UFC Fight Night 150 on ESPN+ Preview
By: Jesse Donathan
UFC Fight Night 150 airs Saturday night at the BB&T Center Saturday, April 27, 2019 on ESPN+. The main event will feature submission grappling ace and perennial middleweight contender Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza versus Jack Hermansson. But once again, it’s the co-main event that is getting everyone’s attention. The controversial former NFL star Greg Hardy is set to face “The Lifeguard” Dmitrii Smoliakov of Russia in a heavyweight showdown.
Prize fighters today are the modern equivalent to the ancient Roman gladiators. An easy conclusion to come to considering the mixed martial art promotion once utilized a UFC gladiator in its opening volley. While the sports entertainment industry does a wonderful job of turning otherwise rough men into heroes through carefully crafted match ups and marketing, if these individuals plied their trade anywhere else but the ring or cage, they would be facing felony assault charges.
“Most gladiators were prisoners of war, slaves bought for the purpose, or criminals condemned to serve in the schools,” according to a University of Chicago essay titled “The Roman Gladiator.” Role models they were not, though their exploits then and now can easily turn ordinary men into larger than life super heroes.
Mixed martial arts fans have long hypothesized what the sport of MMA would look like with “A-level athletes” competing against the world’s best mixed martial artists. Top of the food chain individuals. The professional athletes of the NBA and NFL. The Lebron James’s, Bob Probert’s and Brian Urlacher’s of the world. Enter former NFL standout Greg Hardy, who is by most people’s definition an exceptional athlete. Unfortunately for him, he is also an exceptional athlete with quite a bit of baggage. In an April 17, 2018 article for Sherdog.com, “Opinion: Greg Hardy Need Not Apply,” author Ben Duffy pulled no punches with his thoughts on former NFL player Greg Hardy’s place in mixed martial arts:
“So nobody can accuse me of being vague here, I will say this as plainly as I can: Hardy should not be fighting professionally at all, and the decision makers at the UFC should be ashamed of themselves for even entertaining the possibility of signing him.”
Duffy would go on to cite Hardy’s July 2014 conviction for domestic violence, in which Hardy was summarily sentenced to 18 months’ worth of probation. Hardy’s attorneys appealed the conviction, the charges dropped all together when the victim failed to appear before the court. “Hardy was, in the legal sense at least, in the clear,” the author would go on to write.
Also cited as reasons for Duffy’s belief Hardy does not belong in mixed martial arts is the All-Pro lineman’s 2016 arrest for cocaine, Hardy’s poorly thought out behavior on social media which not surprisingly caught the attention of all the wrong people as well Hardy’s alleged poor behavior in the locker room.
“Mixed martial arts are thinly regulated violence,” writes Duffy. Going on to describe some of the ingredients that go into making the fight culture, Duffy would go on to remark that mixed martial arts, “will always attract its share of misfits, miscreants and antisocial head cases – the exact type of people who might find violence for pay an attractive proposition.”
It’s easy to confuse these athletes with super heroes, their acts of athletic achievement celebrated the globe over no matter the sport, transcending cultures. But it’s a long way to the top if you want to rock ‘n’ roll and getting punched in the face isn’t exactly an award most people are standing in line to receive.
If Greg Hardy wants to fight, let the man fight. I believe Greg Hardy deserves a second chance and if history is any indicator, he will get the benefit of the doubt because he is a compelling athlete with a lot left to offer. Hardy can redeem himself; he can turn this ship around and still become the great athlete that he was destined to be before some dreadfully bad decisions threw a wrench in his spokes.
Getting punched in the mouth for money isn’t a reward reserved for only the best among us. Fighting isn’t for everyone, taking a trip behind the woodshed isn’t my idea of paradise. “This is the hurt business. And in the hurt business people get hurt,” to quote legendary mixed martial arts referee Big John McCarthy.
Greg Hardy isn’t campaigning for Attorney General of Minnesota here, he is vying for a spot on the stretcher. And I get it, Greg Hardy has a history of abuse, by some peoples accounts he is not a very nice guy. But I am having a rather hard time accepting the notion that because of these facts he doesn’t deserve to be a tomato can and punching bag in the ring or cage.
On the contrary, that is exactly where Greg Hardy belongs no matter how you want to slice it. Greg Hardy is allegedly guilty of assaulting those who could not defend themselves? Great, stick him in the cage with those who can defend themselves then.
While it’s easy to watch inspirational fighter highlights on YouTube and come away dreaming to be like Kazushi Sakuraba, its another story altogether to be in that ring or cage with another trained killer. Its one thing to dream, its another to have to deal with “The Axe Murderer” Wanderlei Silva. Getting taken behind the woodshed is not a fortunate turn of events, catching a beat down may look easy on television but it’s hardly a winning proposition in the game of life.
Before there was a Greg Hardy, there was Mike Tyson. A special athlete with a checkered past, convicted of a heinous crime against women and shunned by the combat sport community. Like Hardy’s plight with the NFL, so too was Tyson exiled from boxing. And through it all, “Iron” Mike Tyson found a way to persevere. To overcome. To quote a new age proverb, “the one who doesn’t fall, doesn’t stand up.” There is an ebb and flow to life. When the tide comes in, everything is great. But when it recedes, the barren wasteland left in its wake can be a depressive sight to behold.
In a March 27, 1992 article for the New York Times, “Tyson Gets 6-Year Prison Term for Rape Conviction in Indiana,” author E.R. Shipp wrote:
“Mike Tyson, the former heavyweight champion who was convicted of rape last month, was sentenced to 10 years in prison today. But the judge suspended the last four years, meaning he will spend no more than six years behind bars.”
“The sentence he received today seemed designed to provide punishment and offer him a chance to turn his life around,” Shipp wrote. Today, approaching thirty years since Tyson was convicted and sentenced to prison “Iron” Mike has did precisely that, turned his life around. A true boxing and cultural icon, Tyson is seen regularly on television and social media, even enjoying his own cartoon “Mike Tyson’s Mysteries” on the Adult Swim network.
Today, Mike Tyson is a legend and a hero. Which should leave Greg Hardy with some hope that if “Iron” Mike Tyson can turn that ship around, then maybe he can too? In this sport, you’re either a can or a can crusher. And regardless if Hardy deserves to be in the UFC or not, I think it is going to be interesting to find out exactly what the former NFL standout has left to offer. I’m all for giving Greg Hardy a second chance, lets see if he can make the most of it.
Here We Go Again with Two Fights in Philly on same Night May 11th
By: Ken Hissner
We all know there are at least 1500-3000 boxing fans that will attend a boxing event in Philly. Two 1000-1500 facilities can be filled on a given night there. On April 28th the Peltz Boxing promotion at a 5,000 seat facility with a co-feature in itself that would fill one of these small venues like SugarHouse Casino or 2300 Arena, will they fill the Liacouras Center on the Temple University facility?
On December 1st of 2017 Boxing Director Greg Sirb “made the decision” to have two events in Philly on the same night. The writers were wondering “which one should I cover?” I told Marshall Kauffman who was promoting at the 2300 Arena “wherever Christian Carto fights I will be there” knowing both his King’s Promotions and Manny Rivera’s Hard Hitting Promotions who was at the SugarHouse Casino have had Carto on their events. He came back and knowing Carto would be at the SugarHouse said “I’m having “Boots” Ennis on my show, whom I feel is the best prospect out of Philly since 1984 Olympian Meldrick Taylor, I told him it didn’t make a difference. For “Boots” can finish an opponent within 3 minutes whereas Carto wares them down with his boxing ability until he lowers the boom on them while “Boots” is in a hurry to get it over with. So I’d rather see 5-8 rounds of Carto than 3 minutes of Boots even though the latter is a more skilled boxer in my opinion and Carto a more exciting one. Obviously that night I went to the SugarHouse Casino to see Carto.
Now, Hard Hitting co-promoting with Greg Cohen Promotions will be at the 2300 Arena that can’t compare with the SugarHouse Casino for parking or a better area. One of my concerns is that the promoter’s show I don’t go to will not be pleased with me though going to the better overall show comes first. Of course Sirb will be at the 2300 Arena since Showtime will be there and that is also a concern to rather be at the show he isn’t.
Hard Hitting has only had one bad show while having the reputation of competitive fights. Not that King’s doesn’t have competitive shows because they do. Both promotions have good competitive matchmaking.
Both events have out of town main events which will not be known to the average fan. Having just finished an article today on Mykal Fox who will be in the main event at SugarHouse and ring announcer Alex Barbosa “making a comeback” there will influence me, Jeremy Cuevas and David Murray will be at the 2300 Arena which also interests me. Both main events should give the main boxer in Devin Haney and Mykal Fox a challenge if not more.
I’m sure Philadelphia area PA commissioner Rudy Battles doesn’t know about the double in one night show like he didn’t about the December 1st event until I contacted him, why does he allow Sirb to make these decisions knowing he (Battles) doesn’t approve of this? Sirb hates the Press, especially this writer, so he could care less how we feel.
In the meantime Carto will be on the Peltz Boxing show April 28th and who knows where “Boots” will show up after winning his 19th fight in 24 months Saturday in Va? Of Course Chris Middendorf who has promoted his fights along with manager Cameron Dunkin make those decisions. With 2300 Arena having 6 fights and SugarHouse having 7 fights it allows either to add one more fight. If “Boots” ends up anywhere it will probably be the 2300 Arena though the chances of being on Showtime considering the undercard would be of interest since he probably would have his fight shown. But then Middendorf’s Victory Promotions may do a show of their own since Middendorf has just informed this writer “it’s time to step up the competition and get “Boots” into the ratings”. It may not be long before he steals the spotlight from former champion Danny “Swift” Garcia or stable mate “The New” Ray Robinson. But that’s another one of those “wait and see moments!”
Writer’s Nightmare on December 1st in Philly with Two Shows Scheduled
By: Ken Hissner
The Philly based writers like this one are quite upset with what Boxing Director Greg Sirb with the Pennsylvania Boxing Commission has permitted. Both promoters Marshall Kauffman of King’s Promotions and Manny River of Hard Hitting Promotions have no problem with it for both may sell out which Hard Hitting has done at all Sugar House promotions and King’s is the busiest promoter in Pennsylvania at this time. Whoever scheduled that date first should be the only promoter working that night. Why not have one on Friday and the other on Saturday of that week?
BUT, the writers who choose one show will probably be in the “doghouse” of the other promoter. Both shows look good. Christian Carto 12-0 (11) is on the Hard Hitting show and Jaron “Boots” Ennis, 16-0 (14), was just got added to the King’s Promotion’s show. Both are the two most popular and skilled young talents in the state and possibly the country.
This writer contacted the “Right to Know” Department in Harrisburg, PA, wanting an answer to such a thing happening in the same city. No results as of yet which is no surprise. Then, called Boxing Commissioner Rudy Battle who didn’t seem to know about this move by Sirb but I could hear in his voice he wasn’t for it and said he would to contact Sirb about it. It will do no good since Sirb runs the commission.
There are fans of boxers on both cards who also will be shortchanged. On the King’s show a good boxer in Tyrone Brunson is fighting a no name that lost to Kermit Cintron a year ago. Brandon Robinson against Christopher Brooker will be a possible barn burner. Joe Hanks, 21-2, is fighting one of those North Carolina boy’s with a 7-0-1 record. Popular Omar Douglas out of DE is looking to bounce back from his back to back losses though he got shortchanged in the last one. Another favorite DE fighter Kyrone Davis who trains in Philly is in with a 19-12 guy but who lost his last 5 of 6 fights. The rest are young boxers with 1 or less fights.
Hard Hitting has no opponents yet but has popular Joey Dawejko on top and rumors are he might be fighting for a minor title. There are 4 Spanish well known ticket sellers on the undercard in Branden Pizarro, 8-0, Jeremy Cuevas, 5-0, Angel Pizarro, 3-0 and Gadwin Rosa, 4-0. In addition former top amateur heavyweight Darmani Rock is making his Philly debut at 9-0. With just over 3 weeks to go Hard Hitting has to come up with opponents for a comparison.
Since Sirb, I admit is hard working though always has a good assistant and overworks his officials along with bringing in out of state one’s looks down on the press, especially this writer, and he could care less if we are shortchanged. My memory doesn’t come up with the last time this happened in Philly. Sirb has already allowed this writer to be removed from a Joe Hand Promotions weigh-in and threatened to ban me from ringside for reminding him of it at the next scheduled show. Like the phrase from a Jack Nicholson movie I can say “you can’t stand the truth!” That goes to all who read my articles and show results!