Courtesy of boxinginsider.com, no gi Jiu Jitsu specialist and MMA personality Eddie "Twister" Bravo gives his preview and predictions for the upcoming PRIDE FC Inferno show!
Boxinginsider.com: Mirko "Cro Cop" returns to the Pride ring after his loss to Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at Pride Final Conflict. What are your thoughts on Mirko?
Eddie Bravo: Mirko is no doubt the most dangerous striker in the business.
He's not a small striker, either. I think he's about 230 pounds and he just knocks the sh-t out of people . He stands south paw -- so that means, against most fighters, who usually fight in a conventional stance, which is right leg back, his rear leg is his left and it's aimed right at your face.
So he knocks everybody out that way. It's impossible for any MMA striker right now to stand with him -- and he's gaining more and more confidence the more he fights. He fought Wanderlei Silva in his first MMA fight. He was pretty cautious and they fought to a draw, but I think now he's a lot more comfortable with his takedown defense and his jiu-jitsu. As far as his ground defense goes, his jiu-jitsu's getting a lot better, so he would be the last guy that I would want to fight if I ever got into MMA.
Boxinginsider.com: How does a grappler, like Ron Waterman, approach a fight with Mirko?
Eddie Bravo: Ron Waterman's got his hands full. It's obvious, after what I just said, that he's not going to be able to stand with Mirko Cro Cop and trade punches. He's going to have to take him down -- and perhaps Ron Waterman can take him down. But what's he going to do when he gets him down? Mirko Cro Cop has shown that he can keep people in his guard, and avoid punishment on the ground. If the guy doesn't know good jiu-jitsu, and if he doesn't have good passes, then he's f-cked against Cro Cop. You're going to have to pass Mirko Cro Cop's guard after you take him down in order to finish him. Or, they're going to stand him up at the end of the round or if the referee thinks they're stalling, they're going to stand him up -- and every time they get a stand-up, that's another chance for Mirko Cro Cop to t-off on Waterman's head. Can he take Mirko down? And, if he does take him down, can he pass his guard and finish him off? I personaly don't think so.
Ron Waterman's a huge underdog in this fight.
Boxinginsider.com: Explain how a grappler works for the takedown against a superior striker?
Eddie Bravo: It all depends on how good a grappler you are. Grappler is such a broad term. I'm a good grappler, but I can't take anybody down -- my wrestling's terrible. There's jiu-jitsu -- which is after the fight hits the ground, and wrestling -- which is taking the guy to the ground or preventing a guy from taking you down to the ground. That's all grappling -- holding onto people and trying to control someone's body. But to take Mirko Cro Cop down, you're going to have to have had some serious wrestling training. I think the top world-class wrestlers can take him down fairly easily. I think if Mark Coleman got in there, I think he could take down Mirko Cro Cop pretty easily. Randy Couture as well. But can Ron Waterman take a guy like Mirko Cro Cop down? I'm not too sure. I'm going to say he's going to have a hell of a time taking him down. I think you need to at least be trained by a world-class wrestler, if your're not one yourself, if you plan on taking Mirko down. One mistake and you wake up in the hospital. I don't know exactly who Ron Waterman's training with, but he's going to have a hard time taking Mirko down.
Boxinginsider.com: Round One of the Grand Prix qualifying tournament is also taking place. First of all, Mark Kerr returns to Pride to Norihisa Yamamoto. What do you think about his return?
Eddie Bravo: I'm glad to see that he's trying to get his life together and to get back into MMA. I think most MMA fans saw the documentary on his life -- "The Smashing Machine". The guy had some serious problems. That's the reason you haven't seen him in MMA for so long. It's good to see that he's trying to get his life back together. I once said that if Mark Kerr was focused and training hard, he would be unstoppable. We'll see if he can get back to the top again. I hope it happens.
Boxinginsider.com: What does Mark have to do to reestablish himself as a top contender?
Eddie Bravo: He has to get back into shape. The last time he competed in grappling was the Abu Dhabi, back in Brazil, in May. He wasn't in classic Mark Kerr-shape in Brazil. It seemed as if he'd let himself go. He did all right with Ricardo Arona, but Ricardo Arona took him down, so that pretty much tells you what kind of shape Mark Kerr was in 7 months ago. I'm not too sure if he's going to be in better shape for his return to MMA, but if he is in tip-top shape, there won't be too many fighters on the planet that could beat him.
Boxinginsider.com: Norihisa Yamamoto has a record of 5-11, but is a very capable fighter. What does Kerr have to be cautious about?
Eddie Bravo: Yamamoto is a Jack of All Trades. He has OK strikes and OK submissions and OK wrestling. I don't see Yamamoto being able to do anything to Mark Kerr. I see Mark Kerr dictating whether the fight stays up or goes to the ground. And if it goes to the ground, I'm pretty sure Mark Kerr's going to be on top, pounding away. Unless Mark Kerr shows up in terrible shape once again, I don't think Yamamoto has a chance in this fight.
Boxinginsider.com: In another qualifying match, Heath Herring fights Gan McGee. How do you think this fight will evolve?
Eddie Bravo: That's an interesting fight and a hard one to call. Heath Herring's been in the Pride organization for a while now and he was one of their top fighters -- considered one of the top three a few years ago. And then he lost to Fedor, he lost to Cro Cop and in this sport when you lose a couple matches in a row in that bad of a fashion, you've got to make a huge comeback if you want to be ranked among the best. He did win his last match, but it was against a pro wrestler with very little MMA experience. Gan McGee is a UFC fighter who got beat by Tim Sylvia in his last outing, he also needs the win bad. He's a big boy --6'10" -- I think and Heath Herring's about 6'4", 6'5". Will height make a difference? I don't know. They're both good wrestlers, but I think Heath Herring's jiu-jitsu is probably a little better than McGee's and I think Heath's strikes might be a little better than McGee's as well. It's a hard one to call, but I'm going to go with Heath Herring in this fight.
Boxinginsider.com: Gan McGee is coming off a loss to Tim Sylvia. Many commentators were critical of his choice to stand and trade with Sylvia.
What does McGee have to do in this fight to get a victory and to reestablish himself as part of the upper echelon of the heavyweight division?
Eddie Bravo: I think Gan McGee's only chance, really, is to take Heath Herring down,control him, and try to get a ground 'n' pound decision out of it -- or maybe a ground 'n' pound stoppage. I think that's his only shot -- is taking the fight to the ground and ending up on top.
Boxinginsider.com: Igor Vovchanchyn faces Dan Bobish. Igor has had some difficult losses lately and really needs to reestablish himself. How can Igor gain the upper-hand on Daniel Bobish?
Eddie Bravo: Even though Igor has lost a couple of fights, he's still a threat -- he still has knock-out power in both hands. And his jiu-jitsu's pretty good, too. He's got a few submissions under his belt. But Daniel Bobish is 330 plus pounds. If Dan Bobish imposes his will on Vovchanchyn by taking him down, I think it's going to be a long night for Igor on his back.
He's got a tall order there. He's out-weighed by over a hundred pounds. Igor Vovchanchyn has a lot more technique than Dan Bobish but Dan Bobish has the power behind him. I think that's going to make the difference. I'm going to go with Daniel Bobish in this fight.
Boxinginsider.com: In his last fight Bobish suffered an eye injury early in the fight. Against Vovchanchyn he will face a very capable striker. How can he slow down the assault and control the fight?
Eddie Bravo: He's going to have to take Igor Vovchanchyn down. As I mentioned earlier, he's going to have to take him down, stay on top, and he might have a good chance of grounding and pounding a TKO out of Igor Vovchanchyn. Igor has been cut several times in his career and the skin around his eyes is very delicate, so I see a lot of blood in that fight. I see Dan Bobish on top. Dan Bobish needs to be on top. If he stands with Igor, he'll give Igor a chance to pull it out, giving Igor a puncher's chance. So Dan Bobish needs to be on top, on the ground.
Boxinginsider.com: In the final pre-match, of guys that we've heard of, Murilo Ninja Rua versus Alexander Otsuka from Japan. How do you see that match unfolding?
Eddie Bravo: Oh, that's an easy one to call. This is the opposite of a "pick 'em". Ninja is just going to massacre Alexander Otsuka. Alexander Otsuka has had one big win in his MMA career and it was against Marco Ruas. And since then he really hasn't done much. He hasn't shown any technical progression in the sport. He used to be a pro wrestler and I think he still does it -- and he fights like a pro wrestler who really doesn't work on his technique at all. I see Murilo Ninja Rua taking Alexander Otsuka apart within two minutes.
Boxinginsider.com: Finally, this marks Pride's comeback to the United States. What are your final thoughts on this show? How do you think this show is going to resonate with the American fans?
Eddie Bravo: This show we're talking about is the one that's going to be in America?
Boxinginsider.com: No. This show's going to be February 1st and it's going to air on pay-per-view in America the next week. How do you think this event is going to play to the American public and help put Pride over in America?
Eddie Bravo: I think the American public should love it. Pride is monstrous in Japan. There's no reason why it can't be monstrous in the United States.
I'm not too sure about their pay-per-view numbers, but I know a lot of people who don't know anything about MMA are into Pride, the video game.
They love it. I know a lot of guys who love the Pride fighting video game.
So, I think that once they're exposed to the real thing, of course they're going to love it. Who doesn't love fights? Only a man who would have never survived in the wild doesn't like fights. Real men like fights. How could this not be as big in the United States and in the world as it is in Japan?
There was no resistance from the Japanese. The martial arts are part of their culture. There was no Boxing Commission trying to hold them back.
They're just eating it up in Japan and it would be fantastic if it got to that point in the United States as well. And I really think it will be. If they come to Vegas, it's guaranteed I'll be there, for sure.
BoxingInsider.com: We hear you've got a new DVD coming out. Will you tell us about it?
Eddie Bravo: Yes, I have a new DVD coming out. I have a whole mess of my jiu-jitsu fights on tape, but I chose seventeen of my favorite ones, starting from when I was a blue-belt, fighting in high school gyms with five people in the audience. And it goes all through my purple-belt days, where there's a slightly bigger crowd. Then Grappler's Quest -- when I won Grappler's Quest in 2000 -- there are a couple of fights from that event.
Then the trials, and then it ends with me fighting Royler Gracie, with Portuguese commentary. So it takes you through my whole jiu-jitsu career. If you're a fan of my grappling style, then I think you'll enjoy it. For more information, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org -- and I'll give you all the information. It's quite simple.
Eddie Bravo is a regular contributor to boxinginsider.com