Marc Laimon is ripping it up. On November 6th, 2004, he defeated Ryron Gracie in a superfight at Grappler’s Quest in Las Vegas. His school, which had been open for less than a year, placed first in the same competition. As if that wasn’t enough, he is also the grappling coach on the UFC reality TV show.
This interview was conducted on November 13th, 2004
First of all, congratulations on your recent victory over Ryron Gracie.
Tell us a bit about your training history.
I started jiu jitsu in Torrance California, January 22nd, 1996. I then went on to train at Beverly Hills JJ Club. From their I moved and began teaching in Hawaii. After teaching in Hawaii I came to Las Vegas and opened up Cobra Kai. I am extremely proud of my team as I just heard that we won the Team title at Grapplers Quest which is the biggest tournament out on the westcoast. Not bad for a gym thats been open for under a year.
Could you take us through your match with Ryron Gracie, in your own words?
I agreed to the match and the rules for the match, in principle, about two months before we competed. However, on the day of the match right before we were to compete, Ryron and his camp tried to change the rules. As a result, we had to have an hour and a half discussion about the rules. We finally agreed to a slight modification of the rules. In the match, itself I took him down and beat him on points. I received my points from taking him down once and passing his guard twice. The only points he got came from a strange rule, pretty much unique to this match- a coin flip that came as a result of having stayed in guard for 3 minutes.
|Click here to see Marc’s explanation of how he took Ryron down|
What do you think of the rules of the match?
I had no problem with the rules.
You’d trained with Ryron before?
Yes, when he was about 14. But, he was just a kid then.
Some people have been saying that you looked pretty tired towards the end of your fight, and that you would have been in trouble in a match without time limits.
I was in good shape. By the end of the match I was tired, but so was he. If you’re not tired at the end of a match you could have worked harder. Hey, it would be ridiculous to point out that an Olympic Athlete competing in the 1500 meters was tired and probably wouldn’t win the marathon. If the athlete agreed and trained for the 1500, winning that event is what matters- not whether or not he was breathing hard at the end.
It’s the same thing in regards to the no time limit – had the rules been no time limit – I would have had a different strategy. We agreed to a fight that was going to be only 20 mins. I did what I had to do to get my hand raised. If it was a no time limit, I would have paced my self accordingly and still won.
|Click here to see Marc’s explanation of how he passed Ryron’s guard|
If you could do the match again, would you have done anything differently?
No, I wouldn’t change a thing.
At one point he had you in an ankle lock – was it close?
No. In preparation for this match I had my sparring partners, Joe Stevenson and Jason Miller, attack my feet on a daily basis: their stuff is tight – I’ll tap to their leglocks, but with Ryron’s leglock I didn’t feel like I was in a position to worry about tapping.
Before the fight no one really knew if Ryron was going to show up with the gi or without the gi. Were you relieved when he showed up without the gi?
It didnt matter what he showed up in – I was ready for both. I showed up to win.
How long did you train for this match?
Take us through a typical day of your training for this match.
Well I was involved in a reality TV show, running my school and training all at the same time. I’d be up at about 7 am, go to the show, do my conditioning with Couture, then teach my classes, get some training in, be back at the show from about 4 pm to 8 pm, then teach more classes and go home. It was really, really tough, and I’m glad it’s over.
What sort of conditioning were you were doing?
I was doing lots of rolling. I was rolling a lot with my students to help me prepare.
What about running?
Running really hurts my knees and ankles – I did it one day and my joints were just killing me so I said forget it. I’m not meant to run – I’m meant to ride in cars.
How has the pressure on you changed when you compete now that you’re a school owner?
There is a lot of pressure. I don’t think my students would leave me – I would feel like I failed them if I didn’t win, and then I put a lot of pressure on myself. I did a lot of visualization and reading about what the Russians do, and wasn’t nervous at all for this fight.
What do the Russians do?
They do a lot of visualization and are really into mental preparation. I was visualizing the techniques I was going to do and was remembering how it felt the last time that I competed. I went through all those emotions that I had. I visualized that stuff almost every night and would sleep really well – I didn’t get stressed.
Just before the fight I got a little bit nervous, a little bit emotional. The stands were full of people. I just focused on what I needed to do, got the win, and got out of there. The visualization really helped, because before I’d always puke and get the dry heaves before tournaments. I just felt sure of myself, and that visualization helped so much.
Some other people are saying that you were afraid to engage him on the ground and kept on standing up.
My guard is getting back up to my feet; that’s how I train my fighters and that’s how I practice. I don’t want to fight from an inferior position, and that’s what I feel the guard is. He didn’t hold me down or have any pressure on his passes, so I stood up.
Also people say that he came close with the submission: anyone can jump on a leg. I like submitting from a dominant position: I passed the guard twice but he recovered it, so I wasn’t in a dominant position for long enough. I could have fallen back with an ankle lock, but that’s Russian Roulette – either person could get the submission – so that’s not a good trade for me.
Is there anyone else you’d like to fight?
I’m not into calling people out.
Is there anything else you’d like to say about your match with Ryron?
I’d like to thank Ryron for taking this match. We both had a lot of pressure on us. I wish him continued success.
|Click here to see Marc’s explanation of how he countered Ryron’s ankle lock attempt|
Can you talk about your involvement with the UFC reality show?
I can’t tell you anything about it other than that it’s going to air January 15th on Spike TV following Monday Night RAW. I really enjoyed myself, it was a blast, and I think that the show is going to be a success. They actually show real fights, so it’s pretty cool.
Why has your school in Las Vegas become a mecca for NHB fighters?
I’m not a typical jiu-jitsu guy, I don’t ever shut myself down to learning, and I understand what works in mixed martial arts. I teach guys to stand up out of the guard, not to lie there and take a beating. I’ve also got a lot of good guys at my school – it’s a very competitive training room and everyone feeds off of each other. There are no easy matches: when a fighter is getting ready for a match their ego is in shambles, because every guy they go against is so tough and skilled. Then they go and train or fight somewhere else and they feel a lot better.
Why haven’t you fought NHB?
I’m not a fighter. I think it’s the best sport in the world: I really like watching it and I think I know a bit about it. I like training guys, doing a few submission matches here and there. I know my place in the world and I’m happy where I’m at.
Do you do gi and no gi at your school?
Yes. Right now we do a little bit more no-gi, but we still do gi 4 times a week.
Why do you think no gi is so popular in North America?
No-gi is blowing up because it is more similar to fighting than training with a gi on.
Any guesses as to what the next evolution of NHB is going to be? We’ve had the BJJ phase, the wrestler phase, the kickboxer phase, what’s next?
Passing the guard. I hope people will learn to pass the guard and see how valuable it is to b in the mount. There’s nothing I hate more than seeing someone sitting in someone else’s guard pounding away: if you have a good guard it’s tough to nail them, and that makes for a boring fight and it’s bad for the fans. I’d like to see fighters trying to improve their positions.
Another evolution that I think is going to happen is that better athletes are going to get involved in the sport as the money gets better: Olympic caliber wrestlers and so on. I think that the next generation of fighters aren’t going to be as specialized: they’ll have the guard, they’ll know how to pass, they’ll have strikes, takedowns, everything. The next big thing is going to be lack of specialization.
So who are your three favorite MMA fighters?
1: BJ Penn, because I think he is the best pound for pound fighter. 2: Randy Couture, because of his work ethic and the way he carries himself. 3: Jeremy Horn, because he is underated.
How about favorite jiu-jitsu guys?
BJ Penn, Marcelo Garcia, Leo Viera, Robson Moura
So now that you’re not affiliated with a team anymore where do you get your technical information from?
Same place I got it when I was a blue belt: from video tapes, watching competitions, breaking it down, asking people questions. I watch tapes at home, I have friends who watch tapes and call me, telling me about a move I should check out. Then I’ll see if the move fits in my game: sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t.
Even though I’m a black belt I don’t know everything and never will. It’s a constant learning process. Also, with the group of guys I have at my school, it is constant evolution: guys are constantly coming up with new techniques.
If you had the time to go and train somewhere to further your own skills where would you go?
I’d probably go train with Randy Couture – I think his Greco stuff is really good and translates well to fighting. I like that you don’t have to shoot and that it is low risk. If you try a takedown and it fails you’re not in a bad position, whereas if you use a freestyle wrestling shoot you could end up underneath a sprawl. There are also some German and Russian wrestlers I’d like to train with.
Any last comments?
I would like to thank Randy Couture, Rapheal Lovato and all my students at Cobra Kai who helped me prepare for this match. Thanks for the support.