Archive for the ‘Boxing’ Category

The main event for UFC 148 was possibly the biggest fight in the history of the sport, but I don’t feel like I need to say anymore about Anderson Silva v. Chael Sonnen than what I said on the post-fight Fight Fans Radio episode. Instead, I want to focus on something else that’s been bugging me. In the fight between John Alessio and Shane Roller, Roller used his wrestling background to full effect, maintaining dominance on the ground on route to a clear-cut decision victory. During the fight, Alessio asked with a frustrated yell, “Do you wanna fight me or do you wanna ride me?” He was, of course, referring to the fact that, with time running out in the third round, Roller had Alessio pinned to the mat, peppering Alessio with punches, and giving Alessio no opportunity for a lucky punch that would allow him to steal a victory. For that, Alessio was angry (or at least was pretending to be angry in order to get the fight he wanted). What bothers me is that many so-called fans of Mixed Martial Arts (“MMA”) were also angry.

MMA Is Not Boxing

There’s nothing wrong with boxing. The sport, that is. The industry of boxing is corrupt. The sport, however, is fantastic, as is kickboxing. MMA is also fantastic. That’s my opinion. You’re free to disagree. You’re free to say, “Boxing is great, but MMA sucks.” (I’m looking at you, Jim Lampley.) If that’s your honest assessment, you’re entitled to your opinion and shouldn’t be watching MMA. It seems, however, that many MMA viewers aren’t fans. Whenever the fight goes to the ground in an unspectacular fashion, we hear a chorus of boos. Sometimes a submission specialist will get a grace period – a few seconds during which the impatient fans give him a chance to pull off a quick submission – but it doesn’t take long for those fans to turn on him, even if the submission specialist is constantly working for a submission.

Exactly what do you expect a wrestler or submission specialist to do? Why would they ever choose to slug it out with a slugger? If they do, they’re stupid and deserve to be gone from the UFC!

You shouldn’t blame a lion for roaring, and you shouldn’t blame a wrestler for wrestling.

Am I Missing the Point?

In the fight between Mike Easton and Ivan Menjivar, the fans were booing despite it being a purely stand-up, all-striking affair. Is it really a hatred of grappling, or is it merely impatience (e.g., no one was bleeding yet)? On my political blog, I’ve certainly acknowledged that my fellow Americans are, on the whole, an impatient bunch of spoiled brats, so that certainly applies. It doesn’t matter, though, because rarely do we see a ground-and-pound fight gradually lead to a tap by the “pounded” fighter. In other words, wrestling by its nature is always going to trigger a negative response from these fans, so that fan is always going to hate the wrestling aspect of the game; therefore, that fan shouldn’t be watching MMA.

Get over It

As I see it, these fans are channeling (in the Ghost Hunters sense of the word) the frustration the non-wrestler feels at being completely overwhelmed with no chance to win the round (or the fight). Well, then he should learn wrestling, and those fans should either learn to deal with it or watch another sport. It’s mixed martial arts. That means it’s a mixture of several martial arts, and everyone engaged in it must be, at least to some extent, capable of at least being passable in all areas of the fight game. If you want to boo someone, make sure you’re booing the guy who hasn’t learned to wrestle but insists on being in this sport anyway. He’s the reason it’s staying on the ground.

If that isn’t a fight you’re willing to watch every now and then, stop watching. Clearly, MMA isn’t for you. There are plenty of one-dimensional boxing and kickboxing matches that are better suited to your entertainment needs.

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“But I’m famous? Doesn’t that count for something?”
Lord, I hope not.

ESPN reported yesterday that Floyd Mayweather, Jr. was seeking early release from prison. Specifically, they report that Mayweather’s attorneys have filed

an emergency motion asking the court to move Mayweather into the general jail population — something that jail officials had avoided out of fear for the celebrity’s safety — or put him in house arrest for the rest of his three-month sentence.

The court knows that the offering the option of moving Mayweather into general population is an empty gesture, because the likely result of doing so would subject the state to a huge lawsuit. The ESPN report goes on to note that Mayweather’s attorney, Richard Wright,

said he’d be willing to have the boxer serve the sentence in an apartment or somewhere less luxurious than Mayweather’s posh Las Vegas-area home. But prosecutor Lisa Luzaich said softening the sentence would be just another accommodation, similar to when Mayweather’s jail surrender date was postponed for months after sentencing so he could fight Miguel Cotto in May.

Mayweather’s strongest argument in favor of early release appears to be that serving out the remainder of his term could threaten his career by limiting his access to proper exercise and nutrition. I sincerely hope that Justice of the Peace Melissa Saragosa doesn’t accept this argument. Many people lose their livelihood because they go to jail. I admit that Mayweather’s job is much more sensitive to even short jail sentences, being that he’s an elite athlete, but the solution isn’t disparate treatment. The solution is not committing the crime. For the same reason his job is so sensitive to jail sentences, he has a higher burden of behaving himself. He’s a public figure, and if you want a job in the public spotlight, you have to answer to the public, whether or not they’re being reasonable. He received a 90-day sentence despite having the means to employ top-notched attorneys, which suggests he’d be facing a longer sentence if he could afford only what most of us can.

I hope he serves the full term, and if that costs him his career, it’s his own damn fault.

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If you can't handle the truth, hide from it.

One of the most prestigious papers in the country, the Washington Post, published an op-ed piece by Fred Bowen entitled, “Ultimate fighting is too brutal to be considered a sport, even if it’s on TV.” Rather than place this long of a response in the comments, I simply pointed to this article. This is my response to Bowen’s disturbingly unprofessional commentary on what he calls, “ultimate fighting.”


Your article is confused and intentionally misleading, and you should be ashamed of your willingness to protest a subject about which you know so little. You take many factual missteps in you op-ed piece. For starters, the sport is called, “mixed martial arts” (“MMA”) “Ultimate fighting,” is a throw back to the early 90s when the only MMA promotion was the Ultimate Fighting Championship (“UFC”). Your ignorance isn’t limited to the sport you hate. Your claim that 15-round fights are the norm in boxing is also wrong. A simple internet search shows that the last 15-round boxing match in America (among the major organizations) was held in 1988. It’s these easily-verified factual discrepancies that cast doubt on your qualifications to address this topic; however, dismissing you outright would be lowering myself to your level and give you an “out.” Despite your apparent lack of concern for logic and factual evidence, let’s examine some of your more ridiculous claims.

Danger, Will Robinson!

To say that “almost anything goes” mischaracterizes the sport. Though you’ll likely deny it, you’re clearly trying to imply is that there are dangerous techniques (e.g., eye-gouging, fish-hooking, strikes to the spine) permitted in MMA, which is not true. The sport is a mix of many different martial arts, but everything that’s legal in the UFC (and some things that are not legal in the UFC) are legal in all of those other sports. That is, throws are legal in judo, punches are legal in boxing and kickboxing, kicks are permitted in kickboxing, and joint locks are legal in jiu-jitsu and judo. As a combination of multiple martial arts disciplines, all of these techniques are available in MMA. This means that there is a broader variety of techniques available to the fighters, but not that there are more dangerous techniques available. These are the same techniques to which you don’t seem to object in those other contexts. There’s simply no reason to jump to the conclusion that having all of these techniques available is somehow more dangerous.

In fact, there’s reason to assume the combination is less dangerous. The fact that some fighters choose to use grappling techniques to subdue an opponent rather than striking techniques to knock them unconscious would suggest, on average, a safer track record than a competition in which the only option available would be to use striking techniques to knock out your opponent. Is this true? Let’s go to the data. recaps new evidence showing that the most dangerous sport for high school and college females is cheerleading: Another study found that between 1982 and 2007, there were 103 fatal, disabling or serious injuries recorded among female high school athletes, with the vast majority (67) occurring in cheerleading.”

This one point addresses Dana White’s comments on cheerleading in particular, and it’s a bit more scientific than your “I’ve watched some ultimate fighting” argument. I also direct you to the National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research, and in particular their Annual Report on catastrophic sport injury for 2010, which covers high school and collegiate athletics. Here are some highlights:

For the 28-year period 1982-1983 – 2009-2010, high school fall sports had 771 direct catastrophic injuries and 747, or 96.9%, were related to football participants.


For the 28 years, 1982-2009, there were a total of 163 college direct fall sport catastrophic injuries, and 156 were associated with football.


As shown in Table IX, high school winter sports were associated with four direct catastrophic injuries in 2009-2010. All four were associated with ice hockey – one death, two disability, and one recovery. High school winter sports were also associated with four indirect fatalities and three indirect injuries with recovery during the 2009-2010 school year (Table XI). Basketball was associated with all seven indirect injuries. All four of the fatalities were heart related.

So, as an example, the number of deaths nationwide in 2009 for high school hockey alone is twice as great as the number of deaths in American professional mixed martial arts in its entire 18 year history. (Neither of those deaths occurred in the UFC.) The same can be said for the non-contact sport of basketball! Do we dare add the data from professional sports? Should we pull equestrian sports into this equation? I’m sure you wouldn’t want to ban that brutally violent and dangerous sport. (Which, by the way, you shouldn’t. Though it’s been proven by many studies performed around the world to be the most dangerous spectator sport, it’s still much more safe than riding in a car.) Combat sports in general, and the UFC in particular, are far and away the safest spectator sports in the United States. The data backs up that claim, but again, I’m not sure your concern is with minor details such as “data” or “logic.” It seems your focus is on making sure no one’s feelings are hurt. (For those that do care about such minor details, I suggest the Journal of Combative Sports as a starting point. When you consider the number of deaths per 1,000,000 participants, combat sports compare quite favorably to other spectator sports.)

But They Look Like They’re Hurting Each Other’s Feelings!

Your concern of the glorification of violence suggests you’re not much of a sports fan, which is fascinating in light of your position with the Washington Post. What’s more violent than a strong hit against a defenseless receiver in a football game, a hard check in hockey, or a fatal car accident? The fact that some of these (not all, as you state) are “accidents” doesn’t change the fact that their heightened frequency makes them more dangerous. It also doesn’t change the fact that those sometimes-fatal events are what the fans are waiting to see. That, by definition, is the glorification of violence, and if it doesn’t invalidate football, hockey, or auto-racing as sports, it doesn’t invalidate MMA as a sport either. (Auto racing isn’t a sport for a different set of reasons.)

On top of all of this is an intangible that shouldn’t be ignored (though I admit it’s immeasurable). Some people are better able to handle pain and damage than others. While I’m certain you couldn’t handle competing in a real martial art (i.e., not a dime-store “black belt factory” you might attend in the suburbs), these guys can. In short, for them, “pain don’t hurt,” and their superior athleticism means it doesn’t easily cause them long-term damage either. They’re ready for this, even if you’re not.

On one point we can both agree: You need to change the channel. I’m not sure you can handle the real world. The Washington Post, on the other hand, should be ashamed of themselves for permitting you to write on this topic. There must be some other writers that oppose MMA but are capable of doing research and putting together a sound argument.

Make sure to listen to Fight Fans Radio Monday through Thursday at 3pm for MMA news and analysis. Also listen in on Saturdays at 3pm before fight cards for my live Stupid Predictions™ segment.

Follow me on Twitter @MMADork
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Follow the Washington Post on Twitter @WashingtonPost
Don’t follow Fred Bowen on Twitter even if you can find his Twitter handle (I couldn’t). He’s not worth reading.

I suspect Kimbo Slice’s career in boxing will be just as short as his MMA career. As soon as he fights a talented boxer, he’ll get destroyed, because punching power is not, by itself, a means to a successful career. Still, many people will make a lot of money during that short period of time. In any case, this is a funny watch, well worth 26 seconds of your life. You might even be willing to watch it a second time, but that would be it.

Follow me on Twitter @MMADork

Tragic news care of the Onion Sports. Apparently everything I’ve written on this blog about combat sports has been a wasted effort. The critics are correct. Combat sports are barbaric. See the story here.


I lift things up and put them down.

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On Wednesday, May 18, at a special hearing, the California State Athletic Commission (“CSAC”) upheld an indefinite suspension of mixed martial artist Chael Sonnen, a fighter with the Ultimate Fighting Championship (“UFC”). Josh Gross of ESPN tweeted during the entire hearing and reported the story here.

The Facts

To summarize the facts that are largely not disputed, Chael Sonnen suffers from hypogonadism, which resulted in a prescription for testosterone injections by his doctor. In the absence of such a prescription, those injections are against the rules and will result in a suspension. Even if there is a prescription, the fighter has a duty to disclose both his condition and treatment to the CSAC.

After Sonnen had tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone, he was suspended for one year by the CSAC, which is recognized by the athletic commissions of the other states. Sonnen claimed the suspension was unjust, as he had disclosed both his condition and treatment to the Nevada State Athletic Commission (“NSAC”), which he believed satisfied his burden in California as well. As a result, his suspension was reduced to six months. On April 19, 2011, after the CSAC learned Sonnen’s claim to be false, the CSAC suspended Sonnen “indefinitely.”

Wednesday’s hearing was an attempt by Sonnen to get his license back so he could sign on as a coach on the UFC’s reality show, the Ultimate Fighter (“TUF”), which has suffered diminished ratings, and which would be greatly helped by Sonnen’s personality. Not surprisingly, the UFC brass supported Sonnen’s efforts, with their doctor testifying that Sonnen had told him about the treatment. Sonnen also changed his story a bit, claiming that it was his manager, Matt Lindland, that provided the information to the NSAC, and Lindland sent a written statement to the CSAC testifying to that effect. The CSAC refused to consider that statement.

While all of this was going on, Sonnen plead guilty to a fraud charge in Oregon. This resulted in him losing his realtor’s license, being put on probation for two years, and having to pay a fine.

The CSAC’s Real Motivation

Obviously, I don’t know any of the people involved, but I’ve followed Chael’s controversial career, the media’s coverage of it, and this latest incident. My take on this is that Sonnen angered members of the CSAC Committee, and they’re taking it personally. This, in turn, is affecting their judgment. On top of that, Chael is something of a bigot, and he’s about the best trash-talker in the sport, and he certainly talked trash about the CSAC when discussing his case publicly. His personality isn’t doing him any favors.

George Dodd of the CSAC admitted that he’s factoring in Sonnen’s fraud conviction. He’s already been punished by the state of Oregon for that crime. While the UFC, a private organization, is free to release or suspend Sonnen for this, it is horribly inappropriate for a government body to punish him again, especially considering the acts took place outside the scope of California’s jurisdiction. Granted, this is a license we’re discussing; Chael has no legal right to a license, and if I committed Chael’s crime in Oregon, the Virginia State Bar could and would suspend my license to practice law. However, my initial scan of the CSAC’s regulations didn’t uncover an “ethics” requirement for obtaining a fighter’s license, but in any case it shouldn’t. They’re licensing people to punch each other in the head, not to represent third parties in legal transactions. The license is based, for the most part, in whether the fighter is physically and emotionally fit to fight. See page 30, starting with section 280. This doesn’t mean licensees can lie to the CSAC without consequences, but I’ll address the “lie” below. Nevertheless, it’s clear from Dodd’s own words that the Oregon fraud case is factoring into the CSAC’s decision, and that the suspension is a form of punishment. California shouldn’t be involving themselves in that case. So why are they?

Answer: Ego.

The CSAC is a part of the state government. They have a responsibility not to act in their own self-interest or punish people for their sociopolitical views or personalities. Impermissibly extending their police power outside their jurisdiction is petty and unethical, and they’re doing so because either 1) they got their feelings hurt, or 2) they know they can. Perhaps it’s both.

If It Weren’t for Childlike Behavior by the CSAC, Would Sonnen’s Suspension Have Been Indefinite Anyway?

Probably not. The actual reason for the suspension reduction wasn’t because they believed Sonnen’s story about reporting the incident. The reason they reduced it was because his use of testosterone is actually acceptable behavior in light of his hypogonadism. He simply failed to meet his burden to report it (or assure himself that his management team reported it). That unquestionably deserves punishment, because it is his burden, but it warrants only six months, and certainly doesn’t warrant irreparably damaging his career.

As for his “lie,” it really wasn’t much of a lie. When he said, “I told them about my condition,” he was speaking figuratively. He meant “his camp” and specifically his manager, Lindland. His manager stands by this story, so Chael might have been duped along with the CSAC. Again, that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be punished. It’s still his burden to make sure the CSAC has all the facts. It does, however, explain everything, and the CSAC should have been happy with the suspension Chael has already endured.

Sonnen did some wrong things, but he’s been punished for that, but that should be the end of it. The only bad guys left are a bunch of whiny children sitting on the CSAC.

The UFC’s Support

The UFC claimed that this could cost Sonnen his spot on the UFC roster, but that shouldn’t factor into the CSAC’s decision. The UFC’s stance is obviously based on their own self-interest. They want Sonnen to be a TUF judge in order to revive their ratings, and the show’s timing requires he get his license by early June in order to participate. If the UFC releases Sonnen over this, they’re crazy. He’ll be eligible for reinstatement in mid-June. Of course, who says his application will be treated fairly in California or other states at this point, which might be why Sonnen testified that this negative outcome would likely result in his retirement.

So Why Is This So Important?

Like I said, I don’t know anyone involved personally. While Chael is an exciting fighter, I could do without his trash talk. Of course, unlike many trash-talkers, he backs it up, but still, as I’ve said again and again, I don’t think we need that level of disrespect in this sport.

The problem is that this appears to be the seeds of the same corruption that runs through boxing. If that corruption has reached into mixed martial arts, we have a problem. I guess it was inevitable, but I didn’t want to have to see it. If people’s licenses depend how much money they draw to the sport or how well they kiss the asses of the ostensibly impartial government-appointed body, then the sport has descended into the same cesspool boxing has.

Of course, there are degrees of corruption. MMA certainly isn’t boxing yet, but it appears the process has officially begun, and that makes my eyes rain.


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This is a more personal post than I generally publish here, but it has an important message at the end relevant to what this day represents to me.

Last Wednesday, I played pick up ice hockey for the first time in over a year. It was embarrassing, but at the same time I swelled with pride. On Friday night, due to a change of plans, I was free to go again, and the experience was even more embarrassing, and likewise pride-inducing, because there were about 30 people playing, and only three of us were not kids that play ice hockey for college teams. All the college kids were in town for summer break, and rather than go out drinking on Friday night, they play pickup hockey . . . and drink during the game. Needless the say, I got my ass kicked.

Some History

The first time I was ever on ice skates was January 9, 2009. I hadn’t worked out in 2 years, and so I was the heaviest I’d ever been and had a poor endurance. Moreover, skating works the lower back in a way I’ve never experienced. Consequently, I had a great deal of trouble getting through my 30-minute “learn to skate” classes. I was out of breath within 10 minutes and in terrible pain within 20. By the time I was capable of handling the class, I was now in a 60-minute “learn to play hockey” class wearing full gear. The effect was magnified. What made all of these experiences more amusing was that my classes shared the ice with kids classes, many of whom were experienced skaters. Geez.

Lost Opportunities

Age 11

This was especially annoying to me. Since 1974, when the Washington Capitals came into existence, I had been a hockey fan. In 1979 (age 11, 6th grade), I learned that one of my friends (and his two brothers) played ice hockey. I wanted to play, but there’s was no way that was going to happen. My older brother, Russ, was two years older than I. He would always say he wanted to try this hobby or that hobby (e.g., Cub Scouts, tennis), and by the time I was old enough to participate, he (and my parents) inevitably had lost interest in the work it took to participate. I’d always be told, “I’m not going through that again!”

The only exceptions were middle-school football, which I was forced to play, and martial arts, in which I participated at my own expense of time and money and, despite predictions from the family, stuck with until I was 39. Playing football was miserable for me because I was on my brother’s team, and everyone was two years older (a virtual eternity at that age) than I, so I was always warming the bench (bored out of my mind). Although my brother never asked to play ice hockey — the request would almost certainly have been granted — the culture of my nuclear family always had me receiving a “no” answer. The fact that my one early-age hobby, “football,” was the source of frustration for me and had me complaining, constantly justified in my parent’s minds their unwillingness to allow me any organized hobbies. In fairness, my family wasn’t even close to “rich,” and hockey would have been an expensive hobby for me to start and not stick with. Everything my brother did, when put together, probably wouldn’t have been as expensive, or as much a pain in the ass, as me playing hockey for a week and quitting. Hindsight is usually 20-20.

Age 23

Several years later, when I was a season ticket holder for the Capitals, I was studying ninjitsu with a guy from Detroit. He had been playing hockey since he was a kid. He told me all about adult league hockey and tried to recruit me. I was working my first job as a professional and training in ninjitsu took a significant amount of free time, but ultimately I said no because I felt I was too old to start. I was 23.

Present Day

So, there I was, struggling to skate at age 40, constantly reminded of stupidly rejecting the idea of learning while I was a relatively-young 23. By the summer of 2009, now 41 years old, I was playing on my first C-league team, the Old Puckers. They were a brand new team in the Prince William Ice Center’s (“PWICE”) C-league. I played two seasons with them, and we literally went from worst to first in those two seasons.


Then the Snowpocalypse hit, and PWICE’s roof collapsed, and with it so did my new ice hockey career. For a large number of reasons, I didn’t play ice hockey again until last Wednedsay, and during that hiatus I had put on skates only once for a public skate session. The result was that I put on the extra weight, lost my endurance, and was worried that, being such a new player, I had lost my abilities on the ice.

Well, I wasn’t wrong about any of that (except that my lower back is surprisingly as strong as it was when I stopped playing), but one thing that my hockey experience taught me is that it’s never too late. Do I have a chance of being a Washington Capital one day? Of course not, but so what? The only thing that matters is that ice hockey is a ton of fun for me, and right here, right now, even though I turn 43 today, I’m playing ice hockey.


“In your face Grim Reaper!”

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