As the trainer of Chuck Liddell, John Hackleman knows when a fighter packs some power.
“The Iceman” has of course retired, but the next generation of Hackleman’s fighters at The Pit are now climbing the ranks and Ramsey Nijem is one of them. Ahead of Nijem’s matchup Saturday against Myles Jury at UFC on Fox 7, Hackleman joined the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show to discuss the bout, how wrestling can help punching power and more.
On Nijem: “He’s really raw but really strong, really tough. A great wrestler and a really, really fast learner. He’s eager to learn and he puts his stuff together well. He hits really hard.”
On where Nijem’s power comes from: “I mean, a lot of these wrestlers, like Dan Henderson and now Johny Hendricks, they just hit naturally really hard. They come from such a solid wrestling base, they don’t mind being taken down. They have such innate takedown defense already, they just go balls out on the striking and it makes them hit that much harder. A striking-based guy, even if he hits hard and he’s mainly a striker, he’s always in the back of his mind worried about the takedown. He’s pulling back a little on his striking. He doesn’t hit quite as hard as he would if it was a straight striking game. Wrestlers like Ramsey, who just hits like a frickin’ mule, they just let it all hang out. It makes them hit even harder.”
On whether wrestling is the best base for MMA: “Probably. Probably. It’s like a double-edged sword. There’s those freaks like Georges St. Pierre and there’s some other ones that have become such good wrestlers just after jumping into the MMA game with a striking background, but I think [on] average that would probably be your best base going in … . There’s a pivotal point where does it go to the ground or does it stay standing? The wrestler does have the advantage there. I think that’s the best, then you build on the other two [submissions and striking]. But then again, with that said, in and of itself alone, I think wrestling is the most boring of the three.”
On how much Chuck Liddell worked on wrestling later in his career: “Tons. It’s underacknowledged, but he spent tons of time. You have to. These guys that are putting down the wrestling, because wrestling in and of itself is kind of boring to watch -- that’s why it’s being pulled from everywhere -- but their base is a solid base. Nobody’s ever going to say Dan Henderson is boring or Johny Hendricks is boring or Ramsey Nijem is boring. They come from a wrestling base, but because of that, they just let their hands go. Chuck worked a lot of wrestling, a lot of takedown defense. We’d do escapes off the bottom -- that was our main thing, just so when it hits the ground, get right back up. He worked that just as much or more than anything else during his career.”
Listen to the full interview (beginning at 40:57).