Javier Vazquez: Know Your Enemy

By Mike Sloan Feb 16, 2017
(SPONSORED CONTENT) -- Javier Vazquez is one of the best Brazilian jiu-jitsu players in North America and he wound up having himself a solid mixed martial arts career along the way. A third-degree black belt in under the legendary Carlson Gracie, Vazquez dominated dozens of grappling tournaments before switching to gears and trying his hand at pro fighting.

His profound grappling prowess allowed him to compete for Shooto, EliteXC and World Extreme Cagefighting before finally making it into the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s famed Octagon. After toppling fellow grappling guru Joe Stevenson in 2011, the Cuban-American retired from MMA. Here are his secrets on how to “Know Your Enemy,” presented by “Halo Wars 2.”

How do you prepare for a fight?

The first thing I’ll do is I need to get into that “fight” mindset. I’ll need to change my diet and that means eating only clean, healthy foods, no drinking and absolutely no partying at all. That is actually the first thing I do to get into fight prep mode, is changing my diet. I don’t need to hang up any pictures of the guy I’m fighting or any of that stuff, but in my mind that’s what I do.

How do you get to "Know Your Enemy" before a fight?

I watch a lot of film. I study and breakdown the film of my opponent to check out what his tendencies are and I find out the people he’s been training with. I’ll try and get an understanding of how they think they can beat me by looking at some of my most recent fights. I’m not necessarily trying to focus on what I am doing in training per se, but I am constantly trying to take advantage of any mistakes that they make.

What is your training like?

I start off by getting myself into shape in terms of my cardio. Tons of strength and conditioning, similar to a lot of CrossFit-type of training. I’ll swim, do pad work, wrestle, do my jiu jitsu, shoulder drills, motion drills, slipping punches. I don’t always train in my gi but since I love jiu jitsu so much, I will do gi work at times just to switch up the monotony of it. I do a lot of drills to defend the strikes on the ground, like fighting off my back, slipping punches off my back, working to get back to my feet or work sweeps. I try to put myself in worst-case scenarios so I can work out of them.

Do you study your opponent’s style to prepare counter-attacks in advance?

Yeah. I look at their movement, their tendencies, what they like to throw. For me, guys generally don’t fight me the way they normally fight. They tend to always fight me differently because of the danger of the takedown. The strategy for me, in their eyes, is to keep the fight on the feet and out-strike me. Nobody is trying to take me down and submit me so the only reasonable alternative is to keep me standing and try to knock me out. Nobody will rush me, either, because I can easily take people down when they try that. I think I have more of a specialist style and guys seem to always change their approach when fighting me. Now, if a guy is as high-level of a grappler as me, then I’ll just work on keeping the fight standing and improve my striking. I always try to beat guys where they are the weakest, not where they are the strongest.

What do you take away from each fight that helps you prepare for the next?

First of all, I always respect everybody that I fight and everybody I will fight. That’s number one. But what do I take away from each fight? I focus on every mistake -- big or small -- that I made. I always want to improve so I want to know where I strayed from the gameplan. Also, when I look at my fights, I try not to ever look at what my opponent did. Rather, I study what I did right and what I did wrong so I can fix that the next time out. I know that I can submit anybody I fight and when I don’t, or if I lose, I want to know exactly where I went wrong.

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