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By In Mixed Martial Arts

The Conundrum of Patience

One of the most commonly known and boringly worded axioms is that patience is a virtue. Patience in the midst of trying circumstances demonstrates a mastery of self and an authoritative willpower over one’s emotions, those torrentially fierce kneejerk responses that demonstrate how our most complex human capacities are still subject to our most base animal instincts. To overcome such reactions and maintain a level of composure when everything in us is screaming to burst out is a virtuous feat indeed. However, virtues often have another side. As writer Ambrose Bierce said, patience is “a minor form of despair, disguised as a virtue.”

The UFC 228 main event on Saturday in Dallas demonstrated how patience can simultaneously be a virtue and a vice. In the aftermath of the title fight between Darren Till and Tyron Woodley, it was clear how it can both aid and impede a fighter’s progress — sometimes at the same time…

 

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By In Mixed Martial Arts

High Stakes on Multiple Fronts

While much of the drama leading up to UFC 228 card will center around the headlining welterweight title fight between Tyron Woodley and Darren Till, the stakes will be much higher for the women’s side of things. No matter the outcomes, both the flyweight and strawweight divisions will undergo significant reshuffling, and each individual fighter on the docket has a lot on the line…

 

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By In Mixed Martial Arts

Violence, Money, and John McCain

When I think about late Sen. John McCain’s legacy within the realm of combat sports, the first thing that comes to mind, perhaps not surprisingly, is an episode of “The Simpsons.” In it, Marge lobbies to get violence taken off of TV because of its negative influence on children. After she writes a letter urging the network to “please try to tone down the psychotic violence in your otherwise fine programming,” the hyper-violent Itchy & Scratchy Show gets hilariously bowdlerized. Instead of finding new and exciting ways to brutally murder each other, the cartoon cat and mouse gently sway back and forth on rocking chairs drinking lemonade. Of course, to the relief of the children, the violence would soon return, more psychotic and psychedelic than ever.

McCain’s most infamous contribution to MMA discourse was referring to it as “human cockfighting” in 1997. A year prior, he saw a tape of the Ultimate Fighting Championship and said it was “barbaric” and “not a sport.” He wrote letters to the governors of all 50 states asking them to ban the sport. When McCain became the chairman of the commerce committee, which oversaw the cable TV industry, the major cable operators at the time stopped airing UFC events because they were “too violent for children.” I know what you’re thinking, and, yes, the UFC was only available on pay-per-view at the time, so it was a nonsensical rationale, but reason often has no place when corporations are currying favor from Washington…

 

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By In essay, Mixed Martial Arts

Joint Resolution

Shortly into his title fight against the most dominant champion in the history of the UFC, Henry Cejudo rolled his ankle. This was not any more helpful than it looks. Cejudo lifted his left leg to step forward but his foot didn’t cooperate, almost as if it were fighting the fact that he was in the cage against a man who had steamrolled him in half a round just two years prior. When he put his weight forward, Cejudo’s toe dragged on the mat. I will confess that I’m not sure what happened for the next 10 seconds or so because I was wincing in vicarious psychosomatic pain. When his ankle contorted the wrong way a second time, both painful experience and the sharp biting sensation in my ankle—a sympathetic pang from a not-dissimilar injury—told me it would be over soon. It had to be.

Ankles are strangely poetic as joints go. Athleticism in any sport that requires bipedalism depends almost entirely upon the flexible capacity of the ankle, without which fast-twitch agility and general explosiveness would be grounded in horizontal limits. Yet the ankle’s astonishing and vital functionality is also its vulnerability. Its ability to grant special, spectacular movement leaves it open to bend grotesquely in any number of opposite directions, to push too far past its natural range of motion. There is a safe sort of comfort in the stillness of a fixed joint. An ankle that’s doing too much is an ankle at risk…

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By In Mixed Martial Arts

When Superfights Lose Their Luster

We are getting closer and closer to an entirely unnecessary superfight between freshly minted flyweight champ Henry Cejudo and freshly fortified bantamweight champion T.J. Dillashaw. Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with this fight in a vacuum. Cejudo is a tremendous fighter coming off the most significant win of his career, and Dillashaw is quickly proving himself as one of the pound-for-pound elites of the sport. It has the potential to be an exciting fight. It’s just not the right time…

 

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