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By In Mixed Martial Arts

The Costs of Control

“Over the weekend, a video surfaced of UFC President Dana White giving a business seminar at Stanford University. In the clip, White discussed why he believed boxing is declining while MMA is on the rise. To him, it’s simple: “[Boxing] has become so greedy. Nobody was ever thinking about the future of the sport. It’s about how much money we can we all put in our pocket right here right now.”

White expounded by posing a hypothetical scenario in which everyone in the room was guaranteed to earn $37 million that year, no matter what: “Guess what you’re gonna do? Not much.” In contrast, the Ultimate Fighting Championship incentivizes its fighters with bonuses, which in turn encourage fighters to perform better. For most fighters, the pay structure is a mixture of a guaranteed fight purse, a bonus for winning and potential bonuses for finishes and performances of the night. This, according to White, is the secret behind the UFC’s success.

Let’s investigate that…”

 

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By In Mixed Martial Arts

The Many Faces of Pound for Pound

“For the most part, all went according to plan at UFC 197 on Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Four out of five betting favorites on the main card won comfortably, and the only upset — Edson Barboza’s win over Anthony Pettis — was the closest betting line of the night. At a closer look, how the favorites went about winning led to both pleasant and unpleasant surprises, namely how Yair Rodriguez and Demetrious Johnson won easier than expected while Robert Whittaker and Jon Jones took longer than anticipated. Overall, though, it was what we thought it would be.

As such, the post-fight atmosphere didn’t offer much in the way of new information. Jones will go on to fight Daniel Cormier as was originally planned; Johnson is still untouchable at flyweight; and Barboza, Whittaker and Rodriguez are still at varying points on the continuum of prospects and potential title contenders.

The absence of buzz was probably due to a mixture of things: the ongoing tug-o-war between Conor McGregor and the Ultimate Fighting Championship, the lost luster of a Cormier-less headliner and the fact that the substitute main event was a dud of a fight. Whatever it was, the discussion after the fight centered on the mythical pound-for-pound rankings, specifically who deserved the number one spot between Jones and Johnson.

It goes without saying that pound-for-pound rankings are a little silly. To be fair, the entire light heavyweight belt situation is pretty silly right now, and that doesn’t seem to stop people from taking it seriously. There’s no need to be That Guy in the movie theater reminding everybody that what they’re watching isn’t real..”

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By In Mixed Martial Arts

UFC 197 Statistical Matchup Analysis

“The word ‘underappreciated’ comes to mind when discussing Demetrious Johnson.

Having already dispatched nearly every defensible contender, the man they call “Mighty Mouse” is knocking on the doors of MMA history. He was last seen in September, when he took a clear-cut unanimous decision over John Dodson. That was his seventh title defense, tying him with former featherweight champion Jose Aldo for the fourth-most title defenses in Ultimate Fighting Championship history. In each of those defenses, Dodson was the only one who managed to steal any rounds from him, making Johnson arguably the most dominant champion the UFC has ever seen. He fought twice in 2015; this is his first fight of 2016.

Standing across from him in the UFC 197 co-main event on Saturday will be the highly touted Henry Cejudo. The undefeated prospect and former Olympic gold medalist made his UFC debut in December 2014 and has only fought four times in the promotion. However, he has impressed in each bout, utilizing his athletic and technical gifts to take one-sided decisions every time out. He was last in the Octagon in November, when he beat Jussier da Silva in what was perplexingly judged a split decision. It was the third fight of the year for “The Messenger,” who was dubbed a potential heir to Johnson’s throne in his first UFC fight; this will be the first time he fights in 2016.

Here is what the Tale of the Tape tells us…”

 

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By In Mixed Martial Arts

Pedestals and PED’s

“I’m past the point of being surprised by PED busts in MMA. At this point, it seems that most of the sport’s heroes have at the very least dabbled with performance enhancers, and with the newly implemented random United States Anti-Doping Agency drug tests, I’d bet that only the staunchest clean-sport advocates have abstained; or to quote Nate Diaz: “They’re all on steroids.”

The problem is that random tests and stiffer penalties are not always effective deterrents. To those fighters who were on the fence about PEDs, perhaps they were dissuaded. However, the fighters who had built — or at least felt they had built — successful careers on a foundation of extralegal assistance, such impositions are only motivations to become smarter about cheating, including taking smarter legal precautions when necessary. If behavior management were as simple as “punish more and punish harder,” school classrooms and city streets would be a whole lot different…”

 

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By In Mixed Martial Arts

The Intrigue of Newness

“Who would have guessed that it would be an injured Daniel Cormier and not an incarcerated Jon Jones who would derail the highly anticipated rematch between current and former light heavyweight champions?

After it was announced that Cormier would be unable to make it to the April 23 showdown with his nemesis due to a leg injury, there was a brief period of uncertainty. After all, this is the same Jones that turned down a short-notice fight with Chael Sonnen at UFC 151 in 2012. Thankfully, Jones remained the card’s anchor, but instead of a grudge match for the undisputed championship, he will now face a new opponent in Ovince St. Preux for an interim belt at UFC 197. It is hard to deny the intrigue that a second Jones-Cormier fight piqued, but if I’m being honest, I think I prefer the St. Preux fight. At least, I like what it represents: a change.

The genius of Jones is in his lethal adaptability. In both his pre-fight preparation and in the heat of a fight, Jones seems to have all the answers for whatever is thrown at him. Cormier on the other hand is an imposing force if he can assert his grappling-predicated pressure, but his one and only loss showed that he has few tools to pull off a win if he can’t get his wrestling in gear. At 37 years old, it’s not likely that Cormier has added any significant wrinkles to his game that would make a second go-around at Jones much different…”

 

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