Mixed Martial Arts
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By In Mixed Martial Arts

Fairytale Championships

“In the aftermath of UFC 196, you can’t help but feel good to see the increased exposure of Nate Diaz. The Ultimate Fighting Championship veteran of nearly a decade has been a fan favorite since his days on “The Ultimate Fighter,” and while he has never exactly been graceful on the microphone, he has always been honest and interesting.

This was no less true when, earlier this week, the Stockton Slap specialist made an appearance on “UFC Tonight.” Sitting alongside fellow “Ultimate Fighter” alums Kenny Florian and Michael Bisping, Diaz detailed his comfort with being a moneyweight fighter simply looking for the biggest possible fights. When asked whether those fights would be for a title, Diaz brushed it off in a vintage soundbyte: “I think that title thing’s a fairytale, man.”

First off, you have to love the fact that Diaz said that to Florian, who had three failed attempts to win a UFC title, and Bisping, who has always knocked at the championship door but has never been invited inside to try his hand. Yet Diaz knows what he’s talking about; once upon a time he, too, had a title shot, and he was handily defeated by Benson Henderson. Diaz made $50,000 for that fight, half of what he made in his next four fights combined. Against Conor McGregor, he earned more than four times the amount of those five fights put together. There was no title or title shot on the line…”

 

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By In Mixed Martial Arts

Whose Stoppage is it Anyway?

“It was perhaps the first advertising slogan for competitive combat, and it came to define the gladiatorial games during and long after their existence: munera sine missione, “no mercy shown.” No phrase, Latin or otherwise, better captures the soul of machismo that is both the allure and allergen of violent spectacle.

For all its efforts to distance itself from the barbaric analogue of the coliseums, the Ultimate Fighting Championship has employed this tried-and-true appeal to masculinity time and time again. Back when events carried names beyond the headliner or type of fight, titles like UFC 2 “No Way Out” or UFC 37.5 “As Real as it Gets” were clear tips of the hat to the same simulation of death that the Romans exploited to fill seats.

Of course MMA, and especially MMA today, is nowhere near the barbarism and brutishness of the Roman games; we have rules and referees. Hence the catharsis of watching violence can be achieved without the moral compromise of watching people kill each other. We even have our stats about how MMA is safer than football or boxing, since submissions and shorter competitions reduce exposure to blunt force head trauma.

Then a fight like Hector Lombard-Neil Magny happens, and none of that makes it easier to helplessly watch a fighter get pummeled into the mat with a referee obliviously standing by…”

 

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By In Mixed Martial Arts

The Slippery Nature of MMA Greatness

“Greatness in mixed martial arts is an oft-discussed and ill-defined phenomenon.

There are moments of greatness, when a single move is so spectacular and dynamic that it transcends its own context: Think the “Showtime Kick,” the “Randleplex” or simply YouTube an Anderson Silva highlight video. Then there are great fights: gutsy, never-back-down brawls, come-from-behind wins, shocking upsets and the like. If you’re spending your Monday reading MMA opinion articles, you probably don’t need too many examples; watch this sport long enough and you’ll develop a shortlist of great fights without conscious effort in the same way you involuntarily breathe in your sleep.

Yet what is probably the most hotly debated and feverishly coveted claim to greatness is consideration as a great fighter. This usually requires a long-term aggregate of both of the former criterion, a rare feat that is slowly developed, hastily misapplied and readily dismissed. The shallow history of the sport magnifies our short memory, but even though we are often too quick to anoint the latest fighter on a hot streak as the next “Great,” we are just as quick to recant when he or she slips up or stumbles. Great fighters require time to fully appreciate, as well as a detached appraisal that those of us who thirst for the instant gratification of knockouts and submissions often lack the patience to distill…”

 

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By In Mixed Martial Arts

The Death of Imagination

“Human imagination is a powerful thing.

It makes us aware of potential dangers and opportunities. It has shaped our sense of culture and informed our social organization. It is the cornerstone of preparation and the catalyst for innovation. It is no coincidence that the one creature on the planet in possession of imaginative capacity is also uniquely the only one inhabiting every corner of it. Imagination convinces us that if we keep moving forward we can reach that next horizon, even if all we are doing is marching forth across one big circular plane. An abundance of imagination is known more simply as “delusion.”

Conor McGregor has thrived off the power of his imagination. It is what cultivated the “Mystic Mac” persona and drove legions of fans and detractors alike to watch every step he took and hang on every word he uttered. Up until this weekend, McGregor’s achievements were fueled by his honest investment in his own imagination…”

 

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By In Mixed Martial Arts

UFC 196 Statistical Matchup Analysis

“For the second time in eight months, a last-minute injury has obstructed Conor McGregor’s shot at a title.

Less than a year ago, it was Jose Aldo who was forced to pull out of his featherweight title defense due to a rib injury. This time around, it was Rafael dos Anjos who had to bow out of defending his lightweight title after breaking his foot. Now, McGregor will make his welterweight debut — no title on the line — against late substitute Nate Diaz in the UFC 196 main event on Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. This will be McGregor’s first fight of the year; he was last in action in December, when he put on a dominant drubbing of longtime featherweight king Aldo. The Irishman is coming off of a breakout 2015 campaign, the first year he fought more than twice since joining the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Diaz has been relatively inactive recently, fighting only twice in the last two calendar years. The longtime Zuffa veteran and “The Ultimate Fighter 5” winner is nearing his nine-year anniversary in the UFC, a career that has seen several stints of varying successes and failures. Since challenging for Benson Henderson’s lightweight title in 2012, Diaz has gone 2-2, suffering his first and only TKO loss along the way. He was last in the Octagon in December, only a week after McGregor iced Aldo, taking a hard-fought decision over Michael Johnson. Immediately after the fight, Diaz unleashed an expletive-filled challenge to McGregor, which made the Cesar Gracie disciple a natural replacement for the injured dos Anjos.

This is an intriguing fight, for both the out-of-cage verbal exchanges and the potential exchanges in the actual fight. Let us see what the Tale of the Tape says about it…”

 

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