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GSP

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VERBAL TAP (Episode 54) goes to UFC 168

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Raf’s Recollection: I get the feeling we will be talking about UFC 168 for some time.

It wasn’t the most spectacular set of fights we’ve ever seen, but it was a damn good card.  That’s not the point.

No, the reason I think we’ll be talking about UFC 168 is the fact that we saw some significant items that will leave some lasting impressions.

We saw old school stalwart Chris Leben throw in the towel after surviving a one round affair with Uriah Hall (as Dana White put it in the press conference, “Chris Leben is a tough guy, it’s gotta take a lot for him to quit in that octagon).  We saw Travis Browne capitalize on a major mistake and make Josh Barnett seem almost like an amateur by proxy.  And we saw a crowd favorite push an unbeaten champion in a truly spectacular Fight of the Night in Tate vs. Rousey 2.

But what still remains in most people’s minds is the sight of Anderson Silva falling back and holding his leg in agony.

Between that image and the recent departure of Georges St. Pierre, we now have a UFC without two of it’s biggest stars of the past 10 years.

Like any sports organization, the UFC can (and will) survive without these franchise players, but it’s what these two fighters represented that seems especially disconcerting.  Aside from their professionalism and exemplary martial artist attitudes, both of these charismatic fighters brought a mystique to the game that could captivate audiences and make them excited for just about any match-up that was conceivable (Silva vs. Cote, anyone?  Or how bout St. Pierre vs. Hardy?).

And while the retirement of GSP was a consideration at UFC 167, UFC 168 was the first time we had to seriously consider a world without Anderson Silva and GSP.

At least for a little while.

Certainly, Silva and GSP can come back (I get the impression both will come back), but I believe the untouchable era each of these fighters provided for their respective division is now something of the past.  Sure, Jon Jones looks like he can keep a streak going (and, I believe, will still do great things inside of the octagon for years to come), however, I think the era of fighters with this kind of mystique is gone for the time being.

And maybe that’s a good thing?

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It’s my hope that we will soon see a new set of fighters step up to fill the incredible void these two fighters left.  It’s also my hope we see Silva and GSP back in the ring (as they are both athletes of an incredible caliber).  It’s just my own personal opinion, they will return to the cage just a little more mortal and vulnerable.

As part of our extensive UFC 168 coverage, we bring back our pal Sebastian Vendel-Martinez to talk about his observations from the December 28th card and to take his victory lap over guessing one more correct fight in our last installment of Over/Under Kevin.

What the Hell is UFC's Fight Pass?

Fight PassAt the mid-point of the podcast, I do my damnedest to try and educate Kevin about the UFC Fight Pass.

Educating Kevin on most things is a chore, but trying to teach him about Fight Pass is an extra special kind of headache—as I have to point out obvious reasons why people like us (mainly, idiots with podcasts about MMA) need to spend $10 a month on the damned thing.

Without Fight Pass, we can’t do our job of covering all UFC cards or even executing a One Minute Review of The Ultimate Fighter.  In short, the service is a tool for us to give you the kind of extensive coverage you all deserve as rapid listeners of our podcast.

Why any of you guys (or the casual fan of the UFC) need to order it, however, is a question worthy of discussion.

Because, believe me, no one is arguing that the current inception of Fight Pass is perfect (especially after the WWE walloped the UFC Fight Pass with the introduction of their own subscriber-based network this week), but the UFC’s intention to embrace the digital age is something that is worthy of a view.

We discuss all of the implications of the current implementation of the UFC’s new on-demand service—and ask you guys what you think about the service.  Be sure to hit us up on Twitter to let us know what you think of Fight Pass.

Jiu-Jitsu Rescued My Saturday

IMAG1979There are some days that start off so bad the only remedy is jiu-jitsu.  Such was the case for me Saturday, December 28th.  Without getting into too much detail, my morning started off in a spectacularly annoying fashion and I felt the need to try and rid any negative energy before embarking upon day-and-a-half marathon that is covering a live UFC event.

I’m not the type to let negative energy drag me down for long, so I texted my friend BJJ podcast arch nemesis, Paul Moran (Open Mat Radio), for a recommendation on a good place to train BJJ for the day.  He was nice enough to point me in the direction of his home gym: Sergio Penha’s BJJ Academy.

It didn’t take long for me to grab my gi and make my way over to the gym.

Obviously, I got smashed the entire time (what else is new), but the healing power of jiu-jitsu extends beyond how good you are at it.  Mostly, it’s just the practice of it that can sometimes cure the roughest of days.  The good people at Sergio Penha’s were not only welcoming, but patient and very helpful in trying to correct some of the terrible jiu-jitsu habits I’ve developed over the years.  Within an hour’s worth of time rolling on the mats, I felt a great sense of calm restored in my life.

The people and the environment gave me exactly what I needed that Saturday morning: A sense of feeling like I was at my home gym.  In fact, my only complaint was that I didn’t have the time to stay there longer and roll with everyone.

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I just want to send a big shout out to the good folks over there (including the man, Sergio Penha himself) for making a major difference in my Vegas weekend. I literally could not have done the job I needed to do at the UFC that day without a visit to your gym.  When I get back to Vegas, I will definitely be back to train with you guys again.

But, Paul, just know.  This changes nothing.  You are still my BJJ Podcast Nemesis.

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VERBAL TAP (Episode 52) on GSP's Retirement

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Raf's Recollection |If you know me you know I'm willing to speak at great length about the sport of MMA.  But it turns out, not everyone is as fanatical about the sport as we are (shocking, I know).  So while I often cherish opportunities to talk shop with co-workers, I also have to do my best to monitor when I talk about it a little too much (it happens).

Which is why I was more than a little surprised that during a recent lunch with a colleague here at NBC, we somehow got around to the topic of the UFC (I didn't bring it up this time, promise).  More specifically, about the retirement of Georges St. Pierre.

Of course, I was talking to a Canadian.

Did I mention that?  That's apparently a thing over there.

Last week, in one overtly long (and ridiculously clunky) press conference, GSP announced his hiatus from the sport of Mixed Martial Arts.  And only days after that press conference, here I was sharing the same kind of bummed out conversation about potentially never seeing GSP fight in an octagon again with a guy who would describe himself as a casual fan at best.

Perhaps it was just his Canadian-ness or extreme politeness (again, Canadian-ness), but it was very refreshing to see the riptide of the announcement extended further than rabid fans of the sport like you and me.  Obviously, I asked if the flags in his homeland were set to half-mast in honor of the announcement (he didn't exactly say "no" about that).

Still, it was a nice surprise to find a real life extension to the conversation happening all over the MMA social media-sphere (I just made that up).

Gone were the jokes about finishing fights, talks about ducking super fights or even that whole weird multiple drug testing fiasco.

No, for a day, it meant both the casual and rabid UFC fan had to seriously think of what the sport of MMA would look like without GSP.  The same guy oft-criticized for taking matches to a ("boring") decision and who mucked up the Welterweight division was now suddenly missed for some reason.  It's almost as if he was some kind of dominant superstar or something.

Despite a reluctance to explicitly associate the word "retirement" to this particular case (GSP heavily refrained from using it and mentioned the possibility of coming back in the near future), the out pour of support for GSP has been truly been exceptional to read.

We've had (and will continue to have fun) at the expense of GSP  here at the show, but we've always respected the guy.  There are few people who have left the impression that the enigmatic French Canadian has in the UFC.  Over the years, GSP has handled himself as a true professional, gentleman, and, most of all, martial artist, and should be commended accordingly.

I, for one, am not quite convinced we've seen the last of GSP in the octagon, but if UFC 168 was truly the last time, we wish nothing but the best for the champ and thank him for his years of great fights and sportsmanship.

Fans know that championships come and go, but dignified champions who share their love of sport through honor and conduct are all too rare.

Just remember all that when you hear us re-create the whole 45 minute press conference into a digestible 7 minute appetizer on the podcast.

We kid, but it's all outta love GSP.

But Wait There's More

Not only do we talk about UFC on FOX 9 (and how little Kev remembers of it), but I also mention how much I hate being sick when I want to train.

Am I right here, people?

Few things are worse than wanting to go to jiu-jitsu, but not wanting to get everyone sick.  We talk a little bit about how much that pisses me off and then spend the rest of our time discussing what GSP's departure means for the rest of the Welterweight division (note: we recorded this one before they announced what effed up thing they're doing to Carlos Condit, but we're gonna talk about that on next week's podcast).

So give a listen and let us know what you think, pals.

 

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VERBAL TAP (Episode 51) with Chris Leben

VERBAL TAP (Episode 51) with Chris Leben

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verbal tapRaf’s Recollection | When I had the chance to interview Chris Leben about a year ago, I was prepared for just about anything.

And I mean, anything.

At the time, I didn’t know where the conversation would organically go or what kinds of topics he would be open to talking about.

As one of the longest tenured employees of the UFC (and one of the last original members of the Ultimate Fighter cast still actively fighting), we’ve been privy to the many ups and downs in Leben’s life. Like any of us, Chris has his demons.  However, unlike most of us, he’s had to battle a great deal of them in the public eye.

We’ve all seen the incredible fights.  We’ve witnessed the confrontations from the first season of The Ultimate Fighter. And we’ve read about the changes in training camps and heard about the struggles in his personal life.  It’s all part of the Chris Leben narrative, and all very well-documented.

verbal tapAnd yet, through it all, Chris has remained a fan favorite all of these years for his ability to walk into an octagon as both a showman and enigmatic fighter.

So when I talked with Chris Leben for the first time last year, I found myself pleasantly surprised by his willingness to talk about his past.  Chris doesn’t hide behind it or cleverly find ways to get around questions revolving around it.  He tells you like it is: good, bad, and all that’s in between.

On our latest podcast, we find that Leben is the same candid speaker who reveals how he could have improved the performance of his last fight and what you can expect in his fight against Uriah Hall at UFC 168.  It’s a refreshing kind of honesty in a sport that can often be filled with excuses disguised as explanations.

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But, like any of our interviews, we get to bring out the funny in the fighter.  Chris gets some opportunities with us to joke about Frank Trigg, missed merchandise opportunities, and even former nicknames.

Aside from getting the chance to joke around more this time with Chris, I found the conversation a strong indication of an individual working to make good in their life.

You can hear how happy he is to be part of a new training team.  You can hear the optimism.  You can hear the hunger he has to be a stronger and smarter fighter.

It’s a story we can get behind here at the podcast, as we will definitely be rooting for him come December 28th.

verbal tapBigfoot Silva vs. Hunt

So who thought this was going to be such a great fight?

Be honest.

On the podcast, we discuss our surprise.  And while Kevin tragically works his limited capacity for metaphorical language (he struggles several times during the podcast to come up with different ways of calling these guys “fat”), I think we do a decent job at capturing our relative surprise at how good this fight  actually ended up being.

We’re not really sure what this means for the division (or, frankly, even if we’d want to ruin what we saw by seeing it again in rematch form), but we elaborate some of our favorite observations from the now classic Heavyweight match-up.

verbal tapPaul Walker

Kev and I take a few moments during the podcast to lament the loss of Paul Walker, specifically on behalf of the BJJ community.

It’s been a story that’s bummed out folks for good reason, and the tributes that have poured in for him from fellow BJJ practitioners and enthusiasts alike have been great to read.  We also slightly discuss the need for there to be new ambassadors of the sport who will pick up where he left off.

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But Wait, There’s More…

Also on the podcast, we talk to “GSP” about his upcoming press conference that he’s holding on Friday afternoon.  That’s right, Verbal Tap EXCLUSIVE.  GSP reveals what the hell is going on.

Is it a mall opening?  Is he just signing autographs like Dana White said?  Does he have some kind of marketing scheme up his sleeve?

Tune in to find out!

verbal tapOh… and…

Seriously, don’t forget to leave us a review and rating (5 stars!) on our iTunes page. Just look for Verbal Tap Cast

We’ve really been gaining some momentum the past few months and want to start making an even bigger presence on our iTunes page.

So be a pal, click the link HERE, press find in iTunes and then leave us a cool rating and review.  We love the feedback, as it helps us make an even better Verbal Tap podcast for you all.  Thanks much in advance!

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VERBAL TAP (Episode 48) goes to UFC 167

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verbaltap on itunesRaf's Recollection | It's hard to believe, but It was exactly one year ago that we posted the very first installment of Verbal Tap on the interwebs.

I'd love to say that Kev and I had some grand scheme we had mapped out about how this whole podcasting thing would all play out.  But the rationale behind the creation of this show was pretty simple: We like talking about fights, we thought it might be fun to record a conversation about it.

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When we started this thing, we honestly didn't have a website or t-shirts in mind.  We never thought we'd get the opportunity to interact with some of our favorite athletes—let alone cover events or have them tell us they're fans of our work.

Hell, we weren't even sure people would even want to listen to what we had to say.  But, we've consistently been floored the number of you tune in week in and week out to our show—and who, by extension, have become a part of the Verbal Tap family.

And I'm happy to tell you all that one year later that making the podcast is every bit as fun to me and Kev as it was on day one (you could even say we're more excited to make these episodes now).

That's why we decided to do a throwback episode.  No guests, me doing some shitty impressions, and having a spirited debate about yet another Georges St. Pierre decision win (hint, he appears on the show around the 40 minute mark).

Before we go on to the important things, we just want to thank all of you for tuning in over the past year and for giving us a forum that allows us to combine two of our biggest passions: comedy and MMA.  Without question, our lives have greatly benefited as a result of this podcast.

So thank you to all who have listened in, helped us out, come on as a guest or even just told your friends about our stupid little show.  It's been a blast and we have no intention of slowing down any time soon.

It's your support that allows me to say (without hyperbole) that the best of Verbal Tap has truly yet to come.

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Enough of that Crap, I Went to UFC 167

Turns out, we weren't the only people celebrating an anniversary.  While we turned one, the UFC turned 20 this weekend.   And I was lucky enough to see it all.

On the podcast, I present a Top 10 List of the Most Memorable Things from UFC 167 and give you all the exclusive behind the scenes details from the event.

I also describe what it was like to watch the GSP/Hendricks fight live and then talk about the weirdest press conference I have ever seen in person.

Don't Worry, We Haven't Forgotten About "The Ultimate Fighter"

On this jam-packed episode, we still find the time to review the last two episodes of TUF.  I do two "1 Minute Reviews" and then we talk about the finer parts of Cain Velasquez: Harley Davidson Spokesman, Ronda Rousey: Ultimate Slumber Party Host, and Miesha Tate: The Person Ronda Rousey Still Hates No Matter How Many People She Sends to the Finale.

All this and much more on this week's podcast!

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