Posts Tagged ‘Gabriel Gonzaga’

New England’s Only UFC Heavyweight Fighter Gabriel Gonzaga to Fight Stipe Miocic at UFC FOX 10 in Chicago

Gabriel Gonzaga vs Stipe Miocic

Gonzaga vs Miocic










A heavyweight matchup between Gabriel Gonzaga (16-7 MMA, 11-6 UFC) and Stipe Miocic (10-1 MMA, 4-1 UFC) is the latest addition to the UFC’s first FOX-televised event of 2014.

UFC on FOX 10 takes place Jan. 25 at United Center in Chicago, the third straight January the venue has hosted a FOX show. The main card, including a Benson Henderson vs. Josh Thomson headliner, airs on FOX following prelims that are expected to air on FOX Sports 1 and stream at MMAjunkie.

The 34-year-old Gonzaga left the UFC in 2010 after struggling through a 3-5 stretch. However, after a year away from the sport, the submission ace returned to the sport and is 5-1 in his past six fights. All five of those victories have come by finish, including consecutive first-round knockout wins over Shawn Jordan and Dave Herman.

Meanwhile, Miocic opened his career with nine straight wins to open his career before suffering a September 2012 loss to Stefan Struve. He’s since rebounded with an impressive decision win over Roy Nelson at June’s UFC 161 event.

With the addition to the card, UFC on FOX 10 now includes:

Benson Henderson vs. Josh Thomson
Darren Elkins vs. Jeremy Stephens
Gabriel Gonzaga vs. Stipe Miocic

UFC Heavyweights from New England: MMA Training Springfield, MA

UFC Heavyweights Gabriel Gonzaga & Christian Morecraft

On the evening of Wednesday August 8, 2012 Team Link in Ludlow MA was filled with talent. Not only did you have the East Coast’s only UFC heavyweight fighters,  there was also 7 Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belts together in one gym. Ludlow is a small town in Western Mass for which Team Link MMA and soccer are two main things it is known for. (on a different note, Thursday August 9, 2012 the Stanley Cup was in Ludlow because the LA Kings General Manger, Dean Lombardi, grew up there….cool!) Having the opportunity to witness this type of training is incredible, the place was shook as almost 3,000 pounds of skilled fighters went at it. Most of whom that were there are also preparing for there own fights that will be happening in the very near future. For a full listing of these fights click this link MMA classes Springfield MA

Gabriel Gonzaga is preparing for UFC 153, which will be held in his home county on October 13, 2012 at the HBSC Arena in Rio de Janeriro, Brazil. He will be  facing Geronimo Dos Santos, a powerful new comer to the UFC. With the start of Gonzaga’s official training camp, Team Link is always able to pull together a group of great athletes to push each other to there limits and beyond. In fact the East Coast’s only UFC Heavyweights both currently live and train in Massachusetts.  It was great to these two cross train together. Rumors say this may be common re-occurrence, we will see.

If you ask around a common problem for heavyweights when looking for a gym to train mma in Springfield MA area or anywhere for that matter, is finding quality sparring partners their size. This is not case with Team Link, being the largest team in New England with over 10 ten gym locations, there are plenty of big guys ready to go on the drop of hat. If you live in New England and you are looking for a place to train or if you are a fighter and want to come train with the best, then contact them via there website .

MMA instruction Springfield MA

Team Link Professional MMA Fighter Training Camp : Ludlow MA

The photo above shows as listed from left to right: James Soffen (Team Link Manager), Christian Morecraft (UFC Heavyweight), Darrell Oliveira (Team Link Heavyweight), Master Marco Alvan (Team Link Head Coach/2nd Degree Blackbelt), Ricardo Oliveria (Team Link Spain/2nd Degree Blackbelt), Fabio Serrao (Team Link Utah/MMA Fighter/Black Belt), Juliano Coutinho (Cape Cod Fighting Alliance MMA Fighter/1st Degree Blackbelt), Gabriel Gonzaga (Team Link Worcester Head Coach/UFC Heavyweight/3rd Degree Blackbelt), Ricardo Funch (Team Link Pittsfield Head Coach/MMA fighter/Blackbelt), Jeff Nader (Cape Cod Fighting Alliance MMA Fighter), Alexandre Moreno (Team Link Manchester Head Coach/MMA Middleweight fighter/ Blackbelt), Gil de Freitas (MMA Fighter from Brasil) and Eder Riberio (Daniel Gracie Brown Belt).
Stay posted as articles will be written highlighting each fighter individually.
Like Team Link on Facebook

Breaking News: Dana White Isn’t The Biggest Fan Of Jiu Jitsu – Springfield MA

Shocker:  Dana White Isn't The Biggest Fan Of Jiu Jitsu

I know this may shock some of you, but Dana White doesn’t seem to care what’s going on in the jiu jitsu world. A few of Dana’s followers tracked Dana down on Twitter to ask him about Diaz no-showing at the World Jiu Jitsu Expo over the weekend. Dana not only gave his thoughts on that situation, but also let everyone know that jiu jitsu isn’t fighting. And as for Braulio Estima? Turns out he’s not quite on Dana’s radar.

A fan stated that Diaz shouldn’t be at the expo at all because he’s on suspension. Dana responded with the following tweet:

@Huck_The_Doctor exactly!!! Nick is on suspension right now. He can’t fight at all. BJJ is FAR from fighting.

Color us disappointed. So if a guy finishes in the octagaon via submission, it’s a fight? But if he doesn’t throw punches first it’s not a fight? What if it’s in the UFC and the submission comes before any punches were thrown? Is it still a fight? I guess not.

When asked if Dana had any thoughts on Diaz vs Estima, he sent out the following tweet:

@JackHammerMMA I have never heard of the guy he was supposed to grapple. Lol, guess I am WAY out of the f#$#^ loop

Sorry Braulio. If it’s any consolation, we know who you are. Sure, we may not have millions of dollars to throw at you in contract money, but you have our respect. And what’s worth more than that?

if you want to train BJJ in Western Mass –click here

Is Jiu Jitsu Changing? Springfield MA


What if I told you the answer to that question might be “no”. Most people would say that the answer can’t be “no”- not now at least, not after the evolution that has occurred over the last decade. You can point to the exponential growth of competition and it’s competitors, the availability of high-level instruction, the prevalence of video instruction, and a growing group of professional jiu jitsu athletes as proof that the sport has advanced far beyond where it was just 10 years ago. But, all of those things are elements of the sport, not the jiu jitsu. So again I’ll ask the question, has the jiu jitsu actually changed?

There is no doubt jiu jitsu techniques are hard to hide in this day and age, and that new positions and techniques are available like never before. Now with live streaming of every major event, and YouTube, there are no more secrets, so it forces everyone to evolve and grow. But are the fundamentals that win championships any different than they were 10-15 years ago? Earlier this year when we were out in San Diego visiting Master Royler Gracie, he shared something with us that was sort of eye-opening. He told us that the approach he would take to competition now would be no different than the approach he took in 1999 (discussing technique and strategy). Now you are more than welcome to form your own opinions about this topic, but I can tell you that Royler was very sincere in this sentiment.

Let me submit an argument that perhaps you don’t always have to learn the “latest” techniques (although there is nothing wrong with this) to compete at the very highest level in this day and age. The case would be that jiu jitsu in it’s pure unadulterated form can be learnt and applied the same way today in competition as it was in 1999, and that in fact, jiu jitsu’s effectiveness is not changing, merely it’s competitors.


Exhibit A: Royler winning the Mundials in the late 90′s


Exhibit B: Kron winning the Pans in 2008 with relatively similar, and equally fundamental BJJ


Exhibit C: Roger Gracie,  one of the most dominant competitors in the last few years

I understand completely that it is pretty absurd to suggest that jiu jitsu isn’t changing, especially given what you see the Mendes Bros., Miyao Bros., and other high level competitors doing on the mats, but I would simply like to suggest the idea that jiu jitsu is not evolving beyond it’s own effectiveness.  The premise of this article is that fundamental jiu jitsu is never changing, even though the execution might look different.

How can this benefit you? Don’t always concern yourself with learning everything that’s out there. Learn  proven technique from qualified instructors, and focus on application. All jiu jitsu works, old and new. So study all the above videos, there si something we can all learn from each of them.


Marco Alvan Jiu-Jitsu Instruction – Omoplata Escape brought to you by Western Mass BJJ

Bruce Lee, Father Of Mixed Martial Arts MMA Jeet Kune Do

Western Mass BJJ is a big fan of how Bruce Lee affected martial arts in Springfield Ma.
Mixed martial arts or MMA as this popular fighting sport is commonly known is a combination of different martial arts combat styles including kickboxing, jiujitsu, wrestling, boxing and others.  The MMA fighters are basically using the most effective fighting techniques from different styles of martial arts in the ring.  Interestingly enough, there is a Bruce Lee connection to MMA.
So instead of training in just one discipline like wrestling or boxing, MMA fighters must train in a variety of techniques from different martial arts which make them better rounded fighters.  Although it may seem like a novel or revolutionary concept, this idea of using the best of different martial arts styles is not new.
In fact, the martial arts legend and action movie star Bruce Lee, is considered by many in the martial arts world to be the father of mixed martial arts.  He was the first to publicly advocate training in a variety of martial arts styles including western boxing and wrestling.
Bruce Lee moved away from being a traditional martial artist utilizing classical forms, stances and techniques.  He created his own style of martial arts called Jeet June Do which is pretty well his style of mixed martial arts.  He even compiled his ideas of mixed martial arts in his book called Tao of Jeet Kune Do.
This caused some controversy among some of the traditionalists in martial arts back in his time, especially before he became famous through his movies.  But as time went on, even after his death, his concepts became more accepted by modern martial artists around the world.  He has influenced countless numbers of martial artists to train with a variety of martial arts techniques.
History now suggests that Bruce Lee was way ahead of his time with his early ideas of mixed martial arts.  If he can only see what he has started now with the explosion of MMA as a popular sport.  He would be certainly be proud.  The mixed martial arts MMA world definitely owes a lot to Bruce Lee for having the ingenuity and courage to go against the traditionalists to develop the mixed martial arts concept so many years ago.
Brought to you by Western Mass BJJ

MMA, Rugby & Polo Combine to Make “Ultimate Ball”

There have been some horrible MMA ideas in the past. Yamma Pit Fighting, Jared Shaw, Kimbo vs Houston Alexander, Bob Sapp vs….well anyone. The list goes on and on. But this may be the worst MMA-related idea I’ve ever seen. I say that with not an ounce of exxageration. I even had a hard time watching just a few seconds of this horrible idea known as, ‘Ultimate Ball’. I’m not sure what’s even happening here, but I guess it’s supposed to be a mix of polo and MMA?? Whatever it is, I dare you to try to sit thru this entire video. Good luck.

UFC Training – Western Mass BJJ

Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and UFC go hand in hand. Preparing for a fight in the UFC you must train BJJ, that is a given. Team Link in Ludlow Massachusetts gathered this group to help Gabriel Gonzaga as he prepares for his fight in upcoming UFC 146. Together they are 2,000 pounds of MMA and BJJ skill. In this photo from left to right is Eder Ribeiro, Darrell Oliveira, Juliano De Sousa Coutinho, Gabriel Gonzaga, Christian Morecraft, Dominic Blue, Peter Kerantzas, and Ricardo Oliveira.

All of these athletes are very skilled live and train in Massachusetts. You must train with best if you want to be the best. This is the moto to live by! Watching these guys train is amazing. I never get sick of it. You can learn so much just by watching.


In the photos above Christian Morecraft, who is an other UFC heavy weight, is training no gi BJJ with one of Team Link’s heavy weights, Darrell Oliveira.  Oliveira always comes and helps at the UFC training camps in Ludlow. As it gets closer to date of the big fight, these camps will get even bigger. Stay tuned for more about UFC training and my Western Mass BJJ Fighter Page as I update more profiles.

Please leave a comment or tell me a topic you want me to write about.

for more info on how to be part of our team, click here

Western Mass BJJ – Rickson Gracie Seminar: Making the Invisible Visible

By Andreh Anderson

Rickson Gracie stands at the center of the enormous Gracie Academy mat and begins to share. I choose the word share over teach because one gets the feeling immediately that the information he’s transmitting is the essence of his jiu-jitsu—the art that defines him. He isn’t phoning in a series of random techniques to amaze us, he’s letting us in on the very thing that makes his jiu-jitsu the envy of perhaps every world champion that’s rolled with him—he calls it connection.

I don’t know whose arm is around my neck, but I perform a technique I just saw Rickson demonstrate. I execute the move immediately and turn to find that my attacker is a broadly smiling Rorion Gracie. He pats me on the back and asks me to do it again. He’s noticeably enthusiastic about the material and our exposure to it. He’s pleased and I’m relieved when I repeat the movement correctly. There’s always pressure wearing a black belt and having a Gracie family member—a red belt no less—ask you to perform a technique. I thank him for his help, and when his back turns I scurry over to a group of blue belts that seem to have an odd man out.  The technique was a way to lift an attacker who has reached around your neck from behind without committing his weight either forward or backward. Without the benefit of his weight falling into you, lifting is difficult. Rickson shows us to bend at our hips the way we would if we were sitting into a deep chair, and then walk backward to get our hips under our opponent’s center of gravity. In any other seminar, this might simply be a basic self-defense technique, but Rickson uses this to as an introduction to the idea that weight can be easier to move if approached from the correct angle. He’s talking about leverage—a word that is frequently tossed around in jiu-jitsu circles; but as Rickson calls black belt after black belt forward and none are able to lift their opponents the way he can, one begins to realize that the concept might be familiar to most of us, but perhaps not deeply understood.

Rickson whistles through his fingers and everyone stops to watch as he calls forward a black belt and asks him to keep his balance. Rickson then grabs his partner’s gi at the shoulder and tugs and pushes while the black belt falls forward then backward, clearly out of balance. The roles are then reversed and the black belt pushes and pulls, but Rickson’s steps forward and backward are small and balanced, and we begin to see how connection is the a relationship between the attacker’s base and our own. Soon it’s our turn to push and pull each other. We begin with basic judo grips on each other’s lapels, and when my partner pushes, my weight transfers to my front leg, and when he pulls it transfers to my back leg. Fair enough—anyone who’s wrestled or trained in judo will be familiar with the shifting of weight from leg to leg—but Rickson points out that when you’re connected, there is a certain tension in the arms as well as the legs, and that allowing that tension to disappear is to give up the connection you have to your opponent. Keep in mind that the goal here isn’t to teach you how to throw or avoid being thrown—not specifically—it’s to demonstrate the interaction between connected and disconnected. The first time I grab my blue belted partner, he’s easy to move. He reflects a bit on what Rickson said, and his balance becomes better and I have to push or pull harder to get him to step. He pushes me and I feel the sense of balance that Rickson described. I don’t feel it perfectly, but I have a better sense of control over my base, even as my opponent begins to pull and push with more intensity. There isn’t a good way to describe this technically—at no time does Rickson provide you with a set of instructions to follow—because Rickson is trying to convey a feeling rather than a sequence. When we are connected, we shift our weight in a way that doesn’t give our attacker anything to use against us. Rickson spends more time on this exercise than on any other, and with good reason, for it shows how being connected allows your base to remain independent of your opponent’s actions, while his lack of connection allows you to manipulate his weight and posture.

Rickson gathers us around and asks me to grab him around the waist while he pushes into me. I do the best I can, but he adjusts my shoulder so that it becomes the point of connection between my base and his, and suddenly I’m stronger. The difference wasn’t necessarily my posture, but the way the shoulder allowed me to connect to him more powerfully than with the broad surface of my chest. The shoulder represented a narrow point through which I could direct my “base” or my weight—neither word is appropriate, yet they are closest I can think of without using the word “energy”—a term I despise because of its mystical martial arts connotations. Like the pushing and pulling we did when we grabbed lapels, I am shifting my weight into my front leg when I’m resisting his push and transferring it to the back leg when I’m being pulled. Rickson switches directions quickly and tests my response time so that I remember to shift my weight immediately as the need arises. He reminds all of us that this isn’t something we can expect to do perfectly, as it requires a feeling for when the weight must shift, but that we can now practice shifting the weight more consciously.

Similarly, he shows us how sprawling to stop a double leg takedown requires the same type of connection. As Rickson sprawls, he walks backward but drives his weight into his opponent so that the attacker’s base is disrupted while Rickson’s is maintained. His opponent not only bears Rickson’s weight, he must do so from a broken and weak posture. Imagine sprawling, not only with the hips, but also with your chest connected to your opponent’s back so that you can move your hips out further and circle to the back more easily. The technique itself is useful, but it’s more important as another clear example of how Rickson’s idea of being connected is about inhibiting the opponent while improving your own ability to move.

We hit the ground for escapes from side control. Not really, though. Once again, the technique is secondary to the illustration of connection. Once again he asks advanced students, purple belts all the way up to black belts (plus one ambitious white belt), to escape from the modified kesa gatame of another black belt. None of them escape until a female purple belt from his association demonstrates the concept Rickson is looking for. Rickson then shows us how grabbing the lapel and connecting through your arm into the opponent’s neck creates a fulcrum that allows you to easily move your hips away while also preventing the opponent from maintaining control or following. Rickson emphasizes that the arm that blocks the opponent’s neck does not push, it simply connects, and the result is that it becomes a point we can use to move our hips away more easily.

For the next escape, the point of connection is your armpit, as you reach over your opponent’s back, toward his belt, and focus your “energy” (there’s that horrible word again) into your opponent’s shoulder so that you can escape your hips and slide onto your shoulder easily—while also preventing your opponent from flattening you out again. The key here is that the connection point works best against your opponent’s resistance because it not only blocks that resistance, it allows you to move more easily away from it. Picture this: your arm is out of position from the bottom of side control. Your opponent is on your right side, with one knee at your hip and the other leg sprawled back. He controls your head and his other arm is over your body, attempting to block your left hip. With your left arm over his back, you reach toward his belt and direct your weight into that connection between your armpit and his shoulder. Your right arm remains loose and straight. You then escape your hips, without bridging (a key point), and hide your right shoulder under you by simply sliding the right arm back. Do not bridge and do not bend your right arm—hiding the shoulder is a subtle shift of the arm so that it is not stretched along the mat, but instead it is pulled under your body. Hiding the shoulder prevents your right arm from blocking you as you try to turn into him to get to your knees or recover guard.

It is nearing the end of the scheduled time, so Rickson gathers us around to go over a submission. Once again he asks various black belts to try to armlock him from the guard, and each time he manages to show a moment in their attack where they are vulnerable to being stacked. Experienced black belts attempt the armbar in various ways, all performed correctly—according to common understanding—yet each is stacked before they can finish the submission. Rickson then shows how to shoot the hips up quickly, without swinging them in either direction, to bite onto the opponent’s back uncrossed. The bite of the leg into the back is the connection point for this attack, and it allows Rickson’s hips to remain elevated and his core to remain strong and unbendable. The technique appears to be unexploitable. He then bites heavily with one leg so that he can raise his hips further and pivot them so that the other leg can swing tightly over the opponent’s head. The movement is so tight and precise that he is able to demonstrate it without the use of his hands—in such a manner that, even without his hands, his opponent cannot retract his arm or defend by stacking. This is eye opening for everyone in attendance, as evidenced by top black belts, including other Gracie family members, excitedly performing the technique on one another until Rickson whistles for attention for the last time.

We line up in front of Rickson and Rorion. Rickson becomes emotional when thanking Rorion and reflecting on his “coming home” to the Gracie Academy. It’s an important moment in Gracie family history, and one is left to wonder what a force an already great family could become if all sides of the clan were to similarly reunite.

Immediately after the seminar, I receive a call from one of my heroes—Kid Peligro.  “So tell me,” he says. “How was it?” His voice is filled an excitement that matches the kind I’m feeling after sharing the mat with someone I had wanted to train with since I first put my name on the five-year waiting list for privates ten years ago. My response:

“Kid, it was amazing. It wasn’t about techniques, it was about every technique. If someone wonders why a particular technique isn’t working for them, this seminar would have helped them find the reason. Rickson tried to put words to a feeling. It was like having Kobe try to explain how to cut to the basket the way he does—except Rickson found the words and the examples to actually describe that type of thing. My expectations were high, yet the experience surpassed them.”

None of what I said might be exactly true, but it’s all honest. We’ve always felt frustrated by the way people who’ve attended a Rickson seminar have responded to questions about it vaguely, but I was able to see why it’s almost unanimously the case. Rickson’s jiu-jitsu is the result of years of practice, a God-given capacity for understanding it, and enough love of the art to want to share it in the way he experiences it—through feeling not a list of easily imitable instructions.

Western Mass BJJ Fighters

Marco Alvan

Team Link 2nd Degree Black Belt & Head Instructor/Owner of Team Link
-2006 Hall of Fame Instructor of the Year
-2009 Naga Expert Division Champion
-2009 IBJJF Black Belt New York Open Champion
-2011 Naga New England Expert Division Champion
-2011 IBJJF Black Belt Boston Open Champion
-2011 IBJJF Pan American NO GI Black Belt Champion
-Coach of 11 Time Naga Best Overall Team
-Coach of Naga 2011 Kids Overall Team Champions
-Coach of Grapplers Quest 2011 Kids Overall Team Champion

Gabriel Gonzaga

Team Link Black Belt & Head Instruc

-UFC Heavyweight contender & #2 Knockout in UFC History
-2006 Mundials Gold Medal Winner Ultra Heavy Weight Division
-BJJ Black Belt World Champion

Brian American

Team Link Brown Belt and Head Instructor/Owner of Team Link Enfield
-2004 North American Grappling Champion
-2007 NAGA World Champion
-2007 Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Federation Champion
-2007 Bay State Grappling Champion
-2008 NAGA New England Champion
-2008 Team Link Super Fight Champion
-2009 NAGA Expert Division Champion
-2011 US Grappling Submission Only Open Weight Expert Division Champion
-2012 NAGA Champion
-Numerous Top 3 Finishes in Various Tournaments

Eric Marandino

-11X NAGA Champion
-2X Link Champion

More to come!!!