Tell me about your grappling experience prior to being selected for the house?
My grappling experience started in 2007 when I trained under UFC vet, Steve Berger. My next grappling coach was Pat Benson. Pat was primarily a greco style wrestler and it was while training with him that I got my first submission in a fight, which was an armbar from my back. A year few years ago I met Ezra Lenon, who I think is the best Jiu Jitsu coach on the planet. While working with Ezra I’ve gotten two more submissions wins as a pro and the biggest sub of my career, the armbar that got me into TUF house.
Who were your grappling coaches while you were there?
Frank Mir was the head Jiu Jitsu coach for Team Jones. He gave us insight as a former world champion, as well as his philosophy on jiu jitsu, “If it doesn’t break, rip off, or put u to sleep. I don’t do it!"
Frank brought in his own head coach, Ricky Lundell. Ricky’s also Joe Lauzon’s grappling coach. Rickey brought a different aspect to our grappling. The only way to describe it is that he uses science mixed with some tricky grappling techniques. Some of which he developed himself.
We also had college wrestling stand out, Bubba Jenkins, as our wresting coach. He really helped tie wrestling in with jiu jitsu. And of course Jon "Bones" Jones led the group, bringing his fight experience as well as his style of wrestling. Remember, he did put Machida to sleep....
How would you compare you coach at home and your coach on the show?
The coaching back home was different because we have more time to work on things here. We drill and learn something new everyday. In the house, it was more focused on your next fight, what kind of gameplan you would have, etc...
With only a limited time to train what were the areas of focus while on the show?
The key areas I personally worked on were positions. An example, when I’m put on my back I’ll do “x”, if that doesn’t work then I can go to "b". I really tried to focus on the basics and fine tuning my problem areas.
What key details from your grappling training did you take home with you?
I brought back a notebook full of techniques and notes that I wrote down. I still have questions, so I’ll need to sit down with Ezra to go over them. I will say, that it’s a lot of simple things that once you see it, you think, DUH!
The best part though was seeing how to tie basic jiu jitsu into my stand up. I feel like once I fully understand how the two can play off each other I will be the best fighter I can possibly be.