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Colby Covington Knows What He’s Doing

Colby Covington is perhaps the greatest Rorschach test in the Ultimate Fighting Championship today. Fans of his see him as a Making America Great Again patriot dunking on the nerds and virgins of the world; detractors see him as a corny caricature who thinks being annoying is the same as being alpha. Some love him for his toughness and tenacity in the cage, while others loathe him for his inability to finish fights. Regardless, people seem to love and hate him for the same reasons, and whatever you think of him probably says a lot more about you than it does about him.

This gives Covington a veneer of complexity, but in reality, he’s one of the most straightforward and simple fighters to understand. He’s an astute observer of what makes fighters successful, both in and out of the cage, and he has dedicated himself to realizing those traits to the fullness of his potential…

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Ingredients of a Rebound

Ideas become cliché for the simple reason that they are, in essence, obvious, so while phrases like “you either win or you learn” or “it’s only a loss if you don’t learn anything” are rightfully met with yawning indifference, they are still basically true. Mistakes and failures are inevitable, whether in the cage or the cubicle. What matters is not avoiding those failures but squeezing them for whatever nuggets of wisdom we can get out of them.

At UFC 240 in Edmonton, Alberta, on Saturday, Cris Cyborg and Max Holloway demonstrated what they learned from their previous fights: A little bit of patience can go a long way…

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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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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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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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