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By In Mixed Martial Arts

The Paradox of Perfection

“Ultimate Fighting Championship President Dana White was the first to take the dais after UFC on Fox 24 in Kansas City, Missouri. He announced the usual business — gate numbers, bonus winners, compliments to the host city — before telling the press about how he overheard Demetrious Johnson asking coach Matt Hume what he did wrong in his one-sided drubbing of Wilson Reis. White answered on behalf of Hume and really anyone else who witnessed the fight: “Nothing.” When asked about Robert Whittaker’s win, he was just as effusive: “He fought a perfect fight.” As for Rose Namajunas: “[She] fought a flawless fight.”

Perfect, perfect, perfect. It’s typical promoter hyperbole, but in a lot of ways, White wasn’t wrong. None of the winners in the top three fights had to overcome any real adversity. Namajunas utterly dismantled Michelle Waterson; Whittaker completely stifled Ronaldo Souza; and Johnson? He Mighty Mouse’d Reis, landing more significant strikes than his opponent even attempted before adding demoralization to dominance by submitting the jiu-jitsu ace. For Whittaker and Namajunas, it was the best performance of their careers thus far. For Johnson, it was business as usual.

Of course, this wasn’t just any old fight for the flyweight phenom. This was his opportunity to tie Anderson Silva’s title defense record, the most hallowed record in the promotion, if not the sport. However, with Johnson, the results of his work, as impressive as they tend to be, are never as impressive as the work itself. He was overwhelmingly favored to make his 10th title defense, which took some air of that narrative, but the manner in which he did was, well, perfect…”

 

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By In Mixed Martial Arts

The Most MMA Event of the Year

“Event of the year it was not, but by the end of 2017, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a card more MMA than UFC 210 on Saturday in Buffalo, New York.

Let’s take a minute to unpack that idea first, since saying that an MMA event was “so MMA” — and the fact that almost everyone immediately knows what that means — is telling. It hints at the bizarre, sometimes horrible and often frustrating things we expect from this sport. It’s a particular feeling in the MMA community, somewhere between victimhood and resignation, over-salted with well-earned cynicism. When hyped fights fall through last-minute due to freak injury, a United States Anti-Doping Agency flag for “dick pills” or someone slipping in the bathtub during weigh-ins, or when impossibly bad scorecards turn up after a fight, the most accurate, most succinct way to describe that feeling is to say it’s “peak MMA.” Fighting is a weird and crazy sport, so we expect weird and crazy things to happen.

Though co-main eventer Gegard Mousasi made some fight-week ripples by vocalizing unapologetic opinions about his paystubs — a point of interest compounded by the fact that the top-5 middleweight’s bout against Chris Weidman was the last on his contract — the real ridiculousness started at the weigh-ins. Strawweight Pearl Gonzalez was reportedly removed from her fight after hitting weight but not because of a failed drug test or any of the other usual suspects; she has breast implants, which are barred by the New York State Athletic Commission in boxing. She was never officially pulled from the fight and everything ended up getting squared with the commission, but the episode was a portent of just how MMA this card would turn out…”

 

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By In Mixed Martial Arts

The Legitimacy of the “Others”

“Mama said there’d be days like this, days where there just isn’t much going on the world of mixed martial arts. It happens to every sport, only most leagues are seasonal and as such have predictable offseasons that allow us to mentally prepare for their absence.

Alas, there is no offseason for MMA, which is usually pretty nice since the stretches between big fights is a matter of weeks instead of months, but occasionally that leaves us with weekends like this, where we have little to do except marvel at the discovery of nicknames like “The Ginger with Intent to Injure.” It also gives us a chance to revel at the magic of MMA, because even where there doesn’t seem to be much going on, there’s always something going on.

For starters, there was an unfortunately under-promoted Invicta Fighting Championships card that turned out to be pretty entertaining start to finish. The co-main event pitted the No. 1 atomweight on the planet, Ayaka Hamasaki, against top-10 strawweight and former Invicta champion Livia Renata Souza. Meanwhile, the main event featured Tonya Evinger, one of the most accomplished female bantamweights in the history of the sport, in a rematch with Yana Kunitskaya. Neither of those fights disappointed…”

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By In Mixed Martial Arts

Life on Manuwa Island

“Jimi Manuwa is in an interesting spot. After zapping Corey Anderson with a one-punch, walk-off sniper shot of a left hook in front of an audience of countrymen at UFC Fight Night 107 on Saturday in London, “Poster Boy” is now 6-2 in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. His only two losses came against the two top contenders in the light heavyweight division: Anthony Johnson and Alexander Gustafsson. He’s currently riding a two-fight, two-knockout winning streak, and he’s ranked No. 4 in the division, according to the UFC rankings — which is really No. 5, since the promotion does not rank its champions. At any rate, it’s good to be Manuwa right now. The future, however, is anyone’s guess…”

 

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By In Mixed Martial Arts

Kelvin Gastelum’s View from the Fence

“Last week marked the 20th anniversary of the death of Christopher Wallace, aka Biggie, aka The Notorious B.I.G., aka one of the most era-defining artists of hip-hop ever. His style continues to be emulated and imitated, and his lyrics are among the most commonly referenced by other MCs to date.

Among the more frequent homages to his work is citing one of his biggest hits “Mo Money Mo Problems,” a track about the proportional relationship between having a lot of money and having a lot of problems. At the time it was recorded, platinum-selling Biggie — along with labelmate Ma$e and hitmaker extraordinaire Puff Daddy, who were also on the track — knew the ills of fame and money all too well. Celebrity makes it hard to live a normal life, compromising everyday luxuries like being able to walk freely in public. Wealth breeds mistrust. It can turn longtime friends and relatives into sycophantic barnacles who cling to their famous acquaintances and wait to catch the financial scraps that fall from the table. Affluence is its own brand of chaos.

To most of us, though, the idea that being rich is problematic is a bit silly. For those of us who have had to grind through multiple jobs at the same time, who have had to sweat through conversations with landlords for an extra week to pay the rent, who can hardly remember the last time we were able to go on vacation, we would gladly trade our problems for being too rich to go to the mall without personal security.

Indeed, some problems are better than others. For Kelvin Gastelum, a 25-year-old on a three-fight winning streak that includes two consecutive TKOs, his problems are pretty ideal for the MMA world. Yet they are still problems nonetheless…”

 

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