By In Mixed Martial Arts

Then and Now: 10 Years of the Lightweight Division

The state of the lightweight division would make a permanent pivot 10 years ago, from one snakebitten era to the next. Fittingly, it happened via robbery.

When Frankie Edgar defeated B.J. Penn the first time at UFC 112 in the United Arab Emirates, it wasn’t just a big-time upset, though it was also that by any measure. Edgar was a +725 underdog and Penn a -1100 favorite. Penn was a three-time defending champion who hadn’t lost at lightweight in eight years, while Edgar had never been in a title fight and wasn’t even the clear top contender. Coming into the fight, Edgar was 6-1 in the Ultimate Fighting Championship—a very good record in an elite division—but in that same timeframe Gray Maynard was 7-0-1, including a win over Edgar. After losing to Maynard, Edgar won three straight bouts over former title challenger Hermes Franca, former champion Sean Sherk and Matt Veach in his second UFC appearance. In the same timeframe, Maynard beat Rich Clementi, Jim Miller, Roger Huerta and Nate Diaz. Likely because of his two straight split decisions against Huerta and Diaz, Maynard was passed up for the title shot, a small snub that changed the course of the division…

Read more at Sherdog

Read more

By In Mixed Martial Arts

Watching Fights Like an Analyst pt. 2

In the absence of new fights happening, now is as good a time as ever to not only watch old fights but watch them with a focus on understanding what is really going on and why. A deeper understanding provides new layers of the sport to enjoy, so I called on Ed Gallo, a sharp and thoughtful analyst for Bloody Elbow and The Fight Site, to help explain ways to improve our analytical eye.

In our first installment, we talked about what is important to look for in fight analysis and what doesn’t matter, how to spot stylistic nuances and the role of a fighter’s mindset when it comes to analyzing their game. We now finish our discussion by going over common misconceptions, whether or not you have to train in martial arts in order to analyze them and more…

Read more at Sherdog

Read more

By In Mixed Martial Arts

Watching Fights Like an Analyst pt. 1

I imagine most of us are filling the current MMA void in the same ways: watching fights you missed or can’t remember or revisiting old favorites, possibly with someone who has never seen them before. The more hardcore fans among us—either in their degree of fandom or boredom—are re-watching entire events and reveling in the forgotten moments of commentary and between-fight banter.

Although I have greatly enjoyed going through the careers of Nick Diaz and Mirko Filipovic one fight at a time with my wife, many of my longtime favorite performances have struck me for different reasons than they initially did. When I was a younger, greener fan, I was still learning why I was so drawn to fighting and had a very limited grasp of what was even happening in the cage or ring. Now, after 18 years as a fan of MMA and nearly six years of covering it, I have a much greater appreciation for what I’m watching.

Still, I wouldn’t call myself an analyst. I’m not completely ignorant. I know enough to know my limitations, which is also enough to know who knows what they’re talking about, so I reached out to one of those people: Ed Gallo, analyst for Bloody Elbow and The Fight Site. His knowledge and ability to articulate technical nuances, especially when it comes to wrestling, is illuminating.

Watching fights attentively and critically and not simply for entertainment is its own fun, and now is as good a time as ever to become more fluent in fight analysis. Here is the first part of a conversation I had with Gallo about how to watch fights like an analyst…

Read more at Sherdog

Read more

By In Mixed Martial Arts

Fighting in the Age of Coronavirus

It all seems too strange to be real. Maybe it wasn’t real. Maybe Charles Oliveira didn’t put on his best all-around performance to date. Maybe Gilbert Burns didn’t become a legitimate welterweight threat. Maybe Renato Carneiro didn’t remind us why he was such a highly regarded prospect for so long. Maybe my social distance-addled brain just invented UFC Fight Night 170 in a fit of wishful delirium.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship no doubt wanted to make it feel normal. Upcoming events were plugged and previewed with the same built-in assumption of certainty. Fighters walked out the same as they always have, entrance music and all. Octagon announcer Joe Martinez still bellowed grand introductions for everyone, adding extra emphasis for the Brazilian hometown heroes, only for the sound of his voice to impotently ricochet around the empty arena. Commentator Michael Bisping reflexively ended a post-fight interview by telling someone, anyone to “make some noise!” A few times, you could clearly see a bug—a moth perhaps—flap across the cage in front of the cameras. Even a genuinely good and exciting UFC event was just another place with lights on…

Read more at Sherdog

Read more

By In Mixed Martial Arts

A World Without MMA

The coronavirus and our subsequent response of shutting down as much as we reasonably can has, among other things, given us time to reflect and reason to question what is really essential in life.

Our animal needs have been met with the time-tested method of hoarding, though I would hope it’s not surprising to anyone that we still require the same basic elements of survival we always have. Instead, it has been more telling to see how we’re recalibrating one of our more evolved human needs: that of organized work, which may only be a need inasmuch as we’ve all tacitly permitted it to be. Still, how work is situated in a society reflects broadly shared values. Our gut impulse to buy industrial reams of toilet paper may also be a reflection—of our entitled and engorged nation or, more generously, how seriously we take our cleanliness—but how we reward and regard different lines of work says a lot more about who we are…

Read more at Sherdog

Read more