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Posts Tagged ‘future’

When a superhero rings, you pick up the phone. 

That’s what I did when recently signed World Series of Fighting (WSOF) welterweight Ben Fodor, aka Phoenix Jones, set off my cliche and increasingly annoying stock iPhone ringtone Monday afternoon, and that decision proved wise. 

In the past month, Jones morphed overnight from a relatively unknown professional mixed martial artist to one of the hottest prospects on the planet, a transformation catalyzed by a unique history and an impressive undefeated record inside the cage. 

Fodor—or Jones as he told me he will likely be referred to moving forward—is part of Seattle’s Rain City Superhero Movement, a group of real-life crime-fighting superheroes that patrols the streets and sniffs out injustice in an effort to keep the public safe and at ease. 

But Jones is no sideshow, and his MMA career is no joke. He’s a man with layers, and during our talk, he peeled back a few to show what it takes to become such a fascinating individual.

The following is the uncut transcript from our chat, where Jones dished on everything from his pre-crime-fighting days to his budding MMA career to a time when he told a high-ranking executive in the MMA world to “eff himself.”

He held nothing back, and he needed no mask to veil his words.

He’s real, he’s here and he’s doing things his way.  

 

B/R: Hello? 

Phoenix Jones: Hey, this is Phoenix.

 

B/R: Hey, Phoenix, how’s everything going, man?

PJ: I’m having a pretty decent day, can’t complain.

 

B/R: Excellent, glad to hear it. So, first things first, you just introduced yourself as “Phoenix,” but Ben Fodor seems to be your cage name. What’re you going by?

PJOK, so, first of all, I just want to let you know, I answer things really blunt and super honest. So if it feels like I’m being a d–k, I apologize, but I’m just going to be direct.

 

B/R: I’d want nothing else.

PJPerfect. So, I like Ben Fodor, (but) I was pretty much instructed that it’s not going to happen. My PR team that I have now and other people, they pretty much said, “Look, no one is going to call you Ben Fodor. Even if you try, they’re going to call you Phoenix Jones.” So I just started to identify myself that way. I prefer Ben Fodor, but I’m going to do what my PR team says (laughs).

 

B/R: That decision on their part, of course, comes on the heels of your story blowing up. You had SportsCenter do a feature on you and then you got all the attention that followed.

What was your reaction to all that? It sounds like you got into the Rain City Superhero Movement honestlyyour son got hurt and you honestly wanted to make a changebut then you started blowing up and becoming this character that maybe you didn’t intend. What was that like for you?

PJ: I‘m glad you put it that way, because it really is something that wasn’t intended. When you put on your superhero suit, it’s like, “This is how I’m going to die alone.”  You don’t think, “I’m going to be an Internet celebrity.”

So, how has it been? At first, I was really annoyed, honestly. I did so many interviews and stuff…then I woke up and I was out doing something, and I got some contracts from the World Series of Fighting (WSOF) and some other places, but they didn’t seem real to me. They were just paper.

But like a week ago I got my advance. And I went out and I hung out, I skipped work for an entire, like, four days and just trained and I came back and I said, “Man, if this is how my life is going to be because I did something I thought was right, I guess I’m cool.” And since then, I’ve had a hard time complaining about anything.

 

B/R: And like you said, it really wasn’t intentional on your part, so when you agreed to do the SportsCenter feature and everything, what did you hope would come out of that?

PJWell, I didn’t really agree (laughs). Basically, they called me, and they’re like, “Hey, we want to do like a 30 for 30 special.” And I was like, “No. No.” Then they asked why, and I said, “Because 30 for 30 is for athletes who have done something spectacular, right? I have yet to do my spectacular thing, and I don’t want to waste my 30 for 30.”

And they said, you know, “This opportunity may only come around once in a lifetime.” And I said, “You don’t have to tell me. I’m a real athlete. I will have a chance at a legitimate 30 for 30 based on my athletic accomplishments, and I don’t want to waste it.”

So they’re like, “Alright, what if we come out and do just a small, 10-minute feature on you and you fighting crime and then we’ll include your cage fighting and all the other stuff?” I said, “OK, let’s do that.”

Lo and behold, I ended up signing for a cage fight, and they came out right in the middle of training camp. There was no way to avoid it.

We shot the whole thing, then I talked to the editor, and he said, “We’re going to air this in about a week. I want to let you know the premise and everything we talked about pretty much went  out the door in the editing room. It’s great. You’ll like it. It’s honest, it’s true to character, but it’s certainly nothing we discussed” (laughs).

 

B/R: And then, moving forward from that time, you posted a tweet with a handful of contracts, and you said something like, “I have an offer from every organization on the planet in my hand right now,” so it understandably stirred the MMA community.

But then after it was announced you were signing with WSOF, people kind of wondered why. So what was it about them that stood out to you?

PJIt was the realness, man. It was the realness of the conversation.

When I got on the phone with Ali (Abdelaziz, WSOF executive vice president and matchmaker) and Kevin (Alires, vice president of operations) from the WSOF, they were like, “Yeah, we watched your fights. We saw this and that and we liked this and we liked that. This is where you probably should improve. This is what can make your career better. This is where you should fight. Let us send you over a contract.”

And they sent me a really fair price, and I looked at them, and I said, “There are a lot of other leagues that are offering me stuff right now. I don’t know if I want to go with the World Series.”

And they said, “Why don’t you make a list of the things that are important to you and write them down on a piece of paper? Then we’ll make a list of the things that are important to us and write them down, and we’ll see how close we come versus all those other offers.”

I thought that was a weird negotiation tactic, you know? But I said OK, and I wrote some things down.

First, I wrote down that I didn’t want to change Phoenix Jones. I don’t want to have to stop patrolling. I don’t want to owe you money for it, none of that.

Second thing I wrote down, I said I don’t want to get my fights based on reputation. I want to earn my way through the league. I will get the belt, but I want to earn it there, and I want fair fights. I don’t want to start out fighting someone crazy.

The last thing was that I wanted to be honest with people about why I signed and where I decided to go, and I wanted more access for them to my fights. I love pay-per-view, but I can’t afford a PPV. I used to watch PPVs, and I’d have to go to a bar, wait in line, do all this stuff because I can’t afford a PPV every month, you know?

So they came back to me without talking to me, without seeing my listmy list was written by handand they said, “We don’t want you to change Phoenix Jones. We love it. You don’t do stuff that’s morally crazy or anything like that. We love it.”

Then they said, “We’re on public cable. It provides access to everybody. It’s not about rich, poor, brokeeveryone’s got access to it with a television set. Phoenix Jones is for the people. Maybe you should fight for the people as well.”

Then the last thing they said was, “We know where you’re at with your career, and we don’t want to get you railroaded. We don’t want to give you easy fights, either. We will look at opponents in your skill range, if not slightly better, but we’re not going to railroad you.”

I looked at my list and it was literally everything I had written down, like verbatim. So I said, “I have to entertain these other offers.” Because, to be honest, there was more money on the table.

I had to look over them. One of the offers was, like, double! But the first thing in all those was, “Six weeks before fighting, you can’t be Phoenix Jones.” Then, “If you make any movie deals or get TV rights or anything with the Phoenix Jones name, we get a piece of that forever.”

I’m sitting there, and I’m like, “So that’s what this is about.” These guys are going to put me on the roster, fight me once or twice, get me beat up, then wait until somebody wants to write about my life and steal 20 percent of it.

The World Series doesn‘t gain anything by making me popular. They don’t get a dime. Obviously, they get something from the fighting, but outside of that, it’s nothing. They signed me as a fighter. They signed me based on my fight credentials. And at any time, I can say I’m either Phoenix or Ben, and they have to roll with it.

It’s a mutual respect.

 

B/R: That’s great to hear that you struck a great deal for both sides, but it’s still hard to ignore some of those other deals from a larger-scope perspective. The big dog out there is obviously the UFC, so if you had a deal from everyone, why not choose them? Were they one of the less agreeable organizations you just touched on?

PJSo, whenever you open up a deal memo from any type of company, there’s a little thing at the top that says, “You cannot discuss the points of this field document.” So I’m not going to violate that.

But I am going to say this: As far as fighters that I know—I know guys that fought in the UFC. My brother (lightweight Caros Fodor) fought in the UFC. He got cut after one bullcrap decision…the UFC doesn‘t care about its fighters. They don’t care about you.

You’re a number and a name or you’re the hottest flavor of the week. That’s who you are. That’s not who Phoenix Jones is. You can put a price in front of me, but I’m not going to sell out. You can give me double, triple, four times the amount I’m making now. It doesn’t have anything to do with being able to give the people what they want.

It’s about (putting me on) free cable, and it’s about respecting me, and you’re never going to capitalize on me. You can’t own something that I don’t own. I did it for everyone else. You can’t own it if I don’t own it.

 

B/R: You mentioned that the WSOF is going to let you continue to do your thing as Phoenix Jones. But it’s one thing for them to allow you to do it, and it’s another thing for you to actually continue doing it. Are you going to stay in the streets and continue doing that?

PJYes. Absolutely. We have a patrol planned for Wednesday. We had a patrol this weekend. Of course. It’s what I do.

 

B/R: Is there ever going to come a time in your MMA careersay you become the WSOF champthat you stop with the Phoenix Jones active-duty superhero role?

PJI’ve tried to quit before. I’ve tried to just give it up and quit. But you find this moment where you’re watching the news and you’re hearing about all this bad stuff happening, and you’re sitting there and you go, “I could’ve done something and I didn’t.” And it all comes back to you, and you’re like, “Ah, I gotta go.”

I can tell you this, though. The coolest part of the contract negotiation was with one league, this guy kept trying to up the money. I told this guy I signed with the World Series, and he asked if I sent in all the papers to make it official, and I said no.

So he’s like, “Oh, well, what if we gave you this?” So I said, “No, no, I signed with the World Series.”

And he’s like, “Okay, cool. Well what if we changed it to this?” I was finally able to just say after he stopped, “Do I look like a profit to you? You can’t sell me to the highest bidder. You can go eff yourself. From one superhero to a d—-e, you can go eff yourself.”

And it was the greatest moment. I wish I could publicly say who it was, because it’s a name that would make people go, “What?!” and I straight up told him to go eff himself. It was the greatest day ever. It might’ve been career suicide, but at least I was true to myself.

(Warning: Video contains NSFW language.) 

 

B/R: Already, man, we’ve been talking for like 10 minutes, and I love that about you. You’re frank, you’re to the point and it seems like you have a real set of values, which is something you don’t see a lot these days. It makes me wonder, where does that all come from? Where did these morals and values originate?

PJI had a strange upbringing. I had a weird one. And I’ll be open with the fact that I’m not going to go into it all the way, but what I can say is that I was adopted.

A lot of the choices and a lot of the role models I had were my favorite cartoon characters or my favorite characters from a comic book. I didn’t have an adult I looked up to. My parents ran a very successful business when I was like 11 or 12. They were around, but they didn’t really instill moral value. So I kind of took the pieces from all the characters I liked and I put them together.

I loved the work ethic of Vegeta. Dragon Ball Z is the best because all you do is just train. The harder you train, the more powerful you become. The bigger the monsters are, the harder you work to defeat them. It made sense.

I liked the honesty of Captain America. No matter what, you have to do it this way. I just stole these pieces and I put them into something I wanted to be. Then, when life gave me the opportunity to make something real, I said why not?

As weird as it sounds, you wrestle for a while, I wrestled in middle school. Then I did Taekwondo. I did really well at that, but you can’t punch the face. Well, then you do MMA. But the next evolution of combat, if you’re truly looking to test yourself, is real, applicable combat. Some people join the military. Other people get in a rubber bulletproof suit and go after real bad guys.

I mean, I’ve been in knife fights. I’ve been in gun fights with a pepper-spray can, and I’m winning. And there’s just no kind of better confidence-builder than to know that.

 

B/R: How did you even know that path was a possibility for you? For me, personally, if I went outside and my car was vandalized, I wouldn’t know that I could become part of this vigilante superhero team (until I heard about your story, obviously). How did you know that was an option?

PJThat’s an interesting question. I think options are different for everyone. For you, you have options I wouldn’t have. It wouldn’t be weird for me, after talking to you, to think that if you had gone outside and seen your car broken into, you walk around and see a couple other people’s cars are broken into, you might think, “Why don’t I start a neighborhood blog? Maybe then we can find out who’s doing this.”

That may be a possibility for you. I have dyslexia. I can’t write well at all. I purposefully don’t write emails to people. I have a talk-to-text app on my phone, and I call people. If you saw my writing abilities, like on my Facebook, you’d think I wrote like a child.

But with every weakness comes a strength, and I say this modestly, but I’m probably the toughest and smartest street tactician that I’ve ever met. I’m able to look at a battlefield in a way that I don’t think other people see it. And it gives me an extreme advantage, whether I’m in the cage or whether I’m on the street with a dude who’s got a knife.

So, for me, when I see a car break-in, I assess my skills. And I think, “OK, you’re a black belt in Taekwondo. You’re very tough. You’re in good shape. You have this many motivating factors. You know this, this and this.”

So for me, the most logical choice might be to put on a suit and go fight crime. For you, the most logical choice might be to start a blog and maybe somebody at home will listen to the story, be inspired by them, then if they see a crime, call 911.

I just want people to do what they would naturally do but be the best at it.

 

B/R: You say you have this knack for evaluating battlefields, weighing your options and knowing the way of the street. Where does that skill come from?

PJThis is an unpopular answer, but I think everybody has the ability to look at what’s in front of them and justify it or say, “This is what it is.” But they don’t, and a lot of it has to do with ego. And I’m an egomaniac. But the difference is that I’m egotistical about things I’m actually good at.

If I was asked by someone to assess my fighting skills, for example, I could say, “I’m good here, here, here and here.” No matter how many people I’ve knocked out, I’m never going to tell you I have clean hands. I have like 18 knockouts. My hands are not clean. I just hit hard. People get confused with the number and confused with the accolades and don’t look at what’s really happening.

On the street, it’s the same. People are walking down the street and they say, “Oh, I’m walking down the street in Seattle. No one gets robbed in Seattle! The chances of it happening to me are going to be low.” Or, “Oh, there are so many cars here, why would it be my car?”

What they don’t realize is that a criminal’s whole job is dedicated to finding that one guy who leaves his car unlocked. They walk through a parking lot and check everyone’s car. To them, they look at the parking lot, but they don’t go, “Oh, well, only one of these cars is unlocked.” They go, “Hey, if I’m lucky, one of these cars is unlocked.”

I think people underestimate the dedication of bad people. Smart people seem to be un-dedicated, whereas bad people are dedicated to doing bad things all the time. I’ve equaled their level of dedication now.

 

B/R: Now you’re taking that dedication and honing it in the mixed martial arts world under some of the best minds at AMC with Matt Hume, (UFC flyweight champion) Demetrious Johnson and others. When did you first start training with them, and what have they done for your game?

PJI’m a recent transplant. I’ve been up there for maybe six months. My brother’s been up there for years, and I’ve watched his career go very well. I’m a recent transplant.

But what they always say, Greg (Sage), who is one of the coaches there, he always says, “You know, over time, you’ll get better, but right now, we’re not going to be as good as we can be. We’re going to take the things you’re good at, and we’re going to make you better at them while slowly improving the things you’re bad at.”

So I think if anyone’s seen me fight before, they’re going to notice my takedown defense has gotten a lot better. They’re going to notice I can get up off the ground a lot more. But with my hands, my striking, they might see, “Well, his blocking is a little bit better, but they’re still wild. He’s still a little reckless.” I think the difference is that, when you’re wild and reckless but you know it, it’s easier not to get caught.

I’m under no illusion that I’m going to go out there and outbox a world-class boxer. That’s just not going to happen. But I also know exactly what I can do. I know how to cut angles. I know how to take a shot and move forward. I know what my body can do, and I don’t have the illusion of ego to tell me something different, and that’s the difference between me and a lot of other people who fight.

 

B/R: I talked to Ali (Abdelaziz) before I talked to you, actually, and he really thinks you can be somebody big for the WSOF. He does want you take it slow and build you up the right way, but you’re already one of the most talked about fighters on their roster.

You’re one of their biggest stars already with your back story. So how do you stay focused, and how do you keep yourself from wanting to go straight for the title shot?

PJWithout throwing anything ridiculous out there, I’ll just say I was offered some really big fights to start out with. I’m sure you’re aware of that. They came in and said, “Hey, we love your story, you got a record, how about one fight and the title?” I’m not saying the World Series said that, but there were offers like that out there.

But what I learned from my street work is that how you catch real crime is you start with the low-level guys. You go for a drug dealer, catch him and ask him who he works for. Then you go for another one, catch him, maybe catch a few more and they all say the same name.

Then you find out where that guy lives. Then you finally get the evidence to the police and you say, “Hey, do you think this is enough evidence for me to do something? If I’m Phoenix Jones and I do something, do you think I’m going to die?” I said that. I gave them a real assessment of what I planned to do.

I’m taking on MMA the same way. I’m going out first, and I’m taking on a guy who, I would say, is favored to beat me. Emmanuel Walo should be favored to beat me. I don’t think he can. He doesn‘t have the finishing skills necessary, but I do think he’s a good fighter.

After that, I’m going to take the next guy, then after that, the next guy, then maybe three fights in, I’ll start looking around and I probably will drop to 155.

I think with my current skill set, (WSOF welterweight champion Rousimar) Palhares is a bad fight. I think he might break my leg off and take it back to Brazil.

 

B/R: How hard would that be for you to cut to 155? Is that reasonable?

PJThere’s nothing you can’t do with dedication. People don’t understand, my life before had so many things happening. I had to go to work. I had to pay bills. I had to do all these things, and cutting to 170 was a big deal.

Now that I don’t have these things on my list, I’m walking around at 179 this morning. I’m eating all organic foods. I’ve got a diet prep. I’m doing things I wasn’t able to do because of money, not because of dedication.

Now, there’s no barrier there anymore. I should be able to get to ’55. I want to do a catchweight (bout), because the problem isn’t that I can’t make ’55, it’s that I want to be sure I can make ’55 and not feel terrible.

But making the weight, if I set my mind to a number, I’ll make it.

 

B/R: I saw all your meal prep and everything on Instagram. It goes along with something I wanted to ask, and that’s, you know, you’ve got a great record, you’ve excelled regionally, and your amateur recordI don’t know if I’ve ever seen somebody with so many amateur fights let alone so many wins as an amateur.

PJThe funny thing about that is that it’s not even accurate. I was 25-2, not 16-2. I have 27 amateur fights.

 

B/R: Well, I’ll come back to that. That’s another question on its own, but I gotta get this one out first (laughs). Your way of preparing has worked in the past, obviously, but now this is a big step up. Has that changed your approach?

PJIt hasn’t really changed the way I approach the whole game, but it’s changed the way I approach my life. So, I used to work extra hours when I thought a fight might be coming up, so when it was fight week, I could start prepping food and take time off work. It was all about time management. I’d work extra so when the opportunities came up, I could take them.

Now, I’m working the same work schedule, but I don’t really need to work now, and I could pick a schedule I like. I can wake up in the morning, go to the gym, come back, eat the same food I would eat for a prep week for fighting, but eat it all the time. Now, my fight prep week is going to get way tighter.

That’s literally it. I’m tightening up my life and cutting out the things that I had to do to survive that I simply don’t have to do anymore.

 

B/R: For Part 2 of that question, you just mentioned your amateur career is actually even crazier than I thought. Why so many amateur fights? What was keeping you from turning pro?

PJTwo answers. One: My old coach didn’t want me to turn pro. We were really close, but I don’t think he really ever pegged me as a fighter. He just didn’t understand my motivation of being pulled in all different directions. He wanted me to live in the gym, and at that point in my life, it just wasn’t going to happen.

And then the second part was that, until I had my son, until my son could start really talking and moving, I had a huge ego problem. I didn’t look at things the way other people did. It wasn’t until I realized, “I’m going to give this to him. I need to make an accurate assessment of my life, because he’s going to get this,” that I was able to scale back the arrogance.

I was the current welterweight champion. I was the current lightweight champion. I was the Spokane Showdown champion. I had five title belts. I wore them in my bedroom, and I took my belts to college classes and stuff. It was ridiculously arrogant. I didn’t even want to take the possibility of going back down the ladder. Why would I? I’m the champ!

Then I kind of took a step back, and I said, “If I’m going to fight, I need to do it to support my family, not because it’s some ego thing. On top of that, you’re the amateur champion. You’re not the real champion. You’re the amateur champion.”

Once I understood there was something bigger than that, I set my sights for it and within the first six fights I had won the biggest pro title in Washington, and some would say on the whole West Coast, the Super Fight League America belt. I just had to look at it in a different way. 

 

B/R: That’s a great realization you had, man, and you mention all these influences in your life, your son, all these goals and dreams. You said, “I don’t want to waste my 30 for 30 opportunity before it’s even here,” so what do you want that to be?

PJI just recently watched a 30 for 30, and it was “I Hate Christian Laettner.” It was about how everybody hated this guy, Christian Laettner, and how his life was so different than what everyone thought. You actually wouldn’t be able to hate that guy as much as you thought you would.

If I had an ESPN 30 for 30, I want it to be “Ben Fodor: I Did It My Way.” I want people to literally know I did it my way.

I want them to say, “He didn’t sign with the biggest league. He did it his way, and he became one of the best MMA stars around. He didn’t go out and get a nine-to-five job, he made his own job. He became a superhero. He didn’t do it that way. He did it his own way because he wanted to, and he knew what the cost was. No matter what it was, he said, ‘I’m going to do it my way.'”

That’s my life. You’re not going to tell me what to do. I’ll do it my way. It’s America.

 

B/R: I would definitely watch that, man, and I just want to thank you for the talk today. It was a really engaging chat, and I appreciate all the insight.

PJOf course. Thank you. Be safe.

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Every fighter has a tough night now and then, but March 14 is a date Anthony and Sergio Pettis won’t be forgetting anytime soon.

The Pettis brothers both competed at UFC 185 that night in Dallas, and both suffered painful losses at the hands of their respective opponents. For the younger Pettis, it was a drastic turn of fortune, as the up-and-coming prospect watched a dominant first round fade to dust after Ryan Benoit caught him with a powerful left hand in his flyweight debut. Benoit’s punch crumpled Pettis to the canvas, and the Texas native finished the bout moments later with a flurry of shots.

While a fighter getting caught in an exchange is certainly nothing new in mixed martial arts, being a big brother and seeing that happen to your sibling is a different ballgame. The older of the Pettis brothers watched the action from his locker room and, once his younger sibling was felled, was forced to regather and regroup to prepare for his upcoming title defense against Rafael dos Anjos later that night.

Then, as the story goes, the Duke Roufus protege found himself at the end of an extended beating at the hands of “RDA.” In what currently stands as the most lackluster showing of his career—and one that cost him the lightweight title—Pettis‘ normally dynamic offense was shut down from the opening bell to the last. The Kings MMA representative was able to neutralize his stand-up attack then dominate Pettis once the action hit the mat.

The former lightweight champion was a guest on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour, where he spoke to Ariel Helwani about his recent performance. While Pettis admits he isn’t quite sure what happened to him physically in Dallas, he was positive he doesn’t want to deal with the emotional roller coaster of competing on the same card as his younger brother going forward. 

The biggest thing I think I’m gonna change is me and my little bro fighting on the same card. The first time it went amazing, the second time not so well. He got knocked out, I had to watch that and get up mentally for my fight. Not making excuses or nothing, but them little things could have triggered my performance.

He gets knocked out and then you gotta reset the battery, reset everything and try to get back up for the next fight. I think it was just a little bit too much for everybody emotionally to go through. Next time if I’m fighting in a big fight like that, it has to be all about me.

With suffering the loss to dos Anjos at UFC 185, Pettis will now have to bounce back from the first defeat he’s suffered since his UFC debut in 2011 against Clay Guida. In his fight with “The Carpenter,” the Milwaukee native was essentially outwrestled and pinned down for the majority of the 15-minute affair. While dos Anjos certainly did his fair share of work with the fight on the canvas, the Brazilian veteran was able to do substantial damage while the fight was on the feet as well.

In fact, it was a powerful left hand he landed in the early stages of the bout that really set the tone for things to come. Pettis was dazed upon impact—it was later revealed he suffered a cracked orbital bone in the exchange—and was forced to go on the defensive for the remained of the fight. And even though his blurred vision certainly played a factor in his performance, Pettis is still not sure what went wrong in the main event at UFC 185.

That said, he’s adamant about getting his weaknesses shored up and returning to “Showtime” form in his next bout.

Yeah, I’m definitely upset with myself. I’m definitely down about losing my belt, but that wasn’t the best Anthony Pettis. He didn’t go out there and demolish my best performance. Then [I’d be] like yeah I need to figure out why I suck at what I do. I just didn’t put it together. It just wasn’t my night.

 

Duane Finley is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. All quotes are obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise. 

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UFC 185: Anthony Pettis vs. Rafael dos Anjos is just days away. We’ll break down the lightweight title fight plus look at Pettis’ future in pay-per-view. We’ll also examine Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao ahead of the boxing megafight’s press conference on Wednesday. This is episode 129 of the Promotional Malpractice Live Chat.

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'Cowboy' Cerrone on future: 'When I get the belt and get my money, I can
MMAjunkie.com
Donald Cerrone has long been a man at odds with the UFC's implementation of a list of activities its fighters are banned from partaking in near the time of a scheduled fight. For “Cowboy” Cerrone (27-6 MMA, 14-3 UFC), currently slated to face Khabib …

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Since becoming President of Bellator MMA in June of last year, Scott Coker has been hard at work bringing about several changes to the Viacom-owned mixed martial arts promotion. He immediately nixed the tournament format, and made his intentions clear to seek out every single potential free agent in MMA. The promotion has added several new entertaining elements to their shows, and seems to be firing on all cylinders.

In the past, Coker has proven to be one of the very best promoters out there when it comes to building new stars. The Strikeforce: Challengers series produced several Strikeforce and UFC stars, Ronda Rousey and Daniel Cormier being just a few. He’s got the track record of making the most with the tools he has at his disposal. Bellator has claimed to be able to afford any free agent in the market, including Brock Lesnar.

Speaking with B/R MMA, Coker outlined his vision for Bellator’s future, and what kinds of fights we can expect as the year progresses, saying:

A year from now, I think we’ll still be doing our monthly shows. We’ll have some world title fights on those shows, and some big fights. Next year I think we’ll be doing six big ‘tentpole’ shows instead of four. I see this growing. We’re going to continue to grow our roster…You’ll see some fun fights. You’ll see some ‘hardcore’ fan fights, and some really entertaining fights. To me, that is where Bellator is headed. November 15th we kind of put our stake in the ground. That was us saying ‘This is the new Bellator.’

The November 15th event drew record television ratings, with 2 million people tuning in for the Tito Ortiz vs. Stephan Bonnar fight. The fight itself was a dud, but the animosity between Bonnar and Ortiz was real and the antics were enough to get people to watch.

Coker plans on continuing to seek out fights and fighters that will draw a lot of eyeballs, as evidenced by the Ken Shamrock vs. Kimbo Slice fight booked for later this year. On top of matchmaking friendly to hardcores and casual fans, Bellator is putting more effort into their production outside of the cage, with video packages and unique entrances.  

The Pride-style fighter parade at the top of the broadcast for Bellator 134 and the video entrance ramp further signify that Bellator is trying to evolve its product. The promotion is also planning on putting on a show outside of the United States before the end of 2015.

One of the most memorable things Coker put together in Strikeforce was the 2011 Heavyweight Grand Prix Tournament, which featured eight of the biggest heavyweight names outside of the UFC. Six of the nine heavyweights that ended up competing in the GP are now in the UFC. Coker outlined his vision to eventually bring a tournament back to the Bellator cage, saying:

We will do something, probably next year. If we do [a tournament], it will maybe be in one night. It may be a four-man tournament, or maybe an eight-man tournament.  But whatever you see, it will be in quick succession.

 

Michael Wellman is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report MMA and all quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted

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Ronda Rousey doesn’t have to beat Cat Zingano this Saturday at UFC 184 to protect and nurture the women’s MMA scene. In fact, a loss for Rousey would be the best thing that could happen to the women’s 135-pound division—and for all ladies in the sport.

The time where the existence of women in the UFC was a fragile experiment that Rousey was personally care-taking has passed.

As we head into UFC 184, the popularity of the women’s bantamweight division is in good condition. The same could also be said for the new women’s strawweight group.

While Rousey has only competed and dominated at 135 pounds, her success and star power helped to set the foundation for the ladies at 115. There are potential stars on the horizon such as Zingano, Holly Holm (who will face Raquel Pennington in Saturday’s co-feature) and Bethe Correia. That’s not to mention past Rousey opponents like Miesha Tate and Sara McMann.

Carla Esparza will make her first defense of the strawweight title in the co-feature at UFC 185 against the undefeated Joanna Jedrzejczyk. There’s also fighters like Paige VanZant and Felice Herrig coming down the pike to challenge for gold at 115 pounds.

Rousey has done her job as a trailblazer well, but someone has to challenge her seriously for the ladies in the sport to take the next step.

If Rousey should lose to Zingano, women’s MMA would not only survive but flourish. Holm said as much in a recent interview with Marc Raimondi of MMAFighting.com. When asked how a Rousey loss would affect the UFC, Holm said:

“I think it would benefit greatly. I think when you see one person do well, or kind of bring down the No. 1, then everybody thinks, well if she can do that, I can, too.”

It’s time for a formidable rival to put doubt in the minds of MMA prognosticators and fans. Zingano looks like she could be the girl who at the very least makes us wonder. A Rousey loss—no matter how it happens—would immediately create the demand and interest for a rematch.

Rousey has faced Tate twice, but quite honestly, the rematch had to happen because there wasn’t anyone of note left to challenge the champion. A win by Zingano—or even a tightly contested bout—would create an element of competition at the top of the weight class that we haven’t seen since its inception.

Zingano isn’t quite as prepared to be a box-office star and crossover sensation, but her journey through injury and personal tragedy is compelling enough to make casual fans take notice. She’d make a nice champion and would immediately become one of the most important fighters in the history of women’s MMA.

By becoming the first to slay Rousey, Zingano would have an accomplishment that would be amongst the most hallowed the sport has ever seen. That is solely attributed to how good Rousey has been. And the champion is still in her prime, which would make Zingano‘s win all the more impressive.

If Zingano loses, it’s business as usual, and there will be serious doubt as to whether any fighter can beat Rousey. It would be entirely plausible to see Rousey leave the UFC at some point to chase greatness in the WWE. That, in fact, may be inevitable. She’s a big fan of sports entertainment and seems to be a natural for that scene.

She’s attended live events and even made videos with friends performing pro-wrestling-style maneuvers.

No one could blame her for chasing other challenges after having beaten all comers in the UFC. Rousey‘s legacy is safe. She’s the greatest women’s MMA fighter in history, and one of the most dominant regardless of gender.

Every woman who steps into the Octagon Saturday—and in the future—should thank Rousey like boxers salute Al Haymon for his leadership and influence. Without Rousey, there’s no way the stage for women’s performances would be as large.

That said, it might be time to share the spotlight.

 

Follow Brian Mazique on Twitter. I dig boxing and MMA.

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Ronda Rousey's Mom Initially 'Couldn't See A Future' In MMA For Her Daughter
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“I told her that going into MMA was the stupidest idea that she ever had come up with, and that was really saying something because she already had plenty of dumb ideas in her life,” recalled her mother, AnnMaria De Mars. “I just couldn't see a future

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Jorina Baars has accomplished plenty in muay Thai, but she is best remembered for her win over Cristiane Justino at Lion Fight 14 a little less than a year ago.

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Despite the fact that Anderson Silva scored a win just 13 months after breaking both his left tibia and fibula, the man responsible for those injuries, UFC middleweight champ Chris Weidman, evidently wasn’t all that moved by the feat.

Top-ranked middleweight Silva proved he fully recovered from the gruesome injuries he suffered on a leg check from Weidman at UFC 168 by outpointing Nick Diaz in the main event at UFC 183 on Saturday. Still, Weidman, who seemed to be speaking genuinely and from a fan’s point of view, said on Monday’s episode of The MMA Hour (via a report by MMA Fighting) that he hopes the longtime former middleweight champ and pound-for-pound king will decide to call it quits:

As a fan, if I’m just a normal person, I want to see him done. As Chris Weidman, as me, it’s a big money fight, a third fight eventually. But I’d really just like to see him retire. I think he’s got a great family, he’s got five kids, he’s made a lot of money, he has a great legacy. He just won a fight. I wouldn’t mind seeing him retire on a (win).

In his first win since whipping Stephan Bonnar in the main event of UFC 153 in October 2012, The Spider looked like his former self in spurts, outstriking Diaz 108-80 and stuffing the Californian’s lone takedown attempt. Each of Silva’s 108 strikes landed was deemed a significant strike, and though Silva didn’t score a knockdown or threaten to finish the ever-durable former middleweight title challenger, he clearly outclassed a battered Diaz in a win that brought him to tears.

But even though Weidman expressed excitement about watching Silva bounce back from his injuries, he didn’t seem impressed by his performance or convinced that the 39-year-old Brazilian deserves a title shot in the near future:

He was healthy, he was able to go out there and get a (win). But do I think he looked impressive? No. I don’t think he’s what everybody thought Anderson would look like and what he could do to Nick Diaz. … I don’t think he deserves a title shot. There’s a lot of other guys that I think are better than him right now.

In just his 10th career fight, Weidman upset Silva and took his middleweight belt at UFC 162 in July 2013, becoming the first man to knock out The Spider in the process. Less than six months later in their rematch at UFC 168, Weidman checked a low kick that ended up breaking Silva’s tibia and fibula.

 

All statistics were gathered via Fightmetric.com.

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Despite the fact that Anderson Silva scored a win just 13 months after breaking both his left tibia and fibula, the man responsible for those injuries, UFC middleweight champ Chris Weidman, evidently wasn’t all that moved by the feat.

Top-ranked middleweight Silva amazingly proved he’s fully recovered from the gruesome injuries he suffered on a leg check from Weidman at UFC 168 by outpointing Nick Diaz in the main event at UFC 183 on Saturday. Still, Weidman, who seemed to be speaking genuinely and from a fan’s point of view, essentially said on Monday’s episode of The MMA Hour, per a report by MMA Fighting, that he hopes the longtime former middleweight champ and pound-for-pound king will now decide to call it quits:

Being the champion, I know this ends up going further than I’d even want my comments to go, because my opinion, I don’t think, really matters that much and I don’t want it to weigh on him at all. But me as a fan, if I’m just a normal person, I want to see him done. As Chris Weidman, as me, it’s a big money fight, a third fight eventually. But I’d really just like to see him retire. I think he’s got a great family, he’s got five kids, he’s made a lot of money, he has a great legacy. He just won a fight. I wouldn’t mind seeing him retire on a (win).

In his first win since whipping Stephan Bonnar in the main event of UFC 153 in October 2012, The Spider looked like his former self in spurts, out-striking Diaz 108-80 and stuffing the Californian’s lone takedown attempt. Each of Silva’s 108 strikes landed was deemed a significant strike, and though Silva didn’t score a knockdown or threaten to finish the ever-durable former middleweight title challenger, he clearly outclassed a battered Diaz in a win that brought him to tears.

But even though Weidman expressed excitement about watching Silva bounce back from his injuries, he didn’t seem impressed by his performance or convinced that the 39-year-old Brazilian deserves a title shot in the near future:

In the fight, you know, I’m happy that he came back. He was healthy, he was able to go out there and get a (win). But do I think he looked impressive? No. I don’t think he’s what everybody thought Anderson would look like and what he could do to Nick Diaz. There was a lot going against him with the leg injury, (and) it didn’t seem like he was kicking the legs as much as he usually could. But, you know, I don’t know. I don’t think he deserves a title shot. There’s a lot of other guys that I think are better than him right now.

In just his 10th career fight, Weidman upset Silva and took his middleweight belt at UFC 162 in July 2013, becoming the first man to KO The Spider in the process. Less than six months later in their rematch at UFC 168, Weidman checked a low kick that ended up breaking Silva’s tibia and fibula. 

All statistics were gathered via Fightmetric.com.

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