Former UFC Fighter Sage Northcutt Flatlined at ONE Championship 96: Enter the Dragon
By: Jesse Donathan
Former UFC prospect “Super” Sage Northcutt was knocked out cold in his ONE Championship debut Friday, May 17th, 2019 against Cosmo Alexandre. A fighter who started his career in the UFC’s 155-pound lightweight division in 2015, Northcutt finished his tenure with the world’s premiere mixed martial arts promotion at 170 pounds in the UFC’s welterweight division. Northcutt competed against Alexander in ONE Championships welterweight division, which according to the promotion’s website is contested at 77.2 kilograms to 83.9 kilograms.
Dusting off the trusty calculator, that’s 170.226 pounds to 184.9995 when using a rounded up 2.205 pounds to 1-kilogram calculation. Let that information sink in for a moment; ONE Championship’s welterweight division is not the same welterweight division mixed martial arts fans are accustomed to dealing with in the UFC. According to MMAFighting.com’s Guilherme Cruz, the bout between Sage Northcutt and Cosmo Alexandre was contested at 185 pounds.
“Take one glance at Sage Northcutt’s record and an obvious trend jumps out about his UFC run,” writes MMAfighting.com’s Shaun Al-Shatti in his July 13, 2018 article titled, “After ‘constantly under-eating’ and fighting ‘cloudy’ at 155, Sage Northcutt begins new welterweight journey at UFC Boise.” According to Al-Shatti, “Over the course of three years in the promotion, the exceedingly polite Texan has racked a perfect 5-0 fighting at lightweight, but a less-than-stellar 0-2 resume competing at 170 pounds.”
With Northcutt fairing worse during his run in the UFC’s 170-pound welterweight division than his tenure at lightweight, one might wonder why anyone thought it was a good idea for Northcutt to compete at 185-pounds?
According to a May 17, 2019 social media posting from MMA analyst Luke Thomas, “Some are arguing there’s a size discrepancy. I have no idea if that’s true because there’s virtually no transparency in ONE’s weigh-in system.”
So here is what we do know, according to the promotion’s website onefc.com, “ONE Championship’s weight classes are unlike any other martial arts organization in the world.”
A fact any potential fighters looking to sign with ONE Championship need to fully understand before signing on the dotted line. According to ONE Championship, “The new program, which is the first of its kind for combat sports, is focused on athlete safety by introducing “walking-weight” competition via multiple weigh-ins and tests before and during fight week, including three hours before an event begins.”
According to a July 31, 2014 bleacherreport.com article titled, “The Beaten Path: Cosmo Alexandre Moves Away from Blackzilians, Up to 170 Pounds,” author Scott Harris writes, “Alexandre said he walks around at about 180, so a cut to 170 instead of 155 makes sense.” And Northcutt’s walking-weight? According to a June 24, 2018 mymmanews.com article titled, “Sage Northcutt Explains Decision to Return to Welterweight,” Northcutt walks around at 185-190.
As far as height is concerned, Northcutt is listed at an even 6-feet and Alexandre at 6’2”. The idea that there was a significant size discrepancy doesn’t seem to hold up to analysis once the numbers begin to be put into perspective. Though it wouldn’t be unreasonable to assume both Northcutt and Alexandre have put on weight since these numbers were initially reported. So, what went wrong for Northcutt?
According to the bleacherreport.com, Alexandre is a, “Muay Thai Miyagi, with multiple world titles and 19 knockouts on his 42-14 resume.” According to Harris, Alexandre has trained among some of the best in the business, including a tenure with the well-known Blackzillians in Florida, a training camp which has counted the likes of former UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans, former UFC lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez, the titan Anthony “Rumble” Johnson, Alistair Overeem and others among its ranks.
So, it should come to nobody as a surprise that Sage Northcutt, at just 23 years old, with an 11-3 mixed martial arts record against mid-tier competition at best in the UFC was knocked unconscious by the veteran professional fighter. Though Alexandre himself only has an 8-1 professional mixed martial arts record, he is the vastly more experienced fighter and the outcome was not unforeseeable to those who looked at page two of the fighter scouting report.
On May 18, 2019 ESPN MMA analyst Ariel Helwani reported on Twitter that, “Sage Northcutt just posted on IG that he came out of a nine-hour surgery. Suffered 8 fractures in his face as a result of that KO loss yesterday.”
Sage Northcutt was fed to the lions in short, the young mixed martial arts prospect faced the toughest opponent of his career thus far and he got knocked unconscious as a result. In a sport where there are generally only two outcomes, victory or defeat, one must be prepared for the even worst. Unfortunately for Northcutt, having his face fractured is an outcome that must be taken into consideration before entering the arena and these kinds of losses only serve as learning tools for the future. The good news is Northcutt can learn a lot from this fight and go back to the drawing board in learning how to deal with fighters walking him down, looking for the one-shot kill, sniper like finish.
With ONE Championship redefining todays conventional weight class system, we can fully expect more big-name fighters to fall in ONE Championship as the new, unconventional weight classes all but guarantee more interesting matchup’s and defeats in the future. A fact exemplified by former UFC 155-pound lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez getting starched in his ONE Championship debut as well.
According to an April 2, 2019 bloodyelbow.com article titled, “Eddie Alvarez: Timofey Nastyukhin’s punch ‘instantly blinded me and split both eyelids in half’,” author Zane Simon writes that within minutes of Alvarez’s debut in the promotion he, “was being picked up off the canvas, having been handed one of the worst losses of his career, against the relatively unheralded Russian, Timofey Nastyukhin.”
ONE Championship is in the business of promotion, and as such any high-profile signings to the Singapore based promotion can expect the company to make the most of their investment. ONE Championship is proving they are here to give the fans what they want, and god bless them, that is exactly what they are doing. In a market dominated by the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the worlds premiere mixed martial arts organization, its going to take something special to compete and thus far it looks like ONE Championship is here to win.
Jon Jones Unwilling to Concede Size, Strength Advantage to Cormier at Heavyweight
By: Jesse Donathan
In a May 14, 2019 MMAnews.com article titled, “Jon Jones Reveals Why He’s Not Moving Up to Heavyweight to Fight Daniel Cormier,” author Damon Martin writes, “Jon Jones may not like Daniel Cormier very much but he’s smart enough to respect his skills.” According to Martin, Jones realizes Daniel Cormier would have the advantage at heavyweight and refuses to concede ground to the UFC Heavyweight Champion.
“I’m a realist. Daniel Cormier’s a special athlete and everyone can be beat and I think my greatest fear would be losing to a guy like Daniel Cormier with giving him a power and strength advantage over me,” Jones said when speaking to UFC color commentator Dan Hardy. “It just doesn’t make sense.”
Jones and Cormier have a storied history together, with the two first having met in the Octagon in early 2015 at UFC 182, a fight Jones won by unanimous decision. According to a July 7, 2016 bloodyelbow.com article titled, “Opinion – Don’t cry for Jon Jones: Canceled UFC 200 main event is Daniel Cormier’s loss,” author Connor Ruebusch wrote:
“Jones had beaten Cormier once before, in January of 2015. It was shortly after that win, arguably the greatest of his career, that Jones’ world began to crumble. News of Jones’ cocaine habit emerged just days after the Cormier fight. Those same tests revealed that the champion also showed suspicious hormone levels that may or may not have indicated steroid use.”
As BoxingInsider.com previously reported in, “A Closer Look at Performance Enhancing Drugs in Sports,” not only did Jones show, “suspicious hormone levels,” but Daniel Cormier himself was well below the average 1:1 testosterone to epitestosterone (T/E) ratio considered the benchmark medical standard for normal.
Ariel Helwani wrote in his January 8, 2015 MMAfighting.com article titled, “Nevada Athletic Commission head: Jon Jones’ testosterone clean prior to UFC 182; carbon isotope ratio test conducted,” that the current UFC Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier passed both of his USADA administered tests in the lead up to the fight, writing, “Cormier, Jones’ opponent at UFC 182, had a T/E ratio of .4 on Dec. 2 and .48 on Dec. 17. Cormier passed both those tests.” Comparatively, according to MMAfighting.com, “some have pointed to Jones’ testosterone-to-epitestosterone ratio in the three tests made public this week as a cause for concern.
According to Helwani, “On Dec. 4, Jones’ T/E ratios came up as .29 and .35. Jones actually took two drug tests that day because, according to Nevada Athletic Commission executive director Bob Bennett, his first urine sample was “watery.” On Dec. 18, his T/E ratio came up as .19. Clearly, all three ratios were below that of the average male.”
So, while Jones is unwilling to concede a strength and size advantage to Cormier at heavyweight, the truth is he was unwilling to do so at light heavyweight as well. Consistently testing positive for banned, prohibited substances throughout his tenure as perhaps the greatest fighter the UFC has ever seen. But if, “all three ratios were below that of the average male,” as reported by MMAFighting.com and, “some have pointed to Jones’s T/E ratio in the three tests made public this week as cause for concern,” then Cormier’s hormone levels were also, “cause for concern.” With Cormier testing out at .40 and .48 T/E in comparison to the normal 1:1 ratio. The only difference between Jones and Cormier’s test results being that Jones’s results were more concerning.
There is a mass psychosis in professional sports, where the perpetually naïve fans operate under the paradigm that the vast majority of professional athletes are clean, free of prohibited drug use and abuse. And when an athlete does pop positive for a banned substance, they are the black sheep of the organization, cheaters that somehow undermined the sanctity of their prohibited, banned substance free sport that surely must exist. Yet, time and time again, athletes across the board in competitive sports test positive one by one for banned, prohibited substance. Somehow though, the paradigm never changes that the sporting industry remains free of drug use and its only the bad apples spoiling the entire batch for everyone else.
In an August 11, 2008 spiegel.de interview with former Marion Jones coach Angel Heredia titled, “The Dealer Olympias,” Spiegel would ask Heredia if he was going to watch the 2008 Beijing Olympic 100-meter final. “Of course,” Heredia replied before continuing, “but the winner will not be clean. Not even any of the contestants will be clean.” According to Spiegel, “Of eight runners,” in an open-ended question to Heredia, “eight will be doped,” in Heredia’s estimation. Yet, time and time again fans, pundits and various organizations and associations alike perpetuate the myth of a clean sporting event.
And within this mass psychosis, is the mechanism itself that allows other athletes to fly under the radar. As long as everyone thinks its only the guys who get caught that are cheating, it allows the other athletes who are fortunate enough not to get caught to reap the rewards of their own performance enhancing drug use despite the fact deep down inside, when the fears of legal repercussions and politically correct based peer pressure recede; all but the most naïve among us know the real truth yet we still dwell in the fantasy rainbows, unicorns and lollipop fantasy based mass psychosis of a clean field of play.
According to an August 12, 2009 mmajunkie.com article titled, “U.S. Olympic wrestling team captain Daniel Cormier announces move to MMA,” it was reported that, “Cormier’s wrestling accomplishments are in no short supply.” MMAjunkie.com would go on to write that, “Daniel Cormier, a two-time Olympian and the U.S. squad’s 2008 Olympic team captain, was a two-time JUCO national champion and NCAA Division I runner-up at Oklahoma State University in 2001.”
Cormier is famously undefeated at heavyweight, having moved down to light heavyweight to avoid cramping teammate Cain Velasquez’s reign as UFC Heavyweight Champion in an honorable display of friendship, respect and loyalty to someone who welcomed Cormier with open arms to the American Kicking Academy (AKA) in San Jose, California. Today, Velasquez is quite a long way away from another UFC heavyweight title shot and according to Cormier himself, his own career is nearing its completion.
While admirable, I always thought Cormier’s move to light heavyweight was a mistake. While I was sure he would be successful there, and barring two fights with a performance enhancing drug using Jon Jones, he was, I see no reason for Cormier to fight Jon Jones at light heavyweight again.
Cormier was and still is undefeated at heavyweight, the only two blemishes on his professional mixed martial arts career are to an asterisks Jon Jones. Cormier is in the driver’s seat here, not Jon Jones. If they are to fight again, the only weight class I am interested in seeing the fight take place is at heavyweight. And if Jones’ is unwilling to concede a size and strength advantage to Cormier, despite Cormier doing exactly that not once, but twice against a performance enhanced Jon Jones, then I do not really see a reason to continue talking about this fight beyond the fact the UFC would surely like to make it happen one way or another.
The Scarlet Letter: Brock Lesnar, USADA and Retirement
By: Jesse Donathan
Did Brock Lesnar retire from mixed martial arts because he failed another USADA prohibited drug test? “If you were a level of conspiracy theorist, or as we do over here, we just simply speculate, and visit, and talk, there is some clues to point to that is a possibility, said Bad Guy Inc. CEO Chael Sonnen in his May 9, 2019 YouTube video titled, “Did Brock Lesnar fail a USADA drug test and retire?” An ESPN analyst and current Bellator fighter, Sonnen is a former UFC middleweight challenger who counts UFC President Dana White among his friends. In other words, Sonnen is an industry insider and someone you should listen to when he has something to say.
Sonnen, who once famously thrashed Anderson Silva in the Brazilians’ prime before succumbing to a come from behind triangle armbar submission in the fifth and final round went on to list a litany of reasons of why its possible that rumors of a Lesnar failed USADA drug test could possibly be true:
“The first of which is Brock Lesnar retired out of nowhere, he retired out of nowhere after taking a lesser WWE schedule, he retired out of nowhere after going into training for 12 full months. He retired out of nowhere after entering and clearing the USADA protocol of things that he had to pay for from his last outing at UFC 200 against Mark Hunt.”
As Sonnen correctly surmises, Lesnar’s abrupt retirement from MMA came out of left field. Everything was pointing to a Lesnar return to the cage; he had been training with Gable Stevenson, one of the top collegiate wrestlers in the country at the University of Minnesota and had shoved the UFC heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier across the octagon at UFC 226 in a picture-perfect promo in the lead up to the fight. “It looked like all; everything was a go. He had a world title fight, he had a main event, he had a huge pay day, he had Daniel Cormier standing in front of him,” Sonnen exclaimed, and out of nowhere, Lesnar retires.
“Guys, I don’t want to add to something right now, I want to come to you candidly and tell you that I do not have information but I am starting to hear things from people who generally do have the correct information that perhaps that wasn’t totally wrong,” Sonnen said on the rumors of a Lesnar issue with USADA that went ignored by the MMA media when the information first started trickling out.
“The new way that USADA is operating, okay, I’ll remind you of the old way first. Which was a guy flags, boom! They put out a boilerplate statement, the only thing they change between athletes is simply the name. John Doe right, fill in the blank, and the whole rest of the uniform statement. We get it. But when USADA got confronted with five people who were later cleared and the USADA was able to look at it and go you know what, we didn’t total clear out, we cleared them, but in the world of PR and the mess they went through, in the minds eye, the day of the internet, the sponsors that were already lost, its just very hard to unfry that egg.”
The Bellator light heavyweight contender who lost to “The Last Emperor” Fedor Emelianenko in a valiant effort during the Bellator Heavyweight World Grand Prix Tournament last year at Bellator 208 went on to say of USADA’s new approach to handling athletes who may have flagged a prohibited substances test:
So, what we’re gonna do now is if we flag somebody, we are not going to say a word. They will very quietly not be booked for a contest but we will also very privately see the process through to the very end. And when we make our release, we will not only tell you who, what and when but we will also tell you what the remedy was. Whether it’s a disciplinary action or a clearing of the athlete. But we will present one statement to you in its entirety. Okay great, really good way to do things. There is now some people that are saying that they have dug into this and it’s the very spot Brock Lesnar is in.”
Prior to Sonnen’s fire side chat, Dave Metzler on Wrestling Observer Radio had suggested that the new UFC deal with ESPN had been a factor in Lesnar’s retirement, according to Sonnen that just isn’t the case.
“It is a very strange circumstance, and it seems that there was then a later dialogue that came in and said no, the reason Brock walked away is because the pay-per-view model has changed, and therefor he can’t collect his pay-per-view points and therefor he lost his enticement to do this. Now, that is, I can tell you now that is not what happened. I don’t know what happened, but I think it’s probably a pretty straight forward. One, either, we’re going to find something out in the next 45 days or two, and far more likely if I am being fair, far more likely, he started training and his body was just sore and tired and he wasn’t getting the same reaction as fast as he had in the past and he said I’m done.”
As reported by Foxsports.com in their January 4, 2017 article titled, “Brock Lesnar suspended one year by USADA after failing two drug tests,” the WWE superstar infamously, “tested positive for clomiphene and its metabolite, 4-hydroxyclomiphene, following an out-of-competition urine test conducted on June 28, 2016, and an in-competition urine test conducted on July 9, 2016, at UFC 200 in Las Vegas, Nev. Clomiphene is a prohibited substance in the category of Hormone and Metabolic Modulators and is prohibited at all times under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy.”
According to USADA.org, “In men, clomiphene can alter testosterone levels by interfering with the negative feedback loop of the hypothalamic–pituitary–gonadal axis.” Interestingly, the USADA description of clomiphene goes on to state that, “clomiphene is not FDA-approved for use by men for any condition,” but there are some exceptions to that claim as USADA goes on to state.
“However, it may be prescribed off-label, meaning that a doctor may prescribe a medication for a use that is not indicated on the FDA’s approved packaging insert or label. Once the FDA approves a drug, healthcare providers can typically prescribe the drug for an unapproved use when they judge that it is medically appropriate for their patient.”
The USADA clomiphene description goes on to state that, “In males, similar to other substances with anabolic properties that lead to increased muscle mass, clomiphene is associated with a number of potential and serious side effects, including: increased risk of negative cardiovascular events, liver damage, and gastrointestinal discomfort.”
In an April 24, 2012 bleacherreport.com article titled, “Brock Lesnar: Understanding Diverticulitis, the Illness That Changed His Life,” author Louie Babcock wrote that, “In November of 2009, Brock was diagnosed with mononucleosis, and later in the month it was discovered he had a serious case of diverticulitis.” According to Babcock, “Diverticulitis is a disease of the digestive tract, normally in the large intestine. On the colon of the patient, tiny pouches form. These pouches are called diverticula. When these pouches become inflamed, diverticulitis is diagnosed.” The bleacherreport.com article would go on to note that Lesnar suffered another bout of diverticulitis in May of 2011, retiring after his last match in December of 2011 against Alistair Overeem before coming out of retirement to face Mark Hunt at UFC 200 in 2016.
According to dopinglinkki.fi, “Clomiphene is a doping substance according to the Penal Code. Particularly men, who use anabolic steroids, commonly use clomiphene or other anti-estrogens (for example, tamoxifen) as an accompanying drug.”
Dopinglinkki.fi would go on to state that, “The purpose of clomiphene, in this case, is to inhibit the estrogen problems caused by the overdosed anabolic steroids, that appear when anabolic steroids convert in the body to estrogens or other metabolic products that have estrogenic effects.”
With Lesnar’s history of at least two bouts of diverticulitis in 2009 and 2011, one would think that Lesnar would have been weary of using Clomiphene, a drug described as causing “gastrointestinal discomfort” as one of its potential side effects. Which immediately brings me to one of the oldest questions plaguing mankind. Which came first? The chicken or the egg? The answer to that question could very well let many cats out of the bag.
According to thesmokinggun.com, “Brock Lesnar, the World Wrestling Entertainment champion, was once arrested for illegally possessing steroids, though the felony charge against the 26-year-old athlete was dismissed four months after his January 2001 arrest.” The report would go on to state:
“Lesnar was exonerated when tests showed that the seized pills were not, in fact, steroids. While a Louisville detective told TSG that the material was some kind of growth hormone, Lesnar’s defense attorney, Scott Cox, characterized the confiscated pills as a ‘vitamin type of thing.’”
Regardless of the true circumstances of Lesnar’s retirement(s), health problems and reported prohibited drug use, there is no question that Brock Lesnar is a huge draw for both the WWE and UFC. Former K-1 kickboxing champion Mark Hunt once famously sued UFC President Dana White, Lesnar and the UFC, accusing them of collusion, “in an effort to allow Lesnar to use performance enhancing drugs,” according to a February 15, 2019 ESPN.com article titled, “Judge dismisses most of Mark Hunts case Against UFC, Brock Lesnar,” by Brett Okamoto.
According to ESPN, “U.S. District Judge Jennifer A. Dorsey threw out all but one of the claims Hunt made against the UFC,” with the Judge ordering, “Hunt and the UFC to enter a mandatory settlement conference on the final outstanding claim — breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. That claim is against the UFC only. All of Hunt’s claims against White and Lesnar were dismissed.” Putting the pieces together, the extent of the breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing could potentially stretch back some time in this case with the reader being left to make up their own minds as to what the actual truth may be.
The Don King Effect – UFC’s Dana White and Zuffa Boxing to Promote Big Fights
By: Jesse Donathan
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) President Dana White likes to shop for groceries and is a Tom Brady fan, according to an April 19, 2019 CNN article titled “Boxing ‘shooting itself in the foot,’ says Dana White.” Beyond those interesting facts about White, he also thinks he can do a better job at promotion than boxings current crop of charismatic front men. And White points to the lack of drawing power of Anthony Joshua in the United States, the heavyweight champion of the world, as evidence of boxing’s “strategic” mistakes in failing to properly market one of its biggest stars. CNN openly asks, could Dana White be the man to change this?
It’s possible, however unlikely in my opinion. Although I am willing to bet Dana White and company will be more successful than most are initially willing to admit. Boxing and mixed martial arts share much of the same infrastructure; the various state athletic commissions across the country issue licensing for both boxers and mixed martial arts fighters. White also has extensive experience in jumping through the various corporate hoops necessary to get new promotions off the ground and running and has demonstrated the business acumen necessary to be successful. Still, Dana White and Zuffa, the former owners of the UFC, are not without their detractors.
According to a May 3, 2019 badlefthook.com article titled, “Oscar De La Hoya doesn’t see what Dana White can bring to boxing ‘other than him screaming and yelling’” author Scott Christ quotes the boxing legend as stating, “I wish him all the best. I think he’s done a phenomenal job with the UFC. I have my opinions in the past on how I feel about the fighters getting treated by the UFC, but at this point in my life, I have so much on my plate, I’m sure he has lots on his plate.”
“Good luck. Be prepared for the ride of your life. Boxing is a roller coaster, and it’s sometimes not a fun one,” De La Hoya said.
What De La Hoya is referring to is when he called Dana White and the UFC out on how they treat their athletes. The fact is UFC fighters like to shop for groceries too, only their pay in comparison to professional boxers is grossly deficient, bordering on criminal. “We’re basically fighting for crumbs,” one fighter told ESPN.com who declined to be identified in a January 15, 2012 John Barr and Josh Gross article titled, “UFC fighters say low pay simply brutal.” According to the write up, discussing how the UFC compensates their fighters has been described as “career suicide” by one mixed martial artist.
“While paydays for top draws like Anderson Silva and Georges St. Pierre can run into the millions,” writes Gross and Barr, “entry-level fighters who compete under the banner of the UFC do so for as little as $6,000 if they fail to win their first match,” wrote ESPN in the 2012 report.
According to Aeric Koerner, a PHD candidate student at America University who conducted an inductive analysis on UFC fighter pay 2016 marked a change in UFC compensatory policy. In an interview by MMA analysist Luke Thomas uploaded on May 2, 2019 to YouTube.com titled, “The Truth About UFC Fighter Pay: An Examination,” Koerner describes how a transition occurred in June of 2016 that marked the end of the low-end compensated UFC fighters being paid $8,000 to show and $8,000 to win. At that point they transitioned to $10,000 to show and $10,000 to win.
Colloquially referred to as, “that Rebook money” in mixed martial arts circles the social media connotations behind it are anything but flattering for the UFC and Rebook. According to a March 1, 2019 forbes.com article titled, “UFC 235’s Ben Askren On Reebok Outfitting Program Pay: ‘It’s Pretty Terrible’” author Trent Reinsmith writes that, “The UFC signed a six-year agreement with Reebok in 2015.” According to Reinsmith, with the Reebok deal the UFC is in fact operating on tiered system of compensation based on the number of fights a fighter has within the UFC promotion itself, not their overall record which only raises more questions than answers.
“The current pay structure under the deal sees fighters with one to three UFC fights earning $3,500. Fighters four to ten UFC fights on their record make $5,000. If a fighter has 11 to 15 bouts, they receive $10,000, while those with 16 to 20 bouts make $15,000. The top tier, for those fighters who have more than 21 UFC contests pays $20,000. Title challengers make $30,000 and champions receive $40,000.”
To put these numbers into perspective, Canelo Alvarez is reported to have signed a $365-million-dollar deal with DAZN. Alvarez is said to have made $35-million from his most recent fight with Daniel Jacobs alone according to a bloodyelbow.com report.
If Dana White and company run their boxing promotion anything like they did with the UFC, future boxers signed under the Dana White and Zuffa boxing banner can expect to get the Don King treatment, always coming up short in the financial department as their handlers make off with the majority of the earnings. A sure-fire recipe for success when the backbone of your operation is paid peanuts while the corporate, Boss Hoggs kick back and watch their pile of slop grow. It worked for the UFC in mixed martial arts and it can work for Dana White and company once again as they move into pro-boxing as well.
“I am making all my boxing moves after this summer,” White said. “When this summer is over, you’ll be hearing a lot about what I’m doing in the sport of boxing,” writes Jed Meshew in his April 24, 2019 mmafighting.com article titled, “Morning Report: Dana White says boxing plans are still a go: ‘I’m making all my boxing moves after this summer’.” According to mmafighting.com:
“When Dana first began making overtures towards boxing, (Anthony) Joshua said he would “100 percent” consider signing with Zuffa boxing if the offer made sense. It was later reported that the UFC was interested in a $500 million deal to sign Joshua but White has denied those reports and Joshua went on to sign a three-year extension with Matchroom Boxing last summer.”
Whether White and Zuffa like it or not, the public perception of how they treat fighters is a stigma that they will find hard to shake moving forward, regardless if they attempt to throw the world heavyweight champion Joshua a bone and make an offer most athletes would find hard to turn down.
With the apparent exaggerated reports of a Joshua offer, one would think Zuffa would be willing to open up their wallets in order to acquire top talent. Not so, says undefeated (23-0-1) heavyweight boxer Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller. “Once upon a time MMA was a realistic option, but after he signed with K-1, Miller says he thought better of stepping into the cage,” writes Tristen Critchfield of sherdog.com in his June 19, 2014 article titled, “Glory 17’s Jarrell Miller: Why MMA is Not an Option for Me.” Critchfield would go on to quote “Big Baby” as stating:
“I did before I signed with K-1 because boxing was slow at the time. But at this point in my career: Nope. Definitely not,” Miller told Sherdog.com. “Just because the money those guys are getting and the injuries…. Listen, 99.9 percent of guys that finish their MMA career, the only thing they can do is open a gym and maybe coach, just because their face and their ears are deformed.”
“I’m not gonna be Dana White’s puppet,” Miller said. “Hell no. I’ve worked too hard,” declared a defiant “Big Baby.”
And with this inside look at how Dana White and Zuffa boxing will undoubtedly do business, its hard to agree with Oscar De La Hoya that Dana White won’t bring anything to boxing beyond yelling and screaming. What Dana White and Zuffa boxing bring to the table is a proven business model, where the fighters who are signed for pennies on the dollar will undoubtedly free up capital elsewhere for the promotion to handle the unexpected problems De La Hoya all but guarantee’s will be in White and Zuffa’s future as they transition into the sport of professional boxing.
That additional capital can go a long way in sewing up any loose ends White believes boxing has been left dangling in the wind with the lack of big money fights and promotion of some boxings biggest stars in markets like the United States where White, Zuffa and company see an opportunity to exploit the holes that boxing has thus far remained asleep at the wheel in minding up.
Dana White thinks Zuffa boxing can promote big money fights better than the current, existing infrastructure in professional boxing and I am not so sure that he isn’t right. It is entirely possible that White and company can breathe new life into the stagnant pool of inactivity we are currently seeing in professional boxings heavyweight division.
So, Dana White likes to go grocery shopping and I am willing to bet so do a lot of other people too; including the vast majority of his fighters under contract making pennies on the dollar, short changed, while the company big whigs reap the rewards without so much as a fat lip or a black eye. This business model helped propel the UFC to a four-million-dollar sale to the company’s new owners, WME-IMG. This same business model will undoubtably be used to drive Zuffa boxing into promotional contention in the world of professional boxing in the foreseeable future. Look for Dana White and company to break into boxing in a big way moving forward, unfortunately likely at the expense of those who do incur injury as a result of their efforts.
ESPN Deal with UFC Reportedly a Factor in Failed Brock Lesnar Negotiations
By: Jesse Donathan
It’s all about the Benjamin’s, baby! In more tantalizing Brock Lesnar news, in a May 2, 2019 wrestlinginc.com article titled, “What Happened with Brock Lesnar’s UFC Return Negotiations, Possible WWE Match for Lesnar,” author Marc Middleton revealed the inside scope on what really derailed the Lesnar versus Cormier fight. And not surprisingly, it all boils down to how much money the UFC was willing to pay Brock Lesnar. According to Middleton, “Dave Meltzer noted on Wrestling Observer Radio that Lesnar had been negotiating with UFC for the summer 2019 fight with UFC Heavyweight Champion Daniel Cormier, and a deal could not be reached.”
Middleton would go on to note that, “Lesnar reportedly wanted a flat fee from UFC for the Cormier fight, instead of a percentage of pay-per-view buys, but UFC felt like he was asking for too much. According to wrestlinginc.com, “Meltzer noted that UFC is no longer under pressure to draw strong pay-per-view buys because they are getting about the same money through their deal with ESPN.”
As many will recall, Golden Boy CEO Oscar de la Hoya famously said pay-per-view was dead, pointing to their deal with the streaming service DAZN as the wave of the future. Following in Golden Boys footsteps, the UFC & ESPN+ signed a new deal through 2025 marking the UFC’s own entry into the streaming service universe. A move, much like the UFC’s deal with Reebok, that has reverberated throughout the sports entertainment industry.
The very real possibility exists that UFC President Dana White’s recent announcement of Lesnar’s retirement is all part of the ongoing contract negotiations. It should be noted that the news is coming from the UFC president, not the Lesnar camp itself. Purely speculative, the public’s reaction, or lack thereof to Lesnar’s retirement, could possibly be used as leverage in future contract negotiations. And according to Middleton:
“There’s no word yet on if Lesnar has pulled out of the USADA testing but if he has, he could come back and would have to wait another 6 months before being eligible for a fight. If he does pull out, that’s a good sign that he has really decided not to fight. Meltzer noted that if he doesn’t pull out, this all could be a public negotiation by White in an attempt to get Lesnar to lower his price.”
If Meltzer is correct, then it looks like Brock Lesnar really is done. As reported by mensjournal.com, author Tom Briechle wrote in his article earlier this week titled, “Brock Lesnar Retires from MMA for the Second Time in 6 Years,” that Lesnar has in fact been removed from the USADA testing pool. According to Briechle, “Brock Lesnar is officially done with the UFC — at least for the time being.” Mensjournal.com goes on to write:
“Additionally, the US Anti-Doping Agency has reported that Lesnar has been removed from their testing pool.”
So where does that leave us? Brock has reportedly asked for too much money and has left the negotiation table. According to Dana White, he has retired. And the UFC has decided with their most recent deal with ESPN, they’re in a better position bargaining wise to the point where they don’t really need Brock Lesnar’s services bad enough to give in to his salary requirements just yet.
At least, that appears to be the position the UFC took in denying Lesnar’s initial demands according to published reports. If Meltzer and wrestlinginc.com are correct, Lesnar ultimately walked away from the sport and retired due to the UFC being in such a rewarding financial relationship with ESPN that that they choose not to come to an agreement with the WWE superstar.
Though with WME-IMG reportedly working on a four-billion-dollar investment into the worlds premiere mixed martial arts organization, I cannot help but think the UFC isn’t in as an advantageous position as they would like everyone to believe and its business as usual despite the new ESPN+ deal. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Brock Lesnar fighting in in the octagon is big business for everyone involved.
Still, despite the abundance of evidence to suggest Lesnar is done with MMA, there is reason to believe we shouldn’t count him or the UFC out just yet. While its hard to argue with Metzler’s conclusions, the fact is we’ve seen a very similar situation happen before. In a January 11, 2018 independent.co.uk article titled, “UFC, Brock Lesnar and president Dana White being sued by Mark Hunt over Lesnar’s UFC 200 failed drugs test,” author Max Clark writes that:
“According to Hunt, the UFC deliberately hid all knowledge that Lesnar had tested positive. He says Lesnar and the UFC had four months to put him through USADA testing but elected to do it one week before fight night, not providing enough time for the results to come through.”
All but one of Hunts charges were ultimately dismissed in court, with the UFC being found liable for the “breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing,” according to a February 15, 2019 ESPN.com article by Brett Okamoto titled, “Judge dismisses most of Mark Hunts case against UFC, Brock Lesnar.” What that effectively means is that Brock Lesnar has circumvented the system before, skipping over the usual USADA testing required for other athletes and has jumped straight into big time fights, ready to play ball with the best in the business. And small things, like going through the usual required USADA testing periods, only applies to the second-class serfs.
So, Brock Lesnar is done until he isn’t done, the possibility exists that he can come back at the most opportune possible and into big money fights. Whether it’s a last second substitution for a high-profile fight, an interim-title fight or even vying for the undisputed belt, I won’t be surprised in the least bit to see Lesnar back in the octagon competing once again. But for the time being, it looks like Lesnar has retired from mixed martial arts for good. At least until a financial agreement can be reached and Lesnar can be inserted into the most favorable position possible for all parties involved.
Déjà vu – Brock Lesnar Retires from Mixed Marital Arts (Again)
By: Jesse Donathan
Déjà vu is the sense that we’ve been here before, and indeed, there is a haunting familiarity in the air. Recently it was announced that World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. (WWE) juggernaut Brock Lesnar has retired from mixed martial arts. We’ve heard this song and dance before, so call me skeptical when I say that I won’t be surprised to see Brock Lesnar back in the cage again. “Brock Lesnar is officially done with the UFC—at least for the time being,” writes Tim Briechle of mensjournal.com in his article titled, “Brock Lesnar retires from MMA for the Second Time in Six Years.” According to Briechle:
“Additionally, the US Anti-Doping Agency has reported that Lesnar has been removed from their testing pool. UFC requires all of their fighters to undergo USADA-run tests, and Lesnar infamously failed two tests prior to his fight against (Mark) Hunt due to testing positive for the banned substance clomiphene.”
Clomiphene is an anti-estrogen pharmaceutical often times used in conjunction with anabolic steroid use. According to dopinglinkki.fi, “Clomiphene is a doping substance according to the penal code. Particularly men, who use anabolic steroids, commonly use clomiphene or other anti-estrogens (for example, tamoxifen) as an accompanying drug.” The document goes on to state:
“The purpose of clomiphene, in this case, is to inhibit the estrogen problems caused by the overdosed anabolic steroids, that appear when anabolic steroids convert in the body to estrogens or other metabolic products that have estrogenic effects.”
With Lesnar out of the testing pool, one would naturally assume that in order to fight again he would have to undergo lengthy and rigorous testing in order to enter the cage again. And indeed, for any other fighter this might be the case. However, we’ve seen this exact scenario play out before. So, while Lesnar may in fact be retired for good, history has shown us that where there is a will, there is a way. And that there are many ways to skin a cat.
In a January 11, 2019 independent.co.uk article titled, “UFC, Brock Lesnar and president Dana White being sued by Mark Hunt over Lesnar’s UFC 200 failed drugs test,” author Marx Clark writes that, “Hunt has accused the promotion of racketeering and fraud, and is seeking compensation for having to fight against Lesnar despite the UFC allegedly knowing he tested positive for banned substances.” The Independent would go on to write that:
“According to Hunt, the UFC deliberately hid all knowledge that Lesnar had tested positive. He says Lesnar and the UFC had four months to put him through USADA testing but elected to do it one week before fight night, not providing enough time for the results to come through.”
All but one of Hunt’s claims against the UFC were ultimately thrown out of court according to a February 15, 2019 ESPN.com article titled, “Judge dismisses most of Mark Hunt’s case against UFC, Brock Lesnar,” by ESPN reporter Brett Okamoto. According to Okamoto, “Judge (Jennifer) Dorsey ordered Hunt and the UFC to enter a mandatory settlement conference on the final outstanding claim — breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. That claim is against the UFC only.”
So, while there was a breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, everything else Mark Hunt alleged was deemed without legal merit. If the UFC isn’t dealing fairly and acting in good faith, what this essentially means is that the exact circumstances that played out in the Mark Hunt versus Brock Lesnar fight could happen again. Thus, why I believe its entirely possible we see Brock Lesnar back in the cage once again, probably ready to hulk smash anyone that gets in his way while he’s at it too.
Lesnar last competed in the UFC in July of 2016, putting the beat down on former K-1 kickboxing champion and perennial UFC knockout artist Mark Hunt in a fight many expected to see Lesnar go down in flames in. It was a convincing, dominate performance that opened a lot of people’s eyes to what Lesnar still brought to the table, a fighter who had been previously written off as all but finished after a bout with diverticulitis ultimately left his career in professional mixed martial arts very much in doubt. The unanimous decision victory was later overturned to a no contest after Lesnar’s positive tests results were made public.
Unknown to most, Brock Lesnar brings legitimate grappling credentials to the sport of MMA. A former University of Minnesota NCAA national wrestling champion, Lesnar is much more than just the hulking professional wrestler you see on television. A former UFC heavyweight champion, Lesnar has fought a murderer’s row of fighters during his UFC tenure, capturing the UFC title against mixed martial arts legend Randy Couture at UFC 91 in 2008 in only his third fight with the promotion. A former member of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings practice squad before being cut from the team in 2004, Lesnar brings size, athleticism and dominate wrestling to the table and is a handful for even the most elite fighters in the sport when he is on his A-game.
Generally speaking, when people say something you are forced to take them at their word. That is of course, unless you have reason to believe otherwise. In this case, this is the same old song and dance we’ve heard before. Brock Lesnar retires, everyone in the sport moves on before ultimately being thrown a wild card where Lesnar returns and makes a huge splash. I won’t be surprised to see Brock Lesnar back in the cage, looking jacked and ready to beat the living daylights out of whoever is holding the UFC title.
UFC Fight Night 150: Greg Hardy Victorious in Controversial Win
By: Jesse Donathan
If I could give Greg Hardy one piece of advice, it would be to remember that, “he’s under a microscope” and that, “he needs to understand that.” The prophetic words of Cowboys COO Stephen Jones concerning the former NFL standout as reported by NFL.com writer Dan Hanzus in his May 4, 2015 piece “Cowboys respond to insensitive Greg Hardy tweet.” Short sighted at best, the insensitive tweet was small potatoes compared to the charges Hardy was initially found guilty of but which were later dropped upon appeal in which he was accused of assaulting an ex-girlfriend.
With the social stigma attached to violent crimes against women, Greg Hardy is fighting an uphill battle in both the eye of public and through the mixed martial arts media, some of whom have little issue in attempting to influence public perception with every conceivable Jedi mind trick at their disposal. From those calling for lowkey resistance to Hardy’s new found professional mixed martial arts career to those completely snubbing altogether, Hardy no shortage of detractors. Indeed, according to some, Greg Hardy is in fact the droid that the stormtroopers are looking for.
This kind of notoriety is money in the bank and a small slice of heaven to those in the combat sports entertainment industry who find themselves with a diamond in the rough with Greg Hardy. A fighter that fans love to hate, instead of turning off their televisions and refusing to watch a UFC fight, fans are actively lining up to hate Greg Hardy and its generating big business for the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
In an April 28, 2019 mmafighting.com article titled, “Dana White critical of Greg Hardy’s opponent Dmitrii Smoliakov: ‘That was weird’” author Alexander K. Lee writes that, “At a glance, it looked like Dmitrii Smoliakov wanted nothing to do with Greg Hardy. And Dana White saw the same thing everyone else saw.” The fight was noticeably weird from my perspective too; it appeared as if “The Lifeguard” Smoliakov had been brought in to rescue Greg Hardy’s career.
With a 4-1 record overall, (0-1 UFC) coming into Saturday night’s fight with former training partner Smoliakov, it was a seemingly must win fight for Hardy who had no shortage of fans and pundits alike questioning whether he even belongs in the UFC, much less in the co-main event for the second straight fight in a row. With Hardy having lost his inaugural UFC fight to Allen Crowder by disqualification (illegal knee), the sharks have been circling in nailing Hardy to the cross and demanding his departure from the worlds premiere mixed martial arts organization.
Interestingly enough, Smoliakov last fought in the UFC in January of 2017, losing to Cyril Asker by TKO before being cut from the promotion. Smoliakov last fought in January of this year for AC-Aslan Challenge in Russia, defeating Evgeniy Bova by submission before being re-signed by the UFC and immediately fighting in the controversial co-main event at UFC Fight Night 150 on ESPN+ Saturday night.
By reading the play-by-plays at some of these mixed martial arts media outlets you would never know there was anything out of the ordinary about the fight. But for those of us who actually tuned in, the fight was remarkable for its awkwardness. Smoliakov appeared unwilling or unable to engage, half heartedly rushing in for takedowns which were easily stopped by Hardy and the Russian seemingly put up little resistance once the fight hit the mat, content to take punches until the referee waived off the fight. Weird is one way to put it, questionable and disappointing would be another. For those who were hoping to see Hardy tested, they ultimately walked away empty-handed Saturday night as Hardy crushed another can on his way to UFC infamy.
The mmafighting.com article would go on to quote the UFC President as stating, “You guys know, I’ve been doing this for 20 years, we don’t do set-up fights for anybody. And if I was a fan and probably some of the media, the way some of the media acts, I would think that was.”
“Hardy doesn’t make fights, me and my guys do,” said White. “I don’t know who the (expletive) that guy beat in nine fights, but I’d like to see the nine guys he beat. That was weird.” A “set-up fight” is a term I am unfamiliar with, which of course leaves me with a window into the unknown where I am forced to rest upon my laurels in order to make sense of this new age term.
In other circles of the universe, a set-up is defined as, “the way in which something, especially an organization or equipment, is organized, planned, or arranged.” Another way to define a set-up according to google is, “a scheme or trick intended to incriminate or deceive someone.” In searching for some kind of framework to liken these definitions to the sports entertainment world, according to the onlineworldofwrestling.com wrestling database of dictionary terms a “work” is defined as the word, “used to describe aspects of events of the business that aren’t real.”
The 2016 investigative report by journalist Benjamin Best titled, “Dirty Game – The Dark Side of Sports” gives great insight into the anatomy of the fight game. Former Leon Spinks boxing manager Charles Farrell went on to describe how the sports entertainment industry works behind the curtain, stating, “You fix fights to make betting money. You fix fights to get a fighter a championship. You fix fights to maneuver a fighter up the ranks toward a championship fight.” According to Farrell, “You fix fights to win, in order, again, to position someone strategically. You fix fights to lose, in order to get paid and in order to make, you know, betting coups. The way you fix fights varies greatly.”
Whatever you want to call the Hardy fight, whether it’s a set-up fight or weird, one thing is for sure; that is the fans were left scratching their heads and wanting more. The “Just Bleed God” is very unhappy as the tomato cans left at the alter of sacrifice have proven to be cheap, generic versions of the real thing. If the UFC thinks they are going to sell the public a product with a subpar tomato sauce, they have another thing coming.
The UFC can only keep opening up cheap, watered down tomato cans for so long before the public refuses to buy what they’re selling anymore. I would like to see Greg Hardy take a step up in competition, he clearly isn’t ready for the top ten yet, but putting him in there with a fighter who has a pulse would be why we are tuning into Greg Hardy’s fights to begin with. Anyone can beat a corpse up, let’s see how Hardy does when he’s tested with an opponent who has a pulse.
UFC Fight Night 150 on ESPN+ Preview
By: Jesse Donathan
UFC Fight Night 150 airs Saturday night at the BB&T Center Saturday, April 27, 2019 on ESPN+. The main event will feature submission grappling ace and perennial middleweight contender Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza versus Jack Hermansson. But once again, it’s the co-main event that is getting everyone’s attention. The controversial former NFL star Greg Hardy is set to face “The Lifeguard” Dmitrii Smoliakov of Russia in a heavyweight showdown.
Prize fighters today are the modern equivalent to the ancient Roman gladiators. An easy conclusion to come to considering the mixed martial art promotion once utilized a UFC gladiator in its opening volley. While the sports entertainment industry does a wonderful job of turning otherwise rough men into heroes through carefully crafted match ups and marketing, if these individuals plied their trade anywhere else but the ring or cage, they would be facing felony assault charges.
“Most gladiators were prisoners of war, slaves bought for the purpose, or criminals condemned to serve in the schools,” according to a University of Chicago essay titled “The Roman Gladiator.” Role models they were not, though their exploits then and now can easily turn ordinary men into larger than life super heroes.
Mixed martial arts fans have long hypothesized what the sport of MMA would look like with “A-level athletes” competing against the world’s best mixed martial artists. Top of the food chain individuals. The professional athletes of the NBA and NFL. The Lebron James’s, Bob Probert’s and Brian Urlacher’s of the world. Enter former NFL standout Greg Hardy, who is by most people’s definition an exceptional athlete. Unfortunately for him, he is also an exceptional athlete with quite a bit of baggage. In an April 17, 2018 article for Sherdog.com, “Opinion: Greg Hardy Need Not Apply,” author Ben Duffy pulled no punches with his thoughts on former NFL player Greg Hardy’s place in mixed martial arts:
“So nobody can accuse me of being vague here, I will say this as plainly as I can: Hardy should not be fighting professionally at all, and the decision makers at the UFC should be ashamed of themselves for even entertaining the possibility of signing him.”
Duffy would go on to cite Hardy’s July 2014 conviction for domestic violence, in which Hardy was summarily sentenced to 18 months’ worth of probation. Hardy’s attorneys appealed the conviction, the charges dropped all together when the victim failed to appear before the court. “Hardy was, in the legal sense at least, in the clear,” the author would go on to write.
Also cited as reasons for Duffy’s belief Hardy does not belong in mixed martial arts is the All-Pro lineman’s 2016 arrest for cocaine, Hardy’s poorly thought out behavior on social media which not surprisingly caught the attention of all the wrong people as well Hardy’s alleged poor behavior in the locker room.
“Mixed martial arts are thinly regulated violence,” writes Duffy. Going on to describe some of the ingredients that go into making the fight culture, Duffy would go on to remark that mixed martial arts, “will always attract its share of misfits, miscreants and antisocial head cases – the exact type of people who might find violence for pay an attractive proposition.”
It’s easy to confuse these athletes with super heroes, their acts of athletic achievement celebrated the globe over no matter the sport, transcending cultures. But it’s a long way to the top if you want to rock ‘n’ roll and getting punched in the face isn’t exactly an award most people are standing in line to receive.
If Greg Hardy wants to fight, let the man fight. I believe Greg Hardy deserves a second chance and if history is any indicator, he will get the benefit of the doubt because he is a compelling athlete with a lot left to offer. Hardy can redeem himself; he can turn this ship around and still become the great athlete that he was destined to be before some dreadfully bad decisions threw a wrench in his spokes.
Getting punched in the mouth for money isn’t a reward reserved for only the best among us. Fighting isn’t for everyone, taking a trip behind the woodshed isn’t my idea of paradise. “This is the hurt business. And in the hurt business people get hurt,” to quote legendary mixed martial arts referee Big John McCarthy.
Greg Hardy isn’t campaigning for Attorney General of Minnesota here, he is vying for a spot on the stretcher. And I get it, Greg Hardy has a history of abuse, by some peoples accounts he is not a very nice guy. But I am having a rather hard time accepting the notion that because of these facts he doesn’t deserve to be a tomato can and punching bag in the ring or cage.
On the contrary, that is exactly where Greg Hardy belongs no matter how you want to slice it. Greg Hardy is allegedly guilty of assaulting those who could not defend themselves? Great, stick him in the cage with those who can defend themselves then.
While it’s easy to watch inspirational fighter highlights on YouTube and come away dreaming to be like Kazushi Sakuraba, its another story altogether to be in that ring or cage with another trained killer. Its one thing to dream, its another to have to deal with “The Axe Murderer” Wanderlei Silva. Getting taken behind the woodshed is not a fortunate turn of events, catching a beat down may look easy on television but it’s hardly a winning proposition in the game of life.
Before there was a Greg Hardy, there was Mike Tyson. A special athlete with a checkered past, convicted of a heinous crime against women and shunned by the combat sport community. Like Hardy’s plight with the NFL, so too was Tyson exiled from boxing. And through it all, “Iron” Mike Tyson found a way to persevere. To overcome. To quote a new age proverb, “the one who doesn’t fall, doesn’t stand up.” There is an ebb and flow to life. When the tide comes in, everything is great. But when it recedes, the barren wasteland left in its wake can be a depressive sight to behold.
In a March 27, 1992 article for the New York Times, “Tyson Gets 6-Year Prison Term for Rape Conviction in Indiana,” author E.R. Shipp wrote:
“Mike Tyson, the former heavyweight champion who was convicted of rape last month, was sentenced to 10 years in prison today. But the judge suspended the last four years, meaning he will spend no more than six years behind bars.”
“The sentence he received today seemed designed to provide punishment and offer him a chance to turn his life around,” Shipp wrote. Today, approaching thirty years since Tyson was convicted and sentenced to prison “Iron” Mike has did precisely that, turned his life around. A true boxing and cultural icon, Tyson is seen regularly on television and social media, even enjoying his own cartoon “Mike Tyson’s Mysteries” on the Adult Swim network.
Today, Mike Tyson is a legend and a hero. Which should leave Greg Hardy with some hope that if “Iron” Mike Tyson can turn that ship around, then maybe he can too? In this sport, you’re either a can or a can crusher. And regardless if Hardy deserves to be in the UFC or not, I think it is going to be interesting to find out exactly what the former NFL standout has left to offer. I’m all for giving Greg Hardy a second chance, lets see if he can make the most of it.
UFC Fight Night 149: Oleynik vs Overeem in St. Petersburg, Russia
By: Jesse Donathan
“If he dies, he dies.” These are the haunting words of Ivan Drago from Rocky IV and the classic image of how Russian fighters are still portrayed in the United States today. Ruthless, formidable opponents who represent a direct threat to the western way of life. And just like on the big screen, Russian fighters are on the cusp of making big waves in the arena of combat sports in real life. Enter UFC Fight Night 149 which goes down Saturday night, April 20, 2019 at the Yubileyny Sports Complex in St. Petersburg, Russia on ESPN +. The headlining event will feature two longtime mixed martial arts veterans pitted against one another in 41-year old Moscow native Alexey Oleynik (57-11-1) versus the 38-year old Dutchmen Alistair Overeem (44-17).
Alexey “The Boa Constrictor” Oleynik is a very dangerous man. A heavyweight with an impressive arsenal of submission hold victories, Oleynik has the skillset to submit opponents from a variety of different positions including his back where fighters are often considered to be at their most vulnerable. Oleynik is a seasoned, crafty veteran who has been in the cage with some of the worlds best stand up fighters, feared strikers who are respected the world over for their particular brand of violence and Oleynik has come out on top against virtually all of them including former K-1 kickboxing and mixed martial arts legends Mark Hunt and Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic.
And with a submission victory over the likes of the great Jeff Monson, a two-time ADCC Submission Wrestling World Champion, Alexey Oleynik is a fighter who has been there and done that. Having defeated some of the worlds best grappling and striking experts in the field of mixed martial arts sporting competition. Oleynik is a true mixed martial artist with a wealth of experience against the very best the sport has to offer across a variety of disciplines.
Alistair “The Demolition Man” Overeem is a fighter who possesses the ability to defeat virtually anyone on the planet on any given night. Not someone you want to tangle with, Overeem is a dynamic striker who at various points in his career has looked virtually unstoppable against a deaths row of striking experts. A popular and controversial fighter, Overeem once failed a performance enhancing drug test with an eye popping 14:1 testosterone-to-epitestosterone ratio.
To put that into perspective, in an April 5, 2012 mmafighting.com article titled “Alistair Overeem’s T/E Ratio was 14:1 in Failed PED Test” author Mike Chiapetta writes, “The average male produces a T/E ratio around 1:1. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) uses a 4:1 standard for positive tests, and the NSAC uses a 6:1 as its cutoff.”
Overeem is a former K-1 World Grand Prix Champion, an elite mixed martial artist who is also the former Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion and interim DREAM Heavyweight Champion who has went on to smash some of the biggest names in the sport today including Mark Hunt, Junior Dos Santos and even WWE superstar Brock Lesnar. If you’re a fan of strikers who look for the finish, Alistair Overeem is a fighter whose record is littered with a trail of unconscious bodies in its wake. On any given night, against any fighter on the planet Alistair Overeem possesses the ability to defeat him in convincing, devastating fashion.
While enjoying a reputation as a feared striker, Overeem is also a crafty submission artist in his own right with a legendary guillotine choke that can easily introduce his opponents to the sandman if they are not prepared to deal with the tricks the seasoned veteran has up his sleeve. Unfortunately for Overeem, in what comes with the territory when you live and die by the sword, “The Demolition Man” is susceptible to being stopped by strikes to those crafty enough to exploit the holes in the veteran mixed martial artists game.
On paper, this is a classic striker versus grappler matchup. Though this is mixed martial arts and anything can happen, the keys to victory for each fighter are relatively clear cut and dry. By looking at their respective records alone it is clear that Oleynik is going to want to take this fight to the mat where he can utilize his submission grappling ability to put Overeem in a compromising position. Unfortunately for Oleynik, he is going to have to close the distance with Overeem in order to drag the Dutchmen to the canvas. Which is going to put “The Boa Constrictor” in striking range with the former K-1 champion though it isn’t like Oleynik hasn’t been here before.
It will be essential for the Russian to keep his hands up, conscious of his own head position as he looks to bring Alistair to the mat for fear of being caught in the Dutchmen’s own web of sticky submission techniques. The good news is that it won’t be hard to find Overeem in the cage, but the bad news is Oleynik is going to have to weather the storm from a straight up killer in order to make it a grappling contest.
Conversely, “The Demolition Man” should avoid going to the ground with Oleynik at all costs, keeping the Russian at the end of his punches, kicks and knee’s. Overeem is going to need to conduct a symphony of destruction while conscious of closing the distance with the Russian submission ace. Overeem needs to be an athletic, dynamic and mobile striker who makes his opponent pay for coming into striking range while maintaining sufficient enough range to minimize Oleynik’s grappling based offensive attack.
There are no mysteries in this fight, the only unknowns are which fighter is going to be able to impose his will over the other first. This is a fight where fighter IQ and the better game plan will mean the difference between victory and defeat. “The Boa Constrictor” will either catch Overeem in an ambush like assault or “The Demolition Man” is going to blow Oleynik right out of the water in a classic grappler versus striker matchup that will only continue to fuel the debate on which style of fighting is best.
Algorithms, Crocodile Tears and EPO in Mixed Martial Arts
By: Jesse Donathan
Even if you’re a “filthy casual,” as the MMA Twitter community has affectionately dobbed non-hardcore mixed martial arts fans, you’ve probably heard the news that former bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw recently tested positive for the banned substance erythropoietin (EPO). Erythropoietin is Lance Armstrong famous, being one of a handful of drugs centered in the legendary cyclist’s now infamous doping scandal, though according to The Sun columnist Duncan Wright’s June 30, 2017 NY Post article titled, “Lance Armstrong’s doping was all for nothing,” there is some question to the exact extent EPO’s performance enhancing effectiveness.
Wright would go on to explain that, “a groundbreaking new study has found the controversial substance has no effect on sporting performance, meaning Armstrong was wasting his time.”
“The study, published in the medical journal The Lancet, had scientists work with a group of 48 cyclists taking on a series of grueling rides, including the Mont Ventoux ascent, which is part of the Tour de France.” The article would go on to lay out the basic outline of this very interesting study, where half of the participants were doped with EPO and the other half were given a “dummy substance.”
The results of the study may or may not surprise you. According to Wright, “the tests revealed at the end of the grueling rides that the average results of the two groups of riders showed no difference at all. Though the riders injected with EPO showed higher concentrations of hemoglobin, it did nothing to improve heart rate, body efficiency or breathing.”
Dillashaw “voluntarily relinquished” his 135-poound UFC bantamweight title after an adverse finding with the New York State Athletic Commission (NYSAC) and U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) according to a March 20, 2019 ESPN article by Ariel Helwani. Dillashaw is coming off a failed bid to capture the UFC flyweight title from champion and Olympic gold medalist Henry Cejudo in January, beaten like a red headed stepchild in a one-sided contest that ended in just 32 seconds into round number one.
Not only did EPO fail to improve heart rate, body efficiency or breathing for those cyclists in the study cited above but it also failed to save T.J. Dillashaw from the relentless assault of a former Olympic gold medalist wrestler inside the cage as well.
“Controversy arose over the agency’s handling of Dillashaw’s previous tests after issuing a two-year suspension to the former bantamweight titleholder, when USADA revealed that at least one test conducted on Dec. 28 wasn’t initially screened for EPO,” writes mmajunkie.com’s Steven Marrocco and John Morgan in their April 12, 2019 article titled “Jeff Novitzky says ex-UFC champ T.J. Dillashaw was previously tested for EPO.”
This latest controversy of course coming on the heels of Jon Jones’s now notorious run through the UFC, USADA and numerous athletic commissions anti-doping policies, competing while testing positive for picograms of metabolites associated with the performance enhancing drug Turinabol.
“All the testing … is strategic testing,” Novitzky said. “There’s a reason behind the test that they do,” Novitzky told mmajunkie.com. Confirming my long-held suspicions of how the UFC’s anti-doping policy is administered in a rather candid and frank explanation as to how Dillashaw seemed to have slipped through the cracks for as long as he did.
Interestingly, Novitzky would go on to elaborate on exactly how that might have occurred, “when it comes to EPO analysis, what I believe they’re doing is passport information, so they’re looking at urine and blood markers over time.”
“That data is put into a computer, and there’s an algorithm that would spit out something that would have a red flag or be a bit suspicious, and those fighters are the ones that they want to dedicate extra testing dollars to.” So, part of the anti-doping strategy is apparently to rely on an algorithm to detect potential performance enhancing drug users in an effort to save money instead of blanket, across the board tests for all fighters which would be extraordinarily cost prohibitive for the world’s premiere mixed martial arts organization.
According to mmajunkie, “even UFC President Dana White was taken aback at the idea that Dillashaw might have evaded scrutiny.”
“What shocked me is what I’m paying USADA and that that didn’t get caught earlier,” White told mmajunkie.com in what should surprise absolutely nobody considering an algorithm of all things is used to detect possible red flag samples instead of across the board testing for all fighters or for that matter even common sense itself. White’s reaction amounting to little more than crocodile tears in my opinion as the guy allegedly footing the bill for the tests attempts to obfuscate the fact, he is in fact not paying for the tests at all unless the algorithm red flags an athlete’s samples. Which gives the UFC and everyone else a pretty good excuse, plausible deniability if you will when the tough questions start rolling in.
According to a November 8, 2008 spiegel.de article titled, “The Dealer Olympias” a coach of former Olympian Marion Jones named Angel “Memo” Heredia claimed the winner of the 100-meter finals in the 2008 Beijing Olympics would not be a “clean Olympic champion.” In Heredia’s estimation, there won’t even be a clean participant.
“Of eight runners,” Spiegel asks Heredia, eight will be doped according to Heredia in what is to this day one of the most eye opening and enlightening articles on performance enhancing drug use I have ever read in the arena of sporting competition.
“All countries, all associations, all top athletes are affected, and those responsible include the major shoe companies,” explains Heredia in describing the landscape of performance enhancing drug use as it pertains to the modern era of the sporting industry today.
“I know athletes who have broken records and were injured a year later, and then the call came, ‘We’re going to downgrade you by 50 percent.’ What do you think the athletes do?”
What Heredia is testifying to is the atmosphere of incentivized, performance-based bonuses that naturally create the drive for athletes to go above and beyond the call of duty in order to be successful. Especially when the consequences of not performing well can mean the difference between a livable wage and abject poverty. When was the last time an athlete was ever rewarded with a multimillion-dollar contract or performance-based bonus for being a good sport, playing fair or coming in next to last place?
With this in mind, should anyone really be surprised that athletes at the top of their sport are testing positive for illegal, performance enhancing drugs? So why are we relying on algorithm’s detect potential red flag athletes instead of blanket, across the board testing for all fighters and pretending to be surprised when athlete evades detection for as long as some seem to do? Maybe it’s because, “all the testing … is strategic testing?” And that, “there’s a reason behind the test that they do?” Or conversely, don’t do. The appearance of regulation and integrity far more important than the legitimate implementation of it. Like with EPO, the apparent effectiveness of the regulatory bodies themselves very much open to interpretation.
Broadway Boxing To Air Live On UFC Fight Pass
By: Sean Crose
The subscription service known as UFC Fight Pass has officially made a deal with DiBella Entertainment, and, in particular, that entities’ Broadway Boxing program. “On Wednesday, April 10, at 8:00 ET / 5:00 PM PT,” a press release reads, “UFC FIGHT PASS will exclusively live stream the Broadway Boxing event from Times Square’s Sony Hall in New York City. Ukrainian welterweight contender Ivan “The Volk” Golub (15-1, 12 KOs) will headline the event defending his WBC USNBC title in a scheduled 10-round bout.”
Veteran fight promoter, and DiBella Entertainment head, Lou DiBella, made it clear that he was quite happy with the partnership with UFC Fight Pass. “DiBella Entertainment is thrilled that this Broadway Boxing will be streamed on UFC Fight Pass, the premier streaming service for MMA and combat sports,” he said. “UFC Fight Pass’ commitment to offer first class boxing to its subscribers is great news for fight fans. We believe that this is the beginning of an exciting and creative collaboration.”
DiBella also had good things to say about Broadway Boxing’s maiden voyage on the streaming service. “April 10th’s card at Sony Hall is representative of what has made Broadway Boxing the longest running and most highly regarded grassroots boxing series in America,” he said. “”It features top welterweight contender Ivan Golub, who should be undefeated, as he continues to fight his way toward a world title, dynamic world champion Alicia ‘The Empress’ Napoleon, in a nontitle fight, and the ‘Big Uzbek’, Bakhodir Jalolov, who we believe is the scariest young heavyweight in the world and a future world champion. Former amateur stars Hurshidbek ‘Hershey’ Normatov, Joe Williams, Brian Ceballo and Khalid Twaiti round out the card in competitive bouts.”
Golub, who fights out of Brooklyn, has scored two huge knock wins on Showtime’s esteemed Shobox program. He also won the WBC’s United States’ Welterweight Title by besting Lanardo Tyner by unanimous decision last August. He’ll be defending that title against the 11-4-1 Californian, Manuel Alejandro “El Chino” Reyes. Reyes had won eight straight before dropping a unanimous decision to Mykal Fox in an attempt to win the vacant United Boxing Federation All America Welterweight Title last November.
For fifteen years, Broadway Boxing has been one of the longest airing staples of the fight game, focused on introducing up and coming fighters to the New York scene beyond. UFC Fight Pass has been streaming fights for the Ultimate Fighting Championship since 2013, airing content from the world of MMA as well as other combat sports.
Conor McGregor Accused of Rape
By: Jesse Donathan
There was an eerie silence within the mixed marital arts media; whispers and rumors were circulating throughout social media concerning reports which suggest, “that a well-known sportsperson has been accused of sexual assault,” and “that the star, who has remained unnamed, was on a two-day drinking binge in advance of the attack” according to a December 12, 2018 rt.com article titled, “‘Wild-eyed’: Irish sports star accused of sexual assault engaged in two-day ‘bender’.” The article would go on to state, “the woman is understood to have received physical injuries, including bruising and bleeding, in the attack. No arrests have yet been made.” On Tuesday, March 26, 2019, the social media rumors seemed to have been confirmed as the New York Times published an article titled, “Conor McGregor Under Investigation Over Sexual Assault Allegation in Ireland” by author Tariq Panja.
Photo Credit: Conor McGregor Twitter Account
According to a January 18, 2019 irishcentral.com article titled, “Irish sports star accused of rape and assault arrested and released” the unnamed Irish sports star “presented himself to police at Dundrum Garda Station on Thursday night, having made an appointment. He was accompanied by his lawyer.” A Garda spokeswoman told the Irish Mirror:
“Gardaí [Irish police] in Dundrum investigating an alleged sexual assault reported on Monday 10th December 2018 arrested a man on Thursday 17th January 2019.”
The irishcentral.com article would go on to state that according to one police source, “there is no doubt that this young lady suffered a horrendous ordeal – the examinations and all the evidence shows that she was raped and very badly assaulted in that penthouse suite.”
“Speculation is rife on social media as to the identity of the sports star who can’t be named in Ireland for legal reasons,” writes Niall Connor in his December 12, 2018 irishmirror.ie article titled, “Woman ‘raped’ by Irish sports star in Dublin has ‘partner and young child’.”
In a January 18, 2019 irishtimes.com article titled, “Sportsman arrested over alleged sex assault in Dublin” author Conor Gallagher and Ronan McGreevy write that the unnamed sportsman was, “detained under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act 1984 before being released without charge. A file on the matter is being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions and the investigation is ongoing.”
In an unrelated, separate matter, a November 28, 2018 rte.ie article titled, “Man convicted over breach of anonymity in Belfast rape trial” writes that, “a man in his 30s has been convicted in Northern Ireland after admitting that he used social media to publish the name of a complainant in a high-profile rape trial earlier this year. In a statement, the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) for Northern Ireland said that Sean McFarland appeared in court in Belfast today and pleaded guilty to one charge of breaching a ban on reporting the identity of an alleged victim.” Marianne O’Kane, head of the PPS serious Crime Unit is quoted as stating, “we would also ask the public to take extreme care when publishing any type of commentary on any live court proceedings, given the potential risk of prejudice to a fair trial.”
“People standing trial for rape should not be identified unless they are found guilty, Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) MP Ian Paisley has said. It follows the high-profile trial of rugby players Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding who were acquitted of rape. Mr. Paisley called for a change in the law to give the accused the same right to anonymity as a rape complainant,” writes the BBC in their March 29, 2018 article titled, “Ian Paisley says raped accused should have anonymity.” The article would go on to quote Mr. Paisley as saying, “No party should be identified in advance of the verdict and only then when there is a guilty verdict.”
The New York Times report comes on the heels of Conor McGregor’s arrest in Miami following an altercation with a fan where McGregor is alleged to have taken liberties with the fans phone resulting in the UFC stars arrest for strong armed robbery according to March 11, 2019 Miami Herald report by David Ovalle.
McGregor burst onto the UFC scene in 2013, going on to become a two-division champion while virtually being the face of organization. Coincidentally, McGregor announced his retirement from the sport Tuesday, March 26, 2019 hours prior to the New York Times article running. The announcement was widely viewed as a faux move, with McGregor holding out from competing in the UFC in a bid to attain partial ownership from the organization. The betting man might come to a different conclusion however, with McGregor’s retirement announcement likely being a strategic move in an attempt to smoke screen and stem the tide of news in the United States of his investigation for sexual assault in Ireland. At any rate, this is bad publicity for the UFC and heartbreaking news to the legions of Conor McGregor fans around the globe.
UFC & ESPN+ Sign New PPV Deal Through 2025
By: Jesse Donathan
According to MMAFighting.com’s Shaheen Al-Shatti, “UFC and ESPN have inked a deal to make ESPN+ the exclusive new home for PPV’s until 2025 for fans in the United States.” The news comes on the heels of UFC president Dana White himself announcing his own new deal with the company. According to an ESPN report by Michael Rothstein, “The president of the UFC announced Monday that he has agreed to a new seven-year deal to continue running the world’s leading mixed martial arts circuit.” What this essentially means is that ESPN is all in, they’ve hedged their bets on mixed martial arts and ESPN and the UFC wanted to make sure Dana White was coming along with them for the ride in the process.
Al-Shatti would go on to elaborate on the UFC’s new signing, stating, “basically If you want to order UFC 236 or any PPV for the next six years, it’ll need to be through ESPN+.” The announcement is the latest in a series of moves from combat sport promotions who are aligning themselves to generate revenue away from the traditional pay-per-view model and moving into the digital platform age.
According to a December 12, 2018 nydailytimes.com article titled, “Oscar de la Hoya is out to kill pay-per-view with the help of Canelo Alvarez and a lot of cash from DAZN,” author Wallace Matthews explains that, “unlike the pay-per-view revenue stream of de la Hoya’s era, Alvarez’ money will be generated through the digital platforms of DAZN (pronounced Da-ZONE), a streaming service that sells for about $10 a month.”
“Pay per view is dead and we’re going to bury it,” de la Hoya said over lunch Tuesday in a Manhattan steakhouse.”
According to Matthews, “In reality, all the risk seems to be on DAZN, which is spending billions in trying to seize the U.S. sports market away from the likes of ESPN and Fox.” With news of the UFC committing to ESPN for the foreseeable future, the competition between DAZN and ESPN just got a little bit fiercer as the next piece of the puzzle has revealed itself in the bid for the U.S. sporting market supremacy.
De la Hoya and Dana White are no strangers to one another. In a December 12, 2018 Yahoo sports article titled, “Dana White escalates feud with Oscar De La Hoya: ‘He’s a liar and a phony’” journalists Kevin Iole writes, “The percolating feud between UFC president Dana White and Golden Boy Promotions CEO Oscar De La Hoya boiled over on Wednesday when White went hard after the boxing Hall of Famer.”
“’The guy wants to come out and tell lies and say things that make no sense when he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He knows nothing about this sport. He doesn’t know the [expletive] guys’ names who are fighting on his card. He’s a liar. He’s a phony and God help anybody who wants to go fight for Golden Boy,” said White.
Iole would go on to state that, “De La Hoya has chastised White for not paying his fighters enough and said he will promote another MMA show because so many UFC fighters are approaching him saying they’re underpaid.” Indeed, any alternative avenue that results in undervalued fighters getting paid after a career of getting short changed is a positive thing and a threat to the UFC’s compensation paradigm.
Interestingly, a January 3, 2019 mmanews.com article titled, “Oscar De La Hoya Claims His MMA Event Is Why PPV Is Dead,” author Jon Fuentes quotes Golden Boy front man de La Hoya as having recently told a fan, and I quote, “and that’s why it’s dead you dumbass” after having been confronted over Golden Boys inaugural MMA event between MMA legends Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz which had varying accounts of success depending on who you ask.
With the recent announcement between ESPN and the UFC, it looks like there was more bark to de La Hoya’s bite than what was initially thought as the UFC looks to follow in Golden Boy’s footsteps in moving to the digital platform model themselves with ESPN+’s video streaming subscription service.
So, while PPV doesn’t appear to be dead, it does appear to be flowing like water. Conforming to its new environment, taking the shape and form of whatever its new vessel may be. Whether or not de La Hoya killed PPV remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure, change is in the air and the UFC’s alignment with ESPN is good business for everyone involved. Not the least of which will be the fans who will have the opportunity to be exposed to a healthy dose of mainstream mixed martial arts on a consistent, regular basis with ESPN rolling the dice and going all in for mixed martial arts broadcasting throughout the 2025 contractual agreement with the UFC.
UFC 235 Results: Jones Shuts Smith Down
By: Jesse Donathan
Incredibly, Jon Jones was licensed to fight at UFC 235 despite failing his NSAC prescribed drug test, testing positive once again for picograms of a metabolite associated with the banned performance enhancing drug Turinabol leading up to his successful title defense Saturday night against challenger Anthony Smith. According to a February 28, 2019 sherdog.com article titled, “Jon Jones cleared for UFC 235 despite adverse findings in drug tests” author Jay Pettry writes, “Jones has been tested six times since the beginning of February. Two of those tests did find 20 and 40 picogram/milliliter levels of (DHCMT M3) metabolites from (the) banned substance Turinabol, which have been found repeatedly in his system since his positive test in 2017.” Pettry would go on to quote Dr. Daniel Eichner of the Sports Medicine and Research Laboratory as stating, “There is no scientific or medical evidence that the athlete (Jones) would have an unfair advantage leading up to, or for, his contest scheduled on March 2, 2019” in elaborating on how it came to be that Jones was licensed despite flagged urinalysis test results.
Interestingly, Jones’s latest flagged test results of 40 picograms/milliliter levels of Turinabol metabolites is greater than his previously flagged test results of Turinabol from December, 2018. According to a fansided.com article titled, “UFC 232 VADA test results reveal steroid metabolites for Jon Jones” author Drake Riggs writes, “the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) confirmed via MMAFighting that Jones had 33 picograms of 4-chloro-18-nor-17β-hydroxymethyl,17α-methyl-5α-androst-13-en-3α-ol (M3) (or DHMCT) in his system.” For those of us who are not aware, Turinabol has a half-life of 16 hours. Google defines half-life as, “the time required for any specified property (e.g. the concentration of a substance in the body) to decrease by half.” If Jones is clean, why are his levels of Turinabol metabolites increasing when in theory his levels should be decreasing on their way to being completely expunged from his body?
According to a November 11, 2011 article title, “Detection and Mass Spectrometric characterization of novel long-term dehydrochloromethyltestosterone metabolites in human urine” featured in the Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology authors Tim Sobolevsky and Grigory Rodchenov write:
“Our study has shown that the metabolite M3 and, to a lesser extent, its epimer and M4 are the most long-term metabolites of DHCMT. Taking into account that I and II are reportedly detectable up to 22 days post administration [3,9] and that the relative concentration of M3 in DHCMT post administration urines is normally higher compared to I and II, the detection window of M3 could be estimated as 40–50 days, while M1, M2 and M4 are at least as valuable as I and II. An additional controlled excretion study is needed to fully evaluate the time at which novel metabolites can be detected.”
More than 50 days have passed since December 09, 2018 alone. In short, Jon Jones has essentially been given the greenlight to compete with trace amounts of Turinabol, a performance enhancing drug, in his system despite the fact there are more questions than answers surrounding his flagged urinalysis results. For all we know, Jones has the right people behind him to mask the Turinabol in his system to nearly undetectable levels and that is what we are repeatedly seeing in the flagged test results. Yet Jones is given the benefit of the doubt and cleared to compete anyway despite being a habitual offender.
What the commissions, USADA and the UFC have given us is plausible deniability, theories about the presence of these metabolites in his system yet no conclusive evidence has been brought forward that Jones is not cheating beyond educated opinion. What we do have are flagged drug tests, yet Jones is given the benefit of the doubt instead of the commissions airing on the side of caution with consideration to the potential health hazards of his opponents who are putting their lives on the line based on theories, not facts, in competing against a known dirty fighter.
This is unarmed combat, not competitive dance. People have died as a result of beatings accrued in the ring and cage, yet a confirmed performance enhancing drug user is allowed to compete despite flagged test result. If anyone thinks for one second Jones isn’t being given preferential treatment because he just happens to be the best fighter we have ever seen then you are sadly mistaken. This isn’t just another athlete, its Jon Jones, the best fighter on the planet, flagged for metabolites of performance enhancing drugs, and those who count the most can’t possibly draw a correlation between the two facts? Instead, they are allowing this fighter to beat the hell out of other professional fighters who are presumably playing by the same rules in which Jones has shown such disregard for?
This is very irresponsible behavior from all parties involved and while I am not out to get Jon Jones, I am however calling it as I see it. The fact that he has been continuously licensed, despite numerous flagged tests results, is hypocritical of the commissions and absurd no matter how you want to shake a stick at it. These are unconscionable decisions from the NSAC. Either a zero-tolerance policy needs to be instituted or the entire performance enhancing drug paradigm needs to be re-evaluated. This perverted idea of fairness looks more like a green light to cheat more and more each time Jones has another test flagged for atypical results yet is still licensed to fight anyway somehow.
Interestingly, a pattern is beginning to emerge in the flagged test results from Jones. According to the Pettry article, Jones passed the tests which were administered on 02/01/19 and 02/09/19 respectively but promptly failed the administered tests on 02/14/19 and 02/15/19. Jones successfully defended his title March 2, making this latest round of failed tests occurring roughly two weeks before his scheduled fight with Anthony Smith. According to a December 29, 2018 MMAFighting.com article titled, “The science of ‘Bones’: An in-depth look at Jon Jones’ drug-test findings, why he’ll be able to fight at UFC 232” author Marc Raimondi cites information provided by Oliver Catlin, an anti-doping expert, who himself cited retired former USADA Director of Science, Dr. Larry Bowers, as stating, “In conclusion, I cannot determine with any certainty when, at what dose, or what chlorinated anabolic steroid was ingested that gave rise to the July, 2017 result,” Bowers wrote. “Based on the data provided, I conclude that no DHCMT exposure occurred between August, 2018 and December, 2018. I cannot exclude the possibility that the December 9, 2018 result arose from an exposure before July, 2017.”
Jones competed at UFC 232 on December 29, approximately three weeks out from his flagged test results on December 9. It would appear Jones is “pulsing” just weeks before his scheduled fights, but cruising right along and passing his tests with no scheduled fights in his immediate future. I would call it convenient, but my opinion is the actual truth is that Jon Jones is not clean. He is still using performance enhancing drugs and the commissions are essentially giving him the green light to compete dirty anyway. Even the vague appearance of impropriety should be enough for the commissions to avoid any such behavior, yet apparently, they are not here to protect the safety of the fighters but rather to protect the interests of the promotion which is ultimately a huge revenue generating machine for the commission themselves. There is a symbiotic relationship between these two entities where there should be clear and well-defined boundaries.
Jones (24-1) convincingly defeated the challenger Anthony Smith (31-14), shutting down the very experienced veteran in nearly every facet of the game in route to a unanimous decision victory. It was a complete shut out, though Smith can take solace in the fact he went the distance with the best fighter on the planet and wasn’t stopped even in the face of the overwhelming 14:1 betting odds against him. Despite the dominant Jones victory, I cannot help but wonder what the result would have been like if Smith had been allowed to administer 40 picograms/milliliter of Turinabol just prior to the contest, creating a truly level, fair playing field.
Colby Covington’s Life Threatened by Abdelaziz
Leading up to UFC 235 during fight week, former UFC interim welterweight champion Colby Covington (14-1), the UFC’s #1 ranked contender in the welterweight division crashed the #2 ranked Kamaru Usman’s (15-1) UFC 235 open workout Thursday as detailed in a MMAFighting.com Tweet featuring video of Covington on a bullhorn reminding Usman and the crowd that the real champ was there. It was a ballsy and bold move, absolutely brilliant, and exactly what the doctor ordered to remind the world of who Colby Covington is. This was shameless self-promotion, but brilliantly executed nonetheless.
Covington is a marketing genius and its shenanigans like this that explain why an unnecessary interim title was created for him and why Dana White brought him to the White House to meet President Donald Trump. The guy is a star in the making and the exact kind of athlete people love to hate.
The very public narrative from Covington of having been cheated out of a title spot, “corruption” as Covington put it to ESPN’s Ariel Helwani, is a little more than smoke and mirrors. It is a page taken straight out of the professional wrestling big book of promotion to create a story line and drama for the fans and media who eat this kind of entertainment up hook, line and sinker. Not surprisingly, despite calling Dana White “Uncle Fester” and insisting the UFC President doesn’t want to talk to him, Covington believes he is next in line for a title shot. This is likely the case considering Covington has reaped the rewards of sitting back and watching as one of the divisions two toughest fighters was sent to the back of the line Saturday night in now former champion Tyron Woodley (19-4-1), who was dominated start to finish by Usman in route to a majority decision victory. There is no way anyone will ever convince me this entire charade wasn’t just smoke and mirrors in order to mask the UFC’s true intentions of opening up the landscape in order to clear the way as much as possible for a Covington welterweight title run. This is a page right out of Vince McMahon and Stone Cold Steve Austin’s play book, where a public feud between the two originating in the late ‘90s brought massive ratings for the WWF, which ultimately translated into dollar signs for everyone involved.
In a not so staged, very real-life drama that unfolded the next day after UFC 235 at a buffet in the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, newly crowned welterweight champion Kamaru Usman, his manager Ali Abdelaziz and members of their entourage can be seen in a TMZ video that surfaced online late Sunday afternoon of the team getting into an altercation with former interim welterweight champion Colby Covington, who appears to be outnumbered though surrounded by innocent bystanders caught in the ensuing melee.
At one point, the incident turned chaotic and violent with Abdelaziz appearing to sucker punch a patron who was caught in the crossfire with their back turned no less to the Usman entourage. This isn’t the first time Abdelaziz and Usman have been involved in public altercations, with an earlier incident at a PFL event occurring just last year in 2018.
While these kinds of incidents make for sensational headlines, it’s also important to remember millions of impressionable youth look on and hang on to everything these fighters say and do. Covington would go on tell ESPN’s Ariel Helwani Monday that Abdelaziz threatened to shoot and kill him during the altercation, behavior which is completely unacceptable from anyone much less a manager to several of the UFC’s top fighters and champions.
Askren Big Brothers Lawler In Controversial Ending
The controversies outside the Octagon threatened to overshadow that events that actually took place in the cage, though one fight at UFC 235 managed to catch the public’s imagination for all the wrong reasons. Among the most anticipated matchups of the night at UFC 235 featured former UFC welterweight champion Robbie Lawler (28-13) take on the undefeated former Olympian Ben Askren (19-0), who had his hands full with the man they call “Ruthless.” Right off the bat, Askren looked to close the distance in an attempt to tie Lawler up for the takedown, nearly taking the former champions back before it was the Olympian Askren who ended up getting taken for a ride and violently slammed to the mat. A brief scramble ensued before it was Lawler who ended up on top, expertly pinning Askren’s arm behind his back as the former champion opened up a can of whoop ass on wrestling prodigy. A solid case could have been made for the fight to have been stopped right there, as Askren appeared knocked unconscious as he ate numerous unanswered blows. Whether that was the case or not, it certainly appeared Askren was out cold.
With Lawler bringing the heat, Askren eventually came to his senses and freed is arm, making his way to half guard before establishing an under hook which the Olympian used to make his way back to his feet. Askren absorbed a tremendous amount of punishment during the exchange, obviously busted up from the Lawler onslaught. From there, the two fighters briefly circled before quite a bit of standing grappling took place against the cage linked fence, each fighter jockeying for position before it was Askren who ended up grabbing a single leg and bringing the former welterweight champion down to the mat.
This is the point where quite a bit of controversy has sense brewed, after some brief wrestling Lawler’s arm appears to go limp after Askren tied him up in a bulldog big brother choke. Referee Herb Dean was faced with some tough decisions in a very short period of time, stop the fight due to the fact it appeared Robbie Lawler was getting chocked unconscious or allow the fight to go on despite the fact nobody could blame him for thinking Lawler was out cold.
The veteran referee Dean appeared to check on Lawler just in case right before ordering Askren to let Lawler go, stopping the fight with Askren winning by technical submission referee stoppage. It was a sensational, come from behind victory that Askren had to dig deep for, but instead his well-earned victory is forever overshadowed by controversy due to no fault of his own.
Initially, I thought the fight was stopped early but upon reviewing the instant replay from numerous angles, a luxury Dean didn’t have at the time, I believe Herb made the correct decision. Though one camera angle has surfaced which does appear to show Lawler giving Dean the thumbs up immediately prior to Herb stopping the fight. We are talking events which transpired within seconds. Lawler looked like he was out cold and Dean was perfectly within his rights to call the fight when he did. It can’t be easy being a referee and this latest decision from Dean is a good case in point.
Unfortunately for Herb there is an army of fans and pundits alike who disagree with the decision, including UFC President Dana White who publicly stated he didn’t believe Dean got the call right. It was a controversial decision, but based upon what Dean was seeing at the time and the fact Lawler’s arm did in fact appear to go limp, it was the correct call as far as I am concerned. And this is coming from someone who has been critical of Dean in the past. The real story here is Askren defeating the assassin specifically brought in to kick Ben’s ass. Mission accomplished, though the outcome wasn’t exactly what Dana was hoping for.
Munhoz Stops Garbrandt in Barn Burner, Johnny Walker Prevails Over Cirkunov
The two best fights of the night were former bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt (11-3) vs. Pedro Munhoz (18-3) and Johnny Walker vs. Misha Cirkunov (14-5). Garbrandt vs. Munhoz was a barn burner, with the former champion showing a true warrior spirit in going out on his shield in an absolute fire fight with Munhoz who ended up catching Garbrandt with a big shot and sending the former champion crashing to the canvas.
It was exactly the kind of fight the fans wanted to see, and win or lose, Cody Garbrandt makes it to my All-Violence First Team for ensuring the fans get to see exactly what they came for. This was an exciting fight everyone looks back fondly on despite the former champion having dropped three in a row now, two of which were back-to-back loses to the champion T.J. Dillashaw. I do not think that means as much as some might think when you’re consistently involved in some of the most exciting fights in the promotion on a regular basis. Garbrandt is a stud, though one who is going to need to evolve if he hopes to be able to escape serious traumatic brain injury later down the line.
The electrifying 6’6” Johnny Walker (17-3) made short work of the very tough Misha Cirkunov, briefly displaying a very unpredictable and unorthodox offensive game before absolutely blasting Cirkunov into another dimension with a flying knee that sent the Latvia fighter collapsing to the canvas. It was a very impressive performance and has put the rest of the light heavyweight division on notice that a new kid is in town. But the question remains, does Walker have the grappling acumen to compete with the Jonny “Bones” Jones’s of the world? That question remains to be seen, but it should be a wild ride on our way to finding out the answer.
UFC 235 Preview: Jones vs. Smith
By: Jesse Donathan
UFC 235 is going down Saturday night, March 2, 2019 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las, Vegs Nevada live on PPV starting at 10 pm. This may be the best card mixed martial arts fan will see all year, with the main event featuring UFC light heavyweight champion Jon “Bones” Jones (23-1) squaring off against the very experienced veteran in challenger Anthony “Lionheart” Smith (31-13). Smith was once cut from the UFC after his first loss with the promotion, but with true grit and determination soldiered on and managed to fight his way not only back to the big stage but vying for the UFC light heavyweight crown against perhaps the greatest fighter the sport has ever seen in champion Jon Jones.
Smith is on a three-fight win streak, having dispatched two former UFC LHW champions in Rashad Evans and Mauricio Rua and going on to submit former title challenger Volkan Oezdemir by rear-naked-choke. He will have his hands full against the champion, where according to a February 27, 2019 sherdog.com article titled, “Jon Jones Praises ‘Most Well Put Together Coaching Staff Ever Assembled’ Ahead of UFC 235” Jones has put together a dream team of mixed martial arts minds to maximize his chances of success against the very experienced Anthony Smith.
Jones is reported to have an 84 ½ in reach, over eight inches longer than the challenger Anthony Smith (76) despite both fighters being reported to be 6’4” though in previous faceoff’s leading up to the fight Jones appears to have a slight advantage even in that department as well. The fight will be contested at the championship weight of 205 pounds where Jon Jones is considered by most to be favorite going into the contest by a wide margin (14:1) though there is a small but growing contingency who believe an upset is in the making Saturday might.
The evenings co-main event will see UFC 170-pound welterweight champion Tyron Woodley (19-3) defend his belt against the very game #2 ranked UFC welterweight contender Kamaru Usman (14-1). On paper, these fighters appear to be nearly carbon copies of one another. Both are dominant wrestlers who rely on a sprawl heavy game plan to force outmatched opponents to stand and trade with them, though in the champions case a tendency to come well prepared with an excellent game plan and impeccable execution are increasingly becoming hallmarks of a Woodley title reign.
In the wings, waits former UFC welterweight interim champion Colby Covington who is the divisions #1 contender, having allegedly lost his chance to compete for the undisputed belt due to a previously scheduled nasal surgery, bumping the divisions #2 contender in Usman into the title contention picture.
Covington is a star in the making, a fighter who is not afraid to say whatever is on his mind which usually includes just the right things to get under both other fighters and the fans skin alike. He is a naturally charismatic, intelligent personality who the UFC created an interim title for and who UFC President Dana White even brought to the White House with him to meet President Donald Trump.
Recently, Covington and the UFC have created a narrative where Covington has been wronged out of his rightful title shot against Tyron Woodley as Covington watches one of the divisions two toughest opponents fight one another and lose, sending someone going to the back of the line and clearing the landscape that much more for an eventual Covington title run.
In the process, the perennial heel in Covington is slowly turning babyface by garnering the fan and media’s sympathies with his plight. Professional wrestling psychology 101 and an ingenious marketing strategy employed to manipulate the tools at their disposal and the future of the division.
And if these two amazing fights weren’t enough for your viewing pleasure, UFC 235 also features the fierce former UFC welterweight champion Robbie Lawler (28-12) take on Woodley training partner and wrestling prodigy Ben Askren (18-0) in Askren’s highly anticipated UFC debut. Few champions have defended their titles the way that Robbie Lawler did, who was involved in some absolute wars and handled himself as a man would in the cage win or lose. This is the toughest fight Askren’s career to date and one where a lot of questions will be answered.
Lawler has an excellent anti-wrestling game, making him a particularly interesting test against Askren who is always the best grappler when he steps into the cage, no matter who he is facing. Robbie Lawler will bring the fight to Askren, the only fighter who will be looking for a takedown in this fight is Ben Askren and the questions really are can he consistently do so while weathering the storm in the process? Lawler is a competitor, the incredibly heralded and charismatic Askren will have his hands full until Lawler is stopped or the final bell sounds.
Fortunately for us, the great night of fights doesn’t end there. Tecia Torres (10-3) faces off against Weili Zhang (18-1), former bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt (11-2) fights Pedro Munhoz (17-3), Jeremy Stephens (28-15) is slated to scrap with one of the UFC’s most exciting up and coming fighters in Zabit Magomedsharipov (16-1) and Misha Cirkunov (14-4) fights the popular Johnny Walker (16-3). This card is absolutely stacked, there are also some big names remaining on the card no previously mentioned to include Diego Sanchez, Polyana Viana, Marlon Vera and others. Tune in Saturday night, live on PPV to catch what is likely to be the best card fans will see all year.