Medical beat: Do MMA fans want a sport -- or sanctioned street fight?
I write articles about sports from a medical perspective. I have been described as "a passionate fan that just happens to be a doctor." I like this description and find it to be reasonably accurate.
I am not trying to preach to anyone or act as some sort of "moral authority." I am not the all-knowing definitive voice of anything. I aspire to use my training/knowledge, professional (and personal) experience and humor to offer a fresh perspective.
Do the hardcore fans want MMA to be a sport or sanctioned street fight?
Women's MMA is Ready for Its Closeup
As previously blogged by Mike Fagan, the media is paying increasing attention to women's MMA. The latest example is a cover story in Minneapolis City Pages.
It's a long article, so here are the highlights:
EliteXC considering all-female card:
"We're looking into having two divisions. And we hope to keep bringing in top-level talent to fill our rosters," says Jeremy Lapin, head of EliteXC fight operations. "We're actually looking into having an all-female card in the future."
Rosenthal on Kim Couture fight:
"I didn't catch flak for the fight and some complimented me for letting the fight happen," Rosenthal says. "Kim Couture even complimented me by saying I had the sack to let it keep going."
Gina Carano on cutting weight with her opponent:
"Kaitlin is such a sweetie," Carano would say later. "We actually cut weight together in the sauna before the fight. She's still young and is going to become a great fighter."
Smack talk about Gina leading up to this Saturday's fight on CBS:
People have made much about Kobald's upcoming fight against Carano on CBS this Saturday. Kobald has been quoted to the effect that she plans on ******* Carano's shit up. "Right now it's the Gina Carano league and her opponents," Kobald says of EliteXC.
UFC Quick Quote: War Machine on the war path
So the UFC decided to let me go because of my statements after the death of Evan Tanner. They tried to make it look like I was insensitive towards Evan and that that was the reason I was being cut. In all honesty my bulletin regarding Evan was bashing the UFC and the way they treat fighters and not negative to Evan in any way. if anything I was sticking up for Evan and the way he was mistreated by the UFC just like the vast majority of it fighters. Anyway, since my bulletins and all the bullshit being talked about on the underground several of Evan Tanner’s close friends and family members have been in contact with me. 99 percent of them were not mad at all and pretty much let me know that they knew where I was going with the whole bulletin and for me not to worry about hurting any of them directly. SO yeah one of his close friends just messaged me a few hours ago and let me know that the UFC sent NO ONE to speak at his funeral. He let me know how much this saddened the family and how very disappointed they were about it all. This is an EX CHAMPION of theirs, NOT some scrub that fought for them once and thats it. Are you trying to tell me he doesn’t deserve any of the UFC brass’ presence at his funeral? Doesn’t deserve a single kind word or statement of gratitude for the services that he provided their organization?”
Cures for the common losing streaks
Depending on the native language of the fan, the perception of Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic varies widely. For some, he's an overhyped expatriate of obscure Japanese fight culture. For others, he has the most talented lower body -- glutes, quads, the ever-popular hamstring -- next to Pele's.
For those who were weaned on Filipovic's exploits in Japan from 2001 to 2006, HDNet's broadcast of Dream 6 on Tuesday provided further depressing evidence that the once-feared Croatian is nearing the end of his tenure as a heavyweight threat. Battered by inconsistent Alistair Overeem, Cro Cop has not made a significant move since winning Pride's open-weight tournament in 2006.
He's one of several attractions who have struggled in recent months to restore sheen to their careers and make corrections to obvious faults in tactical preparation. At age 34, Filipovic's problems don't seem the result of physical deterioration. He's simply an older make of an athlete who needs an upgrade if he is to remain competitive with today's crop of licensed killers.
SUPERFIGHTS MMA "NIGHT OF COMBAT" FIGHT CARD
Superfights MMA (with special thanks to KC Concepts) presents a Night of Combat featuring top fighters from Xtreme Couture, live at the Thomas & Mack Center on Saturday, October 11, 2008. The event will feature John Alessio, Mike Pyle, Jay Hieron, Josh Haynes and an entire night of MMA action.
Elena "Baby Doll" Reid vs Stephanie Palmer
Ian Omalza vs Ryan Hass
Patrick "Kui" Gonzalves vs Ryan Lamareaux
Johnathan "J J" Mix vs John Halverson
Josh "Bring The Pain" Haynes vs Steve Byrnes
John "The Natural" Alessio vs Gideon Ray
Mike "Quicksand" Pyle vs Brain Gassaway
Jay "The Thorobred" Hieron vs Bryson Kamaka
Hector "Sick Dog" Ramirez vs Rick "The Jet" Roufus
*Be advised that all bouts are subject to change prior to the date of the event.
The Growing Wave of Females in MMA
Julie Kedzie's nose bleeds again, and her hair's a mess. Wisps of it have come free from her tight cornrows. She works hard to catch her breath.
Still, the professional mixed martial arts fighter beams like a cheerleader at the top of the pyramid. It's a clear case of "You should see the other guy."
The referee has called a stop to Kedzie's fight with Julia Berezekova at the Ice Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia. The packed venue erupts as Kedzie raises her arms in victory.
And so begins an article by my friend, Susan Brackney (non-pdf version here). I point the article out because not only is this a focus piece on women's MMA, but it can be found in an issue of Indianapolis Woman.
Kickboxing legend Rick Roufus looking towards MMA title, "Night of Combat"
When NBA legend Michael Jordan stepped away from basketball in the prime of his career to pursue a job in baseball, many questioned his sanity. But for Jordan, failure wouldn't result in broken limbs or concussions.
But at 41-years-old, six-time kickboxing world champion -- and former WBC boxing champion -- Rick Roufus is seven months into his search for an MMA light-heavyweight title. Roufus recently told MMAjunkie.com he's enjoying the challenge.
"It's a new challenge to me," Roufus said. "I'm going to be the only guy to go from American kickboxing to boxing to Thai boxing and to MMA, winning titles in all of them."
MIESHA TATE RETURNS TO ACTION IN NOVEMBER
One of the fastest rising stars in women’s mixed martial arts, Miesha Tate, will return to action on Nov. 29 as she stays in her hometown of Tacoma, Wash. to take on pro boxer turned MMA fighter Theresa Doerksen.
Tate made a big impression on many MMA fans with her dominant performance over Elaina Maxwell back in June on the Strikeforce: Melendez vs. Thomson card.
Since that time, she was expecting to return to Strikeforce, possibly on the last Playboy Mansion show, Strikeforce at the Mansion 2, but the promotion decided against her appearance on the card.
“I'm not quite sure what to make of that whole deal,” Tate told MMAWeekly.com. “At first they seemed all about me, but then I was turned down on the Playboy show because they decided they didn't want any female bouts and I haven't heard anything since so I'm not waiting around on them.”
Bebeo Duarte focused on BTT Las Vegas
One of the best ground experts from Carlson Gracie Team, Bebeo Duarte is leaving Brazilian Top Team in Rio de Janeiro to run the team branch in Las Vegas, USA. In exclusive interview to TATAME.com, Bebeo spoke about the moving and what it’ll represent to the team, besides commenting the MMA evolution and his best moments in BTT. Check below an exclusive interview with Bebeo Duarte.
Expanding the Base: UFC, Affliction Trying to Broaden MMA’s Demographic
In this election year, “the base” is an often repeated phrase. In politics, a candidate’s core supporters form his base. The challenge faced by Senators McCain and Obama in the race for the Presidency is to maintain the support of their base while expanding their appeal to a broader constituency, namely the independents who will decide the election.
The “politics” of MMA are no different. MMA has found a solid base of its own in the form of the 18-34 male demographic that comprises the vast majority of the sport’s current niche following. That demographic has been the foundation of MMA’s growth over the last three years, but for the industry to continue to grow the sport’s appeal must expand further into the mainstream of American culture. The UFC and Affliction are both aggressively courting the crossover audience necessary to broaden the sport’s reach beyond 18-34 males, but the companies have identified decidedly different target audiences for expansion.
Kharitonov To Face Ambriz @ DREAM.6
Jimmy 'The Titan' Ambriz will replace Mighty MO at DREAM. 6 & Face Sergei Kharitonov
Ken Pavia frm MMA Agents informed PDG today that he will be flying to Japan tomorrow and his fighter Jimmy "The Titan" Ambriz will be replacing Mighty MO at DREAM. 6 against Sergei Kharitonov on Tuesday Sept. 23rd. No word yet on why Mighty MO had to withdraw but an announcement is expected soon.
Bad news for MO fans but great that Sergei is still going to be on the card!!
Is Tito Ortiz AFL-Bound?
Tito Ortiz's UFC contract officially expired on August 4th. The next day, SI.com reported that Ortiz had signed a ground-breaking deal with Affliction. Several hours later, they changed the story to state that the former light heavyweight champion was on the verge of signing the contract. 43 days later, we still have no clue as to where and when Ortiz will fight next.
Every couple of days, Ortiz will pop up in some interview, insult Dana White, tell us he's been in this sport for eleven years and that it's finally time for him to get paid. Seriously, I know his speech off by heart at this point.
Recently, Ortiz was a guest on HDNet's "Inside MMA" and, once again, regurgitated the same song and dance about how he was ready to collect. However, when we spoke to Affliction COO, Michael D. Cohen, last month about Ortiz's demands, he flat out said that neither Affliction nor any other fight promotion will pay Ortiz what he wants.
I wonder if he was also referring to the American Fight League?
Recent reports have stated that Ortiz has been in negotiations with the fledgling promotion and, quite frankly, this is the only organization I can see paying Ortiz what he wants or at least close enough to it.
Showtime Enters Talks to Purchase Pro Elite
Showtime Networks filed public notice with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Thursday announcing its intention to enter preliminary negotiations for the purchase of Pro Elite Inc.
Showtime, a subsidiary of the parent conglomerate CBS Corporation, already enjoys broadcasting deals with the Los Angeles-based company on both its premium cable channel and CBS. Showtime also has a 20% ownership stake in Pro Elite
Calvacante slams CSAC over Silva's steroid ban
American Top Team fighter Gesias ‘JZ’ Calvacante had some strong words for the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) in a recent interview.
His teammate Antonio Silva has been hit with a steroid ban by CSAC, but Calvacante believes the body – which found Sean Sherk positive last year - to be in error.
Rule Changes Possible Following Johnson-Burns Decision
On July 19th Anthony Johnson was defeated by Kevin Burns at UFC Fight Night 14 via technical knockout, but that isn’t the entire story of a loss that could ultimately result in rule changes both in Nevada where the bout took place and possibly elsewhere.
Following repeated warnings throughout the opening rounds for incidentally poking Johnson in the eyes Burns dropped Johnson to the canvas with a deep-but-accidental eye gouge in the third frame. After collapsing in pain Johnson was unable to defend himself or continue the fight so the referee waived the fight off and awarded a TKO victory to Burns.
Immediate replays of the finish showed that Johnson was downed by a finger to the eye, not a punch as the originally believed, but the decision was final and Burns was declared the victor via technical knockout.
Fans questioned the ruling, asking why Johnson wasn’t declared the winner via disqualification as he was defeated using a banned maneuver or at the very least why the bout wasn’t declared a no contest. Johnson and his agent, Ken Pavia, challenged the rendered decision, filing an unsuccessful appeal with the Nevada State Athletic Commission of the July loss.
The NSAC last week denied the appeal due to a “lack of remedy”.
The current MMA rules in Nevada do not allow for the athletic commission to change a decision rendered at the end of any contest or exhibition unless one of three situations occur:
* The Commission determines that there was collusion affecting the result of the contest or exhibition;
* The compilation of the scorecards of the judges discloses an error which shows that the decision was given to the wrong unarmed combatant; or
* As the result of an error in interpreting a provision of this chapter, the referee has rendered an incorrect decision.
Greg Jackson: The Swamp Fox of MMA
"I love the mist coming off the trees," Greg Jackson says staring at the early morning fog enshrouding the Georgia pine. "It reminds me of Francis Marion." Just the fact that he knows who Francis "The Swamp Fox" Marion is turns my head. I'm an Army officer who sees the world through historical blunders and tactical victories, so Jackson is treading on my turf. Like he cares. Shocking people has become a hobby of his and he'd just pulled off his biggest surprise party the night prior when Rashad Evans knocked Chuck Liddell off the ‘top ten light heavyweights in the world' list. I've had a relationship with Jackson for over a year, but like the rest of the world, I'm learning that he has a knack for unpredictability; a facet that reinforces his nearly mythical status.
It's roughly eight o'clock in the morning and we've just finished an hour-long workout with Delta Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment at Fort Stewart, Georgia. The soldiers catch their breath and cool down, but Jackson, covered in grass and sweat, is amped. "I can't think of a better way to start the day," he tells the troops. His days immediately after a stressful event like UFC 88 should be reserved for decompressing and relaxation, but instead he's on a road trip with me to spend a couple of days with soldiers in the muggy southern heat. That doesn't stop the MMA world from trying to find him despite the poor cell phone coverage.
JAMES MCSWEENEY SCORES FX3 HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE
READING, England – FX3 9: Relentless played out once again to a packed house at the Rivermead Complex, where former K-1 fighter James McSweeney lifted the vacant FX3 heavyweight title in an entertaining back and forth battle with Chris Cooper.
Both fighters started out strong firing on all cylinders, but neither landing much damage. McSweeney has always been rangy with his knees and tried to implement them into his game as much as possible. Cooper had obviously studied his adversary well and knew what he had on offer, so he set about throwing crosses and hooks as a response to every knee attack catching McSweeney flush on occasion and prompting him to work for the takedown. He scored it, but it wasn’t long before Cooper was back out to the feet.
And so they engaged again, McSweeney looking for the knees and Cooper looking for the shoot. He went for a single, but was deflected with a fast sprawl. Transitioning fast, McSweeney piloted round to take his back and sink the hooks in, bypassing the hunt for a read naked choke in order to pound away at the side of his opponent’s head. At 3:09 into the round, referee Grant Waterman steps in to halt the bout.
Wamma, Bamma, No Thank You Ma’ama (Parts 1&2)
WAMMA, BAMMA, NO THANK YOU MA’AMA
A couple of weeks back, I received (second hand, mind you) a release from an organization called WAMMA (World Alliance of Mixed Martial Arts) trumpeting their new ratings for the month of August. This crew, which is headed up by s former FBI agent, is, I suppose, is trying to establish itself as accepted authority of sorts on ratings and titles, along the lines of what Ring Magazine has been trying to re-establish for itself (with mixed results - but that’s a LONG story) in the world of boxing.
On balance, I think the WAMMA ratings are a nice thing. They should actually be kind of a harmless thing. They give another perspective on who the best fighters in each weight division are, especially since the UFC does not issue official rankings. But I’m not sure you want to get carried away with all this. Remember, it’s just one perspective among many, many perspectives. You also have ratings made available by Sherdog and other mixed martial arts publications, and could probably get dozens and dozens of ratings lists from people if you just asked them for it.
I just hope WAMMA doesn’t get crazy and start thinking it is going to install itself as “official” ratings for the entire sport, by attempting to find an impressionable ear somewhere in the Association of Boxing Commissions (ABC) to push this through as another of those “innovative” ideas, or worse yet, as part of a legislative mandate through some federal bill. After all, there are many ABC members who DO impressions; they are sometimes very good at imitating real, live public servants.
As ridiculous as this concept may sound to you, there have been half-hearted attempts to do it in boxing. And there is a certain precedent as well, because even though many boxing people (including most regulators themselves) don’t seem to be aware of it, sanctioning bodies like the WBA and WBC started out as nothing more than associations between boxing commissions.
But as this point, an official national ranking of mixed martial arts fighters would REALLY be going too far. Can you imagine - the United States government rating fighters?
Next thing you know, somebody will be looking to the government to subsidize losing pay-per-view ventures or rescue failing promoters, the way that they are bailing out Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.
This all sounds pretty trite, and was meant that way, until I found out that WAMMA made a presentation at the latest ABC meeting that was held in Montreal. I can’t think of any reason they may have been there other than to get their foot in the door as a way of eventually garnering some sort of recognition by the ABC. You can not forget that the ABC has for years granted an exclusive “record keeping” license to one company in boxing, and is doing that with another group for MMA. It may not seem inconceivable to some that if they are controlling that kind of thing they would do the same for ratings that would be “recognized” by every jurisdiction.
The standard has been set for giving such license to a private business, as has been done with Fight Fax, the record-keepers in boxing, and that company has felt a certain amount of entitlement toward such exclusivity ever since, with opportunistic regulators like Greg Sirb of Pennsylvania running interference for them along the way. The reasons for that became clearer over time, especially when it was revealed that in John McCain’s bill to take over federal oversight of boxing there was the provision for a big chunk of taxpayer dollars to subsidize the keeping of fighters records and medical records. Gee, why not ratings? Remember, WAMMA has positioned itself as a commercial business.
Yes, a commercial business. And that’s what starts to worry me, within this particular context, as you’ll find out in Part Two of this mini-series.
Boxing and MMA is like oil and water
After having to reschedule their second MMA event from October 11th to January of 2009, Affliction promised the MMA public a breathtaking, earth-shattering announcement that would forever alter the course of the fight industry. This announcement would take place at a press conference featuring Ricky Hatton to hype up his next boxing fight. Rumors were abound that Affliction finally inked a partnership with Golden Boy Promotions.
So on Saturday night, we were treated to Hatton no-showing his own press conference (illness was used as the reason for the no-show) and Affliction announcing that they would promotion four fighting events with Golden Boy Promotions in 2009. The headline from this press conference on AP and other news agencies revolved around the fact that Oscar De La Hoya was finally getting into the MMA business.
The real headline, of course, is that Affliction is now abandoning their originaly MMA business model in hopes of promoting hybrid fight shows featuring both boxing and MMA matches.
What a lousy concept.
HBO Unhappy With Golden Boy/Affliction
I just got off the phone with a friend of mine over at HBO (who will remain anonymous) and they want nothing to do with "bastardizing" (as he put it) their Boxing product.
It seems Golden Boy offered the Arlovski/Barnett fight on the under card of Hopkins/Pavlik... but HBO rejected the idea.
We also discussed the end game:
If Golden Boy is successful what then? You just converted another fan pool for the UFC. The casual UFC fan will not order these mixed boxing/MMA cards who wouldn't already... so the best case scenario for Golden Boy is to convert their boxing fans into MMA fans.
Is Golden Boy taking a risk may bite them in the ass? It seems HBO is not.
If you work the numbers and realize that in order to be successful you would have to convert a good portion of the boxing fans into MMA fans... that opens up alot of variables that can blow up in your face - for example: right now boxing ppv's are hurt by counter programming via other boxing events on other networks...
This would create a situation where counter programming by other MMA events can then have a similar effect.
For HBO It would be like playing chess against 2 players where you only have one set while the other 2 each have their own... how can you conceivably protect your king?