Photo by Gautham Nagesh from the National Portrait Gallery
by Anna John
Behold, a rundown of the stories we’re talking about at Stiff Jab headquarters here in suddenly-balmy Washington, D.C. Ladies and gents, I give you this week’s link roundup:
1) We’re starting off on a serious, alarming note— “Study: MMA Brain Injury Risk Higher Than Boxing”:
"About one-third of professional mixed martial arts matches end in knockout or technical knockout, indicating a higher incidence of brain trauma than boxing or other martial arts, according to a new study in the American Journal of Sports Medicine." [ABC News]
2) Here’s a nice story out of Brooklyn, and our writer Sarah Deming’s old stomping grounds at Gleason’s Gym: “Paul Malignaggi strikes a blow vs. obesity”
"I was born and raised in Brooklyn," said Malignaggi, as his pal Verteouris, and Brooklyn borough president Eric Adams listened intently. "I have the ability to give back to my community, help make a difference, and Knockout Obesity is a program I believe in. I know it can make a huge difference in the community. Boxing is an optimum, great way to exercise and with diet and nutrition added to the mix, it’s a winning program." [ESPN New York]
3) Next up— “How HBO lost Adonis Stevenson to Showtime”. A lengthy exploration of yet another boxing-network fustercluck:
"None of this would be an issue if HBO had done its job last year and made certain not to televise an otherwise meaningless doubleheader featuring Stevenson and Sergey Kovalev without first having an agreement in place for them to meet on HBO in their next fight." [Yahoo! Sports]
4) Here’s something different and useful: “The Big, Big List of Boxing on Twitter”. It’s exactly what it sounds like— a massive compilation of boxing-related accounts on the popular social networking service. Tweet tweet. Thanks to author Scott Christ for including us. [Bad Left Hook]
by Dr. Octagon, J.D.
Even though he was grandfathered in with what is hopefully the last Testosterone Replacement Therapy exemption in the history of the sport, the 43-year old Dan Henderson (above) is still a force to be reckoned with. On Saturday night at UFC Fight Night 38 in Brazil, Henderson proved it by stopping Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in the 3rd round of a rematch of one of the better mixed martial arts fights in recent memory.
Unfortunately for Rua, Henderson still has a chin of solid granite and old man strength in his right hand. Shogun hurt Dan badly in both the first and second rounds. Referee Herb Dean could have stopped it in the first round there probably wouldn’t be much protest. Dan looked pretty flat in the first two rounds and his cardio still appeared suspect.
Everything changed in the third round, when Henderson landed a vicious right hand off the break, sending Rua to the mat. Henderson then fired about a dozen hammerfists to his fallen opponent’s head to end the fight. Shogun was holding onto his leg, but he was pretty much out and also had a busted nose.
by Dr. Octagon, J.D.
Johny Hendricks threw caution to the wind at UFC 171 on Saturday night and basically stood directly in front of Robbie Lawler for five rounds in their fight for the vacant UFC welterweight title.
We were rooting for Johny because he got robbed against former champ Georges St. Pierre in his last fight. Against Lawler, Johny won the first two rounds, while Robbie won the third and fourth, busting up Johny’s face really badly.
The fight was pretty clearly up for grabs in the fifth round. Johny had a little more gas in the tank, as Robbie looked winded. After landing some punches, Hendricks scored a crucial takedown. Robbie looked up at the clock and appeared ticked off, as if he knew he had lost.
The judges all had it 48-47 for Hendricks, which was the correct score. Great fight, congrats to the new champ.
by Dr. Octagon, J.D.
Johny Hendricks (above) missed his contracted weight by 1.5 pounds on his first attempt at UFC 171 in Dallas.
Because his fight against Robbie Lawler is for the vacant UFC welterweight title, Hendricks doesn’t have the one pound wiggle room given to fighters in non-title fights. He’s got to lose it all. He’s got an hour to lose the weight or the fight won’t be for the belt, which would be a shame.
Update: Hendricks made weight on his second attempt. The belt will in fact be on the line tomorrow night. Must have been a rough cut for him. People betting on Lawler must be feeling better about their underdog pick.
by Dr. Octagon, J.D.
The great theorists in the MMA game have long posited that it could be possible to make a man submit by ripping ass in his face.
I couldn’t win that way personally, because my farts smell pretty good most of the time. But I can’t tell you how many times I’d be watching a fight with my bros and one of them would say, “Wouldn’t it be vicious if that man ripped ass right now?” to which we would all vigorously agree.
Well the theory has been proven, my friends. Below, for your scientific interest, is a video of some bro named Travis Newaza making his opponent submit and vomit by farting in his face.
by Dr. Octagon, J.D.
I don’t usually watch kickboxing, but this fight was on my radar because Pride legend Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic was involved. We haven’t seen him in the Octagon in a while.
How was it? Pretty damn awesome. Every fighter showed up throwing bombs, and every bout was action-packed. Some of the fighters had to fight more than once tonight, so there was a big benefit to getting the early finish.
Anthony Pettis’ head coach Duke Roufus was doing the color commentary and really provided some great insight into the sport. Friend of the blog Luke Thomas was also on hand, which may explain why UFC Boss Dana White was giving him shit on Twitter earlier today.
The fight of the night was Andi Ristie vs. Davit Kiria. Davit looked like he was in trouble for the bulk of the fight, only to stop Ristie in the final round. It was a spectacular comeback.
Cro Cop looked enormous and put a pretty good beating on Remy Bonjansky, but the judges saw it for Remy. The Croatian crowd and I both saw it for Cro Cop. Of course, I don’t know shit about kickboxing, and I was just happy to see two legends of the sport throwing bombs at each other for three rounds.
Remy might have gotten the nod because it was his farewell fight. Afterward, Spike TV went straight into COPS. Nice. It’s like they can read my mind.
by Dr. Octagon, J.D.
Alexander Gustaffson landed a huge knee in the second round at UFC Fight Night 37 in London, and that was it for Jimi Manuwa.
Gus landed a few punches and followed Manuwa to the ground for some hammerfists before the fight was stopped. It was an expected victory for Gustaffson, as Manuwa had never really faced anyone on Gustaffson’s level and had won his last two fights via flukey leg injuries.
There is talk about a rematch with light heavyweight champion Jon Jones for Gustaffson, who came closer than anyone else to beating the champ (save Matt Hamill, lolz). For the record, we’d rather see the newly-svelte Daniel Cormier get the shot.
The co-main event between Melvin Guillard and Michael Johnson was shockingly boring. Johnson was game, but Melvin did not look like he really wanted to be there. Melvin moved slowly, and would throw a single haymaker every now and again, only to be countered by the quicker Johnson.
Johnson tried to make it a fight and even taunted Guillard a la the Diaz bros, but to no avail. Melvin didn’t even push forward in the third round when it was pretty clear he was losing the fight. We don’t know where Melvin goes from here.
On the main card: Brad Pickett won a unanimous decision over Neil Seery in a so-so fight.
Gunnar Nelson continued to look impressive, taking Omari Akhmedov to the ground and working elbows before sinking a guillotine in the first round.
I didn’t catch the undercard. Cro Cop is fighting in a kickboxing match tonight in Zagreb, Croatia. It’s being aired on on Spike with a tape delay in the United States, so stay off Twitter if you don’t want spoilers.
Tony Jeter photo by Trey Pollard for StiffJab.com
by Anna John
It’s the end of the week and that means it’s time for the Eight Count, our weekly roundup of boxing and MMA stories that we’re talking about here at Stiff Jab’s luxurious headquarters.
This week’s edition has an international flavor, and it tastes better than sriracha. Yeah, I said it. That hot sauce sucks. Forget controversial statements, let’s get ready to tumble!
1) Many young fighters come from rough backgrounds, so a boxer raised in foster care isn’t particularly novel— but a boxer whose father was murdered by the Taliban is. AJ Faizy escaped Afghanistan at 14 and was aged out of foster care in England by 18. He would have been homeless if not for his trainer, who has this to say about Faizy:
"He had nowhere to go and was just sat on a wall with six bags around him when I picked him up…He’s a right good lad; really pleasant and appreciative. He’s at college, a volunteer at Age UK, and I just wish I had another 10 boxers like him. He’s also got the right mind-set for boxing, he’s a very tough kid. Boxing-wise, there’s still a lot to learn but he’s got a big heart, he can bang and he’s in your face all the time."
2) A much sadder tale out of South Africa, where professional MMA fighter Booto Guylain died after getting elbowed in the head during a match:
"He is the second pro MMA fighter to die in the last six months, with Brazilian Leandro Souza passing in Sept. due to organ stress suffered during his pre-fight weight cut. And he is the third fighter to die directly from injuries suffered during a bout. Michael Kirkham, 30, and Sam Vasquez, 35, passed from cerebral hemorrhages in 2010 and 2007."
3) Former world champion Antonio Tarver was arrested over the weekend during a traffic stop in Florida:
"Tarver, who lives in the Tampa Bay area, was named in a criminal complaint filed in Las Vegas alleging that he failed to repay three casino loans totaling $200,000 obtained in July 2012 at the posh Wynn Las Vegas resort. Nevada treats written casino IOUs, known as markers, like fraudulent bad checks."
4) In far more entertaining news, we may have finally discovered the fighter who could pummel pound-for-pound champ Floyd “Money” Mayweather Jr.— but it’s probably not anyone you’d think of:
Sergio Martinez photo by Anna John for StiffJab.com
by Gautham Nagesh
You’ve read this elsewhere, but we don’t like to report that a fight will happen until the contracts are signed. Because even then, it’s at best 70-30 that the fight will actually happen. But it looks like New York fight fans have reason to celebrate, thanks to the latest news from Top Rank.
Middleweight champion Sergio Martinez (above) will defend his title on June 7th at Madison Square Garden against Puerto Rican superstar Miguel Cotto. Martinez has looked a bit old of late, but he remains one of the sport’s proudest and most gallant champions. Cotto will be the underdog, but also the overwhelming crowd favorite. Let there be no doubt: New York loves Miguel Cotto. If the fight is close, that could be the difference.
by Dr. Octagon J.D.
UFC Fight Night Macao started at the ungodly hour of 6am, but I did roll out of bed in time to catch the main card.
In the main event, Dong Hyun Kim scored a highlight-reel stoppage of John Hathaway in the third round. Kim has the early striking advantage and landed at will on Hathaway, who didn’t seem to have any interest in putting his hands up. In the third round, Hathaway went in for an elbow, while Kim dodged and landed a cracking spinning elbow to Hathaway’s head. The shot ended the fight without any question, as Hathaway lay motionless on the mat.
Stun Gun used to use judo to stifle opponents, until his last fight against Erick Silva. Kim’s much improved striking and excellent grappling now make him a tough test for anyone in the UFC. He hasn’t had a definitive loss in the Octagon since he was knocked out by Carlos Condit. He also lost to Demian Maia, but it was more of a freak injury than anything else.
For his part, Silva needed just 51 seconds to stop Takenori Sato with a massive left hand KO.
In The Ultimate Fighter China finale, Zhang Lipang “defeated” Wang Sai by split decision. We had it 29-28 for Sai.
In other action, Matt Mitrione defeated Shawn Jordan by KO with a last minute flurry at the end of round one. Hatsu Hioki defeated Ivan Menjivar by unanimous decision, it was 29-28 on all the cards.
by Anna John
Is it already Friday? So it is. Here’s what we’re reading at Stiff Jab headquarters:
1) This story about the first “cutwoman” in The UFC is well-worth a read. After eight years of preparation, research, and unpaid practice, Swayze Valentine participated in UFC 170 in Las Vegas. Her journey to the octagon hasn’t been easy:
"Then there were the struggles of being a woman in a man’s sport. Valentine said she has been physically assaulted by a manager, not let in the cage by security guards and banished from dressing rooms by fighters."
2) Many fight fans and boxers are on Twitter, and most wish for the magic blue check mark. The latest to be verified? None other than Muhammad Ali, who chose the 50th anniversary of his fight with Sonny Liston to tweet:
"I shook up the world against Liston, now 50 years later I’m taking it to Twitter."
Note: any tweet hashtagged “#AliTweet” is from the man himself. What are you waiting for— follow him already!
3) The Nevada Athletic Commission voted Thursday to ban testosterone replacement therapy, commonly known as “TRT”. Many in the sport (including Doc Octagon) felt that fighters were getting over by claiming they needed TRT due to their low testosterone levels.
"There is also a prevailing opinion in the medical world, testified to by commission doctors at Thursday’s meeting, that many cases of low testosterone in fighters were caused by prior use of performance-enhancing drugs."
by Raquel Ruiz
LAS VEGAS—It wasn’t love at the first sight.
UFC 170 at the Mandalay Center in Las Vegas on Saturday night was a disappointing first date. The best thing I can say about my inaugural experience covering mixed martial arts: I’m open to giving my new lover a second chance.
To me, Vegas is the most plastic representation of the society lost in consumerism, addiction and ostentation. But in love and war, anything goes. I came to this insufferable city to cover a spectacle that has intrigued me for a long time. I came with a purpose, and a love for contact sports. How could I not be intrigued? Since The UFC began staging women’s fights last year, it has quickly become the biggest platform for female combat sports.
Unfortunately, my opening night was not charming. It’s like kissing an attractive man for the first time and not feeling the butterflies in your tummy as expected. Still, you usually arrange a second date, just to see if the “galan” was just really nervous and can do better the second time. So, to be fair, I will give UFC a second date.
UFC 170 promised to be a solid card, with the stellar fight being the women’s bantamweight championship in the main event. So real responsibility weighed on the shoulders of the Queen on the Octagon, Ronda Rousey(top), on Saturday night. She delivered, stopping Sara McMann in the first round with strikes to win by TKO.
by Dr. Octagon, J.D.
We were in attendance at UFC 169, which set the record for most decisions on a Pay Per View. That card was way better than UFC Fight Night 36 in Jaragua, Brazil.
I never thought it would come to this, but I am about to complain that the five hours of free no-holds-barred cage fighting were boring, and that such events are being held too often. Welcome to The UFC’s era of over-saturation. Nothing unexpected or exciting happened on this card. For the most part, the favorites won and there were a ton of decisions.
Also, Mario Yamasaki is making a strong case for the title of worst ref in MMA. Yamasaki deducted a point from Maximo Blanco on the undercard for his first accidental kick to the junk. That’s the first time I can recall seeing that happen. The deduction didn’t end up mattering, but there should be some sort of consistency for accidental fouls. A one point deduction in a three round fight is a pretty harsh penalty.
Speaking of consistency, in the main event Lyoto Machida was clearly on his knees when Gegard Mousasi hit him with an illegal upkick to the face. Yamasaki apparently didn’t notice it was a foul until Machida looked at him as if to ask, “What the fuck man” or the Portuguese equivalent. No point was deducted. That’s right. A kick to the groin is a point deduction. An illegal kick to the face? Yamasaki doesn’t even really notice.
by Dr. Octagon, J.D.
NEWARK, N.J.—Our esteemed editor and I were onsite at the Prudential Center on Saturday night for UFC 169. Nah, we didn’t get credentialed. The UFC is famously stingy with press passes, so we just bought tickets. Pretty good seats for the price too, especially since there were two title fights.
While I’ll watch any form of combat sport, Mr. Nagesh pretty much only watches boxing, so I was excited that he was going to catch his first MMA show. Unfortunately, there was more violence in the stands than in the cage (two people were stabbed despite pretty extensive frisking/metal detectors on the way in). This event set the record for most decisions in UFC history.
Despite the lack of stoppages, there were some great moments. At least we didn’t waste our money going to one of the most noncompetitive Super Bowls in recent memory.
The UFC is definitely starting to show some undercard fatigue now that they’re putting on so many shows. There were a few fights where the fighters not only didn’t look that good, but also weren’t very aggressive. Not the sort of thing that makes you want to go out and buy Fightpass. Anyway, here’s a breakdown of the main card: