Ryan Hall has spent some time training at Straight Blast Gym in Dublin recently, and he was impressed by the ground-game of Conor McGregor.
Though both the combatants involved are known primarily for their striking prowess, many observers feel the highly-anticipated UFC 194 main event between Conor McGregor and Jose Aldo could be decided on the mat.
Aldo may have logged only 2 submission victories in his 26-fight professional career and his sole loss may have come via rear-naked choke, but the longtime king of the featherweight division is a far better grappler than that record suggests.
The South American “Scarface” is a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and achieved a great deal of success in BJJ competition prior to his entry into the world of MMA.
According to BJJHeroes, Aldo secured a bronze medal in the blue belt division at the 2001 World Championships, was the Brazilian national champion in the purple belt division 2 years later, and won the World Cup at the brown belt level in 2004. Along the way he also secured two victories over Rubens “Cobrinha” Charles, who would go on to become a multiple-time world champion, double ADCC winner, and all-round grappling legend.
Though Aldo rarely displays these skills inside the octagon, some are expecting him to change his strategy against the Irishman, who showed holes in his ground-game when he faced-off with Chad Mendes at UFC 189.
Another high-level grappler, however, doesn’t think that McGregor will struggle to keep up with Aldo on the floor, should the Brazilian decide to throw a curve-ball on December 12th.
In two brief contests on the ongoing season of The Ultimate Fighter, Ryan Hall has already shown just how dangerous a submission fighter he can be. He heel-hooked his way into the house against Johnny Nunez, and then booked his place in the quarter-final with another heel-hook against Frantz Slioa.
In recent weeks, the American, who has amassed a number of impressive accolades in the grappling world and is considered a master of the “50/50 guard”, spent a period training at Dublin’s Straight Blast Gym, during which time he had the chance to grapple with the UFC interim-featherweight champion.
He had only good things to say, and suggested that Conor’s grappling game isn’t as far behind Aldo’s as many assume
“Not only did I get the opportunity to roll with Conor, but I was very impressed”, Hall told Paul Dollery of the42.“I think people don’t realise how much ability he has and I was pleasantly surprised by his level of skill and level of composure. Those things don’t always go hand-in-hand; sometimes you get someone who’s very skillful in one area but when you get them out of their comfort zone they’re not complete”.
“But Conor’s a fantastic martial artist and I was very, very impressed. He trains very diligently and he puts in those hours. Jose Aldo is a fantastic fighter and a very high-level jiu-jitsu guy but the gulf between them on the ground is not what people might think”.
“Not at all”.