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Looking Beyond Wolf Tickets and Funny Money; the Need for a Fighter’s Union in MMA

imagesThis essay, by Roberto Arellano of Chicago, Ill., was the runner-up in the Co-Main Event Podcast’s second “annual” White Elephant Essay Contest, in the persuasive essay category.

Despite clothing adorned with rhinestones and seemingly impulsive mohawk haircuts being associated with mixed martial arts, there are more serious concerns that currently affect the overall health of the sport. In a time when performance enhancing drugs and inconsistent officiating still plague MMA, those issues are relatively insignificant. It might actually be the case that these issues are due to the sport’s relatively short existence. But as the sport continues to grow, regulation and uniformity will follow; there is reason to believe that MMA organizations like the UFC will aim to remedy some of these issues. The biggest threat to the overall health of mixed martial arts is one that MMA organizations currently have no incentive to address: collectively, fighters are not protected against the arbitrary decisions of fight promoters and are therefore susceptible to the kind of exploitation against which other professional athletes are protected.

Now, before Vitor Belfort critics and Diaz Bros. supporters advocate for stricter drug testing and a revamped scoring system, let’s acknowledge that these are issues that are more likely to be addressed by MMA promotions. Leading up to Jon Jones’ April 26 title defense against Glover Texeira at UFC 172 in Baltimore, UFC chairman and CEO Lorenzo Fertitta stated that “[enhanced drug testing is] going to be something that continues to happen on a pretty regular basis going forward” (Jeff Wagenheim, ‘UFC’s Lorenzo Fertitta discusses new random drug testing efforts’). While it’s too early to commend or criticize the organization’s renewed stance, it’s certainly a step in the right direction, and one with overwhelming public support. Most notably, this happened after former UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre publicly decried the UFC’s reluctance to pursue stricter drug testing. And while there are still questionable decisions that make the MMA community reconsider the current scoring system altogether, poor officiating is largely an internal problem that has been addressed as the sport has grown. Perhaps the ten-point must system should be reevaluated, but does the current scoring system necessarily jeopardize the overall health of the sport? Not quite. While a flawed scoring system certainly delays, and sometimes even deprives, a fighter from fighting for the title, a fighter’s union would better protect fighters’ interests.

The only times the idea of a fighter’s union has been mentioned is when fighters have expressed their dissatisfaction with reported salaries. The biggest reported payday for a single fight, according to Fertitta and UFC President Dana White, is $5 million (Damon Martin, ‘Dana White Reveals Biggest Single Payday for a Fighter in UFC History’). But what if the payday, whether disclosed or not, is not the problem itself? Though White proposes that the reason the UFC does not disclose fighter salaries is the fighters’ well being, keeping salaries private also decreases a fighter’s bargaining power. In previous cases where the UFC has been criticized for what it pays its fighters, fighters have ultimately been silenced. In the case of Randy Couture, the UFC claimed it had been publicly misrepresented and threatened to take him to court for punitive damages instead (LA Times, ‘UFC details Couture’s salary’). After Tim Kennedy alleged that he could make more money as a garbage man, he publicly retracted his statement and was coincidentally also scheduled to headline a UFC Fight for the Troops event. These instances only further prove that the UFC understands that it must suppress anything that might translate to public criticism.

While the UFC has done a remarkable job of growing the sport and establishing mainstream credibility, it is necessary for mixed martial arts fighters to have the ability to collectively bargain. The current MMA landscape resembles an antiquated version of other professional sports. In the NFL, it used to be the case that league executives who, much like MMA promoters, exercised exclusive rights over their athletes used to blacklist participants who did not acquiesce to their demands. It wasn’t until Bill Radovich decided to take the league to court that players eventually obtained the right to seek representation and negotiate in good faith (William Rhoden, ‘Sports of the Times; NFLs Labor Pioneer Remains Unknown’). In boxing, it wasn’t until Congress passed the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act in 2000 that fighters were protected, at least in theory. However, due to lax oversight, the provisions of the act have been eviscerated (Thomas Hauser, ‘No one is enforcing the federal boxing laws’). If an independent governing body were to exist, in the form of a fighter’s union, fighters would be able to better negotiate their contracts and not have to worry about promoters gutting legislation or negotiating lucrative contracts that might jeopardize their ability to enjoy their winnings the same way other professional athletes do (Ben Fowlkes, How Team Takedown is changing the approach to building MMA champions).

Hoping for independent oversight that protects fighters’ interests is optimistic, but there exists precedent that allows for such hope. After UFC lightweight Gilbert Melendez reportedly negotiated a deal with Bellator MMA, the UFC decided to match the terms of the contract in order to keep him on its roster. This example, though isolated, proves that fighters who are willing to publicly disclose their income are more likely to benefit from contract negotiations. Also, as the sport seeks public acceptance, competing organizations vie for public recognition. So while MMA continues to grow as a sport largely dependent on individual performance, the overall health of the sport is a shared responsibility.

Bibliography

Fowlkes, Ben. “How Team Takedown is changing the approach to building MMA champions.” MMAjunkie. MMA Junkie, 5 Apr. 2014. Web. 16 May 2014. <http://mmajunkie.com/2014/04/how-team-takedown-is-changing-the-approach-to-training-and-managing-mma-champions>.

Hauser, Thomas. “Hauser: Federal boxing laws go unenforced.” ESPN.com. ESPN.com, 25 Sept. 2007. Web. 19 May 2014. <http://sports.espn.go.com/sports/boxing/news/story?id=3032059>.

Martin, Damon. “Dana White Reveals Biggest Single Payday for a Fighter in UFC History.” Bleacher Report. Bleacher Report, 12 Sept. 2013. Web. 19 May 2014. <http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1772159-dana-white-reveals-biggest-single-payday-for-a-fighter-in-ufc-history>.

Pugmire, Lance. “UFC details Couture’s salary.” Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 31 Oct. 2007. Web. 20 May 2014. <http://articles.latimes.com/2007/oct/31/sports/sp-ufc31>.

Razak, Bobby. “History of MMA: Big John McCarthy.” Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 11 Feb. 2012. Web. 20 May 2014.

Rhoden, William. “Sports of The Times; N.F.L.’s Labor Pioneer Remains Unknown.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 2 Oct. 1994. Web. 18 May 2014. <http://www.nytimes.com/1994/10/02/sports/sports-of-the-times-nfl-s-labor-pioneer-remains-unknown.html?src=pm>.

Wagenheim, Jeff. “UFC’s Lorenzo Fertitta discusses new random drug testing efforts | SI.com.” SI.com. Sports Illustrated, 8 Apr. 2014. Web. 18 May 2014. <http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/mma/news/20140408/ufc-randon-drug-testing-jon-jones-lorenzo-fertitta/>.

 

The Path to Emotional Intelligence by Watching People Get Punched in the Face

Bellator_75_results_photoThis essay, by Paolo Sambrano of Oakland, Calif., won the Co-Main Event Podcast’s second “annual” White Elephant Essay Contest, in the personal narrative category.

Sometimes I think I got into mixed martial arts just to troll my circa mid-1990’s dad, who would gently encourage/chastise me for not watching sports like the other boys in school. But this isn’t a story about how MMA reconciled my relationship with my father (although one of my fondest memories with him was beholding Jose Canseco’s MMA debut against Hong Man Choi during Dream 9, as part of their 2009 Super Hulk Tournament). Nor is it a story about the boys I went to elementary school with, although this is a story about relating to people. This is a story about how MMA helped kill my ego and helped increase my emotional intelligence.

Growing up, sports to me were defined as bodies in matching jerseys chasing after a circular talisman for 30 seconds, buttressed by five hours of commercials for Dodge Ram pick-up trucks. The consistent start-stop generated a low-grade anxiety attack for me. If sports didn’t involve the phrase “I’ll take the physical challenge,” Nitro from the American Gladiators, or the multicolored parachute used in elementary school PE, I wanted nothing to do with it. It would just take away from time spent playing Mech Warrior 2 on the PC.

In 2005, I remember seeing a billboard for the first season of “The Ultimate Fighter.” My only prior exposure to the UFC, let alone MMA, was perusing the special interest racks at Suncoast Video in the mall. There was an illicit energy in scanning the backs of the boxes, trying to suss out if this really was a real life “Bloodsport.” Exposing myself on a weekly basis to the show unlocked a visceral, visual feedback, that was way better than keeping track of the movements of a color-coordinated team moving that circular talisman into a designated scoring position. The fact there were no commercial breaks during fights sealed the deal for me.

My real fandom (and self-imposed suffering) didn’t begin until I discovered Pride Fighting Championships. Pride FC made me believe that anything could happen, if you define “anything” as Taiko drumming, children’s choirs, and soccer kicks. It wasn’t until Pride that I started to assimilate MMA into my own sense of self. Steven C. Hayes describes this as the conceptualized self: “The conceptualized self is brimming with content; this content is the story about you and your life that you’ve been selling to yourself. It contains all the thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, memories, and behavioral predispositions that you’ve bought and integrated into a stable verbal picture of yourself.” (Hayes 90)

I began to narrativize MMA as the central item in my entire self identity. Everything began to refract off of the fact that I was not only a fan of Japanese MMA (not that domestic UFC wrestle shit) but I was also more into Threadless shirts than Tapout, and more likely to listen to The Postal Service and New Order than “The Ultimate Fighter” theme song and Stemm’s “Face the Pain.” I was in love with the fact I wasn’t the standard MMA fan. At that point, the average MMA fan would have been considered kissing cousins with Juggalos. I was smashing expectations! I was a pioneer! And it worked wonders on my self-esteem. Until it didn’t.

Looking back, building an identity for myself based on things I liked over the things others didn’t like was like having a puncher’s chance in interpersonal relationships. If the other person had no idea what I was talking about, that was like scoring a one punch KO with a telegraphed right hand from Mars. But if the other person was familiar with the sport? Or if they knew more than I did? That was them slipping my punch and countering with a brutal left hook right to the ego, disintegrating who I thought I was. Despite my good-hearted love of the sport (I even started training in Muay Thai and boxing), I still largely didn’t know what was going on (blame a lack of sports growing up). I could recognize an armbar and a double leg takedown, but beyond rudimentary movements, I was far from being conversant in MMA with other people who knew the sport. I was projecting my developing sense of identity against other people, craving to be the “unique” one in the relationship, but fearful at being found out as a fraud. This insecurity was written about by Carl Jung, “Projections of all kinds obscure our view of our fellow man, spoiling his objectivity, and thus spoiling all possibility of genuine human relationships.” (Jung 181)

My love of the sport eventually plateaued along with the sport’s ascent into the mainstream. But with that, so did any semblance of perceived superiority for following the sport against people who didn’t. It is silly to try and feel niche when your sport’s flagship promotion is on the same network as “The Simpsons,” after all. Also my constant exposure to people (via the internet) who knew more than me (on top of liking the same things I did) helped kill whatever lingering ego was left in regards to my self identity. At this point, I know more about MMA than I ever have, and I still feel like I don’t know anything. And that’s okay. More than okay, in fact. That means I am giving myself the ability to learn from other people and not feel like my entire identity just crumbled before me. And maybe, that’s just coming out with a higher emotional intelligence than when I started following the sport.

Works Cited

Hayes, Steven. Get Out of Your Mind & Into Your Life: The New Acceptance & Commitment Therapy. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, 2005. Print

Jung, Carl. Man and His Symbols. New York, NY: Dell Publishing. 1964. Print

Lehrer, Jonah. Proust Was a Neuroscientist. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2008. Print.

Black Holes, Vodka and Ghetto Style

Cage Fighting Held At Wembley ArenaThis essay, by Philip Hanna of Dublin, Ireland, was the runner-up in the Co-Main Event Podcast’s second “annual” White Elephant Essay Contest, in the personal narrative category.

Physics is pretty cool. I have always held that statement to be true and to this day I still believe it. When it comes to everything else involved in this story, I’m less convinced, so I’ll hold on to the physics. It will be my constant on this retrospective journey through my entry into MMA fandom.

It was the summer of 2009, I was reasonably young, reasonably in shape, I probably had a job, I was definitely a student, and like many students, I loved vodka. All but one of those statements remains true today. Transparent liquid gold, you promised so much. I believe it was a Saturday so being the nerd that I was (am) I was home alone, enjoying some of the aforementioned liquid wonder. It was after midnight, I was all set to watch a documentary on black holes. It was on one of those channels no one ever watches so I was undertaking the arduous journey to number 452 or something, I never made it that far. On a little known channel at number 407 I came across something I had only heard of in legend. Two dudes were standing in a cage and beating the fuck out of each other.

“That’s ridiculous!” I proclaimed to no one.

Of course, I never changed the channel and I had no idea that for better or worse my life was about to change forever.

I found out later that I was watching a rerun of Cage Rage[1], a now defunct British MMA promotion that actually had some serious talent at times, including Vitor Belfort[2] and Anderson Silva[3]. The event I found myself watching on that fateful night had neither of those guys on it, at least I don’t think it did, I really had no idea what I was watching but I found myself oddly fascinated by the whole thing. I had another drink as the next two fighters entered the cage (the place where the rage happened). Fighter A was uninteresting but fighter B, for the most innocuous and pathetic reasons, was immediately ‘my guy!’ His fighting style wasn’t wrestling, or kick boxing, or muay thai, no. It was “ghetto style.” This Dave Lister[4] looking motherfucker was simply a street thug with an interesting hairstyle who managed to take advantage of the fact that there wasn’t much MMA talent in Britain at the time[5]. If you could take a punch, you were in.

I was transfixed, I had another drink.

I wish I could remember that crazy fucker’s name. Alas I have tried and failed many times to find out, but I cheered, oh how I cheered. Of course he was going to win–he was a bad ass.

I guess the nicest thing I can say about him was that he certainly wasn’t finished in the first round. Not for lack of trying on the part of fighter A, mind you. Fighter A beat the living hell out of this guy for as long as I can remember, somewhere in round two I found nature calling with a vengeance and upon returning to my glorious sofa, two new half naked dudes were throwing them bungalows. It didn’t matter, I was hooked on what I essentially though of as a freak show. I managed to find it again on various weekend nights and watched as much as I could, traditionally with vodka. I was fascinated by the ground game, always anticipating a brutal knock out and I even found certain elements hilarious. The cage announcer Mark Aplin[6] never introduced a fighter without making a mistake, statistically you would think he would get at least one right, but he never did. It was misplaced genius comedy. I would later come to remember him as sort of an anti-Buffer[7]. No make up either. I think he’s dead now.

I began to follow certain fighters. There was no doubt who my favourite was–one reverse elbow into Tony Fryklund’s[8] face and Anderson Silva was my new hero. He inspired me enough to Google him, and three letters seemed to be very prominent in the results: UFC.

By now the forgetful year of 2009 was slowly but surely giving way to the warm breeze and misplaced promise of a better 2010. I had watched all of the Anderson Silva fights youtube had to offer and was cautiously exploring the world of UFC. One thing initially put me off, it wasn’t the America-ness of it all, the ridiculous hype train roaring behind each and every fight. It wasn’t even the fear factor guy going ape shit. Oddly enough it was the production value, it was too clean, Buffer never even made a mistake and no one was fighting “ghetto style.”

It almost seemed as if these fights were fair and even. It would take an adjustment period. If I could pick one fight that was probably the turning point it would have to be UFC 107[9], B.J. Penn[10] vs.  Diego Sanchez[11]. When I witnessed that crazy little Hawaiian fuck open up a titanic gash the size of a small country on “The Nightmare’s” face[12], I was hooked.

It was a long and slow process before I could really call myself an MMA fan or a student of the game. Things like appreciation for jiu-jitsu and fight strategy are really an acquired taste. It’s been a crazy ride ever since. I never thought of myself as the stereotypical MMA fan. After all I’m a nerd who was supposed to be watching a physics documentary on black holes. I have come to realize that we really are all nerds[13]. Well, the hard-cores are. The less said about the oft mentioned casual MMA fan the better.

I was just a young man who wanted to drink alone in peace and learn about black holes. Instead I stumbled upon another phenomenon from which I can never escape. 

Bibliography:

1. http://www.sherdog.com/organizations/Cage-Rage-232
2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FOW-5V3Yd74
3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anderson_Silva
4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dave_Lister
5. http://buzz.bournemouth.ac.uk/history-of-british-mma/ (Daniel Welling, 2013)
6. http://www.cagewarriors.com/forums/showthread.php?42147-RIP-MC-Mark-Aplin
7. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruce_Buffer
8. http://bleacherreport.com/articles/655855-mma-knockout-of-the-day-anderson-silva-knocks-tony-fryklunds-head-off (Sal De Rose, 2011)
9. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UFC_107
10. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B.J._Penn
11. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diego_Sanchez
12. http://mmajunkie.com/2009/12/ufc-107-play-by-play-and-live-results (2009)
13. http://mmajunkie.com/2012/10/fowlkes-when-it-comes-to-mma-what-do-you-really-know-and-what-does-it-matter (Ben Fowlkes, 2012

Announcing the Second ‘Annual’ White Elephant Essay Contest

cain vs bigfootWelcome to the second installment of the Co-Main Event Podcast’s sort-of annual White Elephant Essay Contest. OK, fine, there’s actually nothing annual about it, since the last time we did it was 2012, but whatever. If you’re reading this, you’re probably more interested in winning yourself a fabulous prize pack than any pesky little “details” so let’s all just be cool and forge ahead, yeah?

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Tips for the Well-Rounded Fight Fan [Index]

Tips for the well-roundedYou know how you’re always like, Hey, that thing Ben/Chad was talking about on Tips for the Well-Rounded Fight Fan sounded cool, but now I can’t remember what it was/where to find it/where I left my car keys. Oh well, guess I better hit ’em up on Twitter for a reminder? Yeah, no. From this day forward (and hopefully backward too, if we can swing it) the Co-Main Event Podcast will begin cataloging our TFTWRFF right here in this very post. Each time we do Tips on the CME, we’ll add them to the list below, date them and provide handy links to where you can find the source material for said tip. Seem OK? OK, go …

Episode 296

Ben: Dept of Speculation, by Jenny Offill (novel)

Ben: SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome, by Mary Beard

Chad: Babylon Berlin (TV Series)

Episode 290

Ben: Idaho, by Emily Ruskovich (novel)

Chad:  Mogul, from Gimlet Media (podcast)

Episode 255
Ben & Chad:  Crimetown, by Gimlet Media (podcast)

Episode 203
Ben: Black Ajax, by George MacDonald Fraser (historical fiction)

Chad: Catastrophe & The Americans (tv shows)

Episode 190

Ben: World of Tomorrow (short film)
Chad: Fargo (TV show)

Episode 169

Ben: Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania, by Erik Larson (non-fiction)
Chad: Mr. Robot (TV show)

Episode 133

Ben: “Sneaky People” by Thomas Berger (novel).

Chad: “The Ploughment” by Kim Zupan (novel).

Episode 120

Ben: “The Bone Clocks” by David Mitchell (novel).

Chad: “Rectify” (TV series).

Episode 107
Ben: 12 O’Clock Boys (documentary film)
Chad: Dear Zachary (documantary film)

Episode 99
Ben: Glimmer Train Stories, #90 (literary journal)
Chad: The Goldfinch: A Novel, by Donna Tartt (novel)

Episode 88 (1/27/14)

Ben: “Happy People” (documentary film).
Chad: “Galveston” by Nic Pizzolatto (novel).

Episode 76 (11/4/13)

Ben: “Flashman” by George MacDonald Fraser (novel).
Chad: “Thuglit: Issue 8” (short stories, including one by him).

Episode 67 (9/3/13)

Ben: “The Neon Wilderness” by Nelson Algren (short stories).

Chad: Christine Falls,” by Benjamin Black (novel).

Episode 64 (8/13/13)
Ben: “The Stench of Honolulu” by Jack Handy (novel).
Chad: “Run the Jewels” by Killer Mike and El-P (album).

Episode 57 (6/25/13)

Ben: “There’s Something Wrong with Aunt Diane” (documentary film).
Chad: “Undefeated” (documentary film).

Episode 54 (6/4/13)
Ben: “30 For 30: Renée” (documentary film).
Chad: “Ghost Man” by Roger Hobbs (novel).

Episode 48 (4/23/13)
Ben: “Fletch,” by Gregory McDonald (novel).
Chad: “The Imposter” (documentary film).

Episode 39 (2/19/13)
Ben: The Menzingers (punk band).
Chad: “10,000 Saints,” by Eleanor Henderson (novel).

Episode 34 (1/16/13)
Ben: “Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World,” by Jack Weatherford (non-fiction).
Chad: “The Staircase” (documentary series).

Episode 27 (11/20/12)
Ben: “Restrepo” (documentary film).
Chad: “City of Bohane,” by Kevin Barry (novel).

Episode 25 (11/6/12)
Ben: “Black Swan Green,” by David Mitchell (novel).
Chad: “Prohibition,” by Ken Burns (documentary series).

Episode 21 (10/9/12)
Ben: “Pulphead: Essays,” by John Jeremiah Sullivan (nonfiction).
Chad: “The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Dangerous Obsession,” by David Grann (non-fiction).

Episode 17 (9/11/12)
Ben:  “Meditations,” by Marcus Aurelius (nerd shit).
Chad: Fatherhood (the state of being).

Episode 12 (8/7/12)
Ben:  @MarsCuriosity (twitter account).
Chad: “The Renegade Sportsman,” by Zach Dundas (nonfiction).

Episode 10 (7/24/12)
Ben:  “What A Time It Was: The Best of W. C. Heinz on Sports” (nonfiction).
Chad: “The Power of the Dog,” by Don Winslow (novel).

Episode 7 (7/3/12)
Ben: The Youtube Channel of Prof. Nicholas Jenkins.
Chad: “Dream to Nightmare”, by Douglas Glanville.

Episode 5 (6/19/12)
Ben: Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History (podcast).
Chad: “Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets,” by David Simon (non-fiction).

Episode 3 (6/5/12)
Ben: “Protagonist” (documentary film).
Chad: Zicam (cold remedy).

Episode 2 (5/29/12)
Ben: “The Long Ships,” by Frans G. Bengtsson (novel).
Chad:  “The Sisters Brothers,” by Patrick DeWitt (novel).

Listener Mail GIF Parade: BALL-F*CKING-PEEN HAMMER!!

Every once in a while we here at the CME podcast get some listener emails that cause us to legit LOL. We’re not proud of that, but you rascals should be. Know that even if we didn’t find time to talk about your nonsense on the show, it doesn’t mean we didn’t appreciate the time and effort you put into said nonsense.

Here, let us appreciate you with these GIFs.

From Travis Bickle: I recently heard an interview with the pornstar who was in the Farah Abraham sextape and he said it has made a million dollars.

Upon hearing this, I had the same thought I always do about UFC pay-per-views: How is it possible that these make any money when they’re so easily downloaded online?

With the UFC’s deal with Fox and the next generation of fans who don’t pay for anything they can get for free online, do you guys see a day when the UFC does away with pay-per-views altogether?

From Dan O.: I’m a little confused about something and I was wondering if you two could help clear things up for me.

You see, I happened to turn the channel to TNA wrestling right as Rampage and Tito came running down the ramp together, so of course I had to see what the deal was. I assumed they were about to form the greatest tag team duo since Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty, but then Tito, out of nowhere, hits Rampage in the back of the head with a ball-peen hammer.

A BALL-FUCKIN-PEEN HAMMER!

Now, assuming Rampage doesn’t have a cracked skull, at the very least we have a well documented severe concussion just a few months before their scheduled fight.

Is the athletic commission at whatever Indian reservation they are hosting this pay per view going to step in a give rampage a medical suspension for this? Do Indian reservations even have commissions? Is Indian reservation still the proper nomenclature?

From Great Dane: Dana white just said the upcoming season of The Ultimate Fighter is the best season ever!!!!

Seriously though, we don’t have any reason to actually believe him, right? What could actually make this the best season ever? A rhino breaks into the gym and Rhonda Rousey breaks off it’s horn via armbar? (Technically it would be a “horn-bar”, I guess.)

If the UFC was to do away with the TUF series, what is the best way to get an influx of talent and introduce them to the viewer? Do we have to hope they can fight their way off the Facebook or unaired prelim fights so to gain some name recognition? Could it be argued that TUF is good for the fighters, as it allows them to procure sponsorship contracts that they might not otherwise be privy to?

Is it better to have more of the Fox Sports 1 and 2 cards to at least let these guys get on TV and potentially earn some money for all their hardwork? Then we have to listen to more complaints from Old-Man Dundas about all the fights he has to watch.

Ultimately, what’s the best answer to find and promote the new talent?

From Corey Whichard: At the end of round one in Manvel “Lil’ Joe Rogan” Gamburyan and Cole Miller, Miller struck Manny with a couple elbows to the top of the head. Immediately afterward, the round ended and Manny sat there clutching the back of his head while Cole Miller politely stood next to him with his hand on Manny’s shoulder.

This lasted at least ten seconds. It was like something out of a David Lynch movie. Where does this rank on your list of most surreal in-cage MMA moments?

From Mike D: Please explain to me why mma websites report on WWE entertainment, Summerslam, Raw,etc.

I understand that there is some crossover with a few fighters becoming wrestlers and wrestlers becoming fighters, but reading commentary or play by play on a mma website about some ex fighters falling down on purpose for the entertainment of idiots absolutely drives me crazy.

If you enjoy that type of entertainment and you are an idiot, then have at it, I hear Dave Meltzer does a cute little thing for the kids that still watch WWE.

From James Mackintosh: Travis Browne looked to be “in the best shape of his career” and with a bit of help from mike dolce (the only nutritionist any of us can name) do you think he could make 205?

I think he has the skill set to cause jones problems but Cain or JDS would destroy him.

What do you think?

Listener Mail GIF Parade: In Which Questionable Assertions Abound

You know what the best part is about receiving a weekly deluge of mail from our listeners? I mean, aside from reading the first few words of each one, then passing out from too much cold medicine, then waking up with Twizzlers wrappers stuck to our faces, then saying ‘fuck it’ and going out to race go-karts?

It’s that even when they’re crazy and weird, they’re rarely boring. So thanks for that. Now enjoy these GIFs while we go on a quick Twizzlers run.

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Listener Mail GIF Parade: Oh Man, This Rampage vs. Tito Thing

We knew this was coming. The moment Tito Ortiz spat in the face of the Eminem Curse while making his entrance at last week’s Bellator event to announce his upcoming pay-per-view bout with “Rampage” Jackson, we knew we were going to get buried by emails from you people. What we didn’t figure on was how weirdly kind of diverse in scope they would be. So, I guess, good job on that? Or maybe not?

Ah, screw it. We’ll let the GIFs speak for us.

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Listener Mail GIF Parade: Let’s-All-Get-Together-and-Overreact Edition

While this week’s podcast received mail from someone who may or may not have been a character from the 1993 film “Menace II Society,” we also got a bunch of questions from you other sons of bitches that we simply didn’t have the time (or, let’s face it, desire) to answer. But that’s where the magic of the animated GIF comes in.

Take it away, GIFs.

From Steven Merriman: This past Saturday I had the dubious pleasure of watching Rory MacDonald jab his way to a unanimous, if unsatisfying victory. It’s hard to imagine a GSP vs. Rory fight as anything other as tedious. Which leads me to my question: True or False: Johnny Hendricks defeating George St-Pierre is the best thing that could happen to the Welterweight division.

From Seth Remington:  Is it time to start drug testing the judges of these events before and after an MMA event? Seriously, someone had to be smoking crack to get those scores. Two separate split decision fights with 30-27s for each fighter? And what about poor Timmy Means who was robbed of a decision? I know it is like a broken record but when is the MMA world gonna get some competent judges? Aaron Riley just retired, give that man a job as a judge!

From Ronda’s Wart: Demetrious Johnson is a superior fighter to GSP in every way.

Namely: 1. MUCH more dynamic/exciting. 2. Arguably more technical and effective in every aspect of MMA, including wrestling. 3. Looks for and gets a finish when the decision is already in the bag, rather than looking for the safest way to coast to the final bell. 4. Is already looking for (literally) bigger challenges in the weight class above. How many years has GSP spent dominating welterweights and finding excuses not to even dip his toe in the pool at middleweight?? and 5. If Johnson wanted to build and protect a “legacy” as a dominant champion for years to come, getting rich and boring us to tears, he very likely could. Apparently he is more ambitious than that. Discuss!

From Kent Carter: Michael Chandler just signed an 8 fight deal with Bellator, pretty much guaranteeing he will not fight a top ten ranked fighter while he is in his prime. If he’s not interested in fighting the best, I’m not interested in watching him fight. Is this the extremely career limiting move that I seem to think it is?

From Carl Kennedy: So apparently, in regards to the bare knuckle boxing thing, the reason it is technically “bare knuckle” is because there is a slit cut in the top of the gloves that exposes the knuckles. I am really not sure if/how they are wrapping the hands. So yeah………. that is happening. What do you think? Worse than X-arm?

From Joakim Kalantari: I thought to offer you some perspective on all of your collective complaining about “too many cards” and “watered down product” and “UFC excessively asking its fans for their time.”

I live in Sweden, so it goes without saying that my experience is limited to this region alone.  First of all; to follow the UFC live you have stay up all night. Prelims start around midnight and main card normally commences around 4 am Sunday morning.

Secondly, every thing; Facebook prelims, FX/Fuel prelims and main card is available trough UFC.tv i.e. online stream. Thirdly, every fight card costs about USD 30. This means that all these halv-shitty/halv-decent “free cards” that you are hard pressed to spend time to watch live, let alone spend money on, costs us 30 bucks a pop. To cap it all off, if there’s a problem with the stream, which granted happens seldom but when it happens it does so at the most inopportune moments (e.g. main event of Silva/Weidman), the UFC’s response is total deafening silence. No refunds, no apologies, no empty promises about “making it up to the fans” by Dana White – nothing.

Additionally, you best check your tone when you email the customer support to complain because the only response you’ll liable to receive is a thinly veiled threat of getting your account blocked. And then where will you be? You’d be forced to examine the void that you’ve spent years and thousands of dollars to create instead of any thing that would pass for a social life.

Just like my mom used to bring up “starving kids” anytime I did not like the dinner that was offered, maybe you should consider us Swedes next time you complain about a shitty Fuel/FX/Fox card. I mean free healthcare and college education, low infant mortality rates, high life expectancy, clean air and water and low crime rates and all are all good and well; but I had to pay for the shit we all watched yesterday evening (or in my case previously this morning)

From Brady Carlson: What is the single greatest move every pulled off in an MMA fight? Is it the Showtime kick, Edson Barboza’s spinning heel kick, Anderson Silva’s front kick to the face, what?

From Walter Pinkman: Is there any other sports fan as fickle as the mma fan? Why does groupthink exist so pervasively in this sport?  Is there any sport where current fans make it harder for new fans to start enjoying the same sport? Three questions that have continued to arise in my life as it becomes harder and harder to justify my enjoyment of the sport to outsiders and occasionally myself.

From Perry Bergson: If Fighter A has a technique working that his opponent, Fighter B, can’t deal with, does he really have an obligation to move to other things to please the fans? Doesn’t Fighter B have to find a way to deal with the jab or wrestling or leg kicks or whatever is beating him? Isn’t winning all that ultimately matters, regardless of the route taken to get there?

From Mazz M: Let’s just imagine that the fabled Roy Jones Jr. vs Quinton Rampage jackson fight happens. They have to get KIMBO SLICE in the undercard (read: co-main event) right?

Listener Mail GIF Parade: Stop-Crying-‘Fix’-or-We-Will-Murder-You Edition

Eventually this has to stop, right? And by this, I mean the odd email that floats into our inbox alleging that the Anderson Silva-Chris Weidman fight was fixed. It just can’t continue on indefinitely. We will not abide it, and there aren’t enough angry GIFs out there to convey our feelings on the matter.

There are, fortunately for all of us, plenty of other GIFs and other Listener Mail queries to match them up with. So let’s get on with it, and woe be unto the motherfucker who sends us a fight-fixing question after this day.

From Jon Lee: Isn’t this whole Anderson putting his hands down thing the ULTIMATE in Monday morning Quarterbacking? When Silva puts his hands down against EVERY other fighter before smashing them, we give him massive god like props and when he finally gets caught we act like he’s embarrassing the sport and himself and his own Brazilians boo’d him. I guess I’m asking why do we as MMA fans do that?

From Dan O: I’ve got an idea for bonus structures in the UFC and I want you guys to tell me how brilliant I am for thinking of it (or shit on it, lets be honest, you will probably shit on it).

So it starts off with everyone who finishes his opponent gets a bonus of 20,000 dollars. KO of the night and Submission of the night are gone, but Fight of the Night stays and is worth 20k to each guy. So if an event has ten fights, Dana sets aside 240,000 dollars for bonuses. Since it is rare that all fights end in a finish, any unused bonus money goes back in the kitty, so to speak. For example, if only one fight ends in decision, that 20k gets distributed evenly among the next event so now the bonuses are worth 22k apiece.

If you get 3 or 4 events in a row where half the fights go to decision that bonus starts to get up near 40 grand and everybody starts throwing caution to the wind to go for a finish. Just imagine Dana and Joe screaming at each other at the end of the FX prelims about how crazy the pay per view will be because everyone that finishes gets a forty or fifty thousand dollar check and then try telling me this isn’t a great idea.

From Mauro Pedrosa: Wouldn’t a fight between Nick Diaz and Michael Bisping be awesome?

From Corey Whichard: As someone who follows MMA very closely, I make it a point to avoid all MMA-themed movies. I don’t even watch mainstream movies starring MMA fighters (e.g., The A-Team, Haywire, The Expendables), not merely because all of these movies look fucking terrible, but because as a general rule professional cage-fighters are uniformly god-awful at acting.

I’m not talking about expecting decent or even okay acting–most of these guys can’t help but ruin whatever scene they momentarily appear in, and as a fan of their sport I literally feel embarrassed for them. I even feel mildly ashamed when I come across the movie cover for what I can only (regretfully) describe as an “MMA movie,” as they all tend to look like advertisements for some bizarre mixture of gangster rap and violent gay porn.

Do you guys think that MMA fighters-turned-actors, who themselves must watch movies with talented actors, are actually under the impression that they can act? Is it just a way to make a quick buck? Do they have any idea how much they suck?

From Curt Heinrichs: With Anderson Silva losing to Weidman, a certain MMA personality (whose Twitter handle suggests he has good seats and his name is Brian) has been suggesting that certain fights are “works” in the lingo of professional wrestling. While I doubt that anyone in the UFC would take a dive, I was wondering your thoughts on the matter. Aside from a few known examples, do you feel that there are some fights that are planned out in advance, or is this guy just trolling his followers?

From Ben Hoefstetter: Do you guys find it odd that UFC 163 is “Aldo vs. KOREAN ZOMBIE”? He has a real name, and one that is not even that difficult for Westerners to pronounce.

Did the UFC just not want to spend the time to figure out whether “Jung” or “Chang-Sung” is his surname, or are they just banking on the hope that those elusive casual fans remember an awesome fight from 2010 featuring a dude from Korea who just kept moving forward? Also at the time of writing this message, two fighters on the main card of UFC 163 do not have wikipedia pages.

From Jeremy Doughty: my question is regarding belt procedure. I have always assumed that when a title reign comes to an end the former champ actually turns in the belt and it is given to the new champ. Then I watch the Countdown shows and see former champs with a slew of belts on their mantle and am left wondering if they actually keep the belt, do they have to purchase it, or are these just replicas. Getting to The root of my question, is Cain Velasquez holding the same belt Tim Silvia slept with, and at the end of the day what is that shiny gold bitch worth.

From Joakim Kalatanri: You guys have been of CME fame for a while now and I wonder; how does it feel that your fans likely, take more seriously and pay more attention to what you say more than probably you do.

This is not veiled criticism of the podcast. I know you don’t just go out there and say shit, just to be saying stuff (besides when you do, but you get my point). I can imagine that you are both used to fan reaction to your work, due to your profession. At the same time though, the podcast medium does not allow you to be as deliberate and precise as when you’re writing. It kind of forces you to think a loud which may lead to less than optimal phrasing and positions. What’s your experience of idiots like myself reminding you about shit that you may or may not have said/meant weeks and month later?