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By In Mixed Martial Arts

The Nature of the Beast

“I know what you’re thinking, and the answer is yes: UFC Fight Night “Lineker vs. Dodson” also reminded me of the fable of The Scorpion and The Frog. In case you’re not familiar with the fable, a scorpion asks a frog to carry it across a river. The frog is worried that it might get stung, but the scorpion assures it that nothing of the sort will occur. After all, if the frog goes down, the scorpion would drown, too. Of course, when the frog decides to give it a ride, it gets stung and they both descend into their watery fate. Before they die, the frog asks the scorpion why it stung him, to which the scorpion replied, “It’s my nature.”

Humor me for a minute. UFC Fight Night 96 was a solid billing as far as these sorts of events go. It had a few fights with varying degrees of divisional relevance and a few fights for quasi-name value action; and some fights were just there. Whatever the card lacked in substance, however, it apparently made up for in outrage-inducing circumstances…”

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By In Mixed Martial Arts

Cyborg a Missed Opportunity for the UFC

“It would be easy to say something pseudo-clever like “death, taxes and Cyborg by TKO,” but after Cristiane Justino’s 12th straight bout ended before the final bell, it seems like dodging taxes and cheating death might be easier than surviving a title fight with the best female fighter on the planet. “Cyborg” violence has become an inevitability: Her knockout streak is coming up on eight years, and in her 17 career wins, she has only needed the judges to notarize the outcome twice.

Of course, none of this is new. We’ve been saying more or less the same things about Justino since she was competing in Strikeforce. Regardless of what you can say about her competition or lack thereof — we’ll get to that in a minute — Cyborg is a supreme talent in the sport, and one in which the Ultimate Fighting Championship would be wise to invest moving forward…”

 

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By In Mixed Martial Arts

Money Fights and the Forgotten Art of Knowing Your Role

“Back when I still started my day stuck on a freeway for an hour every morning, I was regularly reminded of an adage that was more enraging than illuminating. Though it supposedly has its roots in some sort of zen enlightenment, I tend to think that it actually sprouted from some snarky, contrarian dude in the passenger seat. The adage goes something along these lines: “You aren’t in traffic; you are traffic.”

I’m not sure what the creator of that was really going for. I suppose he or she was trying to alter the maddening experience of being forced into what is essentially a game of politically correct bumper cars where you want to smash into the person in front of you but can’t. However, instead of thinking “whoa” and feeling my impatience dissolve into the vibrations of the universe, all it did was magnify the fact that there were no other options but to tackle traffic, day in and day out. It’s tantamount to telling Sisyphus that he was doing it all wrong: “The secret is to be the rock.” Yes, visualize, breathe deep and become your own futility.

There’s a lesson here for Michael Johnson.

The Blackzilians lightweight snapped a two-fight skid by completely flattening Dustin Poirier in 95 seconds at UFC Fight Night 94 on Saturday in Hidalgo, Texas. In doing so, he announced not only a return to form but also a return to the top shelf at 155 pounds. Prior to losing back-to-back fights to Beneil Dariush and Nate Diaz, Johnson had all the looks of a serious contender in a division in no short supply of serious contenders. Now, “The Menace” is right back in the mix. It was a big win.

After the fight, though, Johnson called out nobody in the most specific way possible: “Conor McGregor, Nate Diaz getting paid that money and they’re out here scrapping, having a sparring match. I come to finish fights. I go for the kill. Pay me, baby, what’s up?” He then clarified that he would fight anybody but wanted to be in the big-money fights. Here’s the thing: If you want to be in a money fight, you have to be a money fight. Right now, despite his monstrous knockout win and undeniable talent, Johnson is not a money fight. If you need to explicitly call for a money fight, odds are you are not the one bringing the money to the fight…”

 

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By In Mixed Martial Arts

A Good Heavyweight is Hard to Find

“When we break down the purpose of organized competition into its most basic parts, past the platitudes of fun and entertainment, we get a glimpse into the human psyche. Sports — both participating and watching — are indeed fun and entertaining, mostly because we all understand that such physical feats are really, really difficult. Somewhere in the heart of man there is a relentless curiosity to know the limits of our species. A core part of all of us wants to see a concrete demarcation of what those limits are even though they rarely have much to do with our own personal limitations, which tend to be pretty unimpressive in the grand scheme of things. It’s why we idolize and admire great people: They show us what can be done while simultaneously making us wonder how they did it. The visual aesthetic of greatness is only part of it; actually seeing the best is obviously great, but we also want to simply know. Competition is a mechanism of exploration.

The appeal of heavyweight fighters is as pure a distillation of this dynamic as there is in sports. In the name of fair play, fighting has been broken down into weight divisions, each champion representing the best fighter in a particular range of size. However, if we were to exist in the world as it just is, it would stand to reason that the biggest best fighter would simply be the best fighter. It’s what we expect of our heavyweight champions and why we tend to label them the “Baddest Men on the Planet.” The heavyweight champ is supposed to be the last one standing if every single person in the world fought in a tournament. Theoretically, the heavyweight division should compose the majority of the final few rounds.

Yet, when we look at the current heavyweight landscape in MMA, that ideal doesn’t quite seem to materialize. At the very least, it doesn’t resonate much. Four of the division’s elite did little to change that at UFC 203 on Saturday in Cleveland…”

 

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By In Mixed Martial Arts

UFC 203 Statistical Matchup Analysis – Miocic vs. Overeem

“The Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight title has not been kind to the home team lately. Cain Velasquez lost his championship to Fabricio Werdum in front of a supportive Mexico City crowd; Werdum, in turn, lost it to Stipe Miocic in front of his Brazilian countrymen. Miocic will now try to buck the trend by defending his belt for the first time in his hometown of Cleveland, where he faces Alistair Overeem on Saturday in the UFC 203 main event. Miocic has fought a combined 3:41 in his two fights this year. This will be his third fight of 2016 and the fifth straight bout in which he fights a former champion of some sort.

Standing opposite the defending champ will be Overeem, a longtime MMA veteran who has fought in virtually every major promotion during the course of his career. Overeem has undergone a recent career resurgence following a shaky start in the UFC. The former K-1, Dream and Strikeforce champion went 2-3 in his first five UFC fights, but he has since reeled off four straight wins, three of which came by knockout or technical knockout. This will be his second fight of 2016 and the fourth consecutive bout against a champion or former champion.

There are a lot of angles to this matchup, so let’s see what the Tale of the Tape tells us…”

 

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