Archive for the ‘ Editorial ’ Category

Reviewing "Fighting for a Generation - 20 Years In The Octagon"

Monday, November 4th, 2013

I had the opportunity to screen the UFC documentary “Fighting For A Generation” and it was absolutely fantastic. I have to watch a lot of media content from fight promotions, fighters and websites around the world and honestly much of it blurs together. Fighter ”˜A’ is in the best of shape of his life, he hopes fighter ”˜B’ is healthy so he can face the best fighter ”˜B’ possible and he had fighters ”˜X, Y and Z’ all come out to help him with the camp.

I am not one of those people who claims to have watched UFC 1 and fell in love with it from the beginning. Admittedly, I am not sure what UFC I saw first. All I remember about the first UFC I watched was that some guy in his pajamas climbed onto someone elses back and made him submit. Since the person’s house I was at always bought the wrestling pay-per-views, I was convinced it was as fake as the WWF. I wasn’t there to watch fighting, real or fake. Frankly, I was there to play pool and smoke cigarettes, and I only stopped to watch the main event because everyone else at the party did. I was a teenager in my prime, and all that means is that I was young and stupid. It took me until about UFC 8 to understand how much I loved the sport.

Since I am willing to admit that I don’t know everything, whenever someone gives an oral history of combat sports I get very excited. I get hyperfocused on the stories, the settings and all of the blood and guts it took to move it to the place it is today. When I heard the UFC was doing a documentary on the company's history I was pretty sure I was going to like some of it. Part of me thought it was going to be Henry Rollins speaking in a monotone voice and over enunciating all of his words while old fight footage played in the background. Part of me also thought it was going to be one big commercial about how awesome the UFC is, but thats not what this is.

I can’t give anything away on the documentary, but I can say they did a very good job setting the scene for all of the highs and all of the lows the company has faced. You can hear the desperation in Bob Meyrowitz’s voice when he discusses wanting to sell the UFC and how happy he was when he got two million dollars for the promotion. You can tell how much Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta believed in the UFC when they went against their father’s wishes when they purchased the UFC. You can hear how excited UFC President Dana White was when he talks about making a deal for the second season of The Ultimate Fighter just minutes after the first finale was done. This is hard to accomplish when you have gathered and scoured through as much history and fighting as I have.

This is must see tv for any UFC fan. You will hear from fighters, celebrities, and pundits alike, all talking about the evolution of the UFC. No matter how much you know about the UFC, you WILL learn something. The show airs tomorrow night on FOX Sports 1. Check your local listings for times.

Check out a short preview of the show.

What Is Normal for 'The Spider' Is Chaos For The Fly

Monday, June 24th, 2013

Normal is an illusion. What is normal for the spider is chaos for the fly.- Charles Adams

As the marketing begins to take hold for UFC 162: Silva Vs Weidman, fans are coming out in droves in support for the challenger Chris Weidman. These are usually the same people who pretend they didn’t pick against UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson ”˜The Spider” Silva in his last several title fights as soon as UFC President Dana White puts the belt around his waist in the Octagon. This is nothing new to Silva, as he has been in this position many times in his six-year reign atop of the UFC middleweight division. However, the support for Weidman is really piling up for this one.

Weidman is a great fighter, and he is a future UFC champion, but I’m not picking Weidman. In fact, at this point it will be very hard for me to pick against Silva regardless of who he's rumbling with. This sounds incredibly close-minded, but people seem to have a really short memory when it comes to the accomplishments and track record of the pound-for-pound best fighter on the planet. The fact is, until a fighter can string together some of the most violent things I have ever seen in the Octagon, I won’t be picking against Silva. Yes, Silva is an aging fighter that is closer to the end of his career than he is to the beginning, but we have not seen him slow down or even seen his confidence shook.

We hear the same tired lines from the hype machine leading up to Silva’s fight about his legacy - “If he could beat fighter X, his legacy will be cemented as the pound for pound king.” Silva’s legacy was cemented a long time ago. Let's say lightening strikes and Weidman upsets Silva. Does that undo his pile of shattered UFC and MMA records? The undefeated Weidman was told by the UFC that he wasn’t ready for Silva and he should win one more fight, but they seemed to change their tune when ”˜fans started asking for it.’ This is the same person who could turn the most decorated champion's legacy on its head?

A win over Weidman will not cement any part of Silva’s legacy. It will be just another win over another middleweight. Silva has more performance-based bonuses (12 - tied with Joe Lauzon for a UFC record), more UFC finishes (14 - a UFC record) and more consecutive title-defenses (10 - a UFC record) than Weidman even has professional MMA fights. If Silva was fighting Welterweight Champion Georges St-Pierre or Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones this would be a legacy fight, but in this fight you can count on one hand how many UFC wins Weidman has.

Anyone who thinks that the first person to beat Silva is just going to walk off with the belt is silly. When you pile up more MMA records than the UFC has hall of famers you earn certain things, and one of them is an immediate rematch with the person who takes your belt. If Weidman is EVER going to be in a legacy fight with Silva, it will be in a rematch, not on July 6.

Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Jon Fitch Feels Fighters Should Come Together Over Rights, Not Money

Friday, June 21st, 2013

Going on almost 10 years now, MMA fighters have hypothesized about creating a fighters union. There are three parties involved in the picture: the fighters, the promotion and the managers. They all have a horse in the race, as each one of them could potentially have their own business model turned upside down if a union got put together (and with FOX and Viacom now securely in the picture, there may even be a fourth player.)

The first thing all three parties do when you say “union” is yell “Don’t touch my money!” Each one of these parties will tell you how great a union could be and the potential benefits they could bring, but you can bet the pink slip to your car that there are dozens of people in each group waving their middle fingers as soon as the cameras go off. Top fighters (a.k.a. the most influential) would possibly be asked to give up a percentage of what they make, promotions could be forced to pay fighters more and be forced to change contracts, and depending on the manager, it could mean curtains for that particular group altogether. Managers would likely be required to be approved as managers (which would thin the manager herd exponentially) and, contrary to popular belief, they all don’t work the same way. With a stroke of a pen all of a managers contracts could evaporate.

Over the past few years the idea has gained some steam almost completely focused on money. It’s a big part of the motivation, but where has it gotten anyone? Besides a little momentum, we are pretty much in the same place as we were with regards to unions as we were when Royce Gracie showed everyone what a rear naked choke was.

Since the definition of “insane” is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, weeks prior to Jon Fitch’s WSOF debut I asked him what he thought the best path to a fighters association was. Fitch explained, “There are a lot of big topics that get brought up that fighters don’t have a voice in. Zero voice. It’s all left down to the promoters and the commissions. Some people argue we’re the ones that risk our bodies, we’re the ones that the sport goes away if we stop doing it, we’re the ones that make it possible for people to enjoy this sport.”

“We should have a voice. Things like TRT, rule changes, and marijuana are things we should have a say in. We should have a group of people that come together to discuss these things. Everyone else does.”

Some fighters could be their own worse enemy if they are trying to drum up support for an association, and Fitch agrees. “This could depend on how its done. If fighters come in and start attacking contracts and the money, I think you’re going to come up against a lot of opposition, and I don’t think its going to happen,” Fitch said. “But if we come at this for instance with fighters rights, we are going to have a lot more support.”

Fitch says for now let the managers deal with the money. “I am a firm believer in leaving the money discussions between my management and the promotion. I have great management, I am more than comfortable with my management making deals for me.”

The yellow brick road to a fighters association is not paved with dollars and cents, and the firm grip everyone has on their own purse-strings will get tighter if everyone pretends that it is. If fighters decided to use honey instead of vinegar, and demand to have a voice that could have career determining effects on them, the road will likely become less winding and shorter.

Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Bellator Fighter Profile: War Machine

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

Welterweight Jonathan “War Machine” Koppenhaver began his fighting career with the Tijuana-based Total Combat organization 2004.  He fought three times in his first year, going 3-0 and finishing all fights in the first round. His first loss came in Columbus, OH against Mike O’Donnell. O’Donnell submitted Koppenhaver late in the second round with an armbar. Koppenhaver fought once more for Total Combat with a first-round TKO of RJ Gamez before joining The Ultimate Fighter Season 6 cast.   War Machine earned Fight of the Night and Knockout of the Night honors at the Ultimate Fighter finale but lost his sophomore fight with the promotion.  He succumbed to a Yoshiyuki Yoshida Anaconda choke within the first minute of the opening round.  After making several comments regarding the death of fellow UFC fighter Evan Tanner, the promotion released Koppenhaver after his second fight.

War Machine then amassed a five fight win streak before losing to David Mitchell at Tachi Palace Fights 1. Koppenhaver then fought three more times, going 2-1 before his career was interrupted by several visits to jail.  His most notable victory is a third-round TKO of Roger Huerta in November of 2011.

In 2008, Koppenhaver legally changed his name to War Machine.  The radical action was an attempt to settle a dispute with TNA wrestling over a “gimmick infringement”.  When the UFC did not use his nickname during a fight for fear of a lawsuit from TNA, Koppenhaver decided to legally change his name to so as not to lose it. Such unpredictable behavior is the norm for Koppenhaver.  War Machine was raised by an LAPD officer and a former nurse-turned-stay-at-home mom.  At 13, he unsuccessfully attempted to perform CPR on his father and watched the man expire before his eyes. After two years of study at The Citadel in South Carolina, Koppenhaver was expelled from the university for “poor behavior”.

Poor behavior has become the leitmotif of Koppenhaver’s adult life.  War Machine has had several run-ins with the law for multiple assault and battery charges.  In February of 2009, War Machine was arrested at his job as a topless bottle server at a Nevada gay bar. Along with his healthy arrest record, Koppenhaver has also starred in 12 adult films, although his relationship with the adult film community came to a violent end when he “lost it” at adult performer Brooke Haven’s birthday party.  He assaulted several people and ran off before police could arrive.

After several stints in prison, War Machine is expected to face the 8-6 Blas Avena at Bellator 96.

Breaking Down UFC 161: Evans Vs Henderson - Prelims

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

The UFC touches down for the first time Winnepeg, Manitoba, Canada this Saturday night for UFC 161: Evans Vs Henderson, and as always the preliminary card will be free on facebook and on FX. The main card is sure to be jam packed with fireworks, but make sure you get warmed up properly with the prelims. Check out our breakdown and predictions for the bouts below. The undercard starts on Facebook at about 7:00 EST.

As always, the main card picks will be up Friday, and keep it locked to Fighters.com for complete UFC 161 coverage.

Yves Jabouin vs. Dustin Pague

There are a few fights on the UFC 161 undercard that have pink slip written all over them. Depending on how this one rolls out, either Jabouin or Pague could be hitting the bricks after this weekend. Jabouin is very active with his kicks, and all of his strikes for the most part play off his jab. Brad Pickett was able to notice this right way, and was able to use it to pick apart Jabouin and eventually light him up toward the end of the round. I don’t think Pague will have the chops to do that to Jabouin in this fight, but I expect Pague to make it a lot closer than people think.

Yves Jabouin Via Unanimous Decision

Mitch Clarke vs. John Maguire

While there is a chance that Jabouin could survive being cut with a solid performance, it’s hard that to say about either of these two fighters. Both are coming off of two losses and the loser in this one is more than likely hitting the bricks. Expect this one to happen on the ground, especially as the rounds play out. and it would seem that Maguire is going to be a little quicker in the scrambles when it does. Maguire should be able to lace up a late submission after wearing Clarke out, or pick up the decision. This could be fun as both are very clear on the stakes.

John Maguire Via Split Decision

Roland Delorme vs. Edwin Figueroa

Both Delorme and Figueroa share a common foe as both loss in their last bouts to Francisco Rivera. Figueroa was able to stick around five minutes longer than Delorme, but fortunately for Delorme his lost was turned to a no contest when Rivera tested hot and was suspended. Delorme has an evolved BJJ game that has taught him to stay very composed when the pressure is on. The good news for him, thats when his opponents are likely to make a mistake. Thats what I see happening here in this fight, I expect Figueroa to get very excited after landing something big on Delorme, but that will be Figueroa’s undoing.

Roland Delorme Via submission round 1

Sean Pierson vs. Kenny Robertson

Robertson was able to roll for an unsuspecting knee bar, and pick up a first round win over Brock Jardine at UFC 157, but he is going to need to get lucky if he is expecting that to work on Pierson. Pierson’s experience and grittiness should be enough to overwhelm Robertson late in the fight, and if Robertson survives it will be to be handed a decision loss. Look for the hands of Pierson to be on display in this one, and while I think Robertson will make a fight of this one, I’m not sure he can out wit Pierson to get the Win in this one.

Sean Pierson Via Unanimous Decision

James Krause vs. Sam Stout

Sam Stout was set to face Isaac Vallie-Flagg, but James Krause is replacing Flagg and making his UFC debut. While this will win Krause favor with the UFC and some of the fans, he is set for a tough fight against a guy who has been training for a better version of himself. Krause is riding a seven fight win streak going in this fight, but I expect the wheels to come off against Stout. While Krause is showing a lot of balls by stepping in to fight Stout on short notice, the jury is out as if he was using his brains when he said yes. Either way, Krause will no doubt mark up Stout throughout the fight, but I expect the veteran to pick up the decision.

Sam Stout Via Split Decision

Jake Shields vs. Tyron Woodley

Jake Shields return to middleweight went pretty well for him until he failed his post fight drug test and the result was overturned. Woodley’s wrestling is going to make it very difficult for Shields to get him down, and in fact I expect him to only be able to do it once or twice with little or no advantage gained. That said, Shields needs to be sharp on the feet, and while before the Hieron fight I would have put them as close to equals with strikes, Woodley changed all that when he starched Hieron in 36 seconds at UFC 156. Woodley should be able to get the decision in this one.

Woodley Via Unanimous Decision

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira's Poor Decisions Were Magnified By Werdum's BJJ

Sunday, June 9th, 2013

The hardest part of watching the main event at UFC On FUEL 10: Nogueira Vs Werdum II wasn’t Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira losing to Fabricio Werdum. It was the way he looked doing it that was hard to see. There was confusion about who was the better brazillian Jiu Jitsu player going into the fight as some people felt that Nogueira was on the same level as Werdum, but those people learned a valuable lesson last night. Once Werdum got a hold of Nogueira’s arm from backmount, Nogueira had almost zero chance to walk out of the octagon with a win. Fans who are aware of the kind of fighter Nogueira is were waiting for Werdum to break his arm, and verbally submitting might have been about the only thing he did right in there on Saturday night.

I knew Werdum’s BJJ acumen would be far superior in the cage on Saturday, but I thought Nogueira’s future in the  octagon was in his own two hands. I felt that his hands should be quicker than Werdum’s, and that if he was able to stuff a takedown or two he would be ok. Maybe even frustrate Werdum a little bit with his jab to set up the uppercut. Where Nogueira went wrong, was when he decided to pull guard on Werdum with multiple guillotine chokes. Every time I see a fighter do this, unless you are Ricardo Almeida, Marcelo Garcia, or Cody McKenzie, you can usually find me screaming at the top of my lungs inquiring why the fighter thought this would be a good idea. In the case of Nogueira it was worse. Not only because he has a substantial knowledge base of BJJ, but also because he KNOWS how good Werdum is on the ground. If Nogueira was pulling guard with a guillotine choke on Matt Mitrione it would be one thing, but doing it to Werdum seemed borderline comical to me. Werdum was never going to tap to an arm in guillotine choke at any part of the fight. Also, its worth mentioning here that out of Nogueira’s 34 wins only one was by guillotine choke (you can watch the fight here: Tim Sylvia UFC 81.)

Nogueira is one of those fighters that transcends borders and grudges, and his countless displays of heart is why analysts and fans will always refer to him as a legend. However, last night was a horrible showing for the heavyweight, and I am very happy that the fight was stopped before Werdum tore his arm in half. The one thing to remember before writing off Nogueira is that Werdum has really re-invented himself. There is no doubt that Big Nog had a rough night last night, but it was likely magnified by how well Werdum handled the entire fight.

Photo  Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Rebellion Roundtable: Miesha Tate as TUF Coach? Seriously?

Friday, May 31st, 2013

Originally, the best laid plans of mice and men involved UFC female bantamweight queen Ronda Rousey coaching TUF opposite an opponent who was both worthy and worthwhile, and it was assumed that Miesha Tate would be that woman. But Cat Zingano came in and, well, you know what cats do to mice. However, this week we learned that Zingano was out with a knee injury that required surgery, and Tate was back in the game, the yin to Rousey’s WMMA yang on the eighteenth season of the Ultimate Fighter and next in line for a crack at the belt. Too bad Tate so recently got her ass kicked by Zingano, and is the last person on the planet deserving of the TUF role.

Here’s what the Rebellion Media team had to say about the matter:

 

Dana Becker, FightLine.com and MMAConvert.com:

People are just going to have to get over the fact that the UFC is in it for the money. With the new FOX deal, contenders are going to need to be fighters who can put together coherent sentences and sell fights; that's the price MMA is going to pay for going "mainstream." There aren't regular seasons that lead to playoffs, so there is no strict elimination-process. Miesha Tate-Ronda Rousey sells. Sara McMann, Cat Zingano and anybody else right now just doesn't vs. Rousey.

Mike Stets, FightLine.com:

Very unfortunate set of circumstances for Cat Zingano, but Miesha Tate vs. Ronda Rousey is what everyone wanted to see to begin with.  They don't like each other and that easily makes for better TV. Zuffa is finally aided by an injury instead of hindered by one.

Ryan Harkness, Fightlinker.com:

What does deserve got to do with it? In a world where a fight's success is the sum of its two parts you need to make sure you have the most popular parts you got. Zingano was good but from a name recognition and TV fireworks potential standpoint, Miesha Tate was the best option to coach TUF alongside Rousey. Technically she may not deserve it because she didn't win that TUF coach fight. But she was the other contender for the slot, and the first is now out for nine months giving birth to a new knee. While I would have preferred Bryan Caraway, I guess Miesha Tate will do.

Casey Hodgin, MMALinker.com:

I think it makes the women division look bad having Miesha Tate (the one who lost her chance) get automatically dropped right back in just because of the lack of depth in the division. I'm curious to know what exactly happened to Cat, but it must be pretty serious if she can't even be involved. It's not like she has to be "Coach of the Century" and spar constantly. I'm pretty she she'd be just fine watching over the contestants and letting her other coaches do all the contact. Oh well, it's not like many of us care, or are looking forward to, this next season of TUF.

Old School, FiveOuncesofPain.com:

Zuffa can choose whomever they want to coach the teams.  Besides, who really watches that show?  Most of us just click over from the ball game with 15 minutes left in the TUF episode and watch the fight.

Chris McDevitt, MMAConvert.com:

After watching Chael Sonnen get a title shot and a coaching slot on TUF 17 while coming off a loss, it's hard to say anything about Tate getting the nod for TUF 18.  I do not think that she will be 1/4th the coach that Sonnen turned out to be; but the precedent has been set.  I'm sure there will be plenty of drama in the house and in the gym.  At least Ronda is the champ, who the hell is Miesha Tate to tell some of the veteran “contestants” anything?  At least they know how to tap before their arm gets ripped off.

Joe Lisnow, FightLine.com:

With Cat Zingano out, the UFC had little choice when it came to potential opponents for Ronda Rousey. With a few WMMA bouts in the promotion’s history, Miesha Tate makes the most sense. Tate and Zingano stole the show with their performance several weeks back. It sucks for Zingano, but Tate and Rousey have history which should create some entertaining TV. I’ve been waiting for Rousey-Tate 2 since women joined the UFC. Hopefully they can bring back that aggression that The Ultimate Fighter has been lacking as of late. If anything, Zingano's injury shows how fragile the division is with only ten fighters on the roster.

Alex Giardini, MMAFrenzy.com:

When Miesha Tate lost to Cat Zingano at The Ultimate Fighter Finale: Team Jones vs. Team Sonnen, she was eliminated from the plans. Whether or not injury forces the company to find a replacement, they cannot include the loser in the plans because it makes the number one contender fight totally irrelevant (and also damages the title picture). The UFC couldn’t walk away from their first women’s bantamweight division rivalry but rivalries are earned and unfortunately Tate did not earn it. We can’t fault Tate herself but coming off a loss straight into a title fight is absurd, regardless of the time constraints. Sara McMann would have been the best viable option to replace Zingano. Fresh off the destruction of Sheila Gaff at UFC 159, the UFC missed a gigantic opportunity to promote Olympian vs. Olympian as well as focusing around two undefeated competitors who both stand with seven wins so far in their short careers. McMann, a lot like Rousey, has not shown her full potential yet which would have led to an intriguing fight (a hell of a lot more than Liz Carmouche and even Zingano).  But since TUF has become stale for at least ten seasons now, it was hard to turn away from the Big Brother approach in terms of ratings, hence the coed season. Maybe it gets more casual fans involved but it tarnishes the legitimacy of a sport that stresses that their athletes compete against the best time after time. A more quality opponent should have been chosen”“ that is the responsibility of the brass. The ”˜”˜ultimate proving ground’’ has turned into the ”˜”˜ultimate entertainment value’’ and watered-down, unworthy title fights are now the norm for MMA’s top promotion.

Jake Berezansky, MMAConvert.com:

Ha, and so begins the decline of women's MMA. First, I don't mean to detract from the women involved with the sport. They're fantastic athletes, and only a fool would say otherwise. Okay, let's be honest though, and here's my bit on women's MMA in general while we're at it. Right now, it's cool, hip, and new, and the first women’s bout drew good numbers, but the talent pool is next to nonexistent; there is one star in the division, and this event shows that clearly. Tate will now fight for the title coming off a loss, and that's stupid 100% of the time. I see the UFC dropping the hammer on their women's division with a year or two. Why? Because just like the WNBA, nobody will give a rat's ass. "Oh what? Rousey is fighting some other sap, and that's the headline of UFC 178? Yes, UFC here's my 60 bucks for that pay-per-view." Get real. Nobody really cares right now, and nobody will care at all in a year, The PPV numbers for events headlined by women will be awful, and Fox sure as hell doesn't want that shit headlining for their events. From a business standpoint, it's just never going to work.

Jake Norris, FightLine.com and MMAFrenzy.com:

Tate has not earned a rematch with Rousey and the fact that she's getting one suggests TUF has outlived its usefulness.  First Jones vs Sonnen, now this?  I don't think it helps MMA when UFC title fights are dictated by what will generate ratings for a stupid reality show.  If fighting is what matters (rather than pranks, bitching, and lame trash talk), then Sara McMann should have gotten the call to step in.  I'd gladly trade away the Tate-Rousey "rivalry" in order to see Ronda throw down with a fellow Olympic grappler.

Brendhan Conlan, Five Ounces of Pain and Fighters.com

The term “deserve” has loose meaning in the context of a reality show. Though Tate’s performance against Zingano did not necessarily merit a title-shot or opportunity at history, her rivalry with Rousey does and it should make for some incredible television. I don’t think it necessarily hurts women’s MMA because the sport is still looking for legitimacy on par with their male counterparts and any high-profile pairing is good for it in that regard. And, other than Sara McMann (who would have been an excellent selection given her Olympic background and unbeaten mark), who else would have fit the bill in the same way Tate has? Their words will be heated and the fight will be entertaining. That's about all that matters in the end.

Photo credit:  Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Nate Diaz's Decision Making Problem

Friday, May 17th, 2013

In a recent interview, UFC Lightweight Nate Diaz was as candid as I have ever heard him. He said many things that were over the top, and many things I do not agree with, but I had never heard him as relatable as he was during that conversation. It was so fascinating that it prompted me to tweet his manager to encourage him to do more of them.

However, Diaz’s recent comments on Twitter - while not the dumbest thing I've ever seen in cyberspace - are probably in my top ten. For those that don't know, Diaz insulted Bryan Caraway for ending up with the bonus money that would have gone to Pat Healy had he not tested positive for marijuana after his UFC 159 bout with Jim Miller. While it's easy to understand his support, the problem with Diaz’s reaction is that he chose to call Caraway “the biggest fag in the world.”

Diaz’s disciplinary problems started as an unlicensed cornerman at the famous "Strikeforce Brawl" in Nashville when he decided to jump into the foray in the cage that night. For his actions, Diaz was suspended for three months and was fined $7,500. This would be the first bad decision  Diaz would make in a long line of them.

With the new UFC Code of Conduct policy now firmly in place, the hammer came down hard and fast. As soon as UFC President Dana White heard of the post, he vowed action from the UFC, and before the story was six hours old, the UFC had issued a statement and suspended Diaz indefinitely. As I write this, the post is twenty hours old and Diaz has not apologized nor even deleted the tweet. As if things weren’t ugly enough, his manager isn’t doing his client any favors.

Diaz representative Mike Kogan vehemently defended his client, and tried (and failed miserably) to rationalize the unfortunate choice of words from his fighter. Kogan, who obviously doesn’t understand that you don’t get to decide how people take the things you say, basically said by calling him that, he meant Caraway was “a punk, or a bitch." Does this sound shocking to you? How could the guy who manages such high-profile athletes like Royce Gracie, Roy Nelson and Mo Lawal choose his words so poorly? The answer is because that’s what Kogan does.

Not only was I not shocked by Kogan’s comments, I expected them. A while back Kogan wrote an article and he chose to use the term “house niggas” when referring to Quinton Jackson and Jon Jones. While explaining that the racism among MMA fans bothered him, Kogan would go on to say the most ignorant things I have ever heard from a manager.

That's why Rampage and Jon Jones are so popular. They are "house niggas", they are for the white folk, you know what I mean? I'm not trying to put down black folk, but if you sit down and listen to Jon Jones, ain't no black folk saying that shit man, come on. The last person that said that shit is Barack Obama, and that nigga the President, so of course he gonna say that shit- Mike Kogan  (link)

What does this have to do with Diaz? Diaz decided that this was the man who should represent him professionally. Kogan isn’t even telling the fighter to delete the tweet. In this case, Kogan does not have his client’s interest ahead of his. Any smart manager would go into damage-control mode and put together a multi-step plan that included apologies, communicating to the UFC that they would accept any and all punishments, and that they would do all they could to undo the damage done. Part of a good manager's job is to protect their client 365 days a year, and yes they need to protect them from themselves.

If the UFC was going to make an example out of someone since implementing their code of conduct policy, can you imagine a better candidate than Diaz? Diaz has a tremendous amount of abilities as a fighter that I predict will one day outshine his brothers, but it really seems like he is hellbent on squandering them. Diaz’s decision-making GPS seems to be set on Bellator or WSOF.

Photo Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Rebellion Roundtable: Pat Healy”™s $135,000 Bong Hit

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

UFC 159 was a great night for Strikeforce refugee Pat Healy. He waged an absolute war against the affable Jim Miller, came out on top via a gutsy performance and tap out via rear naked choke, and was awarded a hefty “submission of the night” and “fight of the night” bonus to go with his winnings. Sadly, his good fortune ended there ”“ or rather, it ended when his mandatory drug screening came back positive for marijuana. Cue sad trombone music, because from that lapse in judgment, Healy saw his win turned into a “no contest”, and saw his bonus dough go to fellow UFC 159er Bryan Caraway (who also won by sub that night).

That sucks for “Bam Bam”, does it not? After all, he fought his heart out against Miller. While the “no contest” is of course fitting, is it possible that the loss of the bonus money might be a bit too harsh of a punishment for being caught with a drug that isn’t really much of a performance enhancer?

Cue drumroll, because here’s what the Rebellion team had to say on the matter.

Chris McDevitt, MMALinker:

Maybe now that someone has smoked a proverbial "six-figure" bowl, fighters will realize that marijuana has absolutely no place in their training camps.  It doesn't matter how many weeks out you quit, that last session is the one that tears up your winning lottery ticket. Pat Healy was given a full training camp to prepare for Jim Miller and during that camp, he toked; one would assume he tapered his usage as the fight grew closer.  Bryan Caraway took his fight on five days notice, losing 23.5 pounds in the interim, and pissed clean. It sucks that they even test for non-performance enhancing substances but it is reassuring to see Caraway rewarded for positive behavior. Wait until after the post-fight autographs are signed and the cups are filled and THEN spark a spliff with Rogan in the parking lot.  Dammit, Bam Bam, if you don't want to be drug tested, go sign with Bellator.

Dana Becker, MMAConvert and FightLine:

No, Pat Healy does not deserve either bonus because the UFC made it quite clear: you fail the drug test, you get no bonus. Pat, and every other fighter in the promotion, was told the same thing. Hey, don't smoke the green stuff before a fight, stupid!

Casey Hodgin, MMALinker:

I definitely think Zuffa is being too harsh on him. The NC and suspension is bad enough for a fighter. A fighter's success is based around his activity, and how often he wins. They already took that away, and now they're robbing him?! Healy deserves that money 100%! He fought one of the toughest fighters in the world, put on a hell of a performance and a fight, and even managed to finish him! I guess we'll see how Healy can deal with adversity. I wouldn't be surprised if we see Healy turn into a bonus-hunter. He has the style and attitude to be incredibly exciting, and now with a setback just after his UFC debut, we could see him fight with a bit of desperation.

Chris Leslie, MMAFrenzy:

Earlier this year the powers at be at Zuffa announced they would penalize fighters who failed their drug tests in addition to local rules. Part of that decree was that the company would take back bonuses. So when Pat Healy failed a test due to marijuana, they did just that. Healy had a fantastic evening at UFC 159, but knew the rules beforehand and still broke the rules. People can get angry at the commissions and the rules, but the fighters know they will likely be tested and should act accordingly. Until the rules are changed regarding marijuana, fighters have been warned and have only themselves to blame when they fail a test.

Miguel Barragan, FightLine and Fighters.com:

Let's just be honest here, we all know that the sweet leaf is by no means a performance-enhancing drug (PED), at least not for mixed martial arts. I mean I've heard of archers using it for its calming benefits but let's be realistic, the UFC has decided to take back the two "Of The Night" rewards from Healy for reasons that hold no substance. Healy took a beating before coming on late in the third round to earn the victory, the hard way. Dana White has commented several times that, in his opinion, marijuana is not a PED. It is however still illegal, no debate there. But taking in consideration that it's the UFC's discretion who wins these "locker room bonuses", it's blatantly obvious the UFC's reason or reasons for this cheap move has no merit. If Dana White truly feels how he says he does about marijuana, there should be no reason for him to take the prize money back since it's up to them who gets it to begin with. It's not a fight purse, it's a bonus and everything from an athletic commission standpoint has already been taken care of. From the outside, it looks like the UFC is retrieving the award money for PR reasons. It has to look good in the public's eye, but since when has the UFC done things others want them to do? It's a bogus decision and the UFC knows it, bottom line. And people still talk shit about Bellator's business practices.

John Petit, Fighters.com:

I heard the head of USADA Travis Tygart say once, “The easiest drug test to pass is the one you know thats coming.” Healy knew that there was a drug test coming, and he made the decision to smoke pot anyway. This has NOTHING to do with whether weed is legal or not (its legal all over the world, yet you will find it on the WADA list), and if you think that once they make marijuana legal in the Unites States it won’t be on the banned list anymore, you should go take a look at how the process to change the rules works. Fighters must think that these tests for marijuana aren’t getting more sophisticated, but you better believe that these tests will evolve exponentially as these fights go on and they catch more of them. Healy lost $130,000 for being stupid, and had a big win overturned for poor decision making. In this case, the weed was a symptom, not the problem.

Sam Genovese, MMAConvert and MMAFrenzy:

Don't break the rules. If you want to keep your bonuses, don't break the rules. You shouldn't be rewarded for breaking the rules. I think the ban on marijuana is stupid but until it is legalized in fight sport, do it at your own risk.

Joe Lisnow, FightLine:

Pat Healy being popped for marijuana and losing his two bonus honors was justified. The main argument should be that the effects of marijuana are the opposite of other banned substances fighters use, namely steroids. There is no advantage for a fighter who uses marijuana. It’s not a strong opiate pain killer or one of the hundreds of drugs that can create a case of ”˜roid rage. Healy broke the rules set by the athletic commission, and federal law, so he deserves to lose that extra cash. He admitted the mistake on his part, but it was a little too late. If he went to Dana White after the fight and came clean, it would be a different story. He only told the truth when the drug test results came in.

Marco Scolari, CagedInsider:

This marijuana issue is getting silly. Now the UFC, who has advocated against weed being deemed a "performance enhancer", is taking well-deserved pay from its guys!? Never mind that Healy generated a fair amount of income for them and, because of that performance, will no doubt generate future revenue as well. Suspend the guy so he is unable to make a living presently as he made a bad decision, but don't take his bonus.

Jake Norris, FightLine:

Fighters test positive for testosterone levels and get fined/suspended.  But get a doctor's note and it becomes a legal TRT exemption.  Yet Matt Riddle gets fired over marijuana, even though he has a medical card.  Then Dana White tweets that the NSAC has "lost its mind" when JCC Jr. is fined $900k over weed.  But now Pat Healy loses $130k over the same thing.  Make sense to you?  Me neither.  We can talk all day about whether Healy really deserved to lose his bonus, but the real takeaway is that the UFC needs to find some consistency on its drug policy.

Brendhan Conlan, FiveOuncesofPain and Fighters.com:

It’s amazing how a little green can ultimately result in a lot less green, if you know what I’m saying. Though I may not agree with the current policy regarding marijuana use in MMA, especially in a situation like Healy’s where it clearly wasn’t performance enhancing or abused, the reality is smoking pot is against the rules and “Bam Bam” broke them by doing so. Since the win over Miller was changed to a No Contest, no “submission” technically existed nor did any “fight” so thereby no bonuses could be issued to Healy. It’s really as simple as that.

On a side note, I’d have zero problem with Dana White paying Healy a little something off the books for the excellent effort involved at UFC 159 coupled with the UFC President’s past disgust with athletic commissions’ approach to weed.

PHOTO CREDIT: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Rebellion Roundtable: Shane Carwin”™s Retirement

Saturday, May 11th, 2013

There comes a time in every fighter’s career when the cold fist of reality hits them square in the puss and lets them know that they’re too old and their body too beat up to compete at the highest levels anymore. Such was the case with Shane Carwin this week, who ”“ after rocketing up the UFC’s heavyweight ranks, securing an interim title, then running into a pair of brick walls named Brock Lesnar and Junior dos Santos ”“ announced his retirement from MMA competition. Sure, it’s been a couple years since Carwin last saw action, but it always seemed like his return was inevitable. Now, we’re left musing over what sort of legacy, if any, he left behind.

Thus, this week’s Rebellion Roundtable question: What is Carwin’s legacy?

 

Dana Becker, FightLine and MMAConvert:

In the end, the legacy of Shane Carwin will likely be felt by those behind the scenes more than the typical fan. While Carwin was a champion, he didn't make the impact of a Brock Lesnar, Cain Velasquez or Junior dos Santos. However, his ability to balance fighting and his other career (as an engineer) could serve as a great example for fighters going forward.

Chris McDevitt, MMALinker:

I think Carwin's legacy is one of the greatest what-ifs in the heavyweight division. Prior to his fight with Brock Lesnar he had never been out of the first round. Prior to his last fight, he had never been to a decision. If you watch Lesnar vs. Carwin again, I think you can make a strong case that the fight should have been stopped in the first round.  The same ref whose judgment was praised for allowing the fight to continue is now facing a decade in prison for owning and operating a multimillion-dollar marijuana operation.  Whose judgment are we praising? Carwin was robbed and it seems that his body never truly recovered from the back/shoulder/neck injuries and punishment of his youth and career.  I'm glad he won't be risking further injury. I just wish he were retiring as a former champ.  He deserved that much.

Miguel Barragan, FightLine and Fighters.com:

As reported yesterday, Shane Carwin tweeted that he has officially retired. After eight years in this sport we call MMA, Carwin calls it quits, mainly due to the many injuries and surgeries in the last two years or so. As much as I loved watching a Carwin fight, he'll realistically go down in the UFC record books as a flash in the pan. To be great in any sport, one needs longevity in their careers and Carwin certainly didn't have that. Just as Lesnar before him, his biggest career win was against Frank Mir, winning the interim UFC heavyweight title. Truth be told, that's a lot more than your average heavyweight in the UFC can say. Let me be clear about this, I'm not saying that being a flash in the pan is a bad thing. Not only did he fight like what the general perception of what a heavyweight is supposed to fight like, but he came through just about everytime with a KO, with the exception being his last career bout against Junior dos Santos. Although brief, Carwin's legacy (if you can call it that) is a throwback to fighters who left it all in the cage and a fighter who knew just how much joy he can bring to the masses with one of those sledgehammer-like right hands. From a Frank Mir fan who saw Carwin smash him like a tin can, I'd like to thank Carwin for what he gave the sport of MMA, and specifically the UFC, at a time when the UFC's heavyweight division was beginning to really take off. Brief or not, he was part of one of the biggest, literally, heavyweight bouts in UFC history and for that Carwin and his legacy will always be remembered fondly.

Mike Stets, FightLine:

Everyone remembers Carwin gassing out and getting subbed in the second round vs. Lesnar, but that fight could've easily been called in the first.  Then maybe he faces Cain Velasquez and things are possibly different for him.  That didn't happen and he barely survived a first-round bashing at the hands of JDS, eventually losing by decision.  He has had some big wins but ultimately not in the discussion of the greats of the sport.  Maybe if he had defeated Lesnar, and not suffered injuries, he would've been.

Marco Scolari, CagedInsider:

Shane Carwin was an alright fighter but the only thing he really left behind was his teeth after his lashing from Junior. Outside of that, he bullied some shitty heavyweights and folded to an inexperienced WWE wrestler when it mattered. Unless being the most surgically repaired athlete in sports is worthy of a legacy, nothing historical from Mr. Carwin.

Sam Genovese, MMAConvert and MMAFrenzy:

He was overrated. He beat up on smaller guys and when it came time to fight serious competition, his lack of dedication to training showed. He gassed out in the biggest fight of his life. I understand that he wanted to be both and engineer and a fighter but his career suffered because of it. He had huge power but his technical boxing skills were lacking. Still, his huge KO's will fill the UFC's highlight reels for years to come.

Joe Lisnow, FightLine:

Looking back at Shane Carwin’s short run in MMA, the first word that comes to mind is far from legacy. I’m not sure what word will define his career, as it was similar to other heavyweights who earn a title shot after a few wins. That’s all it takes in the heavyweight division. The two memorable moments from Carwin will be when he gassed out with Brock Lesnar and the bloody mess his face was after 15 minutes with Junior dos Santos. The memorable moments aren’t postives and neither was Carwin’s role to the sport.

Brian Park, MMALinker:

I suspect only a few awaited his return as a championship contender after his loss to Junior dos Santos and his subsequent back surgery. At the age of 38, it's tough to be on top, let alone competitive, unless you’re Randy Couture. Nevertheless, it's unfortunate to lose such a great fighter to Father Time.

Jake Norris, Fightline:

I think Shane Carwin had a remarkable UFC run and I'm sorry to see him go.  I recall when that group of heavyweights (Carwin along with Cain, Junior, Lesnar, and Roy Nelson) burst onto the scene and the UFC heavyweight division went from shallow to stacked almost overnight.  Carwin obviously deserves recognition for his tremendous punching power and highlight reel KOs, but unfortunately, I'd say the real defining moment of his career was the Lesnar fight.  That's about as close as you can get to winning a UFC championship (no, the interim belt doesn't count) without actually taking home the gold.  In light of that, I think Carwin will be remembered as a very good fighter, but not quite great.  He's the Earnie Shavers of MMA.

Brendhan Conlan, FiveOuncesofPain and Fighters.com:

Carwin's retirement is definitely unfortunate in that it was almost certainly related to health issues rather than a decision he willingly made, and the presence of a cement-fisted slugger with some wrestling chops is always welcome in the heavyweight division. However, losing him isn’t a major blow by any means considering he hadn’t fought in two years or won in more than three. And, though he may have had to call it quits prematurely, Carwin wasn’t likely to have much more time left in the sport to begin with at 38-years old.

Covering The Fingers Of The MMA Glove Isn't A Realistic Solution

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

UFC 159 was no doubt a strange event. It was such a weird night that when Chael Sonnen walked to the Octagon, for about four and a half seconds, I thought there was a chance he could win against Jon Jones. The night featured two technical decisions, the first time in UFC history, and they were both over eye pokes. I won’t even get into what a sideshow the Gian Villante-Ovince St. Preux reffing was, but after that tilt and the Michael Bisping-Alan Belcher bout, UFC commentator Joe Rogan had had enough. Rogan has drawn a line in the sand when it comes to eye pokes, and to him the fix is to change the gloves.

According to Rogan, the solution lies in covering the tips of the fingers on the glove that is allowed in MMA competitions. To date, I haven’t heard any fighter or even UFC President Dana White say a change like that is needed. Yet every time a fighter takes a digit in the eyehole, Rogan seems to go on and on about what I can only describe as ”˜finger-condoms’ that will somehow protect the fighters so much that the time to act is RIGHT NOW! What does Rogan’s co-pilot say about this? Well, Mike Goldberg seems to always agree with whatever Rogan says when it comes to the analysis, and that means he is on the finger-rubber train too.

This is a dangerous sport by its very nature. The primary target for most punches and a majority of kicks is the front of the head, and eye injuries happen in every fight as a result. Sometimes these eye injuries are just small cuts, or swelling around the eyes, and sometimes it looks like a man’s brains are leaking out of his skull through an empty socket. We all have a set of eyeballs, and we all wince or tear up a bit when we see someone get poked in the eye, but part of the sport is to disrupt the vision of your opponent. The fighters know the risk, and they sign on the dotted line. To put it more simply they vote with their feet, and If they didn’t like the rules they wouldn’t compete under them.

Some fighters think changes to the gloves should be made, or more time should be allotted for the fighters to break in the gloves. They may have a valid point on this one as some commissions will let you break them in when you get them, and some will only give you a few minutes before you put them on. I have a hard time believing these changes would affect the pokes to the eyes though. Maybe it would prevent the corner of the glove going into the eye, but if a fist is that close to your face, its the fist doing the damage and not the glove. That's the thing to remember here - these guys are trying to go after each others eyes with strikes.

Rogan is one of the best at his job, but he is way off the mark on this one. What’s going to hold these finger covers on? You can’t have these things flying over the cage, and won’t they peel off when their is hand fighting on the ground? Are we going to cover the toes as well? Rogan has good intentions when it comes to protecting the fights, as I highly agree with his Thai Cup advice (it’s like having your boys in a Sherman tank,) but this is not a realistic change or one that could prevent evepokes.

Is there a solution? Tell me what you think in the Comments section below!

Chael Sonnen Still Has Big Fight Potential

Monday, April 29th, 2013

UFC 159 saw Chael Sonnen drop to a career 0-3 mark in UFC title fights after he suffered a first-round TKO loss at the hands of UFC Light-Heavyweight Champion Jon “Bones” Jones. Seeing Sonnen on the bad end of a second straight beatdown has no doubt led many to question whether the 36-year-old veteran of 41 MMA fights still has what it takes to be a world-class competitor. And though it’s probably a good idea to ignore anything an athlete says after a crushing defeat, even Sonnen himself seemed resolved to the notion that his meteoric rise to MMA stardom had run its course.

But in reality, the only reason Sonnen’s fighting career should be over is if he wants it to be. Losing to the likes of Anderson Silva and Jones doesn’t make one a scrub; Sonnen still has the skills to put on great fights at both 185 and 205 pounds. And his humorous (and sometimes outlandish) promotional antics, which draw heavily from motifs commonly seen in professional wrestling, have seemingly broken new ground in terms of how far an MMA fighter can go to reach the fan base. Love him or hate him, the self-styled “American gangster” has made the MMA landscape a more interesting place these past few years.

So assuming it’s not quite time for Sonnen to hang ”˜em up, where does he go from here? Another run at a UFC championship is unlikely, so the only way to keep Sonnen in the spotlight is to find someone with a big enough name to generate major attention. Perhaps someone who is on the back end of his own career, and is looking for a few more moments of glory before he rides off into the sunset. Maybe someone who already has a bit of a beef, and would jump at the opportunity to punch Sonnen in his always-running mouth.

Someone like Wanderlei Silva.

The story behind a Sonnen-Wanderlei throwdown is practically already written. In a highly publicized clip filmed during the build-up to Sonnen’s rematch with Anderson, Wanderlei had a few choice words for Sonnen regarding some of his disparaging remarks about Brazil. Sonnen was demure during the exchange, although he later went on to claim that he was more afraid of Axe Body Spray than “the Axe Murderer” and Wanderlei’s chin was “more suspect than Oscar Pistorius”. If these lines are any indicator, we could expect a vibrant display of pre-fight banter between two of the sport’s most popular figures.

And to top it all off, the fight might be pretty good, too. In another classic case of “striker vs grappler”, the outcome would likely be dependent on which man could impose his will and control where the fight takes place. Was Sonnen just being polite when Wanderlei gave his now infamous warning? Or was he just too afraid to respond? The Octagon is the only place we can learn the true answer.

Regardless of what his next career move turns out to be, the story of Chael P. Sonnen has been an entertaining one. But many in the MMA community are not quite ready for it to end. Chael Sonnen vs Wanderlei Silva could be a fun fight on all counts and the UFC should seriously consider making it happen.

 

Photo credit: Brad Penner - USA Today Sports

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