As MMA Arrives in Ontario, Anti-MMA Voices Surface

By Michael David Smith

We’re used to it by now. Those of us who love mixed martial arts have come to accept that our sport will be subjected to ignorant, unfair commentary from people who don’t understand it and don’t care to understand it, and that the anti-MMA voices will grow particularly loud any time the sport becomes regulated in an area where it had previously been banned.

But even if we’re used to it, and it would be easier just to ignore it, sometimes it’s valuable to point out some of the over-the-top assertions about MMA that come out in the local media whenever the sport arrives in a new town.

So with MMA recently being legalized in Ontario, let’s take a look at some of the problems with this Windsor Star column by Anne Jarvis.

Jarvis starts with this:
“So, Maximum Fighting Championship 29: Conquer is coming to Caesars Windsor next month. They’ll have to hose the blood off the floor of the Colosseum.  Mixed martial arts is the full-contact, almost no-holdsbarred sport combining boxing, wrestling and martial arts. Bouts are fought in a cage. It’s bloody barbaric, and I meant that pun.”

Good one.
“Half of bouts end in a knockout, technical knockout or “choke out,” all of which can cause brain injury. Some of these guys will likely suffer chronic traumatic encephalopathy, like hockey player Bob Probert.”


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Jon Fitch, B.J. Penn Fight to a Draw at UFC 127

By Michael David Smith

In a battle of two of the best fighters in mixed martial arts, the judges couldn’t pick a winner: Jon Fitch and B.J. Penn fought to a majority draw at UFC 127.

One judge scored it 29-28 for Fitch, but the other two judges scored it 28-28, and those two judges made it a majority draw — a disappointing ending that left the fans in Sydney, Australia booing. It was the second time in three UFC pay-per-views this year that the main event has been scored a draw.

Fitch seemed to control most of the fight, and Penn acknowledged afterward that he thought he had lost. But Penn requested a rematch afterward, and that seems likely.

Penn charged across the Octagon and went for a takedown at the start of the fight, a surprising decision to try to beat Fitch at his own game. For the first minute of the fight, Penn was pinning Fitch against the fence, but Fitch managed to reverse positions and hold Penn against the fence for another minute. After they spent the better part of the first round jockeying for position, Penn eventually took Fitch down, an impressive achievement in and of itself.

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Dennis Siver Beats George Sotiropoulos

By Michael David Smith

In a surprising lightweight result in Sydney, Dennis Siver won a unanimous decision over Australia’s own George Sotiropoulos at UFC 127.

It was a very good fight that Siver won on the judges’ scorcards by scores of 29-28, 30-28 and 30-27, improving his professional record to 18-7. Sotiropoulos falls to 14-3, and snaps an eight-fight winning streak.

“It was a hard, hard fight, but I could (follow) my game plan, and that’s why I won,” the German Siver said afterward, through his translator. “We trained so much every day.”

After an exchange of strikes for a couple minutes, Sotiropoulos caught a Siver kick and tried to take Siver to the ground. Bus Siver did a great job of hopping around on one foot while Sotiropoulos held his other foot, and eventually Sotiropoulos let go without Siver ever hitting the floor. It was a great display of takdeown defense and balance by Siver.

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Zhang Tie Quan Becomes First Chinese Fighter to Win in the UFC

By Michael David Smith

In a sign of the continuing worldwide growth of mixed martial arts, the UFC is in Australia this weekend, and China‘s Zhang Tie Quan earned a victory in a fight broadcast internationally on Facebook.

Zhang became the first Chinese fighter ever to fight in the UFC, and he became the first Chinese fighter ever to win in the UFC when he choked out Jason Reinhardt in the first round of their UFC 127 bout.

The fight was short and sweet, with Zhang quickly locking in a guillotine choke and putting Reinhardt to sleep. Reinhardt, a 41-year-old who hadn’t fought in three years, was no challenge for Zhang at all.

Zhang, who fought twice in the United States in World Extreme Cagefighting before the UFC absorbed the WEC, is now 13-1 in his professional MMA career.

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WEC Vet Ian McCall Upsets Top Flyweight Jussier da Silva

By Michael David Smith

The flyweight division in mixed martial arts is easily overlooked, with none of the major American promotions putting 125-pounders in the cage. But the flyweights usually put on a show when they get the opportunity, and that was certainly the case on Friday night, when World Extreme Cagefighting veteran Ian McCall upset Jussier da Silva, the Brazilian who was generally recognized as the best flyweight in MMA heading into the fight.

McCall, who was cut by the WEC after losing to bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz in 2009, put on an impressive performance to beat da Silva by unanimous decision on Friday night’s Tachi Palace Fights card. McCall would now have to be considered one of the elite flyweights in the sport, and maybe the best flyweight in the world.

In the first round it was all da Silva: He caught a kick, took McCall to the ground and completely controlled him on the ground, sinking in a body triangle and keeping McCall’s back. But the one criticism of da Silva has always been that he’s not enough of a finisher, and he may have missed an opportunity to submit McCall — because in the second and third rounds, McCall dominated.


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Scott Coker on Dana White Twitter Rant: ‘Keep Watching Strikeforce’

By Michael David Smith

After Fedor Emelianenko lost on Saturday night’s Strikeforce card, UFC President Dana White went wild on Twitter, where he ripped Fedor’s management at M-1 Global for, in White’s view, tarnishing Fedor’s legacy by keeping him away from fighting in the sport’s premier promotion.

White’s tweets included comments like, “Fedor has been fighting bums for years!” and “Last nights fight was a set up for Fedor to win and he got his face smashed!” Many of the tweets included profane insults about Fedor’s managers and fans, some of whom were using Twitter to argue with White about Fedor’s legacy.

But while White was animated and many of his Twitter correspondents were, too, Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker said he didn’t get worked up about any of it.

In fact, Coker told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour that he’s just glad to know White was watching Showtime on Saturday night.

“At least the guy’s watching, right? He’s watching Strikeforce,” Coker said. “As long as he wants to keep watching Strikeforce that’s a good thing.”

Coker refrained from criticizing White on the matter, but Coker did criticize one of his own business partners, M-1 Global’s Evgeni Kogan, who responded to White on Saturday night.

“Easy to be a prick tweeting on your phone, isn’t it? Come see us and say it to Vadim’s face – we’re in ‘Jersey, coward,” Kogan wrote in a tweet directed to White a few hours after Fedor’s loss.

Coker said he thought it was silly for Kogan to respond that way. “That’s childish, ‘Come to Jersey,'” Coker said. “Like Evgeni — what’s he gonna do?”


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Scott Coker Expects to Book Fedor vs. Overeem-Werdum Loser

By Michael David Smith

Two days after Fedor Emelianenko suffered his second consecutive loss and said in his post-fight interview that it might be time to walk away, Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker said he expects Fedor to return rather than retire.

And Coker already has an opponent for Fedor in mind: The loser of the April 9 bout between Alistair Overeem and Fabricio Werdum.

“If the fighter doesn’t want to fight you’re not gonna want him to fight,” Coker told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour. “If the fighter doesn’t want to fight the promoter doesn’t make him fight. And if he wants to retire then it’s time to walk away. But I don’t think that’s the case … and I think the loser of Overeem and Werdum, that would be a great fight for Fedor.”

A Fedor-Werdum rematch has been discussed since the night in June when Werdum shocked the MMA world and submitted Fedor. And a Fedor-Overeem fight has been viewed since Fedor first signed with the promotion as the biggest fight Strikeforce could put together. So it’s easy to see why Strikeforce would be eager to book either of those bouts.

But there are questions about how that would work, and those questions go beyond whether Fedor wants to fight anymore. One thing that’s not clear is whether an Overeem-Fedor fight would be for Overeem’s Strikeforce heavyweight title. The Overeem-Werdum tournament fight is a non-title match, which means that Overeem would still be the champion if he loses to Werdum. Coker has previously said that if Overeem didn’t win the tournament, it would be the tournament winner who would fight Overeem for the Strikeforce heavyweight title. Coker may have changed his mind now that Fedor has been bounced out of the tournament.

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