Category Archives: UFC

Ben Askren traded to UFC from One Championship for Demetrious Johnson. End of Flyweight division in UFC?

By Wesley Woods

November 24, 2018

Wesley Woods is a Sport Management major at Bowling Green State University with a minor in General Business. He is a big fan of college and professional football as well as UFC, Pro Boxing, and the NBA. His favorite sports teams are the Chicago Bears and the Chicago Bulls.  

In a world where shake-ups in sport happen every year, I am confident in saying this shakeup was on absolutely no one’s radar. Demetrious Johnson is the longest-reigning UFC champion who successfully defended the 125-pound flyweight championship an unprecedented 11 times (“Mighty Mouse,” 2018). Johnson is pound-for-pound the greatest UFC champion of all time (Rosenstein, 2018). One would not expect to hear that a trade had happened involving a fighter with Johnson’s credentials, especially since there has never been a fighter traded in the history of MMA (Rosenstein, 2018).

Johnson was traded for Ben Askren, now the former welterweight title-holder for One Championship and holder of an 18-0 record (“Ben Askren,” 2018). Askren possesses some of the greatest grappling skills in the world. For die-hard MMA fans, he now has the opportunity to prove that he is one of the greatest martial artists in the world.  For years, UFC fans have wanted to see if Askren’s skills are legit. There could not be a better time for Askren to come over with the emergence of undefeated lightweight Khabib Nurmagomedov, the legendary GSP (Georges St. Pierre) (Rosenstein, 2018) and other names such as Darren Till, Stephen Thompson. As far as Askren is concerned, just about any male on the UFC roster could pose a threat, judging from his Twitter page. The fight fans will get to see fresh match-ups that they have never seen before. In a sport where intrigue is half the battle to get fans excited, what could be more exciting than a confident 18-0 fighter who is highly respected by his peers coming into the biggest MMA organization in the world?

Speaking of fresh match-ups, a date for Ben “Funky” Askren has been set. On January 26, there could be no better way for the UFC to ring in the New Year than to have him go toe-to-toe with UFC future Hall of Famer and former welterweight champion, “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler. This is a classic match-up of a great wrestler vs. a great striker. Askren made it very clear he is not in the UFC to have favors done for him. He wants to fight the best in the world immediately and UFC President Dana White has given him just that. This will definitely be no walk in the park for Askren, as Robbie Lawler is one of the most dangerous fighters to step into the octagon; he has   the ability to knockout anyone with a single punch. This could be make-or-break-it for Askren’s legitimacy, but a victory against Lawler would be huge, no matter the degree of difficulty.

On the other side of this trade, One Championship adds major star power to the brand. Fans of the greatness of Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson will certainly carry over to One as he will gain many fans within the organization. After interviews with Ariel Helwani, former UFC lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez discussed a lucrative deal in the ballpark of 8 figures. One can only assume Mighty Mouse will have a major lucrative contract of his own, which would be well-deserved considering the accolades he has achieved. The former UFC champ has expressed his joy about the deal through interviews and social media. It is apparent that all sides of the trade are quite happy.

As long as fans, both companies and both stars are happy, there should be no true loser in this trade, right? Well, not quite. The entire UFC flyweight division is going through the ringer as there is speculation that, with the departure of long-time champion Demetrious Johnson, there may be no reason to further the division with now-champion Henry Cejudo who has already expressed the desire to move up in weight class. Comments from his future opponent, bantamweight champion T.J. Dillishaw predicting the death of the division by his hand when he faces Cejudo in a 125-pound fight to gain a second belt cannot put the current flyweights at ease upon hearing this from the current 135-pound title-holder. With the match-up between the two champions coming up, its conclusion should provide many answers as to the plans UFC has with the 125-pound flyweight division (Rosenstein, 2018).

 

References

Ben Askren. (2018). ESPN.com. Retrieved from http://www.espn.com/mma/fighter/_/id/2500597/ben-askren

“Mighty Mouse” Demetrious Johnson. (2018). UFC.com. Retrieved from https://www.ufc.com/athlete/demetrious-johnson

Rosenstein, G. (2018, October 26). Making sense of the Demetrious Johnson-Ben Askren trade. ESPN.com. Retrieved from http://www.espn.com/mma/story/_/id/25074261/making-sense-demetrious-johnson-ben-askren-trade

UFC: Trouble at the Top

By Kaleb Page

April 30, 2015

Athletes finding themselves in compromising situation and then getting in trouble for their actions.

Let the yawn out now.

It’s essentially a different day but the same story in the world of sports. No matter what the sport may be, there are athletes getting in trouble for breaking the law, PEDs, etc. almost every day.

On Sunday UFC Light heavyweight champion Jon “Bones” Jones was involved in a car accident in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The accident broke a woman’s arm in the vehicle that was struck.

The accident became a bigger issue when Jones left the scene of the accident and from reports he came back to grab to grab a handful of cash and then flee again. When cops searched the car, once they arrived, they found marijuana and a rental car slip linking the car to Jones.

The Albuquerque police placed a warrant out for Jones thereafter. On Monday, Jones turned himself in and faces a felony hit and run charge.

There were some reporters that said Jones should have his title stripped and a suspension placed on the fighter. Especially after a recent positive drug test that showed the fighter had cocaine metabolites in his system and now this incident.

On Tuesday, that exact punishment was dealt out by UFC President Dana White.

This is the first time a fighter in UFC has had their title stripped for conduct outside the octagon. Even though this is unprecedented, I think it is important for them to take the stance they did.

Right now Jones is not in the right place and needs to focus getting himself right before he even thinks of fighting again. I know he is possibly the best fighter right now and has a legacy that grew into what it is.

However, right now he is hurting his legacy with his actions and if he truly wants to be the greatest ever then he needs to become a better person.

A better person in the sense of knowing who he is and bringing himself back to earth a bit. He came on the scene as the freak athlete that learned his way to stardom through watching YouTube videos on the sport. He needs to get back to being the hungry and humble newcomer that rose to the occasion.

While it is tough to keep that mindset when you are anointed the most untouchable guy in the division and are having that type of rise; I think it is important for him to look himself in the mirror and change.

As for now there is trouble at the top and UFC 187 will have a new headliner.

Stepping into Jones’s place is Daniel Cormier. A fighter Jones beat in at UFC 182 and will be an interesting match-up with the powerful striker Anthony “Rumble” Johnson.

Poland’s First UFC Champion

By Kaleb Page

March 20, 2015

The world of mixed martial arts is growing ever so rapidly across the globe. Today the ‘fight game’ can be found in every corner, whether it is in Iran, South Korea or Sweden; mixed martial arts is growing.

The UFC, which is essentially the NBA or NFL of mixed martial arts, is taking full advantage of this boom in the sport. Finding rising stars from Russia, Iran, Sweden, China, South Korea and elsewhere. While the time is coming to see these rising countries disperse throughout the divisions in the organization, and eventually take stake as title contenders, first time champions from established countries are still there too.

Poland has and continues to be an MMA prospect proving ground. The UFC has 10 Polish fighters already on the roster, and have recently added three more. As you can see the UFC is making its European expansion and making a big push at the best in Poland.

However, just last weekend a champion was crowned in a brand new division and that champion just so happens to be Polish. The UFC added the women’s strawweight division (115 lbs.) just this year and rising to the challenge was a former Muay Thai and kickboxing champion. Her name is Jonna Jedrzejczyk (Yed-zhey-chik) and her name is something you might want to get to know.

Just like Ronda Rousey who is in the UFC, Jedrzejczyk is undefeated (9-0) and looks like a dominant force to rule the division. As the first Polish champion (third ever European champion) in the UFC, the accomplishment is one that her country celebrated.

UFC president Dana White was very impressed with how Jedrzejczyk took on a veteran in Carla Esparza and made her look like an amateur.

“I like people who try to finish you. I’ve been on the Joanna bandwagon since day one. Coming into this fight, the thing for her was her takedown defense, and boy did she tune up her takedown defense. She’s a beast.” – UFC president Dana White

I think it was interesting to see the coverage by the likes of ESPN’s specialty section on women’s sports called ESPN W. Not very often are we seeing the UFC or much of anything done to make the sport more mainstream (a side from some Fox Sports pieces as the UFC is with Fox). There are great stories in the world of mixed martial arts to be told.

Even though it is a combat sport, there are more to these fighters than just the cage. That is why it is important to not only chronicle the hard-work, dedication and background of these fighters to get to where they are, but it is also important to get to make these athletes centerpieces like we do other athletes (making them more personable).

Joanna Jedrzejczyk is also another women’s sports story to follow and maybe use as something to build more equality for women in the sports world. Especially with her success in a male dominated sport that is just now beginning to accept female participation.

Maybe with more spotlight toward the success of female fighters like Rousey and Jedrzejczyk, it will provide for stronger role models in sport for young girls to look up to and challenge the sports spectrum.

As for now Jedrzejczyk will continue to ride this champions high as the UFC will host an event in Poland this weekend. In attendance will be the new champion of Poland, Joanna Jedrzejczyk.

 

A String of Positive Drug Tests: Could it Hurt the UFC?

By Kaleb Page

February 9, 2015

A competitive advantage.

A statement heard over the past few weeks involving the Patriots and ‘Deflate Gate‘ where there was debate on the competitive advantage gained from deflating footballs. Now in a different sport the statement ‘a competitive advantage’ was mentioned in a different way.

It was revealed this past Tuesday that one participant in the main event of UFC 184 was taking performance enhancing substances. What makes it more surprising is that it is someone who is thought of as (probably) the greatest fighter to ever step in the octagon. That person being the legend Anderson “The Spider” Silva. This test was taken as part of a practice done by the Nevada State Athletic Commission to test fighters on an out-of-competition basis. This ‘out of competition’ is meant by any sample not taken within 12 hours of competition.

Even though the sample from Silva was supplied on January 9th, the results were not reported until February 3rd. His opponent Nick Diaz also tested positive for Marijuana and those results were released on the same day. Quite the gap in time to not tell the results of such a test. This is leaving some to wonder if there is some back deals between the athletic commission and UFC to delay the findings of results in order to save fight cards. The reason for such speculation is that the Nevada State Athletic Commission receives 6% of the total gross receipts from live events and anywhere up to $50,000 depending on broadcasts of events (pay-per-views). Even though those claims of tampering between the commission and UFC are made, the leader of the commission Bob Bennett said the claims are “outlandish.”

It is hard to look at this instance and not wonder a bit about some type of issue involving hiding the facts. Especially with how the sample was done on January 9th and then results taking until February 3rd to get released; when they knew the fight was coming up on the 31st of January. It also is something interesting to note with the above mentioned payout for the commission from successful events.

Now I don’t want to make it some ‘witch hunt’ of sorts to figure out if this sport is dirty behind the scenes with handling performance enhancing policies and the fighters. However it is something that must be noted since this is not the first time that a fight has been compromised after the fact with positive drug tests.

You can even go back one event to see that. After UFC 183 it came out that light heavyweight champion Jon Jones had cocaine metabolites in his system. However it wasn’t a test that was taken after the fight that found it, it was a test taken a month prior to the fight taking place on January 3rd (just like with Silva and Diaz). Then last August the UFC had a problem with a fighter, Cung Le, showing in a post-fight blood test elevated levels of growth hormone.

The list of incidents I could go on and on about but it brings me to one point. Will this problem of positive drug tests (drugs, PEDs, etc.) end up hurting the UFC? If people start to think the product is tainted with cheating and people taking anything they can to go in the cage and feel less pain or be stronger; this could bring a bigger problem than anyone at the UFC could imagine.

I am a big fan of the UFC and the sport of mixed martial arts, but if they aren’t careful with this problem we could see a possible boxing scenario. At one point boxing was one of the biggest sports in this country, but once things started to get dirty (plus other sport popularity growth and head trauma concerns) the nose dive began to where the sport of boxing has never been the same. Yeah there is Mayweather, Pacquiao and the Klitschko brothers but other than that I doubt any casual fan could name you another boxer right now.

That’s what I fear for the UFC they could lose the casual fan and hurt their brand with more things like this happening. Especially if an icon (Silva) is proven to be a cheater, it could be a big blow to what was supposed to be a big year for the organization. As an avid fan of the sport and the organization I hope it isn’t the case where we see a crumbling sport/organization, because if the UFC goes down then pretty much the whole sport goes down with it.

Now this is all talking in the worst case scenario, but the UFC better take more proactive steps to keep the sport clean. Also they better think of how they are trying to make the sport more mainstream and something everyone watches just like football, basketball or baseball. If they keep this up with scandals of drug use and/or cheating with PEDs then they might as well kiss that idea goodbye.

Just be careful UFC. Nobody is too big to fail.

Jones vs. Cormier: The fight is finally here

By Kaleb Page

Lost in the bowl mania, NFL playoffs and the new big hire by the University of Michigan is a fight that could be the biggest fight of the year for the UFC. This fight could be the biggest and it is only the beginning of their fight calendar.

Brewing for years now is the bad blood between UFC light heavyweight champion Jon “Bones” Jones and the rising challenger Daniel Cormier. Stemming as far back as 2010 these two started off on the wrong foot with Jones and Cormier having a backstage disagreement at UFC 121. Jones was meeting Cormier for the first time, and differing reports from both camps laid the interaction differently; Jones saying he was merely joking by telling Cormier (an Olympian wrestler) “I bet you that I could take you down,” while Cormier didn’t understand how insulting someone was a good way to break the ice.

As time moved along and Jones defended his title countless other times, the embers of that exchange cooled substantially until the opportunity presented itself to have these two face off. It also probably helped to stoke the fire back up when at UFC 173 on May 24, 2014 Cormier left a special message for Jones after Cormier won his first fight after moving down from heavyweight to light heavyweight.

Then the ultimate tipping point was reached when Jones and Cormier had a little “presser” before UFC 178 where they would answer some questions in the MGM Grand lobby and then have the stare down at the end. Well it went as planned until the stare down. Jones is 6’4″ and Cormier 5’11” so when they go for the stare down Jones looks down on Cormier. This is where things got interesting as Jones started to place his head on Cormier’s. At this point Cormier shoves at Jones throat and sparks what you will see in the video below.

From that point on the fight was official on to a whole different level, prompting many interesting interviews since then and some candid moments where the fighters didn’t know they were being recorded (since off the air), this video has been circled around the internet as more fuel for promoting that animosity in this match-up (click on this link to the video WARNING the video does contain strong language).

Coverage has been at a minimum for ESPN probably in part to the contract the UFC has with Fox Sports, but I think this fight does deserve to have all the publicity that it deserves. If you can somehow make it to a restaurant/bar showing it or even order the pay-per-view I highly advise it because when you have two world-class athletes that are some of the best in the sport and you add in legitimate hatred it will be an unbelievable main event.

Saturday January 3, 2015 Jon “Bones” Jones vs. Daniel Cormier will be an event I will have to watch and hopefully lives up to the billing. Who do you think will win? Is it Jones the defending champion who has been an unbelievable puzzle to solve or Cormier the former Olympic wrestler who has a lot to prove? Either way the mixed martial arts community wins with a great match-up like this.

Watch the promo below and you will be ready to go for this huge event in the world of mixed martial arts.

From WWE to UFC: Phil “CM Punk” Brooks makes the transition

By Kaleb Page

In the MMA world there are always opportunities for new talent to come along and add new life to the scene. This past weekend saw a very big name join MMA and the UFC organization from another big organization. This move sent waves throughout the entire MMA universe and made buzz around the UFC on Saturday night explode.

For years Phil Brooks was a member of WWE and quite the success. Known as CM Punk, Brooks was a superstar under one of the biggest entertainment entities in the world. Headlining pay-per-view events, having global advertising and even action figures made Brooks a household name as his character CM Punk. Even though there was all the fame and things that come with being a professional wrestler; Brooks had a falling out with management. This falling out saw Brooks out of the WWE and wondering what would come next.

For Brooks he found himself at as he said “a fork in the road,” either go back to the WWE or make a new path. This is where the UFC stepped in.

After going through the legal aspects of a contract and finding the logistics of moving Brooks into the UFC; the deal was made. The rumors had been swirling for weeks about CM Punk making a decision on what he would do, and yet people had no idea when he would make an announcement. At Saturday’s UFC 181 pay-per-view event, which was filled with great match-ups and story lines, there was one moment that added an unexpected jolt. During the broadcast Brooks stepped in front of the camera and made his announcement to join the UFC.

This announcement gained a mix of reactions to what took place. There were fighters stepping out to welcome Brooks to this new world and wish him the best, and then there were those calling him out to fight since he was a “fake wrestler.” Many media outlets looked to this move in amazement since this is a WWE star who never had any experience in fighting or even wrestling for that matter.

However I think it is only fair to be level-headed in what goes on in this case. Yes it is a guy who is high-profile and was a WWE wrestler, but what makes it any different from a new guy entering in the UFC for their first fight? There has to be time to actually watch him fight and prove himself in this organization just as anyone else would have to do. That is why I think it is unfair to judge this move before Brooks even fights. If the 36-year-old Phil “CM Punk” Brooks is as dedicated to this as he says, then it will be interesting to see what happens. As a fan of the UFC and MMA this is exciting to add him to the roster and see what he does with this opportunity.

Brooks is scheduled to fight sometime in 2015 to give him time to hit the training hard and get to his projected weight class of middle weight (185 lbs). Also his opponent will be another new fighter or a fighter that is only 0-1, 1-0, 1-1, 2-1 or 1-2 in order to make it a fair fight. In the time until his debut it will be hard to wait and see who the opponent is.

For now enjoy the new jolt of excitement added to an already anticipated 2015 year for the UFC.

Mark Hunt: The Underdog of Underdogs

By Kaleb Page

In the sport world no matter what the venue, there comes along a story, team or player that we look to as an underdog and pull for. This Saturday night at UFC 180 the story of an underdog begins another chapter.

Mark Hunt, also known as the “Super Samoan,” stands at 5’10” and weighs in at 265 lbs. For a man his height to be in the heavyweight division, it makes him undersized when you look at some of the giants in the division standing from 6’3″ to 6’4″ (even one fighter at 6’11”). However, Hunt has shown time and time again he is not afraid to step in and mix it up with those who are much larger. Also at the age of 40, Hunt is at the end of the road or at least getting there because MMA is evolving and as time passes it shows how much of a “young man’s” game it truly is.

Prior to becoming a UFC fighter, Hunt was a member of PRIDE a very famous fight league in Japan that was eventually bought out by the UFC. In Pride fights Hunt was recognized as a huge force with undeniable power in either hand. Even though he was almost uncontrollable with his power, people found a way around it by getting him on the ground and neutralizing his power. After going on a streak of winning five fights the big man went cold.

Coming into the UFC Hunt found himself on the losing end of six consecutive fights all in convincing fashion either by KO/TKO or Submission. In an interview with news.com.au, UFC President Dana White said that after the buyout he really didn’t want to bring Hunt along. Even going as far to pay Hunt the money left on his contract just to walk away. Since then Hunt has proven him wrong leaving White to say, “I’ll never count Mark Hunt out ever again.”

Since the days of doubt Hunt has posted a record of 5 wins, 2 losses and 1 draw; including a streak of four wins. In nearly all of those fights Hunt was the underdog, since he is old and people doubt his ability anymore. Yet who has risen to the occasion winning those fights and doing it in convincing fashion (4 of the 5 wins by KO/TKO): Mark Hunt. Even though he has proven a lot of doubters wrong as his career starts to come to an end, there still is another task to complete.

UFC 180 this Saturday was supposed to be a huge heavyweight title fight between Cain Velasquez and Fabricio Werdum in Mexico City, Mexico. With Velasquez falling victim to a knee injury the UFC needed a short notice replacement, and the underdog answered the call. Facing Werdum could be the biggest challenge that Hunt has had, mainly because Werdum is possibly the best heavyweight submission artist ever to step in the octagon. As mentioned before the ground game is one that Hunt had trouble with, so if he plans to escape with another underdog win he might want to stay out of Werdum’s world.

On Bleacher Report and the news.com.au websites they cover this story very well and give how this story is one that any underdog lover should pay attention to. This is something I wish bigger outlets like ESPN would do more of; instead of looking to the traditional sports for underdogs, they can look to MMA or other non-traditional sports just as easily to find inspirational underdog stories.

On Saturday possibly one of the biggest underdog stories and upsets could happen in the UFC. If Hunt does get the win, he will be the interim heavyweight champion and next in line to face the champion Cain Velasquez. As a fan of the sport and someone who watches UFC events, I hope Hunt can continue the dream and get to the title fight. Either way, Hunt should be proud of where he has come from at such a late stage in his career and know he did it his way.

Saturday night take a break from the college football madness and take a look at what will happen in this fight. I know I will, and I will be rooting for the underdog.