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  • Cael Sanderson on Ed Ruth's switch to MMA: 'He's going to be a great fighter' - Bloody Elbow
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Posts Tagged ‘ever’

The UFC is hoping to overturn a law banning professional MMA in New York state so that New York resident Chris Weidman, the company's middleweight champion, can one day fight at home. (Getty Images)

The UFC middleweight champ, who fights Vitor Belfort on Saturday, isn’t fazed by his opponent’s PED history.


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The most striking thing about the hysteria surrounding Floyd Mayweather’s fight against Manny Pacquiao on Saturday night was the hunger it revealed.

People—millions of them, it seems—were starving for some boxing.

There was a whole world out there primed for the sweet science to make a comeback, or at the very least a world craving the glitz and guttural thrill of a single big-ticket fight night. By the time Mayweather accepted Pacquiao’s best shots and spent the rest of their time together scripting another of his patented unanimous decision wins, one thing was clear:

Maybe this didn’t turn out to be a “super” fight—but boxing can still turn out a superfight.

ESPN went on location for it. Hollywood dressed to the nines for it. All over the country, entire extended families so willingly forked over the pay-per-view’s inflated $100 asking price that broadcast providers literally couldn’t take their money fast enough.

As MMA fans, we stood on our tiptoes and gazed across the aisle with equal parts skepticism, longing and—if we’re being honest—jealousy. Mayweather vs. Pacquiao was a bona fide cultural phenomenon, dominating the mainstream news cycle with a ferocity that our own beloved little sport has yet to come close to matching.

As we watched Jamie Foxx stumble through the national anthem and heard the stories about Tom Brady hopping a midafternoon jet from Louisville to Las Vegas because this was a fight he simply couldn’t miss, we wondered: How is this possible? What about us? Will MMA ever hold a fight this big?

The answer to at least that last question seems short and clear enough.

Unfortunately, no, probably not—at least not for a long, long time.

For the astute MMA fan, there were lessons to be learned from last weekend’s extravaganza. As much as we all like to joke about boxing’s demise, when it comes to appealing to a huge, crossover audience, the venerable sport of traditional prizefighting still has a few major advantages over MMA.

For starters, there is history, plain and simple.

Boxing is perhaps our oldest professional sport. It’s as deeply entrenched in our cultural psyche as its modern stick-and-ball counterparts and has arguably been more socially important than any (besides, maybe, baseball). Viewed this way, it makes a certain bit of sense that boxing can still swoop in to set pay-per-view records when it has a matchup that feels halfway historic.

Even if Mayweather vs. Pacquiao is the only boxing match they watch this year, the sport feels familiar and comfortable to today’s fans. To the untrained eye, the whole thing is actually pretty simple. Just two guys trying to punch each other, is all. As long as you don’t spend much time dwelling on the actual physical damage inflicted or the character of the men inflicting it, perhaps there is a sort of cozy nostalgia to it.

By contrast, modern MMA is less than two-and-a-half decades old in America and is still very much finding its legs with the mainstream. If you live and work inside the so-called “MMA bubble,” it’s easy to forget there is a nation of people out there who continue to think of our sport as a weird sideshow.

There’s an entire generation of PPV buyers who still turn away from MMA because, for example, they think it’s wrong to “hit a guy when he’s down.”

The bad news for MMA is, it’s going to take some time for those biases to wear down. The good news—if the sport survives long enough—is that they will indeed wear down.

Yet history can’t be the only answer here. A good bit of boxing’s ongoing ability to stage the occasional megafight must also come down to pure aesthetics.

The UFC has always taken pains to cast itself as fairly lowbrow. While boxing embraces pomp and lavish spectacle, MMA is a stripped-down affair. Where boxing announcers go black-tie, MMA play-by-play guys only recently started wearing sport coats—and looking pretty uncomfortable in them, at that.

While boxing cultivates a sense of over-the-top pageantry, the UFC consciously cut out the smoke and pyrotechnics years ago. In many ways, that more spartan approach helped the sport during its formative stages. It made MMA feel young, hip, maybe a little bit dangerous. Those of us who considered ourselves savvy and cutting-edge enough to tune in were at the forefront of combat sports’ revolutionary new wave. We could feel it.

But today? It’s possible MMA’s lean-and-mean vibe has lost its utility. Maybe at some point we replaced the feeling of underground, DIY cool with just being small-time.

A fight like Mayweather vs. Pacquiao can cast itself as family entertainment. Parents can plant their kids in front of the TV and tell them they are about to see history. Your grandmother can watch it, maybe even in the same room with a few of your college buddies.

Why? Presentation. Even if it isn’t, boxing strives to feel classy. Even if it isn’t, it feels safe.

On the other hand, MMA makes most of its money selling itself to young (mostly white) men. While boxing at its highest level at least makes a nod toward the champagne-and-cocktail crowd, the UFC only recently began asking us to embrace Harley Davidson, Monster Energy Drinks and the #BudLightLifestyle.

Where boxing occasionally manages to wake from its slumber, shake off the dust and adopt a kind of classic elegance, MMA feels forever mired in its own nu-metal roots. That look, frankly, is starting to feel as dated as barbed-wire tattoos and foil-skull T-shirts.

To this list of advantages you can add that boxing feels more inclusive and multicultural. In the moments before Mayweather and Pacquiao fought, there were performances of the American, Mexican and Pilipino national anthems (note: Remember what we said earlier about pageantry?).

The UFC doesn’t do any of this. It typically prefaces its live events with a video of its own highlights set to the music of The Who. The video is awesome, but it doesn’t set the same vibe or the same expectations.

In addition to that, boxing’s biggest stars feel like A-list celebrities. Why? They get paid a lot more, for starters, so they seem more like legitimate superstars. Mayweather may well be a despicable human being, but he turned himself into one of his sport’s most polarizing and profitable brands, basically by flaunting his own wealth.

In many ways, boxing’s lack of a strong, centralized power structure has worked against it, preventing the matchups fans wanted to see the most. If it has had any positive effect at all, however, it’s that fighters are left to promote themselves as the sport’s biggest attractions.

The UFC, on the other hand, has always promoted itself and its own brand above any of its athletes. This makes good sense, too, since—as we recently learned—fighters can fall out of the limelight at the drop of a hat, while the company and its executives are in it for the long haul.

But while the UFC has been undeniably effective in engendering a fair amount of brand loyalty, it’s clearly the athletes who drive PPV sales. If the fight company always insists on promoting its own logo above all else, it’s unlikely any UFC fighter will ever rise to the level of notoriety of a Manny Pacquiao or Floyd Mayweather.

To date, the UFC—and, by extension, the sport it largely represents—has been successful in creating a niche for itself. It has, at the risk of exaggeration, changed combat sports forever. It could even be that some of the negative reaction to the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight came from fans who’ve gotten used to the faster pace and highlight-reel finishes common inside the Octagon.

As MMA is currently presented, though, it’s tough to imagine it ever winning the kind of widespread appeal necessary to have a fight of such colossal magnitude. It’s difficult to foresee our sport becoming palatable enough that the Worldwide Leader puts it on par with the Superbowl, or that Robert DeNiro, Beyonce and Louis CK all want to be there. Not within our current identity, anyway.

Perhaps the most pertinent question, then, may be: Is that OK with us?

If it is, if we are happy with who we are and are too set in our ways to change; so be it. If we are not satisfied however, if we want to someday be considered capable of competing with the biggest nights in combat sports history, then perhaps we must realize that a few of the very things that made our sport popular now hold us back.

Maybe a bit more evolution is in order.

If that’s the case, here’s some more good news for you, MMA fans:

We’re young yet, and evolution is what we do best.

Read more MMA news on BleacherReport.com

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Patrick Cote discusses his win over Joe Riggs at UFC 186, what it was like fighting in his hometown, the issues of Canadian MMA, and more.

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For now, the fact that Alexis Davis is ranked ahead of Sarah Kaufman on UFC.com, despite going winless in two bouts against her fellow Canadian, is little more than a minor point of contention.

View full post on Recent News on Sherdog.com

Breaking the UFC 189 World Tour down by the numbers yields some fairly interesting results. 13,142 nautical miles. Two fighters. Eight cities. One sentient toilet. And a seemingly endless supply of both staredowns and luxury hotel rooms. 

UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo (25-1) and challenger Conor McGregor (17-2) fight for the first time in four months on July 11 in Las Vegas. But when they do, UFC fans worldwide will be primed and ready for the clash.

The promotional effort here has been unprecedented, especially for smaller fighters who have traditionally struggled at the box office in MMA. But did quantity equal quality? Is this among the best promoted fights in the sport’s history?

Bleacher Report lead writers Jeremy Botter and Jonathan Snowden, a modern-day Turner and Hooch, tackle that question below. Have an opinion of your own? Sound off in the comments.

 

Jonathan: For years the UFC’s bag of promotional tricks was infinitesimally small. It basically involved two tropes, tossed out in the weeks before the pay-per-view, complete with Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg screaming incoherently and nu metal blasting in the background. 

The first, and most common, was fairly simple. “Fighter X poses the greatest threat Fighter Y has ever faced.” Georges St-Pierre could have been squaring off with Fred Ettish, and the UFC would have had Rogan do as many takes as he needed to say Ettish was the toughest fight of St-Pierre’s career with a straight face. 

The second, used more sparingly, was the grudge match. Think Tito Ortiz vs. Chuck Liddell. Think Brock Lesnar vs. Frank Mir. Think printing presses at the national mint running overtime and making special deliveries to Lorenzo Fertitta’s suite at the Red Rock. 

At the UFC’s promotional height in 2010, the brand alone sold pay-per-views by the truckload. They didn’t need to be particularly creative—even the lesser shows of that era would be hailed as financial successes today. 

Then came the crash. The WWE was driven right out of the pay-per-view business. Boxing limited its offerings to only the brightest of megastars. UFC numbers were in free fall. 

It’s been a sobering time for the combat sports business—and one that’s demanded creative problem solving. WWE went with a subscriber-based web platform. Al Haymon pushed boxing onto free television. 

And UFC? 

It’s reinvented its promotional model as well, focusing for the first time in years on the individual fighters instead of the brand. It’s turned Ronda Rousey into the sport’s biggest crossover attraction—and the promotion is following that success with a concentrated push for Irishman Conor McGregor. And it’s working

Maybe it’s too much of a good thing at times. But it is a good thing. McGregor has emerged as the sport’s next big thing, despite weighing just 145 pounds. That’s a pretty big deal, Jeremy.

 

Jeremy: I think the one point to keep in mind, since Rousey and McGregor are our two test cases, is that they are very good at self-promotion. Rousey used her mouth to get the important fight she wanted (Tate), but since then, she hasn’t needed to talk much. That’s because she makes people dead in mere seconds. That speaks for itself. 

With McGregor, yes, he’s getting over, and he’s doing it by acting like the crazy person he appears to be. But as you hinted at, it feels like too much of a good thing. I attended the second leg of the World Tour here in Las Vegas, and let me tell you that it feels like an eternity ago. It was last week. Nearly every single day since then, we were bombarded with faceoffs and press conferences and with what McGregor would do to Aldo and what Aldo would not do to McGregor. 

It was sensory overload. Tickets went on sale halfway through and were sold out quickly, and yet the carnival train continued rolling. By the end of this thing, I was exhausted and actually less interested in the fight than I was when it started. I am thankful we have a few months before it happens, because I’m sure I’ll be frothing at the mouth to see it by that point. But right now, I’m World Toured out. 

 

Jonathan: I thought the World Tour was brilliant from beginning to end. The creative team behind UFC’s Embedded, Dana White, UFC’s senior vice president of production and operations, Craig Borsari, and the VP of production, Chris Kartzmark, have a lot to be proud of. 

Together with a crack staff of shooters and editors, they’ve put together nine compelling mini-documentaries, each one a variation of the overall theme. McGregor vs. Aldo is more than an athletic contest. It’s the final word in a battle of wills, one we’ve seen play out over the last couple of weeks all around the world.

Remember, the World Tour isn’t just for the hardcore fans watching each and every episode. It is also designed to generate buzz and excitement in each of the UFC’s core markets. Sure, it sold out the venue days ago. But how many more fans will be pumped for this on pay-per-view, Globo in Brazil or TV3 in Ireland? I’d wager a lot.

 

Jeremy: You’re right on both accounts. It wasn’t designed for hardcore fans and media who have no choice but to watch, discuss and report on every stop. It was designed to promote the UFC’s biggest fight of 2015 in major markets. And if I can take anything away from this tour, it is that the Embedded series is the best thing the UFC currently produces. It takes the things we used to love about the Primetime series and amps them up, making them even MORE current and fresh. I love that, and I think Embedded needs to be a regular part of the pay-per-view experience, and it needs to be a regular feature on Fight Pass. 

All I’m saying is that McGregor’s and White’s stuff grew a bit tiresome when repeated daily. I still believe this is the UFC’s biggest fight of the year, unless it magically signs Gina Carano and pits her against Rousey. And I’ll be all over this fight come July. I’m just a little burned out on it right now is all. 

 

Jonathan: Everyone is talking about McGregor for obvious reasons. But, to me, Aldo was the star of the show.

For years he’s been an enigma. We’ve all watched him destroy anyone foolish enough to challenge him in the cage. But we’ve never really gotten a feel for what he’s all about. 

You and I even sat right next to him at breakfast when Zuffa was heavily promoting him as the standard-bearer for the WEC—but the language barrier made it really hard to relate to him in any organic way. Thanks to UFC Embedded, I really think I’m starting to get Aldo. He’s prickly, proud and yet a big kid at heart. He’s human

Showing him as such means that this isn’t just Conor looking to take the strap from the longtime champ. It’s both bigger and smaller than that. It’s a collision of two proud men, two athletes suddenly fighting for their legacies. It’s mesmerizing—and the best job of fight promotion UFC has ever done.

Read more MMA news on BleacherReport.com

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It would take a pretty big rock for any MMA fan to miss this week’s whirlwind press tour for UFC 189. The main eventers, Conor McGregor and Jose Aldo, have been appearing alongside president Dana White in seemingly every major MMA market and television show that will have them. 

McGregor and Aldo are doing their part, spinning out soundbite after soundbite and photo op after photo op in an effort to drive up interest and pay-per-view buys for their July 11 featherweight title fight.

The self-styled UFC 189 World Tour is covering eight major cities, five countries, thousands of miles and countless interviews in order to whip the hype into as heady a froth as possible between now and midsummer. The tour is currently pulling into Toronto.

We will all see what kinds of dividends this will pay when the final numbers come out. (White and McGregor have taken turns one-upping each other with monstrous predictions, including record-breaking live gate and PPV figures.)

But these sorts of efforts, they are not crafted with sunshine and rainbows and Instagram posts. Though the UFC has not released any dollar amounts associated with this media blitz, White noted that the tour might be the most expensive promotional endeavor in the company’s history.

Speaking on the UFC Tonight program (h/t Jesse Holland of MMA Mania), White noted the following: 

Personally, I think this is the biggest fight of the year. This is a fight the world will be watching. When you have a fight where countries, literally countries care about the fight, it’s a big deal. All of Brazil will be watching (Aldo) defend his title, all of the UK will be watching. And then you have Canada, the United States, Australia…It’s a big enough deal that we are doing this world tour. I’m gonna go out there and say, we probably spent more money promoting this fight than we have ever spent on any fight in UFC history.

The cameras will continue to roll, and the soundbites will continue to pour in. And UFC officials are surely chomping at the bit for a massive number that will not only rake in big revenues but scatter nagging doubts about the pay-per-view model’s general viability in this 21st century world of ours. As always, only time will tell.

Read more MMA news on BleacherReport.com

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One half of the Lion Fight 21 main event, Kevin Ross is prepared to redeem himself when he defends the promotion’s super lightweight title against Tetsuya Yamato on Friday at the Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, Calif.

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ESPN
Why This Is The Most Important Weekend Ever For Women's MMA
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  • Frank Trigg Makes Strong Comments About Jon Jones, Talks UFC Hall Of Fame Induction
    Former UFC title contender Frank Trigg recently had some strong comments to make about the Jon Jones situation. "Twinkle Toes" Trigg spoke with Submission Radio and offered the following comments about Jones. "People have to stop making excuses for this guy and feeling sorry for this guy. I feel sorry for his Mom and Dad. […]
  • Main Event, Co-Main Event Announced For UFC’s First Ever Event In Scotland
    UFC announced on Monday the main event for their debut show in Scotland. Longtime UFC veteran Michael Bisping will headline his ninth UFC event, as he and Thales Leites will fight in the main event at the show, which will take place at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow, and will air live on FOX Sports […]
  • Anderson Silva: “I’m Tired Of Listening To Lies And False Accusations”
    As he continues to await a date for his hearing with the Nevada Athletic Commission, former UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva is starting to get frustrated with feedback he has been hearing as of late. "The Spider" took to social media recently, venting frustration about "lies and false accusations" he has been reading regarding his […]
  • Video: Dana White Torn On Who Will Challenge Chris Weidman Next
    UFC President Dana White doesn't seem too sure who will be challenging Chris Weidman for the UFC Middleweight Championship in his next fight, although he has narrowed it down to two contenders. When speaking with FOX Sports' Ariel Helwani and UFC's Megan Olivi, White gave different takes on who might be next for Weidman. "It […]
  • Ronda Rousey Talks To WWE.com About Her Future In WWE
    UFC Women's Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey recently spoke with WWE's official website about her WrestleMania experience and rumors of doing more work with the company in the future. Below are some highlights from the interview: On what a chapter in a book on her WrestleMania debut would look like: "I don't know. I guess it'll […]
  • Video: Cormier, Bader Nearly Come To Blows At UFC 187 Post-Fight Presser
    Although the UFC 187 card was full of exciting fights on Saturday night, the best fight of the evening nearly came to fruition at the post-fight press conference immediately after the event. Daniel Cormier, who was celebrating his victory over Anthony Johnson in the main event of the show, a win that earned him the […]
  • B.J. Penn Announced As Final UFC Hall Of Fame Inductee For 2015 Class
    UFC has announced the final inductee for the 2015 class of this year's UFC Hall Of Fame induction ceremony. Former two-division champion (Lightweight, Welterweight) B.J. Penn will join Bas Rutten, Jeff Blatnick and the UFC 52 bout between Matt Hughes and Frank Trigg as this year's inductees. Penn will be joining the UFC Hall Of […]
  • Former WWE Superstar Denies Rumors Of Being Offered Kickboxing Bout With Bill Goldberg
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  • UFC 187 Results – D.C. Crowned New 205-Pound Champ, Weidman Retains Against Belfort
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