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By In Hawaii, Mixed Martial Arts

Max Holloway And Hawaii’s Brain Drain

…Holloway is one of the finest fighters in the sport today, and will likely go down as one of the all-time greats when it’s all said and done. Fight fans love him because he’s as exciting as he is excellent, and Hawaii loves him because we love anyone from here who achieves some form of greatness.

Max is special, though. Unlike virtually every other great Hawaii athlete in any sport, he’s never left home. His amateur career and his first four professional fights all took place in local promotions, and throughout his UFC career he’s continued to live and train in Hawaii. His success is a compelling rebuttal to the idea that we need to leave Hawaii to “make it…”

Read more at Honolulu Civil Beat

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By In Mixed Martial Arts

A Motion for Meritocracy

Dustin Poirier at the UFC 257 post-fight press conference explained his status in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s lightweight division: “I lost to Khabib [Nurmagomedov], then I came out and put on a ‘Fight of the Year’ for you guys and got my hand raised against a Top 5 opponent after that. Then I come in here, Khabib doesn’t want to come back and I knock out one of the biggest fights you can get. Khabib reiterates he doesn’t want to fight anymore. Dude, I’m the champ.”

He has since doubled-down on this assertion, and it’s hard to argue with his point. Since 2017, Poirier has gone 7-1-1 in one of the sport’s toughest divisions. His only loss was against an all-time great in Nurmagomedov, and included in those seven wins are victories over four former UFC champions and a title contender. If Nurmagomedov is in fact done—and it looks like he is—Poirier has done more than anyone to lay claim to the division…

Read more at Sherdog

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By In Hawaii, Mixed Martial Arts

Breaking Curses and Records

The first time a Hawaiian fighter fought in the Ultimate Fighting Championship in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, was at UFC 112 in 2010. Maui native and “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 3 winner Kendall Grove kicked off the main card with a second-round technical knockout loss to Mark Munoz. Three fights later, Frankie Edgar claimed the lightweight title in a controversial unanimous decision win over B.J. Penn, the defending champ from Hawaii. The Aloha State went 0-2 for the night.

Over a decade later, it felt as if history repeated itself in the worst way. At UFC 251 on Fight Island in July, Martin Day extended the Abu Dhabi losing streak to Oahu when he got knocked out by Davey Grant in the third round of the first fight on the card. In the same card’s co-main event, Max Holloway was on the wrong end of a split decision against Alexander Volkonovski. The eerie similarities between Hawaii’s two greatest fighters losing belts they should have won a decade apart did not have much time to gestate, as Calvin Kattar beat Dan Ige four days later. Prior to UFC on ABC 1, Hawaiian fighters were 0-5 all-time in Abu Dhabi. A rational fan would look at those five fights and point to the fact that Penn was the only Hawaiian fighter who was a favorite in his bout, but a true fan would understand that a curse was afoot. Everyone becomes a little superstitious when a pattern holds long enough.

By the time Punahele Soriano stepped into the Octagon at UFC on ABC 1, discussion of whether or not there was ever a curse was moot…

Read more at Sherdog

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By In Mixed Martial Arts

If ‘The Eagle’ Ever Loses, It Will Be At UFC 254

It’s hard to appreciate just how difficult it is to be an undefeated Ultimate Fighting Championship titleholder. Almost everyone suffers an early defeat that serves as a valuable learning experience, partly because there are just so many ways to lose in mixed martial arts. You can get knocked out by kicks or punches or slams, submitted in any number of ways or suffer stranger fates, like losing via injury stoppage or horrible decision. If you fight at the highest level for long enough, you lose. That’s true of virtually everyone in every weight class.

There is less overall talent at light heavyweight and heavyweight, which may seem like a favorable environment for undefeated dominance, but whatever is lacked in depth is more than made up for in average power; it’s simply easier to get knocked out in heavier weight classes. Still, being undefeated is especially difficult in the stacked divisions between featherweight and welterweight. Those tend to be the best divisions top to bottom because there are more people in the world who are in those height and weight ranges, and there aren’t as many competitive alternatives for the best 145- to 170-pound athletes in the world. The already small population of heavyweight-sized athletes is further diluted by other, often more lucrative competitive options.

That is why current lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov’s 28-fight winning spree—12 of those victories have come in the UFC—is one of the most impressive runs any fighter has had in this sport’s short history…

Read more at Sherdog

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By In Mixed Martial Arts

A Safe Space for Racists

There were few surprises in the UFC Fight Night 178 main event between rivals Tyron Woodley and Colby Covington on Saturday in Las Vegas.

Woodley, a former welterweight champion who had looked like a husk of himself in back-to-back losses to Kamaru Usman and Gilbert Burns, looked exactly as bad as he did in those two drubbings. As it turned out, Woodley’s habit of backing into the fence and barely throwing any punches did not work out too well against Covington, a former interim champion who wins via relentless pressure and high-volume offense.

It was also not much of a surprise when Covington got on the microphone after the fight and trotted out his tried-and-true MAGA schtick, nor was it unexpected when that schtick careened into unvarnished racism. To Covington, a renowned economics expert educated by a variety of Facebook memes, Woodley is a communist and a Marxist, and Breonna Taylor—who was killed by police in Kentucky in a botched raid while she was sleeping in her apartment—is a “lifelong criminal.”

Surely it was pure coincidence when Covington later attempted to insult Usman, a Nigerian-American, by asking if the champion’s “little tribe” sent smoke signals to congratulate him. Yes, that backwater country of Nigeria which—let me check my notes here—has only suffered 1,100 COVID-19 deaths in a population of nearly 200 million people. Nothing like 200,000 patriotic body bags to Keep America Great…

Read more at Sherdog

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