Mixed Martial Arts
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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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By In aging, Mixed Martial Arts

Age Ain’t Nothin but a Number

“Aged wisdom and youthful confidence have always been at odds with each other. It’s a reasonably understood, inversely proportional relationship; when the body is more adaptable and broadly capable, thoughtfulness is less necessary to success than it is when the body starts to deteriorate. You see this dynamic play out — in sports and in life — with such variability that it’s not certain which side of the spectrum is winning. Sure, experience is something you don’t know you never had until you finally get it, but at the same time, experience is something you’ll never get if you don’t tell your mind to shut up and get out of the body’s way. No amount of physical ability can substitute intelligence, and yet you can’t compile any number of sage aphorisms to land a standing backflip…”

 

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By In Mixed Martial Arts

Mixed Martial Artistry

“All great art is narrative in some way. Not that a piece of art needs to tell a story in order to be great, but what truly distinguishes something is its place in a larger context. While good art of any sort can be defined by the immediacy of its aesthetic, great art exists in narrative crosshairs that make it representative of something bigger than itself. It’s why classic paintings can capture a period of history as much as any account of facts or why our favorite songs tend to be the ones that bring us back to specific moments from our lives; they’re intertwined with the things going on around them in a fundamental, inseparable way.

By any metric, Nate Diaz-Conor McGregor 2 at UFC 202 on Saturday was great art. It was a perfect blend of what we love about this sport, and it couldn’t have happened at a more perfect time…”

 

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By In Mixed Martial Arts

Conor McGregor vs. Nate Diaz Statistical Analysis

“The Ultimate Fighting Championship’s most marketable rivalry will finally get its second breath.

After a superlative 2015 campaign, the outspoken Conor McGregor entered his March showdown with Nate Diaz with an aura of destiny. At that point, McGregor was undefeated in the UFC and had not tasted defeat since an early career submission loss in 2010. After the Irishman tapped to a rear-naked choke from Diaz, the rematch was booked for UFC 200, but a maelstrom of drama surrounding press obligations and faux-retirement unfolded, pushing it back until now. This will be McGregor’s second fight above 145 pounds and his second fight of 2016.

On the other side of cage at UFC 202 on Saturday in Las Vegas will be longtime MMA antihero and cult favorite Diaz, who notched the most important win of his career when he throttled McGregor at UFC 196. Since then, he has become a bona fide star in the sport. The winner of “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 5 has nearly a decade of UFC fights under his belt, as well as stints in World Extreme Cagefighting and a one-off Strikeforce bout, making him a true veteran of the sport. Diaz is 3-3 in the UFC fighting above lightweight, and this will be his second fight of the year.

There are a lot of narrative and stylistic threads running through this fight, so let us see what the Tale of the Tape says…”

 

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