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By In Mixed Martial Arts

The Simple Complexities of The Money Fight

“As “The Money Fight” inexorably becomes reality and the odds inexplicably become closer, the cynicism of it all has grown tiresome. You, dear readers, may recall that I haven’t been particularly enthused by the match, but that isn’t because I don’t understand its appeal. There are a lot of reasons to be excited about it. The optics alone of seeing Conor McGregor in the ring against Floyd Mayweather Jr. will be interesting. Plus, for all the criticism McGregor gets for his goofy-looking training methods, there is an undeniable itch of curiosity to see if maybe he’s on to something. That’s to say nothing of the ultimate appeal of Mayweather’s career in the last decade: the desire to see him lose. To lose to a boxing debutante would be the most hilariously embarrassing schadenfreude imaginable, unlikely as it may be.

Both actors are fascinating in their own ways. Mayweather is unquestionably The Best Ever, though not in the way he sells himself. No, Mayweather is not anywhere near the top of the all-time pound for pound list, and he is hardly in contention as the greatest welterweight or lightweight, either. Imagine Mayweather against a prime Sugar Ray Robinson, Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns or Roberto Duran, and it is hard to picture him winning any of those fights. He is a gifted, beautiful fighter, no doubt, but the zero in his loss column has masked his flaws and granted him undue credit…”

 

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By In Mixed Martial Arts

The Dueling Insecurities of Boxing and MMA

“Few conflicts are as inevitable or as stupid as generational ones.

Without exception, every generation has bemoaned the one that follows. Kids these days are addicted to their phones; the kids before them had their egos overstuffed by participation trophies; the kids before them were rotting their brains with TV and video games; with the kids before them, it was all that darned rock and roll music; the kids before them … you get it. Yet somehow, despite all these oh-so-serious problems with the youth and the even more serious fist shaking, the cranky folks yelling at generational passersby to get off their lawn have only ever been addressing the next group to take their spot on the porch.

There’s a flipside to that, of course. Older generations are not the only guilty parties when it comes to broad dumb accusations. Young people are frequently guilty of dismissing the wisdom of life experience, eagerly substituting it for Google voyages and Netflix documentaries. The abundance of information available to people and the 24/7 access to it make it easy for anyone to feign expertise about anything and everything, and unlike true expertise, the fake kind is often immune to listening.

These aren’t terribly difficult challenges to overcome — all you really need to do is attempt to understand where the other is coming from — but these differences and generalizations are so deeply entrenched that it’s hard to uproot them and give genuine empathy a chance to occur. The upcoming Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Conor McGregor boxing match has unearthed a similar mindset, much of it stemming from similar generational disparities…”

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By In Mixed Martial Arts

Patience is a Virtue

“There’s a right way and a wrong way to win. More to the point, there’s a right way and a wrong way to answer the inevitable post-fight question: Who’s next? “Whoever the UFC puts in front of me” is invariably the worst and most boring answer; if you’re looking to climb the ranks, calling out nobody tacitly admits that you are, in fact, also a nobody. The name of the game is to gain fans and build storylines, and no one has ever been interested by or attracted to wimpy compliance.

It’s slightly better to narrow it down to “someone in the top 10,” but again, that’s not going to get anyone talking, and in the current climate of matchmaking, getting people to talk goes a long way. The best bet is to have a name ready. If fans respond to that name, it’s one of the most powerful ways a fighter can take the reins of his or her career.

In recent memory, Nate Diaz and Mickey Gall have parlayed post-fight callouts into particularly lucrative matchmaking. Diaz, of course, set up his biggest career paydays by voicing his desire to fight Conor McGregor’s “[expletive] ass” after a good-but-not-great win over Michael Johnson. All it took was a good bounce from Rafael dos Anjos getting injured and voila: Two fights later, Diaz was a multi-millionaire. Gall, on the other hand, didn’t quite rake in the payday Diaz did, but he did translate a high-profile yet expected win over Phil Brooks, aka “CM Punk,” into a fight with Sage Northcutt — possibly the biggest name in the welterweight division that was in his range of ability. He didn’t need quite as many F-bombs as Diaz, but calling “Super Sage” corny was apparently enough to get people excited.

There’s a reason MMA is called the fight game. There’s an element of gamesmanship required to navigate one’s career, and those who are assertive and smart about who they call out are often in the best positions to advance their careers. Sergio Pettis was aware of this…”

 

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By In essay

Man’s Best Reflection

“When I first started dating my fiancé, before we had a dog, we discussed this hypothetical: if a dog that belonged to you and a human stranger were hanging in peril, and you only had the time and ability to save one of them, which is more deserving of rescue? At the time, I made a logically-framed argument, maintaining that humanity is fundamentally more valuable than the life of any other animal, that a person is capable of producing so much more good in the world than a dog is, and that the risk of the stranger being a complete monstrosity of a person after being saved from impending death would be minimal compared to the odds that he or she would be a valuable contributor to society. Her rebuttal: just wait until you get a dog.

I waited. We got a dog. She was right.

Not only would I now save my dog without so much as a flinching hesitation, I’d probably save a stranger’s dog before I’d save the stranger. Sure, having a dog of my own has helped change my mind, but there’s more to it than that. An honest inspection of humanity yields a much stronger argument. Dogs are better students of character than humans — they bark at those worth barking at, offer their belly to those deserving of intimacy — which begs the assumption that perhaps they are simply better than people…”

 

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By In Mixed Martial Arts

What I Talk About When I Talk About MMA

“This weekend served as a reminder of why this sport is great. Better yet, it was a representation of what makes MMA great. With one 25-minute-long exception, UFC 214 was a gift from the violence gods. By the end of the card on Saturday, even the most cynical onlookers were forced into begrudging applause.

It wasn’t just the main card that was great, either. The prelims had a little bit of everything. There were quick, brutal knockouts for Drew Dober and Ricardo Lamas. There were several entertaining back-and-forth battles: Jarred Brooks-Eric Shelton, Aleksandra Albu-Kailin Curran and the Brian Ortega-Renato Carneiro donnybrook that rightfully won “Fight of the Night” — no small feat considering the rest of the card. Finally, there was a coming out party/passing of the guard when Aljamain Sterling put a beatdown on former champion Renan Barao. None of the fights were less than good.

For the most part, it only got better on the main card…”

 

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