St. Pierre Retires, Poirier vs. Holloway for Interim Lightweight Title
By: Jesse Donathan
In a February 21, 2019 sherdog.com article titled, “Dustin Poirier, Al Iaquinta call for UFC release after lightweight title snub” author Nathan Zur writes, “reports suggest that the UFC was trying to organize a match between former welterweight and middleweight champ St. Pierre and lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, but negotiations fell apart, leading “GSP” to retire from the sport officially.” Both Iaquinta and Poirier felt that they have earned their respective title shots and have been sitting on the shelf as the UFC attempts to put more lucrative fights together at the expense of the division.
As author Nathan Zur points out, a “logjam” had been created in the lightweight division and both Poirier and Iaquinta felt slighted that the UFC was attempting to put a mega fight together between former two division champion Georges St. Pierre and lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov instead of rightfully allowing the contenders in the division to earn their shots at the throne Nurmagomedov currently occupies.
In a February 22, 2019 Bad Guy Inc. YouTube video titled “What happens if Max Holloway fights Tony Ferguson” Bellator light heavyweight contender and ESPN analyst Chael Sonnen recommended Dustin Poirier to take one of two approaches in dealing with his frustration with the UFC, “one is to do everything right and sit by your phone, the other one is pick up your phone and pick a fight” on social media, citing a recent social media dust up between Tony Ferguson and Max Holloway which garnered UFC President Dana White’s attention and a fight a potential fight was rumored to have been in the works.
Sonnen recommended Poirier take the bull by the horns, create his own destiny and use the power of social media and its unique interaction between the fans and fighters to create a narrative between himself and the fighters he would like to fight in order to give the UFC a reason to promote the fight.
And it looks like Poirier’s request to be released ultimately caught the attention of all the right people, as ESPN’s Brett Okamoto recently broke news that Poirier will fight UFC Featherweight champion Max Holloway for the interim UFC Lightweight title as the current champion Nurmagomedov sits out his NSAC suspension due to a post-fight brawl at UFC 229 in October.
According a February 21, 2019 sherdog.com article titled, “Georges St. Pierre announces his retirement” author Jay Pettry quotes St. Pierre as stating, “we tried to organize the fight with Khabib, I know Khabib want it and I want it, but the UFC had other plan[s]. To the point where I am in my career, for me it’s more taking one fight at a time instead of being there for several fights, and the way the business works … if they promote someone, they want to keep him somewhere … it’s like an investment.”
Pettry would go on to quote St. Pierre as stating, “it’s a fight that could elevate my legacy, and I knew he wanted to fight me and this message excited me but unfortunately it takes two fighters and the organization for that fight to happen.”
Iaquinta and Poirier’s call for release came on the heels of former UFC interim welterweight champion Colby Covington calling for his own release from the UFC, according to January 8, 2019 bloodyelbow.com article titled, “Colby Covington slams Dana White over title shot snub, calls for release from UFC” author Milan Ordonez writes that, “Covington is not pleased about the UFC’s decision to have Kamaru Usman fight Tyron Woodley for the welterweight title.”
While the overall picture suggest multiple fighters are rebelling against the UFC’s business practices and in particular the direction in which the UFC is putting fights together, at least in terms of Covington there is likely more going on than initially meets the eye. While most fans are accustomed to the divisional rankings based model, where fighters move up through the ranks into the top 10, eventually cracking the top 5 and hopefully moving into the number one contender position and earning a title shot the UFC has increasingly moved to blend in an additional business model where stars are created, made if you will, and big money fights are put together which can include everything from multi-divisional contests between champions to cross promotional mega fights between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and the former two-division UFC champion Conor McGregor. The genesis of this additional model ultimately boiling down to dollars making more “cents” than the conventional contender paradigm.
Covington is a star in the making, a charismatic fighter the fans love to hate and whom the UFC needlessly created an interim welterweight title fight for and whom Dana White even brought to the White House with him to meet long-time friend and President of the United States of America, Donald Trump. In my opinion, Covington is being protected by the UFC as some of his toughest opponents are pitted against one another in order to clear the landscape for an eventual attempt at placing Covington in the driver seat of the welterweight division.
The current champion Tyron Woodley is set to face challenger Kamaru Usman for the welterweight championship, the end result being one of Covington’s two biggest challenges in the division being sent to the back of the line as the welterweight landscape becomes that much more open for a Covington run at the undisputed title. The excuses from Dana White about Covington blowing a chance against Woodley due to nasal surgery and justifications for putting Usman in with Woodley over the interim champion in Covington little more than a smoke screen for the true plan, which is placing Covington into the welterweight title spot with as few bumps in the road as possible.
Covington’s public calls for release little more than an attempt to turn babyface from heel by creating a sympathetic story line with the public where Covington feels slighted out of his rightful title contender position by the evil promoter; meanwhile the true monsters are pitted against one another in order to kill one of the two lions in the division off in order to help clear the landscape that much more for a Covington run. Professional wrestling psychology 101.
With St. Pierre, you have a widely popular star in the UFC who has legitimately earned the title legend in the sport due to the magnificent career the former welterweight division kingpin enjoyed prior to stepping away from the sport for the first time in 2013 after a tough fight with then challenger Johny Hendricks. St. Pierre would then come back after leaving the sport behind in November of 2017 to face Middleweight champion Michael Bisping, defeating the Brit by submission in the third round to claim the UFC Middleweight title.
St. Pierre fought a death’s row of welterweight opponents in his career, legitimately earning his title shot and defending his belt in an impressive reign as welterweight champion. Though many claim, with some merit, that St. Pierre was gifted a middleweight title shot that he didn’t deserve the fact is “Rush” accomplished more than enough in his career at welterweight to merit the middleweight title shot and it has went a long way in further cementing an already solid case for the Canadian juggernaut as being one of if not the greatest fighters in UFC history.
A third title shot for St. Pierre at the UFC lightweight belt would have went a long way in advancing St. Pierre’s case, who at this point is carefully crafting his career with his legacy in mind, however the UFC was looking to put business over St. Pierre’s best interest and the fighter has elected to play hard ball and retire for what may or may not be for good rather than give into the UFC’s demands, however legitimate they may in fact be.
Iaquinta and Poirier were within their rights to feel frustrated, in particular Poirier who has did more than enough to earn his shot at lightweight gold but whom up until this point had been left on the outside looking in until ESPN’s recent interim lightweight title bout with Holloway. However frustrated either fighter may be, the fact is they are in the premier organization in mixed martial arts and they have a lot of blood, sweat and tears invested in their careers in the lightweight division.
Veteran Chael Sonnen’s advice to start pounding on the war drum before giving up and throwing up the white flag ultimately proved fruitful for Poirier though I found Iaquinta’s willingness to throw his hat in the ring commendable despite having a pretty good case in his own right having recently boxed up UFC lightweight contender Kevin Lee in an impressive showing.
It appears the UFC is getting their act together and the stagnation in the division is finally letting up, in the meantime it’s time for Iaquinta to do what he does best and that is go find someone he can beat up for the rest of us to enjoy while stilling holding the UFC’s feet to the fire. Though nobody can blame either fighter for wanting to explore the potentially lucrative and ripe free agency waters that signing with Bellator or another promotion could mean for their careers.
UFC Fight Night 145 Preview: Prague on ESPN+
By: Jesse Donathan
The main event of UFC Fight Night 145: Prague features a Light Heavyweight contest between Jan Blachowicz (23-7) vs. Thiago Santos (20-6) on Saturday night, February 23 on ESPN+. For many American fans, this is a Thiago Santos fight against some guy named Jan. Santos is an up and coming pound-for-pound prospect, the hammer tattooed on his chest denounces the kind of fighter that he is. A hammer, a stand-up oriented striker who is going to look to take his opponents out of there unconscious and on a stretcher. The man is a predator in the cage, so the perception going into this fight for many is that this is a Thiago Santos fight, his opponent is all but a formality in the minds of many in this fight.
Jan Blachowicz is a throwback fighter from the golden years of mixed martial arts, though he debuted in 2007, his second, third and forth fights all occurred on the same night at KSW-Elimination on September 15th 2007. The tournament formats were popular in the early UFC’s of the ‘90s and were one of many reasons the sport of no holds barred fighting gained the small, but loyal underground following that carried the sport through some very lean years. Fighting multiple opponents in one night is no easy task, especially in light of the general arrangement of today’s highly regulated mixed martial arts format where some fighters pray to even make it on to the preliminary cards for one fight.
Blachowicz would go on to match that same accomplishment the following year at KSW 9 – Konfrontacja on May 09, 2008 where he defeated Martin Zawada by decision and Antoni Chmielewski and Aziz Karaoglu via submission (armbar). He would also go on to win two fights in one night at the KSW 13 – Kumite the following year in May of 2010, defeating Julio Cezar de Lima via KO and Wojciech Orlowski via rear naked choke. Blachowicz has been fighting multiple opponents on the same night throughout his career, and for this reason alone he makes my All-Violence First Team for being a game fighter despite the majority of his wins coming by way of submission or decision victory.
Simply put, there is a reason Blachowicz is a nine-fight UFC veteran who is enjoying a four-fight win streak. He is a true blue mixed martial arts fighter, someone who is not going to lay down and allow the surging Santos walk right over him. Thiago Santos is going to have a fight on his hands and that is what makes this particular matchup so compelling.
Thiago “Marreta” Santos has fluctuated between 185 pounds at Middleweight and 205 pounds at Light Heavyweight. Santos is currently on his own three-fight win streak, having won seven of his last eight. Fighting out of Rio De Janeiro, Brazil Santos has a 70% KO/TKO win percentage, meaning Santos is a head hunter who will be looking to collect Blachowicz’s scalp. Thiago Santos is the kind of fighter the fans want to see, a fighter who will keep their attention by practicing the exact brand of mixed martial arts we all tune in to see. Santos is a real fighter, Blachowicz is a real fighter, this means the probability of the fans getting a good fight is quite high. With last weekend’s stinkers from Bellator and the UFC, mixed martial arts fans will be intently watching to see if UFC Fight Night 145: Prague in the Czech Republic comes through on ESPN+.
The evenings co-main event will feature a Heavyweight bout between the 7-footer Stefan “Skyscraper” Struve (28-11) and eight-time UFC veteran “Pezao” Marcos Rogerio De Lima (16-5-1). Struve is on a three-fight losing streak and is in desperate need of picking up a victory Saturday night against a rugged and very tough veteran in “Pezao.” Though the strength of schedule of those three loses is worth noting, coming at the hands of some of the Heavyweight division’s toughest fighters in Alexander Volkov, Andrei Arlovski and Marcin Tybura. Struve will need to fight like his back is up against the wall, the Dutchmen hasn’t picked up a victory since October of 2016 when he fought against Daniel Omielanczuk and won via brabo choke submission.
“Pezao” owns a 69% KO/TKO win ratio and will most certainly look to stand and bang with Struve, though preparing for a fighter of Struve’s size with his kind of length and reach can prove problematic for the ill-prepared. Marcos has also proved susceptible to submissions, something else the long Dutchmen could potentially use to his advantage in creating the kind of torque that only a giant can. At nearly a foot taller than the 6’1” Rogerio De Lima, Struve will be the larger man in the cage which will make this look very much like a David vs. Goliath showdown which are always fan favorites.
Weekend in Review: Bellator, UFC Fumble at Goal Line
By: Jesse Donathan
A February 17, 2019 MMAFighting.com Twitter post detailed UFC fighter Andrea “KGB” Lee answering a fans question concerning what they could expect at the UFC on ESPN 1 card in Phoenix. “Expect… you know… some violence,” said Lee with the kind of quiet confidence only a professional fighter can carry. It was as if Lee was auditioning for a role in the next Natural Born Killers flick, her words cute yet oddly believable. “KGB” offered us hope after abysmal back-to-back Bellator main events from this past weekend, where Matt Mitrione sent Sergei Kharitonov’s lower extremities into orbit at Bellator 215 and Paul Daley somehow turned into a wrestler the next night at Bellator 216.
Friday night saw Mitrione fire off an unintentional, yet illegal groin strike early in the first round which resulted in Kharitonov justifiably hitting the deck in pain, unable to continue and their much anticipated heavyweight bout being ruled a no-contest with Sergei being admitted to the hospital not once, but twice with some sources even reporting that the Russian titan suffered a hemorrhoid as a result of the unfortunate encounter with one of Mitrione’s low kicks.
To make matters even worse for Bellator, their much-anticipated welterweight clash between British slugger Paul “Semtex” Daley (40-17-2) and the elusive counter-striker Michael “Venom” Page (14-0) Saturday night turned out to be anything but the violent, stand-up encounter the fans were anticipating with Page winning a controversial unanimous decision over “NCAA” Daley.
“Semtex” is usually known as a stand-up oriented fighter, a feared one at that, but appeared reluctant to trade with Page and instead brought a grappling based plan of attack to the fight that exposed Pages susceptibility to the takedown but also left fans disappointed with Daley’s unwillingness to trade with the counter striker. Instead, Daley elected to virtually give Page round one and employed a smart, yet disappointing grappling-based game plan in the remainder of the fight with varying levels of success. So, with “KGB” promising violence on Sunday night, the UFC on ESPN 1 event couldn’t let “The Just Bleed God” down.
Unfortunately for Lee, in picking up a victory Sunday night against her opponent Ashlee Evans-Smith in their scheduled bantamweight affair she did so by unanimous decision, further angering “The Just Bleed God” who demands to see fighters separated from consciousness and various extremities smashed, broken or otherwise altered beyond their originally intended state. But we will have to give her extra credit for the incredibly brilliant sound bite and the rather charming method of delivery for her Sunday fight-night predictions, well done. Dana White has to love this kind of promotion from his fighters.
The UFC on ESPN 1’s main event saw former two-time UFC Heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez lose to Francis Ngannou by first round TKO. Velasquez was put on the floor early after an exchange with Ngannou where “The Predator” finished the former champion off with strikes before referee Jason Herzog stepped in and called a halt to the contest at just 26 seconds of round number one. Replay’s show Velasquez’s knee gave out on him during the exchange with Ngannou, leading to the fight hitting the ground and Ngannou picking up what is surely the best victory of his career to date.
In what was unfortunately a less than desirable turn of events, even the UFC’s capstone main event this weekend left “The Just Bleed God” feeling empty and unsatisfied with the outcome of the UFC on ESPN 1’s main attraction. Much like Friday nights Bellator 215 main event with Mitrione and Kharitonov, the Ngannou vs. Velasquez fight was over before it even started, the ending less than fulfilling leaving one yearning for more. From a fan’s perspective, the fact Bellator offered back-to-back events this weekend at all was a commendable effort despite the rather disappointing turn of events and the fact the UFC on ESPN 1 finished the weekend off with a card of their own on Sunday night made this weekend one to have looked forward too.
Despite this weekend’s big dreams and broken promises, a thank you is in order to both organizations, including the Legacy Fighting Alliance organization where UFC legend Pat Miletich does an outstanding job commentating on their incredible fights over on AXSTV as well. This is a mixed martial arts fans dream to have this much MMA available to consume and hopefully a glimpse of the future where these events become more common place on network television.
Despite some disappointing performances, there was some light at the end of the tunnel this weekend. Luke Sanders (13-3) sent former UFC bantamweight champion Renan Barao (34-8) to meet the sandman with a first-round knockout performance. Barao, the bigger man in the cage Sunday night, has dropped four fights in a row and failed to make weight for Sunday nights scheduled fight in Phoenix by two pounds. The weight issues and subsequent knockout loss once again bringing to light the potential health hazards associated with extreme weight cutting and the susceptibility of fighters to fight ending blows due to a lack of fluid on the brain to aid in protecting against head trauma.
Elsewhere, strawweight Emily Whitmire (4-2) defeated Aleksandra Albu (3-1) via rear-naked-choke and bantamweight Manny Bermudez (14-0) defeated Benito Lopez (9-1) via brabo choke. Welterweight Vicente Luque (15-6) defeated Bryan Barberena via a trilling third round TKO and featherweight Alex Caceres (14-12) was made quick work of by the debuting Brazilian Jiu-jitsu prodigy Kron Gracie (5-0). So, while we got more disappointments and unanimous decisions than the violence “KGB” promised us this past weekend, at least there is light at the end of the tunnel bright enough to see better cards and hopefully better fights to come on the horizon. Otherwise, “The Just Bleed God” is going to be very angry.
UFC 234 Results: Israel Adesanya Edges Anderson Silva
By: Jesse Donathan
Unfortunately for everyone involved, UFC 234 was marked with late news on Saturday, the day of the fight, that the much-anticipated main event, a 185-pound middleweight title fight between Kelvin Gastelum and Robert Whitaker was canceled due to the discovery of a hernia which forced the champion Robert Whitaker to withdraw from Saturday nights contest in Melbourne, Australia.
Sherdog.com’s Tristen Critchfield reported in his February 9, 2019 article titled, “Hernia Forces Robert Whittaker Out of Title Defense vs. Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 234” that, “UFC President Dana White confirmed the news to ESPN on Saturday. Whittaker experienced pain in his abdomen late last night and was taken to a hospital, where he was diagnosed with a hernia.”
In a response released from Gastelum via his official Twitter account Saturday night, the challenger would go on to state, “With much sorrow I write that my fight for the middleweight title is off. I’m sorry to everyone that was expecting this great fight, Family, friends and followers around the world.” Kelvin Gastelum is a great fighter, he has earned this title shot and we can only hope he is able to maintain this number one contender position without penalty and get the title shot that is rightfully his.
The UFC released a video Sunday evening via Twitter of the still hospitalized champion Robert Whittaker apologizing for the fight cancellation and detailing a very serious emergency surgency he underwent for a collapsed bowel and internal hernia. According to Whittaker, the UFC spared no expense in his treatment and the champion sounded very grateful for their kindness. Fans around the world are wishing Whittaker good health and a speedy recovery. This man is a true warrior and a wonderful mixed martial arts champion.
As a result, the UFC 234 co-main event between Anderson Silva and Israel Adesanya was promoted to the headlining contest, though curiously enough remained a three-round affair. This is significant because Jose Aldo is reported to have turned down headlining UFC Fight Night 144 on ESPN+ due to the then customary five round main event requirements at the time. It appears an exception has been made or reason has finally come upon the ears of the corporate fight world if only momentarily.
There are any number of potential hardships that can befall a fight camp when an event is cancelled last second, and depending on how a fighter’s contract is framed there may be little to no financial recourse for those who may have promised or invested in training partners and/or any number of coaches, experts, specialists etc. in their quest for a championship run. All of whom may be adversely affected financially by news of a fights complete removal from a card barring the good graces of the promotion themselves.
There is a lot of time, hard work and sacrifice involved in preparing for these fights and for something to go wrong where a fight is cancelled last second is truly a nightmare scenario. Barring a well written contract or the UFC’s mercy, fighters do not get paid if they do not fight. And the money lost by the promotion themselves in marketing the fight is simply unconscionable.
Depending on the event, last second cancellations can result in fans who had pre-ordered pay-per-view events, purchased tickets to the event itself or subscribed to channels which required additional billing becoming very dissatisfied customers with the last second change of plans. In other words, news of Robert Whitakers withdraw Saturday night was a complete catastrophe. And this coming off the heels of UFC 232, where Jon Jones was unable to secure a license to fight in the state of Nevada and the event was completely moved to a new venue in Inglewood, California virtually last second.
Aaron Bronsteter, UFC reporter and content editor for TSN Sports, reported via Twitter Saturday afternoon that ESPN analyst and former two-time UFC challenger to Anderson Silva, Chael Sonnen, had obtained special permission from Scott Coker and the UFC’s rival promotion, Bellator, to step in to fight Anderson Silva on short notice should the UFC have wanted to make Israel Adesanya vs Kelvin Gastelum for an interim title fight. According to Sonnen, all he would have required was, “a mouthpiece, gloves and an XXXL size cup.” Unfortunately for the fans, this particular scenario did not materialize because it would have been an epic and exciting turn of events.
According to a February 8, 2019 sherdog.com article titled “Israel Adesanya Questions Anderson Silva’s Choice to Bring in Alex Pereira For Training” author Nathan Zur writes that Anderson Silva brought in top-tier training partners in preparation for Israel Adesanya:
“For this fight against the rising super star Adesanya, “The Spider” has brought in Brazilian world champion Glory kickboxer Alex Pereira who has beaten “The Last Stylebender” on two occasions, first when they met back in 2016 at the “Glory of Heroes” event with Pereira winning by unanimous decision and then again in 2017 at “Glory of Heroes 7” with the Brazilian Pereira knocking out the rising UFC star.”
The anticipation of the Adesanya vs. Silva fight may not have lived up to everyone’s expectations, but it was an entertaining fight nonetheless. There was plenty of showmanship throughout the fight from both fighters and the Melbourne, Australia crowd seemed genuinely entertained despite the last second cancellation of the previously scheduled main event. Adesanya’s strategy in the first appeared to be to attack low and go high, setting Silva up with a predominantly low strike-oriented attack to continuously draw Silva’s hands and attention low in order to set up a potentially game changing technique thrown high. Interestingly enough, Anderson Silva seemed to be well prepared for this game plan, even expecting it, likely the result of training with Alex Pereira. In what was likely Anderson Silva’s plan all along, round one was marked with Adesanya being the more active fighter in the cage and there is little question Israel took round one 10-9.
The second round was a different story however, as Anderson Silva came alive and was noticeably more active throughout. Silva had Adesanya on the run a handful of times, at one-point Silva even dropped his hands and met Adesanya in the middle of the cage with a very determined look on his face attempting to draw Adesanya into a brawl. This was an entertaining fight, though perhaps marked with too much showboating at times from both competitors which the enthusiastic Melbourne crowd seemed to have loved despite my objections. To the delight of many, Anderson Silva’s legendary head movement and reflexes returned in this fight, though if only briefly. Round two was a 10-9 round for Silva, who showed Adesanya there is a reason “The Spider” is a respected standup fighter in the UFC.
Under the 10-point must system, a round is rarely scored an even 10-10. Unfortunately, it must be ruled at least a 10-9 for a fighter despite the fact these contests are regularly marked with rounds which there was no decisive edge by either athlete in the ring or cage. Otherwise, I personally would have scored round three of Silva vs Adesanya a 10-10 because it wasn’t particularly eventful. Though both fighters had their moments, if I was absolutely forced to give the final five minutes to someone it would have been Adesanya for being the predictably more active, fresher fighter within the closing minute of the fight. The judges ultimately scored this contest 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28 for the winner Israel Adesanya by unanimous decision.
In other news from UFC 234, Devonte “King Kage” Smith took Dong Hyun Ma (16-9) behind the wood shed, dispatching the veteran South Korean mixed martial artists by knockout at 3:53 in the first round. With Saturday nights victory Smith moves to a very impressive 10-1, with all of those victories but one coming by way of KO or TKO. In Tristen Critchfield’s February 9, 2019 sherdog.com article titled, “UFC 234 Bonuses: Israel Adesanya, Anderson Silva Garner ‘Fight of the Night’ Honors” Devonte Smith is quoted as having received a well-deserved $50,000 fight bonus for “Performance of the Night” honors along with Montana De La Rosa for her armbar submission victory over Nadia Kassem.
UFC Fight Night 144 on ESPN+ Results: Aldo Emerges Victorious
By: Jesse Donathan
There didn’t appear to be an empty seat in the house Saturday night at UFC Fight Night 144 in Fontaleza, Ceara, Brazil. The main event saw Raphael Assuncao (27-6) lose to the surging Marlon Moraes by submission in the first round of the 135-pound bantamweight division featured contest. “Magic” Moraes (22-5) has won four in a row, bringing an end to Assuncao’s own four fighting winning-streak, securing victory in front of the packed house with a mounted guillotine choke. The finish was set up by some vicious striking from Moraes, creating a scramble with Assuncao that culminated in the fight hitting the mat and Moraes wrapping up his opponent like an Anaconda, constricting his opponents will to fight. Resistance proved to be futile, coaxing the tap at 3:17 into the first round.
As reported in a cbssports.com article titled, “UFC Fight Night 144 results, highlights: Marlon Moraes makes quick work of Raphael Assuncao” by Brian Campbell, “Magic” went on to state after the bout, “You almost lost the main event. I had diarrhea all week bad.” According to Moraes, “I caught the mosquito here and it messed me up bad. “It was a very tough week for me. I was really tested and it was really God that made me come here tonight.”
Catching the mosquito, an apparent allusion to Malaria perhaps? Bringing into focus some of the hurdles professional fighters face beyond just having to worry about another trained killer attempting to separate them from consciousness in the ring or cage. If true, the fact Moraes was able to secure victory Saturday night is no small feat to have accomplished, bordering on the incredible in fact.
The Co-main event saw mixed martial arts legend Jose Aldo compete against Renato “Moicano” Carneiro in what was reported to have been the originally planned main event for UFC Fight Night 144 before Aldo is said to have declined to participate in the mandatory five round affair. Round one proved to be a feeling out process for Aldo, who remained rather disciplined in his approach, pumping the jab throughout the round in an attempt to control the distance against the lengthier “Moicano” who was the far more active fighter throughout the first five minutes.
Round two saw the former UFC champion turn up the volume. Ditching the more disciplined approach from round one, Aldo went right after Carneiro with a blitzkrieg style offensive barrage of punches and knees. “Moicano” was overwhelmed, unable to turn the tide of Aldo’s relentlessly high pace, referee Jerin Valel was forced to intervene and call an end to the contest at just 44 seconds into round two. The crowd was ecstatic with the victory, the atmosphere very reminiscent of a World Cup soccer event, with Aldo himself overwhelmed with joy as if a great burden had been lifted off his shoulders.
Leaping over the cage and into a sea of a thrilled spectators, shades of the UFC lightweight champion Khabib “The Eagle” Nurmagomedov infamously taking flight up and over the chain link fence at UFC 229 flashed before my eyes. Only Aldo’s intentions were anything but nefarious, showing and receiving great love from those in attendance. This was the true main event at UFC Fight Night 144 and if the crowd’s reaction to Aldo’s TKO victory was any indication of success, the UFC knocked it out of the park with Saturday night’s co-main event.
In other news from UFC Fight Night 144, Demian Maia (26-9) proved to be too much for Lyman Good, who falls to 20-5 overall, succumbing to a rear naked choke at 2:38 into round number one to the Brazilian Jiu-jitsu master. In victory, the 41-year-old Maia snaps a three-fight losing streak, having lost to a deaths row of competitors in the welterweight division to include the champion Tyron Woodley, former interim champion Colby Covington and the divisions number one contender Kamaru Usman back-to-back-to-back.
An immense amount of recognition and respect needs to be given to an almost pure Brazilian Jiu-jitsu master for competing at the sports highest level in mixed martial arts competition with what is an almost purely submission-based plan of attack. In an era where conventional wisdom holds that the Royce Gracie’s of the world are a thing of the past, Demian exists to show the experts that Brazilian Jiu-jitsu is sill a force to be reckoned with in the modern era. For this reason alone, Demian Maia is a modern-day Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, mixed martial arts hero.
NSAC Releases Details on Infamous McGregor/Nurmagomedov Brawl, Suspension, and Fines
By: Jesse Donathan
The Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) released the details surrounding the fines and suspensions Tuesday in relation to the October 6, 2018 UFC 229 brawl that saw UFC star Conor McGregor lose to UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov immediately before a brawl broke out cage side between Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor’s Brazilian Jiujitsu coach and Bellator MMA fighter Dillon Danis. “The Eagle” Nurmagomedov flew over the cage and jumped into the sea of spectators to sink his talons into the Jiujitsu prodigy before security quickly intervened and escorted Danis out of the arena.
While that brawl was in the process of being extinguished outside the cage, members of Nurmagomedov’s entourage stormed the Octagon where McGregor himself was the target of retribution from team Nurmagomedov. It was a wild, chaotic scene as McGregor was actively engaged inside the cage after an exhausting, unsuccessful effort against Nurmagomedov by members of Nurmagomedov’s Fight Spirit team who were seeking redemption for the notorious UFC 223 media day scrum bus attack by Conor McGregor and his crew.
That incident, itself a retaliation for an earlier encounter by McGregor’s teammate, the now former UFC fighter Artem Lobov who has been released from the promotion according to Tristen Critchfield in a January 29, 2019 Sherdog.com report titled, “Conor McGregor training partner Artem Lobov released by the UFC.” Lobov was confronted by Nurmagomedov in a hotel lobby after comments Lobov had made publicly concerning the amount of fights Nurmagomedov had previously pulled out of, even going as far as to question the Dagestani champion’s heart and professionalism according to a 2018 givemesport.com article titled, “The exact reason why Khabib Nurmagomedov slapped Artem Lobov in Brooklyn” by Raza Kazi.
In a January 29, 2019 MMA Fighting piece titled, “Khabib Nurmagomedov receives nine-month suspension, $500K fine for role in UFC 229 brawl” by Alexander K. Lee, Nurmagomedov’s “suspension can be reduced by up to three months pending Nurmagomedov’s participation in an anti-bullying public service announcement that must be approved by the NAC.”
Long time MMA reporter Josh Gross reported via a January 29, 2019 Twitter post that Conor McGregor received a six-month suspension and $50K fine, while the Nurmagomedov team members who stormed the cage, Abubakar Nurmagomedov and UFC fighter Zubaira Tukhugov, both received one-year suspensions and $25k fines.
According to a January, 29 2019 cbssports.com article titled, “Conor McGregor, Khabib Nurmagomedov receive punishments stemming from UFC 229 brawl” by Brian Campbell, McGregor will be eligible to compete as early as April while Nurmagomedov could be eligible to return as early as July of this year. Campbell would go on to report, “Ali Abdelaziz, Nurmagomedov’s manager, told ESPN’s Ariel Helwani on Tuesday that his fighter will pay the fines for both of his teammates. He also complained about the differences in punishments between McGregor and Nurmagomedov. ‘I don’t think it’s fair,’ Abdelaziz said. “Khabib gets $500,000 and Conor gets $50,000?”
McGregor was coming off a nearly two year lay off prior to losing to Nurmagomedov, a period that saw the UFC two division champion score the opportunity of a lifetime to fight one of boxings all-time great champions in Floyd Mayweather Jr. (50-0), losing to Mayweather in 10 rounds by TKO in a crossover fight where Mayweather reportedly carried the Irishmen according to a December 7, 2017 ESPN “Pardon The Interruption” YouTube video upload featuring Mike Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser.
Nurmagomedov himself is now looking to win the lottery, according to a January 28, 2019 MMAfighing.com article titled, “Report: Joe Rogan ‘guarantees’ Khabib Nurmagomedov vs. Floyd Mayweather would sell ‘at least 1M PPV buys’ by Jeb Meshew, “Khabib has been teasing a potential crossover fight Mayweather since he submitted McGregor at UFC 229 and just last week, doubled down on the idea.”
This fight would absolutely resemble a real-life Rocky story, where an improbable fighter who doesn’t belong in there with the flamboyant, dominant champion manages to score the fight of a lifetime and takes the opportunity deadly serious while the rest of the world writes him off before the fight even occurs. Nurmagomedov would be coming to win, make no mistake about it, however unlikely his chances may actually seem to be. Mayweather is 50-0 for a reason, and should be able to handle the far less experienced mixed martial arts champion Nurmagomedov with relative ease considering it would be a professional boxing match but nobody told “The Eagle” that.
Bellator 214 in Review: Bader Stops Fedor
By: Jesse Donathan
There wasn’t a chance I would miss Fedor Emelianenko’s Bellator Heavyweight Grand-Prix tournament final fight against Ryan “Darth” Bader. It was quite possibly one Emelianenko’s last fights and it was for a major mixed martial arts title at the tail end of a storied career for “The Last Emperor” (38-6), who is without question one of the greatest mixed martial art fighters to ever live. The final fight of the night kicked off with the national anthems of both Russia and the United States honored, with an exceptional performance of The Star-Spangled Banner delivered before a ruckus patriotic crowd not shy about showing their support for the American Ryan Bader (27-5). For a brief moment in time, a very real Rocky IV Russia vs the United States atmosphere was captured in a quite honestly top-notch performance from the Bellator production crew and fortunately for everyone but the 42-year-old Emelianenko’s camp the following action inside the cage would not disappoint either.
The fight was violent and over fast, 35 seconds fast, and unfortunately for the legendary Russian Fedor Emelianenko it was not meant to be Saturday night as Ryan Bader cleaned “The Last Emperors” clock with a savage left hook that dropped the Russian where he stood in his tracks. Hurt badly, Emelianenko was quickly swarmed by “Darth” Bader before referee Mike Beltran rushed in to save the legendary Russian heavyweight from any further punishment. Emelianenko appeared busted up in his corner, having been caught flush by Bader who claimed the vacant Bellator heavyweight title by TKO and who is now the Bellator heavyweight Grand-Prix tournament finals champion.
Bader is now the first Bellator two division champion, simultaneously holding both the light heavyweight and heavyweight titles and cementing himself as among the most elite fighters in the sport today. Bader was a class act during his post-fight speech, praising the Russian legend and paying respects to one of the great champions of our time. It’s hard not to recognize just what kind of exceptional performance Bader has put on not just throughout his Bellator tenure, but really throughout his entire career. Bader has an incredible record, having lost only to the most elite fighters in the sport today. A victory over Emelianenko perhaps the greatest triumph in a storied, elite mixed martial arts career in his own right.
In other action Saturday night, heartbreak came to Aaron Pico (4-2) at Bellator 214, where the young mixed martial arts sensation was upset by the surging veteran Henry “OK” Corrales (17-3) who has now rattled off five straight victories and whom is now calling for an opportunity to rematch Patricio “Pitbull” Freire for the 145-pound Bellator featherweight title. Corrales was in trouble early, blasted by Pico with an upper cut in an absolute shootout but the veteran mixed martial artist would not be denied and fought back from adversity to separate the young 22-year-old Bellator prospect from consciousness in what is perhaps the biggest victory of the 32-year-old MMA Lab veterans’ career. Prior to Saturday night’s loss, Pico had rattled off four straight victories by knockout or technical knockout, relying on his boxing background to bring the fight to his opponents in violent, fisticuff fashion despite being an elite wrestler who tried out unsuccessfully for the 2016 U.S. Olympic team.
Pico may have gone out on his shield Saturday night, but when a fighter chooses to go to war and bring the violence as Pico does, he cements a reputation for himself as a striker to be feared and respected in the cage. In a sport where fighters have a lot of tools and options at their disposal, choosing to actively engage in a blitzkrieg like fashion guarantee’s he is a fan favorite and sure to be invited back to the big stage to compete again. Even in defeat, Pico makes my all-violence first team for being a game fighter willing to give the promotion and fans what they want to see. With legendary boxing trainer Freddie Roach in his corner Saturday night, Pico is in good hands and is sure to bounce back from Saturday nights disappointing loss to continue down the road of professional mixed martial arts prize fighting where anything can and often does happen.
In other news Saturday night, former WWE wrestling champion Jack Hager (Jack Swagger) took home his first professional mixed martial arts victory against the 41-year-old J.W. Kiser (0-2), winning by arm triangle choke submission in the first round at The Forum in Inglewood, California. A smaller heavyweight at 6’0, 220 pounds Kiser displayed good footwork in the cage and sprang like a Jack in the box in an attempt to flatten the larger Hager (1-0), but in the process allowed the former WWE star to cut off the cage. This tactical mistake turned out to be a very bad idea against an opponent with legitimate amateur wrestling credentials in Hager who was a two-sport athlete at the University of Oklahoma in both football and wrestling. Inevitably, Kiser was taken down and hit with some massive elbows which opened up the finishing arm triangle choke submission.
The Bellator MMA Heavyweight World Grand Prix Tournament Final
By: Jesse Donathan
The greatest fighter I have ever seen is Fedor Emelianenko. Also known as “The Last Emperor,” Emelianenko is a living legend in mixed martial arts circles. For me, what has always made Fedor so great was his propensity to win in the face of imminent defeat. The ability of Emelianenko to look nearly godlike while at the same time strikingly human. With few exceptions, Fedor is almost always the smaller man in the cage; it goes without saying that Emelianenko is a true giant killer. “The Last Emperor” will compete for the Bellator Heavyweight championship on January 26, 2019 against UFC veteran and current Bellator Light Heavyweight champion Ryan “Darth” Bader in the Bellator Heavyweight World Grand-Prix tournament final which will air on the Paramount channel this upcoming Saturday night.
“When Fedor Emelianenko—the baddest man on the planet—walks through the door, the first thing you notice about him is … he’s not all that big. The statistics list Fedor Emelianenko as 6 feet tall and 230 pounds, but even that seems a stretch,” writes Mark Jacobs in his March 2011 article for blackbeltmag.com titled “Up close with Fedor Emelianenko an MMA Legend.” According to Jacobs, Emelianenko began his martial arts studies at an early age in the Russian grappling art of Sambo before becoming a three-time world Sambo champion. Better known as the long-time reigning Pride FC mixed martial arts Heavyweight champion, according to an August 26 2018 article for espn.com titled, “Is Fedor Emelianenko the best ever?” ESPN SportsCenter host David Murphy believes “Fedor’s mystique is like Michael Jordan’s.” Murphy would go on to state that, “Fedor went unbeaten for nearly a decade in the most volatile division in the sport, with first-round finishes over former UFC champions Andrei Arlovski, Mark Coleman, Kevin Randleman and Tim Sylvia. In Pride alone, Fedor went 14-0 (1 NC), with 11 finishes.”
There is something special about Fedor Emelianenko. It’s the same thing that makes the lineal heavyweight boxing champion Tyson Fury great: the heart of a lion, as exemplified by Fury getting off the deck in the 12th round after being knocked unconscious by WBC Heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder. In a fight Fury was winning from early on, “The Gypsy King” was well on his way to victory until in the twelfth and final round Fury got his clock cleaned by a thunderous one-two combination from “The Bronze Bomber.” Fury, in a matter of seconds went from the next WBC Heavyweight champion of the world to knocked unconscious. And seemingly before our very eyes Fury returned from the dead, rising much the same as the legendary professional wrestler “The Undertaker” whose supernatural persona electrified audiences. Only Fury did it for real, rising from being knocked stone cold unconscious to going on to be competitive if not winning the remainder of the exchanges in the round.
This is the stuff legends are made of and it is a glimpse of what has made Emelianenko great from virtually the beginning of his career. The ability to look supernatural even in the face of being brought down to earth by opponents who themselves are tremendous fighters and athletes in their own right.
Throughout Fedor’s career he has routinely displayed the ability to come back from seemingly incontrovertible odds and seize victory from the jaws of defeat. Emelianenko truly does have the heart of a lion and it’s for these reasons alone he can never be counted out of a fight. If there ever was a fighter who fought with divinity in his corner, “The Last Emperor” is that athlete.
Ryan “Darth” Bader is “The Ultimate Fighter” season 8 winner and a 20 fight UFC veteran. An exceptional fighter that possesses power in both hands, Bader has a particularly effective left hook that has iced more than one opponent and therefor it needs to be accounted for at all times in the cage. Ryan has faced a murderer’s row of opponents at light heavyweight, only losing to some of the most dangerous fighters in the sport today. While not a particularly orthodox striker, Bader’s athleticism and fight acumen make him a game and dangerous opponent because his strong wrestling base means the looming threat of the take down is always present. Bader is a younger, fresher opponent than Emelianenko with an all-around mixed martial arts game that makes him a handful for even the toughest opponents.
With a current six fight win streak, including two consecutive victories in the Bellator Heavyweight Word Grand-Prix tournament against Muhammed Lawal and Matt Mitrione, Bader has a chance to become the first two division champion in Bellator history and cement his rightful spot as among the top fighters in the sport today against an opponent nearly universally renowned as the best to ever do it. In a December 22, 2018 mmafighting.com article by Guilherme Cruz titled, “Coach details path to victory for Ryan Bader against Fedor Emelianenko” coach Jair Lourenco believes the keys to victory for Bader are speed, not allowing Fedor to become comfortable in the cage and perhaps most importantly not giving the Russian so much respect that it effects Bader’s own game plan.
For Emelianenko, eating lightning and crapping thunder is the key to victory. The Russian legend needs to nullify the athleticism of the younger Bader, 35, stop the takedown and showcase his diversified mixed martial arts skillset. Fedor possesses both the ability to stop Bader on the feet or submit him with Emelianenko’s world class combat Sambo grappling background. Though Emelianenko is many years past his physical prime, this is the Bellator Heavyweight World Grand-Prix tournament final. Even at his advanced age of 42, to make it this far in the tournament proves the Russian legend is still a very dangerous opponent.
This is a legacy fight for both fighters, though they enjoy very different positions in the hierarchy of greatness. For Emelianenko, he is already widely considered the greatest mixed martial arts fighter to ever live. A victory Saturday night will only serve to further cement his reputation as a fighter who managed to transcend generations and recapture a modern, major heavyweight title even when there was nothing left to prove. The fact he is even in the tournament final in 2019 proves what kind of sportsman he is; win, lose or draw Fedor will always be remembered as the great champion that he is. For Bader, this is an opportunity to become a two-division champion and defeat one of the greatest fighters of our time. Already a Bellator Light Heavyweight champion, to capture the Bellator Heavyweight title against “The Last Emperor” is an opportunity every fighter dream of and is without question the kind of victory to hang your hat on. Tune in Saturday night, January 26, 2019 to the Bellator Heavyweight World Grand-Prix tournament final featured on the Paramount channel and bring your popcorn; win or lose this is among our last chances to see a true legend compete at the highest levels in the sport today.
UFC 232 In Review: The Outer Limits
By: Jesse Donathan
They say where there is smoke, there is fire. The oddities surrounding former UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones’s UFC 232 to rematch against Alexander Gustafsson has left me with the distinct feeling we have entered The Twilight Zone. If money is the root of all evil, then the absolutely bizarre circumstances leading up to the UFC 232 rematch between Jones and Gustafsson must mean the devil is laughing all the way to the bank. While the circus like exhibition didn’t just start in the lead up to UFC 232, but it has certainly manifested itself on full display for the public at large to observe and revel in its glorious insanity.
Searching for a good place to start, we look no further than Bad Guy Inc. CEO, former UFC middleweight title contender Chael Sonnen’s September 5, 2018 YouTube podcast excerpt titled, “Tainted Supplements, USUDA, Jon Jones and Madison Square Garden” where Sonnen elaborates on his personal experience in violating these same rules Jon Jones is accused of and his opinion on Jon Jones’s ultimate fate under the regulatory body’s disciplinary guidelines.
To tie this back in with Jon Jones, if he had a tainted supplement, they would be able within precedent to allow him to fight earlier than the two-year ban which would bring you which would be the four would be the minimum ban for a repeat offender which would bring you the summer of 2019. I don’t know of any other way that they could possibly find a way around it. I just don’t know. I will be learning something when and if they do it and I am predicting they will do it.
According to a September 20, 2018 cbssports.com article by Jake Crosby titled, “Jon Jones receives retroactive 15-month USADA suspension, eligible for UFC return in 2018” Jones was ultimately cleared to compete after it was ruled his positive test was the result of a tainted substance through no fault of his own.
The arbitrator found that Jones never intentionally or knowingly took steroids, and the result of the positive test was the result of a contaminated substance,” White said. “The science completely supports that finding. The science doesn’t lie, so I look forward to getting him back early next year.
Bloodyelbow.com mixed martial arts journalist Mookie Alexander remarked of the sentence, “absolute madness that this case has taken such a wacky turn,” in his September 19, 2018 piece titled, “Jon Jones gets 15-month USADA ban for Turinabol, eligible to return as early as UFC 230.” While getting his Jheri curls trimmed up down at the barbershop, “The Gangster from West Linn” Chael Sonnen remarked that he found the entire episode surrounding Jones’s sentence confusing according to his September 28, 2018 video “Was Jon Jones actually found innocent?”
There’s a three-strike rule with USADA and Jon already had a strike so this will be strike two. If he was in fact found innocent then it means he does not have a strike. And nowhere in that do I interpret that he was found innocent, but he used that word and it was a very confusing and surprising deliberation to start with.
Sonnen would later go on to say via YouTube on September 28, 2018 in his podcast video excerpt titled “Did Jones receive a reduced sentence then refuse to fight at MSG?” that Jones’s reduced sentence was just in time for the UFC’s main event at the Madison Square Garden card against Alexander Gustafsson but Jones refused the fight. They were trying to rush Jones right in against a very serious opponent in Gustafsson and the Jones camp was having no part of it.
They tried to make Gustafsson vs Jones. They tried to do that fight. Jon Jones got cleared, everybody went through the hoops, everybody did everything that they were supposed to do. Jon Jones didn’t want to do the fight that fast. Jon Jones did not want to go in and do the fight that fast.
Fast forward to UFC 232, Jones was finally set to rematch Alexander Gustafsson after leaving the UFC holding the ball at UFC 230 at Madison Square Gardens. This after receiving a reduced sentence after violating USADA anti-doping rules and then the unthinkable happened, again. According to a Washington Post article by Des Bieler titled, “UFC 232 hastily moved to Los Angeles after a Jon Jones drug test gets flagged in Nevada” Jon Jones has once again tested positive for the steroid Turinabol” and utter chaos ensued as a result. The Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) refused to license Jones and the entire event had to be relocated to an area just outside of Los Angeles, California where Jones could be licensed by the California State Athletic Commission despite the NSAC’s better judgement.
The catch is that Jones won’t be able to compete in Nevada, where UFC 232 was set to take place on Saturday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Instead, the entire event — comprising 13 fights in all, including a titanic battle between Cris Cyborg and Amanda Nunes — will be hastily moved to the Los Angeles-area Forum.
As if things couldn’t get any weirder, news breaks that referee Herb Dean has suffered an unspecified injury and is out of the UFC 232 circus act. According to Sherdog.com’s Tristen Critchfield’s December 26, 2018 article, “Mike Beltran Replaces Injured Herb Dean to Referee UFC 232 Main Event” that Dean, the NSAC’s originally assigned referee has went down and is out for the count.
According to a report from MMAFighting.com, Mike Beltran will replace Herb Dean as the official for the light heavyweight championship clash between Jones and Alexander Gustafsson. Dean, who was appointed by the Nevada Athletic Commission, suffered an injury and will not be able to work on Saturday night at the Forum in Inglewood, Calif. UFC 232 was moved from Las Vegas to California when the NAC declined to license Jones.
Just when you think things couldn’t get any more bizarre, enter the UFC press conference leading up to the December 29 fight where the side show between the UFC and the MMA press corps was on full display. According to a December 27, 2018 bloodyelbow.com article written by Tim Burke titled, “UFC 232: Jon Jones rips female reporter for asking about positive tests: ‘Better journalism, you suck’” we find the bizarre nature surrounding UFC 232 simply knows no end.
When Izabelle Kostic of Swedish MMA outlet Kimura.se asked “How come this is the third time we’re actually taking focus from the fighters and the fights and talking about what you have in your body? Whether it’s a picogram or a pictogram, why have you tested now positive?”, Jones brushed it off and just said “next question” with a smile.
While watching the press conference video from the safety of my computer, if I didn’t know any better, I would have thought there were professional agent provocateurs mingled amongst the crowd whose job it was to heckle and intimidate members of the press corps who may have been bold enough to ask legitimate questions concerning the completely bizarre events in the lead up to UFC 232. Swiss journalist Izabelle Kostic unfortunately received a first-hand lesson in how big-league sports politics are practiced and the extent in which the sports entertainment industry will go to deflect criticism and attempt to turn the tables on those questioning the perception of impropriety.
“Jones closed it out by saying “Better journalism, you suck,” writes Burke of the Swiss journalist Kostic’s experiences at the UFC 232 press conference with Jon Jones as Dana White lead the circus in undermining the veracity of the questions and the seriousness of the situation from the podium. Interestingly, news broke on December 27, 2018 that, “In the wake of a controversial drug test prior to UFC 232 involving Jon Jones, the UFC has renewed their contract with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency,” writes Nicole Bosco in her article titled “UFC, USADA contract extended, drug tests to increase” for fansided.com.
With Jones allegedly receiving a reduced sentence under the USADA regulatory guidelines only to leave the UFC out in the cold at UFC 230 in Madison Square Garden it is fascinating to explore the UFC’s renewed contract with USADA after Jones tests positive again for residual amounts of the same substance he was previously sanctioned for. The resulting penalty little more than the NSAC’s refusal to license Jones in the state of Nevada, forcing the UFC to relocate to California just outside Los Angeles and burdening many of those who had made previous plans to attend UFC 232 in Vegas. And in a bizarre twist of fate, with a new venue change in comes a new referee change as well.
Even the appearance of impropriety should be staunchly avoided, especially when your job is to add credibility to a sport whose reputation is that of one saturated in illegal performance enhancing drug use. According to a December 28, 2018 mymmanews.com article by Mike Pendleton, the “California State Athletic Commission was not informed of Jon Jones’s test findings before the license hearing in December” in a convenient all too transparent excuse as to why a fight with millions of dollars on the line is still being allowed to continue as scheduled despite a positive test for performance enhancing drugs as the regulatory bodies apparently look on and attempt to justify and excuse it. Pendleton would go on to write, “when asked why CSAC was not informed of the findings before their December 11th hearing with Jones”, the UFC Vice President of Athlete Health and Development Jeff Novitzky replied:
Nevada knew at that time, but California didn’t. I mean, in hindsight, maybe USADA should have told CSAC. I’m definitely a proponent in as much transparency as possible. Unfortunately, how do you think of every scenario? I think in USADA’s mind, they had no obligation to let Nevada know about this at all. It wasn’t within their jurisdiction. I think out of an abundance of caution, they did it. Could they have given it to CSAC as well? I think potentially.
In a December 28, 2018 mmafighting.com article by Marc Raimondi titled, “CSAC was not given Jon Jones adverse finding information before December hearing” Raimondi followed up on Novitzky’s hindsight being 20/20, stating, “Foster confirmed with MMA Fighting on Friday that CSAC had no knowledge of the adverse findings until last week. He declined to comment further.”
Figuratively speaking, the circus has rolled into town. UFC 232 has been reduced to a side show attraction where even the regulatory bodies tasked with protecting the fighters are ridiculously inept to the point of suspicion. While this event may resemble an outer limits plot, in my opinion what it actually represents are the wheels of the machine being set in motion in order to funnel the direction of the winds into a particular path and direction. What is easily explained away by buffoonery and a genuine lack of class are in fact the shroud masking the men behind the curtain dutifully at work to set the stage for the events finale.
With Jon Jones’s immediate future in prize fighting very much in doubt, he managed to pull a rabbit out of a hat and miraculously his initial positive test for steroids in 2017 was ruled the result of a tainted supplement. With his eligibility to compete reinstated just in time for UFC 230, Jones leaves the UFC high and dry at Madison Square Garden’s forcing a last second main event fight between Daniel Cormier and Derrick Lewis after Jones declined to headline the card against Gustafsson in the rematch. To the amazement of nearly everyone, Jones once again test positive for the same steroid he was previously sanctioned for in 2017 and the UFC, USADA and even the athletic commissions themselves in two states are complicit in licensing and sanctioning a bout with a fighter who has absolutely, positively tested positive for a banned substance. Instead of a zero-tolerance policy, there appears to be room for performance enhancing drugs in the sport of mixed martial arts after all.
In keeping with UFC 232’s theme, ESPN mixed martial arts reporter Brett Okamoto described the Cat Zingano fight with Megan Anderson via twitter as an, “extremely bizarre finish.” Noting that it, “looks like Megan Anderson’s toe went into Cat Zingano’s eye in a head kick attempt and she stopped fighting. That’s not like an eye poke. Zingano turned around and stopped, fight is over. First round TKO.” UFC Hall of famer BJ Penn was made short work of by Brazilian Jiujitsu phenom Ryan Hall who caught Penn in a highlight reel Imanari style heel hook submission to seal the deal early in the first round. A passing of the guard occurred Saturday night at UFC 232 as well as bantamweight champion Amanda Nunes torched feared perennial powerhouse Cris Cyborg to capture the women’s featherweight title and become the first two division women’s champion in UFC history. The main event, to absolutely no one’s surprise saw Jon Jones convincingly out work Alexander Gustafsson in route to a third-round technical knockout victory to recapture the UFC light heavyweight title and bring to close this circus side show attraction of an event that will surely continue to smolder long after the lights go out.
A Closer Look at Performance Enhancing Drugs in Sports
By: Jesse Donathan
“He tested positive again!” Those were the words I was greeted with upon logging on to twitter Sunday, December 23 and seeing the first message of the day from UFC two division champion Daniel Cormier. Unfortunately, Cormier didn’t even need to elaborate any further. Those four short words said it all. Subconsciously, we all knew who Daniel was talking about without needing any further explanation. He of course was talking about Jon “Bones” Jones. Widely considered the best fighter in the sport, according to a December 23, 2018 Jack Crosby article from cbssports.com titled, “UFC 232 moved to Los Angeles after Jon Jones drug test includes miniscule amount of banned substance” Jones has tested positive for performance enhancing drugs once again though he has not been suspended and his title fight against Alexander Gustafsson remains as previously scheduled.
An abnormality in a pre-fight drug test taken by former UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones has forced UFC to move Saturday’s UFC 232 pay-per-view from Las Vegas to just outside of Los Angeles. Jones’s drug test showed a trace amount of Turinabol, the banned substance that saw him suspended 15 months by the United States Anti-Doping Agency, remained in his system. The USADA referred to it as “an extremely low level,” concluding that it is a residual amount “from his prior exposure for which he was previously sanctioned.
In an espn.com article from Brett Okamato, “Jon Jones subject to drug testing from USADA, VADA” published on December 24, 2018 Okamato reports that as a result of the “atypical” anti-doping test results Jones will be enrolling into VADA testing, testing Jones had initially elected not to participate in, drawing widespread criticism before this latest flagged test result. Okamato would go on to write:
Jon Jones, as of Monday afternoon, is subject to drug testing from both the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (VADA).
According to California State Athletic Commission executive director Andy Foster, Jones, 31, enrolled in the VADA program on Monday. As a UFC athlete, he is still enrolled in the promotion’s mandatory USADA program as well, making him the first MMA fighter to be enrolled to both programs at the same time.
Jones is no stranger to banned substances, as described above this latest positive test for miniscule amounts of Turinabol are alleged to be trace deposits from the last positive test which Jones failed over a year ago. According to a September 13, 2017 article, “Jon Jones’ B sample confirms failed drug test from UFC 214” written by the BBC, “USADA confirmed that Jones had tested positive for an anabolic steroid called Turinabol, just one day before he defeated Daniel Cormier in Anaheim to reclaim the UFC’s light-heavyweight title.
Jones has denied knowingly taking the banned substance, and requested the test of his B sample, but this has now confirmed presence of Turinabol.” This latest December 2018 “atypical” result is alleged to be from this previous 2017 offense. Mixed martial arts journalist Dave Meltzer of The Wresting Observer isn’t so sure, stating via twitter social media on December 24, 2018 that, “when the same expert says a substance can only be detected for 6 weeks in 2017 and then tells you it was detected 17 months later in 2018, that tells me the “expert” may be smart, but also may be a con.”
Originally reported by Aaron Bronsteter, UFC content editor for The Sports News (TSN) via twitter, Jones tested at 60 picograms per milliliter on December 9, 2018. Interestingly enough, according to Bronsteter Jones originally tested positive back in 2017 for the same banned substance of between 20-80 picograms per milliliter. In other words, Jones’s most recent “atypical” flagged test is within the same range of his 2017 failed urinalysis for which he was originally sanctioned. Yet, Jones’s fight with Gustaffson remains as previously scheduled despite the NSAC’s refusal to license Jones. Rather questionably, the California State Athletic Commission is signing off on this fight when the Nevada State Athletic Commission would not, as the UFC bends over backwards to make sure the fight continues as scheduled.
According to a NCBI.gov article titled, “The pharmacokinetics of Oral-Turinabol in humans” originally published in September of 1991 by Schumann, W. oral-Turinabol has a terminal half-life of 16 hours. For those who may not be familiar with the term half-life, it is defined by Merriam-Webster’s dictionary as, “the time required for half the amount of a substance (such as a drug, radioactive tracer, or pesticide) in or introduced into a living system or ecosystem to be eliminated or disintegrated by natural processes.” Note, it’s been over a year since Jones’s original positive test.
In a July 7, 2016 Associated Press report at the nydailynews titled, “Tearful Jon Jones denies taking PEDs after positive test blows up UFC 200’s main event” Jones was reportedly adamant that, “he (had) no idea why his June 16 test would yield a violation after he passed seven other doping tests this year.” It was later revealed that Jones had tested positive for the anti-estrogen blocker clomiphene and the aromatase inhibitor Letrozole according to Marc Raimondi of mmafighting.com in his July 23, 2016 article titled, “Brock Lesnar tested positive for anti-estrogen; Lesnar, Jon Jones won’t face UFC fine.”
In a January 8, 2015 Ariel Helwani article for mmafighting.com, “Nevada Athletic Commission head: Jon Jones’ testosterone clean prior to UFC 182; carbon isotope ratio test conducted” we find some invaluable information in understanding the parallel world of doping in combat sports. In explaining testosterone to the reader, Helwani heads to WebMD to define testosterone as “the “male” hormone accounting for strength and endurance.” The WebMD definition goes on to state “for every molecule of testosterone produced by the body, another molecule of a substance called epitestosterone, which does not enhance performance, is made.” In examining some of the criteria set forth by regulatory bodies in mixed martial arts, the Helwani article would go on to explain that:
In a normal male body, the ratio of testosterone to epitestosterone, the T/E ratio, is about 1:1. But variation can occur in individuals, and the World Anti-Doping Code has deemed 4:1 as the threshold for a positive test.”
Note: Nevada’s threshold is 6:1.
This is some information worth sitting on and examining closer, because these ratios are incredible in comparison to the data we previously broke down barney style. Though I admittedly only had a C average when I graduated with a Bro-Science degree in English, the fact “the World Anti-Doping Code has deemed 4:1 as the threshold for a positive test,” seems to me to be a piece of information too incredible to skip over. There is nothing to see here people… move along!
If 1:1 is our baseline for normal, athletes could potentially have a 3:1 ratio of testosterone molecules made to every molecule of epitestosterone and still be well within the acceptable range of the World Anti-Doping Code and therefor passing the test with flying colors. That is literally three times what is considered normal and the scary part is that only a 4:1 ratio is considered a positive test. Understanding this information alone puts the performance enhancing drug question in combat sports in an entirely different light. If you are normal male athlete with a 1:1 T/E ratio you may think twice about stepping in there with another normal athlete who has a T/E ratio of 3:1 or even greater. Suddenly, the question of performance enhancing drugs in sports moves from the lens and perspective of cheating to an entirely new premise of leveling out the playing field.
According to Dr. Johnny Benjamin of mmajunkie.com, a noted medical combat-sports specialist, in his April 5, 2012 article titled, “Medical Beat: What are T:E ratios? And why do cut off limits vary?” ethnicity and other variables can play a role in T:E ratios.
Most men have a ratio of T to E of 1:1, which means normal men have equal amounts of T and E in their blood. There is some normal ethnic and time of day variation in the normal T/E ratio (as low as 0.7:1 and as high as 1.3:1).
Statistics reveal that a ratio of up to 3.7:1 will capture 95 percent of all normal men, and a ratio of up to 5:1 will capture greater than 99 percent of all men. That’s why the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) allows up to 4:1 (so its test is at least 95 percent accurate) and the Nevada State Athletic Commission, the NCAA and some others allow up to 6:1 (for 99 percent accuracy).
Flashing back to Helwani’s January 2015 article, he would go on write about Jon Jones’s flagged urinalysis sample:
So 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.
When our baseline is a 1:1 ratio, punching that information into the calculator still returns a result of one when you attempt to divide 1 by itself. Notice where Jon Jones’s decimal point is, we aren’t talking about 2.9 here. We are talking about 0.29, followed by 0.35 and incredibly on December 18 he tested out at 0.19. Jones was on his way to ruling the women’s UFC light heavyweight division until his dying day with those kinds of results. Helwani later writes, “by contrast, Daniel 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.” Even Daniel Cormier’s numbers are well below the 1:1 ratio considered as the baseline for normal testosterone to epitestosterone molecule production according to the WebMD synopsis originally provided by Helwani. While Jones’s test was the more suspicious between the two, there is no question Cormier is testing well below the normal threshold by regulatory body standards.
The World Anti-Doping code provides leeway up to a 4:1 ratio, the Nevada State Athletic Commission 6:1 according to Helwani and both Jones and Cormier are testing out with their decimal points on the wrong side of the calculations. Instead of testing for a high testosterone to low ratio epitestosterone, their decimal points are on the wrong side of the dotted line. In my opinion, both athletes have curiously low T/E ratios, however with Jones being the more questionable between the two he seemed to get the vast majority of negative publicity surrounding the testing results. In a seemingly real-life Jedi Mind trick, Nevada State Athletic Commission executive director Bob Bennet was quoted by Helwani as stating that, “there’s no problem with Daniel, trust me.”
Putting things into perspective here, according to an April 5, 2012 article by Jesse Holland of mmamania.com titled, “Report: Alistair Overeem T/E ratio comes back a whopping 14:1 following failed drug test” manipulating an athlete’s testosterone to epitestosterone ratio is a known performance enhancement technique in competitive sports and one which is exploited by athletes in combat sports.
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Heavyweight number one contender Alistair Overeem, who flunked a surprise drug test in advance of his UFC 146 title fight opposite Junior dos Santos on May 26 in Las Vegas, has returned a staggering testosterone-to-epitestosterone (T/E) ratio of 14:1 in his failed urine test, according to Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) Executive Director Keith Kizer.
Holland would go to write, “by comparison, Chael Sonnen’s T/E ratio following his failed urine test in the wake of his middleweight title fight in the UFC 117 main event back in October 2010, was 16.9:1.” Let that sink in for a second, 16.9 molecules of testosterone per one molecule of epitestosterone. In a universe where 1:1 is considered the baseline normal ratio, that’s simply unfathomable. Those are the kinds of numbers that would make Lance Armstrong blush. And according to Nevada State Athletic Director Bob Bennett Daniel Cormier competing at .40:1 and .48:1 isn’t a problem? “These are not the droids you’re looking for,” echo’s Obi Wan Kenobi in a galaxy, far, far away.
Yet, Jon Jones’s .29:1 and .35:1 ratio is a problem? With a third test ordered for Jon Jones and Jones only on December 18th with an astonishingly low .19:1 T/E ratio result obviously raising red flags on top of red flags. These are the T/E ratios I would expect from an adolescent child, yet they are the results of performance enhancing drug tests for two of the world’s leading mixed martial arts champions?
Astonishingly, in a July 1997 report by Werner W. Franke and Brigette Berondonk, “Hormonal doping and androgenization of athletes: a secret program of the German Democratic Republic government” published at Clinical Chemistry we find a wonderfully insightful and behind the scenes look at the world of pharmaceutical based athletic performance enhancing drug use. Describing the East German Democratic Republics (GDR) state sponsored doping program, Franke and Berondonk wrote of one of the GDR symposium’s goals to evade increased scrutiny by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) by administering, “testosterone as well as dihydrotestosterone by nasal spray, especially in those events in which the psychotropic effects of testosterone, such as increased aggressiveness, are considered important, as well as to evade the doping tests.”
In a fascinating and insightful look at the corruption within the regulatory bodies, Werner and Berondonk describe how situations deemed embarrassing or too damaging for some nations, regulatory bodies, promotions or athletes were simply covered up.
Finally, however, even when an athlete of the GDR, or another socialist country, was tested at a risky moment, i.e., when her or his urine was expected to still contain metabolites of synthetic steroids or an above-normal T:E ratio, there was no reason to panic. From the written records, it appears that, usually, one of the members of the international doping control committee was able to clear away the sample. For example, the Stasi reports from Höppner, who served many years on control committees, describe when and how he covered up certain drug-positive cases and arranged falsely negative findings, often after consultation with a ZK member; if worst came to worst, he acted directly by carrying out a urine exchange.
It’s unreal that Jon Jones has tested positive, again, yet reportedly for residual amounts from a previously failed test which he has already been sanctioned for. Contributing to the madness is the fact Jones is reportedly unable to be sanctioned by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, so the UFC has moved the entire show to just outside Los Angeles, California where Jones can be sanctioned by the California State Athletic Commission. The logistics involved for this kind of move, the money lost, and tremendous burden put on nearly everyone who had planned on attending the event in Las Vegas, with flights and hotels booked etc. is simply mind blowing.
There is plenty of blame to go around here. While Jones is the obvious target, how is it just days before the fight with Gustafsson this trace amount of Turinabol was only now discovered? If anything, this latest embarrassment for Jones only shines the light on the ineptitude of regulatory bodies and their administrative policies which ultimately lead to public relations nightmares just like this latest positive test by Jones for a performance enhancing drug he had been previously sanctioned on over a year ago now. Its time for additional oversight and reform in the combat sports entertainment industry.
Is This A Real Fight Or Just A Money Grab?
By: Hans Themistode
For the 5,000th time Floyd Mayweather (50-0, 27 KOs) will once again come out of retirement to step back in to the world of combat. This time however will be a bit different as Floyd will be taking on kickboxing sensation Tenshin Nasukawa in a three round exhibition matchup on New Years Eve in Japan.
Are we supposed to believe this is a true fight like Floyd’s 49 victories? Or is it more along the lines of his 50th?
You remember the 50th fight of Floyd’s career don’t you?
It was against none other than UFC star fighter Conor McGregor. The matchup was built up to be a real fight and the toughest of his career. Fans all around the world soaked it in. After all Floyd was at the time 40 years of age and two years removed from his last professional fight. Conor on the other hand was not only much younger but he was also the significantly bigger man as well.
With that being said, those that knew boxing understood that Connor had no chance of winning that bout.
Floyd proceeded to do what many knew he would do. Punish Connor. Sure there were a few tough moments for Floyd but he still managed to bully and ultimately stop Connor in the 10th round. There was no doubt as to who would win that matchup.
Does his contest against Tenshin Nasukawa fall into the category of more farce than fight? Not quite.
So am I saying that this will be more along the lines of Floyd’s first 49 fights of his career? His resume is one of the very best ever. He has defeated a who’s who of all-time great boxers such as Oscar De La Hoya, Shane Mosley, Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto to name a few. Should you place this bout amongst those?
No. This contest won’t be in the same stratosphere as those contest were.
So where does that leave us?
It seems as though we are right in the middle.
To many this is viewed as a money grab and rightfully so. It is after all a three round exhibition match that win, lose or draw won’t count on either mans record.
Now I really know what you’re thinking. This is absolutely a money grab right? Listen, with Floyd everything boils down to money. However, his opponent Tenshin Nasukawa is a real fighter. By the age of 18 he had already accumulated a kickboxing record of 99-5. His kickboxing record is 26-0. He has also managed to win many titles along the way. The word phenom is thrown around loosely but that would best describe Tenshin Nasukawa.
The details of exactly how much Floyd is expected to pocket from this contest remains a mystery. The money man has stated on numerous occasions over the years that it would take a nine figure payday to get him to fight again so we can assume that he will possibly receive about the same for this bout.
So once again is this a money grab? Yes and no?
For Floyd “Money” Mayweather it absolutely is. He lives a lavish lifestyle. Owns numerous expensive properties and some of the most exotic cars you can think of. With that being said, that kind of lifestyle is a hard one to keep up with. If Floyd viewed this as something more than just a cash grab then he wouldn’t care if this fight showed up on his record. It is perceived as an easy win, right?
The one thing Floyd cares about more than money is that shiny 0 in his loss column. To risk that against a complete unknown is something he will never place a price tag on. Knowing that record won’t be affected regardless of the outcome is a win-win situation for Floyd.
Who cares what happens.
Tenshin Nasukawa cares.
This is the biggest contest of his career and he will be looking to put on an absolute show. A win for him (albeit not counting record wise) will change his life forever. Floyd will still walk around with a spotless record but the taste of defeat will still be there.
For one man this is just an easy way to make nine figures once again. For the other it is his chance to make history.
Khabib vs. McGregor in Boxing?
By: Michael Kane
Conor McGregor fought UFC Lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov in October, and was convincingly defeated. McGregor would like a rematch and so it seems would Khabib Nurmagomedov’s father.
Only next time in a boxing ring.
After the Dagestani’s win, he called out Floyd Mayweather, Mayweather said the fight may happen and that he could make more money fighting Khabib than he did when he beat McGregor in the 10th round last year.
The rumours on this potential match up have gone quiet and now it seems Khabib and his team still fancy a boxing bout against his old foe, McGregor.
Whether this would hold much appeal to boxing aficionados around the world is debatable however, could it launch the much talked about entrance to the boxing world of Zuffa Boxing?
Speaking to Russian newspaper, Izvestia, Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov said, “As for the fight against Conor under boxing rules, this is a fight we are interested in. Khabib showed that he is able to beat the best strikers of mixed martial arts.
“He said this before, but few believed it. However, after strong victories over Michael Johnson, Edson Barboza and Conor, people begin to believe.”
Nurmagomedov knocked McGregor to the canvas in the second round of their bout at UFC 229 and may have taken some confidence that He could out strike the Irishman.
“Nurmagomedov is able to do it in the boxing ring. Khabib has all the skills to win by the rules of boxing. One of the key skills can be called endurance.
“I remember his five round fight with (Al) Iaquinta, in which Khabib showed his willingness to fight in absolutely any area, using everything from a left jab to control on the ground. I want to note that the fight against Iaquinta was of great importance to us, there was a belt at stake and it was important to keep the bout calm and take the win. Which we did!”
Combatant in Chief: The Story of Donald Trump and Combat Sports Debuts on UFC Fight Pass on Wednesday, November 14th
UFC®, the world’s premier mixed martial arts organization, continues its celebration of the company’s silver anniversary with the ongoing release of a 25-part documentary series entitled UFC 25 Years in Short. The compilation of short films represents 25 captivating UFC stories, one for each year of the promotion’s existence, that examine UFC’s amazing evolution, fascinating characters, and lasting influence. UFC 25 Years in Short streams on UFC FIGHT PASS®, the promotion’s digital subscription streaming service.
“COMBATANT IN CHIEF: The Story of Donald Trump and Combat Sports”
When Donald Trump opened his Atlantic City casino to the struggling UFC, it was the start of an unlikely friendship between the current POTUS and UFC president Dana White.
Directed by Adam Condal and Michael Hayden.
Premiere Date: Wednesday, November 14 at 12 a.m. PT / 3 a.m. ET
The history of UFC and President Donald Trump are intertwined, as President Trump played a pivotal role in legitimizing UFC and the sport of Mixed Martial Arts. Trump Taj Mahal hosted UFC 30 in Atlantic City in February 2001, making it the first UFC event held by new owners Zuffa, LLC, which purchased the promotion in January that year. UFC 30 was also the first state-sanctioned UFC event held in New Jersey. UFC returned to Trump Taj Mahal in May 2001 with UFC 31, the first UFC event held under the new Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts, which the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board had adopted a month earlier.
Crisis Aborted for Floyd Mayweather
By: Kirk Jackson
It appears the highly publicized bout between Floyd Mayweather and Tenshin Nasukawa will not manifest after all.
Mayweather shocked the world earlier this week, revealing he signed with Japanese mixed martial arts promotions company RIZIN Fighting Federation, to fight 20-year-old Japanese kick boxer Tenshin Nasukawa on New Year’s Eve in Japan.
But the fight, Mayweather now claims, is void. He has called it off. In an Instagram statement now deleted, after he had left Japan and flown back to the US, Mayweather claimed he had been duped and that the fight was meant to be an exhibition for “a small group of wealthy spectators.”
Obviously there’s much to dissect and digest as there is a bit of confusion as to the original terms and conditions of the proposed bout, and what resulted in cancellation.
Fortunately for us terms of the contract leaked out.
The original rules of combat were never released to the public – being as it seemed they weren’t agreed to upon completion of the contract, or at the very least there was a lack of transparency from one side of the negotiating table. This lack of transparency was hinted on Mayweather’s Instagram page.
“Ultimately, I was asked to participate in a 9 minute exhibition of 3 rounds with an opponent selected by the ‘Rizen Fighting Federation,” Mayweather’s Instagram stated.
“What I was originally informed of by Brent Johnson of ‘One Entertainment’ was that this was to be an exhibition put on for a small group of wealthy spectators for a very large fee. This exhibition was previously arranged as a ‘Special Bout’ purely for entertainment purposes with no intentions of being represented as an official fight card nor televised worldwide.”
According to Mayweather, the press conference he and Nasukawa held earlier in the week to discuss the fight caught him and his team off-guard because of the details discussed. Mayweather claims they did not speak up at the press conference because they didn’t want to create a disturbance.
For his part Mayweather has since apologized to his fans again via Instagram.
“I can assure you that I too was completely blindsided by the arrangements that were being made without my consent nor approval. For the sake of the several fans and attendees that flew in from all parts of the world to attend this past press conference, I was hesitant to create a huge disturbance by combating what was being said and for that I am truly sorry.”
Now that the dust settled, even though this is an opportunity lost, it’s also an opportunity gained. In spite of the criticism from fellow boxing promoters, jealous mixed martial arts fighters, writers and even some boxers, this is a win for Mayweather and illustrates his command in the combat world.
Again for a moment in time, he illustrates the ability to command attention and command the big bucks in case there were those doubting.
He is doing the things that Conor McGregor and Canelo Alvarez want to do. He sets trends and breaks ground, but because of who he is, he doesn’t warrant the positive attention that comes with it.
Any publicity negative or positive is still publicity and keeps your name in the news cycle. People in the United States and worldwide now know of Nasukawa and RIZIN.
Mayweather has the attention he seeks.
Not to count another person’s pockets, as it’s uncertain if Mayweather needs the money, but this is more so a testament to the attention and potential amount of money that can be earned. The cherry on top is if he can make this amount of money with the minimal amount of risk.
Which is something Mayweather has been accused from by his critics regardless in spite of the weight classes climbed, the challenges he overcame, the twenty-plus world champions and multiple Hall of Famers he defeated.
But let this be a lesson learned to fully read through the terms and conditions of a contract before signing off and agreeing.
As mentioned earlier, all eyes again re on Mayweather, so what’s next?
Who is Tenshin Nasukawa, Floyd Mayweather’s Next Opponent?
By: Oliver McManus
Floyd Mayweather is set to return to the ring on December 31st, in Tokyo, against an MMA superstar… no, it’s not Khabib Nurmagomedov but rather Tenshin Nasukawa – the 20 year old Japanese kickboxer.
The question on many fight fans lips is “just who is Tenshin Nasukawa?” and it’s a very valid point because few outside of Japan will have heard of the diminutive figure – standing 5ft5in – but let’s try and establish some facts about him.
photo Credit: Nobuyuki Sakakibara Twitter Account
A two weight champion within RISE, Nasukawa has held belts at flyweight and featherweight with that particular organisation and was the 2017 RIZIN kickboxing featherweight champion so he has pedigree.
Enrolled by his father into a karate class aged five, Nasukawa soon turned his attention to kickboxing – where he honed a natural aggression and power. Having dedicated himself to the sport, the youngster accrued 111 amateur contests with a mere five losses before turning professional.
That power I talked about is evidenced by his 22 knockouts as a professional with a particularly pleasing flying knee against Yamato Fujita – funnily enough on New Years Eve last year – but he’s well-rounded enough to be able to finish opponents via punches and submissions.
Of course we don’t know the rule set or the weight category being stipulated for December 31st but if, as many believe, it will be a cross-over of both MMA and boxing then you’d expect this to play into the favour of Nasukawa who, despite his age, is one of the most experienced and mature fighters around.
He is no stranger to mixing it with professional boxers, nor with coming out on top, owing to a contest he had in February last year with, former IBF champion, Amnat Ruenroeng. As part of KNOCK OUT Vol. 1, Nasukawa emerged victorious with a sumptuous left hook to the body in the fourth round.
Fighting is in his blood and his sister – Riri – is already making waves in the professional ranks despite being just 16 years of age. She made her debut in June, a winning start, and will next compete on November 11th, having racked up 33 fights as an amateur with a 90% win rate.
A surprise to many in the MMA / boxing community who, largely, were expecting either MayPac 2 or Mayweather-Nurmagomedov to take place, Tenshin admitted he was caught a little off guard by the offer – “It was a surprise offer but I accepted without hesitation, It’s the biggest moment in my life and I want to be the man who changes history. I’ll do that with these fists, with one punch – just watch.”
And watch we will, whether you think it’s a freak show or a miss-match you won’t be able to not watch. December 31st, Tokyo, you can feel the Tenshin Rizin.