By In Mixed Martial Arts

More Pounds, Same Problems

When Strikeforce dissolved in January 2013, no division in the Ultimate Fighting Championshipbenefitted more than middleweight. Anderson Silva was, unbeknownst to anyone, at the peak of his career and in such desperate need of challengers that he was moving up 20 pounds to find them. Meanwhile, Strikeforce had a legitimate claim to boasting the better overall middleweight roster, meaning its champion had a legitimate claim to being the best middleweight in the world, if only because he never had to fight “The Spider.” Yet in a slew of new challengers, the final two Strikeforce champions — Luke Rockhold and Ronaldo Souza — were by far the most intriguing.

Then the unexpected happened, and instead of a new import taking Silva’s throne, someone from within the UFC ranks did it first. Chris Weidman was young and undefeated, an in-his-prime specimen who forcibly removed the torch from the previous generation with four consecutive championship wins, none of which were close. Along with Rockhold and Souza, the future had arrived, from outside and within. The expectation was for prolonged championship rivalries to go down, enough to delineate its own post-Silva era. Instead, Rockhold, Souza and Weidman all started to spiral downward in eerily similar ways…

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By In Social Media

Climate Change Is Sabotaging the World’s Most Dangerous Canoe Race

Only three canoes dared to put in for the first Molokaʻi Hoe in 1952. The race was not yet the spectacle it would become more than 50 years later. It’s the Super Bowl of canoe paddling and a staple of the Hawaiian sports scene in which over 1,000 participants from across the planet compete in the more than 40-mile race from Molokai to Oahu. But the Molokaʻi Hoe — pronounced ho-eh, so that it almost rhymes with “boy” — has always been extremely dangerous. The treacherous Kaʻiwi Channel has been locally infamous for a lot longer than the Hoe has been internationally famous. Kaʻiwi translates to “the bone,” a reference to the collection of human remains strewn across its depths. Just a few miles down the coast from the Molokaʻi Hoe’s finish line, corpses of fishermen and sailors regularly washed ashore from Kaʻiwi’s torrents.

Completing the Molokaʻi Hoe is a man-versus-nature feat that has inspired risk-taking athletes for centuries; it also imbues the race with special local heroism, the bravery that inspired ancient Polynesians to explore their vast oceanic horizons thousands of years ago. The Hoe is no less daunting in 2019, but it has also become something else in recent seasons — a crucial example of how climate change is affecting our world…

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By In Social Media

When Risks Pay Off

It’s no secret what the Ultimate Fighting Championship wants out of its fighters. If the BMF title didn’t illuminate it enough at UFC 244 on Saturday, just watch a few episodes of Dana White’s Contender Series and see who nets a UFC contract. Hint: It’s not the fighters who employ careful, strategic game plans and walk away with lopsided unanimous decisions. The promotion wants action, which is to say, it wants fighters to take risks.

This is not just an in-cage thing, either. The fighters for which UFC President Dana White and Company are looking are not the ones who take strategic bouts against hand-selected opponents, but those who will fight anyone at any time. For all the UFC’s efforts to sanitize mixed martial arts into something palatable to general sports fans, what it really wants it to be is action-packed violence, not strategic athletic competition. This isn’t subtext or insinuation, either; White is pretty explicit about it. Still, a lot of fighters opt not to take big-risk fights for that very reason: They’re risky. In a sport as inherently risky as MMA, it makes sense to control the risks you take as much as possible. However, the fighters who took the largest risks at UFC 244 in New York ended up as the biggest winners…

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By In Mixed Martial Arts

GOAT-for-Bust swap still the right move

Both Ben Askren and Demetrious Johnson were dominant and underappreciated, with adoring fans and dedicated doubters. Johnson was a proven GOAT in need of a change, while Askren needed a change to prove he was the GOAT. The similarities were hard to miss. After swapping promotions, however, “Mighty Mouse” and “Funky Ben” ended up on dramatically different career trajectories…

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By In Mixed Martial Arts

Why UFC Hawaii Probably Won’t Happen Any Time Soon

UFC President Dana White roughly a week ago was in Hawaii to watch local promotion Trinity Sport Combat for an upcoming episode of the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s YouTube series “Lookin’ for a Fight.” Naturally, the possibility of a UFC event in Hawaii was broached. Backstage, he told my colleague at KHON2 News the following: “Max [Holloway] wants it bad. We want to come here. We love this place. We got to get this thing figured out eventually. We’ll see what happens. I want it. Does the tourism board want it? Do they or do they not? If they do, we’ll come. If not, we understand.”

This sentiment isn’t new. The UFC met with the Hawaii Tourism Authority in 2018 to discuss holding a potential event in Hawaii and was unable to make a deal. The UFC asked for a $6 million subsidy, but the HTA was only willing to offer $1 million. Neither side budged, so they parted ways. The narrative that took place afterward and resurfaced again this week essentially goes like this: The greedy UFC is trying to exploit the hapless HTA. On a cursory glance, it certainly seems this way. For starters, it’s not as if the HTA is some island bouncer preventing anyone from coming. It isn’t necessary to get a subsidy from them to hold any kind of event in Hawaii, whether it’s a Bellator MMA card or a Snoop Dogg concert.

More to the point, $6 million is a lot of money, more than the HTA gave the NFL for the Pro Bowl ($4.2 million) or to have the Los Angeles Clippers, Houston Rockets and Shanghai Sharks play preseason games a few weeks ago ($2 million). Plus, part of the deal in those cases was for the NFL and NBA players to participate in community outreach programs, something the UFC can’t do because fighters are not employees and are only contracted to do fight-related activities, like open workouts and media conferences. In this way, paying more money for one event that offers less than what other cheaper investments offer does seem ridiculous.

That’s not the full story, though…

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