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Bloody Elbow Exclusive: BJJ Phenom Robert Drysdale Leaving BJJ, Submission Wrestling for MMA

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200px-robert_drysdale_mediumI had the pleasure of talking to Robert Drysdale yesterday. He's more than just the grappling coach for Frank Mir's team on this season of TUF. He's won a ton of BJJ titles and beat Marcelo Garcia at last year's  ADCC Submission Wrestling World Championship to take the Open Division title.

The buzz around Drysdale has been building all year. First he joined Xtreme Couture as part of their pro team and jiu jitsu coach. Then Robert made his amateur mma debut in October against the previously undefeated Josh Musick (8-0) in the main event of "TUFF-N-UFF", winning by submission.

He looked good in the match, using a punch to set up his takedown and not getting flustered when his first submission attempt didn't finish the fight.

One of the reasons I'm most excited about Drysdale entering MMA is that he's one of the grapplers who are one the cutting edge of the sport. Along with Eddie Bravo and Marcelo Garcia, Drysdale is one of the grapplers making major conceptual leaps in his approach to BJJ. His Nth Dimension of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu DVDs are highly recommended by our own Luke Thomas. This introductory segment is worth a viewing -- he explains how he has abandoned the traditional BJJ approach of using position to set up submissions and instead focuses on using submission threats to achieve dominant postion. And his bodylock family of submissions is something totally new to me -- I can't wait to see him bust it out in an MMA match.

During our conversation, Robert said he was likely to fight MMA again in January but doesn't have anything signed. He plans to take on Roger Gracie at the next ADCC and after that to focus on MMA rather than on competition grappling and jiu jitsu.

He said he'd had an eye on competing in MMA since starting out in BJJ but that "competing in these events and winning these titles was just something I wanted to do first, the kind of thing that would always be 'over there' in my mind if I didn't go for it."

He lost to Gracie at the 2007 BJJ Mundials and is looking forward to a chance to get his revenge.  Here's his thoughts on Gracie's BJJ game. Robert is excited about facing Gracie again and is even open to the idea of someday facing Gracie in MMA.

When I asked him about the weight difference, Robert said that he hasn't settled on his competition weight for MMA -- either 205 or 185, most likely the latter. He fought his amateur match at 195lbs and would be willing to take on Roger Gracie at heavyweight in MMA.

I asked him for his thoughts on Randy Couture vs Brock Lesnar and he feels like Randy's experience and ring savvy will give him the edge. He also thinks that Frank Mir has the potential to beat Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira by submission(!). He raved about Mir's explosiveness and power. Mir told him that he's excited about training jiu jitsu again for the first time in years.

As for the Vinny Magalhaes/Big Nog disrespect controversy, Robert thought it was much ado about nothing and that the red team guys had blown it out of proportion, twisting Vinny’s words.

He did say that being on the TUF show was “one of those experiences that you’ll look back on in 20 years and be glad you did it.”

Keep an eye on Drysdale, will be very interesting to watch how his MMA career develops.  He's certainly making the right first steps, hopefully his career won't be nipped in the bud like Marcelo Garcia's.

Robert Drysdale vs Roger Gracie at the BJJ Mundials


Tuff N Uff - Robert Drysdale Mix Martial Arts Debut