Ivan's Blog

Featuring Ivan Trembow's Self-Important, Random Rants on Mixed Martial Arts, Video Games, Pro Wrestling, Television, Politics, Sports, and High-Quality Wool Socks

Saturday, January 31, 2009
Mixed Martial Arts--- No Out-of-Competition Drug Testing for UFC 94 Fighters
by Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly

The Nevada State Athletic Commission did not test any fighters on the UFC 94 card as part of its out-of-competition drug testing program.

In addition, there were no fighters subjected to the out-of-competition drug testing program who competed on the WEC event on December 3; or on the UFC events on December 13 or December 27. All four events took place in Nevada and fall under the NSAC's jurisdiction.

When asked on January 15 if any fighters on the January 31 card had been tested as part of the NSAC's out-of-competition drug testing program, NSAC Executive Director Keith Kizer replied, "Not yet."

When asked earlier this week, on January 28, if any fighters on the January 31 card had been tested as part of the NSAC's out-of-competition drug testing program, Kizer replied, "No."

The out-of-competition drug testing program allows the NSAC to order random drug tests at any time on any fighter that the NSAC licenses as a mixed martial artist, boxer, or kickboxer.

Like many other major sports, this out-of-competition drug testing is in addition to day-of-competition drug testing. The day-of-competition drug testing was still conducted at all of the aforementioned events and will be conducted at UFC 94 as well.

However, when athletes know the exact date of an upcoming drug test ahead of time, the testing is not going to catch very many users. There are numerous ways to mask banned substances if you have days, weeks, or in this case months of notice before a drug test.

Therefore, the out-of-competition drug testing program is a vital step towards detecting the use of banned substances during training camps.

A total of fourteen fighters (some boxers, some mixed martial artists) whose fights were scheduled between February 1, 2008 and October 31, 2008 were tested as part of the out-of-competition drug testing program, which was announced in January 2008.

In the weeks prior to UFC 91 in November, ten fighters were tested as part of the program, and all of them passed their tests.

Between November 15 and the end of January, there were four major MMA events scheduled in the state of Nevada: a WEC event on December 3, a UFC event on December 13, another UFC event on December 27, and another UFC event that will take place on January 31.

None of the fighters on these shows were tested as part of the out-of-competition drug testing program.

In other news related to the NSAC's out-of-competition drug testing program, The Ring Magazine Online recently reported that instead of having several hours to submit to a drug test from the time that they are notified that they need to take a drug test, fighters actually have two days to take an NSAC-ordered drug test.

The Ring's Mark Zeigler wrote, "Here's how it works: The commission contacts a licensed fighter, notifies him he has been selected for an out-of-competition test and provides instructions about locating the nearest accredited laboratory. The lab is also contacted, and the fighter has two days to show up, present photo identification and submit a urine test. Here's the problem: Two days is ample time for someone to flush their system of many banned substances."

The NSAC's Keith Kizer confirmed that fighters do have two days to take an out-of-competition drug test from the time that they are notified, but added that this is subject to change.

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Friday, January 30, 2009
Mixed Martial Arts--- Zuffa Breaks News of Affliction MMA's Impending Demise Using Psuedonym
by Ivan Trembow

It appears as though Zuffa/UFC took it upon themselves to break the news of the impending demise of Affliction's MMA promotion, while hiding behind a psuedonym on Bloody Elbow.

Anyone who has read Bloody Elbow’s comments section long enough knows that the poster called “mmalogic” works for Zuffa and is not even particularly good at hiding it.

One example: In the comments section of a post from a few months back, “mmalogic” wrote this: “Zuffa adjusted their sponsorship model from creating OUR own sponsors” (capitalization added by me).

When another user pointed out what “mmalogic” just said and asked if he’s Joe Silva or someone else like that, “mmalogic” responded with this non-denial and followed it with flattery towards his accuser: “I won’t say who I am but I will say who you are judging by your past comments and analysis … You either own your own business, have owned your own business or very high up in a business either in Marketing or Sales… Did I call it?”

When the original accuser responded by saying that he just graduated with a degree in marketing and finance, “mmalogic” responded with more flattery: “You got the head for it… try to hook up with a good consulting firm – you will do well.”

In this case, it’s easy to see how high-level executives at Zuffa would know so much about Affliction MMA’s pending demise, particularly if Affliction has contacted Zuffa to work out a peace deal.

So, what do they do? They make a post about it under their “mmalogic” psuedonym to give themselves more leverage in the negotiations for the aforementioned peace deal (Affliction has even less leverage in negotiations if everyone is already reading about how little leverage they have and how their MMA branch is about to go out of business anyway).

A lot of people think that the UFC doesn’t care about blogs, but they must realize what kind of influence a very popular blog like Bloody Elbow has, based on the fact that they (Zuffa) are willing to take the time and effort to try to spread information and influence opinions by making posts under psuedonyms like “mmalogic.”

-More on "mmalogic": Even putting aside how blatant it is in his comments, look at the previous FanPost blog entries by “mmalogic”:

Shinya Aoki is not a top five fighter (in January 2009); EliteXC ratings are below CBS’ expectations and now ProElite people are looking for work; HBO is unhappy with the Affliction/Golden Boy partnership; Randy Couture to Headline UFC 91 (before it was widely reported); and a post about why Zuffa has no reason to co-promote with anyone.

Like I said, not very subtle. I’m guessing Zuffa will try to be more subtle when posting under psuedonyms in the future.

-FightOpinion and Bloody Elbow Posts About This: Zach Arnold wrote about this on FightOpinion.com

"What makes this interesting is that by leaking claims that Affliction wants to wave the white flag in terms of no longer competing with Zuffa that it all but eliminates any sort of leverage Atencio might or might not have if he is in fact doing this.

It’s no secret that Zuffa employees read message boards, blogs, etc. What is interesting is whether or not more and more UFC employees will start using blogs to manipulate the message they want the public to hear. The organization already has friendly broadsheet media outlets that aren’t willing to push back against them, and then you add on the generally UFC-safe Yahoo Sports coverage team, and what you end up with is a pretty sophisticated strategy to influence both hardcore and casual MMA fans."

In response, Bloody Elbow editor Luke Thomas wrote an angry response on BloodyElbow.com.

Personally, I think Luke is misinterpreting the point of Zach’s post. I don’t think that Zach or anyone else (including me) is saying that Bloody Elbow’s “coverage is nothing more than a mouthpiece or distribution channel for Zuffa.” It’s not that Bloody Elbow is guilty of anything, it’s that this one specific poster “mmalogic” certainly appears to be a Zuffa employee from looking at the evidence.

As for Bloody Elbow not having any dialogue with the UFC, this is informal communication, but literally one post down from Luke’s, Michael Rome wrote this as an update to the original post by Zuffa employee mmalogic: “I have been digging at this story for the last 3 or 4 hours since I first heard it. I believe it to be true. A source at UFC informed that Lorenzo Fertitta was contacted today by Affliction looking for a ‘beneficial’ way out.” There’s nothing wrong with having communications with the UFC.

Also, it doesn’t take “some grand Zuffa scheme” for this to happen. “Astroturfing” is something that corporations have been caught doing in the past, it’s probably not that hard for them to do it, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Zuffa had other screen names on other sites doing the same thing.

-Affliction Head Denies his MMA Promotion's Demise: Affliction head Tom Atencio has already denied that his MMA promotion is on the verge of going out of business, but of course he’s going to say that.

Realistically, even before any of this came out today, I think the vast majority of hardcore MMA fans have thought for weeks that Affliction’s MMA division would be kaput shortly after their second show (if not before their second show).

It’s likely that it’s over except for the negotiations of how, and under what financial terms, Affliction will stop promoting MMA shows and will re-enter the fray as one of the biggest sponsors of UFC fighters. Zuffa has a lot more leverage than Affliction already, and they attempted to tip the scales of leverage in their direction even further with that post made under one of their psuedonyms — “mmalogic” (and I only use the plural form “psuedonyms” because it would be naive to think that if they’re using one psuedonym that it’s the only one that they have on any web site).

Now, Atencio is trying to tip the scales of leverage back in his direction by denying that they’re getting out of the MMA promotion business.

In that respect, it’s no different than what Zuffa is doing. What is a big difference is the fact that Atencio is using his real name in those interviews, while Zuffa made their post under a psuedonym.

-What's Wrong with the UFC Leaking Information Under Psuedonyms: To anyone who may take the position that a person still has a right to post even if they’re a UFC employee, it’s not being a UFC employee that is objectionable; it’s the lack of disclosure. It’s the fact that there is information coming from the UFC, information whose release benefits the UFC, but without the public knowing that it came from the UFC and being able to judge its veracity (or the motives for its release) in that context. That is what is objectionable about "mmalogic." Now that "mmalogic" has been exposed, Zuffa will likely use other screen names instead (ones that haven’t been exposed).

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Thursday, January 29, 2009
Mixed Martial Arts--- Affliction & WEC Thoughts
by Ivan Trembow

-Affliction Thoughts: Fedor Emelianenko brutally defeated a top-five-ranked heavyweight for the second time in seven months, further establishing himself as the greatest of all time. And yet I’m sure that in just a few months, the Kevin Ioles of the world will still be questioning who Fedor has ever fought...

Who were those announcers? Those guys were actually pretty good. (I mean Sean Wheelock and Jimmy Smith, not Tito Ortiz.) They made a couple of ridiculous statements (”Renato Sobral is one of the top light heavyweights in the world now!”), but for the most part they were surprisingly good.

I don’t understand why Affliction didn’t show the Jay Hieron vs. Jason High fight. They had plenty of PPV satellite time left. For the fights that happened earlier in the night on HDNet, it's possible that HDNet had the exclusive rights to those fights, but Hieron vs. High had not actually happened at that time. It happened after Fedor vs. Arlovski (ie, after the PPV went off the air) because of time constraints. Why couldn’t they have shown that fight?

-WEC Thoughts: As usual for a WEC event, the show itself was very good. I hope that the WEC keeps Jens Pulver. Yes, he has lost three fights in a row, but those three fights were against Urijah Faber, Leonard Garcia, and Urijah Faber again. There's no shame in that. And what was he doing having a major fight just one month after one of his long-time best friends (Justin Eilers) was murdered?

Craig Hummer’s question, “Are you still relevant?” was not a good question for a post-fight interview immediately after a fight. Pulver has been beaten twice in quick fashion by two world-class fighters (Leonard Garcia and Urijah Faber). Did Joe Rogan ask Chuck Liddell if he was still relevant after his third loss in four fights? Did Joe Rogan ask Wanderlei Silva if he was still relevant after his fourth loss in five fights? No. There’s no shame in losing to world-class opposition, and it doesn’t make one irrelevant.

I'm sure that I'm not the only one who was thinking this, but what in the hell was wrong with the crowd in San Diego? That has to have been one of the most ignorant MMA crowds in recent memory.

The crowd was booing for no reason throughout the night, even though they were seeing a pretty damn good MMA show.

A good example: Danillo Villefort. What were they thinking? "Boo! You just won a fight decisively and impressively by TKO! Boo!" Villefort got booed out of the building as if his opponent was a hometown guy, but he wasn't (Villefort's opponent was from Massachusetts).

Then, in Varner-Cerrone fight, one fighter (Cerrone) threw an illegal knee to the head of his grounded opponent, and the other fighter (Varner) was unable to continue as a result of that illegal knee. So, the crowd strongly boos Varner and strongly cheers Cerrone. The ignorance was astounding.

The ignorance of many MMA judges also continues to be astounding. Alejandro Rochin was the judge who inexplicably had the Varner-Cerrone fight scored 3 rounds to 2 in favor of Cerrone.

On a semi-related note since it delayed the start of the WEC broadcast by eleven minutes, The Sports Soup is a horrible show, even though its sister show (The Soup) is a great show. Someone needs to tell the people at The Sports Soup that just airing clips of people in various sports getting seriously injured and then laughing at those people for getting seriously injured is not the least bit funny.

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Thursday, January 22, 2009
Mixed Martial Arts--- Random Thoughts on a Variety of Topics
by Ivan Trembow

-UFC Primetime Eschews Artificial Controversy and Focuses on the Fighters: Kudos to the UFC for not making Episode 2 of UFC Primetime about artificially created storylines. The ignorance of the argument put forth by many that you need artificial controversy to sell a big fight is exposed by the extremely high quality of all but five minutes of the first two episodes of Primetime (I’m referring to the artificial controversey in the last five minutes of Episode 1).

The preview special before the first Urijah Faber vs. Jens Pulver fight last year is another great example. This is exactly what a “building up a big fight” preview show should be.

-Huerta Taking Time Away from Fighting: Lightweight fighter Roger Huerta recently announced that he will be taking time away from MMA to focus on his acting career, and predictably he has been getting ripped to shreds for it on MMA message boards.

As you may recall, Huerta had the nerve to question the UFC's pay scale in an interview with Fight Magazine last year, and in doing so, he apparently committed the worst sin of all. Fighters have been arrested for all kinds of things, and they’ve tested positive for steroids and just about every other banned substance known to man. But I don’t think any one of those incidents has generated as much universal scorn as Huerta did for the unforgivable sin of questioning the UFC’s pay scale.

After that interview was printed, and after the retaliatory leak came out from Zuffa claiming that Huerta supposedly wanted low six figures and a PPV bonus and that even BJ Penn doesn’t get that, the response from much of the online MMA community was the anticipated response of, “OMG, Huerta is so greedy!” I didn’t see anyone respond with, “Wait a minute... BJ Penn doesn’t make low six figures with a PPV bonus?"

-Health of Gary Goodridge and Other MMA Fighters: Before the California State Athletic Commission shamefully decided to clear Gilbert Yvel to fight in California, there were rumors swirling that Affliction was going to sign Gary Goodridge to be Yvel's replacement and fight Barnett. Goodridge has been fighting in professional MMA since 1996, he is 42 years old, he has lost his four most recent MMA fights, and he has an even longer losing streak in professional kickboxing bouts.

If the rumors are true that Affliction was going to book Barnett vs. Goodridge if Yvel wasn't cleared, then Affliction should be ashamed of themselves. That fight would have been a brutal, one-sided beating.

Even if he's not fighting against Josh Barnett, Goodridge has enough knockout losses between MMA and kickboxing that an athletic commission might need to step in and save him from himself at some point.

The same is true for Kazushi Sakuraba, Hidehiko Yoshida, Ken Shamrock, Don Frye, Wanderlei Silva (getting brutally knocked out cold on three separate occasions is no joke), Murilo "Ninja" Rua (getting brutally knocked out cold on four separate occasions is no joke), and numerous other MMA fighters. Unfortunately, the Japan-based fighters have no athletic commission to look out for their safety above all else, and we’ve yet to see if any U.S. athletic commissions are willing to take an unpopular stand when it finally becomes time for someone to take that stand.

Even if an athletic commission does take a stand like New York did with Evander Holyfield several years ago, the fighters are still likely to try to continue fighting elsewhere, but at least it limits their options and makes it less of an attractive option for those fighters to continue suffering more and more brain damage as the years go on.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Mixed Martial Arts--- Random Thoughts on a Variety of Topics
by Ivan Trembow

-More Manufactured Storylines on UFC Primetime: Well, I guess we’ve got an answer to the question of whether the UFC feels that the UFC Primetime series can sell itself based on the personalities of BJ Penn and Georges St. Pierre, or whether UFC Primetime needs to have fake, manufactured storylines involving BJ Penn and Dana White in order to garner interest.

What an incredible coincidence that just today, on the day of Episode 2's premiere, word leaked out about Penn temporarily kicking out the cameras several days ago and having a feud with UFC president Dana White.

The UFC appears less interested in building up the St. Pierre vs. Penn fight based on the real-life drama of St. Pierre vs. Penn, and more interested in building up the St. Pierre vs. Penn fight based on a manufactured storyline involving Penn and White.

As noted by Nick Thomas of Bloody Elbow, Penn’s banishment of the cameras (for the cameras, ironically) was only temporary and was noted by Penn in an interview on Tapout Radio two days ago. It just magically leaked out today as being a major issue.

As Adam Swift wrote on MMA Payout, “Color me suspicious. Penn and Dana White are both crafty promoters and it’s definitely not out of the realm of possibility for the two to conspire to stir up some controversy to sell next weekend’s fight. Penn spent the weeks before his last fight with Sean Sherk talking up his genuine dislike for him and sold the fight as a true grudge match. Immediately following the fight Penn apologized and said that it was all pretend to hype the fight. White hasn’t been shy about interjecting himself into the company’s “storylines” (see Tito Ortiz) and has been known to borrow a page or two from the WWE promotional play book.”

-Josh Barnett Inserts Foot in Mouth: Josh Barnett continues to talk about his 2002 victory over Randy Couture as if it was a legitimate accomplishment. Barnett has plenty of other big wins, but he beat Couture in a fight in which he (Barnett) tested positive for steroids and Couture tested negative, so Barnett really ought to stop mentioning that win as an accomplishment. Every time he mentions that fight, all he’s doing is reminding people of his positive test result from 2002.

-Doping Attorney Still Incompetent: Doping attorney Howard Jacobs appears to be as incompetent as ever. In an interview with MMAWeekly regarding Antonio Silva's steroids case involving the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC), Jacobs said this: “[The CSAC] basically said, ‘Well, you can’t prove that it actually came from the legal supplement, as opposed to from the banned substance, so you lose because you didn’t prove it to us. We say we didn’t have to prove it. You had to prove it the other way around.”

In addition to the fact that you can’t just declare which party has to prove which facts and have that be the case just because you say so, there’s also the inconvenient little fact that even if they were to prove that it was 100% the fault of the supplement, the fighter is still responsible for what he puts in his body.

Jacobs has had the same B.S. argument every time a fighter has hired him in Nevada or California, and he almost always loses, and he’s always told by the commission that a fighter is responsible if banned substances are in his body whether they got there knowingly or unknowingly, and yet he comes back with the same argument the next time and loses again.

Keith Kizer of the NSAC did an interview with MMAWeekly in 2007 where he talked about a lot of the drug testing myths that fighters often try to exploit to make it seem that they’re not responsible for what they put into their system. Click here to read it.

-Quinton Jackson Gets a Slap on the Wrist for Endangering Numerous People's Lives: You gotta love our criminal justice system in America. Getting zero jail time for what Quinton Jackson did, especially as someone who is not a first-time offender, is just ridiculous, but that's what will end up happening unless he breaks the law again in the next 12 months.

Sadly, this is just one of many ridiculous things that happen every day in the court system. Murder, rape, and robbery get plea-bargained down every single day somewhere in this country. I guess endangering numerous people’s lives in a high-speed police chase while on at least his second religion-fueled hunger strike must be viewed as "nothing in comparison."

Before I get any e-mails about "the new, responsible, and more mature Quinton Jackson," I don’t think it reflects well on him to have punched a clearly unconscious fighter in the head three times, including two times after the referee was already pulling him off and trying to crook his arm to prevent him from throwing more punches (which is what Jackson did after he knocked out Wanderlei Silva in his first fight after the police chase). It’s kind of like talking about "the new, responsible, and more mature Chris Leben" after his positive steroids test.

Based on reading this quote from UFC president Dana White on the Carmichael Dave radio show (as first quoted on Five Ounces of Pain), you would think that Quinton Jackson's crime was that he came down with the flu and then cut in line at the supermarket:

“No, I don’t think there should be any problems with Rampage legally. Obviously he’s got to go to court because that thing happened. But he had delirium. He had something wrong with him. It wasn’t like he was on drugs or drinking alcohol or doing any of that stuff. He was doing the right thing and he got sick and like anyone who got sick and goes to court, I don’t think he’s going to have any issues.”

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Monday, January 19, 2009
Mixed Martial Arts--- UFC 93 Thoughts
by Ivan Trembow

-Marcus Davis vs. Chris Lytle (Kickboxing Match): The B-level-kickboxing-ization of MMA continues, as we had a fighter apologizing after a very impressive submission victory (Alan Belcher), and we once again had a B-level kickboxing match being glorified as an epic fight (Marcus Davis vs. Chris Lytle).

In the Davis-Lytle fight, Lytle could have absolutely benefited from taking the fight to the ground, given that he has better ground skills than Lytle and given that he was losing in the stand-up, but of course he didn’t attempt to do so because that would have made him “a pu--y," to use Lytle's sentiments and Davis' words from before the fight. There were also a couple of times that Davis had Lytle hurt and could have potentially pounced on him and finished him on the ground, but he didn't.

There are clearly fighters who fight for the Fight of the Night bonus as their primary objective and winning the fight as their secondary objective (there are even fighters who have said that), and yet the majority of fans will say with a straight face and will really believe that the UFC doesn’t encourage one kind of fighting over another.

It’s not just that the UFC rewards people for getting into stand-up-only kickboxing matches, it’s also that they punish fighters who they feel are in boring fights. Yushin Okami had a 6-1 UFC record and was put in an untelevised prelim fight at UFC 92, while C.B. Dollaway (who lost in the semi-finals and finals of TUF 7) got a main card slot instead.

Furthermore, the fact that Okami ended up having a boring fight against Dean Lister is used as justification for this treatment by people like Dave Meltzer. It would be the equivalent of arguing that the San Antonio Spurs don't deserve to be in the NBA Playoffs because they play a slower-paced style of basketball. It's a ridiculous argument that nobody would make for a sport that they didn't think of as "quasi pro wrestling."

To be clear, I’m not saying that ALL of the kickboxing in MMA is B-level kickboxing. But I am saying that Davis vs. Lytle in particular is B-level kickboxing, as are most fights involving Davis and Lytle.

I am also saying that if fighters like Davis or Lytle want to compete in a sport with no takedowns, they might want to take up professional kickboxing and leave MMA behind for all of those "pu----s" who tend to do things like, you know, actually go for takedowns when it would clearly be beneficial to their chances of winning the fight.

On a related note, what was Mike Goldberg thinking when he said that Chris Lytle is “one of the top fighters in the UFC”? Lytle went into the fight with a 5-7 UFC record.

-Snowden's Excellent Article on Davis-Lytle and Other Fights Like It: There is a very good article by “Total MMA” book author Jonathan Snowden on Five Ounces of Pain about the Davis-Lytle fight.

Key excerpts:

“There’s also something dangerous about the mentality Zuffa has inspired in many of its fighters by offering bonuses that often exceed the fighter’s regular purses. It has created an atmosphere where winning isn’t a fighter’s main goal… Winning “Fight of the Night” — that was his main goal. Not winning fights, just fight of the night honors. After all, he could make more money losing the kind of fight he knows Zuffa loves than he ever could with a Yushin Okami style winning streak. Caring more about entertaining than winning is the beginning of the end of integrity, the first step down a slippery slope from sport to spectacle… Whether or not there was an agreement set in stone, it was obvious neither man was going to the ground. Even when it became evident that Lytle was losing the standing exchanges and didn’t have the quickness to keep up with the elusive Davis, he never once thought about taking the boxer down. He wasn’t driven by a will to win. He was driven by his pocketbook. And the distinction between pro wrestling and MMA just got a little bit blurrier.”

The full article is highly recommended and it’s available here. I have also heard nothing but strong praise for Snowden's book, although I haven't had a chance to read through it yet myself.

-Shogun Beats Mark Coleman in Unimpressive Fashion: Mauricio "Shogun" Rua did not look impressive and clearly has a very long way to go with his cardio game after tearing his ACL prior to the Forrest Griffin fight, and then having two reconstructive knee surgeries and zero fights in the past 16 months. He should have been able to knock out Coleman sooner than he did. The stoppage was legit, however, and it could have even been stopped shortly before Coleman was knocked down, because he was taking brutal shots to the head and was no longer defending himself at all. That is pretty much the definition of when a referee is supposed to stop a fight.

One of the headlines on the front page of Yahoo.com on Saturday was “Fighter a fraud," and if you clicked the link it took you to Steve Cofield’s predictable piece about how much Shogun sucks. How did it go from “fighter has very disappointing performance” to “fighter a fraud”? Is every fighter who has a very disappointing performance "a fraud," or just some of them?

I was also very surprised to see that the UFC gave a “Co-Fight of the Night” award to Shogun vs. Coleman (along with Davis vs. Lytle), even while privately telling their surrogates that they thought Shogun vs. Coleman was a horrible fight. First Junie Browning vs. Dave Kaplan got a baffling "Fight of the Night" award in December, and now Shogun vs. Coleman gets one in January. I realize that the UFC probably felt that Davis and Lytle “had” to be rewarded for their “takedowns are for pu----s” mentality, but Shogun vs. Coleman winning Co-Fight of the Night? That makes no sense at all.

-Another Side Effect of Booking 12 PPV Events Per Year: The UFC ended up feeling the need to sacrifice the planned light heavyweight title fight between Rashad Evans and Quinton Jackson (for which Evans may have been ready in April or May, but not March) and instead book Jackson vs. Keith Jardine for the March PPV event, due to the fact that they had no other main event that they could book for the March PPV.

-Curious Judging: There were no robberies like Matt Hamill’s domination of Michael Bisping being called a split decision win for Bisping, but there are still some very curious judges’ decisions when the UFC runs these unsanctioned shows in the United Kingdom.

In particular, the judge who scored Henderson vs. Franklin as being 30-27 in favor of Franklin (Chris Watts) should not be allowed to judge on any UFC shows in the future. That was just ridiculous, and even Franklin thought so. Henderson dominated the first two rounds, and Franklin dominated the third round. How that ended up being 3 rounds to 0 in favor of Franklin on that judges’ scorecard is just mind-boggling. (Fortunately, the other two judges had it scored 29-28 in favor of Henderson, which seemed like the obvious score.)

Next Middleweight Title Shot Going to "Not Yushin Okami": We've known that Thales Leites is getting the next shot at Anderson Silva's UFC Middleweight Title instead of Yushin Okami (who has a 7-1 UFC record), and it's not particularly surprising, given the UFC's oft-demonstrated disdain for Okami. But surely Okami would get the next shot at the Middleweight Title after that, right? Perhaps not.

If Silva beats Leites, then Silva is likely to fight in the light heavyweight division in his subsequent fight, and the next Middleweight Title shot could very well go to the winner of the June fight between TUF 9 coaches Dan Henderson and Michael Bisping, who is apparently getting a title shot. Keep waiting, Okami.

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Saturday, January 17, 2009
Mixed Martial Arts: Nevada Commission Meets with UFC about Controversial Behavior on The Ultimate Fighter
by Ivan Trembow
Originally Published on MMAWeekly

At a meeting in December for which an official summary was released yesterday, Nevada State Athletic Commission officials expressed concerns to UFC officials about some of the behavior that was exhibited during the controversial eighth season of The Ultimate Fighter.

For each season of The Ultimate Fighter, dating back to the first season's filming in late 2004, Zuffa has requested and been granted a waiver of the NSAC's regulations relating to the results of NSAC-sanctioned fights being posted publicly. This allows the results of the fights on The Ultimate Fighter to remain secret until the fights air on Spike TV months later. These waivers must be requested and granted for each individual season of TUF.

Prior to granting the usual waivers to Zuffa for the upcoming ninth season of TUF, which recently started filming and is tentatively scheduled to begin airing on April 1, the NSAC wanted to talk to Zuffa about some of the behavior in the eighth season of TUF.

Present at the meeting were Lorenzo Fertitta, Frank Fertitta, Dana White, Marc Ratner, Kirk Hendrick, Michael Mersch, Lawrence Epstein, Andrea Richter, and Craig Piligian, at least four of whom were previously part of the NSAC in some capacity (Lorenzo Fertitta, Ratner, Hendrick, and Mersch).

Also present at the meeting were NSAC Commissioners Bill Brady, Skip Avansino, John Bailey, T.J. Day, and Pat Lundvall, as well as Executive Director Keith Kizer, Recording Secretary Sandy Johnson, and David Newton, who was attending on behalf of the Attorney General's Office.

After Lorenzo Fertitta's Power Point presentation on the history of the company, NSAC Executive Director Keith Kizer said that there was "some concern about behavior displayed by some of the contestants" during The Ultimate Fighter 8. The NSAC's official summary of the meeting goes on to say, "Lorenzo Fertitta stated that the UFC does not condone the behavior of those contestants and wants the State and the sport to be reflected in a good light. Lorenzo Fertitta stated that in the future there will be a closer look at any behavior that might be offensive prior to broadcast, and that Zuffa does not encourage such behavior and had no prior knowledge of it occurring."

After Commissioner Skip Avansino thanked all of the parties involved for attending the meeting, "Commissioner Avansino stated he did talk with Mr. Fertitta on the phone and he is confident that Zuffa will endeavor to monitor the show so such behavior will not occur again, and there will be no further incidents."

According to the official summary, "Lorenzo Fertitta then explained a UFC event had been held the week prior in Fort Bragg, NC, benefiting the Fallen Heroes Fund and that the contestants visited the soldiers in the hospitals, all of the admission was free, and they raised $4,000,000 for the fund."

At that point, Commissioner Avansino made a motion to approve Zuffa's petition for the usual waivers for the ninth season of The Ultimate Fighter. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Brady and approved by all of the commissioners.

The specific behavior in question was not detailed during the meeting, but among the incidents that occurred during TUF 8 were several involving Junie Browning. Throughout the course of the season, Browning threw a glass at Kyle Kingsbury; got into a poolside scuffle with Ryan Bader; jumped over the Octagon fence and went after Efrain Escudero in an aggressive manner immediately after Escudero defeated Shane Nelson in an NSAC-sanctioned fight; threw a glass at Shane Primm's head; and threw two punches at Primm. Browning was not kicked off of the show for any of these incidents, and was later featured in a fight on the televised main card of TUF 8's live season finale on Spike TV.

Also during the eighth season of TUF, several members of Team Mir urinated in a platter of fruit salad that was later eaten by several members of Team Nogueira; Kyle Kingsbury mixed his semen into a sushi platter that Dave Kaplan may or may not have later eaten; Tom Lawlor knocked Kaplan unconscious with a punch to the face after an intoxicated Kaplan begged him to do so; and Lawlor and Kaplan voluntarily drank shots of each other's urine while they were both intoxicated (although the voluntary urine-drinking was edited out of the show at the last minute in what was referred to as "a last-minute editorial decision" by Spike TV).

According to an article by Yahoo Sports' Kevin Iole that was published on January 13 (several weeks after this meeting took place in December between Zuffa and the Nevada State Athletic Commission), "UFC president Dana White said he’s not going to require the fighters to change anything about the way they behave. That means alcohol stays in the house and the fighters are free to do what they please when they please."

White was quoted in the article as saying, "If you take any young guys, from a frat house, and put them alone and together you’re going to get that kind of stuff. Welcome to dealing with young guys. I’ve talked to the pro skaters and snowboarders and they helicopter guys up to a house and sometimes they get snowed in. They told me that some of the [expletive] that happens with those guys makes what happened on The Ultimate Fighter look like a joke.”

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Friday, January 16, 2009
Mixed Martial Arts--- Random Thoughts on a Variety of Topics
by Ivan Trembow

-One Blemish on an Otherwise Excellent Show: The only part of UFC Primetime's first episode that wasn't excellent was the whole angle of, “BJ Penn is taking a vacation and Dana White is angry about it!” If that came across on TV as a fake, manufactured storyline, that's because it was a fake, manufactured storyline.

The fake, manufactured storyline is not that BJ Penn took a few days off, because he did take a few days off.

The fake, manufactured storyline is that this is anything out of the ordinary for top-level MMA fighters a couple of weeks before a big fight.

This kind of thing happens all the time in an effort to ensure that the fighters "peak" at fight time instead of a couple of weeks before fight time, and the UFC knows this very well.

But it was portrayed on the show like this: "Oh my god, BJ Penn just stopped training! He's just not taking his training seriously!" And then in Episodes 2 and 3 when they show footage of Penn training hard, it's going to be portrayed like this: "Wow, BJ Penn is once again serious about training... he slipped up a couple of weeks before the fight, but now he's serious again, just in time for the big fight!"

It's not that Penn taking a few days off is manufactured. It's the acting for the cameras like it's a big deal, or alarming, or even unusual that is manufactured.

I agree with Bloody Elbow's Luke Thomas, who wrote, "I'd like to see deeper looks into the fighters themselves, their rivalry, their similarities, their differences and their first fight than any manufactured storyline."

-California Commission Clears Gilbert Yvel: Sickeningly enough, the California State Athletic Commission has cleared Gilbert Yvel to fight on the Affliction show, as long as he passes the standard medical tests. I was very surprised and disappointed to hear that California granted Yvel the license that Nevada's commission would not.

No matter what Yvel told the CSAC about how well he's going to behave, and even if he does behave as a responsible martial artist in his fight against Josh Barnett, doesn't brutally attacking a referee the way that he did in 2004 --- under any circumstances --- warrant a lifetime ban from any state with an athletic commission? If it's not an official lifetime ban, then how about a de-facto lifetime ban of "we're never going to license you," which is pretty much what Yvel has in Nevada?

I know that Yvel has a million reasons for why the referee angered him, and he told many of them to the Nevada commission, but I tend to think that a fighter should never attack a referee no matter what the reasons. In a similar situation recently with a crooked, biased referee officiating his fight, Gary Goodridge simply walked out on the fight, losing by forfeit. Nobody made Yvel attack that referee, no matter what his reasons are. Factor in all of Yvel's other disqualification losses, and the decision to license him becomes all the more ridiculous.

Fights in January that I Am Eagerly Anticipating:

-Georges St. Pierre vs. BJ Penn at UFC 94

-Fedor Emelianenko vs. Andrei Arlovski at Affliction: Day of Reckoning

-Lyoto Machida vs. Thiago Silva at UFC 94

Fights in January that I Can't Believe Are on the Main Cards of Major Shows:

-Stephan Bonnar vs. Jon Jones at UFC 94 (seriously, this fight gets on the main card while the #2-ranked welterweight in the world, Jon Fitch, gets a prelim fight?)

-Josh Barnett vs. Gilbert Yvel at Affliction: Day of Reckoning (it's a disgrace for Yvel to be cleared by an athletic commission to fight anyone)

-Rousimar Palhares vs. Jeremy Horn at UFC 93 (Horn has lost four of his last six fights and has looked very uninspired in all four of those losses)

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Mixed Martial Arts--- Random Thoughts on a Variety of Topics
by Ivan Trembow

-UFC Primetime Debuts: After watching the first episode of UFC Primetime, I think it’s a very well produced show that is also a lot like HBO’s 24/7 series. It’s amazing to me (although no longer particularly surprising) to see how much the MMA media has been fawning all over the Primetime.

For a company that bashes every aspect of boxing as consistently as the UFC does, they sure don’t have a problem with emulating boxing-style promotion of a big fight. Wow, you mean that stuff filmed this week will be on the show just a day or two later? Oh my god, what a unique idea. It’s amazing to see how many web sites have described Primetime in that way (as if it’s a revolutionary concept), without also using the words “just like 24/7.”

There’s nothing inherently wrong with copying 24/7; it’s just hypocritical for the UFC to bash boxing all the time and then to duplicate 24/7 so blatantly. The style in which the music played over the training footage, the close-up camera angles on the fighters’ faces as they’re being interviewed, the footage of their home lives… it was all very well done, and it was all very much like 24/7... and again, there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. Hopefully, there will be more of this kind of show in the future. In contrast to the Trash TV of The Ultimate Fighter, Primetime treats the sport with the dignity that it deserves.

-K-1 Dynamite a Mixed Bag: Shinya Aoki vs. Eddie Alvarez and Daisuke Nakamura vs. Hideo Tokoro were very good fights. The various freak show match-ups were not.

-UFC's Awards for Best Fights of 2008: It’s April Fool’s Day three months early with what must be a tongue-in-cheek article on the UFC’s web site about the best fights of 2008. When they had an article in early 2008 about the best fights of 2007, I laighed when they had Griffin-Bonnar II in their honorable mentions for Fight of the Year, but they’ve really out-done themselves this time! Sean Sherk vs. Tyson Griffin? Paul Kelly vs. Paul Taylor? Antoni Hardonk vs. Eddie Sanchez? Chris Lytle vs. Paul Taylor? Aaron Riley vs. Jorge Gurgel? The Onion has nothing on them when it comes to satire, apparently.

-Affliction's Second MMA Event Coming Up: Affliction's first MMA event did better business than I thought it would from a PPV standpoint, but it will be hard for the second show to come anywhere close to that. It was funny to hear how delusional Trump lawyer Michael Cohen was during the recent press conference for Affliction's event. Affliction’s Tom Antencio said something like, “We know we’re not the UFC. The UFC is like the Q-Tip of MMA. We’re just trying to put on great shows.” Then minutes later, Cohen must have been confused because he said, “Just like Tom said, we are going to be the Q-Tip of MMA!”

Cohen also hilariously said, “Many members of the media have said that this is the MMA card of the century!” It’s a good card, sure, but I don’t recall even one member of the media (much less “many”) who has called it the event “of the century.”

Like some of his fellow MMA promoters, Atencio has also made a habit out of blatantly lying about business figures. Atencio's blatant lies will make it very hard to feel sorry for him when his MMA promotion goes out of business, which is what's going to happen if his second show loses as much money as his first.

-UFC's Lack of Competition Nothing to Celebrate: With that said (regarding Affliction potentially going out of business), the lack of legit competition to the UFC is nothing to celebrate. Rich Franklin vs. Dan Henderson is a good match-up, but not as the main event of a PPV event, especially when PPVs cost $45. The same was true of Matt Hughes vs. Thiago Alves last year. If the UFC had more legitimate competition, they would have much less of an ability to get away with sometimes offering sub-standard product at full price.

If the only defense to the sub-standard PPV main events is that they're inevitable when the UFC runs so many PPV events, then it’s a cop-out because nobody is forcing them to run 12 or 13 PPV events per year. So far, it has generally only been a few times per year that they have PPV main events that aren’t worthy of being PPV main events, so I’d much rather have 10 PPV events per year and have all of them be worthy of being $45 PPVs than have 12 per year and have a few of those with sub-standard main events.

If, theoretically, the UFC decided to cut two PPV events per year from their schedule, they could still have the same number of total main card slots in which to showcase fighters if they were to also add two free TV events per year to their schedule (or, for that matter, they could add more than that). They run into these problems where they are scrambling to fill all of the PPV main event slots with great fights, but that would happen less often if they didn’t have quite as many PPV main events that they had to book in the first place.

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