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What Fast Finishes Really Mean

Bellator MMA’s first event of 2019 went off with a bang. While I usually cringe at cliched sentiments like that, it perfectly describes the main card of Bellator 214: short and sudden. Four of the five fights on Saturday ended in the first round, combining for a total of five minutes and seven seconds of fight time. Our natural instinct is to cheer for such expediency. Finishes tend to be exciting, and fast finishes are almost always surprising. There are few ways for finishes to suck, whereas there are new genres of sucky decisions birthed every year.

Yet not all quick finishes are the same. They can mean vastly different things for different fighters, depending on the career context of the fighters themselves and how the fight was finished. For starters, there is a substantial difference between quick submissions and quick knockouts. Quick subs usually mean one of two things: Someone has a particularly sneaky and tricky one up their sleeve — think the journeyman Cody McKenzie’s strangely lethal guillotine — or one person in the cage is simply that much better than their opponent.

For both Adel Altamimi and Jake Hager, it was clearly the latter… 

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By In Social Media

A Little Bit of Everything

The first Ultimate Fighting Championship event of the year gave viewers a lot to digest. It was a good card on paper, and in general, it delivered. Nine of the 13 fights obviated the judges’ scorecards; up-and-coming prospects and grizzled veterans put on showcase performances; and it was all anchored by an intriguing superfight that, while short, provided plenty of fodder with which to banter. For the senile fans among us, there were also abundant reminders from the broadcast team that this was the first event on ESPN, just in case you didn’t know what channel you were watching. Those are the four most validating letters in the world of sports, and nothing says “we belong here” quite like the constant, obsequious affirmation that, in fact, we do belong here.

Yet for all the goings-on, a few storylines stood out at UFC Fight Night 143 on Saturday in Brooklyn, New York. Whether they were inspirational, controversial or somewhere in between, each merits further examination…

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By In Social Media

Talking the Talk

It came as a surprise to many when commentator Jimmy Smith announced on Twitter that he would no longer be calling fights cageside for the UFC. By most accounts, Smith was somewhere between good and exemplary in his role. He is experienced in combat sports, possesses a clear and professional voice and also conveys genuine, intelligent enthusiasm for the sport. So why was he let go?

“[The UFC told me] you’re great, fantastic, we love everything you did,” he said in an interview with MMAFighting.com, “[but] we’re going with UFC fighters for 2019.”

This is a perfectly reasonable decision on behalf of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. This isn’t exactly a change so much as it’s a pivot into something it has already been doing — and doing successfully. However, if the UFC plans on only putting fighters in the booth, it begs the question of whether or not fighting experience makes someone better for commentating…

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By In Mixed Martial Arts

Lessons from The Real OC

If you have followed my column for the last few years, let me first applaud you for your excellent taste. Moving on, you may be familiar with one of the reasons why I gravitate to this sport. I’ve often said that my fascination with MMA — beyond its obvious and immediate thrills — is that fighting is a pure distillation of life. Sometimes the villains win. Sometimes bad things happen to good people. Feel-good endings are rare.

Enter Sean O’Connell. Two nights after Penn was submitted, O’Connell became the first light heavyweight champion of the Professional Fighters League. It was by far the biggest accomplishment of his career in the cage, and it was also his final one; he retired after the fight…

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By In Social Media

Merry Christmas, Ya Filthy Animals

Let’s take a stroll with the ghosts of Jon Jones’ past, starting all the way back in 2016. “Bones” had just recently torpedoed the blockbuster UFC 200 event by getting flagged for an anti-doping violation three days out from fight night. He was pulled from the card and suspended for a year. His glorious technical knockout return a year later was scratched into a no-contest after he tested positive again. Especially considering the various other genres of Jones’ shenanigans, it’s no wonder why UFC President Dana White said he would “never take the risk of headlining a show withJon Jones again.”

Yet here we are, less than a week away from Jones’ latest main event, and another last-minute drug fog has emerged. This time, instead of pulling Jones from the card, the card is being pulled from its original venue so Jones can stay on board. Farewell Las Vegas, hello Inglewood, California. A lot can change in two years…

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