Former Olympian Ben Askren Blasted at UFC 239 in Fastest KO in UFC History
By: Jesse Donathan
It only took top UFC welterweight Jorge Masvidal 5-seconds to send Ben Askren into the stratosphere Saturday night in route to the fastest KO in UFC history.
The second straight fighter baptized under fire by Masvidal this year, Jorge’s most recent destruction of Askren comes on the heels of the American Top Team representative flatlining former UFC title contender Darren Till at UFC Fight Night 147 back in March. A definitive victory for Masvidal, the impressive stoppage was quickly over shadowed by a now infamous backstage altercation between Masvidal and surging UFC prospect Leon Edwards.
In defeat, Askren falls to 19-1 overall, 1-1 in the UFC. The fight was over before it even got started. Seemingly unprepared for the same blitzkrieg offensive Masvidal launched in his initial volley against Till, Askren was caught dead to rights, diving for a takedown as Masvidal launched a beautifully executed flying knee that connected flush to the head of the unprepared “Funky” one. Askren was out cold, brutally knocked out in absolutely devastating fashion. The deck had been stacked against Askren from day one, long before he ever stepped foot inside the Octagon and unfortunately his day of reckoning had arrived.
“What was expressed to me by the UFC brass was that you need to get rid of your matching clause,” Askren told Joe Rogan on the Joe Rogan Experience back in January of 2018. A Bellator welterweight champion at the time, the goal of all professional mixed martial artists is to compete for the world’s premiere mixed martial arts organization. But with Askren under contract with Bellator, with a reported 12-month matching promotional grace period; the former Olympian was caught between a rock and a hard place.
According to Askren the UFC told him to get rid of his matching clause and they would make him an offer, but until then they were unable to negotiate any further. Not wanting to sit out 12-months in order to navigate the waters of the promotional matching clause grace period, Askren requested and received his release from Bellator under former President Bjorn Rebney. Askren would go on to recount to Rogan how once his paper work was finalized, and his manager faxed over the Bellator release documents to UFC headquarters the unthinkable occurred. The UFC reversed course 180-degrees on Askren as UFC President Dana White then came out publicly and stated the UFC was no longer interested in signing the now former Bellator champion.
It was as ruthless of a business decision in the sport of mixed martial arts as you’re ever going to see, the UFC eliminated one of Bellator’s top champions and effectively branded him as a second-rate fighter not good enough to compete on the world’s biggest stage in one fell swoop. Enter Askren’s impressive run through the Singapore based ONE Fighting Championship where he became their welterweight champion in short order while still maintaining a perfect undefeated record.
Finally, some six-years later, Askren would finally make his way to the UFC via a groundbreaking, blockbuster trade deal that saw the UFC send former perennial flyweight champion Demetrius Johnson to ONE in exchange for the rights to Askren. It was a shocking announcement from the UFC, both because such a trade deal had never been done before and because it involved sending one of the UFC’s greatest talents in “Mighty Mouse” Johnson to ONE Championship for Ben Askren, a fighter who had long deserved to fight in the UFC but whom had essentially been black listed by the promotion for many years.
According to a November 4, 2018 MMAFighting.com article titled, “Dana White says bringing Ben Askren to the UFC was ‘a great deal for me’,” author Dave Doyle writes that, “We just talked, this guy thinks I hate him,” White said of Askren during the UFC 230 post-fight press conference at New York’s Madison Square Garden.” The UFC President would go on to be quoted as stating, “If I hated you, why would I do this deal? I’m the one who did this deal, I’m the one who came up with this deal. This was my idea. Why would I do this if I hated you so bad and didn’t want you to be here?”
The answer to that question would be soon be found in Askren’s next two scheduled opponents under the UFC banner as the former 2008 Beijing Olympian would be introduced to two of the UFC’s most fierce competitors in “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler and “Gamebred” Jorge Masvidal. Askren wasn’t sent to general population, instead, he was taken to cell block D on death row to meet the most dangerous fighters the UFC had under promotional contract in the welterweight division.
“Before the fight, Masvidal made a promise: “The universe has chosen me to make things right and correct this mistake known as Ben Askren,” writes the NY Daily News’s Dennis Young. It was a curious statement from “Gamebred,” who one would think had little interest in who the UFC signed under contract or not. Their job is to line them up, his job is to knock them down.
In the lead up to the fight, a promotional dream unfolded as Masvidal and Askren jawed back and forth with each other through the media and social media platforms. The fight quickly became among the most anticipated on an absolutely stacked UFC 239 card and ultimately unfolded in devastating fashion following a series of entertaining fights in Vegas Saturday night.
Starting the fight with his hands behind his back, goading Askren to come forward, Masvidal quickly changed gears and flew across the cage launching a flying knee attack that obliterated Askren where he stood on his feet. The former Bellator and ONE FC welterweight champion collapsed to the canvas unconscious, but not before eating two more violent shots from Masvidal as referee Jason Herzog stepped in to call a halt to the action. Askren was stiff as a board as Masvidal taunted and mocked his badly hurt opponent. It was a vulgar display of power from “Gamebred” who had taken exception with how Askren had promoted the fight in the lead up to their bout at UFC 239. “I gave him what he deserved,” Masvidal told BT Sport’s Caroline Pearce during a post-fight interview following the contest.
According to a 2018 ESPN report, Askren was fully under the impression the UFC had brought him to lose. Originally maligned by the organization six years ago, the UFC acquired the formerly retired Askren only after he had hung his gloves up and called it a day in mixed martial arts. Following the obliteration at the hands of Masvidal, “Funky” was seen being helped to the back looking concussed and badly hurt after the fight. “He’s good, White said about Askren,” in an update on his condition according to MMAFighting.com. “All of his stuff came back negative so he’s OK. I’m sure he’s not okay [with the loss] but he’s [good enough],” said White.
Assuming the reports are true, and Askren is indeed OK following his trip behind the woodshed it is entirely possible the world hasn’t seen the last of Ben Askren. Quite capable of making a come back and acquiring the belt, Ben will need to get his priorities in order if he hopes to continue to make a run for the title in the UFC’s welterweight division. Though its entirely possible at this point his next opponent will be Francis Ngannou at the rate things are currently going for Ben Askren.
UFC 239 Preview: Jon Jones vs. Thiago Santos
By: Jesse Donathan
This weekend’s UFC 239 is one of the best cards of the year, available on ESPN+ pay-per-view (PPV) it features a stacked lineup of fights sure to deliver plenty of bang for your buck to those who enjoy watching the best athletes in the sport of mixed martial arts today compete. The main event features the unstoppable Jon Jones versus the feared KO artist Thiago “Marreta” Santos in a showdown for the light heavyweight crown. The co-main event features women’s two-division champion Amanda Nunes versus the legendary Holly Holm in a bantamweight championship affair. Also on the card is undefeated wrestling sensation Ben Askren who will take on the bruiser Jorge Masvidal and Luke Rockhold debuts at light heavyweight to challenge All-Violence First Team selection Jan Blachowicz.
A battle between the Ultimate Fighter 1 middleweight tournament winner Diego Sanchez and The Ultimate Fighter: Live winner Michael Chiesa is also set to take place at UFC 239. Sanchez is enjoying a two-fight winning streak in a long, storied career while Chiesa last tasted victory in his late 2018 welterweight debut against the always tough Carlos Condit by submission following a tough run in the UFC’s lightweight division. The card is scheduled to be held at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada July 6th, 2019 with the main card kicking off at 10pm.
Jon Jones vs. Thiago Santos
Seemingly, the only man that can beat Jon Jones in the light heavyweight division is Jon Jones (24-1, 10 KOs). Perhaps the greatest fighter the sport has ever known, Jones’ career has been riddled with troubles both in and out of the ring including a series of performance enhancing drug failures which will forever haunt the light heavyweight kings enduring legacy. Though officially there is no news of a current Jon Jones positive drug test result, there are many on social media who believe it’s only a matter of time before news breaks of an impending positive test for Turinabol metabolites in Jones’s system. While we all certainly hope that isn’t the case, anything short of a dominant performance against the challenger Thiago “Marreta” Santos will come as a surprise to many.
With a record of 21-6, the Rio De Janeiro, Brazil native Thiago Santos is a fierce striker with 15 KO/TKO victories to his credit. Santos comes to bang, a born finisher “Marreta” last tasted defeat just over a year ago at UFC Fight Night 128 in a middleweight contest to David Branch. A fighter you do not have to look for in the cage, Santos went out on his shield against the always dangerous Branch, losing by KO to the Team Renzo Gracie Jiu-Jitsu competitor. Whether or not the weight cut had an effect on Santos’s performance remains to be seen, but since that time the Brazilian dynamo has rattled off four straight victories to earn his turn in the Jon Jones demolition rodeo.
Viewed by many as a lamb being led to slaughter, Santos’s style is custom made for the mobile and diversified striking master Jones who should be able to pick Santos off with relative ease. Likely not news to Thiago Santos, we can expect a game plan from the Brazilian that centers around closing the distance and sealing the deal early against Jackson-Wink MMA representative. Otherwise, look for Santos to fade early and become ripe for the picking to a Jon Jones who will look begin to look like the Predator out there in the cage. It doesn’t take Ms. Cleo to predict someone is going to the hospital after this fight and there is a pretty good chance its not going to be Jon Jones.
Amanda Nunes vs. Holly Holm
Ric Flair once said, “To be the man, you gotta beat the man.” And that is exactly what UFC bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes (17-4-0, 12 KOs) did in stopping the sports most feared female competitor Cris “Cyborg” Justino in just under a minute at UFC 232. It was as emphatic as it was convincing, Nunes left no doubt who the better fighter was that night in capturing Justino’s featherweight title in route to becoming the sports first female two-division champion. Since that time, Nunes has been showered with praise as perhaps the sport’s greatest of all-time competitor, despite the fact “Cyborg” went undefeated and was feared in the sport for an unparalleled 13-year run. Nunes will meet “The Preachers Daughter” Saturday night; former UFC bantamweight champion Holly Holm in UFC 232’s co-main event.
A member of the International Women’s Boxing Hall of Fame, Holm is among the most decorated boxing champions the sport has ever seen who ended her career with an impressive 33-2-3 record. Holm is the real warrior princess, most notably associated as the woman to dethrone UFC superstar Ronda Rousey at UFC 193. This feat alone will forever immortalize “The Preachers Daughter” as a UFC legend in her own right. It was a fight that saw Holm enter the Matrix, outclassing Rousey in the standup department in route to the shot heard around the world that sent Rousey crashing to the canvas, unconscious. The victim of a perfectly executed Holm left high kick.
Though Nunes is capable of stopping Holm, “The Preacher’s Daughter” is a professor of the sweet science and comes well prepared to handle her business in the ring or cage. A Brazilian Jiu-jitsu black belt, it will be to Nunes’ advantage to make this a mixed martial arts contest instead of attempting to outpoint Holm in a standup contest. The fight will be contested in the UFC’s 135-pound bantamweight division, the champion Nunes opened up as the betting favorite to bring both of her titles back home to Florida when its all said and done.
Ben Askren Vs. Jorge Masvidal
A 2008 Olympian, Ben Askren is Dan Hodge Award winner and the undefeated former ONE Championship welterweight champion. Askren arrived in the UFC via a ground breaking, blockbuster trade with ONE Championship that saw the now former UFC flyweight champion Demetrius Johnson traded to ONE in exchange for the rights to Askren. A dominant wrestler who will drag you into deep waters before drowning you, Askren is one of the greatest collegiate wrestlers of our time with a style custom made for mixed martial arts.
In his way is perennial welterweight bad boy Jorge Masvidal. A no nonsense kind of guy, Masvidal is perhaps best known as a street fighter who bested Kimbo Slice protégé Ray in a street fight video that went viral over a decade ago. A top welterweight competitor, Masvidal will stand and bang with anyone in the welterweight division and possesses an impressive defensive submission ability once the inevitable takedown occurs from his often times outmatched opponents. Unfortunately for Masvidal, the kind of grappling Askren brings to the table is not a Brazilian Jiu-jitsu based style of attack, but instead a unique version of American folk style wrestling that has served Askren well in bending his opponents will to his devices. It’s a classic striker versus grappler matchup with title shot implications.
Luke Rockhold vs. Jan Blachowicz
A former KSW light heavyweight champion, Jan Blachowicz (23-8, 5 KOs) is a fighter’s fighter who won the KSW 9 tournament, defeating three opponents in one night to take home the tournament crown. Before falling to challenger Thiago Santos in February, Blachowicz was on a four-fight win streak in the UFC’s light heavyweight division and is looking to rebound Saturday night against former middleweight contender Luke Rockhold (16-4, 6 KOs). Not a fighter to be taken lightly, Rockhold will have his hands full in dealing with a Jan Blachowicz who hasn’t lost back-to-back fights in over two years.
A Ralph Lauren cologne model, Rockhold is making his UFC light heavyweight debut after a career in the middleweight division that saw the American Kickboxing Academy representative fight some of the best in the business. With his eye on Jon Jones, Rockhold faces Blachowicz in a litmus test to see how Rockhold fairs in a new division without the dangerous and taxing weight cuts that accompanied his time in the middleweight division. With his eye on Jon Jones, Blachowicz will essentially be filling gatekeeper duties in order to find out what if anything Rockhold has left in the tank in a bid for light heavyweight title contention.
A complete mixed martial artist with a nasty ground game, Rockhold possesses the ability to compete anywhere Blachowicz wants to take the fight. It should be a competitive contest that answers a lot of questions about Rockhold’s future in the promotion. If Rockhold can’t get it done at light heavyweight after fleeing the UFC’s middleweight division, taking super fight’s against elite UFC competition may be among the only options Rockhold has left outside of hanging them up and looking for a cage side commentary position.
Coming Full Circle: UFC President Dana White Searching for Violence in All the Wrong Places
By: Jesse Donathan
Dana White has an insatiable appetite for violence, and like a seasoned junkie with a tolerance level to match White is growing increasingly dissatisfied and frustrated with the lack of violence on the field of play. The UFC President is looking for killers, not wrestlers. Fighters, not athletes. Though obviously in the sport of mixed martial arts all of those elements come into play. But White only needs to look to the very recent past to take all his troubles away.
According to a March 27, 2007 MMAJunkie.com article titled, “Dana White: UFC and PRIDE Will Have Unified Rules,” the technicalities of the rule book that separated PRIDE Fighting Championships from its new proprietors were to cease to be as the UFC’s acquisition of the Japanese based promotion would bring PRIDE FC under the auspices of Zuffa LLC., the then parent company of the UFC who ultimately shelved PRIDE FC indefinitely. Quoting from a reviewjournal.com article with UFC President Dana White, MMAJunkie.com went on to report:
“This is a sport and we’re going to follow the unified rules that were established in New Jersey and then in Nevada,” White said. “It’s a sport — mixed martial arts — and the sport should have the same rules everywhere. As far as I’m concerned, if an organization doesn’t follow these rules, it’s not MMA. It’s something else, but that’s not MMA.”
In April of 2001, “the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board adopted a set of standards that would become known as the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts,” writes author Adam Hill in his April 24, 2013 bleacherreport.com article titled, “A Timeline of UFC Rules: From No-Holds-Barred to Highly Regulated.” The unified rules of mixed martial arts were little more than the result of government regulation into a once violently captivating event that managed to capture the imaginations of mixed martial arts earliest fans.
According to the report, “Ultimate Fighting took a huge hit in 1996 when Sen. John McCain, a supposed boxing fan, saw a UFC tape and famously characterized it as “human cock-fighting.” McCain went on a crusade against MMA and was successful in getting the UFC banned in all 50 states.” With the UFC adopting the New Jersey Unified Rules model Senator McCain was reportedly pleased with the sports new face. According to the Adam Hill report McCain was quoted as stating that, “The sport has grown up. The rules have been adopted to give its athletes better protections and to ensure fairer competition.”
“The list of fouls ballooned from the original three to 30,” writes Hill. And with the implementation of the Unified Rule set, the no-holds-barred era of mixed martial arts was officially closed, perhaps forever. And, in its place, a watered down, pseudo version of the real thing emerged in its wake. Today’s version of mixed martial arts nothing more than a more palatable, controllable version of combat sports for the ruling political elite, not the ordinary average Joes on the street responsible for the sport’s early success.
Only it appears as if UFC President Dana White is beginning to come back full circle to the originally intended visions of the sport, throwing conventional understanding of how to secure victory in the modern era of mixed martial arts out the window in denying Brendan Loughnane a UFC contract on the reality television show “Dana White’s Contender Series” after the young fighter went for a takedown late in the fight, going on to win the contest by unanimous decision.
“When you come onto this show, unlike any other show you would fight in or whatever, I’m looking for killers,” said the UFC President Dana White in the June 19, 2019 MMAFighting.com article titled, “Dana White confirms Brendan Loughnane’s late takedown cost him UFC contract” by author Damon Martin.
No, securing takedowns isn’t against the rules. In fact, securing takedowns is often credited with controlling the fight and as such has a long history as being viewed as a dominant maneuver and position in mixed martial arts. Loughnane was following years of understanding in executing traditional mixed martial arts paradigm inside the cage yet was ultimately denied a UFC contract as a result of performing how he was trained to do inside the field of play.
The definition of killer is, “one that has a forceful, violent, or striking impact,” according to Merriam-Webster. And while I appreciate White’s desire to see more violent fights, the fact is once upon a time there were more violent versions of mixed martial arts. We called it no-holds-barred, or even more recently PRIDE FC.
And the current, watered down version of the sport under the Unified Rules set, where wrestlers by in large dominate the Octagon and takedowns are given priority in determining the outcomes of fights is a long championed tradition by none other than Dana White and the UFC themselves. They are the worlds premiere mixed martial arts organization and the importance and emphasis on takedowns in securing victory inside the Octagon started none other than inside the UFC’s eight-sided, caged circle. A little self-reflection please?
Today’s modern mixed martial arts landscape is little more than a pseudo version of the real thing, the realization of those who sought to regulate the sport out of existence. The UFC enjoys the spoils as having saved the sport from certain ruin while simultaneously baring responsibility for what it has ultimately become.
What the UFC really needs isn’t more killers, it needs de-regulation so that the field of play can more closely resemble the realities of actual hand-to-hand combat. Instead of searching for more violent fighters to add to the promotion, the UFC simply needs to lobby to have the training wheels taken off the sport and the violence part will all but take care of itself on its own.
The only killers in the sport of mixed martial arts is the regulatory bodies which handcuff the athletes and deprive the public of what they really want to see. The UFC President Dana White wants a paradigm shift away from the significance placed on takedowns and a renewed focused placed on bringing violence back to the field of play. And re-introducing the no-holds-barred era to mixed martial arts or bringing back PRIDE FC is just the answer he is looking for.
Tony Ferguson’s Fate Uncertain after UFC 238 Victory over “Cowboy” Cerrone
By: Jesse Donathan
“El Cucuy” is the boogeyman. A monster that leaves even veteran cowboys shaken in their boots. Tony Ferguson (25-3) defeated Donald Cerrone Saturday night at UFC 238 via TKO doctor’s stoppage. The last time Ferguson lost a fight was May 5, 2012 at UFC on Fox 3 to the always tough Michael Johnson. Since then, “El Cucuy” has been on a remarkable 12-fight winning streak in the organization against some of the best fighters in the division.
According to an October 8, 2017 Washington Post article titled, “UFC 216: Tony Ferguson wins interim lightweight title with submission over Kevin Lee,” author Marissa Payne writes that, “It was Grade A beef coming into this fight between Vegas-odds favorite Ferguson and the underdog Lee.” The Grade A beef, an allusion to the stereotypical bad blood role playing card often played by fighters in the lead up to a fight. It’s a go to move in the fight promotion game to stir interest among fans and give media pundits something to write and talk about.
“In the end,” writes Payne, “It was Ferguson who proved victorious and was crowned the interim lightweight champion with his submission of Lee.”
Traditionally spoken of in condescending terms, the UFC interim title doesn’t hold as much weight as the undisputed belt despite being a legitimate, recognized championship nonetheless. But unfortunately for Ferguson, his run as the interim title holder only lasted a New York minute.
According to an October 2, 2018 MMAFighting.com article titled, “Tony Ferguson on UFC stripping interim title: ‘How do you think I f*cking feel?’,” author Marc Raimondi writes that Ferguson, “Was the UFC’s interim lightweight champion until the belt was taken away following a severe knee injury he sustained prior to a scheduled fight with Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC 223 in April.”
“You shouldn’t strip a champion due to a freak injury that happened during a UFC-obligated media event,” said Ferguson on The MMA Hour in an April 2, 2018 article for MMAFighting.com.
According to the author Dave Doyle, Ferguson reportedly, “Tripped over a heavy production cable in a dark room,” while on set for a FOX television interview. It was a serious injury, one which required immense sacrifice and hard work from Ferguson in order to bounce back, yet Ferguson did so in almost superhuman fashion.
Interestingly enough, ESPN analyst Chael Sonnen is on record as stating that the chord Tony Ferguson tripped over has taken multiple victims out over the course of the years, including one individual who reportedly broke their back and a handful of others to include the UFC’s own heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier.
Since capturing the UFC lightweight interim title against Kevin Lee and subsequently being stripped of his belt, Ferguson has rattled off two straight victories including defeating former UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis via corner stoppage and now two-division refugee Donald Cerrone via TKO doctor’s stoppage Saturday night.
“Cerrone’s right eye swelled shut,” writes Cindy Boren in her June 9, 2019 Washington Post article titled, “Tony Ferguson beats Donald Cerrone, who made the mistake of blowing his nose.” According to Boren, “He was taken to a hospital afterward with what UFC President Dana White said was a broken right orbital bone.”
Cerrone, a veteran UFC fighter that has fought in both the UFC lightweight and welterweight divisions no doubt was well aware that blowing his nose after a breakage could result in one or both of his eyes swelling shut; thus, forcing the doctors to stop the fight. But with a reported broken orbital bone, a serious and painful injury I don’t think anyone can blame “Cowboy” for giving in to what is likely an irresistible urge to clear your obstructed airway of unpleasantness.
According to a June 7, 2019 mmamania.com article titled, “Dana White won’t commit to Tony Ferguson title shot with UFC 238 win: ‘I can’t say that’s gonna happen’,” author Dan Hiergesell writes that Ferguson is, “not guaranteed the next shot at the winner of Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Dustin Poirier,” which is scheduled to go down later this year in September.
The undefeated Nurmagomedov captured the undisputed UFC lightweight title against Al Iaquinta in April of 2018, defeating the spirited Iaquinta by unanimous decision. Nurmagomedov would go on to defend his title against former two-division UFC champion Conor McGregor, who no doubt still looms in the lightweight picture; mucking up the waters of what would otherwise be an open and shut case for Tony Ferguson contending for the undisputed belt.
Purely speculative, the UFC would no doubt like to insert McGregor back into a title picture. Which would go a long way in helping McGregor and the UFC to secure a future big money payday in a rematch with Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the squared circle. But the circumstances have to be right and unfortunately that could mean “El Cucuy” takes a back seat to what brings the most money to the organization as strategy takes precedent over any legitimate claims to the throne.
I don’t think anyone doubts how good Tony Ferguson is. The man has a rightful claim to the UFC lightweight crown, having never lost his interim title in the cage and only being stripped for what in all intents and purposes amounts to an injustice by the UFC. Ferguson should spare no opportunity to remind the public he is uncrowned UFC lightweight champion, because the UFC would otherwise like to quietly brush him under the table as a less marketable, yet incredibly capable fighter that unfortunately has been left on the outside looking in.
Which spells out the ugly truth in the modern day mixed martial arts landscape, the rankings and even the best fighters in the division will take a back seat to marketability and thus profitability every single time. And it doesn’t matter who you are, even the great Tony Ferguson is going to take a number to Conor McGregor when the possibility of a mega-fight with Floyd Mayweather looms just on the horizon should the Irishmen find himself back in the saddle again.
For Ferguson, it’s a catch 22 predicament where by all things right, good and true he should be next in line for the UFC lightweight title. In his way, Mt. McGregor; an almost insurmountable climb. If “El Cucuy” hopes to make an impact on his championship future, Tony Ferguson is going to need to enter WWE mode. Rounding out his mixed martial arts game with the ancient art of promotion in order to keep his name in the headlines and fresh on the minds of mixed martial arts notoriously fickle fans. Ferguson needs to give the UFC a reason to look his way beyond leaving bodies in his wake, and what better way than to remind the public you’re the UFC interim lightweight champion at every waking moment and pick fights with everyone of note.
ESPN MMA Analyst Chael Sonnen Throttles Professional Boxing Media
By: Jesse Donathan
“What Ruiz did was not a Buster Douglas moment,” declared to Chael Sonnen In a June 5, 2019 Bad Guy Inc. YouTube video titled, “Anthony Joshua and the problem with Boxing….” The Bellator light heavyweight contender and ESPN MMA analyst went on to recount that, “There really wasn’t a lot to see here if you were to listen to the pundits and the insiders in boxing.” Sonnen of course is critiquing the lead up to the Anthony Joshua vs. Andy Ruiz Jr. fight where virtually nobody in the boxing media community gave Andy Ruiz Jr. much of a chance at defeating the British heavyweight ace.
“Even if you were to square these two guys off and do the eye test,” said Sonnen. “Ruiz looked more like the everyman and Joshua looked like the heavyweight champion of the world,” the ESPN analyst said in apparent admiration for the former heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua’s Adonis-like physique.
Ruiz Jr. wasn’t slated to be Anthony Joshua’s original opponent, but by a strange twist of fate things worked out the way that they did in what would ultimately become a historic night for the Mexican-American champion.
Originally, undefeated heavyweight Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller was set to face the former IBF, WBO, WBA and IBO British champion, but after failing multiple drug tests for performance enhancing drugs and receiving a six-month ban from the WBA; “The Destroyer” as Ruiz Jr. is known was selected as the late replacement.
“Eventually the fight went off with Ruiz being a 9 to 1 favorite,” explained Sonnen. “At one point though he was almost 30 to 1 favored. One of the most lopsided matches ever. Which turns people off to boxing.”
With an air of frustration and skepticism, Sonnen would go on to hypothesize that, “They wonder why people don’t love boxing the way they used to? Look, its because they do crap like that all the time.”
The pistol whipping didn’t stop there either. According to Sonnen, “They take the heavyweight champion of the world and throw him in a fight with a guy nobody’s ever seen, because the guy has never been on television before. And oh, by the way, the insiders within your own sport think this is a massacre.”
The media is a powerful tool in modern society, many people take the information they receive from pundits and insiders alike as gospel truth. There is an implied authority to those who deliver our boxing and mixed martial arts news, the public picks up on the direction of the wind from these pundits and forges their own opinions based on the delivery of that content. Only according to Sonnen, these boxing experts bring little to the table but mirages; fictitious versions of reality based on little more than hype and idolatry.
“We never really know as fight fans who the best boxer is,” said Sonnen. “We don’t really know.”
“And the boxers themselves who survive within that industry tend to mark out for their own gimmicks.” According to Sonnen, who is slated to face former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida at Bellator 222 in Madison Square Garden later this month, “I feel as if the boxers that are athletes within that space are more than happy to go along with the imagination of the media of which anoints and crowns who the best fighter in the world is.”
Sonnen’s blistering critique of the boxing media, professional boxing and the athletes themselves didn’t stop there either. On a roll, Sonnen went on to sarcastically pick apart the convenient nature in which the best heavyweights in the sport seem to always duck each other in the modern era.
“Oh boy, all the best boxers in the world all have the best record, 30-0. What a coincidence. How could they all be undefeated if you’re actually competing with some of the best guys in the world?
And you must be, because you’re the world champ!”
According to the former UFC middleweight contender, “It would just seem that you would be able to realize that I am in a B.S. industry, in a B.S. sport and therefor I’m going to take everybody really serious because the media doesn’t actually know who the best is. They don’t know because they’re not exposed to it. They’re not exposed to it because we don’t have an architecture in place to expose them.”
Sonnen is a brilliant mind in the mixed martial arts industry; always the philosopher and showman, it’s very likely Sonnen is pitching to the audience the modus operandi that Dana White, Zuffa Boxing and company plan to bring to the world of professional boxing as they look to make their entry into the sport later this year.
The UFC famously credits “The Ultimate Fighter” reality television series for their survival and very existence according to an April 20, 2016 UFC.com article titled, “Why ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ Matters to MMA,” by author Thomas Gerbasi. “White called it the UFC’s ‘Trojan Horse,’ a way to not only introduce the sport to the masses on cable television, but introduce them to the athletes as well,” writes Gerbasi.
We can likely expect a similar business model and plan moving forward from Dana White and company as they look to exploit the perceived promotional void left by professional boxing with some of the sport’s biggest stars. The very criticism’s Sonnen is levying against boxing just so happen to be the strengths in which the UFC model under Zuffa excelled at prior to the four billion-dollar sale to the new promotional owners, WME-IMG.
Much of the infrastructure already exists within the Zuffa mixed martial arts matrix to make a boxing version of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality series a go. And according to a February 6, 2014 mmamania.com article from author Jesse Holland it wouldn’t be the first time Dana White and company tried either.
“Boston massacre,” writes Holland. “That’s pretty much the only way to describe what happened to “The Fighters” in the ratings when it debuted on Discovery Channel last month.” According to Holland, the show was an attempt to reinvigorate Boston boxing to the local community but that it was unfortunately cancelled after just one episode.
UFC President Dana White is a New England native himself, having grown up in Connecticut with strong ties to the Boston area his attempts to make Boston boxing great again likely came from a genuine, heartfelt appreciation for the sport and the city itself. A long-time boxing fan and shrewd business person, White brings a wealth of experience in acquiring talent and building promotional stars. With the UFC front man having had a hand in successfully making UFC juggernaut’s Ronda Rousey and Conor McGregor household names the world over; the UFC President no doubt has more than a few tricks up his sleeve.
Author Jesse Holland would go on to report in an April 23, 2019 article for mmamania.com titled, “Whatever Happened to Zuffa Boxing? Dana White Explains…,” that the UFC President just doesn’t take no for an answer. According to Holland, White was quoted as stating that Zuffa Boxing will be making moves by the end of the summer despite previously failing in the past.
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. With Dana White reportedly having being seen with Anthony Joshua promoter Eddie Hearn in the recent past, Zuffa Boxing could have an ace up their sleeve in attempting to introduce new life into the stagnant pool of frustration that saturates the current landscape in professional boxing. One eyed Jacks and deuces are wild as Zuffa Boxing attempts to show the old guard how things are done in the modern era.
“Super” Sage Northcutt’s Career in Question after Devastating ONE Championship Loss
By: Jesse Donathan
The fallout from Sage Northcutt getting the brakes beat off him by Cosmo Alexandre still hasn’t subsided. “Northcutt’s ONE FC debut at ONE Championship: Enter the Dragon didn’t exactly go as planned,” writes author Lewis Mckeever in his May 25, 2019 bloodyelbow.com article titled, “Brendan Schaub questions Sage Northcutt’s future after ‘life-changing knockout’ loss in ONE FC debut.”
“It was a mistake for Sage Northcutt to sign with ONE Championship,” said the former UFC heavyweight Schaub. “You (expletive) the trajectory of his career,” according to Schaub of ONE Championships decision to match Northcutt up with Alexandre, a vastly more experienced kickboxer who shattered Northcutt’s face with just one punch.
Bloodyelbow.com would go on to write that according to Schaub, “I hate to say this because ONE Championship has been good to us, good to Mighty Mouse, and it’s obviously on the fighter and it’s up to him to navigate his way through the rankings of fighting, but you (expletive) him, ONE Championship.”
As BoxingInsider.com previously reported, Northcutt found success in the UFC’s 155-pound lightweight division, while having a less than perfect run in the UFC’s 170-pound welterweight division. So, Northcutt’s decision to fight in ONE Championship at 185-pounds was a perplexing one, especially against a veteran kickboxer like Cosmo Alexandre who laid waste to the young mixed martial arts prospect in just under 30-seconds without even breaking a sweat.
It was an ill-advised, ill-fated decision from Northcutt’s camp which could very well end up haunting the young star for years to come. And one, according to Northcutt’s coach Urijah Faber that wasn’t completely unforeseen.
“Against some advice, the fight was taken,” Faber told “The MMA Hour” host Luke Thomas. As MMAFighting.com’s Alexander K. Lee reported, Faber would tell Thomas that, “In retrospect, there were some warning signs maybe not to take this fight and like you said, it’s not like you go into a fight thinking you’re gonna get your face smashed.”
Lost in the sea of Monday morning quarterbacking, hindsight being 20/20 and the controversy surrounding ONE Championships lack of transparency in their weigh-in model is Cosmo Alexandre himself. On the tail end of a career that has the kickboxer thinking about retirement and the means to do so comfortably, Alexandre is now universally known as the guy who smashed “Super” Sage Northcutt’s face into a million pieces.
“When they brought a stretcher, I knew something serious had happened,” said Alexandre in a May 24, 2019 bloodyelbow.com article titled, “Cosmo Alexandre ‘sad’ about Sage Northcutt’s multiple fractures after KO win.”
According to bloodyelbow.com’s Lucas Rezende, Alexandre would recall the immediate aftermath of the fight with Northcutt stating, “When the fight was over and he got back up his face was already swollen, and that’s something unusual. I had a feeling that it wasn’t 100 percent.”
Alexandre went on to be quoted by Rezende as stating, “The next day I heard that he had a long surgery. I hate that, man.” Northcutt reportedly underwent a nine-hour surgery in the wake of the 29-second KO loss in the Singapore based promotion. According to the Brazilian stand-up specialist, “I’m doing my job there, to go in there and win. I know we can get hurt, but nothing that serious. I was sad because that’s his job and I don’t wish that to anyone.”
“I’ve fought everyone and won everything I could win in Muay Thai,” reflected Alexandre. “The major titles, I’ve fought and won them all.” Which underscores the curious nature of the matchup ONE Championship put together in pitting Northcutt, a talented but green striker just starting his journey in mixed martial arts against a crafty and seasoned veteran like Alexandre with over 85 professional kickboxing matches to his credit.
Northcutt not only found himself outmatched, but he was also outgunned, reportedly giving up some size to his Brazilian opponent according to coach Urijah Faber. The UFC hall of famer would go on to tell host Luke Thomas that fighters are still cutting weight in ONE Championship despite the promotions attempts to eliminate the practice by introducing a new weigh-in model and system, redefining the conventional weight classes under the umbrella of safety.
Interestingly, ONE Championship’s new, redefined welterweight division model alone spans 170.2 pounds thru 184.9 pounds. For comparison, the conventional 170-pound welterweight model most fight fans are accustomed to is widely used by the sports premiere mixed martial arts organization in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and is common throughout much of the mixed martial arts world.
ONE Championships welterweight division is approximately the equivalent of spanning the UFC’s welterweight and middleweight divisions, coincidentally exactly what we are talking about in the controversy surrounding Northcutt being led through the gates of the slaughter house to meet the executioner Cosmo Alexandre.
With ONE Championship enjoying the reputation as an exciting promotion delivering violent fights that the fans want to see, they are ultimately the clear winner here when former UFC stars like Northcutt and others are blasted into the upper stratosphere under the ONE Championship banner.
But with the promotions lack of transparency during the weigh-in process, yet justifying their redefining of the conventional weigh-in model and system under the guise of safety there is growing concern ONE Championship may need to return some of their safety merit badges.
Sage Northcutt is looking at a lengthy layoff after disturbing the bull and getting the horns. Having your face smashed into 30-pieces is no laughing matter. With even Northcutt’s own camp expressing regret over having taken the Alexandre fight it is hard to believe the matchmakers at ONE Championship didn’t see the ultimate end result coming from a mile away themselves. An organization advised and lead by knowledgeable and former mixed martial arts greats, ONE Championship isn’t blindly stumbling through the dark house in the middle of the night. They know exactly what they are doing.
Northcutt was sent to slaughter in order to help put ONE Championship on the map. A better UFC 155-pound lightweight than a UFC 170-pound welterweight, Northcutt had no business meeting a fighter like Cosmo Alexandre at 185-pounds at this stage in his career and he was predictably scalped as a result for his efforts.
Now, instead of being praised for their new weigh-in model and system, ONE is increasingly under scrutiny for stacking the deck in their favor. With Northcutt’s sacrifice to “The Just Bleed God” highlighting the fact that smaller, less experienced former UFC fighters are being toe tagged and bagged against larger, top tier ONE Championship based competition and the promotions lack of transparency surrounding its weigh-in results; more questions than answers are beginning to surface. We are talking about squash matches here for all intents and purposes.
In short, if you’re a big name signing to ONE Championship you can now consider yourself marked for death. Northcutt’s career may very well have been cut short by a variety of unfortunate circumstances to include ONE Championships match makers and Northcutt’s failure in taking sage advice from his own camp and team.
One can only hope Northcutt was compensated handsomely to agree to take a trip behind Cosmo Alexandre’s woodshed, because the only thing he discovered were the wonders of modern facial reconstructive surgery. Northcutt was fed to the wolves in a promotional war where ONE Championship sent a loud and clear message to the UFC that their former stars will be laid to waste in ONE Championship in a bid to show the world that there is a new sheriff in town.
Conor McGregor Wants Floyd Mayweather Jr. Rematch
By: Jesse Donathan
Conor McGregor needs a big win and he needs one now. At stake, a rematch with Floyd Mayweather Jr. and another multimillion-dollar payday. According to a May 24, 2019 bloodyelbow.com article titled, “Conor McGregor insists he’d beat Floyd Mayweather in rematch: I whooped him ‘in the early rounds’,” author Mookie Alexander writes that, “It’s been nearly two full years since former UFC champion Conor McGregor stepped into the boxing ring to take on Floyd Mayweather in one of the richest fights in history.”
According to Alexander, it was a moral victory for McGregor, if such a thing exists, because prior to stepping in with arguably one of the best to ever lace them up in Floyd Mayweather Jr., McGregor had never fought in a professional boxing contest before.
“I was whooping him in the early rounds,” writes Bloodyelbow.com on McGregor’s initial assessments of breaking the ice with Mayweather. “I actually went back to my corner after the first round and said ‘this is easy’. I literally said that to my corner man.”
While Conor was busy playing checkers, Floyd was playing chess. Speaking to FightHype.com, cbssports.com quoted the great Mayweather as stating, “You know I carried McGregor. You know I made it look good for y’all,” writes author Brian Campbell in his December 5, 2017 article titled, “Floyd Mayweather admits to ‘carrying’ Conor McGregor during De La Hoya rant.”
According to Campbell, “there was a lingering feeling from some in the aftermath that the fight, pairing the greatest boxer of his era against a boxing novice, may not have been completely on the up and up.”
The cbssports.com boxing analyst would go on to write that, “At the very least, many wondered whether the 40-year-old Mayweather carried McGregor in the early rounds before switching gears and finishing him late. “
In other words, Mayweather employed a rope-a-dope strategy to lure McGregor into tiring himself out early on and ultimately drew the Irishmen into his tangled web of deceit. And McGregor to this day is busy bragging about how he would fair against Mayweather in the early rounds of a rematch that few want to see; still too foolish or stubborn to see he was played like a fiddle by the boxing icon.
And why would he? Everyone but the general public knew what the end result of Mayweather vs. McGregor would ultimately turn out to be. The entire charade was little more than a revenue generating machine for everyone involved. McGregor had no chance; he was there to collect a check and laugh all the way to the bank. And by all accounts, that is exactly what he has did.
According to a September 8, 2017 NYPost.com article titled, “McGregor already blowing through his $130M payday,” author Stuart Adkins of The Sun writes, “The mixed-martial-arts superstar is clearly enjoying his reported $130 million payday.” Adkins would go on to note that McGregor was reportedly, “… emptying the tank partying in Ibiza after his first professional boxing match, which ended in valiant defeat in Las Vegas.”
Now, McGregor wants a rematch. The Irishmen claims he would beat Mayweather Jr. this time around, though after going approximately three years without winning a fight period, in boxing or mixed martial arts, nobody is buying what Conor McGregor is selling anymore. McGregor has been busy living up to his “Notorious” nickname instead of busy training for big fights. As BoxingInsider.com previously reported, McGregor has been accused of rape in Ireland and has had a string of legal issues since losing to Mayweather in 2017.
McGregor last competed in the cage in October of 2018, losing to UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov by submission in a failed bid to recapture UFC lightweight gold. It was a fight McGregor with McGregor’s fate already etched in stone.
Coming off a relatively long lay-off the inactive McGregor faced the undefeated Nurmagomedov destined to be taken down and beat on from post to post. Having proved very little on the mat previously besides a propensity to avoid it at all costs the formula on how to beat McGregor had been written long ago.
The only thing the fight did prove beyond McGregor’s infamous lack of ground acumen was the fact McGregor was willing to step into the cage with legitimate competition in a risky bid to put himself in a better position to lobby for a rematch with the boxing great. McGregor had his opportunity to rematch Mayweather served to him on a silver platter and he let it slip right through his fingertips.
In short, Conor McGregor has lost his way. A former two division champion who made his name cherry picking opponents and fighting smaller men, McGregor now finds himself on the cusp of “Mayweather irrelevancy.” Reduced to begging for rematches against Mayweather and the current UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, a loss for the UFC star against virtually anyone else would all but guarantee running it back against “Money” Mayweather would be little more than a waning image in the Irishmen’s rear-view mirror.
McGregor, like the great Bonnie Tyler before him, needs a hero. Someone just like Dmitri “The Lifeguard” Smoliakov; someone to throw the Irishmen a life preserver and save his career from certain major setback. It would be in McGregor’s best interest to go back to his roots in his next outing in hand picking big name, smaller opponents in an effort to maximize the former UFC two-division champions chances of success in what could be characterized as a must win scenario for the Irish mixed martial arts superstar.
On the line, another lucrative payday for both Mayweather and McGregor in a fight that at this time is an incredibly hard if not impossible sell given Conor’s current set of circumstances. McGregor needs another major scalp to add to his belt, and until then he finds himself in no man’s land where the prospect of facing legitimate competition and losing could be potentially monetarily disastrous. Conor McGregor needs a hero. And he’s gotta be strong, and he’s gotta be fast, and he’s gotta be ready to carry the fight. At least, that’s how I think the song goes?
Former UFC Champion Michael Bisping Takes Issue with Malignaggi’s Sense of Style
By: Jesse Donathan
According to a May 25, 2019 bloodyelbow.com article titled, “Michael Bisping: ‘Tw-t’ Paulie Malignaggi ‘deserves to die’ for wearing fedora to BKFC press conference,” author Harry Davies writes that former UFC middleweight champion Michael “The Count” Bisping took issue with of all things, Paulie Malignaggi’s sense of style. According to Davies, “Speaking earlier this week on his ‘Believe You Me’ podcast, the worst part about the press conference for Bisping was Malignaggi’s fedora hat.”
“Any mother (expletive) that shows up wearing a hat like that deserves to die. It’s as simple as that,” writes bloodyelbow.com, quoting Bisping’s off-the-cuff remarks. According to “The Count,” Paulie Malignaggi, “… looks like a villain out of the Dick Tracy movie.”
Davies would go on to write of Bisping’s estimation of the image Malignaggi conjured up on camera that, “He might as well have had a pinstripe suit on, that big stupid gangster hat. Oh my god, it did not look good.”
Agree with Bisping or not, I will always have a great deal of respect for the former champion because he paid the price to be a prize fighter. According to a December 11, 2018 “JRE Clips” YouTube video titled, “Michael Bisping on His Eye Injury | Joe Rogan,” Bisping told the longtime MMA personality that he has a corrective lens in his right eye. “It’s a prosthetic,” Bisping told Rogan. Though interestingly enough, according to the former UFC great he does have a tiny amount of vision through his corrective lens despite it being a prosthetic.
“The injury, as Bisping explained it, is nothing new,” writes MMAFighting.com’s Shaun Al-Shatti in his September 30, 2013 article titled, “Michael Bisping ‘devastated’ by detached retina that nearly derailed his career.” According to Al-Shatti, “Back in May, doctors discovered that, astonishingly, Bisping competed in consecutive fights against Vitor Belfort and Alan Belcher with a detached retina in his right eye.”
“Bisping, who won the title against Luke Rockhold in June 2016 and defended it once against Dan Henderson in November 2016,” announced his retirement last year according to a March 28, 2018 bloodyelbow.com article titled, “Michael Bisping announces retirement from MMA after issues with other eye.” Author Nick Baldwin would go on to write that, “Bisping holds the record for most UFC wins (20) and most UFC fights (29),” including a win over UFC legend Anderson Silva.
Whether you agree with Bisping or not, Malignaggi showing up looking like a gangster from the early 20th century managed to garner a rebuke from “The Count” himself. Malignaggi set out to do exactly what he ultimately did, which is capture the headlines in the leadup to his bout with former UFC fighter Artem Lobov and that is exactly what he has done. Mission accomplished.
And interestingly enough, MMA itself has a rich history of fighters using theatrical entrances and interesting attire, particularly in Japan, which managed to help fighters get over into underground cult hero status among many fans of the era. So, it is not as if MMA is above taking a page out of Hollywood’s book either.
While Malignaggi, a two-time world champion professional boxer has a long way to go to reach cult hero status, it certainly doesn’t hurt to create an image for yourself and look the part of a ruthless assassin in the leadup to your fight.
Malignaggi is doing his part to sell the bout, managing to capture the public’s imagination for not only the things he does, but also the things he says and even the clothes he wears. This is the fight promotion game, as astonishing as it may be, this is exactly what it takes to get the fight out in front of the publics eyes and ultimately increase interest among perspective ticket buyers.
“Things at the press conference started to spiral out of control when Malignaggi hit Lobov over the head with a microphone,” writes bloodyelbow.com. According to author Nick Baldwin, Malignaggi later, “threatened to break Lobov’s teeth and urinate in his mouth.”
As BoxingInsider.com previously reported, Malignaggi justified his remarks and behavior by taking issue with the mixed martial art community and in particular sentiments from those he felt were disrespectful to the sweet science. And in amongst the sea of ridiculous, borderline insane behavior and remarks from Malignaggi were some small cornels of truth.
“See, in Malignaggi’s mind, there’s an ongoing dispute between the worlds of MMA and boxing, and the core issue is a disagreement over which sport is more dangerous,” writes MMAJunkie.com’s Ben Fowlkes in his May 21, 2019 article titled, “What are Paulie Malignaggi and Artem Lobov really selling, and are we seriously going to buy it?”
Author Ben Fowlkes would go on to write that, ““At the end of the day, no matter what happens to you guys, (tapping) assures you you’re gonna see that guy next week,” Malignaggi said at Monday’s press conference.” With Malignaggi ultimately pointing to the string of ruined lives and dead bodies in boxings wake as proof no such guarantees exist in the sweet science.
According to Malignaggi, “In boxing, you don’t have those assurances, so there’s a respect level even to the trash talk that we have, and it’s being surpassed now, it’s being overcome with this garbage that we have from this other community.” Meaning the mixed martial arts community.
According to MMAJunkie.com, the way Malignaggi sees it, “For me, I think the way you solve it, seeing one of their own in a coma, seeing one of their own in a (expletive) coffin.”
Given Malignaggi’s recent behavior and remarks condemning the MMA community, its little wonder he is getting some attention from former UFC champions like Michael Bisping who are looking for anything they can to knock the brazen professional boxer on. Fighters like Bisping didn’t escape a career in mixed martial arts without serious injury themselves; though it helps to remember that while they are two different sports this is still the hurt business no matter which rule set you’re fighting under.
Malignaggi Threatens to put former UFC Fighter in Coma at Bare Knuckle FC Press Conference
By: Jesse Donathan
Holy Moly, Paulie! Did you really say that? According to a May 21, 2019 MMAFighting.com article titled, “Morning Report: Paulie Malignaggi attacks ‘piece of (expletive)’ MMA community, explains why he wants to put Artem Lobov in ‘a (expletive) coma’,” author Jed Meshew writes that former two time professional boxing champion Paulie Malignaggi told former UFC fighter and Conor McGregor confidant Artem Lobov that he was going to, “take my (expletive) out and (expletive) on you,” after he had defeated the game Russian fighter.
Malignaggi, the former Conor McGregor sparring partner who famously took issue with the selective video clips released to the public of his sparring sessions with McGregor by the Irishmen’s camp in the lead up to McGregor’s mega payday fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. reportedly spit on Lobov, threatening to put the Russian in a coma according to reports.
Author Jed Meshew would go on to write that according to the former champion, “Lobov and the mixed martial arts community have really disrespected my sport in a lot of ways; boxing, saying that we fight with pads on and it’s not a real fighting sport and what not, but we have all the deaths,” Malignaggi told FightHype.com.”
“We have more of the deaths by a long shot,” said Malignaggi. “We have more of the permanent damage by a long shot. This is not to diminish the danger of mixed martial arts or any other combat sport, but there is a reason why boxing has more deaths and more traumatic brain injuries in one night, because we are the most dangerous combat sport,” writes Meshew.
And I am not sure Malignaggi is going to find too many people willing to disagree with him, at least not anyone who knows what they’re talking about. According to mixed martial arts referee “Big” John McCarthy and Sean Wheelock on episode two of their December 09, 2015 podcast “Let’s Get it On!” the veteran mixed martial arts referee expressed a similar opinion to Malignaggi on the comparison’s between the two combat sports.
“MMA is more violent, but I will tell you that boxing is more damaging,” said McCarthy. “Overall, if you look at the sport boxing is incredibly damaging, because we really only have two targets that we attack. And 90% of the fighters go after the head 90% of the time. And so, we have just concussive blows to our head happening over and over and over and over again.”
In McCarthy’s estimation, “Our brain is the most important element that we have and so, if you’re going to say what’s the most damaging between all the sports, it would be boxing.”
According to MMAFighting.com, “At the end of the day, you can just [tap] and it’s over,” says Malignaggi of mixed martial arts. “In boxing, if you sit on your stool, you’ll never live it down the rest of your career.” Highlighting just a few differences between the two sports that may not always get airtime, but which are spot-on true, nonetheless.
Malignaggi has likely spent too much time on mixed martial arts message boards, which while moderated, are still thankfully the wild west of fan-based opinion. Though according to some conspiracy theorists, those same message boards are weaponized by various entities to include fighters and promotions alike to social engineer ideas and trains of thought.
In other words, Malignaggi might be surprised to find out who is in fact on the other end of some of the comments he has taken issue with. Usually just teenagers and young adults, there is a dark underbelly to the online world where a war of words instead of fisticuffs is waged by those with very partisan motives.
While Malignaggi is most certainly positioning for a potential fight and lucrative payday with Conor McGregor, a fight I would be very much in favor of seeing, it helps to understand this is the promotion game no matter how classless, yet real it may all seem. I’m sure Malignaggi’s mother didn’t raise him to talk this way, though it has certainly managed to capture the headlines however uncomfortable and unfortunate they may be.
Current WBC Heavyweight Champion Deontay Wilder recently made waves when he threatened to beat opponent Dominic Breazeale to death in the ring. Seemingly in an attempt of one-upmanship, Malignaggi is riding the coat tails of Wilder’s success in an effort to be equally as outrageous and headline turning.
Unfortunately, the only place to go from here is down as the Springer like atmosphere continues to capture the public’s imagination and interest. As the saying goes in the world of promotion, there is no such thing as bad publicity. Just promising to have a good, clean fight isn’t going to keep the lights on. The public wants to see that the athletes have bad intentions and the fighters feed off the publicity this kind of behavior generates as a result. Its business as usual in the fight promotion game, only I wouldn’t mind seeing a little bit more tact and class.
Malignaggi Rants Against MMA Ahead of Bare Knuckle Fight with Lobov
By: Michael Kane
Paulie Malignaggi takes on former UFC fighter Artem Lobov on June 22nd in Tampa, Florida.
The former world champion has stated he wants to put Lobov in a coma, and urinate on him.
After a lively press conference in which Malignaggi spat on Lobov he explained why he has so much disdain not only for Lobov, but the whole MMA community.
“Lobov and the mixed martial arts community have really disrespected my sport in a lot of ways; boxing, saying that we fight with pads on and it’s not a real fighting sport and what not, but we have all the deaths,” Malignaggi told FightHype.com. “We have more of the deaths by a long shot. We have more of the permanent damage by a long shot. This is not to diminish the danger of mixed martial arts or any other combat sport, but there is a reason why boxing has more deaths and more traumatic brain injuries in one night, because we are the most dangerous combat sport.”
It seems weird to essentially boast that boxing is more dangerous and more people have been killed in the ring.
Malignaggi then moves on to talk about his favourite subject, Conor McGregor.
Malignaggi had been called in to help Conor McGregor train for the Floyd Mayweather fight only for sparring footage to be leaked. Malignaggi has been on a one man crusade ever since against the Irishman.
“I don’t care how many 360 roundhouse kicks you can do, at the end of the day you can just [tap] and it’s over. In boxing, if you sit on your stool, you’ll never live it down the rest of your career. In MMA, Mr. Tap Machine Conor does it every fight. He’s done it what, three out of his last four fights? He’s not Notorious McGregor, he’s tapout McGregor but at the end of the day, he’s still the biggest star there. It’s more accepting to save your life. In MMA, they praise these guys. He’s over there selling whiskey and people are buying it. In boxing, if a guy quit as much as this guy quit and he tried to make any product, they’d kick him in his ass and say get the f*ck out of here with your bum product.”
McGregor has tapped out twice in his last four fights. It also seems Malignaggi has overlooked all the knock outs that also happen in MMA to focus on the tap outs that happen. In essence MMA and boxing are two different sports with some similar aspects, so unfair to compare.
“At days’ end, the reason for me to say ‘Put him in a coma’ or ‘kill him’ or whatever, listen, you don’t ever want, wish bad things on anybody, but honestly, would I feel bad if he wound up there? No, I wouldn’t feel bad because he disrespected all of the families and all of the people that I’ve known personally who have gone through this,” Malignaggi said.
“When your piece of sh*t community and your piece of sh*t people talk about ‘we fight with pads on and now you’re in a dangerous sport like MMA,’ when nothing of the sort happens to you which is why you have a circus of a fanbase because it’s like wrestling. At the end of the day, no matter what happens to you guys, [tapping] assures you you’re gonna see that guy next week. [Tapping] assure you you’re gonna see that guy in a few months. In boxing, you don’t have those assurances so there’s a respect level even to the trash talk that we have and it’s being surpassed now, it’s being overcome with this garbage that we have from this other community. For me, I think the way you solve it, seeing one of their own in a coma, seeing one of their own in a f*cking coffin, then you say, ‘You know what, this sh*t is not a joke.’
“Fighters risk their lives, no matter what combat sport they’re in. You’re risking your life getting in there, bro. Your life can change in one night. But no other sport does it change like boxing. Boxing does it to everyone and boxing does it at all levels, from the lower level to the world-class level. So there’s a reason that I talk the way I talk around this piece of sh*t and around the piece of sh*t people that he has around him. Because there’s a respect that needs to be earned and there’s a respect that needs to be given. So maybe since they don’t understand and know how to give it, maybe him winding up in a f*cking coma will make the whole community understand. And hopefully he wakes up from that coma if I put him in it and even then he’ll understand what I’m talking about.”
It would seem Malignaggi is emotionally invested in this fight. The fact he can’t get retribution against McGregor seems to be driving him crazy. He has a chance to take on McGregor’s training partner on June 22nd on BKFC 6.
Cosmo Alexandre Smashed Former UFC Fighter Sage Northcutt’s Face into ‘30-Pieces,’ says Coach
By: Jesse Donathan
A predator versus prey scenario unfolded before our very eyes at “ONE Championship 96: Enter the Dragon” last Friday, May 17th, 2019. Former UFC Fighter Sage Northcutt had no chance as he was violently knocked out by the veteran Muay Thai kickboxing master Cosmo Alexandre in under a minute. In a May 20, 2019 MMAFighting.com article titled, “Urijah Faber: Sage Northcutt’s cheek was ‘splintered’ into 30 pieces’ in ONE debut,” author Alexander K. Lee writes that Northcutt’s coach, Urijah Faber, described Sage’s opponent, Cosmo Alexandre, as manhunting Northcutt in the ring. Speaking to “The MMA Hour” host Luke Thomas, Faber went on to describe exactly how Northcutt was walked down by the crafty veteran Muay Thai kickboxer.
“Right off the bat, (Cosmo) did like a couple stutter steps, switch-step fakes to kind of corral Sage in. Sage went one way and then the other way, first time in a ring, and literally gets manhunted with the nastiest punch and crushes his whole face.”
“Cosmo who’s an amazing kickboxer and a big, strong guy, came out and pressed the action right off the bat,” said Faber.
While hindsight is 20/20, and there will always be those claiming Urijah is crying over spilt milk there is a candidness and honesty to Faber’s reflection of went wrong for Sage Northcutt that leads one to believe there may be more to what he is saying than just highlighting his favorite passages out of the big book of excuses.
“In regards to any potential issues with weight, Faber mentioned that it’s possible Northcutt (who competed at lightweight and welterweight in the UFC before meeting Alexandre at 185 pounds) was giving up some size despite ONE’s strict weight-cutting policies,” writes Lee.
According to MMAFighting.com, Northcutt’s coach told “The MMA Hour” that he, “talked to multiple guys there that were cutting weight and it is what it is.”
“ONE Championship’s weight classes are unlike any other martial arts organization in the world,” declares ONE Championships website onefc.com. The promotions website goes on to state that, “ONE leads the global martial arts industry by banning weight-cutting by dehydration, choosing instead to implement a revolutionary system that ensures athletes are fully hydrated, fit, and healthy ahead of their bouts.”
If Urijah Faber is correct, it sounds like he believes some shenanigans were amidst. As BoxingInsider.com previously reported, it was a questionable decision to have Northcutt fighting at 185-pounds to begin with given his previous performances at 170-pounds. According to MMAFighting.com, in retrospect coach Urijah Faber, “wondered if his team should have counseled him to hold off on making his ONE debut until the circumstances were more favorable.”
MMAfighting.com’s Alexander K. Lee would go on to write that coach Faber told “The MMA Hour” host Luke Thomas that, “… against some advice, the fight was taken, not that we don’t believe in Sage absolutely, in the future I’d like to see him at 170 pounds and I’d like to see him at least be able to follow through with an entire camp or at least more than he was able to.”
As defined on ONE Championship’s website, their welterweight division is contested at 77.2 kilograms-83.9 kilograms. (Or approximately 170.2 pounds to 184.95 pounds). Making it a completely redefined welterweight model from that of the conventional 170-pound welterweight system most fans are accustomed too.
If coach Faber is correct, and fighters are still cutting weight despite ONE Championship’s claim’s, ONE’s newly redefined welterweight division spanning nearly 15-pounds could potentially see fighters weighing much more than 185-pounds once the referee gives his final instructions.
The headlines across the online world read, “Former UFC fighters are being beat up in ONE Championship.” With Northcutt and other UFC star’s turbulent debuts in ONE Championship, the Singapore based promotion is enjoying a surge in popularity and reputation as being a tough organization to compete and succeed in. The organization has been heralded for introducing a new system designed to address the problem of weight cutting and dehydration of athletes in combat sports.
Under the umbrella of safety, the organization has led the way for change, but according to MMAFighting.com there is a curious lack of transparency within ONE Championships weigh-in model.
According to author Alexander K. Lee, “ONE does not make their weigh-in results public and the lack of transparency raised the question of whether or not Alexandre had an advantage in Faber’s eyes.”
With ONE justifying their new weight class model under the guise of safety, yet maintaining a lack of transparency in their weigh-in results; there is room for scrutiny here and it seems like bad form to say the very least. And with claims not only are fighters still cutting weight, but that larger, experienced fighters are being pitted against smaller, less experienced former UFC star’s ONE Championship is going to have to iron out some of the wrinkles still lingering in its curtains.
Let’s not beat around the bush here, Sage Northcutt was sacrificed at the alter of the “Just Bleed God.” A fighter who enjoyed success in the UFC’s 155-pound lightweight division, but who had his struggles in the UFC’s 170-pound welterweight division competed, at apparently against the advice of others according to his coach, at 185-pounds in ONE Championship against by all reports a larger, more experienced kickboxer in Cosmo Alexandre who shattered Northcutt’s face into 30-pieces with just one punch. Reportedly requiring a nine-hour surgery to repair the fighters broken orbital bone and who will no doubt be out of commission for some time to come as the recovery process takes its course.
MMAFighting.com would go on to report on coach Faber’s interview with Luke Thomas, that according to Faber, “In retrospect, there were some warning signs maybe not to take this fight and like you said, it’s not like you go into a fight thinking you’re gonna get your face smashed.”
Though according to a March 16, 2019 MMAfighting.com article titled, “Molly McCann to undergo surgery for broken orbital after UFC London win over Priscila Cachoeira,” author Shaun Al-Shatti writes, “McCann (8-2) is scheduled to undergo surgery Sunday morning for the grisly broken orbital bone she suffered midway through her bout against Priscila Cachoeira on Saturday night.”
And more recently, according to a May 12, 2019 Washington Post article titled, “After scary KO, a former UFC champion hints she might be ready to walk away,” author Des Bieler writes that former UFC strawweight champion Rose Namajunas was lucky to escape her fight against Jessica Andrade without serious injury. According to Bieler, “Namajunas’s awkward landing had some observers — including other MMA fighters — concerned that she might have broken her neck.”
Highlighting the fact fighters should be prepared for just about anything when they step into the ring or cage, including death or serious injury. The possibilities of which can be greatly amplified by convenient, selective matchmaking, poor guidance or an unwillingness of fighters to listen to their team or coach. There is a trail of broken faces and shattered dreams in the world of combat sports that stretches back for generation’s and it doesn’t look like the machine is in danger of slowing down anytime soon either.
Former UFC Fighter Sage Northcutt Flatlined at ONE Championship 96: Enter the Dragon
By: Jesse Donathan
Former UFC prospect “Super” Sage Northcutt was knocked out cold in his ONE Championship debut Friday, May 17th, 2019 against Cosmo Alexandre. A fighter who started his career in the UFC’s 155-pound lightweight division in 2015, Northcutt finished his tenure with the world’s premiere mixed martial arts promotion at 170 pounds in the UFC’s welterweight division. Northcutt competed against Alexander in ONE Championships welterweight division, which according to the promotion’s website is contested at 77.2 kilograms to 83.9 kilograms.
Dusting off the trusty calculator, that’s 170.226 pounds to 184.9995 when using a rounded up 2.205 pounds to 1-kilogram calculation. Let that information sink in for a moment; ONE Championship’s welterweight division is not the same welterweight division mixed martial arts fans are accustomed to dealing with in the UFC. According to MMAFighting.com’s Guilherme Cruz, the bout between Sage Northcutt and Cosmo Alexandre was contested at 185 pounds.
“Take one glance at Sage Northcutt’s record and an obvious trend jumps out about his UFC run,” writes MMAfighting.com’s Shaun Al-Shatti in his July 13, 2018 article titled, “After ‘constantly under-eating’ and fighting ‘cloudy’ at 155, Sage Northcutt begins new welterweight journey at UFC Boise.” According to Al-Shatti, “Over the course of three years in the promotion, the exceedingly polite Texan has racked a perfect 5-0 fighting at lightweight, but a less-than-stellar 0-2 resume competing at 170 pounds.”
With Northcutt fairing worse during his run in the UFC’s 170-pound welterweight division than his tenure at lightweight, one might wonder why anyone thought it was a good idea for Northcutt to compete at 185-pounds?
According to a May 17, 2019 social media posting from MMA analyst Luke Thomas, “Some are arguing there’s a size discrepancy. I have no idea if that’s true because there’s virtually no transparency in ONE’s weigh-in system.”
So here is what we do know, according to the promotion’s website onefc.com, “ONE Championship’s weight classes are unlike any other martial arts organization in the world.”
A fact any potential fighters looking to sign with ONE Championship need to fully understand before signing on the dotted line. According to ONE Championship, “The new program, which is the first of its kind for combat sports, is focused on athlete safety by introducing “walking-weight” competition via multiple weigh-ins and tests before and during fight week, including three hours before an event begins.”
According to a July 31, 2014 bleacherreport.com article titled, “The Beaten Path: Cosmo Alexandre Moves Away from Blackzilians, Up to 170 Pounds,” author Scott Harris writes, “Alexandre said he walks around at about 180, so a cut to 170 instead of 155 makes sense.” And Northcutt’s walking-weight? According to a June 24, 2018 mymmanews.com article titled, “Sage Northcutt Explains Decision to Return to Welterweight,” Northcutt walks around at 185-190.
As far as height is concerned, Northcutt is listed at an even 6-feet and Alexandre at 6’2”. The idea that there was a significant size discrepancy doesn’t seem to hold up to analysis once the numbers begin to be put into perspective. Though it wouldn’t be unreasonable to assume both Northcutt and Alexandre have put on weight since these numbers were initially reported. So, what went wrong for Northcutt?
According to the bleacherreport.com, Alexandre is a, “Muay Thai Miyagi, with multiple world titles and 19 knockouts on his 42-14 resume.” According to Harris, Alexandre has trained among some of the best in the business, including a tenure with the well-known Blackzillians in Florida, a training camp which has counted the likes of former UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans, former UFC lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez, the titan Anthony “Rumble” Johnson, Alistair Overeem and others among its ranks.
So, it should come to nobody as a surprise that Sage Northcutt, at just 23 years old, with an 11-3 mixed martial arts record against mid-tier competition at best in the UFC was knocked unconscious by the veteran professional fighter. Though Alexandre himself only has an 8-1 professional mixed martial arts record, he is the vastly more experienced fighter and the outcome was not unforeseeable to those who looked at page two of the fighter scouting report.
On May 18, 2019 ESPN MMA analyst Ariel Helwani reported on Twitter that, “Sage Northcutt just posted on IG that he came out of a nine-hour surgery. Suffered 8 fractures in his face as a result of that KO loss yesterday.”
Sage Northcutt was fed to the lions in short, the young mixed martial arts prospect faced the toughest opponent of his career thus far and he got knocked unconscious as a result. In a sport where there are generally only two outcomes, victory or defeat, one must be prepared for the even worst. Unfortunately for Northcutt, having his face fractured is an outcome that must be taken into consideration before entering the arena and these kinds of losses only serve as learning tools for the future. The good news is Northcutt can learn a lot from this fight and go back to the drawing board in learning how to deal with fighters walking him down, looking for the one-shot kill, sniper like finish.
With ONE Championship redefining todays conventional weight class system, we can fully expect more big-name fighters to fall in ONE Championship as the new, unconventional weight classes all but guarantee more interesting matchup’s and defeats in the future. A fact exemplified by former UFC 155-pound lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez getting starched in his ONE Championship debut as well.
According to an April 2, 2019 bloodyelbow.com article titled, “Eddie Alvarez: Timofey Nastyukhin’s punch ‘instantly blinded me and split both eyelids in half’,” author Zane Simon writes that within minutes of Alvarez’s debut in the promotion he, “was being picked up off the canvas, having been handed one of the worst losses of his career, against the relatively unheralded Russian, Timofey Nastyukhin.”
ONE Championship is in the business of promotion, and as such any high-profile signings to the Singapore based promotion can expect the company to make the most of their investment. ONE Championship is proving they are here to give the fans what they want, and god bless them, that is exactly what they are doing. In a market dominated by the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the worlds premiere mixed martial arts organization, its going to take something special to compete and thus far it looks like ONE Championship is here to win.
Jon Jones Unwilling to Concede Size, Strength Advantage to Cormier at Heavyweight
By: Jesse Donathan
In a May 14, 2019 MMAnews.com article titled, “Jon Jones Reveals Why He’s Not Moving Up to Heavyweight to Fight Daniel Cormier,” author Damon Martin writes, “Jon Jones may not like Daniel Cormier very much but he’s smart enough to respect his skills.” According to Martin, Jones realizes Daniel Cormier would have the advantage at heavyweight and refuses to concede ground to the UFC Heavyweight Champion.
“I’m a realist. Daniel Cormier’s a special athlete and everyone can be beat and I think my greatest fear would be losing to a guy like Daniel Cormier with giving him a power and strength advantage over me,” Jones said when speaking to UFC color commentator Dan Hardy. “It just doesn’t make sense.”
Jones and Cormier have a storied history together, with the two first having met in the Octagon in early 2015 at UFC 182, a fight Jones won by unanimous decision. According to a July 7, 2016 bloodyelbow.com article titled, “Opinion – Don’t cry for Jon Jones: Canceled UFC 200 main event is Daniel Cormier’s loss,” author Connor Ruebusch wrote:
“Jones had beaten Cormier once before, in January of 2015. It was shortly after that win, arguably the greatest of his career, that Jones’ world began to crumble. News of Jones’ cocaine habit emerged just days after the Cormier fight. Those same tests revealed that the champion also showed suspicious hormone levels that may or may not have indicated steroid use.”
As BoxingInsider.com previously reported in, “A Closer Look at Performance Enhancing Drugs in Sports,” not only did Jones show, “suspicious hormone levels,” but Daniel Cormier himself was well below the average 1:1 testosterone to epitestosterone (T/E) ratio considered the benchmark medical standard for normal.
Ariel Helwani wrote in his January 8, 2015 MMAfighting.com article titled, “Nevada Athletic Commission head: Jon Jones’ testosterone clean prior to UFC 182; carbon isotope ratio test conducted,” that the current UFC Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier passed both of his USADA administered tests in the lead up to the fight, writing, “Cormier, Jones’ opponent at UFC 182, had a T/E ratio of .4 on Dec. 2 and .48 on Dec. 17. Cormier passed both those tests.” Comparatively, according to MMAfighting.com, “some have pointed to Jones’ testosterone-to-epitestosterone ratio in the three tests made public this week as a cause for concern.
According to Helwani, “On Dec. 4, Jones’ T/E ratios came up as .29 and .35. Jones actually took two drug tests that day because, according to Nevada Athletic Commission executive director Bob Bennett, his first urine sample was “watery.” On Dec. 18, his T/E ratio came up as .19. Clearly, all three ratios were below that of the average male.”
So, while Jones is unwilling to concede a strength and size advantage to Cormier at heavyweight, the truth is he was unwilling to do so at light heavyweight as well. Consistently testing positive for banned, prohibited substances throughout his tenure as perhaps the greatest fighter the UFC has ever seen. But if, “all three ratios were below that of the average male,” as reported by MMAFighting.com and, “some have pointed to Jones’s T/E ratio in the three tests made public this week as cause for concern,” then Cormier’s hormone levels were also, “cause for concern.” With Cormier testing out at .40 and .48 T/E in comparison to the normal 1:1 ratio. The only difference between Jones and Cormier’s test results being that Jones’s results were more concerning.
There is a mass psychosis in professional sports, where the perpetually naïve fans operate under the paradigm that the vast majority of professional athletes are clean, free of prohibited drug use and abuse. And when an athlete does pop positive for a banned substance, they are the black sheep of the organization, cheaters that somehow undermined the sanctity of their prohibited, banned substance free sport that surely must exist. Yet, time and time again, athletes across the board in competitive sports test positive one by one for banned, prohibited substance. Somehow though, the paradigm never changes that the sporting industry remains free of drug use and its only the bad apples spoiling the entire batch for everyone else.
In an August 11, 2008 spiegel.de interview with former Marion Jones coach Angel Heredia titled, “The Dealer Olympias,” Spiegel would ask Heredia if he was going to watch the 2008 Beijing Olympic 100-meter final. “Of course,” Heredia replied before continuing, “but the winner will not be clean. Not even any of the contestants will be clean.” According to Spiegel, “Of eight runners,” in an open-ended question to Heredia, “eight will be doped,” in Heredia’s estimation. Yet, time and time again fans, pundits and various organizations and associations alike perpetuate the myth of a clean sporting event.
And within this mass psychosis, is the mechanism itself that allows other athletes to fly under the radar. As long as everyone thinks its only the guys who get caught that are cheating, it allows the other athletes who are fortunate enough not to get caught to reap the rewards of their own performance enhancing drug use despite the fact deep down inside, when the fears of legal repercussions and politically correct based peer pressure recede; all but the most naïve among us know the real truth yet we still dwell in the fantasy rainbows, unicorns and lollipop fantasy based mass psychosis of a clean field of play.
According to an August 12, 2009 mmajunkie.com article titled, “U.S. Olympic wrestling team captain Daniel Cormier announces move to MMA,” it was reported that, “Cormier’s wrestling accomplishments are in no short supply.” MMAjunkie.com would go on to write that, “Daniel Cormier, a two-time Olympian and the U.S. squad’s 2008 Olympic team captain, was a two-time JUCO national champion and NCAA Division I runner-up at Oklahoma State University in 2001.”
Cormier is famously undefeated at heavyweight, having moved down to light heavyweight to avoid cramping teammate Cain Velasquez’s reign as UFC Heavyweight Champion in an honorable display of friendship, respect and loyalty to someone who welcomed Cormier with open arms to the American Kicking Academy (AKA) in San Jose, California. Today, Velasquez is quite a long way away from another UFC heavyweight title shot and according to Cormier himself, his own career is nearing its completion.
While admirable, I always thought Cormier’s move to light heavyweight was a mistake. While I was sure he would be successful there, and barring two fights with a performance enhancing drug using Jon Jones, he was, I see no reason for Cormier to fight Jon Jones at light heavyweight again.
Cormier was and still is undefeated at heavyweight, the only two blemishes on his professional mixed martial arts career are to an asterisks Jon Jones. Cormier is in the driver’s seat here, not Jon Jones. If they are to fight again, the only weight class I am interested in seeing the fight take place is at heavyweight. And if Jones’ is unwilling to concede a size and strength advantage to Cormier, despite Cormier doing exactly that not once, but twice against a performance enhanced Jon Jones, then I do not really see a reason to continue talking about this fight beyond the fact the UFC would surely like to make it happen one way or another.
The Scarlet Letter: Brock Lesnar, USADA and Retirement
By: Jesse Donathan
Did Brock Lesnar retire from mixed martial arts because he failed another USADA prohibited drug test? “If you were a level of conspiracy theorist, or as we do over here, we just simply speculate, and visit, and talk, there is some clues to point to that is a possibility, said Bad Guy Inc. CEO Chael Sonnen in his May 9, 2019 YouTube video titled, “Did Brock Lesnar fail a USADA drug test and retire?” An ESPN analyst and current Bellator fighter, Sonnen is a former UFC middleweight challenger who counts UFC President Dana White among his friends. In other words, Sonnen is an industry insider and someone you should listen to when he has something to say.
Sonnen, who once famously thrashed Anderson Silva in the Brazilians’ prime before succumbing to a come from behind triangle armbar submission in the fifth and final round went on to list a litany of reasons of why its possible that rumors of a Lesnar failed USADA drug test could possibly be true:
“The first of which is Brock Lesnar retired out of nowhere, he retired out of nowhere after taking a lesser WWE schedule, he retired out of nowhere after going into training for 12 full months. He retired out of nowhere after entering and clearing the USADA protocol of things that he had to pay for from his last outing at UFC 200 against Mark Hunt.”
As Sonnen correctly surmises, Lesnar’s abrupt retirement from MMA came out of left field. Everything was pointing to a Lesnar return to the cage; he had been training with Gable Stevenson, one of the top collegiate wrestlers in the country at the University of Minnesota and had shoved the UFC heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier across the octagon at UFC 226 in a picture-perfect promo in the lead up to the fight. “It looked like all; everything was a go. He had a world title fight, he had a main event, he had a huge pay day, he had Daniel Cormier standing in front of him,” Sonnen exclaimed, and out of nowhere, Lesnar retires.
“Guys, I don’t want to add to something right now, I want to come to you candidly and tell you that I do not have information but I am starting to hear things from people who generally do have the correct information that perhaps that wasn’t totally wrong,” Sonnen said on the rumors of a Lesnar issue with USADA that went ignored by the MMA media when the information first started trickling out.
“The new way that USADA is operating, okay, I’ll remind you of the old way first. Which was a guy flags, boom! They put out a boilerplate statement, the only thing they change between athletes is simply the name. John Doe right, fill in the blank, and the whole rest of the uniform statement. We get it. But when USADA got confronted with five people who were later cleared and the USADA was able to look at it and go you know what, we didn’t total clear out, we cleared them, but in the world of PR and the mess they went through, in the minds eye, the day of the internet, the sponsors that were already lost, its just very hard to unfry that egg.”
The Bellator light heavyweight contender who lost to “The Last Emperor” Fedor Emelianenko in a valiant effort during the Bellator Heavyweight World Grand Prix Tournament last year at Bellator 208 went on to say of USADA’s new approach to handling athletes who may have flagged a prohibited substances test:
So, what we’re gonna do now is if we flag somebody, we are not going to say a word. They will very quietly not be booked for a contest but we will also very privately see the process through to the very end. And when we make our release, we will not only tell you who, what and when but we will also tell you what the remedy was. Whether it’s a disciplinary action or a clearing of the athlete. But we will present one statement to you in its entirety. Okay great, really good way to do things. There is now some people that are saying that they have dug into this and it’s the very spot Brock Lesnar is in.”
Prior to Sonnen’s fire side chat, Dave Metzler on Wrestling Observer Radio had suggested that the new UFC deal with ESPN had been a factor in Lesnar’s retirement, according to Sonnen that just isn’t the case.
“It is a very strange circumstance, and it seems that there was then a later dialogue that came in and said no, the reason Brock walked away is because the pay-per-view model has changed, and therefor he can’t collect his pay-per-view points and therefor he lost his enticement to do this. Now, that is, I can tell you now that is not what happened. I don’t know what happened, but I think it’s probably a pretty straight forward. One, either, we’re going to find something out in the next 45 days or two, and far more likely if I am being fair, far more likely, he started training and his body was just sore and tired and he wasn’t getting the same reaction as fast as he had in the past and he said I’m done.”
As reported by Foxsports.com in their January 4, 2017 article titled, “Brock Lesnar suspended one year by USADA after failing two drug tests,” the WWE superstar infamously, “tested positive for clomiphene and its metabolite, 4-hydroxyclomiphene, following an out-of-competition urine test conducted on June 28, 2016, and an in-competition urine test conducted on July 9, 2016, at UFC 200 in Las Vegas, Nev. Clomiphene is a prohibited substance in the category of Hormone and Metabolic Modulators and is prohibited at all times under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy.”
According to USADA.org, “In men, clomiphene can alter testosterone levels by interfering with the negative feedback loop of the hypothalamic–pituitary–gonadal axis.” Interestingly, the USADA description of clomiphene goes on to state that, “clomiphene is not FDA-approved for use by men for any condition,” but there are some exceptions to that claim as USADA goes on to state.
“However, it may be prescribed off-label, meaning that a doctor may prescribe a medication for a use that is not indicated on the FDA’s approved packaging insert or label. Once the FDA approves a drug, healthcare providers can typically prescribe the drug for an unapproved use when they judge that it is medically appropriate for their patient.”
The USADA clomiphene description goes on to state that, “In males, similar to other substances with anabolic properties that lead to increased muscle mass, clomiphene is associated with a number of potential and serious side effects, including: increased risk of negative cardiovascular events, liver damage, and gastrointestinal discomfort.”
In an April 24, 2012 bleacherreport.com article titled, “Brock Lesnar: Understanding Diverticulitis, the Illness That Changed His Life,” author Louie Babcock wrote that, “In November of 2009, Brock was diagnosed with mononucleosis, and later in the month it was discovered he had a serious case of diverticulitis.” According to Babcock, “Diverticulitis is a disease of the digestive tract, normally in the large intestine. On the colon of the patient, tiny pouches form. These pouches are called diverticula. When these pouches become inflamed, diverticulitis is diagnosed.” The bleacherreport.com article would go on to note that Lesnar suffered another bout of diverticulitis in May of 2011, retiring after his last match in December of 2011 against Alistair Overeem before coming out of retirement to face Mark Hunt at UFC 200 in 2016.
According to dopinglinkki.fi, “Clomiphene is a doping substance according to the Penal Code. Particularly men, who use anabolic steroids, commonly use clomiphene or other anti-estrogens (for example, tamoxifen) as an accompanying drug.”
Dopinglinkki.fi would go on to state that, “The purpose of clomiphene, in this case, is to inhibit the estrogen problems caused by the overdosed anabolic steroids, that appear when anabolic steroids convert in the body to estrogens or other metabolic products that have estrogenic effects.”
With Lesnar’s history of at least two bouts of diverticulitis in 2009 and 2011, one would think that Lesnar would have been weary of using Clomiphene, a drug described as causing “gastrointestinal discomfort” as one of its potential side effects. Which immediately brings me to one of the oldest questions plaguing mankind. Which came first? The chicken or the egg? The answer to that question could very well let many cats out of the bag.
According to thesmokinggun.com, “Brock Lesnar, the World Wrestling Entertainment champion, was once arrested for illegally possessing steroids, though the felony charge against the 26-year-old athlete was dismissed four months after his January 2001 arrest.” The report would go on to state:
“Lesnar was exonerated when tests showed that the seized pills were not, in fact, steroids. While a Louisville detective told TSG that the material was some kind of growth hormone, Lesnar’s defense attorney, Scott Cox, characterized the confiscated pills as a ‘vitamin type of thing.’”
Regardless of the true circumstances of Lesnar’s retirement(s), health problems and reported prohibited drug use, there is no question that Brock Lesnar is a huge draw for both the WWE and UFC. Former K-1 kickboxing champion Mark Hunt once famously sued UFC President Dana White, Lesnar and the UFC, accusing them of collusion, “in an effort to allow Lesnar to use performance enhancing drugs,” according to a February 15, 2019 ESPN.com article titled, “Judge dismisses most of Mark Hunts case Against UFC, Brock Lesnar,” by Brett Okamoto.
According to ESPN, “U.S. District Judge Jennifer A. Dorsey threw out all but one of the claims Hunt made against the UFC,” with the Judge ordering, “Hunt and the UFC to enter a mandatory settlement conference on the final outstanding claim — breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. That claim is against the UFC only. All of Hunt’s claims against White and Lesnar were dismissed.” Putting the pieces together, the extent of the breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing could potentially stretch back some time in this case with the reader being left to make up their own minds as to what the actual truth may be.
The Don King Effect – UFC’s Dana White and Zuffa Boxing to Promote Big Fights
By: Jesse Donathan
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) President Dana White likes to shop for groceries and is a Tom Brady fan, according to an April 19, 2019 CNN article titled “Boxing ‘shooting itself in the foot,’ says Dana White.” Beyond those interesting facts about White, he also thinks he can do a better job at promotion than boxings current crop of charismatic front men. And White points to the lack of drawing power of Anthony Joshua in the United States, the heavyweight champion of the world, as evidence of boxing’s “strategic” mistakes in failing to properly market one of its biggest stars. CNN openly asks, could Dana White be the man to change this?
It’s possible, however unlikely in my opinion. Although I am willing to bet Dana White and company will be more successful than most are initially willing to admit. Boxing and mixed martial arts share much of the same infrastructure; the various state athletic commissions across the country issue licensing for both boxers and mixed martial arts fighters. White also has extensive experience in jumping through the various corporate hoops necessary to get new promotions off the ground and running and has demonstrated the business acumen necessary to be successful. Still, Dana White and Zuffa, the former owners of the UFC, are not without their detractors.
According to a May 3, 2019 badlefthook.com article titled, “Oscar De La Hoya doesn’t see what Dana White can bring to boxing ‘other than him screaming and yelling’” author Scott Christ quotes the boxing legend as stating, “I wish him all the best. I think he’s done a phenomenal job with the UFC. I have my opinions in the past on how I feel about the fighters getting treated by the UFC, but at this point in my life, I have so much on my plate, I’m sure he has lots on his plate.”
“Good luck. Be prepared for the ride of your life. Boxing is a roller coaster, and it’s sometimes not a fun one,” De La Hoya said.
What De La Hoya is referring to is when he called Dana White and the UFC out on how they treat their athletes. The fact is UFC fighters like to shop for groceries too, only their pay in comparison to professional boxers is grossly deficient, bordering on criminal. “We’re basically fighting for crumbs,” one fighter told ESPN.com who declined to be identified in a January 15, 2012 John Barr and Josh Gross article titled, “UFC fighters say low pay simply brutal.” According to the write up, discussing how the UFC compensates their fighters has been described as “career suicide” by one mixed martial artist.
“While paydays for top draws like Anderson Silva and Georges St. Pierre can run into the millions,” writes Gross and Barr, “entry-level fighters who compete under the banner of the UFC do so for as little as $6,000 if they fail to win their first match,” wrote ESPN in the 2012 report.
According to Aeric Koerner, a PHD candidate student at America University who conducted an inductive analysis on UFC fighter pay 2016 marked a change in UFC compensatory policy. In an interview by MMA analysist Luke Thomas uploaded on May 2, 2019 to YouTube.com titled, “The Truth About UFC Fighter Pay: An Examination,” Koerner describes how a transition occurred in June of 2016 that marked the end of the low-end compensated UFC fighters being paid $8,000 to show and $8,000 to win. At that point they transitioned to $10,000 to show and $10,000 to win.
Colloquially referred to as, “that Rebook money” in mixed martial arts circles the social media connotations behind it are anything but flattering for the UFC and Rebook. According to a March 1, 2019 forbes.com article titled, “UFC 235’s Ben Askren On Reebok Outfitting Program Pay: ‘It’s Pretty Terrible’” author Trent Reinsmith writes that, “The UFC signed a six-year agreement with Reebok in 2015.” According to Reinsmith, with the Reebok deal the UFC is in fact operating on tiered system of compensation based on the number of fights a fighter has within the UFC promotion itself, not their overall record which only raises more questions than answers.
“The current pay structure under the deal sees fighters with one to three UFC fights earning $3,500. Fighters four to ten UFC fights on their record make $5,000. If a fighter has 11 to 15 bouts, they receive $10,000, while those with 16 to 20 bouts make $15,000. The top tier, for those fighters who have more than 21 UFC contests pays $20,000. Title challengers make $30,000 and champions receive $40,000.”
To put these numbers into perspective, Canelo Alvarez is reported to have signed a $365-million-dollar deal with DAZN. Alvarez is said to have made $35-million from his most recent fight with Daniel Jacobs alone according to a bloodyelbow.com report.
If Dana White and company run their boxing promotion anything like they did with the UFC, future boxers signed under the Dana White and Zuffa boxing banner can expect to get the Don King treatment, always coming up short in the financial department as their handlers make off with the majority of the earnings. A sure-fire recipe for success when the backbone of your operation is paid peanuts while the corporate, Boss Hoggs kick back and watch their pile of slop grow. It worked for the UFC in mixed martial arts and it can work for Dana White and company once again as they move into pro-boxing as well.
“I am making all my boxing moves after this summer,” White said. “When this summer is over, you’ll be hearing a lot about what I’m doing in the sport of boxing,” writes Jed Meshew in his April 24, 2019 mmafighting.com article titled, “Morning Report: Dana White says boxing plans are still a go: ‘I’m making all my boxing moves after this summer’.” According to mmafighting.com:
“When Dana first began making overtures towards boxing, (Anthony) Joshua said he would “100 percent” consider signing with Zuffa boxing if the offer made sense. It was later reported that the UFC was interested in a $500 million deal to sign Joshua but White has denied those reports and Joshua went on to sign a three-year extension with Matchroom Boxing last summer.”
Whether White and Zuffa like it or not, the public perception of how they treat fighters is a stigma that they will find hard to shake moving forward, regardless if they attempt to throw the world heavyweight champion Joshua a bone and make an offer most athletes would find hard to turn down.
With the apparent exaggerated reports of a Joshua offer, one would think Zuffa would be willing to open up their wallets in order to acquire top talent. Not so, says undefeated (23-0-1) heavyweight boxer Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller. “Once upon a time MMA was a realistic option, but after he signed with K-1, Miller says he thought better of stepping into the cage,” writes Tristen Critchfield of sherdog.com in his June 19, 2014 article titled, “Glory 17’s Jarrell Miller: Why MMA is Not an Option for Me.” Critchfield would go on to quote “Big Baby” as stating:
“I did before I signed with K-1 because boxing was slow at the time. But at this point in my career: Nope. Definitely not,” Miller told Sherdog.com. “Just because the money those guys are getting and the injuries…. Listen, 99.9 percent of guys that finish their MMA career, the only thing they can do is open a gym and maybe coach, just because their face and their ears are deformed.”
“I’m not gonna be Dana White’s puppet,” Miller said. “Hell no. I’ve worked too hard,” declared a defiant “Big Baby.”
And with this inside look at how Dana White and Zuffa boxing will undoubtedly do business, its hard to agree with Oscar De La Hoya that Dana White won’t bring anything to boxing beyond yelling and screaming. What Dana White and Zuffa boxing bring to the table is a proven business model, where the fighters who are signed for pennies on the dollar will undoubtedly free up capital elsewhere for the promotion to handle the unexpected problems De La Hoya all but guarantee’s will be in White and Zuffa’s future as they transition into the sport of professional boxing.
That additional capital can go a long way in sewing up any loose ends White believes boxing has been left dangling in the wind with the lack of big money fights and promotion of some boxings biggest stars in markets like the United States where White, Zuffa and company see an opportunity to exploit the holes that boxing has thus far remained asleep at the wheel in minding up.
Dana White thinks Zuffa boxing can promote big money fights better than the current, existing infrastructure in professional boxing and I am not so sure that he isn’t right. It is entirely possible that White and company can breathe new life into the stagnant pool of inactivity we are currently seeing in professional boxings heavyweight division.
So, Dana White likes to go grocery shopping and I am willing to bet so do a lot of other people too; including the vast majority of his fighters under contract making pennies on the dollar, short changed, while the company big whigs reap the rewards without so much as a fat lip or a black eye. This business model helped propel the UFC to a four-million-dollar sale to the company’s new owners, WME-IMG. This same business model will undoubtably be used to drive Zuffa boxing into promotional contention in the world of professional boxing in the foreseeable future. Look for Dana White and company to break into boxing in a big way moving forward, unfortunately likely at the expense of those who do incur injury as a result of their efforts.