition to the sport’s top level.

“It definitely helped prepare me for the big leagues, so it wasn’t that much of a culture shock when I got there,” Weidman says. “If I didn’t have such tough fights [with ROC], I would have had a much tougher [time] when I got to the UFC.”

***

Aspiring professional fighters are well aware of the connection between ROC success and a chance at the big time, and Neglia gets queries from mixed martial artists around the world. Sifting through the calls and emails he receives from fighters, he looks for those who are most likely to succeed in the sport. Rather than just an undefeated record, he wants fighters with the heart and desire to make it.

“I hear from guys who want to pick and choose their opponents or who tell me how much they want to become millionaires from competing in MMA,” Neglia says. “Those are generally the guys I don’t get back to.”

As a former fighter himself, Neglia looks for athletes who are willing to sacrifice and persevere — not just inside the cage but outside it, as well. If you’re the kind of fighter who has to cancel a match because you just broke up with your girlfriend, you probably shouldn’t bother calling him. But if you’re the kind who has an obstacle in front of you and, as Neglia likes to say, is willing to grind your teeth and soldier on no matter what, he’ll have a spot for you in his promotions. What’s more, he won’t stand in your way if you outgrow him.

Although it might be a promotional taboo, Neglia is more than willing to tear up his contract with a fighter — even if he’s a reigning ROC champ — if said fighter gets an offer from a bigger promotion.

“I had a fighter under contract for one more match when he got called from the UFC to go fight on one of their shows,” Neglia says. “Now I could have stopped …

Marco Ruas: From the Streets of Brazil to Southern California

“When I was a kid, I used to watch Bruce Lee’s movies, and I liked the fight scenes. I wanted to fight just like him.”

So says Marco Ruas, one of the most successful MMA competitors in the early days of the sport.

Marco Ruas started training in the martial arts when he was a young buck of 12 growing up on the streets of Rio de Janeiro. “I studied taekwondo, boxing, capoeira and then judo with a famous judoka who went to the Olympics twice,” he says. “Then I trained in luta livre, which is very famous in Brazil. It’s like jiu-jitsu, but you never wear a gi. You wear only shorts.”

Marco Ruas also trained in muay Thai kickboxing when it arrived in Brazil in the mid-1970s. Additional grappling skills came from wrestling workouts.

“I took the best things from each art and created the Ruas vale tudo style,” he says. “The best way to become a good fighter is to train in arts that give you what is good for you. That’s because there are no complete fighting arts. Thai boxing is good standing. Jujitsu and luta livre are good on the ground. I created Ruas vale tudo to give students everything they need — on the ground, standing up, wrestling — to become a complete fighter.”

Practice, Practice, Practice

If you’re thinking about following in Marco Ruas’ footsteps, hold your horses a minute: Studying a variety of arts to learn the best parts of each does not mean jumping from dojo to dojo every three or four months.

“You should spend three or four years doing each art,” he says. That can quickly add up to decades of training and testing before you’re ready to found a new self-defense system like he did.

Contrary to what his nickname “King of the Streets” may have led the public to believe about the martial artist or the martial art, Marco Ruas didn’t get in a lot of street brawls when he was a kid.

“‘King of the Streets’ is Marco’s nickname because his last name, Ruas, is very close to rua, the Portuguese word for ‘street,’” says Pedro Rizzo, Ruas’ top student and a successful MMA fighter in his own right. “One day, people just started calling him ‘King of the Streets.’”

Giving Back

In Brazil, Marco Ruas was known for helping underprivileged people who want to learn the martial arts. “He let poor people train for free at his gym, which was located in the slums,” Pedro Rizzo says. “He recognized the value of getting people interested in sports.”

“Bringing people into the gym gets them off the streets,” Marco Ruas says. It’s much better than having them continue their life of delinquency or start a life of crime, he insists.

Marco Ruas now lives in Southern California, where he teaches the art he created. He’s enthusiastic about the potential of American students.

“Ruas vale tudo is a real sport that’s good for everyone,” he says. “In class, you don’t have to use strength to crunch or punch your opponent. All you need is technique. American students like to compete, so that is good, too.”

Resources
To download a FREE Guide titled “4 Submission Escapes From Jean Jacques Machado,” go here.

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