Claressa Shields speaks in-depth about MMA training, why she would never fight on a Jake Paul Undercard, and why MMA fans are more loyal to fighters
Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Women In Sports Foundation
Claressa Shields begins the second chapter of her MMA career on October 27 against Abigail Montes of Mexico.
After years of dominance in the squared circle, Shields admits the rise inside the cage is a more frustrating one. Likening personal achievements in the octagon to being a “kid in a candy store,” each passing day presents new opportunities for the boxing “GWOAT” to climb the ranks in her new discipline.
Speaking to BoxingInsider.com in-depth on Zoom, Shields discusses the inner workings of her MMA preparation, why she would never fight on a Jake Paul undercard, her admiration for her fellow women fighters (particularly Katie Taylor), and Flint Strong the upcoming film based on her life starring actress/singer Ryan Destiny.
Is Claressa the boxer different from Claressa the MMA fighter?
CS: I would say when I think about myself inside of boxing, I don’t have any doubts. And I don’t have many frustrations. And then when I look at myself inside the cage, because I’m just now starting, I don’t have doubts, but I have more frustrations. So I feel like when I do good in MMA, I feel like a little kid inside the candy store. And then when I do good in boxing, it’s like ‘You’re the GWOAT, that’s what you’re supposed to do.’
I just accept it more when it’s in boxing, but when I’m in MMA and I’m doing it, it makes me feel like I’ve accomplished a lot. So to be winning fights and have any success in training and stuff like that. I feel like a kid in a candy store.
There’s a disparity in how women are promoted in MMA vs boxing. But within that, the fans seem to respect [women] MMA fighters more than boxing fans. What do you think the MMA fans have figured out that boxing fans haven’t?
CS: I think the MMA fans have figured out loyalty. I feel like in boxing we have this thing where you have to be an undefeated fighter for us to respect you. In MMA. They’re like ‘We’re gonna respect every MMA fighter especially the ones who we cheer for win Lose or Draw because it takes so much to get inside the cage and so much to be great at that sport.’
Same thing with boxing it takes a lot to be great at boxing too. But I feel like the boxing fans, are just like if you’re not undefeated then they don’t respect you as being the great that you are. You have one bad night…I mean we watched Anthony Joshua be damn near a unified champ and He lost to Andy Ruiz. I feel like the UK boxing fans are some of the most loyal fans to their fighters. And they all kind of flipped on AJ, you know, and saying like, “Oh, he’s not as good as everybody thinks,” or “he fights like an amateur. He got too much muscle.” They were saying all these mean things about him.
Nobody was saying mean stuff when he was knocking all the good guys out. Then in MMA, like I said, Conor McGregor. I don’t know he lost his last two MMA fights last three. But guess what? His fans still show up to the arena to see him. Still say Conor McGregor is the goat, still, respect Conor McGregor regardless of his losses. That’s just the difference between the two fans. I feel like in MMA, I’m respected so much because boxers don’t make the switch to MMA
What’s a narrative you’ve heard out there that you just don’t want to hear any more?
CS: Women can’t sell tickets, you know, or women don’t have a large fan base. I don’t want to hear that shit no more because it’s a lie. I think it’s time for women in boxing to start getting the opportunities that men get to start being able to fight on major cards, pay per view, main events on all these networks, and also being paid correctly. You know, they make up all these excuses as to why women don’t get paid the same as the men.
Will we see a battle of the sexes match between men and women boxers?
CS: I’ve actually had an exhibition fight against a man. It was an exhibition by in Flint, Michigan for a charity event. And I boxed against this boxer from Detroit. I don’t know his name, they said his nickname was Mooka. I boxed against him and this was before they started all this exhibition stuff that they got now. I literally had on a dress, it was a ball gown dress. I ended up changing into my boxing outfit and me and him boxed 4 rounds. This was in 2014, 2015. I think it’s definitely possible, it just depends on what females you picking.
Thoughts on Jake Paul:
CS: I basically said to Jake Paul can beat me in a boxing match and I’ll never fight on an undercard of his. But I also said, to my knowledge, Amanda Serrano made $75,000 for her fight. And I’m like, but the guys made millions. That wasn’t right. The fact that what she was paid wasn’t right and that she wasn’t the main event wasn’t right TO ME. And that’s why I wouldn’t do it. And people were like oh, you [taking a shot at] Serrano? But I was like a no, the shot was clearly to Jake Paul.
Claressa Shields will face Abigail Montes at the 2021 PFL Championship on Wednesday, October 27th!
For our full, in-depth interview, visit BoxingInsider.com on YouTube or click below.
Ken Shamrock Talks About The Ugly Side of The UFC on Boxing Insider Radio
Boxing Insider Radio is back with a bit of a twist this week. Some of the biggest names associated with the sport of boxing have joined the crew to discuss everything boxing related, but this week, they were joined by MMA legend Ken Shamrock as he discussed his new book “The World’s Most Dangerous Man.”
In the mid 2000s, owner of Boxing Insider Larry Goldberg, ran Kenshamrock.com and assisted with event bookings during his time in the UFC. The two share a great relationship till this day which was apparent as Shamrock opened up in great detail about the ugly side of MMA. To tune into the conversation, subscribe to Boxing Insider Radio on iTunes, Spotify or simply head over to Boxinginsider.com.
The pristine image on the outside always draws attention. The hulking muscles, perpetual confidence and the long line of women that are always in their vicinity attribute to it all. Who can forget the fast cars and piles of cash as well?
The life of an athlete is anything but mundane. NBA players receive praise for putting a ball through a hoop, while NFL players are lauded for running the ball through the end zone. Both sports, along with others that weren’t previously mentioned continually find themselves in the spotlight.
But there’s something about leaving a man face down, barely breathing that makes them the coolest person in the room.
For MMA legend Ken Shamrock, the spotlight was never too bright for him. After all, he had been fighting professionally over 25 years. But while the money, cars and power were fun, there was an entirely different side of the MMA world. One that Shamrock is pulling the curtains on and revealing just how dirty, corrupt and loathsome the MMA world really is.
“We get to talk about the things that the fighters have grown through,” said Shamrock on Boxing Insider Radio referring to his book. “The things that I’ve gone through and the families have gone through. We get a chance to dive in and get things right.”
Nicknames tell you a lot about a person. Chances are, if you have a friend that’s often referred to as “Killa” or “Bones” then he isn’t the person you want to play around with. Other nicknames such as “Smiley” gives you the impression that he or she is approachable.
When you’ve been given the alias, “The World’s Most Dangerous Man,” then it means one thing and one thing only, don’t get into a fist fight with that person.
Ken Shamrock earned that nickname by putting his opponents to sleep in short fashion. Facing Shamrock was normally going to end in only one of two ways. Either you were going to be on your back staring at the lights or on your stomach tapping out.
Shamrock flew out of the gate in 1993 to start his career, winning 16 of his first 19 matchups. He’d continue his streak for much of the 90s as he won 23 of his 31 fights. But when the ball dropped on the new millennium so did his career as the losses and injuries began to pile up.
Even with Shamrock seeing a slip in his performance, his box office appeal remained high.
Time for a bit of a backdrop. In 2020, the UFC is one of the most recognizable organizations in the world. It’s brand is worth billions of dollars and the fighters associated with the organization routinely receive millions of dollars for their work.
In the early 2000s however, this simply was not the case.
The UFC was a failing product. Audiences were not interested in the brutality of the sport. Nor were they fascinated with any characters that were associated with them. But Shamrock was an entirely different story.
In short, before there was a Conor McGregor, there was Ken Shamrock.
To put the UFC on the map, Shamrock needed to take on the promotions other big star in Tito Ortiz.
“In the early 2000s, I was starting to have knee issues and I was supposed to have surgery. But Dana came up to me and said that this can’t wait and we really need this to happen. So I went in that fight with Ortiz with knee problems. I knew that I was going to be facing an uphill battle but I didn’t want to admit it. I didn’t want my mind to accept that I wasn’t capable of winning. So I went in there with the full intentions of winning. Obviously you look back at it and have a better understanding of what you could’ve and should’ve done.”
“But at the time I just felt like this was an organization that I helped create along with a lot of other guys and it was my legacy. I just didn’t want to see it fold up and go away. That’s what I felt that Dana White was saying to me. That they aren’t doing very much buys and they are struggling and they need someone to do this. So I told him that I can get the numbers up, I’ve done it everywhere that I’ve gone.”
“I’ve always been able to build the hype and bring the numbers in. I told him that I can build it to over 100 thousand buys. Dana was hesitant because they haven’t gotten that. I just kept telling him that I could do it. When the fight with Ortiz came and went, it did exactly what I said. We did close to over 150,000 buys.”
The UFC officially had it’s “here I am” moment. But what should have been a happy moment for not only the UFC but for the pockets of Ken Shamrock, took a bad turn.
“Shortly after the pay per view, I was told that we only did 99,000 buys.”
The sudden shortage in the pay per view numbers was a coincidence that Shamrock simply wasn’t going for.
Before Shamrock signed on the dotted line to face Ortiz, the UFC was contractually obligated to pay him more then his base pay for every buy over 100,000. Needless to say, the ironic number of 99,000 left Shamrock looking at the UFC with a side eye.
“I didn’t get that. Unfortunately that’s where me and Dana White’s issues came in. Before that we got along fine. But that kind of started it.”
Shamrock’s surly attitude was warranted in the end as the UFC was found to be mendacious in their handling of the event.
“I had found out that I wasn’t told the truth about the numbers at the time. They said we did 99,000 but of course we all know now that we did close to 150,000. Unfortunately, I never got paid for that.”
With a now sheepish look on their faces, the UFC attempted to move forward with Shamrock. The following deal he signed with the organization left him both well compensated and placated the issues they once had.
“Soon after the mishap they wanted to sign me to a multi fight deal. Once I signed that, it negated the original contract that we had for the amount over the 100,000 buys. So they were good about hiding that by signing me to a multi fight deal after the Tito fight.”
But much like his untenable relationship with Dana White and the UFC, Shamrock found himself on the wrong end of a bad deal once again.
During the first contest of his multi fight deal with the UFC, Shamrock made it look easy against Kimo Leopoldo, stopping him in the very first round. Next up on the docket was Rich Franklin. But before Shamrock could pound his fists into his opponents skull, the UFC grew tired of his creaky bones and attempted to force him into retirement.
Most organizations throw their employees a retirement party and make them feel appreciated. Buffet style entrees along with a large cake is usually the procedure. During it all, you are swarmed by colleagues while you are standing in front of a banner as you are lauded for all of the handwork you have done for the company. Hugs and fake tears usually follow.
For the UFC however, they simply handed Shamrock a watch, opened the back door and attempted to throw him out as though he was a piece of rotting trash. Sure, Shamrock was already at an advanced age well into his 40s but the way in which he was treated felt facetious in nature.
“For me I was just at a point where I was just starting to put my body back together. And I wanted to do a real good run at doing something in the MMA world. But it felt like the UFC was done with me. Even though I was putting up the biggest numbers that anyone else was doing. I was still a huge draw but for whatever reason they just did not want me to continue fighting.”
“And it was almost like they were trying to not let me do it anywhere else either. They were afraid that if I went somewhere else that I would also do those numbers again, so they were trying to retire me so that I wouldn’t go anywhere else. But I just wasn’t done yet man. I know a lot of people say that you are long in the tooth and you aren’t as good as you were before but I truly believed that I earned the right to fight for fun.”
“I fought competitively, I fought for organizations, I helped build them up and I was a spokesman. So I did everything to make other people money and now I had a chance to go out there and fight because I enjoyed it. There was no other reason than just challenging myself. Even though I was 40 something years old and into my 50s I enjoyed fighting. I enjoyed competing. So to have that taken away from me in my opinion was wrong. I wasn’t ready to stop but it felt like they were forcing me out.”
“Why is it so important for fans to force people out? Is it because they are afraid they are going to get hurt? Or they are afraid that they won’t look the same? But yet, the person that is fighting understands their heart, love and desire is to be in that ring and fight until they can’t anymore. If that is their desire, haven’t they earned that?”
Shamrock has earned everything throughout his career. But behind the championship trophies, bulky muscles and piles of cash lied a deleterious relationship with the UFC. Even with the lies, drugs and sex parties Shamrock is blessed to not only feel apart of the UFC legacy, but that he left his own mark in the MMA world.
“I was blessed and very fortunate to have the career that I did and to keep fighting for as long as I did. Even though I wasn’t at the best of my abilities I was still a main part of building multiple organizations even beyond the UFC. So for me it was just truly amazing.”
Mayweather’s High Money Demand For McGregor, Nurmagomedov Fights
By: Sean Crose
The sun will rise in the east and set in the west, the tides will perpetually go in and out, and Floyd Mayweather will always be Floyd Mayweather. If there’s anything the all time great – and anyone who doesn’t think Mayweather is an all time great frankly doesn’t know much about boxing – has in common with current heavyweight king Tyson Fury it’s that both men have the unique ability to make fans and journalists alike scratch their heads on a regular basis.
For these are individuals who make proclamations that sometimes seem either straight off the tops of their heads or purposely designed to mislead. Take the recent headline from the Daily Mail:
“$600 MILLION: The incredible fee Floyd Mayweather wants to get in the boxing ring with Conor McGregor AND Khabib Nurmagomedov”
While it’s true Mayweather has found a way to earn more money than pretty much any fighter – or athlete – in the world for a single sporting event, six hundred million for two fights is pretty over the top, even by contemporary boxing standards. A rematch with McGregor, who Mayweather has already bested courtesy of a 2017 novelty bout, would do huge business, but would it do THAT much? As for Nurmagomedov, who also bested McGregor, a boxing match with Mayweather seems even more outlandish than a McGregor rematch. At least McGregor is primarily a striker in his home sport of MMA. Nurmagomadov’s strength is wrestling.
Still, Mayweather is playing it straight. “For myself,” the Mail quotes him as saying, “the number is $600m. If I’m going to go out there and risk it, it’d have to be worth it.” Without doubt, any fight is now a risk for Mayweather, who is currently a not so young 43 years old. Although he should be able to best both MMA stars in a ring, the sport of boxing takes it’s toll on fighters as the years roll on. What’s more, Mayweather hasn’t faced a boxer of note since he bested Andre Berto after his insanely lucrative match with Manny Pacquiao back in 2015.
“In the boxing world as of right now, it doesn’t make sense for me to fight any ordinary fighter,” he says, via the Mail. “I’m a business man.” Fair enough, but it’s worth wondering if jumping sports would be worth it for McGregor and Nurmagomedov. McGregor has just gotten back to his winning ways in the octagon after a rocky few years, and Nurmagomedov is essentially the sport’s resident badass. What could a likely loss to a considerably over the hill boxer – no matter how great – do to bolster each man’s career?
Millions upon millions of dollars can make up for a lot of embarrassment, however. As the Mail quotes Mayweather as saying:
“It’s an entertainment business.”
As if all this wasn’t wild enough, the Mail reports there’s rumors Mayweather may battle both MMA kings on the same night.
Manny Pacquiao Signs With Paradigm, Who Happens to Represent Conor McGregor
By: Sean Crose
“We’re very excited to announce that Manny Pacquiao has signed with PSM for full service representation!” Paradigm Sports Management announced Tuesday. “Manny is one of the greatest boxers of all time & we look forward to working with Arnold, Ping and the rest of the team back in Manila to maximize his historic career.” One of the most popular fighters in the world, Pacquiao is now represented by the same company that represents MMA superstar Conor McGregor. “Welcome to the team Emmanuel,” McGregor tweeted. Although Pacquiao is now under the Paradigm banner, his personal team is supposed to stay generally in tact.
“I am proud to partner with Paradigm Sports Management,” Pacquiao claimed, “and am excited for the opportunities that Audie Attar and PSM have to offer.” Pacquiao then went on to address the public in general. “One thing I want everyone to remember is to always think positively. Never think negatively, that is the beginning of your downfall. Everything is possible.” Audie Attar, the head of Paradigm, also weighed in. “I’m honored to have the opportunity not only to maximize Manny’s boxing career,” ESPN reports Attar as stating, “but to help him continue to leave a legacy he is proud of through the lens of business and sport…my approach is to focus on each client and their goals always, and I look forward to fighting on his behalf.”
Pacquiao is one of the most famous athletes on earth. He’s earned hundreds of millions of dollars over the course of his long career and fought in the most lucrative battle in boxing history when he lost a decision to Floyd Mayweather back in 2015. The Filipino icon has found himself in the midst of a career resurgence since besting Adrien Broner and Keith Thurman last year. Pacquiao is currently the WBA welterweight champion of the world.
Naturally, talk has already turned to a Pacquiao-McGregor fight. McGregor jumped into the boxing ring in 2017 to take on Mayweather in a bout so lucrative that only Pacquiao-Mayweather had managed to bring in more money. Although McGregor is considerably bigger and younger than Pacquiao, he lost to the far less aggressive Mayweather by knockout, meaning that the fast and hard punching Pacquiao would likely prove to be a formidable foe in the ring. Neither Pacquiao’s nor McGregor’s next opponents have been announced. That does not, however, mean that either man won’t end up facing an opponent from his respective sport.
Bob Arum Wants Terence Crawford vs Conor McGregor in The Ring and Octagon
By: Hans Themistode
WBO Welterweight title holder Terence Crawford has been a professional boxer for 12 years now. He’s managed to win world titles in three different weight classes and is universally considered one of, if not the very best in the world pound-for-pound.
Yet, with everything that Crawford has achieved in the ring, his boxing resume is amongst the weakest, regardless of weight class.
The competition of Crawford is always in question but don’t pin any of the blame on him. Simply put, some of the very best fighters in the world aren’t exactly in a rush to step foot inside the ring with him. Crawford (36-0, 27 KOs) has spent the vast majority of his career calling to face the best but no has answered the call.
Crawford has repeatedly claimed that his lack of a big name opponent hasn’t been frustrating. If no one of note decides to face him, then he will simply continue to dominate whomever they place in front of him.
Frustration hasn’t hit Crawford just yet, but it does seem that it has affected his promoter Bob Arum. Although he has reached out to just about everyone about matching his star fighter with a big name opponent, it seems as though Arum has decided to go in another direction.
Paying attention to every sport is extremely difficult. Yet, even the most dedicated fans of boxing, football or even tennis who don’t pay attention to the world of mixed martial arts (MMA) knows one name. Conor McGregor.
On January 18th, the MMA superstar made quick work of Donald Cerrone in their contest at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada. McGregor of course, loss his first and only boxing match against Floyd Mayweather in August of 2017. McGregor’s now looking for redemption against Mayweather. If he can’t secure that contest, then he is reportedly very much interested in a matchup against eight division world champion Manny Pacquiao.
Bob Arum on the other hand, has another idea in mind. How about McGregor turn his attention to Crawford. In the case of both Mayweather and Pacquiao, McGregor would be forced to face them in the boxing ring.
In a bout with Crawford however, Arum wants to see his star face McGregor in the boxing ring and in the octagon.
“You’ve got an elite boxer in Terence Crawford fighting an elite MMA guy in Conor McGregor under MMA rules,” said Arum. “You don’t think that would be interesting and something the public would want to see? I think it’s very realistic. Whenever they are ready, we are ready,” Arum said, referring to UFC president Dana White and McGregor. “We’d do the MMA fight first if that’s what they want.”
Dangerous? Also yes.
Crazy? Hell yes.
Crawford is a great fighter. Maybe even the best in the world but MMA is a completely different animal. The story is always the same when it comes down to these crossover matchups. If it takes place in the boxing ring then the boxer will win. If it’s done inside of the octagon, then the MMA fighter will take home the victory.
That might be the right away to think about those scenarios normally, but Crawford is anything but normal.
“I’m a fighter first,” Crawford said. “As a fighter, I would entertain it. I just have to have the proper time to prepare myself. It would be a little more than boxing training. I haven’t been in that [wrestling] environment in a long time, but most definitely I feel I can compete with anyone given the proper time to train on the MMA side, being that I have a wrestling background. McGregor would have worry about my stand-up game as well. It would be interesting. He’s got good kicks and he’s strong. I’d have to prepare myself for those things, but I feel I would be all right. A lot of people may say if Terence goes into the Octagon, he will get crushed, but they don’t know me.”
A fight with McGregor would gift Crawford with more money than he can count but that isn’t on the mind of Crawford. The sort of attention that a fight with McGregor could bring the Welterweight champ is what he desires. If no one else wants to fight him then it’s time to get creative.
“I can’t get none of these top welterweights in the ring to fight me, so whatever is clever,” said Crawford. “I’m with it all.”
If this mega event actually does take place, the obvious outcome should be that Crawford wins in the boxing match and McGregor would take home the victory in the MMA matchup. But, according to Arum, McGregor certainly has no shot in the ring but you shouldn’t sleep on Crawford in the octagon.
“Fighting Crawford would be great for McGregor because he has no chance in a boxing match, except to pick up a check,” Arum said. “In an MMA match, he would be the favorite, but Crawford would have a chance because he’s one tough dude and because he has a wrestling background. I think that Crawford is the one boxer that can compete with an elite MMA guy under MMA rules. We’d do two fights so we can level the playing field by fighting in both disciplines. Mayweather and Pacquiao would never fight under MMA rules. Crawford would.”
Floyd Eyes McGregor and Nurmagomedov While McGregor Has Floyd and Pacquiao on His Mind
By: Hans Themistode
It didn’t take long for UFC star Conor McGregor to get rid of Donald Cerone at UFC 246.
40 seconds to be exact. It took Floyd Mayweather an even shorter amount of time to call out McGregor on his Instagram account for a rematch.
Seemingly watching the McGregor contest with his finger on the send button, Mayweather watched as McGregor landed a head kick and followed it up with several strikes on the ground that ended the contest. Once Mayweather pushed the send button, a huge picture of both him and McGregor was plastered across his Instagram account reading the words “MAYWEATHER VS MCGREGOR 2 2020”.
Before the boxing and MMA world could wrap their heads around the possibility of a rematch between the two, Mayweather posted another picture. It contained the same format but this time McGregor was replaced by undefeated UFC star Khabib Nurmagomedov.
Mayweather of course, has expressed interest in facing Nurmagomedov and defeated McGregor in the tenth round of their first matchup in August of 2017. By no means was it a blowout as McGregor made it competitive throughout.
Before Mayweather made it clear that he wants to return against an MMA star, McGregor was on his own campaign trail. Not only stating that he wants the rematch with Mayweather but that he believes it’s only a matter of when, not if.
“I’d like to rematch Floyd, I think we should rematch Floyd,” said McGregor during a recent interview on ESPN. “He’s flirting with it and he can go and rematch someone else but it won’t be the same. I did phenomenal in the bout and the only reason I lost is because I prepared for a back footed, Philly shell kind of opponent. When the fight was like that I was picking him apart. Then he started pressing forward and I wasn’t sinking into my shots like I am now. I know I can beat Floyd if we rematch. Well, when we rematch.”
At this point, everyone is calling out McGregor. With the sort of payday that he can bring to anyone he fights, it isn’t surprising. Yet up until recently, McGregor seemed only interested in facing Mayweather in terms of boxing. But now he has his eyes on another huge star in the sport of boxing at the soon to be opened NFL arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Allegiant Stadium.
“I would love to be the first combatant to fight in that arena,” McGregor said. “What a fight that would be against Manny. A small, powerful southpaw. I’d have to figure out the weight and these things. But something that interests me, no doubt.”
There is so much to dissect here. Mayweather seems to have his eyes set on either Nurmagomedov or McGregor. While McGregor on the other hand has his eyes set on Mayweather, Pacquiao and of course his own UFC rival Nurmagomedov as well.
With so many different possibilities, there is no doubt that Mayweather is likely to return to the ring to cash in another ridiculous payday.
UFC 246 Preview: The Second Act Of Conor McGregor
By: Sean Crose
It’s been a tough couple of years for Conor McGregor. After assuring the world he would “educate” the greatest boxer of a generation, he ended up losing handily in his first boxing match. Then, the following year, he stepped back into the octagon after a lengthy layoff only to be completely dominated by a man he had mocked mercilessly. Then, of course, there were the consequences of antisocial behavior– charges of racism, and Islamophobia, sexual assault accusations, and numerous recorded incidents showcasing aggressive physical behavior. Again, it’s been a tough couple of years – much of it self-inflicted. Still, McGregor, one of the most famous athletes on earth, is planning on turning things around starting this Saturday night in Las Vegas.
For there, at the T-Mobile arena, the Irish star will once again step into the octagon, this time to face the highly respected MMA vet Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone in a scheduled five round welterweight fight. Cerrone, at first blush, looks to be the perfect opponent for McGregor at this point. With a record of 36-13, and at 36 years of age, the product of Denver has lost his last two fights – to Justin Gaethje and Tony Ferguson respectively. Still, the 21-4 McGregor doesn’t have the greatest track record at welterweight, having split two matches with arch foil Nate Diaz in the 170 pound division back in 2016.
It’s also worth noting that McGregor hasn’t won a fight since 2016, when he stopped Eddie Alvarez for the lightweight title that November. After moving on to face – and be stopped by – Floyd Mayweather the following summer, McGregor took over a year off, then tapped out to Khabib Nurmagomadov in October of 2018. Then there’s the matter of those well-publicized troubles the Dublin based fighter has faced before, during and since that time. The wear and tear seem to be evident in the McGregor’s latest public appearances. Here is a man, it appears, who has been genuinely impacted by his experiences and decisions.
It’s best to keep in mind, though, that McGregor looks physically GOOD heading into Saturday. He’s carrying that needed extra weight well. He’s also appeared extremely sharp and focused in training. It sometimes may be easy to forget that McGregor is more than a pop culture presence, he’s a professional fighter who excels at the highest levels of his chosen sport. He is, simply put, a lot more than just hype. Should McGregor show the skills he’s noted for – the awkwardness, speed, and expert use of a deadly left hand – Cerrone may well be in for a long night come Saturday. Or perhaps a very short one.
In fact, it’s being noted among analysts that the fight – which McGregor is favored to win as of press time – can go one of two ways: McGregor will wrap things up in rapid whirlwind fashion, or Cerrone will survive an initial onslaught and take McGregor deep. Known for having less than impressive cardio, the second scenario could prove all wrong for McGregor. Cerrone, on the other hand, would be well advised to be mindful of the first scenario, as his lack of head movement in the octagon can make for a perfect target for McGregor’s missile like strikes.
As he enters his second act, McGregor brings with him a great many questions. He can take comfort knowing other major combat sport stars, such as Muhammad Ali, and George Foreman, also brought questions with them into the mid to late portions of their careers. Both those men obviously did exceptionally well for themselves. Then again, many fighters have crashed and burned under the circumstances. It will be interesting to see where McGregor stands after this weekend.
Interview: UFC Veteran Leo Kuntz Calls for Fight with Bellator’s Dillon Danis
By: Jesse Donathan
Leo “The Lion” Kuntz would like to get his paws on Bellator’s Dillon Danis and settle the score once and for all inside the mixed martial arts gladiatorial arena. A two-time UFC veteran who trains out of American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida, Kuntz is a former The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 16 cast member who isn’t intimidated one bit by the Bellator golden boy Danis, who is better known as UFC superstar Conor McGregor’s Brazilian Jiu-jitsu mentor. According to Kuntz (18-4-1, 9 KOs), Danis is ducking him but can’t run forever. “Dillon, or ‘El Jefa’ as I prefer to call him, personifies all of the negative qualities that are attributed to the great sport of mixed martial arts,” said Kuntz on the origins of his beef with Danis. According to Leo, “He is arrogant and has zero respect for anyone, unless they can better his career. He is exactly all of the bad things about our sport rolled up into one large worthless bag of flesh,” explained Kuntz on how he really feels about the Bellator signed fighter.
“Many years ago, Bellator had offered me two title fights against Ben Askren. I had to turn both fights down because I was already under contract,” said Kuntz. “I knew that Bellator had had some interest in me and a fight between me and ‘El Jefa’ was a real possibility. I then began calling him out on Twitter, this is a tactic he uses often. ‘El Jefa’ only calls out fighters who have no real chance of fighting him. Where I come from, we call these types of people telephone tough guys,” said Kuntz.
“It quickly became apparent to me that Dillon is in bed with Bellator and they don’t want to see him fight somebody like me,” Kuntz explained. “Scott Coker even made comments on Twitter about ‘El Jefa’ not just being a friend, but also his business partner,” said Kuntz. “After those remarks, I lost all respect for Scott Coker and his organization. I would however still fight for Bellator if it meant a fight with ‘El Jefa,’” the American Top Team representative added.
Switching gears, Kuntz is unfortunately perhaps best known for his now infamous fight against opponent Tae Hyun Bang at UFC Fight Night 79 in 2015, which stands today as the only known prosecuted case of fight fixing in the modern era of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. According to an April 19, 2017 MMAJunkie.com article titled, “UFC warned Tae Hyun Bang, Leo Kuntz about fight fixing; Bang investigated in South Korea,” author Steven Marrocco writes, “UFC officials warned Tae Hyun Bang and Leo Kuntz about fight fixing before they fought at UFC Fight Night 79, people with knowledge of the situation told MMAjunkie.”
According to the report, both fighters initially denied any knowledge of wrong doing, but later Bang, “Allegedly admitted to police his role in fight fixing after receiving death threats from organized crime figures, who’d wagered $2 billion Korean won (approximately $1.7 million USD) that Kuntz would win.”
“Police say Bang accepted a bribe of $100 million won (approximately $87,000) while wagering $50 million (approximately $43,000) on his opponent,” writes MMAJunkie.com. A November 24, 2017 follow up article titled, “Report: Tae Hyun Bang sentenced to 10-month prison term for fight-fixing scheme at UFC Fight Night 79,” indicates that Bang was found guilty of, “Taking bribes in connection with a plan to throw a fight.” Incredibly, according to the report, the “three brokers” who set up the fix and gave money to Bang totaling $92,160 USD also were given jail terms for their roles. One of those brokers was reportedly MMA fighter Dae Won Kim.” A fact which may or may not be an indication that fight fixing in mixed martial arts is more prevalent than anyone would like to admit or has previously been willing to address.
“If the top level athletes in MMA would be getting paid in proportion to the top level athletes in the NFL, NBA, MLB etc… this type of incident wouldn’t even be considered,” said Kuntz on his infamous UFC Fight Night 79 split decision loss to Tae Hyun Bang who was later convicted and sent to prison. According to a November 24, 2019 MMAMania.com article titled, “Report: Tae Hyun Bang lands 10-month prison sentence for accepting bribes in attempt to fix UFC fight,” author Dan Hiergesell writes that, “Bang, 34, was given $92,160 USD by a collection of three brokers and was expected to lose the first two rounds to Kuntz.”
Interestingly, the report went on to state, “But after Bang bet half of that money on Kuntz to win, the betting lines drastically switched, forcing UFC officials to warn both Bang and Kuntz of the ramifications of fixing fights.” This is information, that if true, would seem to suggest that the UFC has actively monitored betting lines for sometime now, long before the expected launch of their official sports betting product known as UFC Event Centre in the first quarter of 2020 according to a November 15, 2019 Sherdog.com report.
According to Kuntz, who claims to have had no prior knowledge or involvement of any kind in the fight fixing scandal or any of the individuals involved, “I first became aware of the issue moments before my fight with Tae Hyun Bang. I was in the locker room getting my hands wrapped when UFC brass came and spoke to me about the betting line swinging overnight. I had no idea what this meant at the time,” explained Kuntz. “The UFC went to speak with Bang after they spoke to me and I’m certain that conversation was of a different nature. They knew that the bets had come in on me to win. It’s sad that athletes at our level would even consider throwing a fight for money,” said Kuntz.
“As far as my career goes,” said Kuntz after being asked how the incident has affected him professionally, “I think this incident actually helped me. It is always a topic of conversation and I’ve had several interviews based solely on the fight fixing scandal.”
More recently, Kuntz, a professional MMA fighter with a traditional martial arts background, had a successful exhibition boxing match in an October 12, 2019 Bozeman, Montana fight against another mixed martial arts fighter with a reported 5-1 semi-pro record. “I’m at a point in my career where I am finally able to train full time,” said Kuntz. “Except for my recent boxing exhibition, I haven’t fought in over 2 years. My last 4 fights have been at 155. During my time as a lightweight, I’ve only won 1 out of 4 fights! As a welterweight I am 17-1-1. I will be permanently moving back up to welterweight and I will be competing in MMA in the end of January,” revealed the traditional Chinese martial artist.
A student of the late Grand Master Wei Lun Huang, Kuntz is a Chinese kung fu master who has studied extensively in Taiji and other Chinese internal martial arts. On the influence kung fu has had in his training as a mixed marital artist, according to Kuntz, “Taiji’s power is like water, ever changing and adopting to its environment. Water is one of the softest substance’s on earth and it can still be harnessed to etch stone and steel. Water can carve through mountains and destroy entire cities, yet it is a requirement for nearly every known source of life on earth,” said Kuntz. “GM Wei Lun Huang has shown me how to be like water. This is a path you walk for a lifetime, knowing that you will never reach the end,” explained Kuntz with a heavy dose of Asian martial philosophy and spiritual dogma to his overall worldview.
On what the future holds for the American Top Team trained mixed martial artist, “I am still interested in boxing and will certainly be making my pro boxing debut in 2020,” said Kuntz who is no doubt looking for financially lucrative opportunities. “As a prize fighter, I am interested in any fight that makes dollars and sense.
“I don’t see myself getting involved in bare knuckle boxing though, unless I’m getting paid stupid money,” explained Kuntz upon being asked if the recent trend in MMA fighters transitioning to bare knuckle boxing would be something that he would be interested in pursuing. According to Kuntz, “Martial arts is about self-preservation and bare-knuckle boxing creates an environment that isn’t sustainable for the athletes. I would be more interested in bare knuckle MMA,” in what is an idea quite a few people would be willing to get behind and support.
“My stock is going up,” said Kuntz. “If Dana White wants to give me another chance, it’s best for him to reach out to me quickly. Once I start making waves at welterweight, I won’t be signing with any large promotion if they want to try and give me an entry level contract,” said Kuntz in what is no doubt the mark of a business savvy, experienced professional who has been around the block a few times already.
As a two-time UFC veteran and TUF season 16 cast member sporting an 18-4 overall professional record with an impressive 9 stoppages to his credit, “The Lion” Kuntz is a primed, unsigned big-league talent looking to take advantage of the current professional boxing/MMA crossover market. With the looming entry of Zuffa Boxing into the world of professional pugilism, fighters like Kuntz with previous experience fighting under the Zuffa banner and a desire to follow the money into the ranks of professional boxing are perfect potential free agent acquisitions primed for the taking as Zuffa attempts to make its mark in the squared circle. But in the meantime, Kuntz appears perfectly content with finding himself inside the Bellator cage opposite Dillon Danis where the score can be settled once and for all.
UFC: Zuffa Boxing, DAZN and the Canelo/Kovalev Delay
By: Jesse Donathan
Rest assured, the more things change, the more they remain the same. The professional boxing landscape has recently looked offset and bewildered in the wake of what is increasingly shaping up to be a combat sports entertainment industry that is turning the page on how business is conducted in the modern era. With the highly unusual delay of the Canelo vs. Kovalev fight at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas at the hands of the UFC 244 main event as well as the recent KSI vs. Paul Logan II YouTube star spectacle, an overall picture is beginning to emerge on that suggests change is coming to the otherwise relatively steadfast traditional boxing hierarchy. With the emergence of social media, streaming services and the ever-looming presence of Zuffa Boxing and the UFC’s entry into the world of professional boxing, alliances are quickly shaping up in the way of UFC President Dana White reportedly meeting with boxing promoter Eddie Earn as UFC fighters and professional boxers are increasingly calling one another out.
Just this past week, former NFL standout Greg Hardy put Tyson Fury on notice while Fury himself was recently spotted training with UFC middleweight star Darren Till. Also waiting in the wings for a piece of the Tyson Fury sweepstakes is UFC titan Francis Ngannou, who has dreamed of a career in professional boxing since virtually the inception of his combat sports journey. This news of course, coming on the heels of the well-publicized beef between UFC president Dana White and boxing star Oscar De La Hoya means that the promotional and business aspects of the boxing/mixed martial arts crossover have been well in the making for some time now as the dollars and cents begin shape up in the combat sports entertainment industry.
Though not directly related to the UFC/Zuffa Boxing entry into professional boxing, the recent KSI versus Paul Logan II YouTube star headlining main event on a card promoted by Eddie Hearn, featuring legitimate, championship caliber boxers is a harbinger of things to come for many boxing fans who do not like the change in direction that the wind appears to be now taking. “White collar boxing is a slippery slope and has opened a very dangerous door,” writes four-time national amateur boxing champion Eric Kelly in his November 10, 2019 Twitter social media post. According to Kelly, “#KSI vs #PaulLogan is all the proof that you need. Being the main event on a card that features real professional boxers and world champions. Yet the boxers had to take a backseat to the YouTubers.”
Back in May of 2019, BoxingInsider.com published an article titled, “The Don King Effect – UFC’s Dana White and Zuffa Boxing to Promote Big Fights” where I predicted that the UFC was going to break into boxing in a big way moving forward into the future in 2020 and beyond. According to a November 7, 2019 Chael Sonnen YouTube video titled, “Could Jorge Masvidal vs Canelo Alvarez actually happen?” the former UFC middleweight title contender and current ESPN MMA analyst sat down in “The Bad Guy” studio to discuss what could possibly be on the horizon in the future concerning the professional boxing/mixed marital arts crossover.
“So Masvidal has something known as a hit list he put it out. There were three names on it, I can’t even remember two of them, but I want to get to the third because I remember this. He called out Canelo, Canelo Alvarez,” said Sonnen. “The sitting, reigning, multi-division world boxing champion. Canelo has only lost one fight ever, 21-years old, but he lost it, it was to a guy named Floyd Mayweather. And while he was dominated, it was his only loss and the guy was named Floyd Mayweather and Canelo was 21.”
In making sure his audience understood exactly what it was that he was trying to say, Sonnen went on to remark that, “I’m going to say that all for you a second time, so that you could put those pieces together. So, Canelo is a very special talent. And I’m condescending in case you don’t watch boxing and you didn’t know that,” said Sonnen.
According to Sonnen, “Masvidal is in a very unique position right now that I do not think he is aware of.” In summarizing the down to earth, regular kind of guy off the street attitude Masvidal seems to have, Sonnen went on to summarize exactly where Masvidal’s career stands at this point in time as “The Bad Guy” sees it. “I don’t think Masvidal realizes that anything is different in his life or career,” said Sonnen. “He woke up last week, trying to make weight knowing he was going to have to go out there and put it on the line against somebody for 25-minutes. Do the best that he could, walk away and live with the result. That’s what he got out there and did and I think he is waking up today in the exact same position,” theorized Sonnen.
“But he is wrong. He is wrong,” argued Chael. “The landscape of Jorge Masvidal has changed tremendously. He, I believe, is officially the number one contender. Would that be true? That if he wants to fight the winner of Kamaru/Colby that he will be given that opportunity. Would that be true? I think you guys would agree with me,” offered the ESPN MMA analyst. “But he doesn’t have to go fight the winner of Kamaru/Colby, he has a title,” said Sonnen. “Mission accomplished!” he added.
Stepping into Masvidal’s shoes, it’s all seems pretty simple and straight forward from “The Bad Guys” perspective. “Got in the sport, went up to that division, took big risks to win a belt; he has the belt,” said Sonnen. “He can now go after big fights and there is something about him versus Canelo that just works, it just does,” Sonnen confided.
“And as soon as he (Masvidal) said it, I said, ‘Oh, my goodness,’” explained Sonnen who no doubt knows few things are left to chance, but rather design.
“Now I am not predicting for you guys that you’re going to see that fight, the logistics of how are we going to do it and where are we going to do it are going to be tough,” Sonnen explained. “When Masvidal fights in the UFC and Canelo is exclusive on DAZN, but Dana worked that out with Showtime once before, he can work it out again,” said Sonnen. Which perhaps may go a long way in explaining the unusual delay of the Canelo/Kovalev main event this past Saturday night?
As originally reported in a November 7, 2019 BoxingInsider.com article titled, “DAZN’s Stands Defiant in Face of Canelo-Kovalev Criticism,” author Sean Crose writes, “After it delayed last Saturday’s Canelo-Kovalev match for 90 minutes in order to appeal to MMA fans who were watching a card of their own, I decided to reach out to DAZN for an explanation,” writes Crose. According to the veteran BoxingInsider.com reporter, he received a response the following Tuesday, though unfortunately none of his questions were answered directly as he was instead referred to comments DAZN representative Joe Markowski had previously made to ESPN reporter Steve Kim, who, as Crose noted, works for ESPN who coincidentally enough broadcasted last weekend’s UFC 244 event.
The report went on to note that, “The quotes, such as they are, make it clear DAZN is happy it delayed the fight for an hour and a half on Saturday. What’s more, Markowski added absolutely nothing conciliatory towards those who paid for what was literally poor customer service,” said Crose. According to BoxingInsider.com report, “Sure enough, my question to DAZN about how some perceived their weekend strategy went unanswered. Which brings us to a simple fact – DAZN is not only disinterested in individual consumer satisfaction, it isn’t afraid of that disinterest being public knowledge.”
Searching for a possible explanation to the sudden change of direction, Crose, who is the author of the acclaimed historical fiction novel titled, “the Regulator,” went on to postulate that, “Perhaps the streaming service received such a windfall from all those MMA fans this past weekend that it no longer feels it needs to play nice. Or perhaps it’s just an operation straight out of a Dickens’ novel. Either way, its coldness is notable,” writes Crose.
According to a November 6, 2019 Luke Thomas YouTube video titled, “UFC 244 vs. Canelo-Kovalev: Was DAZN Right?” the Sirius XM radio host weighed in on the issue, stating that, “I’ve noticed a lot of different takes on this. Basically, it goes one of two ways. One way is that you’re in favor of this. And the argument would be, wow, as a service to the fan, you got to watch the UFC 244 PPV and then, when that was over, you got to flip right over and then catch Canelo doing pretty incredible things,” said Thomas.
“Alright, and that was one argument essentially for it. And the other side, is that, well I don’t know how much of a cross over audience there actually is,” explained Thomas. “And more to the point, if you want to make your product look Busch league, boy, this is a great way to do it,” notes Thomas.
According to Luke, “MMA and boxing have always had a natural tension, and more to that point, when you look at the actual dollar figures that boxers make right, the 35-million that Canelo has made, the 40-million, I think 42-million guaranteed that Floyd got to fight Canelo or the 300-million that Mayweather got to fight McGregor, right, it’s always had this status as not merely the more lucrative sport for it’s a-list stars, its always had a bit of a big brother vibe to MMA,” explained Thomas.
Continuing, Thomas went on to expound that, “Like we respect the hustle to a degree of the MMA fighters, you are seeing some people open their doors more, the Freddy Roaches, the Teddy Atlas’s, that kind of thing, but its always had a bit of a big brother vibe to UFC,” said Thomas. “I think this was startling to boxing fans because this was the first time where that relationship got completely inverted. It was the first time where boxing could not look at itself in the face and say we are the big brother on this night,” explained the former United States Marine.
“And that’s important, because not only was this fight with Canelo and Kovalev not the big brother scenario, I mean it wasn’t the big brother when you had their top star. It wasn’t Danny Garcia versus Thurman II or something like that. This was Canelo Alvarez, the biggest star in combat sports. The biggest star in boxing, active, jumping up two weight classes man, and they made that one the second fiddle. I think that startled boxing fans,” noted Thomas.
In the after math of the Canelo Alvarez vs. Sergey Kovalev fight and its highly unusual delay at the hands of the UFC 244 main event at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas as well as the recent KSI vs. Paul Logan II YouTube star spectacle an overall picture is beginning to emerge on the combat sports landscape that suggests the winds of change are in the air as the page is beginning to be turned in the otherwise steadfast, traditional professional boxing landscape.
With the emergence of streaming services, YouTube social media sensations and the ever-looming presence of Zuffa Boxing and the UFC’s entry into the realm of professional pugilism, alliances are quickly forming with some of the biggest movers and shakers in the combat sports entertainment industry. Though one can sense the offset fear and bewilderment from the professional boxing community, one can rest easy knowing that the more things change, the more they will inevitably remain the same.
Tyson Fury Begins His MMA Training With UFC Fighter Darren Till
By: Hans Themistode
Lineal Heavyweight champion Tyson Fury (29-0-1, 20 KOs) made his WWE debut at the Crown Jewel in Saudi Arabia on October 31st. He successfully defeated Braun Strowman in an entertaining matchup. Following his win, Fury made a few headlines by stating that he wanted to jump into mixed martial arts (MMA). He doesn’t want to simply join any organization either, he apparently has his eyes set on taking his talents to the UFC in the near future.
Too many times have we seen professional boxers put down the boxing gloves and step into the octagon. It isn’t hyperbole to say that they have all failed miserably.
Fury however, believes he can make a successful transition and has even floated around the idea of receiving help from UFC star and two weight world champion, Conor McGregor.
One person who believes Fury would be making an erroneous mistake if he decided to step into the octagon is UFC president Dana White.
“I like Tyson Fury,” said White. “I think he is one of the biggest stars in combat sports right now. You look at the four Heavyweights Joshua, Wilder, Fury and Ruiz. I think massive fights can be made with all of those guys. Tyson Fury had a tough time in his last fight in a boxing match. Coming over to MMA is a whole other story.”
Heading into a sport as dangerous as MMA would be a curious move for Fury. However, it is a possibility and although White feels like it would be a bad move for Fury, it is something that he would embrace.
“Listen anything is possible. If Tyson Fury wants to fight MMA, I’ve got a ton of guys that would love to fight him but I don’t know why he would want to do it. Tyson Fury is one of the best in the world. He’s an incredible fighter. If promoted the right way, he could be apart of three or four of the biggest fights in Heavyweight history. Why come over here and get smashed? You’re the man in boxing. Why even think about coming over here?”
It might not seem like the best move for Fury, but he appears to be dead serious about making the transition as he was recently seen training with UFC Middleweight contender Darren Till.
Fury caught the attention of White as he reposted a video displaying the Lineal Heavyweight champion training with Till, and truth be told, he looked pretty good as well.
If this was anyone else, this move would be viewed as something that is farfetched. Yet since this is Tyson Fury we are speaking of, just about anything is possible. He successfully crossed over to the world of WWE, so who’s to say he would dive head first into MMA? Doubt him if you want, but we should all be taking Fury’s possible foray into yet another sport very seriously.
UFC 244: Masvidal vs. Diaz for the BMF Belt
By: Jesse Donathan
It’s a conspiracy, or so UFC superstar Nate Diaz alleges in the controversy surrounding his positive test for a performance enhancing drug in the lead up to his UFC 244 showdown with Jorge Masvidal for the promotions newly created BMF title. The resulting backlash from the mainstream media and the sports wildly dedicated fan base was so severe that not only was an acquittal for Diaz quick in the making, but the UFC’s own anti-doping czar, Jeff Novitzky , has reportedly been left openly questioning the very intellectual foundation itself in how the matter of flagged test results could potentially be handled moving forward later down the line in the future.
“You’re all on steroids, not me,” Nate Diaz announced in his October 24, 2019 Twitter social media message in effort to get out in front of the bad news shared with him privately. Attached to the Tweet, an additional message the UFC superstar took the time to type up in a screenshotted text message that read, “I’m not gonna make it out to NYC for (the) fight next week because they say I tested with elevated levels that they say might be from some tainted supplements,” Diaz wrote. “I call false on that because I only take whole food or natural food supplements. I don’t even eat meat,” Diaz explained.
“So, until UFC, USADA or whoever is (expletive) with me fixes it, I won’t be competing. I’m not gonna play their game and try and hide it or keep quiet, as they suggested,” said Diaz. It was the shot heard around the world, heads turned in the mixed martial arts community on the news someone within the UFC or USADA had suggested Diaz hide the flagged, atypical test result. According to Forbes writer Trent Reinsmith, “The story isn’t that Nate Diaz is out of UFC 244, the story is that someone allegedly told him to keep quiet. Find that person, report that story. That’s what matters,” alleges Reinsmith.
The news and mainstream narrative would quickly shift to Diaz being exonerated of any wrong doing, with ESPN’s Brett Okamoto reporting that Diaz had in fact been cleared to compete at UFC 244 after all. According to the October 25, 2019 Twitter social media post, “Breaking: Nate Diaz is eligible to compete at UFC 244. USADA has ruled he has not committed an anti-doping violation. Elevated level of SARMS was traced to a contaminated organic, vegan, plant-based daily multivitamin,” reads the Okamoto report.
Originally taped to an October 27, 2019 Chael Sonnen YouTube video titled, “The difference between Jon Jones and Nate Diaz flagged USADA tests…,” Sonnen, a former UFC middleweight championship contender and current ESPN MMA analyst himself, believes that, “The apologies that are owed to Nate Diaz are bountiful, but I don’t see them coming in.”
In classic form, Sonnen didn’t skip a beat in assessing the media firestorm surrounding the Diaz flagged test result. As the Bad Guy Inc. CEO sees it, “So, if you publicly attacked Nate Diaz and now you are left to look like a fool, the apology needs to be done publicly,” said Sonnen. “You did it through social media on Twitter, you got to go back to Twitter and make it right. Or you’re just a scumbag and you can go ahead and be scumbag, I mean, it is the fight business, right?” the seasoned veteran Sonnen leveled for his viewing audience in reviewing the basic facts of the story.
“People say terrible things about one another, but those are the choices. People were very quick to turn on Nate, now I will have to say, most of the people who turned on Nate were completely clean and innocent, and just don’t know, they just don’t know how abundantly clear it is. Take Dustin Poirier by example,” said Sonnen.
“Dustin Poirier, who has never taken anything and is squeaky clean himself, he wouldn’t know. He wouldn’t be like a guy like me who is an expert in this, for all the wrong reasons, but an expert nonetheless, he just wouldn’t know,” said Professor Sonnen. “So, he is going to default to the test.” Continuing, and most interesting to consider, Sonnen went on to remark, “Just by example, a lot of the people who were hard on Nate were very innocent themselves, okay. They weren’t throwing stones and then doing something bad. But wrong? They were wrong,” said Sonnen in getting to the bottom of the matter once and for all.
The Bad Guy’s message apparently made it to all the right parties, including the Dustin Poirier camp, with Poirier himself taking to Twitter social media in an October 28, 2019 post to lay something somewhat reminiscent of an apology out to Diaz, stating that, “… I jumped the gun when news came out that he (Diaz) failed a test. He’s always been a guy who pushed for clean eating and clean sport. I shouldn’t have,” explained the former interim lightweight champion before going on to add that that it, “Doesn’t change the fact that I still want to beat his ass,” said Poirier.
Since joining BoxingInsider.com, I have written a number of articles on the topic of performance enhancing drug use, regularly calling for a paradigm shift in how anti-doping is handled in combat sports across the board. It would seem the countless hours spent kneeling at the altar of sacrifice before the “Just Bleed Gods” has finally paid off as my prayers have been delivered to the high priests of MMA who answered the call. Although it is likely that they only picked the phone up out of necessity, rather than reason, in the face of increased backlash and scrutiny surrounding the way in which the promotion and the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) handle their day to day operations amid accusations of conspiracy.
As originally recorded to an October 29, 2019 Luke Thomas YouTube video titled, “Jeff Novitzky Made a Key Admission About Anti-Doping,” the longtime MMA analyst highlighted what he believes to be a potentially “radical change” in anti-doping policy that could be on the horizon.
According to Thomas, ““What is slowly beginning to don on anti-doping authorities, and who again, Jeff Novitzky does not work for USADA, he works for the UFC, is what they’ve found is it’s not merely supplements that are contaminated with trace levels of prohibited substances,” explained Thomas. “They’re finding it in water from the municipal water system, they’re finding it in medications from reputable pharmacies, they’re finding it in foods, they’re finding it in all manners of circumstances where you just can’t believe,” said Thomas.
Going on to cite an October 26, 2019 Josh Gross article for TheAthletic.com titled, “In a ‘contaminated world,’ can common sense prevail with the UFC Anti-Doping Policy?” Thomas highlighted a segment of the report of particular interest to the MMA SiriusXM radio host. As originally written by Gross, “For many years the onus of “strict liability” fell on the fighters, meaning they were the ones responsible for what is in their bodies. Now Novitzky and the UFC are arguing that in some cases the burden must shift from the athlete to the testing authority.”
Referencing Novitzky, Gross went on to write that, “Maybe 10 or 15 years ago when the labs could only detect nanogram level and you didn’t see as much contaminates in the world, that policy was appropriate,” he said. “In this day and age, with those two things happening – the low limits of detection and increased contaminates in our world – I don’t think “strict liability” is the appropriate answer,” said Novitzky.
Admittedly blown away by this revelation from the UFC anti-doping czar, Thomas went on to share his thoughts on the subject and what it could possibly mean for the future of combat sports. “Strict liability is the, is part of and a key corner stone of the intellectual underpinning that makes anti-doping what it is,” explained Thomas. Continuing, “If the world is that contaminated and the detection is that good, as they seem to believe that it is, what are you supposed to do?” a perplexed Thomas asked.
“You can’t force the onus constantly on the athlete,” said Thomas. “He actually thinks the burden should shift to the testing agency. That is an absolute, if that happens, fundamental shift in how anti-doping works. It is an absolute invert. It is literally like saying, not literally, it is kind of like saying, I want to be fair here, you have went from guilty until proven innocent to innocent until proven guilty. That is how utterly monumental that is as an admission,” Thomas concluded.
According to an October 28, 2019 MMAFighting.com article titled, “Nate Diaz blasts ‘made up’ USADA drug testing issue: ‘It was all just a big old bunch of bullsh*t’,” author Damon Martin writes, “The UFC claims that an “organic, vegan, plant-based daily multivitamin” was contaminated with the banned substance LGD-4033—a selective androgen receptor modulator banned at all times for athletes—led to the adverse findings in the drug test.”
Interestingly, the MMAFighting.com report went on to state, “Ultimately, Diaz calls the whole debacle one giant “conspiracy,” and he vehemently denies any accusations made against him, especially considering his feelings on the majority of fighters in the UFC, who he branded as cheaters a long time ago,” said Martin.
According to the report, “’Everybody I’ve been fighting has been on steroids,’ Diaz explained. ‘Most of the people, I don’t want to diss everybody, but most of the people in the UFC, champions or not champion, they’re all on f*cking steroids, and they’re going to pass their tests and they know how to pass their tests. I know, cause I know all them motherf*ckers,’” MMAFighting.com reports.
In the wake of the controversy surrounding Diaz’s reported positive test for elevated levels of a performance enhancing drug, a furor erupted in the mixed martial arts community that brought increased scrutiny and skepticism to the efficacy of the promotions testing program under the United States Anti-Doping Agency, striking at the very intellectual foundation itself in how the two entities conduct their day to day operations. The resulting fallout so severe that the UFC’s own anti-doping czar Jeff Novitzky is openly considering a complete and radical paradigm shift due to the significant pushback and increased scrutiny from the combat sports media and general public as accusations of a conspiracy mount.
Tyson Fury Eyes MMA Move With The Help Of Conor McGregor
By: Hans Themistode
Tyson Fury has made headlines recently. The Lineal Heavyweight champion has been seen in recent weeks in the WWE world. His back and forth feud with super star wrestler Braun Strowman has captured the imagination of everyone. It was fun to see Fury outside of his normal boxing element.
The fun quickly ended when it was reported that Fury was seriously considering to forego his 2020 rematch with WBC belt holder Deontay Wilder in favor of pursuing a full time career in the WWE.
In just a few short days, Fury will settle his beef with Strowman at the highly anticipated Crown Jewel wrestling event which is slated to take place on Halloween. With Fury reportedly making 15 million for his lone contest with Strowman, the possibility of Fury leaving the boxing ring for good is a real possibility.
With the obligations of defending his Lineal crown, coupled with his WWE commitment, Fury seemingly has a full plate in front of him. Well, according to the man nicknamed the “Gypsy King” he still has room for other ventures as well.
The undefeated Heavyweight champion is in serious talks with Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) star Conor McGregor about a possible move into the world of MMA. Fury isn’t simply thinking about making a move to the cage, he is apparently ready to go head first into it with McGregor firmly in his corner as his training partner.
“I have been speaking to Conor about it,” said Fury. “He’s willing to train me. It’s gonna be good”
Many boxers have made the transition to MMA or at least have given it thought. To train for such a complex sport, many would be led to believe that Fury’s possible MMA debut is something that could happen sometime in the future. Getting acclimated to an entirely different sport is something that could take Fury quite some time to get the hang of. If this was your first initial thought, it would be a good one, but ultimately, you would be wrong.
For Fury, stepping into the cage is something that could happen much sooner than anyone realizes.
“Who knows? I have got something big coming up after this, even bigger than this. We might see Tyson Fury have his MMA debut this year. Tyson Fury is taking over,”
If Fury truly is considering the move to MMA, then he has chosen the perfect person to train him. McGregor is the most prominent name in MMA and one of the most popular athletes regardless of the sport. According to Fury, the extension of help offered from McGregor is something he surely can’t pass up on.
“He’s just said any time that you are ready come over to Dublin and let’s go. I can’t wait, I’m going to take him up on the offer. Who knows we might be on a double-header.”
Although MMA would essential be a new ordeal for Fury, his background has led him to believe that any form of fighting is something that he will excel at.
“I come from a long line of bare-knuckle boxing champions. Getting hurt, getting bloodied is nothing new to me, it’s all a part of my heritage. I would love to get in there and smash someone up.”
Bellator 231: Mir defeats Nelson by Unanimous Decision
By: Jesse Donathan
Coming into the main event of Bellator 231 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut both UFC veterans Frank Mir (19-13, 5 KOs) and Roy Nelson (23-18, 15 KOs) were riding multiple fight losing streaks, with Mir having dropped four bouts in a row, most recently falling to Javy Ayala via second round TKO at Bellator 212 this past December in 2018. As for Nelson, having dropped sum three fights in a row himself, including his most recent outing at Bellator 216 against mixed martial arts legend Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic in February, stepping into the cage in a rematch against Mir meant a chance for redemption. The two originally met at UFC 130 in 2011, with Mir taking home a three round unanimous decision victory. Inevitably, somebodies losing streak was going to end Friday night and it ultimately turned out to be Frank Mir’s.
Incredibly, Mir weighed in at 265.75 pounds for his rematch with Roy “Big Country” Nelson Friday night, which as fight commentator “Big” John McCarthy pointed out is stretching the limits of the 265-pound mixed martial arts heavyweight division. From the beginning, Nelson came out controlling the cage and pressing the action early on in the fight, stalking Frank Mir with short, plodding steps indicative of someone looking to set up a big shot and make quick work of the former two-time UFC heavyweight champion. Content to set back and counter strike, the story of the first round and perhaps the entire fight itself was Frank Mir’s highly effective inside leg kicks which routinely sent Nelson’s heavily weight distributed lead leg flying. The technique by in large prevented “Big Country” from finding his rhythm and setting up those legendary fight ending hands. The first round was a relatively clear 10-9 round for a Frank Mir who did his homework.
Photo Credit: Frank Mir Twitter Account
Though Mir still threw the inside leg kicks in the second stanza, he did so with less frequency than in the previous round as the game plan appeared to have been to soften Roy’s legs up in the first, hindering his mobility and overall movement in order to attempt to get Nelson out of there in the second. Though the savvy 43-year old veteran Nelson ultimately proved to be still quite durable, he is obviously missing the overall speed and explosiveness he once possessed just a few short years ago during his UFC tenure.
The second round was marked with Mir willing to stand and trade with a “Big Country” who did not appear to have a plan B besides banging it out with Mir, which was likely due in part to the unusually dangerous threat Mir poses in the grappling department. The second round was a more competitive and entertaining fight than the first, though one still ultimately judged a 10-9 round on my score card for a Frank Mir who just appeared to be the more dynamic fighter in the cage.
In between the second and third rounds, Nelson’s corner seemed particularly concerned with his nose, with one of his cornermen having a gauze at the ready as “Big Country” sat down to rest and compose himself. Seemingly finding his second wind or perhaps feeling a sense of urgency, “Big Country” would come out strong early on in the third, with the fighter appearing noticeably more aggressive and focused on the task at hand. After some back and forth action, the referee Todd Anderson would call a halt to the action with approximately 3-minutes and 30-seconds left in the round, the result of an accidental low blow from Mir that always seems to get the audience’s attention.
With the action restarted, Nelson would again resume his low, crouched stance in an effort to catch Mir with one of his customary fight ending big shots, though the crafty former UFC champion successfully evaded the thunder to keep his consciousness. With Mir seemingly exhausted and little more to offer, Nelson would go on to stalk his winded opponent around the cage for the remainder of the fight, ultimately displaying his heralded wrestling ability with just under 15-seconds left in the fight by impressively throwing Mir to the canvas.
Though it was too little, too late for the Las Vegas native as the end of the round and ultimately the fight itself drew to a close. Though it was a 10-9 round for “Big Country” on my score card, unfortunately it just wasn’t enough to secure the “W” as Mir took home the well-earned unanimous decision victory, moving to 2-0 against Nelson as he closed out their interorganizational rivalry.
In defeat, Nelson moves to 1-5 during his Bellator tenure, having dropped his last four fights in a row to Mir, Filipovic, Sergei Kharitonov and Matt Mitrione, a virtual deaths row of heavyweight mixed martial arts killers. Picking up a much-needed victory Friday night at the Mohegan Sun Arena, Mir snapped his own four fight losing streak that saw Mir, himself, compete against some of the best in the business, including the legendary knockout artist Mark Hunt, former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski and the legendary mixed martial arts demi-god Fedor Emelianenko. Both Mir and Nelson are two of the best fighters in the business, with both fighters having multiple fight losing streaks that serve as perfect examples of how losing can actually mean winning in the game of life.
UFC Legend Randy Couture Hospitalized after Massive Heart Attack
By: Jesse Donathan
If there was a Mt. Rushmore of mixed martial arts, Randy Couture would have a seat at the table, for sure, no questions asked, it’s not even debatable. This much is true today and a hundred years from now, simply put, Couture is a verifiable legend in the sport of mixed martial arts. On Thursday, news of the mixed martial arts legends reported massive heart attack struck the MMA community like a Brock Lesnar ham-fisted sandwich, sparking fears and concern the world over for the UFC Hall of Famers health and wellbeing.
“But I’m sitting in the fighter meeting, I get a text message, it says, ‘Randy Couture suffered a massive heart attack and is in the hospital, TMZ reports.’ Oh my goodness,” explains ESPN MMA analyst Chael Sonnen in his October 25, 2019 YouTube video titled, “Randy Couture’s heart attack proves just how tough he is….” According to the Sonnen, who is a former training partner of Couture’s at the legendary Team Quest, “So I stopped the meeting. And another guy in the meeting was Big John (McCarthy). ‘Big John, I just got this news about Randy, I’m going this way, you go that way, lets find out who can find out information,’” Sonnen explained of his conversation with the well-known referee and current Bellator fight commentator.
Photo Credit: Randy Couture Twitter Account
“So, I go straight to Randy. Now when I went to Randy, I never thought in a million years (that) I’m going to hear back from him if its true. If its not true, he will go, ‘Oh, I don’t know where that rumor came from.’ So, I go to Randy, Big John goes to Randy’s significant other and they were both very responsive,” said Sonnen. “I hear right away from Randy. And he says, “Oh, I had a little heart issue, I’ll be out of here tomorrow.” Which as Sonnen explained, was somewhat re-assuring news considering the TMZ report.
“So John gets back, so I share what I got with John and then John shares what he got with me, and his was a little more, you know, the significant other is a little bit more worried, but we still thought we were out of the woods on this massive heart attack thing,” the ESPN MMA analyst said. Continuing, “So, then it catches on, it’s getting all over the news, words getting out, phones are lighting up. Go towards the end of my day and I see Jay Glazer. Well Glazer and Randy work out of the Unbreakable gym. And Glazer was like, ‘Oh Chael, let me tell you the story from the beginning.”
What would follow next is a testament to exactly what kind of man Randy Couture actually is, which is one tough, son of a gun. According to Sonnen, who relayed the story as originally told to him by Glazer, “He said, ‘Randy didn’t have some heart attack and an ambulance gets called and he goes to the hospital. He said, ‘Bro, he had a heart attack at my gym. He had a heart attack. He was telling us, ‘Oh, my heart, my chest, I’m having something going on in my chest.’’ He went and got a foam roller and tried to roll it out. He tried to roll out a heart attack, oh I should add for you, said Sonnen, he then finished the work out. He then walks to the hospital himself, no ambulance, no ride, doesn’t even tell anybody, walks himself into the hospital.
“They immediately perform an operation,” said Sonnen. “They put a stint in, they inform he has had a massive heart attack, they inform him that he has some kind of clotting, and they have some kind of with his blood. And Jay is now at the hospital visiting. And they come in and they ask Randy, ‘On a scale of 1 to 10, where’s your pain?’ And Randy says, ‘Oh, about a 2.’ And they go, ‘Okay, at the time of the heart attack, on a scale of 1 to 10, where was the pain?’ And Randy says, ‘Oh, 4.’
“And Jay goes, ‘Damnit, don’t ask him, quit, you ask me ques…, don’t ask him any questions, this is the toughest guy you’ve ever met. He doesn’t even know what an 8 or a 9 is,’” said Sonnen with a laugh.
In giving an update on Couture’s health, Sonnen went on to explain, “So Randy is doing okay, that is the point of my story, but the fact that he had a heart attack, tried to get it out with a foam roller, finished the work out and then walked to the hospital and informed the doctor he was in almost no pain, I think tells you all you need to know about the heart of Randy Couture.”
Among the most recent updates on Couture’s health include an October 25, 2019 Twitter social media post from ESPN MMA journalist Ariel Helwani. According to the long time MMA personality, “Randy Couture has been discharged from the hospital, less than two days after suffering a heart attack.” Incredibly, Helwani went on to add, Couture walked home just the same as he did when he checked himself into the hospital, according to the report. Whether this is an indication of how close Couture lives to the medical facility or if the aging fighter has fell on hard times financially remains to be seen, though with reports of Couture in the gym and working out, its clear the desire to compete still burns in the legendary fighters soul whatever the case may be.
Bellator 231: Mir vs. Nelson
By: Jesse Donathan
It’s going to be a clash of mixed martial arts legends at Bellator 231 on Friday, October 25, 2019 live on DAZN/Paramount starting at 9:00 pm EST at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. The evenings main event set to take place in a rematch between former two-time UFC heavyweight champion Frank Mir (18-13, 5 KOs) and Roy “Big Country” Nelson (23-17, 15 KOs). The two originally met at UFC 130 – Rampage vs. Hamill in 2011, where Nelson dropped a three round unanimous decision to the always dangerous former UFC heavyweight champion.
For those of you who may not be aware of who Frank Mir is, allow me the opportunity to introduce you to one of the most dangerous submission artists in the world. Frank Mir is not someone to be underestimated in any capacity, especially on the ground, but he is also a proven, well-rounded mixed martial artist very capable of stopping fighters on his feet as well.
Despite having his best days behind him, Frank Mir is still quite capable of breaking every bone in your body, a feat former UFC and Pride FC heavyweight champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, himself a Brazilian Jiu-jitsu master, found out first hand in their rematch at UFC 140 in 2011. It was a grappling master showcase, though unfortunately for the Brazilian legend, Nogueira would succumb to Mir via technical submission by kimura, which is another way of saying Mir broke Nogueira’s arm and the referee was forced to intervene and bring a halt to the contest.
And who could forget Mir breaking former UFC champion Tim Sylvia’s arm at UFC 48 – Payback, also via technical submission, where Mir captured the UFC heavyweight crown via bone crunching armbar submission. Later, upon a trip to the emergency room it was revealed that the 6-foot-eight-inch former champions arm was fractured in several places, leaving an endearing reminder of exactly how soft “The Gentle Art” of Jiu-jitsu can truly be.
Following a serious motorcycle accident a few short months later, where he was ultimately stripped of his UFC heavyweight title; Mir would go on to triumphantly recapture UFC gold at UFC 92 some four years later, defeating Nogueira for the UFC interim heavyweight title via second round TKO.
“There’s mathematics to fighting Roy,” Mir told Phone Booth radio in an August 31, 2019 MMAJunkie.com article titled, “Frank Mir on rematch with Roy Nelson: ‘I really don’t want to fight Roy.’” According to Mir, who is currently riding a four-fight losing streak, “If you follow that formula, Roy is beatable. If you detour that, you take risks and open yourself up to make it more exciting, and that’s when Roy catches guys with that thunderous right hand of his,” writes author Nolan King.
“Roy Nelson has been around the block a few times over the course of his 15-year MMA career and, as a result, things just don’t bug him like they used to,” writes authors Simon Head and Matt Erickson in their October 24, 2019 MMAJunkie.com article titled, “Roy Nelson is (not quite) done caring as Bellator 231 approaches: ‘Everyone thinks I suck anyway’.” According to the report, “Nelson has fought each of his past three bouts,” in Uncasville, Connecticut despite having requested fights on the opposite side of the country each and every time. “Hey, it is what it is,” Nelson told MMAJunkie.com. In summarizing his ultimate thoughts on the rather peculiar irregularity and circumstance, “I feel like when I was in the UFC and got the international departures. I feel like it’s the same thing,” said Nelson in describing the perceivable oddity of it all.
Originally from Las Vegas, Nevada, Nelson acquired the nickname “Big Country” due in large part to his to his impressive grappling acumen, which naturally led to his peers presuming he must have come out of one of the more decorated collegiate wrestling programs in the country such as Oklahoma or Iowa for example. Though on a current three fight losing streak of his own, a quick glance at Nelsons record indicates he has fought a who’s who list of mixed martial arts legends throughout his career, meaning the seventeen career losses on Nelsons record are a potentially deceptive indicator of his overall greatness when evaluating the totality of his career due to the strength of schedule he carried alone.
With both mixed martial arts legends riding multiple fight losing streaks, one of the two is about to snap a dry spell Friday night in the evenings main event live at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. Considering the previous history these two combatants have with one another, is Nelson going to set the stage and record straight for a third and final showdown with Mir in avenging his 2011 UFC 130 defeat? Or will Mir manage to crunch the numbers once again, utilizing his tried and true mathematical equation to zero Nelson out, moving to 2-0 in their multi-organizational rivalry? Tune into Bellator 231 live on Paramount/DAZN tonight starting at 9:00 PM EST to find out and catch all the evenings results.