By In Mixed Martial Arts

Why Some Careers Resurge and Some Don’t

Lewis, for all his accomplishments and heart, will not have the kind of legacy that dos Santos will, so why were the odds as close as they were? It was a mixture of the specific style matchup and recent history, as “The Black Beast” explained: “He’s not tough like he used to be. I believe he has a glass chin.” He wasn’t wrong to think that. After the legendary run that culminated in a single title defense, dos Santos hit a rough patch. He got brutalized across five rounds by Velasquez in their rematch, then proceeded to teeter-totter between wins and losses for the next five years, suffering three devastating knockout losses along the way. As new heavyweights arrived on the scene, it looked like dos Santos’ tenure as a relevant title contender had ended. In the last three fights, he has reversed this trend, looking like an evolved version of his vintage self in the process. It’s accurate to call this moment a career resurgence for the former champion.

Compare that to former lightweight and welterweight champion B.J. Penn, who is booked for another loss — err fight — against Clay Guida at UFC 237 in May…

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By In Mixed Martial Arts

Keep It Simple, Stupid

When Cody Garbrandt was a coach on “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 25, he confidently proclaimed perhaps the most definitive Garbrandt-esque sentiment imaginable: “[T.J. Dillashaw] said his fight IQ is higher than mine. Don’t matter,” he said, holding up a closed fist. “The right hand is my IQ.” There is an ironic beauty that such a dumb thing could be said about intelligence.

However, that concept isn’t all that uncommon in MMA circles. Most of us remember hearing some version of “take X athlete from their sport, train them in boxing and how to sprawl for six months and you got yourself a UFC heavyweight champ.” Sure, sometimes physical talent is all it takes to win — just ask Johnny Walker — but rarely at the highest levels of the sport. Prove me wrong, Johnny. Garbrandt is proof of that. He’s one of the most athletically gifted fighters in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, and he has been knocked out three times in a row since becoming bantamweight champion in 2016. Though the official record states his losses were due to punches and knees, it would be more accurate to list them as “TKO (Fought Like an Idiot).” Garbrandt was right; there’s about as much cognition going on in his hand as there is in his head…

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By In Mixed Martial Arts

Man, Myth, Legend

It was hardly a surprise to hear the adulation surrounding the return of Cain Velasquez at UFC on ESPN 1. Velasquez had been on the shelf for over two and a half years, longer than any other period during his career, which is saying something. Of course, Velasquez isn’t just some dude coming back from a long layoff; as you most certainly heard, he’s the “greatest heavyweight of all time.” At least, you’d think that’s the case given how often it has been said.

There is a difference between myth and legend, though they are often used interchangeably. Legends are grounded in a reality that became exaggerated over time; myths are entirely fictional accounts meant to explain something otherwise unexplainable. In the same way it is easy to confuse these terms, it can be hard to separate the legend of Velasquez from the myth…

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By In Mixed Martial Arts

What Fighting is All About

Depending on who you ask, you’ll get very different answers for “what fighting is all about.” For some, it’s all about a smaller or otherwise athletically disadvantaged fighter using superior technique to defeat a larger, more intimidating opponent. For others, it’s all about the street fighter narrative: finding out which person from which country with which fight style is best. For many, fighting is best represented in an all-out rock ’em-sock ’em donnybrook where the fighters leave everything in the cage and end the bout gasping for air and hugging out of respect.

Each of those examples — and plenty others — are perfectly reasonable conclusions of what professional fighting is supposed to be. Yet the main event from UFC 234 on Saturday in Melbourne, Australia, between Israel Adesanya and Anderson Silva showcased some alternative explanations of what fighting is all about.

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By In Mixed Martial Arts

Don’t Call It A Comeback

UFC Fight Night 144 on Saturday in Fortaleza, Brazil, was just the seventh event in Ultimate Fighting Championship history to be headlined by two Brazilian fighters. “Generally, they don’t like to do that, Brazil versus Brazil,” commentator Michael Bisping said during the main event, “but the problem is they produce such good fighters that at some point it’s going to happen.” Indeed, it happened in three of the six main event fights.

Brazil is vital to the history of the sport, and it has always produced a significant stream of talent, but in a way, this event was a much-needed boost for Brazilian MMA. At a time when there is only one Brazilian champion, albeit in two divisions, it showcased a strong present and bright future for Brazilian fighters…

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