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VERBAL TAP (Episode 117) with Albert Morales and Joe Gilpin

[buzzsprout episode='273958' player='true'] Kevin has the keys to the write up.....(apologies to all). Here's the thing, Raf got married, Raf got a job, and Raf needs at least 24 hours to mourn Letterman ending.  But Kevin? Kevin has literally nothing going on. So.....

Kev's Recollection: Albert Morales is too skinny to do jiujitsu or fighting, but no one told him that. He stops by just in time for me to announce him winning a different fight.  Albert laughs off my moronic behavior because well....he's met me. Then he explains how he put John Yoo down with punches to win at Bellator 137.  Humble in victory he also gives us some seriously funny exclusives about his post fight interactions with the doctor.  Albert is also a gluten for punishment, and is preparing for the IBJJF World's competition.  What a warrior right? Wrong, because he believes when you wear gi pants and a rash guard you SHOULDN'T grab the pants (when Raf reads this he is going to be pissed).  Albert was great, and look how attractive he is in this photo I might have added correctly:

Photo courtesy of Albert's Facebook profile.

Its going okay on this whole episode write-up thing (at least I think so).  Next up is Comedian and Jiujtisu Purple Belt Joe Gilpin.  I'm going to be honest with you guys, its possible Raf might replace me with Joe. I'm going to be more honest, I get that.  Joe joins us for Over / Under Kevin for UFC 187 featuring Rumble vs. DC!  Lets all take a second with the original poster to remember why its important not to use drugs while driving:

Photo courtesy of: Dailymail.Co.Ok via UFC.

Joe is awesome, this podcast is awesome, you all should listen to it because that would make you all... really cool.   Here is a fun photo of Joe I got from his Facebook post so you can imagine the many visual jokes that were made:

Joe G.

Feels like writing this will ensure Raf never lets me do this again.  Cheers Verbal Tap Cast community, you all are the best (no seriously, fans of this show are unlike any other!)


-Kevin T Phillips


VERBAL TAP (Episode 113) with Drew Dober


VERBAL TAP (Episode 113) with Drew Dober

[buzzsprout episode='266051' player='true'] DrewDober_HeadshotRaf's Recollection | Admit it, you kinda missed us.

Don't worry, we missed you, too.  Turns out when we take a four week hiatus, the fight and jiu-jitsu world goes completely nuts.

But more on that later.  This week, we return from our month-long hiatus with a killer episode.

Not only do we recap what took place at UFC 185 with our pal John Evans (who makes a record-breaking 11th appearance on the show), but we also take a look at what happens at this week's UFC 186 show with our pal Dan Hubler, who puts Kevin's picks through the ringer.However, on our first episode back, we get to the bottom of one of the worst calls in UFC history when we speak to UFC Fighter Drew Dober.No seriously.Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 11.28.29 AM

Google, UFC Worst Call of All Time and his name pops up.

The first three entries when you do come up with the fight that took place in Rio between Drew Dober and Leandro Silva, where a ref pulled a Judge Dredd and decided to take the law into his own hands.

Or maybe he wanted to give the fight to his friend.

Either way, fans of our show may remember my reaction when I was watching the fight live.

If not, here's a refresher.

We get the entire story behind Dober's "loss," including his own reactions, what happened when he met with Dana White after the fight, and the even more insane aftermath that took place afterwards.

Plus, we talk about Drew's next fight and get some insight as to what we can expect when we see him next in the Octagon.I knew I wanted to book Drew the minute I saw this bull shit call happen on TV.  But Kev and I are stoked to call the guy a friend of the podcast.

Despite the unprofessional nature of the incident, Drew handles it in a way that's indicative of a true professional.  We will definitely have him back on the show.

Last Time on Verbal Tap



We also talk a little bit about how John opened up the doors to his new academy, Breakdown Academy, for me and a few of the folks who flew in for my wedding to come train at.  We have the honor of being the first folks to ever train at the academy and we couldn't be more thrilled.

In addition to that, Kev and I talk a little bit about the groomsmen gift I got him.  A few months back our pal Jon Greek at Kauai Kimonos graciously offered to make a pair of customized gis for both me and Kevin.  Not only was I astounded someone would actually do that for us, but I was beyond thrilled with how it came out.



The photo here is one I snagged when I picked up the gi from Jon hours before going to give it to Kevin.  On the podcast, Kev describes how surprised he was and I tell him a little bit about the background of how it all came together.  Needless to say, a big thanks to our friend Jon Greek as we've gotten so many compliments for the new gis.11049229_1416080365363338_1832905784_n

Afterwards, John Evans tells us a little bit about his interpretation of the events that took place at UFC 185 and we discover who won that installments' Over/Under Kevin.

Be sure to check out John's new academy over in North Hollywood, CA.

If you're interested in trying out a class, you can email John at

UFC 186: Over/Under Kevin

Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 12.29.39 PMBut we don't stop there.  A new PPV means there are more predictions to be had.

This time, noted compulsive gambler (and Dream Jiu-Jitsu tournament director/Newaza Apparel marketing guru) Dan Hubler comes to set Kevin straight.

We go through the entire card and try to figure out why exactly people might want to order this PPV (especially a week out from Mayweather/Pacquiao).

Plus, Dan clues us into the latest from Newaza and Dream Jiu-JItsu.


I didn't get to talk about this as much as I would have liked to, but I also wanted to take a moment to thank everyone over at this weekend's Grapplethon: Victory for Victoria for such a great event.

Once again, our pal, Montay Wiley organized a great event for people to come together for a great cause. You may know Montay Wiley from this #wwebjj gem.

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As always, Montay helped put on a great event.  This time we all came together to raise money for Victoria (Tori), a young girl who was found to have a brain tumor at only three months old.  If you guys get the chance, please stay updated on all the latest about Victoria's fight on their facebook page right here.

Watching Victoria's father, Brad, get out there and do twenty rolls with the community was truly awesome.  He mentioned how participating in the event lifted his and his family's spirits.  It's a great reminder of the good our community does when we all pull together.

Brad and his family will be in our thoughts, and now, we hope all of yours as well.



That'll do it for this week, folks.  Be sure to listen in and tell us what you thought about this week's episode!


VERBAL TAP (Episode 95) goes to the 2014 World Jiu-Jitsu Expo


VERBAL TAP (Episode 95) goes to the 2014 World Jiu-Jitsu Expo


[buzzsprout episode='214622' player='true']

Raf's Recollection | Considering all of the videos and writing I have to get done this week, I'll keep this short.  We had a huge week on the podcast, previewing this weekend's UFC 179 with our pal Marcus Kowal and discussing all things World Jiu-JItsu Expo.

Marcus (pictured here in a new headshot compliments of our good friend Blanca Marisa Garcia) joins us this week to take on Kevin on our latest installment of Over/Under Kevin.

Some of you know Marcus as our pal from Systems Training Center down in Hawthorne, while others of you may somewhat recognize this guy as the host of his own podcast the MMA Roundtable.

Yep, since we last left Marcus, he has now grown up and started a podcast of his own.  So we decided to give him some well deserved shit to start the show and then get into our picks for this weekends fights.

FightersMarket016I Went to the World Jiu-JItsu Expo!

Let's just say this weekend was another mad capped weekend of insane jiu-jitsu coverage.

Accompanied by my two awesome photogs (Alex Perez and Octavio Villanueva), we hit up the World Jiu-JItsu Expo for a second year of crazy coverage.

On the podcast, Kevin spends the first twenty minutes asking me all about it and I talk a little bit about some of our favorite experiences and observations from an event that is something akin to what we call "Jiu-Jitsu Christmas."

I got to talk with this guy.

RafBraulio009And this guy.

Renato003And even catch up with this guy.

Keenan004I'm working to get out a video per day, but right now, here are two of the first videos we've edited from this weekend.

Keep an eye out on our YouTube page as we'll be posting as many videos as we can from this weekend's World Jiu-Jitsu Expo.

Hope you enjoy it, folks!

Social Media Plug

Follow us and stuff.

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VERBAL TAP (Episode 91) with Steven Briggs


VERBAL TAP (Episode 91) with Steven Briggs

[buzzsprout episode='207144' player='true'] BriggsRaf's Recollection | I first met Steven Briggs when I was working for The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien.

Steve had a goofball sense of humor even back then.  But whenever there was some down time while working the show, we'd shoot the shit about MMA and wrestling.

At the time I had no idea Steve had any stand-up comic aspirations (but to be completely fair I'm not even sure he was aware that I was a comedy performer myself).

In the years since, Steve has blown up and has made a great name for himself touring across the country doing a truly unique brand of stand-up comedy.

He's even been on my talk show (Early Late Night) multiple times and remains a crowd favorite for the really funny stories he shares during our sit down interviews (for the record, he is the only person who I actually tolerate who beat boxes, it's quite impressive).

Steve has always been quick with an opinion on all things MMA which is why I thought he'd make a great opponent for Kevin on this week's installment of Over/Under Kevin.

IMAG2589This week we preview the stacked card that is UFC 178 and go over all the major scenarios.  And from the tremble you hear in Kevin's voice, he is truly scared that we brought someone who is not only knowledgeable about MMA, but can actually spit out funnier jokes than Kev.

It makes for a fantastic segment and I think y'all will dig it this week.

But beyond giving Kev a run for his money on the podcast and being and all-around funny guy, Briggs also happens to have a pretty solid wrestling background and has trained with me a few times over the past  five years.

As one of the guys who was there for my humble beginnings in jiu-jitsu years ago, Steve's always been a great guy to train with.

I like to refer to him as a pace-setting training partner: a partner who you don't train with all that often, but who will push you to get even better each time.  He's one of the few people I allow myself to talk shit to about BJJ because I know he'll bring it on the mats the next time we train (and that he'll talk shit right back at me).

And every time we've rolled, Steve's always been helpful identifying a cool wrestling trick or complimenting any improvements in my game.  He recently came up to train with us at Valley Martial Arts Center a couple months ago and he hasn't lost a step.

Not to say I haven't taught him a thing or two myself.

IMG_20140722_180405 Steve has one Achilles heel.  He's literally defenseless against a sharpshooter.

But I felt bad for him and decided to teach him a finisher he could use to defend himself. It still needs work.

IMAG2598When we took the picture he wanted to make sure everyone knew he was not only applying a Boston Crab, but that he was also flipping off the camera with two middle fingers.

Layers this kid has.

Nonetheless, give it a listen and let us know what you think of this one folks and hit us up on our social media to let us know what you think!

Facebook: /VerbalTapCast

Twitter: @VerbalTapCast

Instagram: @VerbalTapCast

Vine: @VerbalTapCast

Oh, and also, don't forget to check out our Metamoris 4 recap here.  On our latest, we review Keenan vs. Vinny.  Let us know what you think, folks!


VERBAL TAP (Episode 85) on Metamoris 4


VERBAL TAP (Episode 85) on Metamoris 4


[buzzsprout episode='196339' player='true'] M4-Poster-full2Raf's Recollection | Following in the lead of our most popular episode ever (our Metamoris 3 recap, Episode 66), we enlisted the services of a host of guests who know far more about the sport of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu than we do to help us review all things Metamoris 4.

That's right, we cover it all: the shocks, the surprises, the missing championship belts, the streaks that came to a halting end, the "secret match" that was hardly a secret to anyone, the fashion, the beards, the Nevada Athletic Commission, the drum circles critiques.  It's ALL here!

Also, how have we not discussed the official promo poster to the right here looking like the worst direct-to-Redbox movie cover to ever hit the scene (are they athletes or aliens)?

But I digress, let's carry on:

Allow me to introduce you to our all-star panel for this episode:

Screen Shot 2014-01-18 at 8.57.49 PMAmechi Akpom Our brotha from the mighty BJJ Training Journal ap (now available for droid users!) kicks things off for us with his review of the high caliber match between Garry Lee Tonon and Kit Dale.  Not only was Amechi there to see the event live, but he also got the chance to run into Kit and Garry later that evening post-match (because that's the kind of in-depth reporting Amechi brings to this podcast).  Amechi tells us a little bit about the behind-the-scenes action and breaks down how he saw this fast paced match.

BJJ Training Journal #1 BJJ Training Journal #2

Jim Lawson - Now I hear you asking, "Hey Raf, why would you put a rival BJJ podcast host on your show?"  And I'd tell you the answer is simple: he threatened me.  Yep, literally called me out to come train with him and I've yet to do so (I've been busy, lay off).  Nonetheless, Jim from the amazing The Warrior's Club podcast brings a true black belt perspective in helping us break down the match between Saulo Ribeiro and Rodrigo "Comprido" Medeiros.  And although he's a "rival" podcaster in this crazy saturated world of BJJ chat shows, we here couldn't be happier The Warrior's Club is back on air.

Brandon Mccaghren - Since the day we stumbled upon the guy behind the hilarious "I Dominated Eddie (The Gracie Filter)" show, Brandon has become a beloved staple here at the podcast.  His giant goofball nature has fit in perfectly with us and we were stoked when he agreed to talk about the epic encounter between Keenan Cornelius and Vinny Magalhaes.  But that's not all, Brandon pulled double duty for the podcast this week when he premiered the very first song written about our show (that's right, we have a song written about us!).  Not since the days of Eagle Eye Cherry have I heard lyrics and guitar work that poignant.  Thank you, Brandon.  Thank. You.

Eric MedinaEric Medina - Eric made his Verbal Tap debut on our last Metamoris recap show and gave us some great insight into Eddie Bravo's training regimen.  This time he ups the ante as he gives us a play-by-play account of how he figured out the highly guarded Metamoris 4 "secret match (well, most of it)," then talks about the crazy exhibition put on by Baret Yoshida and Jeff Glover.  We are also stoked to hear that Eric will be participating at the next Eddie Bravo Invitational and look forward to seeing him do his thing on that stage again.

Brent Burniston - Brent BurnistonIf you've been listening to the podcast lately, you've likely heard me speak about the excellent experiences I've had training with Brent and his crew over at SubconsciousBJJ.  With the historic result of the match between Josh Barnett and Dean Lister, we needed the kind of expertise and analysis that only a Jean Jacques Machado black belt can provide.  Brent not only does a great job breaking down the match, but also gives us some much-needed perspective on what's next for bothBarnett and Lister.  I've said it before and I'll say it again, Brent's instruction is top notch.  There's a reason why everyone at my viewing party turned to him to help make sense of this match.  Lucky for us, he was happy to give that same analysis and insight for the podcast.

John EvansJohn Evans - It's not a true Metamoris review show without John Evans.  There's a reason why John Evans is one of the most popular guests on our podcast.  His love of jiu-jitsu is infectious.  One only needs to watch a few minutes of his detailed insight on his BJJ Breakdown youtube page to really see how much jiu-jitsu and the practice of teaching the art are in his soul.  Which is why we asked John to help us break down the final match between Andre Galvao and Chael Sonnen.  We talk about what surprised him in the match, the drama leading up to it all, and even break down the hilarious promo that left many of us cheering for Chael (even if we didn't really understand what the hell any of it actually meant).

streakmadnessMetamoris cards always bring the best out of us here on the podcast and that is due in great part to our panel.  I want to thank these guys for taking their time to walk us through a great event and can't wait to hear what you all think about it.

Hit us up folks.  You know the places to give us feedback.

Facebook: /VerbalTapCast

Twitter: @VerbalTapCast

Instagram: @VerbalTapCast

Vine: @VerbalTapCast

And stay on the lookout for a new installment of our Around the Mat YouTube series.  Word has it, we've got a Metamoris 4 Review show that's worth your time.  Look for it over on our YouTube page right here in the next few days.


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VERBAL TAP (Episode 81) with Cody Bollinger

[buzzsprout episode='189759' player='true'] Cody Bollinger

Raf's Recollection |"If anybody else would have called me and asked me to do an interview tonight I woulda told them to go fuck themselves."

Kind words from our pal Cody Bollinger who returns to guest on the podcast this week.

You don't get much better than that folks.

It's been a crazy past couple of weeks here at the podcast: We've had over a dozen of the people who have dropped in as guests fight on cards all throughout the world of MMA.  We're happy to say a number of our friends walked away with major victories.

One of those victories happened to come from Cody Bollinger who won with a truly sick rear naked choke a couple weekends ago at the World Series of Fighting 11.

Cody Bollinger 2Naturally we wanted to hear all about the technique, the drama building up to the fight, the aftermath.  All that good stuff.

We also wanted to hear straight from the horses' mouth why he missed weight and if the rumors of him going up to fight at 145 were true (he answers plainly and honestly).

But what we didn't expect was to hear is what he's been up to in his spare time.

No seriously, it's amazing.  And we're stoked Cody chose our podcast to share it with.

Be sure to listen in to his segment of the podcast and follow him over on his Twitter and his Instagram.  Let him know what you think of his appearance on our show!

I've Been Everywhere

Last week was a busy one.  I hit up three different gyms and was stoked I finally got to train with some of our friends here at the podcast (including our buddies Jaime Gonzalves from BJJ Rants and Brandon Mccaghren). 

I talk about what it was like to visit at Higher Ground Jiu-JItsu in Rowland Heights, 10th Planet Headquarters (TapOut Gym, LA) under Eddie Bravo, and Cobrinha's in Hollywood.

I've been pretty fortunate the past few weeks to get to train with a series of folks who have given me some great tips.  All of these gyms have been really kind and friendly, and it's been a blast to even chat with some of the folks at these gyms who are fans of our show (it's insane)!

As the summer winds down to a close, I'm open to the suggestions any of you might have for me to drop in here in Southern California.

Thank of it as a free way to beat me up.

So have at, suggest away folks.

But for now, please enjoy this funny (/silly) video I shot with our pals over at Higher Ground Jiu Jitsu.

Later on for now, folks.

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VERBAL TAP (Episode 66) goes to Metamoris 3


VERBAL TAP (Episode 66) goes to Metamoris 3

[buzzsprout episode='162729' player='true']

Hirano-10Raf's Recollection | More to come about Metamoris 3.

Raf and Kev compare notes between seeing it live and the webcast, and the guys invite an all star group of BJJ friends to help us breakdown each match.

Give a listen right here.


VERBAL TAP (Episode 60) with Nic Gregoriades


VERBAL TAP (Episode 60) with Nic Gregoriades

[buzzsprout episode='151778' player='true'] Nic

Raf’s Recollection | Nic Gregoriades is a saint.

Of course, he he’d never say that about himself, but when you put up with Open Mat Radio’s Paul Moran (my BJJ podcast nemesis) on a regular basis and somehow find a way of maintaining that kind of zen-like clarity, you deserve all the accolades that come your way.

Such adulation is nothing new to a guy who famously became Roger Gracie’s first black belt in a four year time span, but Nic’s more than just a dude who happens to be pretty slick at jiu-jitsu.  Nic is a ambassador of the sport who travels across the globe helping others become better at the craft—all while finding his own spiritual enlightenment along the way.

Nic just finished writing a new book entitled The Black Belt Blue Print.  A couple months back, I got the opportunity read an advance copy of the book and was truly impressed by the way Nic encapsulates the jiu-jitsu process.  Here is a guy who not only knows how to provide advice to help the physical aspects of your game (offering tips on how to improve your cardio, describing some cool techniques, and even tips on setting realistic goals), but who also provides fantastic insight on how to get the most out of the mental and philosophical aspects of the sport.

Black Belt Blue PrintMore than anyone I’ve encountered in my short time as a BJJ practitioner, I found Nic’s focus on the philosophy of jiu-jitsu to be the most fascinating.  The book does a great job of describing how the practice of jiu-jitsu is more than just sweeps, drilling, and technique, there’s a journey that happens alongside the practice that is worthy of exploration—and Nic is very forthcoming about many aspects of his own personal journey.

On our podcast, we got the chance to ask Nic how the book came into existence, what it was like to train under Roger Gracie, and even get a supremely candid discussion on training partners who sometimes take sparring a little too far (it’s one of my favorite parts of the interview, and I think it’s well worth your time).

When Nic asked me to provide to a blurb review of the book, I felt pretty intimidated.  Plenty of other notable folks in the community (with credentials and talent that far exceed my own) have already said fantastic things about The Black Belt Blue Print.  But what I can tell you is this: The book doesn’t give playbook to become a black belt.  Instead, it gives a map filled with suggested routes and guidance that makes the impossible seem ultimately attainable.

As luck would have it, Nic made his way out to Los Angeles shortly after we recorded this episode.  I actually just got done meeting with him this afternoon (an accomplishment, considering that my BJJ podcast nemesis, Paul Moran, has yet to meet his very own Journey Podcast co-host in person) and was glad to share a few laughs and exchange some BJJ insight.

Me N Nick

And I can affirm, the funny, easy going, and quotable dude you hear on this week’s podcast is every bit of the guy you meet in person.  Hell, Nic even let out a huge laugh when I told him there may be an impression of his trademark accent on an upcoming episode of Open Mat Radio performed by yours truly.

Which is why I want this article to serve as the last living will and testament should he decide to kill me when he drops by to train with us sometime later next week.

I'll definitely be sure to tell you all about that experience sometime next week.  Until then, be sure to check out The Black Belt Blue Print right here.

Over/Under Kevin: UFC 170 Edition


It wouldn't be a major UFC PPV without a game of Over/Under Kevin.  Although this time we decided to bring in a big gun.  That's right, we brought back the man, Bubba McDaniel.  The two of them do battle making their picks over who will win UFC 170 and make a bet that's so odd,

I'm not sure who I actually want to win.

Allow me to apologize now if the audio during Bubba's segment cuts in and out a lot.

This was the biggest audio problem we've encountered on the podcast yet.  But Bubba powered through all of our technical difficulties and gave us a truly entertaining segment.  That's how you know this guy is family on our podcast.

Also, props to Kevin.  He did a fantastic montage of the struggle that was trying to get that segment together.  I'm now far enough removed from the episode that I can laugh at it.

My Girlfriend is Awesome

When my girlfriend handed me a gift box with this ridiculously amazing Datsusara MMA gear bag, she won Valentine's Day.

I had no clue I was getting this (let alone a Valentine's Day gift), but man was this the best gift I could have possibly asked for.


I've been using this bag for a little over a week and it's absolutely amazing.  I can fit two (maybe even three) gi's in there.  I have a compartment for my laptop.  I have plenty of compartments for all my training accessories (several compartments for tape).  AND it even comes with a detachable bag to separate clean and dirty clothes.

This is miles above my last training bag and I hope all of you who like this will go give our friends at Datsusara some love.  It's amazing and they've got some really cool other products that are worth a view.

Where Should I Train?

As many of you know, I am now well into my first days of my indefinite hiatus from The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.  Which now means I have the rare opportunity to go train at new places in my downtime.

Screen Shot 2014-01-23 at 12.51.45 AMSince I don't know how long my hiatus is going to last, I am turning to all of you in the greater Los Angeles area to throw as many places I should go train at me.  Simply hit me up at @VerbalTapCast on our Twitter page with your suggested academy, gym or dojo and hashtag #TrainHereRaf.  I'm gonna try to do as many as I possibly can!

Who knows, maybe you can tap me out on a mat near you very soon.

All I got for now, talk to you later, folks.



VERBAL TAP (Episode 43) with Jessamyn Duke and Chris Holdsworth

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Raf's Recollection | Sometimes the UFC hype machine jumps the gun and overuses the phrase "must see" fight.

We get it, promoting fights is a tough business. And when you promote hundreds of fights a year, you sometimes run out of ways to get people to tune in, sometimes saying the same things over and over again.

For example, fans of The Ultimate Fighter are no strangers to the phrase "you won't want to miss the _______ fight of the season."

Most intense.  Craziest.  Most controversial.  You name the cliche, they've done it.  Thousands of times.

74216_637149146309687_1633711405_nHowever, in the case of Jessamyn Duke and Raquel Pennington, you had a fight that was truly worthy of the UFC hype machine.  And we here at Verbal Tap were lucky enough to get Jessamyn to drop by the podcast to talk about the instant classic fight between her and Raquel.  But that's not all, Jessamyn shares some inside scoops about The Ultimate Fighter house, discusses if she has any regrets missing out on the pre-fight pool party, and listens in on the 1 Minute Review of her episode (letting us know exactly what she thinks of my impression of her).

The Ultimate Fighter Portraits - 2013Moments later, we backtrack and do the episode of The Ultimate Fighter (Episode 5) that Kev pathetically tried to review on the last podcast.  BJJ black belt and TUF cast member Chris Holdsworth drops in to listen to the second 1 Minute Review, describe his fight against Chris Beal, and even takes a moment to critique the season premiere of The Walking Dead(?).  And while you're listening to the podcast, do us a solid and check out the great stuff Holdsworth has over at his personal website (otherwise he's going to beat me up a whole bunch).  The dude is very funny and has already promised to start putting up some awesome videos on his page (we've got some solid BJJ-themed video short ideas if you're up for 'em Holdsworth).

But What About Phil Harris?

UFC 142: Palhares v MassenzioCalm down.  It wouldn't be a true MMA podcast if we didn't cover the controversy surrounding Rousimar Palhares and the "screaming tap" heard all around the world.  Our resident go-to BJJ Expert, BJJ Breakdown's JOHN EVANS, drops by to weigh in on the controversy and tries to explain what the hell happened when when Toquinho caught Mike Pierce in a nasty looking heel hook.

I Trained at Some Guy Named Marcelo Garcia's Academy


In our shout outs, I describe my training session over at Marcelo's in New York.  I can't say enough good things about the wonderful people over at Marcelo's and the patience they displayed in teaching me techniques that were far beyond my capabilities.  As a complete stranger, they truly treated me like one of their own and were committed to making sure I got the most out of my experience.  I just want to say "thank you" to all of them for being so cool.

It was a nice in a lifetime experience and I truly hope I can return back there some day when I'm somewhat less terrible at jiu-jitsu.

"The Goose"

IMAG1667While we crack wise about the gi I received from BJJHQ in the video above, I can't thank the good people over there enough for sending me the "The Goose" here after hearing me talk about the crack-like addiction I have to purchasing stuff from their website (it's taking in my being not to buy every thing going up on the rolling deals sale right now).  For the last year and a half, I've been rolling with the same (boring) white, judo gi.  And while I love this stupid gi, every time I train, I have to race home to immediately put it in the wash so that I can train again the next day.  And now, I am happy to report that I can now alternate gis and (finally) walk into my jiu-jitsu classes like one of the cool kids with this awesome looking gi.  Serious props to them and Kev and I are going to be filming a video in the near future to show our appreciation.

All I got for now.  Give the podcast a listen folks.  I don't think you'll be disappointed!!!



VERBAL TAP (Episode 27) Goes to Metamoris 2

IMAG1389Raf's Recollection |  Allow me to be entirely forthcoming: Metamoris II was the first time I’ve ever attended a grappling tournament.

Over the years, I’ve covered and attended dozens of UFC’s, Mixed Martial Arts competitions, and boxing matches, but last Sunday marked the first time I’ve ever attended a grappling-only tournament.

Yes, I, too, have no idea how I’ve never been to a single grappling-only tournament; No, I don’t get out much.

Now that’s not to say I’m completely oblivious to the competitive world of competitive jiu-jitsu.  I’m familiar with the athletes, I regularly watch the matches, and have an above average recollection of the trends in the sport.  But it’s also why I thought it best to bring along a strong jiu-jitsu technician (and all around good guy), John Evans, to properly contextualize the event for all of our dedicated grappling and Brazilian jiu-jitsu fans (you can read his excellent summary of the event right here).

Having said all that, I came to Metamoris with high expectations.  This is, after all, an event that prides itself on being the alternative to the oft-criticized world of elite jiu-jitsu.  The format, the rules, and the first-rate caliber athletes involved display a thoughtful and measured response to the “point” and “advantage” system that some argue ruin the essence of modern jiu-jitsu competition.

And with just that concept and design, the event gave us plenty to talk about this week: On our podcast here, we touch upon all of the individual matches (good and bad) and have a thoughtful discussion about type athleticism that was displayed on the Metamoris mats.

But I’d like to take a moment to talk specifically about my own experience and the concept of “spectacle.”

To begin, you could tell there were a few looming ghosts from inaugural event.  After the event started over an hour late last year, everything seemed rushed at the pace of a runaway freight train.  I’m a stickler to keeping things prompt, but I can also understand the difficulty of keeping things on time for a PPV, when you have matches that can go anywhere from one to twenty minutes (especially when five of the six matches go the distance).  However, from a production standpoint, if the audience feels like you’re rushing, chances are it’s because you’re rushing.  There is a certain effortlessness the event has yet to find that can easily make the production value of the event come off as more assured.

Second, in what was perhaps the biggest conversation piece after the event: Match-ups are key.  When they work (Galvao v. Lovato Jr., Dern v. Nicolini), they produce fascinating displays of jiu-jitsu between two equally matched opponents that, even if they don’t end in a finish, do more to advance the art.  But when you get match ups that are a hard sell to begin with, you sometimes get what you pay for.  My sincere congrats for Brendan Schaub for volunteering to be a participant in the event.  Seriously.  It’s a level of competition that is truly difficult and I don’t think anyone would fault him for wanting to be involved.  Would I have like to see him engage more with Cyborg?  Of course.  Would I have like to have seen Cyborg calculate a new game plan when there was an opponent who was “running away?”  Sure.  But the fault isn’t so black and white.  Did Schaub have an obligation to “fall into Cyborg’s guard?”  Should a seasoned jiu-jitsu guy like Cyborg—who doesn’t typically have the problem of an opponent who is constantly backpedaling—be forced to dictate the pace and abandon his own game plan just because he “knows better?”  Again, a tricky conundrum.  It seemed both performers were implementing a game plan to “win,” which sadly came at the expense of anything remotely worth watching.  So let’s take it a step further: With the very prevalent disparity between the participants, what was the expectation in this match?  I’ve run this scenario a hundred times in my brain and have still yet to produce an answer, except to say that maybe next year we give Cyborg an opponent that’s at least on his level.  I think there are few people who would question Cyborg’s placement on a Metamoris card, why not give him the type of opponent he deserves?  Who knows, could produce something that’s fascinating for all the right reasons.

And I’m sure I can spend a lot of time discussing how the event would have been better served with more than a week after the Worlds (we can play this set of “what if” scenarios for days).  But I take Metamoris President Ralek Gracie and team at their word when they say they plan to work around other jiu-jitsu competitions in the future.

Blemishes aside, Metamoris has more in its win column than it does in its needs improvement file.

The stage.  The programs.  The invitationsThe promos.  All things this tournament gets right.  But it’s more than just all the small things, for me the thing that makes Metamoris so uniquely special is “the feel.”

The majority of the audience (when they’re not heckling Schaub) is quiet and respects the athletes.  The mood is tense and ooh’s and aww’s come with every sweep and take down attempt almost instinctively, with the tempered politeness a reflection of an educated audience who understands how difficult many of these moves are to pull off.  In some ways, despite the band, the big lights, and the large cheering crowd, the competition gives off a kind of “exclusive” vibe.  At one point, the intimacy of the venue and quietness made it feel like we were given the opportunity to watch a match between two high level practitioners at a local academy that would otherwise be closed off to the lower belts and spectators.  The kind of thing that in years past would have just been the subject of lore and storytelling.  Pulling off that kind of thing isn’t easy and is certainly worthy of recognition.

So depending on what it is you consider ideal, I think when it comes to format, even the most impassioned jiu-jitsu fan would have to admit that the concept of a perfect system seems somewhat out of reach.

There will always be Brendan Schaub’s.  Time limit draws.  Audiences who may not “get it” or resist these kinds of events from time to time.

But that doesn’t mean we stop trying.  Aside from all of the superb attention to detail and ethos the Gracie family loans this event, the strongest thing Metamoris may have going for it right now is zeitgeist.  It is the right tournament at the right time.

Frankly, as a jiu-jitsu fan, we don’t have many large-scale options.  There’s no other event that makes this sport come off like a spectacle.  The athletes are treated like rock stars, the selection of venue is just right, and a majority of the players and participants are spot-on.  For the time being, why not make this the exclusive home for competitive jiu-jitsu?  Care less about giving us match-ups with marquee UFC fighters and care more about filling that spectacle void that so many of us jiu-jitsu fans crave and need.

And, in return, as fans of the sport, we should keep the following grim realities in check before we use our collective wit to troll the internet: we don’t live in an age where Nike sponsorships happen to the elite-level jiu-jitsu practitioner, we don’t have coverage on national prime time television, and the sport that closest resembles this one is currently fighting for its rightful place in the Olympics.  At the end of the day, I think we need to ask ourselves: do we want to see something like this on a regular basis?  And, if so, is there anything else out there like it?  At least here, for better or worse, we have a collection of folks putting this event together who care.

The very figurehead of said organization caring so much he does something like this:

I’m not sure I share the look of grave concern expressed by Ralek here (I think the show was far from a disappointment and has more positives than his face lets on), but it is nice to know that going forward we’ve got someone who wants to give us the best kind of experience possible.  But I also feel good in knowing that as long as he and his team are committed to giving us a first-rate event, they merit a strong consideration for an experimental format that puts jiu-jitsu on display for those people who love it.

And that’s why I, for one, was happy to call Metamoris II my first live grappling experience.  And hope it’s the first of many to come.