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

Thursday, July 30, 2009
Thoughts on Fedor/UFC Negotiations
by Ivan Trembow

I continue to be amazed by the fact that in the eyes of the "clapping seals" who must be proud to put forth the UFC’s agenda on any given issue, Fedor Emelianenko's entire legitimacy as a fighter is riding on whether or not he accepts whatever it is that the UFC is offering him.

News flash: Even if Fedor retired from MMA tomorrow and never fought again, he would go down in history as the fighter who was the #1 heavyweight in the world for six straight years (from 2003 to 2009), and arguably the greatest fighter in MMA's history up to this point (of course, as with any G.O.A.T. in any sport, there's no assurance that another athlete wouldn't eventually replace him in that position).

But don’t tell that to the "clapping seals." To them, one successful title defense can prompt questions of who can possibly stop a UFC champion, while Fedor is both illegitimate and irrelevant if he doesn’t sign with the UFC... and he's not just illegitimate and irrelevant in 2009, but it also means that the last six years never happened.

Of course, if every fighter's legitimacy and relevance as a fighter is determined by whether or not they accept whatever it is that the UFC is offering them, that adds a tremendous amount of leverage to the UFC's side and takes a tremendous amount of leverage away from the side of all fighters. That's a big part of the reason why the UFC and its surrogates tend to portray it as though any fighter, even Fedor, is irrelevant if he doesn't accept whatever it is that the UFC is offering.

Yesterday, the UFC leaked out inflated contract numbers through one of their friends in the media (the Carmichael Dave Show), claiming that Fedor was offered $5 million per fight for six fights. The Pavlovian response to the UFC's leak of inflated dollar figures has worked far better than the UFC could have possibly hoped. One little leak and now it's being regarded almost everywhere as the undeniable truth. Wow, that was easy.

Inflated dollar figures are the easiest thing in the world to leak out in an effort to put pressure on the other side, because of the obligatory, "OMG, he turned down that much money!" response, which is exactly the response that the UFC's leak has produced on a massive scale.

In fact, dollar figures have never been a major factor in holding up the UFC/Fedor negotiations. In 2007, the UFC offered a guarantee of $1.5 million per fight, and Fedor's side was understandably happy with that figure. It wasn't the money that held up the deal, and I'd be shocked if that's what is holding up the deal now. There are more important things than dollar figures, such as not having the standard UFC contractual clause that auto-renews the contract for life if you're a champion. Leaking out such an inflated dollar figure is very transparent on Zuffa's part.

Regarding the champion's clause in UFC contracts, it renews one year at a time, and does it so indefinitely, until the champion loses the title. If it expired after just 12 months, Randy Couture would have been a free agent in August 2008. Rob Maysey, who has written more about UFC contracts than anyone, confirms regarding the champion's clause that the "UFC version, as drafted, keeps renewing."

Here's more information from someone who (unlike Carmichael Dave) actually is a credible source, the author of what is widely regarded as the best book about MMA (Jonathan Snowden): The guarantee per fight offered by the UFC was less than the guarantee per fight in the Affliction contract (roughly $1.5 million). But don't let that stop anyone from spreading misinformation. Zach Arnold wrote a very good article about this here.

If Fedor ever wanted to fight the champion's clause in court as Randy Couture did for a year before giving up, there would be a solid 18-to-24 months from the time that the lawsuit was filed to the trial date, and even then, there is no guarantee that he’d win in a Nevada court system with judges like the Xyience/Bergeron case judge who got elected with campaign money from UFC owners Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta (that is not a secret, a rumor, or a conspiracy theory, as the judge publicly thanked the Fertittas on his web site for their contributions to his election campaign).

There are currently more highly-ranked heavyweight fighters in the UFC than there are outside of the UFC, but let’s not act like there are NO highly-ranked heavyweight fighters outside of the UFC. Even with Josh Barnett out of the picture, other top-15-ranked heavyweights who are not in the UFC include Brett Rogers, Alistair Overeem, Jeff Monson, Fabricio Werdum, and Andrei Arlovski, only one of whom Fedor has already beaten (Arlovski).

That's a stronger heavyweight division than the UFC had a few years ago (a UFC heavyweight division that Dana White now says completely sucked), but it’s still not as good as the UFC's current heavyweight division. Randy Couture, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, and Mirko Cro Cop are all closer to the end than they are to their primes, and Fedor beat Nogueira and Cro Cop in their primes, but Brock Lesnar beating the Shane Carwin/Cain Velasquez winner would indeed be another big achievement and I would look forward to that fight.

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Friday, July 24, 2009
California Commission Explains Why Josh Barnett Has Not Been Suspended
by Ivan Trembow

Some MMA fans have been wondering why Josh Barnett is not being suspended by the California State Athletic Commission for his recent positive test for an anabolic steroid. The answer is that Barnett has no license for the CSAC to suspend.

As the CSAC's Assistant Executive Officer, Bill Douglas, said, "It's impossible to suspend someone for something that they do not possess."

Barnett's CSAC license expired after his fight with Gilbert Yvel earlier this year. He requested a renewal of his expired license, and that request was denied as a result of his failed drug test.

While the CSAC can (and has) denied Barnett's request for a renewal of his license, they can't suspend his license due to the fact that he doesn't have one.

I asked the CSAC's Douglas specifically, "If Barnett did currently have a CSAC license, would it have been suspended? In other words, is it only because of the fact that he did not have an active CSAC license that he's not being suspended?" Douglas said, "Yes, there is nothing to suspend."

What's next for Josh Barnett? Well, the fact that he happened to be in between active CSAC licenses will mean that he won't have to wait 12 months before he can re-apply to receive a license. However, before he can fight in California, "We simply need a clean drug test administered by a CSAC representative," Douglas said.

As for Barnett taking a fight outside the state of California, Douglas said, "Technically, he can fight out of country or even in another Commission state if they decide to license him." There is no active CSAC suspension on Barnett, so there would be no CSAC penalties if Barnett fought outside of California.

Regarding the possibility of Barnett applying for a license in Nevada, Keith Kizer, the Executive Director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, said, "Anyone can apply, but I do not know how the Commissioners would vote of any specific application."

Regarding the possibility of Barnett applying for a license in New Jersey, Nick Lembo, the Counsel to the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board, said, "If California denies the license but does not or cannot issue a suspension, we would likely require him to get licensed in California first."

UPDATE on 8/4/09: After this story was published, The California State Athletic Commission conducted a legal review and determined that they do have the legal authority to not allow Josh Barnett to apply for a new fighters' license in California for the next 12 months. So, while Barnett is still technically not "suspended," he also can't re-apply for a CSAC license for the next 12 months. As the CSAC Assistant Executive Director Bill Douglas put it, "There was a legal analysis performed by the attorneys that assist CSAC and a rule in place may prohibit Josh from being licensed in California for one year."


Friday, July 17, 2009
July 17, 2009: The July 2009 Independent World MMA Rankings have been released. These rankings are independent of any single MMA media outlet or sanctioning body, and are published on multiple web sites. Some of the best and most knowledgeable MMA writers from across the MMA media landscape have come together to form one independent voting panel.

These voting panel members are, in alphabetical order: Zach Arnold (FightOpinion); Nicholas Bailey (MMA Ratings); Jared Barnes (Houston Chronicle); Jordan Breen (Sherdog); Jim Genia (Full Contact Fighter, MMA Memories, and MMA Journalist Blog); Jesse Holland (MMA Mania); Robert Joyner (MMA Payout); Todd Martin (CBS Sportsline); Zac Robinson (Sports by the Numbers MMA); Leland Roling (Bloody Elbow); Michael David Smith (AOL Fanhouse); Jonathan Snowden (Author of "Total MMA: Inside Ultimate Fighting"); Joshua Stein (MMA Opinion), Ivan Trembow (Freelance); and Dave Walsh (Total MMA).

The rankings are tabulated on a monthly basis in each of the top seven weight classes of MMA, from heavyweight to bantamweight, with fighters receiving ten points for a first-place vote, nine points for a second-place vote, and so on.

The rankings are based purely on the votes of the members of the voting panel, with nobody's vote counting more than anybody else's vote, and no computerized voting.

The voters are instructed to vote primarily based on fighters' actual accomplishments in the cage/ring (the quality of opposition that they've actually beaten), not based on a broad, subjective perception of which fighters would theoretically win fantasy match-ups.

Special thanks to Eric Kamander, Zach Arnold, and Joshua Stein for their invaluable help with this project, and special thanks to Garrett Bailey for designing our logo.

Inactivity: Fighters who have not fought in the past 12 months are not eligible to be ranked, and will regain their eligibility the next time they fight.

Disciplinary Suspensions: Fighters who are currently serving disciplinary suspensions are not eligible to be ranked.

Changing Weight Classes: When a fighter announces that he is leaving one weight class in order to fight in another weight class, the fighter is not eligible to be ranked in the new weight class until he has his first fight in the new weight class.

Catch Weight Fights: When fights are contested at weights that are in between the limits of the various weight classes, they are considered to be in the higher weight class. The weight limits for each weight class are listed at the top of the rankings for each weight class.

July 2009 Independent World MMA Rankings
Ballots collected on July 14, 2009

Heavyweight Rankings (206 to 265 lbs.)
1. Fedor Emelianenko (30-1, 1 No Contest)
2. Brock Lesnar (4-1)
3. Josh Barnett (24-5)
4. Frank Mir (12-4)
5. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (31-5-1, 1 No Contest)
6. Randy Couture (16-9)
7. Alistair Overeem (29-11, 1 No Contest)
8. Shane Carwin (11-0)
9. Brett Rogers (10-0)
10. Andrei Arlovski (15-7)

Light Heavyweight Rankings (186 to 205 lbs.)
1. Lyoto Machida (15-0)
2. Quinton Jackson (30-7)
3. Rashad Evans (13-1-1)
4. Forrest Griffin (16-5)
5. Mauricio "Shogun" Rua (18-3)
6. Rich Franklin (25-4, 1 No Contest)
7. Keith Jardine (14-5-1)
8. Dan Henderson (25-7)
9. Renato "Babalu" Sobral (32-8)
10. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (17-3)

Middleweight Rankings (171 to 185 lbs.)
1. Anderson Silva (24-4)
2. Yushin Okami (23-4)
3. Dan Henderson (25-7)
4. Nathan Marquardt (28-8-2)
5. Demian Maia (10-0)
6. Jorge Santiago (21-7)
7. Robbie Lawler (16-5, 1 No Contest)
8. Gegard Mousasi (25-2-1)
9. Vitor Belfort (18-8)
10. Thales Leites (14-2)

Welterweight Rankings (156 to 170 lbs.)
1. Georges St. Pierre (19-2)
2. Jon Fitch (19-3, 1 No Contest)
3. Thiago Alves (16-4)
4. Jake Shields (23-4-1)
5. Matt Hughes (43-7)
6. Josh Koscheck (12-4)
7. Martin Kampmann (15-2)
8. Mike Swick (14-2)
9. Carlos Condit (22-5)
10. Paulo Thiago (11-1)

Lightweight Rankings (146 to 155 lbs.)
1. B.J. Penn (13-5-1)
2. Kenny Florian (11-3)
3. Shinya Aoki (20-4, 1 No Contest)
4. Eddie Alvarez (17-2)
5. Joachim Hansen (19-7-1)
6. Tatsuya Kawajiri (24-5-2)
7. Diego Sanchez (21-2)
8. Frankie Edgar (10-1)
9. Gray Maynard (7-0, 1 No Contest)
10. Satoru Kitaoka (25-8-9)

Featherweight Rankings (136 to 145 lbs.)
1. Mike Brown (22-4)
2. Urijah Faber (22-3)
3. Wagnney Fabiano (12-1)
4. Jose Aldo (15-1)
5. Hatsu Hioki (19-3-2)
6. Leonard Garcia (12-4)
7. "Lion" Takeshi Inoue (16-3)
8. Dokonjonosuke Mishima (19-6-2)
9. Raphael Assuncao (13-1)
10. Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto (17-2)

Bantamweight Rankings (126 to 135 lbs.)
1. Miguel Torres (37-1)
2. Brian Bowles (7-0)
3. Takeya Mizugaki (11-3-2)
4. Masakatsu Ueda (9-0-2)
5. Joseph Benavidez (10-0)
6. Akitoshi Tamura (14-7-2)
7. Will Ribeiro (10-2)
8. Rani Yahya (14-4)
9. Damacio Page (11-4)
10. Manny Tapia (10-2-1)


Sunday, July 12, 2009
Post-UFC 100 Thoughts
by Ivan Trembow

-I realize that Brock Lesnar is just playing a heel pro wrestling character, but the casual fans who make up a big percentage of the audience for such a huge show wouldn't know that. They would just think that's how the UFC Heavyweight Champion behaves. You don't have to play a trashy heel pro wrestling character to be a superstar, and one doesn't need to look any further than Georges St. Pierre on the very same event for evidence of that.

-The clip of Brock Lesnar screaming in his semi-conscious opponent's face and then slobbering all over the camera like a bad 1980s pro wrestler made it onto the overnight SportsCenter. So did the clip of Dan Henderson punching his already-unconscious opponent's head.

Between these two things and the recent E:60 segment about Dana White's obscene rant, I don't think that the average ESPN viewer has a very good impression of MMA at this point. Neither does the average potential advertiser, for that matter.

-Here's a quote from UFC play-by-play announcer Mike Goldberg, leaving his credibility at the door in a post-event segment on ESPNews: "Lesnar is undoubtedly the best heavyweight in the world!" He obviously wasn't going to go on ESPNews and say, "Lesnar is still not the best heavyweight in the world!" But he could have also retained a lot more credibility if he had chosen different wording.

-I didn't catch it on the live broadcast, but all of the quotes from Dan Henderson’s post-fight interview include Henderson openly saying that he knew Michael Bisping was unconscious and he hit him one more time anyway. That is just classless garbage. At least he didn't throw two more punches at his unconscious opponent's head after the ref was literally pulling him off (like Quinton Jackson did against Wanderlei Silva), but it's still classless garbage.

-That was a masterful performance by Georges St. Pierre, but why was cornerman Greg Jackson talking to GSP like he was five years old in between rounds? I'm not even exaggerating; that is literally how Little League coaches talk to five-year-olds.

-Were the judges distracted by a piece of flying lint during the Yoshihiro Akiyama-Alan Belcher fight? I had it scored 30-27 for Belcher, although I could understand scoring it 29-28 for Belcher. But one judge had it 30-27 for Akiyama? As Jake Rossen said on his ESPN/Sherdog blog, "Do they test the judges for recreational drugs?"

-The fact that Mark Coleman is still fighting at his age and in his condition is sad. The fact that Stephan Bonnar lost to him is almost as sad.

-According to USA Today, during a recent Q&A session with fans, UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta recently "called out EA Sports for passing up a deal with the UFC on a video game and then coming around after the success of UFC 2009 Undisputed to do another MMA game."

That is some nice revisionist history (from someone whose company has been engaging in plenty of revisionist history recently). The launch (and sales success) of UFC 2009: Undisputed came in May 2009. EA Sports has been working on an MMA video game since 2008, and multiple media outlets wrote about it in 2008, including MMA Payout and the Wrestling Observer.

Were the writers at MMA Payout and the Wrestling Observer blessed with psychic powers that enabled them to write about EA’s MMA game and some of the specific fighters that signed to appear in it (Randy Couture, Frank Shamrock, etc.) one year before EA even started working on the game?

No, they weren't. In fact, IGN also wrote about EA's MMA game in May 2008, a full year before UFC 2009: Undisputed was released.

The UFC's management was fully aware of the existence of EA's MMA game in 2008, as that was one of the major reasons that the UFC threatened its roster of fighters into signing away their lifetime exclusive video game rights for free (ie, to ensure that they couldn't appear in EA's game).

As Steve Barry wrote on MMA Convert, "It's just another example of Zuffa bending the truth to spin an ugly situation in their favor. And quite frankly, it's starting to get old, especially when the majority of people listening don't know any better."

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No Out-of-Competition Drug Testing for UFC 100 Fighters
by Ivan Trembow

None of the fighters on the UFC 100 card were subjected to the Nevada State Athletic Commission's out-of-competition drug testing program, as confirmed by NSAC Executive Director Keith Kizer on Sunday morning.

Out-of-competition drug tests differ from the NSAC's usual drug tests in the sense that with the out-of-competition testing, fighters do not know when they are going to be tested ahead of time.

Drug testing on the day of the weigh-in or the day of the fight is, of course, going to fail to detect a significant percentage of dopers because they will have had weeks to use advanced methods of flushing performance-enhancing drugs out of their bodies.

None of the "Big Four" major sports in the United States have a drug-testing program in which the athletes know ahead of time exactly when they may be tested.

Even in the out-of-competition drug tests, fighters are given 48 hours to take their drug tests, whereas other sports require their athletes to take their drug tests immediately upon notification that a test has been ordered.

As The Ring Magazine's Mark Zeigler wrote earlier this year about the NSAC's out-of-competition testing, "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."

Even when no other out-of-competition drug testing is performed, the NSAC usually orders out-of-competition tests to be performed on fighters who have previously failed drug tests in the state of Nevada.

In the case of UFC 100, that was not done. Stephan Bonnar was not ordered to take an out-of-competition drug test, despite the fact that Bonnar previously tested positive for Boldenone after a fight against Forrest Griffin in 2006. Boldenone is an anabolic steroid used by veterinarians to rehabilitate injured horses.

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