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

Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Mixed Martial Arts--- As the MMA world reflects on Lyoto Machida's dominant KO win over the previously undefeated Rashad Evans, the fact that Machida didn't get a title shot sooner has been made all the more amazing by his performance against Evans.

Earlier this year, with a UFC record of 6-0 and an MMA record of 14-0, Machida was still passed over for a title shot in favor of Quinton Jackson (even with Jackson’s legal issues), who had won an incredible two fights in a row.

Even when Jackson’s injuries made it clear that he couldn’t fight on the May 23rd card, Machida still wasn’t going to get the next title shot.

It was only because both Jackson and Frank Mir were injured (thus preventing the UFC from delaying Evans’ first title defense until July) that Machida got a title shot before Jackson.

Even then, published reports at the time said that it still would not have happened if Zuffa had been able to convince Georges St. Pierre to move up his title defense against Thiago Alves to May 23.

The only reason they finally gave Machida the title shot when they did, rather than having him fight yet again before getting a title shot and likely against another tough opponent like Thiago Silva, was because all three of these things happened:

1. Quinton Jackson was hurt and couldn't fight on May 23

2. Frank Mir was hurt and couldn't fight on May 23

3. GSP was not willing to move his fight up to May 23

If any two of those things had happened, we’d be looking forward to Evans vs. Jackson in July, and Machida would have yet another tough fight before getting a title shot.

It’s only because all three of those things happened that Evans vs. Machida happened on May 23.

It’s kind of crazy to think that such an historic night would not have even happened if not for all of those things happening at the same time.

Other MMA Thoughts: I’m not surprised by Mirko Cro Cop’s return to the UFC, but I am surprised that he’s fighting in June. Cro Cop is fighting just five months after reconstructive knee surgery? And he’s having a training camp three to four months after reconstructive knee surgery? That doesn't sound like a great idea.

Andrei Arlovski vs. Brett Rogers being added to the June 6th Strikeforce event is fantastic news. Having said that, the idea that Phil Baroni vs. Joe Riggs is going to be a main card bout, while Rafael Feijao vs. Jared Hamman is going to be an untelevised prelim bout, is beyond pathetic.

Recent Boxing Events: Jermain Taylor vs. Carl Froch was a very good fight with an incredible 12th round. I had Froch down by a large margin going into the 12th round, as did two of the judges. The one judge who had it 8 rounds to 3 in favor of Froch going into the 12th round is right up there with the two judges who had Michael Bisping beating Matt Hamill in the “incompetent at best” category.

Play-by-play announcer Gus Johnson added so much to the incredible 12th round of Froch vs. Taylor. I was initially against it when Showtime replaced Steve Albert with Gus Johnson, but after that 12th round, I’m not so sure anymore. Albert is more of a traditional boxing play-by-play man, whereas Johnson is more of a “telling the story of any given fight” announcer, much like Jim Lampley, only not constantly missing it when big punches land or saying that something landed when it didn’t like Lampley does. Johnson can add a lot of drama and excitement to a big fight finish, as play-by-play announcers are supposed to do, without saying the same thing every time like Mike Goldberg does (”and it is all over!”).

Andre Ward's recent win over Edison Miranda was a star-making performance for Ward. Miranda is a legit top-level fighter, and dominating him like that is a big accomplishment.

Play-by-play announcer Nick Charles may have been too hard on Miranda during the fight, but I usually enjoy the commentary of Nick Charles and Steve Farhood just about as much as I enjoy any announcing team in boxing or MMA. They tend to be very straightforward and honest with their assessments of up-and-coming fighters, and that’s a particularly big deal on a show like “ShoBox” with all of the up-and-coming prospects that appear on it.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009
ESPN Segment on Dana White Prompts Questions about Long-Term Growth Potential of UFC
Editorial by Ivan Trembow

One could get a sense of how much homework the producers of the ESPN show "E:60" had actually done fairly early in the segment about UFC president Dana White when correspondent Tom Farrey said that "the MMA" has exploded in popularity (as opposed to, "MMA has exploded in popularity").

The show's credibility didn't improve very much from there, as there was no questioning of White's claim, "I built this business without help from anybody."

Additionally, the segment did not even mention the Dana White/AKA debacle of late 2008, where it was not a journalist, but multiple UFC fighters who were on the receiving end of a bullying tirade that would have gotten the public face of any legitimately mainstream sport fired in under a day. White made those statements about Jon Fitch and other AKA fighters in an impromptu interview with Yahoo Sports' Kevin Iole.

The segment also failed to mention an important point that is closely related to the AKA explosion, which is the fact that the managers of UFC fighters, and even some of the fighters themselves, are actually terrified of White because of the publicly demonstrated consequences for any manager or fighter who criticizes White in public or doesn't sign something (ie, anything) that he wants them to sign. (Part 1 of my coverage of the AKA mess; Part 2 of my coverage of the AKA mess).

During the E:60 segment, Farrey also reacted with a shocked facial expression to White's oft-repeated claim that the UFC will be the biggest sport in the world ten years from now. If Farrey had done more research, he wouldn't have been so shocked to hear that from White because he would have known that White has been saying that on a regular basis since 2007.

There was also the fact that The Zuffa Myth about Dana White changing the sport's rules was repeated and not refuted. Farrey also repeated The Zuffa Myth once again during an interview with the Orlando Sentinel.

Even more than The Zuffa Myth, this segment (and the promotion of it) put forward what one might call, "The Dana White Myth." The commercials on ESPN that hyped this particular episode of E:60 said, "Meet the brain behind the fastest-growing sport in the world!"

If The Zuffa Myth is that Zuffa created the rules of MMA, then The Dana White Myth is that White is some kind of super-genius and that nobody else could run the UFC without him, ignoring the fact that Lorenzo Fertitta already makes most of the big business decisions, and ignoring the fact that Joe Silva already does the matchmaking.

Not surprisingly, White remained completely unremorseful for his tirade against Loretta Hunt during the E:60 segment. I say "not surprisingly" because I don't know how that could be surprising to anyone at this point. Pressure from an organization with as much influence as GLAAD meant that White essentially had no choice but to apologize for his use of an anti-gay slur, regardless of whether or not he would have otherwise done so.

White was not forced to apologize for anything else that he said, and he's never going to do so. From White's perspective, why should he? If nothing else, White's tirade against Hunt (and the lack of consequences for that tirade other than those that were self-imposed) clearly served to demonstrate that White can say literally anything he wants, because Fertitta is never going to assert any consequences for White's behavior.

After all, as Iole said in an interview shortly after publishing White's tirade against AKA, it was Lorenzo Fertitta who could be heard in the background during that tirade, acting "just as impassioned" as White and strongly backing what White was saying.

Near the end of the E:60 segment, Farrey asked the only question of the segment that could be classified as anything even close to a "tough question," as he essentially asked White if the UFC could ever be truly mainstream with someone like White as its president. White's response was, "Maybe not." Somehow, there was no follow-up question along the lines of, "Wait a minute... but you said earlier that the UFC is going to be the biggest sport in the world in ten years."

It continues to amaze me that media outlets like E:60 continue to fail to pick up on the obvious contradictions of Dana White and the long-term growth potential of the UFC.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out the fact that "This is going to be the biggest sport in the world in ten years" is a statement that is incongruous with the obscene tirade that White publicly directed towards Loretta Hunt.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that "This is going to be the biggest sport in the world in ten years" is a statement that is incongruous with the obscene tirade that White publicly directed towards AKA's fighters.

The fact of the matter is that the UFC is never going to be "the biggest sport in the world" or even a truly "mainstream" entity as long as it has a president that behaves like a vulgar, dogmatic bully.

Maybe it will take two more obscene public tirades for more people to come to that realization, maybe it will take four more obscene public tirades, or maybe some people will never come to that realization, particularly if they remain ignorant of just how much of a role Lorenzo Fertitta and Joe Silva already have in running the UFC.

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Wednesday, May 06, 2009
I am no longer associated with MMAWeekly after quitting earlier today. I will always have fond memories of most of my six years at MMAWeekly, and I will always be grateful to the late Ryan Bennett, who gave me a chance and became my friend and mentor.

Sunday, May 03, 2009
Boxing--- Manny Pacquiao is truly a once-in-a-generation talent. Last night, the world witnessed another amazing performance from a fighter who has been putting on amazing performances for years now.

However, when it comes to the PPV buyrate of last night's show, I don't think it's going to be as high as some of boxing's other huge fights, at least not when it comes to North American PPV buys. Ricky Hatton's fights always perform amazingly well on PPV in the United Kingdom, but I'm just talking about and referring to North American PPV buys in this post.

Consider that when Floyd Mayweather, Jr. fought and beat Oscar de la Hoya, that PPV shattered all of the records in the PPV industry with 2.4 million buys. But when Mayweather, coming off of that win over De la Hoya, fought Hatton, it "only" drew 850,000 PPV buys. That is still a gigantic PPV buyrate no matter how you look at it, but it was barely one-third of the record-setting Mayweather vs. De la Hoya PPV buyrate.

Now Pacquiao is in a similar situation, having fought and beaten De la Hoya and then fighting Hatton in his next fight after that. Unlike Mayweather vs. De la Hoya, Pacquiao vs. De la Hoya didn't shatter all of the records in the history of the PPV industry. It drew around 1.2 million buys, which is incredible, but not Mayweather vs. De la Hoya numbers.

So, let's say Pacquiao's fight against Hatton draws roughly one-third of the North American buys that Pacquiao's fight against De la Hoya drew. That would be 400,000 buys. I do think it's going to do better than that, but probably not by too much, even though HBO's four-part "Pacquiao/Hatton 24/7" series was absolutely brilliant television and probably the best "24/7" series since the original "De la Hoya/Mayweather 24/7."

If I had to guess, I'd say that the final number will be more than 500,000 and less than 600,000.

Remember, the initial estimates that are released by HBO are generally at least 10% smaller than the final number, so if they announce an initial estimate of 500,000, that means the final number would likely be a little more than 550,000.

That is the neighborhood in which I think the Pacquiao vs. Hatton PPV buyrate is going to end up in terms of North American buys and not counting the huge U.K. PPV sales.

Now, as for the potential fight between Pacquiao and Mayweather, I think that would draw more buys than Pacquiao vs. Hatton in North America, but first Mayweather has to get past Juan Manuel Marquez, and that is a major task.

Mayweather picked a hell of a fight for his comeback match, facing one of the top boxers on the planet after not having fought in a year-and-a-half.

If Marquez does beat Mayweather, then Pacquiao vs. Marquez III would do pretty well in its own right (after all, Pacquiao vs. Marquez II already drew a solid 450,000 or so buys in early 2008), but Pacquiao vs. Mayweather would draw a lot more buys.