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Starting In 2019, All Things UFC Related Will Be On ESPN

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When the UFC announced earlier this month that they had reached an agreement to stream events live on the newly-created ESPN+ network, many wondered if that was just the start of a relationship.

On Wednesday, those rumors were proven true, as the two sides reached an agreement on a new deal.

Starting in January 2019, all things related to the UFC will air on some form of ESPN, including 42 live events. Of those, 30 will be full 12-fight cards that air on an ESPN linear network.

The deal replaces the current one between the UFC and FOX, which is set to expire. We now will have “UFC on ESPN Fight Night” and “UFC on ESPN+ Fight Night” events to go with live prelims on ESPN leading into pay-per-view cards.

“Every year for the last 18 years, we have taken this sport and brand to another level,” UFC president Dana White said in a press release by ESPN. “We find innovative ways to promote our athletes and build stars. Today is another monumental day for UFC, our athletes, and our fans. We are now part of the ESPN family, recognized around the world as the pinnacle in sports broadcasting. I am very excited for this next chapter for UFC.” With more than 280 million fans around the world, UFC boasts the youngest fan base among major professional sports organizations in the US with a median age of 40 and an audience comprising 40% millennials.”

When the UFC landed on FOX, many felt it was a win-win for the promotion and the network. Despite some rough patches, the results have been good. Now, though, the biggest MMA promotion in the world is working hand-in-and with the biggest sports media network in the world.

Details of the agreement include 20 UFC on ESPN+ Fight Night cards to air on ESPN+, 10 UFC on ESPN Fight Night events that will include prelims on ESPN+ and 12 UFC PPV Preliminary Fight cards to air on ESPN Networks.

White’s “Contender Series” will be added to ESPN+ next June, along with a new and all-access series produced by IMG Original Content. Pre- and post-fight shows for the “Fight Night” events will air on ESPN and ESPN+ with more archives headed that way.

Jimmy Pitaro, ESPN President and Co-Chairman, Disney Media Networks said, “ESPN’s unparalleled multimedia platform is the perfect home for the UFC and will deliver tremendous value to both parties.  UFC fans are passionate and loyal and we plan to bring the full power of ESPN’s live coverage, powerful storytelling and unmatched distribution to serve them in an unprecedented fashion. We can’t wait to get started.”

Here Is Proper Fight-Watching Etiquette For Casual Fans

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So, you’re at the fights? Your friend/teammate/family member is laying it all out in the cage, on the mats, in the ring, and you’re JACKED! Good for you being there, that’s awesome. Way to go, I’m sure they appreciate it, you’re a good friend. If you don’t, however, train? If, in fact, sometimes you park at the gym, wait outside, text people about the bad ass training sesh you’re going to embark on, and then…you drive to chipotle, no judgement here. You do you. But now that you’re in the moment and you feel like you need to add to it, scream something at the top of your lungs because hopefully they will hear it and it will help right? Has to, you’ve seen enough fights, the words are right there. Hold up. Just pause.

Here is the process I’d follow if I were you, step by step:

One, if you’re standing, sit.

Two, if you have a drink, pick it up with your closest hand, then slowly wrap your other hand around the first and bring it to your lips. If you don’t, slowly place each hand under each corre-sponding thigh, and (now this is important) don’t take your eyes off the cage, in fact, watch closely.

Three, close your mouth.

That’s it. It’s easy. Simple. Straight forward. No, seriously, most of the time whatever you’re go-ing to yell is dumb. It really is. In the event you cannot follow the three step process above, please, for the love of all things holy, do not yell any of the following three things.

1) Go, Just Go!

Thanks, Teddy Atlas. No, really, thank you. The fighter in question is likely not giving their all at this particular moment. They really needed that phrase to encourage them to kick the effort up against the other person engaged in combat against them. Super duper helpful. Never mind they may be setting up an attack you don’t see, or that they’re hurt, or exhausted, or, I don’t know listening to their corner. Your generic encouragement to simply, ahhhh, what was it, ‘Go!’ is really helpful, much appreciated. In lieu of that, why don’t you yell out the items on your grocery list? ORANGE JUICE, CAT FOOD, TOILET PAPER! All equally helpful tidbits to be screamed.

2) Say anything about their opponent.

This one needs a small caveat. If the opponent in question is doing things particularly douchey, like egregious dick moves? Yeah, call them whatever you want. That said, trash talk-ing someone in the embrace of another person dead set on their demise, well, that’s just low class. There are enough negative emotions running through the mind of fighters on either side of the scrap. You needn’t add to it in any way. If you feel you must add your tepid thoughts to the melee, try yelling fashion burns. Equally helpful and maybe more poignant. “Hey, your part is off center!” “I feel like your tattoo placement is poor!” Then at least there’s evidence to those around you that you’re paying attention to the parts of the fight a novice can understand, and you’re not painting yourself as a uneducated troglodyte.

3) “Go for (insert technique/combination/move here)!”

Hey, thanks spotter, really great advice, specifically coming from the cheap seats. Of course you can see that the other fighter is dropping their left, and is now a prime candidate for a meeting with a hard right. You know why you can see that? No one is trying to kill you. Seated comfortably yards away, sated by food and maybe a couple of drinks, you can see all that’s happening. Of course you can. Guess who can’t? The person striving to survive. Please don’t arm chair the fight. The vantage a fan has versus what’s happening in the cage is like the difference between what you see when you open a bill and what your dog sees when looking at the same piece of paper. It’s nonsensical and not helpful. Just don’t.

I’m not saying don’t support your fighter, absolutely add your voice to the din. Absolutely. Just avoid trying to help past encouragement. Everyone will appreciate it. It’s better for people to think you’re an idiot than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.

Fabricio Werdum Is Now Guilty Until Proven Innocent

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Former UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum joins an ever-growing list of fighters to come under the watchful eye of the USADA.

Werdum failed a drug test for a potential anti-doping violation from a test conducted last April, the UFC confirmed. The Brazilian, though, believes he did nothing wrong and is already in the process of trying to clear his name.

Fala galera Fui pego de surpresa com a notícia de que um dos exames colhidos pela USADA em abril deu positivo para uma substância proibida. Me coloquei à disposição da USADA e do UFC e estou trabalhando com a minha equipe para entender o que aconteceu. Eu sempre fui muito cuidadoso com tudo o que eu tomo e sempre apoiei o esporte limpo. Vocês podem ter certeza de que vamos esclarecer esse mal entendido e espero em breve poder voltar a fazer o que eu amo, que é lutar. ➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖➖ Hey guys, I got up this morning to the news that one of my urine samples from April tested positive for a prohibited substance. I am working with my team, the UFC and USADA to understand what happened. I’ve always been careful with everything I take and I’ve always supported a clean sport. We will work hard to solve this misunderstanding and I hope soon to be able to go back to the octagon and do what I love

A post shared by Fabricio Werdum 🥇 (@werdum) on

Werdum said that he “got up this morning” to news of the failed test. He added that he has “always supported a clean sport” and will “work hard to solve this misunderstanding.”

The problem, though, even if Werdum is cleared of taking anything illegal because of an unknown substance, he has hurt his name.

Is it right that these results are released without it being fully investigated? Should they hold off until it is completely proven that the fighter did take something illegal on purpose before we hear about it as the public and media?

MMA 101 – Boxing

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For most, boxing is the first thought when the words, ‘professional fighting’ come up. It’s the longest tenured, most publicized, professional combat sport on the planet. A key piece of boxing’s long lasting appeal is its simplicity. Its appeal lies in its basic nature, two people, in the ring, hitting one another. There aren’t any kicks, there are no takedowns, just consistent efforts to relieve opponents of their senses by bludgeoning them unconscious. Boxing’s base nature leaves some holes for more complete fighters to exploit. A boxer in an MMA fight, loses. Period. A fight career based solely on keeping your feet planted while throwing punches doesn’t really prepare someone for the realities surrounding a hard low leg kick, or a blast double.  

Ignoring boxing, however…that’s also a bad idea. Walking into a fight without the most basic idea of how to avoid a punch or throw a jab is step one in the ‘how to get knocked out’ field guide.

Boxing can teach some important lessons:

 

Distance management:

The term distance management gets thrown around a lot in combat sports. It’s nowhere better handled than in boxing; when all you can do is throw punches, you learn in a hurry what the effective range is. A solid boxer learns to use his feet to get and keep him in range, and to capitalize on that position by throwing effective punches.

 

The jab:

Seriously, maybe the most important punch in all sports. Getting any kind of offense going against an effective jab is damn difficult. A solid jab keeps an opponent on the defense, helps a fighter manage distance, and when done right can add to the cumulative damage taken during a fight. Blocking a jab is relatively easy, it’s the three punches after it that get difficult. Boxers set up and throw the jab better than any other discipline.

 

Head Movement:

Mike Tyson embodies an extreme example of head movement. His peek-a-boo style made him hard to hit and set up his devastating punches. When all you have to do is evade punches, you had better get pretty good at doing that. The inherent head movement in boxing translates really well into MMA; learning how to slip a punch by a millimeter and counter will absolutely up one’s win percentage.

 

Combinations:

Punches in bunches win fights. Combos are a pillar of boxing. The ole one two, one two (or whatever variation you like) heavy hitting style is one of the most effective in combat sports. A boxing base will help any athlete learn to throw hands.  

 

Angles:

When most people watch a fight, they see two guys standing in front of one another. What they don’t see is the exploitation of little angles in footwork and motion. Boxing’s simplistic nature (simple, not easy) makes finding an offbeat angle a necessity. Sure, you could stand in front of you opponent and swing away, like chopping so much lumber. That is, however, a poor choice. He who finds a way around his opponent will eventually find a way to go through him.  Angles create openings, openings lead to knockouts.

Boxing is the oldest popular combat sport. One of the most derided in MMA circles, it’s also one of the most effective striking sports. It’s simple, learn to box if you want to fight.   

The Chaos of the Corner

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Chaos of the Corner

I felt like right now was the time to touch on this subject while the controversy surrounding the actions of Racquel Pennington’s corner was fresh in our minds coming off their recent title bout. There was a moment in between rounds that has caused Pennington’s camp to draw a lot of criticism. Pennington was very vocal about wanting the fight to be stopped, and her corner told her they were not going to call the fight for her. Before I jump too deep into why I 100% agree with her corner’s decision, let me remind all of the readers out there that at any point Racquel Pennington could have tapped. The decision to forfeit is always within the fighter’s grasp. At any point during that championship contest Racquel could have folded, she didn’t. She fought like a warrior for every minute of that bout.

Now let’s touch on a couple things on this bout specifically before I jump into what I call the “Chaos of the Corner”. Racquel was fighting for the UFC WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP!!! A position I’m sure like most fighters from the moment she stepped into the gym she had aspired to be in. Your team in a lot of ways knows you better than your family when you’re fighting at that level. They’ve seen the work you’ve put in and been a part of it. They’ve seen you shed blood, sweat, and tears to get to the spot that you’re in exactly in that moment. So before I go further I have zero criticism of Pennington’s corner and I believe that they made the best decision for their fighter as they know her best.

Ok, let’s jump into this now. In between rounds you have 60 seconds as a corner to get your fighter settled, tended to, to discuss the game plan, make any changes necessary, not a lot of time there folks. I try my best ahead of time to coach my fighters on how they should spend their time in the corner. Here’s a quick list of things that I access even during the round to make sure I spend my time in the most efficient manner as possible to ensure a successful outcome for my fighter.

  1. Are there any injuries that needed addressed?
  2. The fighter should listen in the corner and not talk unless asked a question.
  3. Are they listening during the round/sticking to the gameplan?
  4. BREATHE!!!
  5. Usually movement and a high guard are the things I have to remind the fighter of.
  6. Finally, leave the corner on a positive note. Even if your fighter is not listening to a single thing you say during rounds you want your fighter to leave the corner with a sense of hope and positive outlook.
  7. WORST CASE SCENARIO: Make sure the fighter knows they’re down 2 rounds and express the need for ACTION, not desperation, ACTION. You want your fighter to be ruthless, not wreckless.

You have to think of the time in between rounds for a corner the same as you would the pit crew at a NASCAR race. You have a lot to get done to make sure that engine and car is at it’s very best headed into the next lap and you don’t have a lot of time to do it.  So before judgement is passed on any corner’s decision you have to realize the chaos that is being a cornerman.

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