musings on mixed martial arts, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Muay Thai and all things mano-a-mano
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Posts from — September 2010

The financial upside of Jon Fitch’s lay-and-pray style

I don’t blame Matt Mitrione for shit-canning his agent immediately after his UFC 119 bout on Saturday. A measly $5,000 in sponsorship earnings when you fight on national TV is pretty small potatoes.

But it’s really no surprise. Unless you’re a top-tier A-list fighter (Georges St. Pierre or Brock Lesnar, for example), you probably don’t cash too many big cheques. Jonathan Snowden over at Bloody Elbow has a breakdown of how fighters are paid. It’s enlightening stuff. Here’s an excerpt:

Fight shorts aren’t a commercial product that companies are able to sell to the general public. What they are is a billboard for advertising that could appear in front of a television audience for up to 25 minutes. Short space is sold in four pieces: the crotch, the butt, and both thighs. The top agents have been able to score more than $30,000 per patch, but that’s rare. For a television fighter who isn’t a major star, the crotch and butt space are worth from $500-$2,000. Each thigh ranges from $250-1,500. Savvy agents can sell these spaces at a premium if they pitch it right.

“I represent one guy who is a great wrestler,” an agent told me in confidence. “When I sell the space on his butt I tell the company ‘Look, his ass is going to be in America’s face for 15 minutes while he pounds on this guy.’ That’s incredibly valuable space.”

September 28, 2010   No Comments

Muscle Shark attack

Evan Dunham catches his breath between rounds of his welterweight bout with Sean Sherk at UFC 119, a bout that Dunham clearly won despite the judges seeing things the other way.

September 26, 2010   No Comments

The legal eagle who got MMA sanctioned in Ontario

Came across this Globe and Mail profile of Noble Chummar, the hotshot law-talking guy who helped get mixed martial arts sanctioned in Ontario. Worth a read if you want to know some of the behind-the-scenes maneuvering that it took to get Premier Dalton McGuinty on board.

September 26, 2010   No Comments

Was UFC 119 the worst card in UFC history?

I’ve been out of the MMA loop for a couple of weeks as I’ve been settling into a new job and moonlighting as a film critic covering the Toronto International Film Festival and frankly, I needed the break from caged entertainment.

Anyone who’s been following Fighting Words the last couple of months has probably detected my not-so-subtle frustration with the sport. I was burnt out on it, on too many bad cards at every level, on no new stories save those MMA insiders and pundits and the like latch onto in some random tweet and then blow up into something that’s really nothing at all just to feed the news cycle and attract eyeballs.

No, I’m not referring to Chael Sonnen’s steroid woes or however you choose to see them. He did the crime, he’ll do the time and that’s about it, the world keeps spinning, pick your jaw up off the floor because really, is anyone surprised when any professional athlete uses performance-enhancing drugs? I haven’t even been paying much attention to the latest season of The Ultimate Fighter and somehow this all makes me feel just a little bit smarter.

That is until I came out of exile for Saturday’s UFC 119 and my IQ hit the floor. Damn. That was one of the worst cards in the history of the promotion. It was Halcion. Hell, UFC prez Dana White was so pissed off that he refused to hand out a Knockout of the Night bonus even though Frank Mir levelled Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic with a knee to end the main event. Of course, that knee came after almost three full rounds of what has been described as patty cake and sweaty bro hugs. And that came after 10 other fights of which seven went to the judges’ scorecards. Even Mir knows it was a shitty performance and said so after the fight.

Now, a fight that goes to decision is not immediately indicative of a boring fight. On the contrary. It just so happened, though, that these seven were simply long and boring fights. Even Matt Serra letting Chris Lytle use his face for target practice wasn’t particularly enjoyable. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Ryan Bader looked like they were auditioning for TUF. Ditto Sean Sherk vs. Evan Dunham (in one of the worst judges’ decisions to come along in a while) and Melvin Guillard vs. Jeremy Stephens and I won’t even bother with the undercard, which is where those fights belonged.

I don’t look forward to seeing any of these fighters in the octagon ever again. And that goes for Mir, who I generally like and who did win, and Cro Cop, whom I like in a sentimental way but who didn’t throw a single kick in that last round before he hit the mat. The stupidity continues. Stick around.

September 26, 2010   3 Comments

Complaining about fighters who don’t finish fights

E. Spencer Kyte over at has a decent think-piece that takes fans to task for complaining when a fighter doesn’t finish a fight, as Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard failed to do at last week’s UFC 118.

While I had no problem with either fighter’s performance, especially Edgar’s five-round tooling of former champ BJ Penn, which was a thing of absolute beauty, I’ve been known to complain now and then when an obviously superior fighter lets a fight go to a decision. I’m thinking Georges St. Pierre vs. Dan Hardy, specifically. But reading Kyte’s story does make me wonder whether we’ve set our expectations too high, that so many spectacular finishes have made us spoiled and now we whine like Penn when things don’t go our way. As Kyte says:

Finishes don’t come as easily in the cage as we would hope from the crowd or the couch, but not for a lack of trying. Every fighter wants to end their fight with a finish. You don’t hear anyone in the pre-fight promotion of their bout discussing how much they’re looking forward to getting into the cage and riding out a win; they all want to knock out or tap out their opponent, and they’re always trying to do just that. So too is their opponent.

Obviously, he’s right. Every fighter is trying to do the same thing – finish the fight, submit or knock out their opponent so they can go home early and spare themselves the pain and strain and injuries that comes with fighting. Still, though, when you see a guy like GSP tooling up Hardy, controlling the fight at every moment in every aspect, it just doesn’t seem quite right that it goes to the scorecards. And that’s not to take anything away from Hardy. It’s just what we expect to happen.

September 4, 2010   No Comments

Bellator title upset is what MMA is all about

This is what makes MMA so great – that the tide of a particular fight can turn on a dime. Defending Bellator featherweight champ Joe Soto schooled challenger Joe Warren in the first round of their title bout on Friday. It was a striking clinic that left Warren dazed and confused, to say the least. Then round two started.

September 4, 2010   No Comments

UFC 118 came and went with a wimper

I’m still wrapping my brain around Chael Sonnen’s FightMetrically dominant near-win against Anderson Silva (and Silva’s Hail Mary triangle-armbar combo and subsequent injury excuses and poor winner attitude and general suckitude), so I’m a little slow tapping out my thoughts on the much more recent UFC 118. In fact, I’m more interested in the Silva/Sonnen rematch, which would make for a sweet year-ending main event.

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September 2, 2010   No Comments

Dana White goes to Oxford University (sounds like a sitcom, doesn’t it?)

A couple of days ago I posted a video of UFC boss Dana White answering phone calls from fans, offering it as an example of why the promotion is one of the biggest and most fan-friendly in all of professional sport. White didn’t single-handedly make the UFC what it is today – not even close. But he gets and deserves a heap of praise for bringing “human cockfighting” into the mainstream.

Now he’s been invited to speak to the members of the prestigious Oxford University debate team, an honour previously give to such folk as Winston Churchill, Albert Einstein, Robert Kennedy, Jimmy Carter and Malcolm X. That should be interesting, to say the least, given White’s lack of internal editor when he opens his mouth.

September 1, 2010   No Comments

James Toney did what no other heavyweight champ has ever done: Get in a real fight

James Toney has taken a beating lately, starting even before his embarrassing yet entirely predictable submission loss to Randy Couture at UFC 118 on Saturday. The pile-on reached epic proportions immediately after the bout, as though he had robbed MMA fans of something. It was not as though the fight was ever going to decide which was superior, MMA or boxing, despite how it was billed (promos pegged it as “UFC vs. Boxing“). All that was proven was that Toney, a once-great boxing champion, is now well past his prime and possessing of zero takedown defence or grappling skills. That’s it. But he’s still deserving of our respect, as Sherdog’s Jake Rossen quite ably describes:

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September 1, 2010   No Comments

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