"A lot of fighters wanted to sit in half guard and pound them and rain elbows, but never try and pass the guard. When you have that kind of attitude, you're only going to get so far. Your game is going to be so limited and you're going to win some and lose some; you're going to bat .500 and not get very far. If you're not trying to pass, then for sure, you're not trying to have a technical guard and then someone is going to put you on your back and expose the fact that you can't fight off of your back. The game has changed," stated legendary Eddie Bravo as he talks about the evolution of mixed martial arts. Check out what he had to say about some of today's up-and-coming fighters, how they differ from some of the older fighters and much more.
PC: Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with me.
EB: It's all good man. I enjoy it. Thanks for having me.
PC: How has everything been going?
EB: Everything is beautiful.
PC: How is the music business going for you?
EB: Music is beautiful man. Everything is looking great!
PC: What type of music do you enjoy listening to?
EB: You know I was a DJ at strip clubs for 10 years, which is a long time, and I was on top of everything, even genres that I didn't listen to. I knew all of the top artists. It was because I was a DJ, but since I stopped DJing and focused my life on Jiu Jitsu, I kind of lost touch with these bands. I really don't know any of these bands that are out. I've never been a fan of too many bands to begin with. I'm very picky and it's so hard to find an album with just one great song, let alone trying to get two or three or a whole album. It's just like they're putting out anything. They're just guessing and putting shit out. There's only certain stuff that I like. I'm very picky. I grew up a Metal Head, new wave, Goth, Electronica and industrial stuff like that. I grew up banging my head and listening to depressing music, but I always wanted to combine the elements of Hip Hop. When I first heard Anthrax and Public Enemy with "Bring the Noise", I was like, "Holy shit, that's the kind of Hip Hop I want to do." Because my frequency wasn't...I wasn't on the same frequency of funk and old James Brown samples, you know? It was the East coast and even the West coast, my body just doesn't feel it. I always felt the metal, alternative music and the dark stuff, but man, when I heard Anthrax and Public Enemy, I was like, "This is what I want to hear." I felt the rapping and I love the fact that there are no limits in rap. Rock has to be metaphoric, vague and poetic. In rap, you could do that, but you can also be straight up, violent and dirty. Rap has no boundaries. You could really say what's really on your mind without trying to sound all romantic and shit. That's why I decided to make Hip Hop that I would like; Hip Hop over metal. I like the 80'S Rock Electronica stuff; basically what's going on in the south. The south is all on that shit too.
PC: That's where I'm at, in the south, so I definitely feel you on that.
EB: Yeah, when the southern rap first started getting huge like 6 years ago, I remember being in Tennessee for a seminar and the first time I heard Lil John, everyone went nuts and I was like, "Wow, this music is really good. This is the kind of Hip Hop I would listen too." That's when I first got exposed to southern rap. I wasn't even aware of rappers in the south, but southern rap is definitely the best rap for me for sure. I love it. I'm actually working on getting together a southern rock band. If they would have had southern rap when I was growing up, I would need to hear it like that.
PC: Do you have any seminars coming up?
EB: Yep, this weekend I will be in Vancouver, next weekend Connecticut, then in the UK, then Chicago, then New York and then after that, a weekend off and then I have Hawaii coming up and Cincinnati. It's just non-stop man.
PC: You pretty much invented the rubber guard and your Jiu Jitsu is just crazy. Do you really enjoy teaching your methods and that's why you stay on the go doing these seminars?
EB: I really enjoy teaching. I love it. But what I really want to do is the same thing I did for the Jiu Jitsu world and martial arts, I want to do in music. When I talk about Jiu Jitsu, people listen. I have the power to put whatever I want in my DVDs and in my seminars. I have total control and I like that. People let me do whatever I want to do because they know that they're going to get a good product. They just know that they trust me. The goal is to get to that point in the music business. I know the bigger that my Jiu Jitsu gets...and it's really just the beginning. Once everyone is using rubber guard in the UFC, it's going to be a lot different. Right now, it's just one here, one popping up there, but within a year or two, when everyone sees that it is the most effective way to play guard in MMA, then everyone is going to switch. It's not just that these guys popping up are freaks doing it. It's just that's the guys who are putting the time in it and have faith. It's huge in Japan. Imanari is now a rubber guard master. Tokoro is another one. He's not that good at it, but he's using it. It's just one by one, people are going to realize that it is the best way to fight in MMA. I play it every night I roll, every night I train and for me, I just know it's the best. You gotta know open guard, butterfly guard and half guard and all of that good stuff. Rubber guard won't work all of the time, but it works at a higher rate than what everyone else is doing, that's for sure. That percent is low. If rubber guard only worked 30% of the time and 70% of the time guys got out of it, that's still a good percentage. It's like throwing combinations. You're not going to knock a guy out every time you throw combinations. You're going to miss and miss, but if you keep hitting it, then bam, you're going to catch them. That's really what it's all about, just raising the percentage, and once people really start understanding the effectiveness of it, then that will catapult my Jiu Jitsu to a whole new level and then my music will just piggy back on that. That's really the goal. I'm really just hoping my Jiu Jitsu will garner the biggest following that I can get and then boom, I will turn them on to my music. That's the goal; music is the goal.
PC: Music is your first love and Jiu Jitsu is your second. Is that safe to say?
EB: Yeah, Jiu Jitsu has always been a hobby. I started Jiu Jitsu when I was 24. I've produced music my whole life. I really use the Jiu Jitsu though. I think it's a cool little gift. Once I convince people that I actually can put together great music and they believe that, then I got 'em. It's hard though. It's hard for someone who is known for sports to break into music. That's very hard to do because I have the same audience, but now, I have to convince them that they can trust my music. That's why I stuffed it in my DVDs. I sprinkle my music all over so that you can't escape it and what that does is it gives me the chance to kind of grow on you. If you hear it 4 or 5 times, it's going to grow on you and then it's going to hit you that I am a legitimate music producer. Once I get that kind of response, then I'll start dropping more singles. I got a reality show...we're in the process right now. It will be about my Jiu Jitsu and music and stuff like that. It's the producer from I Love New York, Flavor of Love, My Fair Brady, The Osborne's and all of that shit. It's one of those producers so we'll see if it happens.
PC: Are you currently working on your new DVD?
EB: No, I haven't started working on it yet, but I will probably be working on it soon. It's not going to take that long to do it. It will probably be ready in spring of '09.
PC: Are you currently helping someone prepare for a fight and if so, who?
EB: I helped Conor Heun, who just beat Edson Berto in EliteXC and I knew that would be a great fight. Conor was coming off of a broken jaw. I thought Conor would out-hustle him and smash him. We got Dan Hardy, who is a big star in the UK and he will be fighting in the UFC on the UK card against Gono. I got a lot of up-and-coming guys about to make their MMA debuts and that kind of stuff.
PC: Do you see any young fighters in the UFC or anywhere that, when you watch them, you say, "That kid is going to be a stud."
EB: Dustin Hazelett, Tamden McCrory and Matt Horwich. All of the guys that have an open enough mind to add to their game, those are the ones to watch out for. All of the fighters that are seeking new techniques to add weapons instead of being a 2 or 3 trick pony. You could have 15-20 different strong attacks; most people don't even have one. Alistair Overeem has one. He's got a fucking guillotine and how many people have a guillotine like him? How many fighters are known for a submission that they just nail? Not too many. Most fighters don't even have one good attack. In the Jiu Jitsu world, there are guys that have 3 or 4 good techniques. You could have 15-20, you just have to practice them and be open to adding more weapons to your game. Matt Horwich, that guy...once people see him in the UFC with the pre-fight interviews and see what he's about, there is no other fighter like that. He is a hippie, punker-type of guy with that whole lover of the universe attitude; they're going to love that guy. Matt Horwich is unlike any other fighter I've ever met.
PC: You're big on learning more, being open and the evolution of MMA. I know age plays a part as well, but when you see the decline of guys like Chuck Liddell and Matt Hughes, do you think them not getting strength and conditioning coaches and all of these different things that these young guys are doing are the reason for their decline as well?
EB: Yeah, you know what, it's weird. Jiu Jitsu is the only part of MMA training where you get exposed. You could work on your striking all day; there is no real competition. You're hitting the mitts and hitting the bags, doing some light sparring; no one is knocking anybody out. No one wins and no one loses. You could literally work on your striking every day and never really have your ego be a factor. The same thing goes for your wrestling. You get taken down and it's like, "Oh, he took me down; whatever." It's like playing basketball. It's like, "yeah, he made a 3-pointer, but can he kick my ass?" You could work on your wrestling and never really have your ego checked that way, but then when you work on your Jiu Jitsu and you get tapped out...ohhh, every day you could get tapped out. Now you're a famous fighter and everyone wants to tap out the famous fighter and now, once you become famous, you don't want to roll as much. You're picking who you roll with and your Jiu Jitsu doesn't evolve. That happens to so many people. So many UFC fighters and famous fighters from Japan...well not really Japan because they're ballsy; they don't give a shit. I have a lot of Japanese fighters that come in and they're the ones that want to roll. Foreign fighters come in and want to get in there and roll, but American fighters, once they're famous man, it's hard for them to really get down and roll. It's not too many that will and it stifles the game. You gotta evolve. It's like everyone's grappling stops evolving once they become famous.
Matt Hughes just started getting really good in Jiu Jitsu. He just realized, "Oh, it is better to pass the guard and get the mount." He's just getting it. After all of those years of not really learning Jiu Jitsu, now he's starting to play the game. His striking never evolved. He should have been a tremendous striker by now. He's been fighting so long you would think he was a tremendous striker by now. I mean, look at guys like Urijah Faber and Tyson Griffin who haven't been in the game that long. They wrestled their whole lives and bam, they really focused on the striking and those guys can really strike. If Matt Hughes really worked on his striking and maybe even had went to Thailand and do what the youngsters do, like, "Fuck it, I'm going to move to Thailand," you know, or just get really serious about his striking and get really serious about his Jiu Jitsu and fall in love with Jiu Jitsu and start watching Marcelo Garcia tapes and analyze his game more, he could be the world champion again for sure. That's what happened to Georges St. Pierre. Georges really refined his striking and his Jiu Jitsu gets better in every fight. You could see his Jiu Jitsu getting better in every fight. He's passing peoples guard like a world champion. You could tell when a guy has evolved on the ground because when they're on top, they're constantly trying to pass. That's the goal; that's the fucking game, to pass the fucking guard without any hesitation. You can't ground and pound everyone out. You gotta be grounding and pounding to pass because what do you think, you're going to ground and pound him out in his guard? That's so low percentage; you gotta pass the guard and that's just now becoming official strategies. It's like, "Hey, you do have to pass the guard. The Brazilians were right the whole time." Even in the early 2000's, that wasn't everybody's strategy. A lot of fighters wanted to sit in half guard and pound them and rain elbows, but never try and pass the guard. When you have that kind of attitude, you're only going to get so far. Your game is going to be so limited and you're going to win some and lose some; you're going to bat .500 and not get very far. If you're not trying to pass, then for sure, you're not trying to have a technical guard and then someone is going to put you on your back and expose the fact that you can't fight off of your back. The game has changed.
I commentate for King of the Cage and anybody that stays in half guard, in my commentary, I would say, "They should be trying to pass here." The guys will go and watch the fight and say, "Why do you keep saying I should be trying to pass? I don't want to pass, I want to stay right in half guard and pound." I've had fighters tell me they would rather be in someone's guard then mounting them. I tell them, "You would rather be in someone's guard then mounting them?" They say, "Yeah, because if I mount them, I could get rolled." They have to really work on their mount and establish their mount. I tell them to answer me this, and they never could answer this, I say, "If you would rather be in someone's guard then mounting them, then the next time you're on your back, let the guy pass your guard and mount you." I stomp them right there. You want the guy in your guard; you don't want a guy mounting you. You get mounted, you're fucked if the guys has a good mount. Now most people know that mounting is best, but there is still a small percentage that think that they would rather stay in side control so they won't get rolled. Yes, side control is better control then the mount, but the mount is more dangerous. You could really fuck a guy up in the mount. You could take his arm, take his back or just land some serious elbows. There is a chance of getting rolled, but you gotta work on your mount. You have to work on your balance, land some shots and be ready to move. Side control is better control, but you can't really jack your opponent up that well, unless you can get guys in the Salaverry crucifix maybe if you're really good at that.
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