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Don’t Sweat the Technique

…It was a clinic, a dissection, a deconstruction. The guy who everyone agreed was the most dangerous challenger in the division — possibly any division — was brutally dismissed to a definitively lesser tier. This wasn’t checkers to chess; Ortega was looking through a glass-bottom boat while Holloway was scuba diving. There are fathoms to this shit…

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Score One for the Good Guys

In the aftermath of UFC 226, there was a mixture of buzzed excitement and bemoaned frustration about Brock Lesnar getting a shot at the heavyweight title. Both responses are understandable. On one hand, Lesnar has done nothing to deserve a shot at the title: His last official win in the Octagon was in 2010, and his last appearance two years ago saw him melt the post-fight urinary sample cup with a banned fertility drug that doubles testosterone. On the other hand, he’s really big, and he called some other heavyweights pieces of s—. You can understand the conflicted emotions here.

Yet the naked cash-grab of another title fight for Lesnar is easily forgiven. The Ultimate Fighting Championship is in fact in the business of money-making, and Lesnar is an undeniable means to make said money. The question is why he’s still a draw at 41 years of age, despite back-to-back first-round technical knockout losses and a dud of a fight that ended up as a no-contest…


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O Kyoji, Where Art Thou?

“When Kyoji Horiguchi fought out his contract with the Ultimate Fighting Championship at the end of 2016, he left under peculiar circumstances. Zuffa had just sold the organization to Endeavor, and a subsequent bloodletting of talent took place. Horiguchi was part of a wave of top-tier fighters — it included Ryan Bader, Rory MacDonald, Lorenz Larkin and Nikita Krylov — who left the UFC, not because they were cut but because they couldn’t come to terms with the promotion. Translation: They wanted more money than the UFC thought they were worth.

In some of those instances, the UFC’s rationale was understandable. Bader, for instance, is an exceptionally skilled fighter who, if it were up to me, would still be in the UFC for the simple reason that he’s an elite talent. However, I can understand not wanting to pay more for someone that is not known for putting on exciting fights and definitively lost to the best fighters in the division.

Horiguchi was and is different, though…”


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Respect Where Respect is Due

“The concept of respect is a nebulous one, often trotted out as a vague substitute for love or kindness. When people talk about respecting themselves, they really mean they should accept themselves; when people talk about respecting others, they usually mean they should be courteous. True respect, however, is a response to something undeniable. True respect is earned through action.

The weekend that was showcased two domains of mixed martial arts that are due a little bit more respect than they have been previously given.

The first is Bellator MMA. At Bellator 183, former Ultimate Fighting Championship lightweight titleholder Benson Henderson continued his losing stint in the promotion, dropping a second straight split decision to Patricky Freire. His final fight in the UFC was a win against Jorge Masvidal, currently a top-five welterweight in the promotion. Henderson is now 1-3 in Bellator, and had Patricio Freire not suffered a freak injury, “Smooth” may very well be 0-4 in the organization right now…”


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Some Things I Wrote in 2016

2016 was a strange year to say the least. Headlines abounded of political shocks and scandals or celebrity deaths, and nobody could say for sure how true any of those headlines were since we all got our news from Facebook.

Still, it was a productive year for yours truly. I wrote a lot, and I appreciate everyone who has taken time to read my work. Here are the 10 pieces I feel most proud to have written in 2016, with a few thoughts looking back on them. I assure you none of it is fake news.

March 7, Sherdog
Conor McGregor and the Death of Imagination

Conor McGregor had built an aura around him. He captured the UFC’s featherweight championship via spectacular dominance, and became one of the sport’s two biggest stars ever along the way. Then he was unceremoniously and, frankly, embarrassingly defeated in his first fight of 2016.

March 9, The Classical
Away Games: A Dispatch from the Korean Basketball League

I had already been living in Korea for over a year when I first went to a professional basketball game. The sense of newness and excitement of living in a foreign country had mostly subsided, and the shitty parts – like cold weather – were still shitty. Then I went to a Korean Basketball League game.

April, Eastlit
Jong Il from Yang Pyeong

Jong Il had recently moved from his home in the countryside to Seoul. A day spent catching butterflies and dragonflies in the park causes him to reflect on what he kept with him, and what he didn’t.

May 2, Sherdog
The Costs of Control

Dana White claimed the secret to the UFC’s success has been to incentivize fighters with performance bonuses while keeping guaranteed pay low. “If you were guaranteed to earn $37 million, guess what you’re gonna do? Not much.” Can’t argue with that logic, right?

August 22, Sherdog
Mixed Martial Artistry

The rematch between Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz was a truly great fight. But its greatness was not just that of an exciting fight; it connected in a more essential way.

October 10, Sherdog
A Beautifully Weird Twisted Reality

Mixed martial arts is strangely alluring. Its youth as a sport means there’s an absence of the polished professionalism in other major sports leagues. The type of people who makes a living inflicting violence on others is inherently a different set of psychologies than other professional athletes. And yet for all the ridiculous, absurd and downright bizarre aspects of the sport, it can also simultaneously be beautiful. Enter Dan Henderson vs. Michael Bisping.

November 4, Harvard Review Online
Book Review of Annie Dillard’s “The Abundance”

Pulitzer winner Annie Dillard is inimitable. Her writing is beautiful, hilarious, bizarre and familiar all at once. “The Abundance” is a collection of essays spanning across decades, and it shows how her voice is as unique and vital now as it ever was.

November 14, Sherdog
Politics, UFC 205, and What It Means to Fight

The first two weeks of November were quite possibly the most 2016 moments of 2016. Donald Trump won the presidential election, Conor McGregor headlined one of the biggest UFC cards in history – at Madison Square Garden, no less – and my parents came to Korea to visit for a few days. It was a time of complex ideas and emotions pulsing within and around me, and ironically it was the dumbest and simplest of them all that helped me recalibrate.

December 12, Sherdog
A Fighter Forged from Conflict

Where we’re from can powerfully inform who we become. To understand interim featherweight champion Max Holloway, who has become one of the toughest and most technical mixed martial artists on the planet, you have to understand what life is like in his hometown of Waianae.

December 15, The Classical
John John Florence and Surfing’s Hawaiian Homecoming

When John John Florence became the World Surf League champion, it was the first time a surfer from Hawaii had done so in over a decade. It’s strange to think that the place that invented surfing has gone through such a long drought on the competitive circuit, but a closer inspection explains why – and why John John’s win is so important.


I can’t say enough how much it means to me that anyone at all reads what I write. So many editors, publishers and writers have motivated me, guided me, and inspired me to continue chasing this silly dream of mine, and every single person who has read my work has helped me get closer to achieving it. I appreciate all of it, more than I can adequately express. 2016 was a good year, and I’m proud of everything I wrote, but I know there is much work to be done in 2017. I’ll keep working.

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