Mixed Martial Arts
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By In Mixed Martial Arts

The Dueling Insecurities of Boxing and MMA

“Few conflicts are as inevitable or as stupid as generational ones.

Without exception, every generation has bemoaned the one that follows. Kids these days are addicted to their phones; the kids before them had their egos overstuffed by participation trophies; the kids before them were rotting their brains with TV and video games; with the kids before them, it was all that darned rock and roll music; the kids before them … you get it. Yet somehow, despite all these oh-so-serious problems with the youth and the even more serious fist shaking, the cranky folks yelling at generational passersby to get off their lawn have only ever been addressing the next group to take their spot on the porch.

There’s a flipside to that, of course. Older generations are not the only guilty parties when it comes to broad dumb accusations. Young people are frequently guilty of dismissing the wisdom of life experience, eagerly substituting it for Google voyages and Netflix documentaries. The abundance of information available to people and the 24/7 access to it make it easy for anyone to feign expertise about anything and everything, and unlike true expertise, the fake kind is often immune to listening.

These aren’t terribly difficult challenges to overcome — all you really need to do is attempt to understand where the other is coming from — but these differences and generalizations are so deeply entrenched that it’s hard to uproot them and give genuine empathy a chance to occur. The upcoming Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Conor McGregor boxing match has unearthed a similar mindset, much of it stemming from similar generational disparities…”

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By In Mixed Martial Arts

Patience is a Virtue

“There’s a right way and a wrong way to win. More to the point, there’s a right way and a wrong way to answer the inevitable post-fight question: Who’s next? “Whoever the UFC puts in front of me” is invariably the worst and most boring answer; if you’re looking to climb the ranks, calling out nobody tacitly admits that you are, in fact, also a nobody. The name of the game is to gain fans and build storylines, and no one has ever been interested by or attracted to wimpy compliance.

It’s slightly better to narrow it down to “someone in the top 10,” but again, that’s not going to get anyone talking, and in the current climate of matchmaking, getting people to talk goes a long way. The best bet is to have a name ready. If fans respond to that name, it’s one of the most powerful ways a fighter can take the reins of his or her career.

In recent memory, Nate Diaz and Mickey Gall have parlayed post-fight callouts into particularly lucrative matchmaking. Diaz, of course, set up his biggest career paydays by voicing his desire to fight Conor McGregor’s “[expletive] ass” after a good-but-not-great win over Michael Johnson. All it took was a good bounce from Rafael dos Anjos getting injured and voila: Two fights later, Diaz was a multi-millionaire. Gall, on the other hand, didn’t quite rake in the payday Diaz did, but he did translate a high-profile yet expected win over Phil Brooks, aka “CM Punk,” into a fight with Sage Northcutt — possibly the biggest name in the welterweight division that was in his range of ability. He didn’t need quite as many F-bombs as Diaz, but calling “Super Sage” corny was apparently enough to get people excited.

There’s a reason MMA is called the fight game. There’s an element of gamesmanship required to navigate one’s career, and those who are assertive and smart about who they call out are often in the best positions to advance their careers. Sergio Pettis was aware of this…”

 

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By In Mixed Martial Arts

What I Talk About When I Talk About MMA

“This weekend served as a reminder of why this sport is great. Better yet, it was a representation of what makes MMA great. With one 25-minute-long exception, UFC 214 was a gift from the violence gods. By the end of the card on Saturday, even the most cynical onlookers were forced into begrudging applause.

It wasn’t just the main card that was great, either. The prelims had a little bit of everything. There were quick, brutal knockouts for Drew Dober and Ricardo Lamas. There were several entertaining back-and-forth battles: Jarred Brooks-Eric Shelton, Aleksandra Albu-Kailin Curran and the Brian Ortega-Renato Carneiro donnybrook that rightfully won “Fight of the Night” — no small feat considering the rest of the card. Finally, there was a coming out party/passing of the guard when Aljamain Sterling put a beatdown on former champion Renan Barao. None of the fights were less than good.

For the most part, it only got better on the main card…”

 

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By In Mixed Martial Arts

The Dumb, Dizzying Depths of The Money Fight

“…At this point, everyone knows the match is a shameless spectacle. The winner is all but decided, the narratives already written, while we all just sit back and watch and enjoy. It is a lot closer to professional wrestling than either boxing or MMA, which explains why the MMA crowd has been eating it up with more fervor than the boxing folk. Not that there’s anything wrong with that; everyone has their shallow indulgences in life. Some can detail all the regional differences in the “Real Housewives” series, while others can detail all the storylines from Monday Night Raw. Tomato, tomotto.

Yet at the same time, the appeal of “The Money Fight” is undeniable: boxing’s biggest star vs. MMA’s biggest star. It has all the glitz of celebrity boxing, only with better technique and higher stakes. It’s gossipy nonsense, but the kind of gossipy nonsense that feels big and important, not unlike the 45th president’s Twitter feed. In a world where a reality TV star can become the most powerful man on the planet, it is perfectly congruous for a type of reality TV show to become the biggest sporting event on the planet…”

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By In Mixed Martial Arts

A Half Empty Look at International Fight Week

“International Fight Week came and went, and with it there was much cause for rejoicing.

“The Ultimate Fighter 25” Finale main card on Friday was surprisingly good. Jared Cannonier laid a dynamic beatdown on a remarkably tough Nick Roehrick in an entertaining brawl; Drakkar Klose provided Marc Diakiese some much-needed adversity in a battle of two promising prospects; Jesse Taylor finally earned the opportunity to aggressively scream “I’m a UFC fighter” around Las Vegas and presumably fought the urge to kick out limousine windows in celebration of his “Ultimate Fighter” victory; and Justin Gaethje brought his beautiful brand of violence to the Ultimate Fighting Championship in a “Fight of the Year” candidate against Michael Johnson.

UFC 213 on Saturday brought its fair share of action, as well. Anthony Pettis once again looked like the Anthony Pettis we all imagine him to be; there were zero butt scoots in the rubber match between Alistair Overeem and Fabricio Werdum; and Robert Whittaker and Yoel Romero went back and forth in a heck of a fight for the interim middleweight title. All things considered, the UFC double-feature delivered. What’s there to complain about?

Unfortunately, plenty…”

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