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By In Mixed Martial Arts

One Man’s Loss is Another Man’s Luck

“It’s no secret the Ultimate Fighting Championship doesn’t exactly pull out all the stops for UFC Fight Night events, let alone those that take place in Poland. If you opted to skip UFC Fight Night 118 on Saturday to spend your afternoon doing something else, I don’t blame you. Yet despite the general dearth of name value on display, by the end of the card, it felt like a new star had been born.

Darren Till, an undefeated 24 year-old prospect, put on a clinic against longtime veteran and fan favorite Donald Cerrone in the main event. Till was dominant. He stuffed the first takedown with little effort, scrambled out of the second attempt with ease and then proceeded to land big shots without taking any real damage. He stalked Cerrone around the cage, and after a beautiful standing elbow and a barrage of hard left hands, the TKO was called with under a minute left in the first round. It was a big upset, even if the betting odds weren’t terribly steep: Cerrone was the -160 favorite and Till a +130 underdog by fight time. From a distance, however, the matchup couldn’t have been more lopsided…”

 

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By In Mixed Martial Arts

Violent Meditations

“One of the more fascinating aspects of mixed martial arts is understanding why people watch it. Most other sports have obvious and mostly singular appeals: They showcase elite athletic feats and elicit some emotional cocktail of pride in seeing your side win and/or schadenfreude in seeing the other side lose. Much can be said about the combination of catharsis and entertainment, but that umbrella tends to cover everything.

MMA is a little more fractal than that. Fans flock to the fight game for a number of different reasons. For some, the enjoyment comes from purely sporting purpose, as they want to see high-level athletes doing high-level combative chess; others come to MMA for the martial arts component, to see the skill, honor and discipline of ancient practices applied to real-life situations; and of course, there are those who simply want to see some bloody, violent chaos. All three of these are perfectly legitimate reasons to enjoy the sport.

A clip from the MMA Beat last week made the rounds, with host Ariel Helwani making the case for why the Ultimate Fighting Championship should not promote itself as violent: “Outside of the MMA world, in what realm do you ever hear the word ‘violence’ used positively? It always has a negative connotation, yet we promote it and celebrate this word and want to stick it on our sport like it’s some cool thing to do. It disgusts me.”

This is not the first time this argument has been made — you may recall early last year when SBG Ireland trainer John Kavanagh voiced a similar gripe — nor will it be the last. That’s a good thing, though. It’s a worthwhile discussion to have, and fans should be grappling with the violent nature of the sport they support…”

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By In Mixed Martial Arts

A Source of Pride

“There is a story behind every journey into the Octagon, and every story invariably includes adversity and heartache — almost certainly to a much greater degree than triumph. Success is built on a mountain of Ls, and in order to suffer through those losses and keep trudging onward, there must be an aquifer of personal pride somewhere beneath the bedrock of whatever other motivation propels fighters forward. Though nebulous and amorphous, pride is an essential piece of the fight game. There was no shortage of it at UFC 216 on Saturday in Las Vegas, especially at the top of the card…”

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By In Social Media

Respect Where Respect is Due

“The concept of respect is a nebulous one, often trotted out as a vague substitute for love or kindness. When people talk about respecting themselves, they really mean they should accept themselves; when people talk about respecting others, they usually mean they should be courteous. True respect, however, is a response to something undeniable. True respect is earned through action.

The weekend that was showcased two domains of mixed martial arts that are due a little bit more respect than they have been previously given.

The first is Bellator MMA. At Bellator 183, former Ultimate Fighting Championship lightweight titleholder Benson Henderson continued his losing stint in the promotion, dropping a second straight split decision to Patricky Freire. His final fight in the UFC was a win against Jorge Masvidal, currently a top-five welterweight in the promotion. Henderson is now 1-3 in Bellator, and had Patricio Freire not suffered a freak injury, “Smooth” may very well be 0-4 in the organization right now…”

 

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By In Mixed Martial Arts

In Defense of the Very Good

“If you like to watch grown men punch each other, you almost certainly had a good weekend. Between UFC Fight Night 116 and the boxing match between Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Gennady “GGG” Golovkin, there was plenty of violence to go around.

The UFC Fight Night card on Saturday in Pittsburgh was almost entirely action. All but two of the fights ended within the distance, and the main event saw former middleweight champion Luke Rockhold get back in the mix for the first time in over a year, against a top 10 opponent, no less. On the other side of the combat sport spectrum, the fight between Golovkin and Alvarez was rightly hyped as one of the most important bouts of the year, pitting the two top middleweights in the sport against each other in the primes of their careers. Both middleweight bouts — in boxing and the Ultimate Fighting Championship — were exciting, entertaining affairs between talented fighters. Yet in the aftermath of both events, there were some undeniably sour notes…”

 

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