Your Favorite Old-Timey Fighter Is Terrible


The words, ‘Golden Age’ conjure up images of times gone by, when gas cost pennies, morals existed, life was easier, and people were prettier. Aside from empirical evidence that things did cost less (unless you adjust for inflation, and, well, that’s a different story), it’s all crap.  Days gone by weren’t typically better, and this time, right here, right now, could be argued to be the best time to be alive. That rosy view of life in older times holds true for fight sports.  We are absolutely in the single best era for fighting.


I’ll get a few things out of the way right now. Rocky Marciano was undersized, slow and fought at least a few fights that were either fixed or honest to god duds. Muhammad Ali, a great fighter who laid the ground work for modern boxing, would 100% be killed by the top three modern heavyweights. Royce Gracie, the godfather of MMA, would get taken apart by (in no particular order): Robert Whitaker, Tyron Woodley, and Tony Ferguson (let’s throw Ben Askren in there for funsies). We don’t have to look that far back to see that modern fighting has surpassed the skill set of its forefathers. The recent Rampage Jackson vs. Chael Sonnen fight illustrated this – Rampage stuck to what worked for him, Sonnen evolved, and the stagnant fighter lost. Caveat, Sonnen, one of my favorites, would killed by the same people who would kill Royce. It’s progress, people.

Before you get too butt hurt about the sacred cows being slaughtered en masse, stay with me. Each of the above men were great…for their time. It’s absurd to think that just because they were champions in their own time that they somehow transcended years and progress to forever stay the preeminent fighters. They just haven’t. That’s not a bad thing, especially in fighting. Progress is good.

We are absolutely in the golden age of fighting, across disciplines. Women’s MMA has never had more talent and that pool is rising steadily – see Rose Najamunas, Johanna Jerdecysck, Cris Cyborg and Holly Holm. Ronda Rousey, the chosen one of female fighting, the Mike Tyson of her time, nope’d right on out of her division when fighters skill sets evolved past her one weapon. Amanda Nunes knocks people clean out, and is a black belt on the ground. Sure, female MMA is in its infancy, but it’s light years ahead of where it started.

The current UFC heavyweight champion is a true mixed martial artist, the first real mixed martial artist, it could be said, to hold the belt.  Stipe Miocic proved that big power and stature in and of themselves no longer rule the day in the heavyweight ranks. By dint of the fact that heavyweights in the UFC apparently have tenured positions, he will get his chance to fight the other ‘best heavy weight of all time’ and prove progress has been made.  Sure Cain Valasquez is a stud, so is Dos Santos, but are they on the same level?  Arguably no; mixed martial arts is about being good at all disciplines, not one or two.

The light heavyweight champion may be the best fighter ever not named Jon Jones. Daniel Cormier has beat everybody (except Jones); he has won with his hands, he’s won with cardio, he’s won by submission.  Cormier has weathered knockouts and takedowns and freak athletes.  In his last win he essentially noogied his opponent to a TKO, because he could. Do you think Tito Ortiz, Chuck Lidell or, hell, Ken Shamrock could have done that? No. The skill set has evolved too far past them.  Alexander Gustafson could beat any champion at any weight he wanted to cut to 10 years ago, and he’s the third best light heavyweight on the planet….

The lineup below light heavy is stacked with people who have been training their entire lives to be true mixed marital artists. Aaron Picco (Bellator) is a guy who chose to forgo college and a promising wrestling career to become a marquee fighter. If you watched his last fight, he’s well on his way. The talent level is better, the competition is better, the training is better.  The time and training today is simply the best it’s ever been.

What about boxing, you say?

If you haven’t been paying attention, go watch the Anthony Joshua vs. Vladimir Klitschko fight and tell me you’ve seen a better heavyweight bout since Rocky II? Oh, and guess who’s waiting for Joshua? Deonte Wilder, a native Alabama kid with legitimate dynamite in either hand. He could knock out a bull moose with a glancing blow. Add in the cartoon character that is Tyson ‘The Gypsy King’ Fury and you have the best heavyweight division since before drug testing was making sure you didn’t pee neon.

George Foreman was amazing. Mike Tyson was a demon. Lennox Lewis was the prototype for all who have come since. They all lose against any of the top three today.

If heavyweights aren’t your thing, you’ve got Triple G, an Eastern European mad man that’s never seen a hammer he can’t take to the face. There’s Canello Alvarez, a Mexican dynamo who looks like he’s from south Boston and who hits hard enough to remove your soul from your body. Any of the four horsemen (Roberto Duran, Marvin Hagler, Tommy Hearns, and Ray Leonard) lose to those guys. Period. All great fighters, but not the best today, even in their prime.

If those aren’t enough for you look up Vasyl Lomachenko. Remember all those arcade games you’d play as a kid, and how you would just mash buttons to make your character go nuts throwing all sorts of wacky combos? Yeah, that’s Lomachenko, except all his punches land and no one hits him.

Just one more. Kovalev vs. Ward? Ring any bells? If it doesn’t, that sucks, because Andre Ward, arguably one of the most talented fighters of all time, took on Sergey Kovalev before he retired, in two of the best fights in the last fifty years.  Kovalev?  He killed a guy. Not a metaphor; he is Ivan Drago, and he’s not done yet.

This is the best time to be a fight fan. Ever. Better, more frequent fights, between better trained, more talented, fighters. Too often we ascribe permanent greatness to those who have done great things, and never take into account that time passes. But time passes and life evolves, and it’s childish to think that improvements haven’t been made, skills haven’t evolved, and the game itself hasn’t changed. If you’re more interested in holding on to fairy tales and burying your head in the sand, YouTube has a great selection of classic fights, binge away, fella. I’m more interested in how fighting will change going forward than I am in falsely glorifying past idols for deeds done in inferior eras.

We are fighters covering fighters.

Fight on.

Author: Jens Nestingen

Jens Nestingen is a family man with the bad habit of continual fight training. When not found being an animatronic punching bag he can be found questioning his choice to adopt a 90lb moron disguised as a dog. Follow him on Instagram at your own peril at @jens_nestingen


No Mercy VII Brings A Night Of Knockouts, Submissions

No Mercy VII 2

Driller Promotions took over Shooting Star casino last Saturday, February 10th, to bring No Mercy VII to Mahnomen, MN. With tickets starting at only $35 and not a bad seat in the house, No Mercy VII brought eight tough fights and a great way to spend a Saturday night. The entire card put on a fantastic show with submissions and knockouts, and only one match ending in a decision.

In the main event of the evening, Jesse Wannemacher (3-1) fell to Montel Jackson (3-0) as the southpaw took away any opportunity for Wannemacher to add to his submission wins, keeping him on his feet and rocking him early with a left head kick. Jackson gave Wannemacher little opportunity to recover, unleashing devastating elbows and punches to the head and body before securing the trip takedown. Jackson kept the pressure on on the ground, punishing Wannemacher with vicious ground and pound. Wannemacher managed to fight his way to his feet only to eat a knee and be taken down again immediately. Back on the ground, though, Jackson seemed more hesitant, giving Wannemacher time to nearly secure the armbar, forcing Jackson to stand and slam to loosen his hold. Against the cage Wannemacher, the right side of his face swollen and bloody, continued to work for space as Jackson appeared to be using the time in Wannemacher’s guard to catch his breath and his opponent off guard with occasional elbows. As round one wrapped up, Jackson began to look for the finish with elbows, though Wannemacher was withstanding the blows and working for an arm bar even as the ref moved in for a closer look at the damage he was taking. As the second round opened, Wannemacher looked to make use of his boxing background with combinations that were hit and miss due to noticeably swollen eyes. Jackson used his length to keep him at a distance with a lethal variety of kicks. Wannemacher withstood the assault until Jackson landed a straight right at 3:16 in round two, waving Jackson off and stopping the action from what initially appeared to be an eye poke, and was later ruled a TKO due to a significant cut.

In the co-main event, Collin Huckbody (2-1) played to his strengths, out wrestling, out grappling and out maneuvering Ryot Miller (2-3). Miller rushed in immediately after the bell to be taken down by Huckbody and trapped in side control. Huckbody landed knees and heavy right hands to distract Miller and gain mount. Miller looked slightly frantic on the bottom, and Huckbody capitalized on his mistakes, wasting no time in securing an arm triangle and earning the tap from Miller 1:39 into round one.

Joel Bauman (5-0) made quick work of Manatua Lemare (4-0), grabbing the Middleweight belt and the TKO only 26 seconds into the fight. Bauman immediately put the pressure on Lemare, stunning him with an overhand right to force him back against the cage, then finishing him off with a quick 1-2. With that victory, Bauman has announced that he’s turning pro at the end of a very successful 6-0 amateur career.

Driller Promotions will be back in Mahnomen on May 19th with No Mercy VIII. Look for another stacked card filled with fighters ready to put it all on the line, as Driller has proven itself to be a leading promotion for up and coming amateurs and promising pros.

Full results available at FloCombat.

Author: Nicki Klein

Nicki Klein is a mom of three girls who are all too sassy for their own good. She has no idea where they get it from. She enjoys wine, coffee, and long chokes on the beach. If she’s not training, she’s hunting for deals on rash guards online, buying yet another bottle of Essie nail polish, or hiding from her children in the closet with a bottle of wine and the last ice cream sandwich. Follow her on Instagram at @nickiklein

5 Reasons Training Is The Most Fun You Can Have With Your Pants On

1) Hitting people is a really good time.

See above. How often have you sat in traffic and watched someone scroll through social media instead of moving when the light turned green? How often have you thought, ‘I’d like to punch that distracted son of a bitch right in the teeth’? News flash, traffic hero, we’ve all had that thought, and what better way to exorcise that particular demon than….punching some one right in the teeth. Keep in mind, they will hit you back, but there is something visceral on a base level, a feed back loop that lights up when you land a good shot (its sparring don’t be an asshole, you don’t have to hit hard).  It’s super fun.

2) Weirdly awesome shit happens when you train.

Sometimes things just happen. Sometimes you’re in a scramble during grappling and you fall backwards and somehow, some way you end up with the a perfect arm bar/choke/something equally awesome, and your brain kinda explodes for a second, like ‘yeah, BOOM, that’s awesome’. It’s analogous to finding fifty bucks in your jacket from last winter, and then finding another fifty bucks in the other pocket. There are moments when your training partner launches some sort of 50 punch Mortal Kombat style combination at your head, and you block all of them. You will constantly surprise yourself as you train, and it will always make you smile.

3) Teammates are hilarious.

I’ve lost count of the times I’ve broken out in uncontrollable giggles when training. It’s always due to some off the wall shit talk going down, or some ridiculous rictus-ridden facial expression. Watching a teammate sink in a deep choke, look up, wink, and shoot you a thumbs up? Priceless comedy gold. Listening to people bitch about limbs hurting and then watching them use that same ‘hurt’ limb to try to inflict damage and, surprise surprise, have it go horribly wrong? Always funny (they know it and you know it – it’s like watching someone hit themselves in the thumb with a hammer, jump around for a while, and then very purposefully, hit it again. Twisted but hilarious.).

4) Good luck thinking of anything else.

There is no comparison for the level of concentration and focus you have to have when training. None. If you split your focus for a second, you’re going to leave an opening for some savage to capitalize on with a straight right, directly into your cute button nose. In no other area of life can one really truly shut out the outside world. Can’t use your phone when your training (I guess you could, but you’d get beat up and likely break your phone.) Can’t really think about life all that much, or as soon as you drift off into dream/worry land, someone will choke you out. You have to be 100% present, in the moment, focused. It’s kinetic meditation with immediate tactile feedback.

5) It’s not all about the grind.

Social media is replete with #hardwork posts and ‘everyone wants to do lion shit until they see what a lion has to do’ memes. Seriously, can it stop? Training is fun, learning a new skill is fun, invading personal space with malicious intent is…fun. Yes, it can be difficult, yes, if you’re training to actually step into a cage or onto a mat you should be working very hard. But you should also be having a good time. You should be able to tell your partners how smooth their combination was that landed on your left cheek, or how effortless that transition felt when you rolled. You should be able to smile and talk shit and laugh when someone talks shit right back.

We get lost in the idea that MMA training is this gut busting, balls to the wall, eat the weak pursuit. On some levels it is and it has to be. Those times are, however, in the minority. It’s an incredibly physically demanding task, but the rewards are myriad, and potential for a real good time exists every time you step onto the mats.

Unless, of course, you’re not a broken toy and the mere thought of getting hit, no matter how soft, makes you cringe. If that’s you? Cool, the bar down the street is looking for volleyball alternates.


We are fighters covering fighters.

Fight on.

No Mercy VII

No Mercy Photo

Shooting Star Casino will host one of the top fight cards of 2018 as No Mercy VII returns to Mahnomen, MN this Saturday, February 10th. Two professional fights, seven amateur fights, and a welterweight title fight mark the seventh installment of the No Mercy series and Driller Promotions’ second showing in Mahnomen. Last September’s show drew over 1,500 fans for a sold out event, and this Saturday’s stacked card has the potential to eclipse even those numbers.

The main event features Jesse Wannemacher (3-1) vs. Montel Jackson (2-0). Wannemacher, from Fergus Falls, hasn’t fought since July 2016. All three of his professional wins are by way of submission, though he has had several KO/TKO victories as an amateur. Jackson, the 4th ranked Featherweight in Wisconsin, earned his two professional victories via KO/TKO. It would be simple to look at Wannemacher’s submission wins and Jackson’s KO/TKO wins and chalk this fight up to the classic striker vs. grappler. But look deeper, and you’ll find that the records don’t tell the entire story. Jackson is a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and a former high school state qualifying wrestler who was also national team member in Greco-Roman wrestling. Wannemacher was a highly regarded amateur boxer before making the transition to MMA. Jackson’s professional wins have come through strikes, his amateur wins through submission. Wannemacher’s three pro submission victories come after several KO/TKO wins as an amateur. This fight promises to be well-matched with that rare combination of fighters who are comfortable standing and trading or on the ground. A point of note is that both Wannemacher and Jackson are moving down in weight to 135lbs from featherweight. Ten pounds may not seem like a lot, but it will be interesting to see if either fighter has an issue making weight.

In the co-main event, Ryot ‘The Game Changer’ Waller (2-3) makes the trip north from Chicago to face off against Collin ‘Young Huck’ Huckbody (2-1). Waller, who has fought professionally with Glory Kickboxing, has competed at several different weight classes in his MMA career, including both heavyweight and light heavyweight. His recent November fight was a step down to welterweight, where he took a beating, getting knocked out three minutes into round one. It’s possible the cut to 170lbs got the best of him and that we’ll see a more energetic Waller step into the cage on Saturday. Huckbody, a high school wrestler who went to state twice in his career, has been training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu since middle school, and it shows. He’s earned both his professional wins by submission, and has five additional submission wins as an amateur. However, his recent loss by submission shows that he is difficult, but not unbeatable, on the ground. This fight will be a more typical striker vs. grappler match, with Waller looking to break Huckbody down with leg and body kicks while waiting for that KO opportunity. But if Huckbody can get Waller to the ground, all bets are off.

The amateur title fight for the middleweight belt is not to be missed, with two top undefeated amateurs looking to add to their winning records. Joel Bauman (4-0) won two state high school wrestling championships before moving on to wrestle for the University of Minnesota Gophers. Bauman, who was also a D1 football prospect, gave up football for wrestling, citing the path Brock Lesner took to MMA stardom as his motivation. His last win in October earned him the Caged Aggression middleweight title. But if anyone can stop Bauman’s relentless march forward it’s Mantua Lemaire. Lemaire (4-0), from Aneta, ND by way of French Polynesia, hasn’t seen a second round in any of his fights, and his opponents have been seeing stars. An aggressive striker, all four of Lemaire’s wins have been by KO/TKO, and at 6’0” to Bauman’s lanky 6’2”, he stands a good chance to negate the distance the former wrestler has used to his advantage so far. It’s doubtful Lemaire will want to take this to the ground, though Bauman has shown that he’s comfortable on his feet, and has the speedy head kicks to prove it. This fight might be a don’t blink or you’ll miss it bloodbath, or a five round nail biting grind. Either way, this long anticipated matchup has the potential to be one of the top fights of the year.

Doors open at Shooting Star Casino at 5pm, with fights starting at 5:30pm. Tickets are available at and start at $35 for general admission. You can also watch on FloCombat, which will be streaming the entire card live. Full fight card below.


Jesse Wannemacher (3-1) Apex BJJ/Jungle Boy vs Montel Jackson Pura Vida(2-0) 135lbs

Ryot Waller (2-3) Second City MMA vs Collin Huckbody (2-1) Revolution  185lbs


Middleweight 5 Round Title Fight

Joel Bauman (4-0) Spartan Martial Arts vs Manatua Lemaire (4-0) MAP 185lbs


Katie Koenig (0-1) Start BJJ vs. TBD 135lbs

Nick Joramo (1-2) Sioux Man Gym vs Daniel Loeken (1-0) Revolution 315lbs

Andrew Yatskis (1-0) Jamestown vs Noah Hawkins (0-1) MAP 155lbs

Derek Gottlieb (2-5) St Cloud Boxing Club vs Noah Landrus (2-0) Revolution 170lbs

Hunter Pederson (0-1) ACA vs Michael Freyling (0-2) MAP 145lbs

James Norris (0-0) St Cloud Boxing Club vs Keefer Bender (1-0) Revolution 280lbs

Aaron Shaw (4-9) Valhalla vs Chris Renwick (2-2) MAP 210lbs


Author: Nicki Klein

Nicki Klein is a mom of three girls who are all too sassy for their own good. She has no idea where they get it from. She enjoys wine, coffee, and long chokes on the beach. If she’s not training, she’s hunting for deals on rash guards online, buying yet another bottle of Essie nail polish, or hiding from her children in the closet with a bottle of wine and the last ice cream sandwich. Follow her on Instagram at @nickiklein

Food Strategy 101

Nutrition salad

So, let’s talk food. Being engaged in any kind of combat sports almost inevitably creates a love/hate relationship with food. It’s all love because, well, food is awesome. And it’s all hate because, well, making weight sucks. Food is an important part of the game for fighting. It fuels workouts and promotes recovery, and it can offer some much needed solace after a torturous sparring session. If not managed correctly, however? It’s a death knell. The ante to any fight is making weight, and if food is mismanaged, you are not going to make it.

We will get into some specific recipes going forward – recipes for recovery, building muscle, fight camp, and cutting weight. In this initial blush, however, I’d like to cover a basic strategy, a way to  shop and stock your life with the right foods to lay the ground work for more specific meal ideas.

Here goes:

  1. Shop the outside of the store.  The outer rim of every grocery store is stocked with…meats and veggies. Minimally processed whole foods inhabit the outermost real estate in any large grocery store. These ingredients, the unprocessed, unfucked with, whole foods – specifically meat and veggies – are what you should base your diet on. The stuff in the middle of the store varies from not quite health food to full-on science experiment. Fill the cart up on the outside of the store and dart in and out of the aisles like the floor is lava.
  2. Treats can’t come home. I repeat, TREATS CAN’T COME HOME. This is not true for all fighters, but for the bulk of the population, specifically those that need to cut weight or are perpetually way out of line with weight management…treats can’t come home.  Eat your cheat meals (likely one cheat per fight camp or one per month; seriously no more than that) out of the house and don’t bring the cheesecake home. The more taboo something is, the more likely you are to do it. Nothing tastes better than food you know you shouldn’t be eating at 12am. It’s science, look it up. Keep the treats out of the house.
  3. Stock up on condiments. Be careful here, a chicken salad doused in sugary syrupy dressing is a Big Mac in disguise. However, there are some really really good condiments out there that can help dress up the same ole same ole. Experiment with dry rubs and sauces. I’m a massive hot sauce guy, so I have a myriad of options always at hand. During fight camp the salt can get a little heavy in most condiments, which  can be an issue with water retention, but for weight management, condiments are king.
  4. Buy healthy snacks.  Fruit falls into the healthy snack category. Some cheese – healthy snack. Veggies and a not too overboard dip – healthy snack. Dark chocolate-coated almonds with a hint of sea salt – not a healthy snack. You need down time, you need boredom food, and Netflix is better when you are eating something crunchy. Not having snacks to munch on sucks. If you stock up on the good stuff, your only options are to not eat, or eat the healthy snack. You win either way.
  5. Experiment. I’ve tried a ton of eating methodologies, and I’ve found the ones that work for me. Everyone has different thresholds. Some people simply cannot train hard without carbs in their diet. Some people can run 35 miles a day powered by a kale smoothie. You have to figure out what works for you through trial and error. When it comes to eating methodologies, try a few, and when you find something that works, go with it. Don’t overthink it.

That’s an easy and broad strategy to get people started. We’ll get some specific recipes out soon, but the base has got to be in the pantry, not the plate.

We are fighters covering fighters.

Fight on.

Author: Jens Nestingen

Jens Nestingen is a family man with the bad habit of continual fight training. When not found being an animatronic punching bag he can be found questioning his choice to adopt a 90lb moron disguised as a dog. Follow him on Instagram at your own peril at @jens_nestingen


Photo by Mariana Medvedeva on Unsplash

Gross, What Is THAT?

skin infections

To say that I enjoyed writing this article would be a stretch. To pretend that I didn’t spend way too much time on Google images being horrifyingly fascinated would be a lie. But combat sports come with contact – lots of it – and while most of that is good, sometimes it can be very, very bad. Since we like to help out, here are a few of the most common skin issues on the mats, as well as how to prevent and treat them. Read it carefully. Your teammates will thank you, your coach will thank you, and your ever patient wife/husband/partner will thank you.



Caused by a fungus, ringworm is named for the raised ‘ring’ of dry, red skin it causes. Especially prolific in warm, humid environments, ringworm can thrive in sweaty gyms. Teammates with ringworm can spread it through contact. Wet his and dirty mats can also be perfect breeding grounds for this fungus. If you have even the smallest symptoms, stay off the mats until it’s cleared up. We can’t stress this enough. Ringworm can spread through gyms like wildfire and do an enormous amount of damage in regard to time off the mats. Ringworm can be treated with anti fungal cream, and we suggest people get cleared by a doctor before returning to the mats.



A very common bacterial infection, impetigo is one of the most often seen issues on the mats. Rolling with open sores/cuts or when you are infected is an absolute no, as it’s a great way for bacteria to enter the body, and the main way impetigo is seen. Often seen on the face and hands, impetigo presents as reddened, itchy spots that can be filled with pus. Fever and fatigue are common with impetigo. Impetigo often goes away on its own, but can be treated with antibiotics if it fails to go away within a few weeks.



The dread of gym owners worldwide, Methacilin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus is resistant to antibiotics. Think of it like impetigo on crack. MRSA is life threatening and, once diagnosed via swab samples analyzed in a lab, must be treated by a physician with strong antibiotics. MRSA often presents as a single sore surrounded by redness that can also be sore to the touch. Fever, swollen glands, and fatigue are also common symptoms.

So now that you’re totally grossed out and scratching yourself more than is necessary, what can you do to prevent these scourges in your own gym?


If there is one thing you’ll hear over and over and over (getting the point?) on this website and everywhere else is to please…wash…your…gi. If you can’t throw it in the washing machine right after class, make sure it’s out in the open air and not bunched into a ball in your sweaty gym bag. Remember, warm, damp environments breed bacteria by the millions, so chucking your dirty gi onto the seat of your cold car in the winter wins over the inside of your dark gym bag. Gear can be just as guilty of causing issues, so grab an anti-fungal spray from Target and spray down your gloves and shin pads after practice. And again, just say no to jamming sweaty gear into your gym bag after practice.


If you go to a gym where the owner doesn’t freak out the second you walk past the entrance with your shoes still on, find a new gym. Tracking god knows what onto not only the mats but other gym areas where people are running around with bare feet is a great way to give someone the gift of unsightly skin infections. And while we’re at it, see those flip flops by the bathroom door? WEAR THEM. No one wants your feet near their face after you’ve dragged them across a bathroom floor.


Seems like a no brainer, but we’ve all had those nights where we plop ourselves on the couch after training and, much to the disgust of those sharing a living space with us, don’t make it into the shower until a few hours later. We don’t judge, but just saying. Put down the Doritos and drag your ass into the shower asap. Getting whatever germs you may have picked up off your skin goes a long way toward prevention. Not to mention sweat is terrible for your skin and hair.


Please tell us this goes without saying and requires zero explanation. Please. For the love of God.

There you have it. Because you didn’t have enough to worry about on the mats aside from Frank’s neck-crushing triangle or Karen playing spider guard again with those freakily long legs. You’re welcome.

We’re fighters covering fighters.

Fight on.

Author: Nicki Klein

Nicki Klein is a mom of three girls who are all too sassy for their own good. She has no idea where they get it from. She enjoys wine, coffee, and long chokes on the beach. If she’s not training, she’s hunting for deals on rash guards online, buying yet another bottle of Essie nail polish, or hiding from her children in the closet with a bottle of wine and the last ice cream sandwich. Follow her on Instagram at @nickiklein


Photo by Drew Hays on Unsplash

Roll Like A Big Guy

Big Guy Pic

‘Roll like a small guy.’

‘Roll loose, be technical, and flow.’

These tenants are espoused in every single post class conversation, in every single gym world wide. No one ever says, “I should really use more strength”  or, “I wish I was bigger”. This particular line of thinking has me wondering. What does it mean to roll like a big guy? There are the stereotypical meathead ideas, the ‘me Hulk, me smash pass’ anecdotes. What, though, does it mean to actually ‘roll like a big guy’? How does that translate to the mats? There have been countless articles written on the benefits to rolling like a smaller guy. But can there also be a benefit to ‘rolling like a big guy’?

In the interest in of full disclosure, I’ve been accused of being a pretty big guy. I’ve been called ‘huge’, ‘ape’, ‘gorilla’ and referred to a ‘that huge fucking guy’, just to name a few (I‘ve been called fat, too, but my therapist and I are working to put that behind me…teammates are mean).  I know of what I speak when it comes to rolling like a big guy, both the positive and negative aspects.

So what does this all mean? If we know what rolling like a little guy means, what does it feel like to roll like a big guy?

Defense is easier.

If I keep my elbows in, and maintain my posture, I can stymie even the most determined opponent unless they are some sort of physical freak. The advantage to having size on your side is the ability to hold a neutral position while using a lot less energy than any one opponent.  It takes an enormous amount of energy to break down the posture of folks with a stronger than average core. It takes even more energy if they have a strong core AND there is a substantial size difference.

Rolling light is different. 

If there’s a 50lb+ weight difference, ‘rolling light’ is going to mean different things. The bigger guy will sincerely try to go light. The intent to go light is always there. It’s also likely going to not be light enough. Takedowns are a great example of this – when properly executing a double leg, at some point the upper body is going to slam into the hip girdle, and at even a moderate pace, the bigger guy will develop a pop at the terminus of the movement, typified by an energetic exhalation by the partner. That pop, it feels bad, like someone slammed a lacrosse ball into the soft squishy bits around your belly button, because that’s what happened. Big guys need to be aware of…well..physics, and we need to rely on our partners to tell us how much farther we need to dial it back.  We can’t change what we don’t know.

It’s easier to rip grips and limbs.

It just is. If you’re on the strong end of the bell curve, ripping a kimura from north south becomes a real possibility. Lock the grip, squeeze the knees and rip it, right? No. As a bigger person, it’s your responsibility to roll to checkmate, specifically in positions gained or submissions possible only due to size/strength discrepancy. You’ll see this a lot with quality upper belts. They will roll to position where the submission is imminent, let it pass, and move on to the next. It can be the same when you’re the bigger, stronger person. Just because you can lock a grip up and rip a limb doesn’t mean you should. If it’s sloppy and you can still get it, don’t. If it’s technically perfect, and their defense is, too? Let it go. Move to the next.

We need to be told more than ‘you’re really strong’.

This one is hard. It’s surprising how shy people engaged in a combat sport can be. Bigger people need to hear critiques. They need to be told to slow down or use more technique. But not in vagaries – we need to hear solid feedback on what we’re doing wrong and how to fix it. I think the learning curve for bigger guys is a bit steeper, because in a lot of situations we can force our way out, and people are too busy being butt hurt to bother to tell them that won’t work.  When you’re smaller, people will offer technical advice because that’s the only way they can improve.  When you’re bigger and stronger, you can rely on those attributes a lot and people won’t refute it. It pays to have good training partners who can point out where strength stops and technique needs to take over.

Strength is never a weakness. 

I stole that from Mark Bell, look him up. There is a stigma in jiu jitsu puts ‘strong’ in a negative light. That is baffling. One wants to be as strong as they can be for their body type. Not everyone needs to be an Adonis, but you should have some reasonable musculature. We’re fighting. Strength helps. Now, I’m going to say something controversial here – strength can help you become more technical. Really, it can. Having the ability to anchor yourself in a technical guard using your legs and a solid grip? That’s the difference between getting passed and sweeping. A well-executed collar choke relies on strength. A lot. As a community, jiu jitsu seems to have made strength a dirty word and an undesirable attribute, all while the best grapplers in the world are some pretty strong dudes (Gordon Ryan, Tom DeBlass, Jacaré, Leandro Lo, Cyborg Abreu)  There are 3.5 necks between those six guys.

Strength and size are part of the game. Sometimes they are benefits, sometimes they aren’t.  Can we all just agree that they have their place? So the next time you want to tell a guy, ’You’re really strong’, how ‘bout you help show him how to use his size correctly instead of leaving him thinking, ‘ohhh, that guy’s an asshole’?

We are fighters covering fighters.

Fight on.

Author: Jens Nestingen

Jens Nestingen is a family man with the bad habit of continual fight training. When not found being an animatronic punching bag he can be found questioning his choice to adopt a 90lb moron disguised as a dog. Follow him on Instagram at your own peril at @jens_nestingen