Category Archives: Editorials

A Look at the UFC Welterweight Division

12 Apr , 2019,
A. J. Riot
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There ARE an increasing number of fighters lining up for a shot of the welterweight belt
There ARE an increasing number of fighters lining up for a shot of the welterweight belt
Photo by  Andrius Petrucenia / CC BY 2.0

There are several weights in both the women’s and men’s divisions that can be described as being on fire at the moment. The one that has been turned on its head the most in recent weeks though is the men’s 170lb division. If you had asked fans and so called experts 12 months ago to sketch the likely top 10, very few, if any would have come up with anything resembling the current rankings.

The biggest Losers

Without doubt, the two fighters who have gone backwards the most in recent months are Darren Till and Stephen Wonderboy Thompson. Just 8 months ago, it looked like Till was going to be a genuine contender for the Welterweight belt and becoming the next star of the UFC. That is where the problem lay. The UFC and, crucially, WME-IMG and ESPN are desperate for a star name. Ronda Rousey was that name for a while, Conor McGregor stepped up at the perfect time to take on the mantle. The heads in their respective boardrooms are looking around desperately for the next person to step up. The mouthy Scouser looked like a perfect fit. Two back to back defeats have derailed his and their plans, however.

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The Next Big Event in the Boxing World

24 Feb , 2019,
A. J. Riot
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There have been few fighters in recent boxing memory as captivating and awe-inspiring as Vasyl Lomachenko. Every time the Ukrainian maestro takes to the ring, it’s a huge event for the sport, one which fans around the world don’t want to miss a second of.  The next opportunity to witness modern day boxing greatness from the 31-year-old will fall on April 12th, when British hope Anthony Crolla will be the next challenger to contest Lomachenko’s WBA ‘Super’ and WBO lightweight titles.

A Safe Bet

It’s at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, where Lomachenko will aim to defend his 135-pound belts again. Vasyl is considered a strong favorite at odds of -5000. Notably, the Ukrainian ace also holds the prestigious and highly-regarded Ring Magazine strap, having won it when he brilliantly dethroned Jorge Linares back in May last year.

Incredibly, that victory for ‘Loma’ over the stylish and very popular Linares at the world famous Madison Square Garden in 2018 was his maiden ring outing at lightweight. His 10th-round stoppage success over the Venezuelan saw him become the fastest ever three-weight world champion, earning another slice of history in his already sublime career in the professional ranks.

Lomachenko shot to prominence in a short amount of time as a professional and dazzled anyone who’s had the opportunity to view his incredible credentials up close. Bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw, regarded as the favorite in the UFC odds to overcome Henry Cejudo before his eventual upset, was previously involved in the Ukrainian’s camp while the MMA fighter prepared for an upcoming bout in the Octagon.

TJ Dillashaw by K.O. Artist Sports (CC BY 3.0)

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Boxing vs MMA: When Worlds Collide

20 Feb , 2019,
oleg
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Through the ages, long before the term ‘Mixed Martial Arts’ has ever been uttered or even conceived, the practitioners and spectators of various martial arts and combat sports have asked the question: which art is the most effective of them all? And the beginnings of modern MMA were intended to precisely answer that question (and the answer, at least around the time of early UFCs, was Brazilian Jiu Jitsu). Of course the days of “style vs style” are long behind us, and today to be a successful mixed martial artist, one needs to have a diverse skill set that borrows from a plethora of martial arts and styles. However we still experience an occasional cross-over matchup between practitioners of different arts. In this article, I will examine some of the most notable cross-overs between mixed martial arts and boxing.

Conventional wisdom dictates a significant “home court” advantage in a style-vs-style matchup: if a boxer faces a mixed martial artist in a ring under boxing rules, the boxer is a lot more likely to win than if the bout took place under MMA rule set – and vice versa. Betting odds reflect this, and so do most of the past fight outcomes. So if you’re a gambler, you could place a large, relatively safe bet for a comparatively small payoff on the odds favorite. Or you could take a big risk with a small bet on the underdog, in hopes of a big payoff if your prediction comes true.  Either way, next time your favorite MMA star steps into the boxing ring, you can get some help from the UK’s betting sites.

Art Jimmerson vs Royce Gracie

While this can’t be exactly be called a “boxing vs MMA” matchup – since MMA did not exist yet, and Royce Gracie represented BJJ in the first UFC – we have to start at the beginning. The very beginning might technically be Muhammad Ali vs Antonio Inoki, but UFC 1 is usually a good starting point for anything MMA-related. Of course the first UFC was organized and promoted by the Gracie family as a means of letting the world know about Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, and to show that GJJ/BJJ was the supreme martial art. To this end, rumor has it that UFC 1 competitors were not truly the best of the best at their individual sports, to assure an easier path to victory for Royce. Art Jimmerson is a good example of this – while he had a respectable boxing record of 29-5 prior to his fight with Gracie, Jimmerson did not earn many accolades in the boxing world. He also went 4-13 upon returning to the right after his brief UFC stint, indicating that he may have already been past his prime when he faced Gracie. Regardless, Art clearly had no clue of what he was getting himself into – of course, neither did most other UFC 1 contestants. Inexplicably, Jimmerson showed up to his one and only match in the Octagon wearing a single boxing glove, and was quickly taken down and mounted by Gracie. Trapped on his back with no idea how to escape the position, Jimmerson panicked and tapped out rather than absorb needless punishment. And thus began the legend of Royce Gracie.

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Training Tips to Help You Get a Boxer’s Body

18 Feb , 2019,
A. J. Riot
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Whether you are a boxing fan or not, you probably dream of having a body like a professional boxer. Boxers usually have a well-chiseled chest and ab muscles as a clear indication of the hard work they put into their sport. Besides that, they are well conditioned, capable of even going toe to toe for 12 rounds of intense boxing. Many boxers, especially the most successful ones, don’t dwell on power alone; they also rely on speedy handwork and footwork to bamboozle their opponents.
So, the question becomes: how can you get yourself a body like one? Here is an in-depth guide that’ll take you through how to train like a pro boxer.
Most exercises in this list will be bodyweight exercises, meaning you won’t need a gym to practice – only yourself and some space.

Burpees
Burpees are an excellent option for strength and conditioning training. With burpees, you work all the major muscle groups in your body.

How To Do a Burpee
Stand upright with your feet some distance apart for better stability. Quickly switch to a squatting position. Once in a squatting position, throw your feet back and get into a plank. Return to the squat and jump as high as you possibly can. You can add a few twists such as do two squats instead of one or do a sideways lateral jump rather than jumping straight up.

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UFC in 2019: A Brief Preview

14 Jan , 2019,
oleg
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Two years have passed since Zuffa – the former owners of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, who were instrumental in bringing UFC and the sport of MMA as a whole to it’s current state – have sold the company and turned the reigns over to the new owners, WME-IMG. While the new ownership kept the long time President Dana White at the helm, many things have changed under the WME banner: the match makers and overall approach to match-making, the broadcast team, expansion of women’s weight classes, and of course the ever-changing stream of champions – regular, interim, multiple-weight-division, disputed and undisputed. The highlights of 2018 included Khabib Nurmagomedov defeating Conor McGregor in the highest-selling Pay-Per-View (PPV) event in UFC history, Daniel Cormier winning and defending the heavyweight title while simultaneously holding the light-heavyweight belt, and Amanda Nunes ending Cris Cyborg’s 13-year undefeated streak  and becoming the first woman to earn the “champ-champ” accolade. But there is a flip side to every coin: Khabib’s win was followed by a near-brawl between the fighters’ corners, resulting in a yet-to-be determined punishment for the lightweight champ, which does not help clean up the already confusing title picture at 155 lbs. Cormier was forced to give up his light-heavyweight title to pave way for the return of his nemesis Jon ‘Bones’ Jones – which turned into a huge fiasco due to Jon’s continued inability to pass a PED test, and the UFC’s willingness to sweep it all under the rug. Nunes’ win (or more precisely, Cyborg’s loss) raised serious questions about the viability of women’s featherweight division. And I haven’t even mentioned the first ever fighter trade between major MMA organizations, as UFC released Demetrious ‘Mighty Mouse’ Johnson to fight for Singapore-based ONE Championship promotion, in return for acquiring the services of welterweight wrestling prodigy Ben Askren.

The only thing that remains constant in the world of MMA is the inevitability of change. This may be mostly due to it still being a relatively new sport which is trying to establish it’s long-term identity. The behind-the-scenes turmoil only adds to unpredictability of what is already an inherently unpredictable sport in terms of fight outcomes: the fact that there are so many ways to win a mixed martial arts bout makes it significantly more likely to see unexpected outcomes in MMA than boxing, or any other combat sport with a more restrictive rule set. And don’t even get me started on MMA judging: if a relatively close bout goes the distance, you might as well flip a coin to predict the judges’ decision. This makes MMA a tricky sport to bet on; however it also makes the reward sweeter when you do get it right. It also makes watching the fights that much more exciting when you have something riding on the outcome. So if you think that you can predict the winner of the next big fight and are willing to put your money where your mouth is, there are many resources available to place a bet online. With all that in mind, here are some of my thoughts on what 2019 will hold for the UFC.

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Will OneFC Become the “One” Where Careers and Legacies Die?

9 Jan , 2019,
jcs
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With the recent acquisitions of Eddie Alvarez and Demetrious Johnson, One Championship signed two proven legends still in their prime, or at worst, not far removed from it.

That’s the good part.  The bad part is that this may be the start of a trend — one that sees mid to mid-late career high profile fighters leave the UFC for a smooth descent to their careers.

Many will likely see this as a positive, mostly because UFC is a bit of a monopoly as it pertains to the upper echelon of the sport.  However, monopolies can be good in a sport where matchmaking on the lesser levels of the sport is mediocre at best.

This type of lackluster matchmaking is truly on display in Alvarez’s and Johnson’s next fights, neither of which are coming back from major injury or inactivity.

Last 4 Opponents + OneFC Scheduled Bouts

Eddie Alvarez (#4 LW) Demetrious Johnson (#2 FLY)
McGregor (#6 WW) Elliott (#9 FLY)
Poirier (#16 LW) Reis (#7 FLY)
Gaethje (#9 LW) Borg (#4 FLY)
Poirier (#5 LW) Cejudo (#2 FLY)
Nastyukhin (#196 WW) Wakamatsu (#354 BW)

Historical ranks used are from the Generated Historical Rankings set previous to the bout.

Now, I don’t know about you… but it feels like something is wrong with this picture.

Not only is OneFC headquartered on the opposite side of the globe and not only are they responsible for their wonky divisional structure that nobody really 100% understands (at least not the last time I looked) but the opposition quality that Alvarez & Johnson are facing is extremely lacking.  This isn’t the type of crappy matchmaking that plagues the lower levels of MMA — it is far worse.  I seriously doubt that a commission would sanction this match anywhere in the US, outside of say.. one located on a Native American reservation in Montana.

Boxing catches grief, because giant favorites are a common theme, especially on undercards.  MMA is not boxing and upsets happen much more frequently.  I have intimate knowledge of the rating system and database over at BoxRec, as well as the ones used here, obviously, and I estimate that upsets on the relevant level happen about 2.5 times as much in MMA, than they do in boxing.  Having said that, what happens if Alvarez or Johnson lose?  After all, shit happens.  What happens if they win?  Who cares?

I hope the money is worth it.

 

Fury vs Wilder: Much More Than A Belt at Stake

1 Nov , 2018,
A. J. Riot
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Photo credit: Twitter.com/WorldBoxingNews

Classic heavyweight boxing matches are few and far between these days. Sure, there have been some fights that have been hyped to death, like Anthony Joshua vs Joseph Parker, but they ultimately fell flat in the ring. Even Joshua vs Klitschko, the fight the Ring Magazine called “arguably the best heavyweight championship fight in 20 years”, said more about the travails of the heavyweight division over the last two decades than the bout itself. It was good. Perhaps, very good. But was it great?

On December 1st at the Staples Center, Las Vegas, Deontay Wilder (40-0, 39 KOs) will put his WBC Heavyweight title on the line against Tyson Fury (27-0, 19 KOs). The build-up has been uncharacteristically muted, especially when you consider Fury’s uncanny ability to steal the headlines. However, with just a few weeks to the fight, don’t put it past the Brit to do something in the vein of Conor McGregor to make sure the limelight is firmly on himself and Wilder before the bell rings.

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The Ultimate Guide to Online Boxing Betting

27 Sep , 2018,
A. J. Riot
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The Ultimate Guide to Online Boxing Betting

People have been betting on boxing for a long time. The sport has always inspired bettors and watchers since the early days of Jack Dempsey to the heydays of Mike Tyson and Mohammed Ali to present legends like Floyd Mayweather. There are many betting opportunities for bettors to bet on boxing.

Getting Started: How to Choose the Right Betting Site

If you are a beginner, the first step you need to take is finding a good betting site. With so many sites to choose from, you can be easily overwhelmed. But the rule of thumb is to choose a site that is safe and has a good reputation. You should also choose a site that has good odds. After finding a good site and signing up, you can go ahead and choose your bets.

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Expert Eye: The Dangers Of Weight Cutting

7 Sep , 2018,
A. J. Riot
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On November 10, 2017, 18-year-old Australian fighter Jessica Lindsay wrote “weight cutting is sick” on her Instagram page while preparing for a Muay Thai fight. Six days later, she died of extreme dehydration, having collapsed while out running, 30 minutes before she was due to weigh in. Her organs, her sister said, had shut down “one by one”.

Acute weight loss is a growing concern in combat sports. The practice of sweating out vast amounts of water to reach the required weight limit for a fight started in wrestling and has become hugely common in MMA and boxing. It’s not unusual for a UFC fighter to lose 20 lbs – often more than 10 percent of their body weight – in the 48 hours before a weigh in. They will stop eating and drinking, and then use a combination of saunas, hot baths and cardiovascular exercise to force their bodies to excrete as much fluid as possible. While extreme dehydration is less prevalent in boxing, it is still an option that boxers sometimes take to meet limits that are far below their natural weight. The thinking is that by shedding water weight quickly, only to pile the pounds back on after weighing in, they can gain a size and weight advantage over their opponent. Being the bigger and heavier fighter clearly has its benefits. In May 2016, Amir Khan was knocked out cold with one punch by Canelo Alvarez, who is said to have weighed as much as 30 lbs more than the 155 lsb limit on fight night.

Speaking to Betway, Dr Mike Loosemore MBE – chief medical officer for GB Boxing – warns that fighters are playing a game of “Russian roulette” with their health by playing the weight cutting game.

“First, there’s the danger of actually losing the weight,” says Dr Loosemore. “Sweat isn’t pure water – the salts that are in your blood are required for running your heart nice and smoothly. When you get very dry, you lose a lot of electrolytes. Those electrolytes are very important for the nerves that make your heart beat regularly. If they start misfiring you put yourself at risk of heart arrhythmia, heart attacks and death.” GB Boxing have strict guidelines when it comes to weight cutting, with “a dehydration of two percent of their weight considered safe”.

“Greater percentages than that, we wouldn’t recommend,” says Dr Loosemore, “because it’s just dangerous. It’s Russian roulette.”

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UFC: Seven under 30 – Update

23 Aug , 2018,
oleg
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Some time back, we published an article speculating on who will be the first UFC fighter to reach 30 bouts in the Octagon.

Almost six month later, some of the fighters on this list added to their tally, while others retired or left the promotion. Let’s take a look at who is now the most likely to reach this record first – and the seven has dwindled down to 5 active fighters.

But first, a few notes:

  1. While for most purposes we ignore No Contests (i.e. treat them as if the fight never happened), for the purpose of this record they are considered as valid fights. Once the Octagon doors close and the referee signals the start of action, it’s a fight – no matter if it’s eventually ruled a No Contest. This gives a one-up to Jim Miller.
  2. ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ house fights – generally termed “pro-exhibition bouts” are not counted. If they were included, TUF alumni Diego Sanchez and Michael Bisping would have three and two additional fights each, respectively.
  3. Though Tito Ortiz and Frank Mir both have 27 UFC bouts, they are not included in this list as the probability of either fighting in the UFC again – let alone three more times – is infinitesimally small.
  4. The ‘Average Fights Per Year’ calculation does not include any fights which took place in 2018. The year of fighter’s UFC debut is included in the calculation only if the fighter fought two or more times in their first calendar year; any fights in other promotions in the same year but prior to the fighter’s UFC debut are not included.

Next, the dropouts since the last article:

[#NR MW] Michael Bisping
Michael Bisping has officially announced his retirement from MMA in May 2018, sharing the current record with 29 UFC fights.

[#237 LW]  Gleison Tibau
Gleison Tibau has been released from UFC after losing a decision to Desmond Green at Fight Night 131. He shares the record for second place with 28 UFC fights.

That said, here are our remaining five, listed in the order of likelihood that they will reach the magic number 30 first:

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