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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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By In Mixed Martial Arts

Cub Swanson and the Moment He Needed

The first time I saw Cub Swanson was a time he’d probably rather not remember. It was his fight against Jens Pulver at WEC 31, and I distinctly remember thinking Swanson was cocky and dislikable. In fairness, he was a 24-year-old on an 11-fight winning streak in the biggest fight of his life, so it was understandable and earned. However, he accused Pulver of ducking him, so it was hard not to feel a little malignant pleasure when he got choked out in 35 seconds. That night wasn’t about Swanson, though. It was a feel-good moment for “Little Evil,” an impressive rebound over an up-and-comer that, at the time, felt like the start of a career resurgence for the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s first lightweight king.

The next time I saw Swanson is also a time he’d probably rather not remember and possibly doesn’t actually remember but can’t forget because it’s been replayed so many times. It was at WEC 41 against Jose Aldo. Swanson picked up two consecutive wins after his loss to Pulver and seemed to be back on track to a title shot, but instead, he encountered a surging future all-time great. One strike and eight seconds later, Aldo became the talk of the sport. It was a coming-out moment for Aldo. It remains one of his most stunning highlights, and his in-cage victory dance is almost as memorable as his flying knee.

Those two instances are the earliest and most definitive examples of what has seemed to be the story of Swanson’s career: being on the wrong end of special moments…

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By In essay

From K-pop to HI-pop

K-pop is Korea’s most visible and wildly successful export. The contemporary conception of K-pop — melodic dance jams with glitzy production and hip-hop sensibilities — was born in 1992 when the group Seo Taiji and Boys performed their song “Nan Arayo” on national television. A blend of dance-ready rhymes in the verses and smooth vocals on the hook, “Nan Arayo” is widely considered the first modern K-pop song. Within 15 years of its birth, K-pop would become a global multi-billion dollar industry.

It’s tempting to look at K-pop as a model for the Hawaiian music industry…

Read more at Ka Wai Ola

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