Category: MMA


I just published a well-received story for ItsOnVillage about the decline of mixed martial arts within the GTA. I wanted to quickly address some of the points that were brought up after publication.

First, it is truly a great thing that Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is affording bigger and better opportunities for its elite athletes. I want to note how BJJ wiz Braulio Estima only fought 1x in MMA in 2012 and then walked away. He does not need to be in the UFC. Robert Drysdale also had a good argument for why most BJJ black belts teaching jiu-jitsu are better off than the average MMA fighter.

Claude Patrick demonstrates technique

This is not saying that BJJ competitors cannot or will not transition to MMA. Look at Rafael Lovato Jr., who is 8-0 in MMA. Garry Tonnon is 2-0, having only just gotten his MMA career started this year. Tom DeBlass finished his MMA career at 9-2. All great BJJ guys who made a strong transition to MMA.

Second, I am not suggesting that qualified MMA coaches don’t exist in the GTA. Just that there are not as many qualified instructors as needed to build enough pro fighters. Remember–fighters are still learning, training and growing all the time in the city. But just not in big enough numbers for there to be breakout stars who originate here.

Good coaches do exist, but they can only work with the talent they have. And if their fighters can only get 1-2 fights per year, plus need to travel out-of-province, etc., then the constraints against their prospects are even harder to surmount.

Pro MMA fighters in other places like Montreal or Calgary likely still have numerous challenges. But if there are more shows happening out there, then the coaches have an easier job building momentum so there are legit opportunities to learn by doing (only way it happens).

Finally, if someone or a group of people with deep pockets arrive on the scene, they could potentially change things. Or not. Promoters have tried to make Ontario a profitable venture and failed time and time again. The Ontario Athletic Commission must scale back regulations that cause costly overhead, first and foremost. Until enough lobbying achieves this, any finger-pointing or criticism at promoters or investors themselves is moot.

This is all just my take. I do hope that MMA in the GTA becomes more sustainable for all involved. But at the same time, the UFC has achieved what it set out to do: prove which styles of martial arts are useful. Now that we have that information, we must use it for ourselves.

 

 

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One gym I enjoy being a part of is TorontoBJJ. Of late, I made a couple video interviews with my teammates Gabe Sagman and Jon-Taine Hall. Gabe was scheduled to have his third pro fight on May 30 in Burlington, but he had to pull out due to injury.

I shot a lot of video of Gabe and his brother Reuben for a documentary short that I plan to release before Gabe’s next fight, which is tentatively scheduled for late October.

As for Jon-Taine, he is a jiu-jitsu phenom who faced an elite Olympic wrestler at Hard Knocks 44 in Calgary, Alberta on June 26. It was a real struggle for Jon-Taine to find opponents, so he stepped it up and took a really challenging match. He ended up losing a decision, but I believe he will come back much stronger next time around.

I give full credit to both Gabe and Jon-Taine for the commitment they’ve shown to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu throughout the years. Both are brown belts and both proudly fight under the TorontoBJJ banner. Of course, there’s much more to come and I look forward to watching their journeys unfold from the best vantage point in the house.

A Farewell to Georges St-Pierre

Leading up to Canadian Georges St-Pierre’s announcement of his impending retirement, I wrote about how the UFC has to rely more on light heavyweight champion Jon Jones. With UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez out for a year,  GSP retired and lighter-weight fighters not drawing, it really does look like Jon Jones will be forced to carry the brunt of duties as Zuffa’s point man.

I gave my thoughts on GSP’s retirement in a new CagePotato article, A Survivor in a Dangerous Game, GSP Finds the Exit Before It’s Too Late:

Georges St-Pierre’s tremendous desire for public validation of his talents was both his greatest strength as a fighter and his greatest weakness in terms of his personal health. He put it on the line for fans, media, and a promoter who were all just as likely to offer scathing criticism as they were to give him praise.

[Read more here]

Finally, Kid Nate from BloodyElbow.com scheduled an MMA Tete-a-Tete with myself and former USA Today reporter Beau Dure as guests. See video embedded below.

As part of the well-received (and continuing) “Shill ‘Em All” series on the MMA media, I wrote part 3 on the “Fanboys” who populate the MMA industry.

The most direct response to the article came, not from an MMA fighter, but boxer Paulie Malignaggi during a press conference to promote his upcoming bout with Zab Judah:

The media has always been inaccurate or overly critical of Malignaggi when it comes to his fragile hands and close/controversial decisions he’s dropped.

FightOpinion.com’s Zach Arnold dissected Malignaggi’s rant, and came up with things that fighters can do in order to support change like attending commission meetings or pushing back at the right time. Zach’s point is that any change in combat sports requires fighters and managers act as active participants who are involved in all issues across the board.

Would Malignaggi be so upset about bad judging or the biased media if he wasn’t a victim of either? The conclusion is obvious: people agitate for change when they have a problem; when problems don’t affect them, they don’t care.

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Finally, I talked about the Shill ‘Em All series, the MMA media and my book on the MMA Dude Bro Podcast. You can listen to it here.

Wrote a widely popular sequel to “Shill ‘Em All: Why Ethical Journalism Is So Hard to Come By” called “Shill ‘Em All, Part 2: The MMA Media’s Race to the Bottom” for CagePotato.com.

Ideally, the relationship between professional sports organizations like the UFC and media members should be about interdependence, where both parties rely equally upon each other. In practice, many MMA media members and outlets often exist as the clingy, powerless co-dependent partners that put the needs of the UFC before the need for factual and accurate sports journalism…

(Read more here)

The reaction was almost unanimously positive. Those who cover boxing noted the similarities in promoter’s attempts to control the media. However, it should be said that boxing writers have tremendously more freedom to point out conflict-of-interests.

MaxBoxing.com writer Gabriel Montoya, for instance, was banned from Goldenboy boxing matches for composing satirical tweets. The term of his ban? Just two cards. MMA writers can measure their banishment from fights, PR lists, conference calls and other events over the span of multiple years.

Did two radio interviews to comment on the piece. One for Sportsnet 960 in Calgary with Peter Klein; the other for SiriusXM’s Fight Club (available to listen here).

There will be a part three to this series, so stay tuned!

I appear on the Fight Network show Five Rounds to discuss Anderson Silva. Scroll to 17:05 to see my segment on the show:

Last weekend, UFC middleweight title contender Chris Weidman was in Toronto. I did an interview with him for CagePotato.com viewable below.

You can read more quotes from the interview at CagePotato.com.

Enter the McDojo

Enter-the-Dojo-500x404

Just wrote a well-received (100 Facebook likes so far!) piece for CagePotato.com, Enter the McDojo: My Experience With the Bullshit Culture of ‘Traditional’ Martial Arts:

A revolution is something that changes the system in a radical way. It’s an advancement that brings new ideas to the forefront. In many ways, this was what UFC 1 was. Organized by Rorian Gracie, Art Davie, and Bob Meyrowitz of Semaphore Entertainment Group, martial artists from a variety of styles were called upon to prove the superiority of their art by entering an eight-man elimination tournament at a November 12, 1993, event hosted in Denver, Colorado.

Many MMA fans know about the legend of Royce Gracie defeating professional boxer Art Jimmerson, Pancrase fighter Ken Shamrock and Savate champion Gerard Gordeau in one night to be crowned the first ever UFC tournament champion. But now, nearly 20 years after that historic event occurred, how much “truth” about how to effectively train and prepare for fights has trickled down to martial artists across the globe?

Sure, there are growing numbers of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu schools and a resurgence of interest in Muay Thai or other stand-up styles suited for MMA across North America. But the same old “McDojo” styles consisting of impractical or untested methods are just as prevalent today as they were decades ago before the inception of the UFC…

Read the full article here

Television, radio and internet personality “Showdown” Joe Ferraro had a chat with me that appeared on his radio show. I did the second and third segments of the show after UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre’s current head trainer Firas Zahabi.

The book and part of the radio interview were aired on the Sportsnet television program UFC Connected. This can be heard at 4:48 in the video here: http://www.sportsnet.ca/mma/ufc/ufc-central-mar-25-part-i/

Showdown Joe Ferraro and two of his guests

Wrote a new article for CagePotato.com on the subject of how mixed martial arts is (or isn’t) covered by the MMA media:

There are many contentious subjects in mixed martial arts, from the use of performance enhancing drugs to the corruption and ineptitude of various athletic commissions. Before the issues come into focus, they are often filtered by the entity that draws an epic amount of criticism within the sport itself — the so-called “MMA media.”

Yet far from being a homogonous group of “bloggers,” “hacks,” or “shills,” the public would be surprised to learn that there are actually different individuals that comprise the MMA media. Some were drawn to MMA because they love the sport, others were assigned to cover the UFC by their editors, but whether they’re writing as a hobby or as part of the special entourage of writers who get the best seats at shows and special events, the MMA media operates under circumstances that directly impedes their ability to report accurate and truthful stories.

Read more here