Posts Tagged ‘judo’

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No. That really would be a stupid prediction.

Ronda by TKO/KO in round 1.

I also have Little Nog beating Shogun, Big Nog beating Streuve, Soa Palelei beating Bigfoot, and Demian Maia beating Neil Magny.

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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.

LiveScience.com 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.

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Don’t follow Fred Bowen on Twitter even if you can find his Twitter handle (I couldn’t). He’s not worth reading.

What's she have that I don't have?

Yesterday, Ronda Rousey, a former Judo olympian representing the USA and current mixed martial artist, tweeted:

“You know what would be a cool idea? To have a 140lbs div in UFC and 135/145 in strikeforce, with fighters moving freely between promot[ion]s.”

and then followed up with

“That way 140 could be like an “open” division where the fighters from both divisions could meet at for big matchups in UFC events.”

To be clear, you’d have a featherweight and bantamweight division in Strikeforce, but you’d have a UFC division right in the middle, giving the UFC the ability to match up any two fighters from Strikeforce.

This is a good idea for two reasons. The first reason, which is clearly Ronda’s point, is that it promotes far more superfights. That generates buzz because everyone knows both fighters and wants to see who would beat whom. It also helps ensure that the fights are high-quality. The second reason is more important, I think. By effectively combining the divisions on occasion, you combine the talent pool. Every fight becomes a good one, even among the lower levels. This gives the division just a bit more legitimacy in the eyes of the promotions, and the fans might yell just a little bit louder when demanding a women’s division in the UFC.

Of course, both of these reasons are deeply connected and affect each other. It’s almost a single reason. Regardless of how you look at it, the quality of women’s fights go up, the buzz gets louder, and the division gets more interest from female martial artists that are contemplating a career in MMA. Currently, those martial artists see a limit to how far they can go, but if the UFC opens the door just a little bit, maybe they’d be more willing to give it a shot.

But there is a downside . . .

The fact that this is such a good idea speaks volumes as to the talent pool in the women’s divisions. It shows that the women’s division just isn’t deep enough for the big leagues. We wouldn’t even consider something like this with, for example, the men’s middleweight and light heavyweight divisions, would we? If this is the truth, though, then it’s a truth we have to accept and address, and this is a good start. Keep in mind that the concern about the women’s division isn’t quality, but rather quantity. The UFC would do itself a favor by hosting some solid women’s matches.

Conclusion

This remains a great idea to use what talent is available, making it effectively larger than it otherwise would be, but it also is a means to promote the division. That promotion will result in interest, which will result in growth, which will result in more interest, etc. In the end, the women’s division will benefit, and we, the fans, will have even more good fights to watch. That’s the bottom line here. This isn’t a movement based in political correctness for me. I come from the perspective of an MMA fan who’s trained with several competent women martial artists in the past. They have something to offer, and as long as they’re permitted their shot at the professional level, we’ll have more quality fights to watch.

Who can argue against that?

Oh yeah. Him.

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Judo is practical, even in the corporate board room.

Click on this image to see how dangerous old men can be if they know tomo nage

I used to train in Judo under Maurice Allan at Sport Judo, and his daughter, Kristen, was an Olympic hopeful. The one thing that always stood in Kristen’s way was Ronda Rousey. Ronda is a magnificent judoka (one who practices judo), having been to several Olympic games had having won a medal representing the USA. I just found out that she made the switch to mixed martial arts. Below is a video of her second professional fight, which was against Charmaine Tweet. Don’t blink.

Watch for this one. She could very well be the future of women’s MMA, and she definitely lends credibility to the women’s division. She’s had only two fights (both wins), and she’s already ranked as #10-ranked 145-pound female MMA fighter in the world according to the Unified Women’s MMA Rankings. The only knock against her is that she’s spent less than four minutes in the cage as an amateur and professional combined. Of course, that’s because she’s slapped an armbar on every single opponent she’s faced in under one minute. For her complete resume, head over to her “About” page and professional “Record” page.

I expect to see her in Strikeforce soon. Moreover, it will be hard for Dana White to continue to ignore women’s MMA with women like Ronda in the mix.

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Strikeforce had its first major card under the UFC banner. As promised, not much changed. It still looks like the same promotion except for the constant UFC v. Strikeforce references. This observation isn’t meant to be condescending. It’s just an observation; the promotion would be stupid not to play up the merger. Overall, it was a pretty good card from what I saw of it (I missed the entire preliminary card and the Aoki fight). A few storylines of interest emerged from the card.

Mousasi v. Jardine

People on Twitter were up in arms over the fight being scored a majority draw. Jardine got his ass handed to him, and he is clearly not a UFC-caliber fighter, but under the rules, the draw is reasonable. Like it or not, “takedowns” is a criterion for scoring a round. At one point in round 1, Jardine had scored 4 of 5 of his takedowns, and I think (can’t prove) he scored another before the round ended. While he did absolutely nothing with those takedowns, that’s not relevant. He scored at will in this way and was also relatively aggressive. Giving him the first round is hardly unreasonable.

As for rounds 2 and 3, he clearly was outclassed and got beat up, but he was never in any real danger of getting knocked out. He was never rocked. Mousasi didn’t deserve to be awarded a 10-8 round for either round 2 or 3. So, judging the fight 29-28 for Mousasi isn’t unreasonable, and with the point deduction to Mousasi for an illegal kick, that would make the fight 28-28. A draw.

That being said, you might have given Mousasi the first round, which would have given him the win. I’m not denying that this is reasonable. I’m also not sure whether the rules demand that Mousasi be docked a point without first being given a warning. All I’m saying is that the draw was hardly “highway robbery.” If Mousasi doesn’t like it, he needs to work on his finishes.

Never leave it in the hands of the judges. As long as you do, people will continue to overuse that phrase.

Diaz v. Daley

I don’t know what happened with Daley. As one Tweeter (@RyanMcBain) put it, he “flopped like Ric Flair.” I doubt Daley’s character but not his toughness, so I’m sure he was hit. I’ll have to watch the replay. In any case, I initially thought the fight was stopped early. Watching the replay of the Big John Mcarthy stop, it was clear Daley was on another planet. He wasn’t even trying to block the punches, which qualifies as “not reasonably defending oneself.” On top of that, it took a while for him to get his senses back. If the fight hadn’t been stopped by BJM, it would have been stopped by the doctor between rounds. Daley would never have made it to his corner without help.

Good stop.

Mauro Ranallo

Mauro Ranallo

I try to be fair and try to have my facts in order before I comment, but ultimately, I have no obligation to do either. I’m just an internet hack like the rest of you. I have no accountability because I’m not getting paid to rant. I rant because I want to rant, and the fact that this is “opinion” rather than “news reporting” is implicit. However, Mauro Ranallo is getting paid, and with that comes the burden of “professionalism.” He has an obligation to be both fair and informed. That’s why I have to take him to task.

I never really got to watch Pride as it was happening. During Pride’s heyday, I was first in law school and then in my first law firm job, so I was lucky even to see America-based UFC cards. Pride fights were a rare opportunity for me. Strikeforce was the first time I had the chance to watch an entire card with Mauro’s commentary. I don’t recall the details, but I remember him saying something to the effect that one fighter had just done an “uchimata move.” For those of you that have never practiced judo, this may seem like he really knew what he was saying. “Oooooo, he knows the Japanese terms for these moves!”

Except that it was harai-goshi.

The moves may look similar to the uninformed, but to a practitioner of judo, the moves are different. I won’t bother to justify that statement. Even though I have only two years of judo, you’ll have to take my word for it. While the execution is similar (not identical), the setups are different, and setups are everything in Judo. In any case, it’s obvious when someone does one versus the other.

Viewers have no obligation to know the difference because they’re paying customers. This is because you, as a viewer, have the right to care about what you want. If you want just to see a bunch of guys take off each other’s heads, that’s your prerogative, but if you want to understand what’s going on, it’s Mauro’s job to educate you. Unfortunately, it’s obvious that he hasn’t done his research. He learned a Japanese phrase and then used it to make himself look knowledgeable. As someone paid to do this job, he should do his research, and the fact that he hasn’t in over a decade of broadcasting MMA events says a lot about his professionalism. The fact that he tried to use a phrase to mislead you says even more.

For what it’s worth, the Twitterverse agrees with me, and not because they’re all judo nerds. For many UFC-only fans, this was apparently the first time they’ve heard Mauro’s commentary, and they were brutal. He kept babbling incoherently, and not one phrase got by without someone tweeting it as a justification for Mauro being fired. So, if you’re unimpressed with my judo nerd rage, it doesn’t matter; he’s still probably pissed you off with nonsensical statements, which means, again, I won’t justify my position.

With the UFC now in control, Mauro has to go. I doubt many fans will miss him. I know I’m beating the dead horse yet again, but MMA is now a big league sport. Journalists, commentators, interviewers, and play-by-play announcers need to catch up.

UPDATE: I had a slight run-in with Mauro via Twitter. He’s apparently a Rangers fan, so he was bad-mouthing the Capitals a little bit. He finally made a comment that gave me an opening, which I instinctively took. Referencing the Caps’ multiple shots on goal that remarkably didn’t result in a single goal, he said the Caps were shooting blanks. I responded that it reminded me of his commentary; he misses a lot too. He took the comment seriously and asked me to back it up. Because I genuinely believed my statement, there was a risk of a Twitter war, and I had no intention of getting involved in that, pointing him to my blog instead. It appears he read it. He wished me a good life and chose to stand by his commentary.

It’s good that he’s confident in himself, and generally he should ignore internet trolls, but he needs to take what I wrote to heart. To the extent that I state my own opinion, I do so rationally and without resorting to personal insult. Moreover, this entry isn’t just my own opinion; it’s also an observation of how everyone else appears to view him. Although my experience is anecdotal, the feelings appeared to be unanimous among those that addressed the job he did. Nobody’s perfect, but if he doesn’t give real consideration to his flaws as a broadcaster, he’ll find himself out of a job soon. He’s in with the big boys now.

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