Pat Rivera Blog #11 | Getting in a groove!

I have been frequenting the morning classes pretty regularly now. So far my “new years resolution”, is for the most part on track. I’m entirely digging the Wednesday morning breakfast club. I owe being able to attend the morning classes to my significant other who puts the kids in school and takes care of the morning duties, which frees me up to go. I’ve also made it a habit of attending the Tuesday and Thursday Gi and No-Gi classes. It’s been a bit of a struggle to make it to work on time but being a few minutes late has been worth it in my opinion. I arrive to work totally ready to kick ass and pumped even though I have a sedentary desk job. I really want to make it to morning classes. It allows me attend 3 classes at minimum and I get great reps in at No-Gi. I have toyed with my different routes to work as 8 am is a bustling hour around Long Island MMA. Luckily, it’s conveniently also located equidistant between the main arterial paths of circulation on Long Island (L.I.E and SSP). This morning I found the way to work that gets me just 5 minutes late with out breaking any laws. Thankfully, my boss doesn’t get to angry with this. Another trade off of being able to frequent the morning classes, which my lady finds as a huge perk is I able to spend time in the evenings at home with my family. My job is stressful to say the least and often requires me to either stay late or bring work home with me. When I first returned back to LIMMA I was just trying to attend the evening classes. All to often I got stuck at work or needed to meet a deadline and just couldn’t make it. The worst was a few times I would get out just in time to rush to a class and I would notice it was 15 minutes into it and I would just turn around because I didn’t want to be disrespectful walking into class super late. When you want something you make the proper accommodation to meet your goals. Right now I am focused on increasing my bjj knowledge and getting my physical shape back on track. I am finding my groove and discovering what it takes to balance all things possible.

-Pat Rivera

Long Island MMA’s Ryan LaFlare defeats Roan Carneiro at the first fight ever in Brooklyn New York!

Saturday February 11th marked the first time the UFC has come to Brooklyn New York. The Barclay Center was home to UFC’s first show in Brooklyn, headlined by the first female featherweight fight. But another first that many people overlooked was the first time that Long Islander Ryan LaFlare would fight in front of his home town crowd as a professional fighter. Ryan was instrumental in lobbying for MMA to be legal inside NY, once we found out that Ryan wasn’t going to be fighting at UFC 205 the first fight in the Garden we were shocked. How ever the UFC would make up for it by having Ryan not only be on the first ever card in Brooklyn, but also being the first fight ever in Brooklyn. Ryan would not disapoint, Ryan went out there and defeating Roan Carneiro 3 rounds to none. Ryan wound up knocking down Carneiro twice with a straight left hand, Ryan also was landing kicks on Carneiro at all different angles. This combining with pushing the pace for the whole 15 minute affair is the reason all the judges saw the fight in LaFlares favor. This was LaFlares 7th appearance inside the octagon. We are excited to see what is next for Ryan and we are even more excited that he came out of this fight healthy and injury free!

Congratulations to Long Island MMA’s newest Purple Belt!

Congratulations to Long Island MMA’s newest Purple Belt! Al Percy has been training with us since he was in high school and has never taken much time off. Al came to us with no martial arts experience and dedicated himself to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and now achieved the rank of Purple Belt. For all of you who train Jiu Jitsu I think we can all agree that purple belt is one of the hardest ranks to achieve. Purple Belt takes commitment, dedication and courage and Al has displayed all of those qualities. Congratulations Al we can’t wait to see you to constitute to grow!

The Era Of Characters

The Era Of Characters

        When I started watching MMA I was only a kid in the late 90’s. I found out about MMA because I was a huge fan of the WWF. At the time, most of the kids my age were into professional wrestling; the 90’s was the high point of the WWF and it seemed everyone I knew was watching. This time in wrestling is known as “The Attitude Era”; this is where The Rock, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and many other famous wrestlers gained notoriety. The Attitude Era was full of beer drinking, street fighting and Playboy models. As a kid it always felt like something that was made for grown up’s and I shouldn’t be watching it, needless to say I loved it. I remember rushing to school on Tuesday mornings to talk about what happened on last night’s Monday Night Raw. At the time my favorite wrestler was Ken Shamrock. Ken was a former “No Holds Barred” fighter and UFC veteran who was dubbed the “The World’s Most Dangerous Man” by the WWF.
Ken would sprint to the ring to wrestle in fingerless MMA gloves and had a pissed off attitude that to me defined the “Attitude Era”. Shamrock’s “Ultimate Fighting” and “No Holds Barred” experience was highlighted in the World Wrestling Federation’s marketing of him. The WWF even had an exhibition “MMA” fight with him and fellow MMA fighter Vernon White. Watching some of the clips that the WWF showed of Ken in the UFC (Yes the WWF showed UFC clips) I could tell that Professional Wrestling was fake fighting and what they were doing inside the UFC octagon was the real deal. Although I knew the WWF was fake I was already so invested in some of the story lines and wrestlers so I continued to watch. Ken Shamrock eventually stopped wrestling in the WWF and fell off my radar. It wasn’t until a few years after that I heard that Shamrock, my favorite former WWF wrestler was making his UFC return. The fight happened and I heard Ken had lost. I didn’t get a chance to watch it since my family didn’t buy pay per views. I remember seeing it a little while after and it was the first full UFC event I had watched. Even though my favorite fighter, Ken, lost I found my new favorite sport.
UFC 40 was my first full introduction to MMA and it was a great introduction to the sport that I now obsess over. I got to see Chuck Liddell, Matt Hughes, Carlos Newton, Robbie Lawler and Tito Ortiz all win their fights in impressive fashion. It is kind of crazy to look back at that event now and think of how influential all those names would become in the MMA world.  The event was spectacular and every single fight on the card ended in a finish; something that doesn’t seem to happen much anymore. As I think back on MMA at that time one of the things that stand out to me the most is how similar it was to the WWF. I don’t mean the fights were fixed or the outcomes were predetermined. What I am talking about is the Characters, or in the case of the UFC, the fighters. At this stage of MMA’s history everything seemed so genuine to me. There wasn’t much money in the sport so the people who did it were doing it because they loved it, or because they wanted to prove they are the toughest man on the planet. That doesn’t seem to happen as much anymore; it has turned into much more of an organized sport whereas it used to feel closer to Mortal Kombat.
I feel as if the way the fighters dressed and acted was a reflection of themselves and their fighting styles. It didn’t seem like something that was fabricated or made up for marketing purposes. To me it was just like how pro wrestling had characters except this was who these guys actually were; these “characters” were real.  Another thing that made this era in MMA fun for me was the variety of styles. At this point in the early 2000’s, many of the fighters were aware of all styles but specialized in one. This made for some awesome match ups and some big drama in the cage. For example, Tito Ortiz was a wrestler who used his wrestling to take his opponents down and deliver ground and pound, whereas Chuck Liddell was also a wrestler but he used his wrestling to keep the fight on his feet and strike with his opponents.
Chuck and Tito are two people that are definitely characters in MMA. Most MMA fans would be able to identify either fighter based on their shorts alone. Chuck had his signature ice sickle shorts and Tito had his signature flame shorts. Both fighters had specific hair styles and signature techniques inside the cage; it was as if Street fighter had met the WWF.
As MMA began to evolve I started seeing less differences between fighting styles; in other words the fighters were becoming more well-rounded. This is great for the sport but it also takes something away from the match ups. Fighters like Damien Maia are now few and far between. Damien Maia is well versed in striking but there is no secret as to what he wants to do. My favorite matches to watch in the octagon today are the fights that mimic the older UFC match ups. A matchup between a Jiu Jitsu guy and striker, or a wrestler and a karate fighter, that is what really gets me excited about a MMA match today. I would love to see Wonderboy vs. Maia or any match of the sort.

Don’t get me wrong I still love MMA and there are still people who can pull off being a character in today’s UFC landscape. Guys like Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone, Conor McGregor and a few others still do it really well. This is in part because they are great fighters and polarizing figures in the MMA community. Before the Reebok deal fighters could differentiate themselves instantaneously; now everyone looks like a carbon copy of each other. I loved the era of fighters wearing sponsored shorts that they designed themselves as well as their banners representing the brands that sponsored them; it was a great time for the UFC. It was a throwback to the first few UFC fights. Fighters represented the art they were utilizing not just by using the techniques from their martial art but also by wearing the clothing from their martial art. Royce came out in the Gi, Art Jimmerson came out with the boxing gloves, Teila Tuli came out in the sumo attire, and they were a visual representation of the martial art they practiced. As the fighters got more well-rounded and started adding multiple martial arts to their skill set the rules began to change, therefore, you saw less of this but still some aspects remained. GSP would still come to the cage rocking the headband and Gi, Kevin Randleman still wore the wrestling shoes and the Brazilian’s still wore the vale tudo shorts. They still keep a little bit of their style in their attire much like characters from street fighter.  The Reebok deal has been massively criticized and ridiculed in the MMA community and I don’t mean to kick a dead horse but when the Reebok deal went into effect MMA became a little less fun for me. The era of the character had ended.