By In Mixed Martial Arts

Pedestals and PED’s

“I’m past the point of being surprised by PED busts in MMA. At this point, it seems that most of the sport’s heroes have at the very least dabbled with performance enhancers, and with the newly implemented random United States Anti-Doping Agency drug tests, I’d bet that only the staunchest clean-sport advocates have abstained; or to quote Nate Diaz: “They’re all on steroids.”

The problem is that random tests and stiffer penalties are not always effective deterrents. To those fighters who were on the fence about PEDs, perhaps they were dissuaded. However, the fighters who had built — or at least felt they had built — successful careers on a foundation of extralegal assistance, such impositions are only motivations to become smarter about cheating, including taking smarter legal precautions when necessary. If behavior management were as simple as “punish more and punish harder,” school classrooms and city streets would be a whole lot different…”

 

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By In Mixed Martial Arts

The Intrigue of Newness

“Who would have guessed that it would be an injured Daniel Cormier and not an incarcerated Jon Jones who would derail the highly anticipated rematch between current and former light heavyweight champions?

After it was announced that Cormier would be unable to make it to the April 23 showdown with his nemesis due to a leg injury, there was a brief period of uncertainty. After all, this is the same Jones that turned down a short-notice fight with Chael Sonnen at UFC 151 in 2012. Thankfully, Jones remained the card’s anchor, but instead of a grudge match for the undisputed championship, he will now face a new opponent in Ovince St. Preux for an interim belt at UFC 197. It is hard to deny the intrigue that a second Jones-Cormier fight piqued, but if I’m being honest, I think I prefer the St. Preux fight. At least, I like what it represents: a change.

The genius of Jones is in his lethal adaptability. In both his pre-fight preparation and in the heat of a fight, Jones seems to have all the answers for whatever is thrown at him. Cormier on the other hand is an imposing force if he can assert his grappling-predicated pressure, but his one and only loss showed that he has few tools to pull off a win if he can’t get his wrestling in gear. At 37 years old, it’s not likely that Cormier has added any significant wrinkles to his game that would make a second go-around at Jones much different…”

 

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By In fiction

Jong Il, from Yang Pyeong

“Heo Jong Il was from Yang Pyeong, a fact as easy to discern as the brownness of his shorts and blueness of his tank. He clutched the elongated bamboo pole of his net tightly as the bus shook along its way. The net was made with layers of spider web, perfect for catching bugs, but easily broken when struck against something solid. Jong Il’s father told him not to bring it to Seoul. It was old and dirty, with crunchy, half-picked leaves scattered across it. He brought it with him anyway. Only when he held it could he remember the melody of “Red Dragonfly” by Cho Yong Pil, hummed to him throughout the hazy blur of his early childhood. Jong Il wanted to make sure he continued to remember.

This was the first time his father had allowed him to take the bus by himself since they moved, and he was determined to catch dragonflies and butterflies in the waning summer heat. His worn, orange backpack clanged with each step from the glass jars inside of it, each of them poked with a tiny air-hole in the lid.

The rumbling ride to the park was not unlike the bus ride from Yang Pyeong to Seoul. Though shorter, it still vibrated with anticipation and excitement and a hint of something else that made him feel like there was a hole in his pockets. He shoved his left hand into his brown left pocket and pulled it out again, looking at his empty palm before tossing his net from his right hand to his left so he could inspect the right pocket as well. No holes, which was a relief since Jong Il could now refocus on the adventure that lay ahead of him instead of whatever else wasn’t there…”

 

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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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