Saturday, December 25, 2010

UFC 125 Resolution: The Preview

While the Christmas holiday usually puts a halt to all major Mixed Martial Arts action, the New Year's holiday does just the opposite. A long-time staple for huge shows in Japan, this year is no different in the land of the Samurai with next weekend's DREAM 'Dynamite 2010' show. However, it is also the springboard for the Ultimate Fighting Championship's next card, UFC 125 Resolution, which is a dynamite card of its own.

This card features a main event for the world lightweight (155 lbs.) championship between current champ Frankie 'The Answer' Edgar and number one contender Gray 'The Bully' Maynard. Also the co-main event between middleweight contenders Chris 'The Crippler' Leben and Brian 'Stann has the UFC looking to start 2011 off with a bang. Those two fights along with the rest of the main card bouts should have no problem doing just that in the New Year.

The lightweight tilt between Edgar and Maynard is a rematch of a fight the two had back in April 2008. At that time, it was a fight featuring two young up and coming prospects. Maynard (10-0, 2 KO's) grounded out a unanimous decision victory after the three rounds over Edgar (13-1, 2 KO's 3 subs) giving him his only loss. Since then, the two have taken similar paths, only Edgar's has been more accelerated and celebrated. They both have had five fights since, however Edgar has fought stiffer competition, including two successive victories over former lightweight champion B.J. Penn.

Both coming from a wrestling pedigree and each having evolved their all-around MMA fight game, this is about as evenly matched as you can get in a title fight. Maynard's size and strength compared to Edgar, who is clearly a featherweight (145 lbs.) with a lightweight belt, proved the difference in the first meeting and it may do the same here. However, Edgar's strength has improved in the last couple of years and his stand-up game, especially his boxing, is clearly better than Maynard's. Therefore, because of those factors, I am giving the nod to Edgar in a five-round decision.

In the co-main event, the seasoned Leben (25-6, 13 KO's 6 subs) takes on Stann (9-3, 6 KO's 1 sub), a former WEC middleweight champion, who makes up for his inexperience with heavy hands. Stann, a former U.S. Marine, is 3-2 in the UFC since coming over from the WEC, while Leben found a resurgence in 2010 with three straight victories since January, including huge wins over Aaron Simpson and Yoshihiro Akiyama in a two week span. Although one punch from Stann can end things quickly, I see Leben with an accumulation of punches ending Stann's night via TKO and keeping his run alive.

The undercard features some very intriguing match-ups that should be very entertaining. In the welterweight (170 lbs.) division, Nate Diaz (13-5, 3 KO's 9 subs), from the famed Cesar Gracie Fight team, takes on South Korean Dong Hyun 'Stun Gun' Kim (13-0-1, 6 KO's 1 sub). While Kim has some punching power, he's had five fights in the UFC resulting in four wins, three by decision, and one no-contest. Diaz meanwhile has a granite chin and a slick submission game, which I envision him using at some point to sub Kim to continue his already two fight win streak.

Also on the undercard, a light-heavyweight (205 lbs.) tilt between Brandon 'The Truth' Vera (11-5, 7 KO's 1 sub) and Thiago Silva (14-2, 11 KO's 2 subs). Both guys are coming off losses and a long lay-off due to injury, so there are questions regarding ring rust and health. Seeing that both have the same factors at hand, my determination is a mental one. Silva, with a back injury, lost a unanimous decision to former champ Rashad Evans. However, Vera got smashed, literally, by Jon Jones with some vicious elbows to the face resulting in a fractured cheekbone. Thus, I feel that beatdown will make Vera gun shy mentally, which can be dangerous against a heavy-handed Silva. I've got Silva by KO in the second.

Finally, hold onto your seats as the pay-per-view will start with fireworks when lightweights Clay 'The Carpenter' Guida (27-11, 4 KO's 14 subs) and Japanese legend Takanori 'The Fireball Kid' Gomi (32-6, 12 KO's 6 subs) step into the cage. Both notoriously quick starters, the difference here is that Guida's energy won't stop, while Gomi has a history of gassing in later rounds. Thus, I see Guida, a human energizer bunny, going non-stop on his way to a decision or possibly winning by submission. Either way, it will be a great way to start off a great card and hopefully a great 2011.

Friday, December 17, 2010

WEC: The Little Engine that Could

September 28, 2001 is a significant date in Mixed Martial Arts because it marks the day of UFC 33, the first event promoted under the new Zuffa ownership. That will forever be looked upon as the date MMA came out of the darkness to begin its ascent as the fastest growing sport in the world.

However, three months earlier, during the "Dark Age", another historical date in MMA took place. June 30, 2001 was the day that World Extreme Cagefighting was born @ The Palace Indian Gaming Center in Lemoore, CA with an event called 'WEC 1 - 'Princes of Pain'. Using the number one in their event title, the promotion that was the WEC just knew they were going to have more than one event and they did; 52 more to be exact.

What they probably didn't know was that the sport of MMA would grow to be a worldwide phenomenon and that they would play a significant role in that growth. Kind of ironic that growth would be attributed to a company whose focal point the last few years were lighter weight classes, which featured fighters that did not grow to be very big. However, that was only in terms of stature. In terms of skill, entertainment and popularity, the WEC and their fighters was 'The Little Engine that could'.

They proved just that this past Thursday as WEC 53 - Henderson vs. Pettis, was not only a great event, but also a crowning achievement in WEC history. It was the last event for the promotion as they are now being merged with the UFC under the Zuffa banner; thus the date of December 16, 2010 will also go down as another important date in MMA history. So too will be the answer to the trivia question, what was the last fight ever in WEC history?

The answer of course was the lightweight (155lbs.) championship main event between titleholder Benson 'Smooth' Henderson (12-2, 2 KO's, 8 subs) and challenger Anthony 'Showtime' Pettis (13-1, 5 KO's 6 subs). Not only did Pettis and Henderson live up to Pettis's nickname and put on a show, but also it was a great fight and a fitting way to end an important chapter in MMA. In the end, Pettis won a five round unanimous, but close decision, thus becoming the new and last WEC lightweight champion.

BTW, for those that did not see the fight, Pettis's "jump off the cage flying right round kick to Henderson's face" in round five that knocked down the former champ is a highlight that will also go down in MMA history. In the 17 years the sport has been around I've never seen anything like it, but then again that is what the WEC has always been good for. Classic fights, chock full of action-packed highlights that will live on forever.

Look at some of the names of the fighters that have fought in the WEC and the list reads as a virtual who's who of MMA. Horn, Pellegrino, Melendez, Shamrock, Diaz, McCullough and Torres to name but a few. Even the main event way back @ WEC 1 featured a pioneer of the sport in UFC Hall of Famer Dan 'The Beast' Severn against Travis Fulton. However, when you think WEC there is one name that has become synonymous with the organization, Urijah Faber.

'The California Kid', a homegrown product from Northern California, birthplace of the organization, not only became the poster boy for WEC, but it's ambassador as well. A former featherweight champion, who is one of the sports biggest stars, he took the promotion, put it on his back and made sure the world knew it was more than just a regional show. It was Faber, along with current featherweight champ Jose Aldo, who spearheaded the WEC's one and only pay-per-view event and made it a rousing success by selling out the ARCO Arena in Sacramento, California earlier this year.

Along the way, the WEC went on to garner a television contract with The Versus Network, attract international stars from all around the globe and carve its own niche as the premiere organization for featherweight (145 lbs.) and bantamweight (135 lbs.) fighters in the world. Reed Harris, President of the WEC has much to be proud of, yet now it is but a memory, albeit an important one. However, it leaves a profound legacy that will continue to live on through its fighters who will now compete in the UFC. Thank you WEC for the memories and for always living up to your name and being totally extreme.

Monday, December 13, 2010

"From the Fields to the Garden" and then some

While I enjoy reading, I have to admit, it's far and few in between the books I can find that can instantly grab my attention to the point where I can't literally put it down. Many of those in my lifetime have usually been biographies of people involved in things that stir my interest such as the underworld, sports or historical figures.

Luckily for me, I found that and then some in 'From the Fields to the Garden: The Life of "Stitch" Duran'. Of course, anyone reading this column has to know who Jacob 'Stitch' Duran is. However, if you are just a casual fan of combat sports and may be unfamiliar with this legendary figure, he is the famed cutman for the UFC and in the world of boxing.

Wondering how a guy who inconspicuously works in the corners of fighters, quietly repairing cuts and keeping fighters safe can make such a name for himself? That is what makes Stitch's story such an interesting one and makes this book such a great read.

"From the Fields," addresses the early part of Stitch's life when he was a young boy working alongside his family in the farmlands of Northern California. An extremely humble beginning for a man who's had his image on giant like billboards outside arenas and has worked in both film and television.

"To the Garden", speaks about his dreams and aspirations to someday make it to what he deemed for himself to be the pinnacle of his sport and trade, Madison Square Garden. Well the poor kid from Planada, California has made it there and back numerous times with some incredible stories to go with it.

That is where "The Life of 'Stitch' Duran" comes in; in between the beginning and the end, there are the most interesting stories from discovering Taekwondo and Muay Thai in the jungles of Thailand while in the military, to eating and drinking in a traditional German Schnapps House. Then there are the stories that interested me the most, which are the ones you never hear about from the inner world of boxing and MMA.

Stitch's book takes you behind the scenes and in the locker rooms. It reveals the inner thoughts of many of the great and legendary fighters we have become fans of. It also explains in detail, how far both sports have come, yet how much farther they each have to go in terms of safety. This is of utmost importance to Stitch in his career as a cutman, but even more so in his compassion for the fighters he looks after.

So many of them have come to respect the man and his work. That is quite evident in the number of fighters that request him specifically and no one else when it comes to wrapping their hands. I asked Stitch how is it that he can accommodate all the requests when there are so many fighters on a particular UFC card? "It comes down to seniority, status and priority," he said. "Obviously, someone the likes of a Randy Couture, Mirko Cro-Cop or Brock Lesnar will take precedence over most fighters."

Another interesting part of the book is on his actual work and trade as a cutman, which he has helped to cultivate in his thirty plus years in the game. When I asked if he sees the cutman trade evolving in the same way fighters is constantly evolving, he said, "absolutely 100%." "Unlike cutmen in the past when I was coming up who refused to share their knowledge, I'm constantly educating through seminars and the younger people are innovating and evolving ideas from things they learn from me."

A former farm boy, baseball player, soldier, martial artist and so on, Stitch's is a real life rags to riches story; one of dreams, hopes and realities. A must have for any true combat sports fan, it is a great complement and addition to any library. It is also the perfect Christmas gift for those you know who love boxing, MMA or just an interesting story; one that will take you "From the Fields to the Garden" and then some.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

MMA and Boxing closing out 2010 with a bang

With less than three weeks till 2011, both MMA and Boxing are closing out 2010 with a bang. After last weekend's KO fest at Strikeforce and a strong past month and a half for boxing, combat sports fans have had much to cheer about and enjoy.

This past weekend, the trend continued with an entertaining UFC 124: St. Pierre vs. Koscheck card from Montreal, Canada. On the same night from one of the UFC's regular stomping grounds, Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada, a candidate for fight of the year in boxing was waged as Amir 'King' Khan defended his WBA light welterweight championship against Argentinean contender Marcos Maidana.

In the main event of the UFC, welterweight (170 lbs.) champion Georges 'Rush' St. Pierre (21-2, 8 KO's 5 subs), ironically used his boxing skills as he literally jabbed his way to a decisive unanimous decision over Josh 'Kos' Koscheck (15-5, 4 KO's 5 subs). St. Pierre's jab throughout the fight was so quick, effective and on target, that Koscheck's right eye was pretty much swollen shut after two rounds.

Mixing up his effective striking with an occasional takedown (pictured above), the champion was never really challenged or in any serious danger throughout the five rounds. Koscheck was unable to mount any offense, having to resort to swinging wildly in the hopes of catching St. Pierre on the chin. So, how is it then that this was voted "fight of the night" and earned both St. Pierre and Koscheck a bonus of $100,000 each?

The UFC and its president Dana White, always hand out bonuses for 'Fight of the night', 'KO of the night' and 'Submission of the night' as an incentive for fighters to go out and try to finish their fights in exciting fashion. Great idea, but it's a real shame when two fighters deep on the undercard such as welterweights Matt Riddle and Sean Pierson, put on a great show for the fans and are not rewarded for it.

Those two slugged it out for three rounds, acknowledged each others efforts throughout and clearly earned the fans appreciation for it by their rabid reaction. That fight must've left an impression as it wasn't even on the main card and has no significance whatsoever in the scheme of what's to come in the welterweight division, yet the UFC felt it worthy enough to show on the pay-per-view portion of the show.

It is why I chose to comment on it besides any other fight outside the main event. My small tribute may not be worth $100,000 dollars, but as a fan all I can say is thanks for the effort; which brings me to the main event of the HBO boxing card, Khan vs. Maidana. What Riddle and Pierson did for three rounds in a cage, these two did for twelve in a ring.

Khan (24-1, 17 KO's), a budding superstar in a stacked division of budding superstars, the 140 lbs. class, defended his title against another of the young hungry lions within the division Maidana (29-2, 27 KO's). Defend is the operative word as Khan needed every bit of skill and heart he could muster to ward off the hard charging Maidana.

Strangely, the fight looked like it wouldn't amount to much as Khan, using superior hand speed, foot work and punching combinations, dropped Maidana with a punishing left hook to the liver, that had the challenger wincing in pain for the final minute of the first round. Maidana weathered the storm and ended up creating one of his own. His only downfall was a fifth round point deduction from referee Joe Cortez for a blatant elbow he threw at Khan's face, which luckily missed, but caught Cortez flush in the chest.

Besides that, the two battled back and forth over 12 rounds with Khan landing crisp combinations and Maidana smashing Khan with vicious uppercuts and an overhand right in the eighth that clearly had the champion on Wobble street. A scheduled fight next month between the other two champions in the division, Devon Alexander (WBC, IBF) and Timothy Bradley (WBO), has the present and future for boxing looking extremely promising.

As for UFC 124, three fights of note on the main card all ended in the first round as 6'11" heavyweight Stefan 'Skyscraper' Struve defeated 6 '7" Sean 'Big Sexy' McCorkle via TKO referee stoppage; also, lightweight (155 lbs.) Jim Miller derailed the undefeated record of young Charles Oliveira with a slick knee bar submission. Finally, it took lightweight Mac Danzig less than two minutes to finish Joe Stevenson via KO with a crushing left hook to the jaw.

Friday, December 10, 2010

UFC 124 St. Pierre vs. Koscheck: The Preview

If there is one constant in the world of MMA among the many hardcore and casual fans, it is that UFC Welterweight (170lbs.) Champion Georges St. Pierre is arguably the most popular fighter in the sport. By the same token, another constant is that welterweight contender Josh Koscheck is easily the most unpopular. However, when the two square off this Saturday night in Montreal, Canada, although the fan support will be lopsided, that doesn’t mean the fight will be.

Hardly strangers to one another, St. Pierre (20-2, 8 KO’s, 5 subs) and Koscheck (15-4, 4 KO’s, 5 subs) were coaches on the latest season of ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ reality series and actually fought once before three plus years ago, in August 2007. At that time, St. Pierre won a decisive unanimous decision over Koscheck, actually defeating him using Koscheck’s biggest weapon, wrestling.

While Koscheck is a former Division One National Champion and four-time All-American from Edinboro University, he got worked when it came to wrestling in MMA by the Canadian champion. The question is does St. Pierre do it again? Or better yet, will he?

St. Pierre is well known for being a very cerebral fighter besides using his gifted physical talents. He always devises a certain game plan for his opponents and while using wrestling against the wrestler was the perfect formula the first time around, that doesn’t mean it will work again. Koscheck has undoubtedly been working that part of his game to perfection at his camp at American Kickboxing Academy along with doing the same for all parts of his game.

Not just a wrestler anymore, Koscheck has shown power and skill in his hands and an ever improving ground game as he has become a brown-belt in Jiu-Jitsu under renowned trainer Dave Camarillo. Yet, for all the growth he has experienced as a fighter, so too has St. Pierre.

Riding a seven-fight win streak in the octagon, after a surprising KO loss to former champ Matt Serra, St. Pierre has shown a more precise and disciplined fighting style with every fight. Only problem is, some people feel it may be too precise and more on the cautious and safe side as four of those seven wins have been by decision.

I disagree for two reasons. One is the caliber of opponents he went the distance with. Dan Hardy, Thiago Alves, Jon Fitch and Koscheck are hardly tomato cans. All top ten welterweights in the world who all have risen to #1 contender status. Second reason is his game planning and deliberateness to carry it out. What some may call a boring fighter, I call a smart one.

For that reason I see St. Pierre winning again. This time though I think he will finish Koscheck, mostly likely via TKO from a ground and pound beating he will unleash on the trash talking former wrestling champion with the Harpo Marx haircut. Just calling it like it is.

On the undercard there are two intriguing fights. One features welterweight contenders John ‘Doomsday’ Howard (14-5, 4 KO’s 6 subs) against the aforementioned Alves (17-7, 11 KO’s 1 sub). If this fight goes the distance, I’ll be very surprised as both love to throw hands and knees for that matter. However, I think Alves, is naturally bigger and more explosive, which is why I see the ‘Pitbull’ taking this one by KO.

The fight of interest is the lightweight (155lbs.) match-up between Joe ‘Daddy’ Stevenson (31-11, 6 KO’s, 15 subs) and Mac Danzig (19-8-1, 4 KO’s, 10 subs). Both for ‘Ultimate Fighter’ winners, Stevenson in season two and Danzig in season six, with a lot of promise, I think the loser of this fight will be cut from the UFC.

Danzig is (1-4) in his last five fights, while Stevenson is not much better at (2-3). With the recent merger and absorption of WEC lightweights onto the UFC roster, something’s got to give here. While Stevenson may have the edge in experience and tougher opponents, I’m giving the nod to Danzig via decision. Sorry Joe Daddy, you’re a nice guy, but as Leo Durocher said, “nice guys finish last.”

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Kids are playing Russian Roulette with chokeholds

Horseplay by kids, especially young teenagers, is nothing new. Seems like when they hit that certain age right around 13 or 14, both seem to go hand in hand. However, the latest sensation being played out by teenage kids is no laughing matter. It seems that with the growth in popularity of the sport of Mixed Martial Arts, the latest now has kids playing Russian Roulette with chokeholds.

Here in the Lehigh Valley, I read an article in the local newspaper a couple of days ago where it appears a case of this so-called horseplay almost went too far. Apparently a 15 year old boy, whether he was playing or not, locked on a rear naked choke on a 14 year old student.

Not playing by the rules of MMA, when the 14 year old boy didn't tap, but frantically tried to break the grip and eventually passed out, he unconsciously fell face first breaking his nose and busting open his lip. The aggressor, who is now being charged with assault, says it was part of a game that is played throughout the school and the victim was a willing participant. Not surprisingly, the victim tells a different story.

The supposed game is called 'choking out' and the object of the game is to see how long you can let yourself be held in a choke hold till you're about to reach the point of unconsciousness. Unfortunately, unlike in the photo above, where the prank of someone getting choked is being done with professional female MMA fighter Kim Couture doing the choking, the kids playing this game are far from properly trained.

Their whole source of education is coming from what they see being performed and displayed by professionally trained MMA fighters in events just about every weekend. However, I hope people aren't quick to blame or even judge the sport of MMA solely because of the irresponsible behavior of influential kids.

Every generation before us, there has been teenagers who have been influenced, albeit in the wrong way, by some form of popular culture. In the 90's, it was backyard wrestling mimicking the moves of professionals from the WWE and WCW. In the '80's, the backlash came from kids listening to Gangster Rap and Heavy Metal lyrics. Even in the '70's, I remember as a kid growing up with Bruce Lee and Kung Fu films all the rage, me and my friends would run around at recess jumping and throwing flying kicks at one another.

Not so smart when I think about it now as a grown man who's been properly training in martial arts for over ten plus years, but as a kid who sees it as playful fun, Bruce Lee or I can be hardly held accountable. However, that's only because I was lucky no one got seriously hurt. In cases where tragedy has occurred, it makes no difference how old you are.

In 1999, there was the case of the 12 year old Florida boy who was charged with murder after he accidentally killed a six year old girl he was babysitting when he says he was imitating body slamming pro wrestlers. He ended up getting a life sentence. Also, the rock band Judas Priest has been blamed for the suicide deaths of two young males' ages 18 and 20, solely because of the content of their lyrics.

Thus, while I don't feel the sport of MMA can be blamed for this latest problem that has arisen, I do feel it can assist in addressing the issue. Here's a situation where I think the President's of the major MMA organizations here in the states, Dana White of the UFC, Scott Coker of Strikeforce and Bjorn Rebney of Bellator can come together under one umbrella for a common cause. To educate kids on the dangers of practicing a sport they are not properly trained for.

If each promoter could unite and have panels of their fighters located all across the United States going around to various school districts speaking on the dangers of playing around with MMA, I think this would go a long way in helping to curb this latest teenage rage. Because whether they realize it or not, kids are playing Russian Roulette with these chokeholds.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Bad judging supersedes KO's and decisions

On a night that saw 'Strikeforce' literally live up to it's name, with four big knockouts on the main card, while the 'UFC', settled for decision after decision, it was a bad judges decision on the lone action packed UFC fight that lingers on my mind. Ultimately, the pros should outweigh the cons, but bad judging in MMA is what is outweighing everything a/o late.

Before I get into it, a quick recap of last night's action. Let me start by saying I've been extremely critical of Strikeforce this past year. In my mid-year report card, I graded them a 'D' and it's largely because I feel Scott Coker's, Strikeforce president, handling of business has actually been a detriment to the promotion. That said, they put on an extremely exciting and entertaining show last night.

In another situation where they were going head to head with the UFC, Strikeforce stepped up to the plate and salvaged a card that was almost ravaged by injuries. In the main event, 205 lbs. former UFC veteran and Pride champion, Dan Henderson, (26-8, 11 KO's 2 subs) showed he still has something left in the tank and some power left in that right hand. He pummeled Renato 'Babalu' Sobral (36-9, 5 KO's 18 subs) for a first round finish in under two minutes.

That seemed to be the trend of the night for Strikeforce, as the two fights previous to that one saw first round KO's as well. At welterweight (170 lbs.), hard hitting Brit Paul 'Semtex' Daley (26-9-2, 19 KO's 2 subs) needed just a little over two minutes to finish Scott 'Hands of Steel' Smith (17-8, 14 KO's 3 subs). With a series of left hooks, Daley dropped Smith face first on the mat. Up next for Daley, a potentially exciting fight with the fast hand punching KJ Noons.

Meanwhile, 'Ruthless' Robbie Lawler (18-6, 15 KO's 1 sub) outdid both of those guys, as he used up all of 50 seconds to send one time UFC middleweight (185 lbs.) contender Matt 'The Law' Lindland (22-8, 8 KO's 7 subs) into possible retirement. The big question here is, why did two-time Olympic Wrestling Silver Medalist Lindland, choose to stand and trade with Lawler? The guy has 15 KO's in 18 wins; hello, is anybody home?

As for the UFC, not much to talk about or better yet, not enough time as each fight on the main card went the distance. In the headliner of the night, 'Ultimate Fighter' season 12 lightweight (155 lbs.) participants Jonathan Brookins (12-3, 2 KO's 8 subs) and Michael Johnson (8-5, 4 KO's 2 subs) did put it all on the line. Brookins came back, after losing the first round, to win a unanimous decision and a contract with the UFC.

That brings me to easily the fight of the night, yet the biggest disappointment as well. In the opening bout on the main card, the UFC's first ever in the featherweight division (145 lbs.), Leonard 'Bad Boy' Garcia (15-6-1, 3 KO's 9 subs), who came over in the WEC merger, fought fellow 'TUF' season 12 participant Nam Phan (16-8, 7 KO's 5 subs) (pictured above). As was expected when the lighter weights were brought over, this was an action packed fight.

Garcia, known for his wild style of "swinging for the fences" on every punch, is also known for split decisions, win or lose. On this night, he won, although in my opinion and apparently everyone else, he shouldn't have. While Garcia was throwing haymakers, he was like a power hitter in baseball who usually either connects or whiffs. If Garcia were a baseball player, he would've struck out swinging.

He did manage two takedowns throughout the fight, but Phan quickly got up on both and sustained no damage. Meanwhile, Phan was technical in his approach, using quick countering punches in combination and vicious left hooks to the body throughout. I even texted someone and said, "Nam Phan is the Mike McCallum of MMA, The Body Snatcher." A reference to the former 80's boxing champion.

Phan also knocked down Garcia in the second round and had his back for well over two minutes, where he punished with punches and tried to secure a rear naked choke submission to no avail. I guess all this wasn't enough in the judge's eyes. Once again, they dropped the ball as was clearly evidenced by the chorus of boos in the arena and color commentator Joe Rogan's disdain.

When explaining The UFC has no say about the judges as they are assigned by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, Rogan said, "this is just another example of utter and complete incompetence on behalf of the judges and it will not stop until judges are educated in the sport." He also went on to say, "this is the type of thing that can give a black eye to the sport of Mixed Martial Arts because people will start to believe MMA is corrupt."

I am in total agreement with Rogan on this topic. I've been critical of MMA judging in the past and have stated openly that the main problem is education. Not enough "MMA people" are involved in judging these fights. It's usually people experienced and licensed to judge boxing, which is only one facet of the sport. Also, scoring the ground game has not been clearly defined, thus to the novice eye, the person on top is generally construed as winning.

Until these issues get corrected, we will continue to have scenarios where bad judging supersedes KO's and decisions in exciting fights. I think Nam Phan summed it up best when Rogan asked him in the post fight interview what he was thinking upon hearing the judges decision, "I was thinking, can't an Asian brother get some love."

Junkie Gathering 2017... this time it was personal

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