Shinya Aoki fighting in America is something we were all pretty excited for. But that was before Gilbert Melendez laid out a boring but effective blueprint for beating the Japanese jiu jitsu ace: keep your distance, fwack him when he tries to take you down. Rinse and repeat for 15 – 25 minutes and claim your decision victory. You can’t blame a fighter for fighting smart, but you can feel kinda resentful about it. It takes one of the most creative and dynamic grapplers in the sport and reduces him to a butt-scooting joke.
Fortunately for us, it sounds like Aoki’s next opponent Lyle Beerbohm may actually be willing to go to the ground with him:
“I don’t think my sprawl-and-brawl is up to par,” said Beerbohm. “In MMA, if someone really wants a takedown and they commit to it, I think they usually get it. Unless, I guess, you have some super good sprawl-and-brawl, like Gilbert Melendez did. He really shut him down. But I’m not that type of fighter. I definitely have to be aware of his tricky submissions, but I have to kind of fight him a little bit different. I don’t want to be on my back with him, so I have to push the pace and either get on top of him or beat him up against the cage.”
“I like to go to the ground, and he’s one of the best grapplers in the world at lightweight. I think it should be an exciting fight, and I’m not afraid to go to the ground with him. I’m really not. He might think that no one wants to go there with him, but we’ll see what happens when we get there.”
Let’s not get too excited yet though. We live in the days of fighters constantly lying about their gameplans – I’m looking in your direction, Anthony ‘Rassle’ Johnson. It doesn’t take a master tactician to see where this fight is most easily won, and where it’s one hammerlock away from disaster. But am I the only one who thinks a back and forth on the ground with Aoki is better for Beerbohm’s career even if it ends up losing him the fight? Or is that my intense need for some of that sweet jitz crack clouding my reason?
Maybe Mister Former Addict who’s new drug is MMA feels the same way. Sure, weed is fun and safe (unless you’re Diego Sanchez) but half the fun in heroin is how it can totally kill you. When you look at risk like that, messing with Aoki on the ground sounds like the kind of thing Lyle might be into. I just hope he isn’t being a liar liar, fancy pants on fire.