Wednesday, April 22, 2009

No elbows, no knees, no problem: Amputee set for MMA

Light-heavyweight Steve Cantwell jokingly told me last week that he wouldn't mind fighting someone without arms.

Too bad he can't make the cut to 135 pounds.

Kyle Maynard — described as a "congenital amputee" — was born without elbows, hands, knees or feet, but with plenty of athletic ambition. He compiled a 35-16 record as a high school wrestler and won an ESPY in 2004 for "best athlete with a disability." USA TODAY profiled him in 2004, going so far as to label him "The Ultimate Fighter" in the days before the term became associated with Spike TV's reality show.

He has a book and a documentary. He opened his own gym in December.

He wants to try martial arts at 135 pounds, but his home state of Georgia denied him an MMA license in 2007. Now he's going to give it a shot in Alabama, which doesn't regulate the sport.

"You know, just do it in an unsanctioned state, that way I can get that first one under my belt and hopefully build a little bit more of a legitimate case that I would be able to, in fact, defend myself in a fight," Maynard told MMA Fanhouse.

The 23-year-old Maynard started training jiu-jitsu at Hardcore Gym in Athens, Ga., and currently works with former world champion Paul Creighton. Maynard has competed under the auspices of the North American Grappling Association:

His short limbs present an obvious disadvantage, but he has certain unique characteristics that could help: low center of gravity; an unusually powerful torso and upper body compared to anyone else in his weight class; and he always counts as a grounded opponent, so can't be struck be knees or kicks to the head. The video above also the unusual difficulties of pulling guard on him — if he's on top, he probably has an easier time than most grapplers in maintaining positional control.

(Posted by Sergio Non)

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