Being Optimistic With Conor McGregor vs. Floyd Mayweather

Note: This is a column I wrote for Creators.

Well fight fans, I didn’t think it would happen but it’s been confirmed. UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor will face one of the greatest boxers of all-time – Floyd Mayweather Jr. – in a boxing match at 154 pounds. The match will take place Aug. 26 at the T-Mobile Arena. It’s my mother’s birthday, so I think my sister and my buddies might be able to talk her into going to a restaurant to watch the fight.

In all seriousness, to say worlds are colliding would be an understatement.

In one corner you have the undefeated Mayweather, who will step back into the ring for the first time since his win against Andre Berto in September 2015.

In the other, you have McGregor, the biggest star in MMA, who when we last left him had beaten Eddie Alvarez for the lightweight title, becoming the first fighter in UFC history to simultaneously hold championships in two divisions. – he also held the featherweight belt at the time.

To read the rest of the column follow the link.

Max Holloway’s “Blessed” Era Begins – a Fan’s Perspective

Note: This is a column I wrote for Creators.

When interim titleholder Conor McGregor defeated Jose Aldo to unify the UFC featherweight titles in 2015, it marked the end of the Aldo era.

When Max Holloway finished Aldo to unify the 145-pound titles last Saturday at UFC 212, it was the beginning of the “Blessed Era.”

Holloway finished Aldo at UFC 212 in the third round to become the top featherweight in the world. Even being several adult beverages in – a result of finishing a Comic Con Pub Crawl – I was enthralled by the match, a little sad that Aldo lost – he’s one of my favorites – but excited to Holloway win the big on. It was the culmination of a five-year journey for the “Blessed” one that began at UFC 143 where he lost to Dustin Poirier.

To read the rest of the column, follow the link.

Bellator 179: Cheick Kongo Should be Champion – or at Least a Contender

While most of the spotlight on Bellator 179 was on Rory MacDonald submitting Paul Daley in his first foray in the promotion’s cage – and the confrontation between “Semtex” and Michael Page afterwards – the event featured Cheick Kongo picking up another Bellator win.

Kongo, who recently celebrated his 42nd birthday, earned a split-decision against Augusto Sakai, who suffered his first pro career loss in the process. The fighting Frenchman defeated the prospect in what many folks considered an uneventful, tentative bout. Still, a win’s a win.

Nevertheless, Kongo improved to 9-2 in the Bellator cage – the best promotional record of any heavyweight currently on the roster. He came to Bellator in 2013, fresh off his UFC run. While he was billed as an octagon veteran at Kongo has won a heavyweight tournament and challenged for the belt, becoming one of the promotion’s stalwarts in the big man’s weight class.

To read the rest of the story, follow the link.

Crunch Time: To disqualify or not to disqualify? – that is the question

Note: This is my Crunch Time column I wrote for the May 18 issue of the Cheney Free Press.

If a fighter commits a foul — say, an illegal punch, kick or knee — against their opponent, without the intention to do so, should they still be disqualified?

The answer is “yes,” according to most fans who watched last Saturday’s UFC 211 broadcast. During the preliminary portion of the event, the fight between Eddie Alvarez and Dustin Poirier ended in a no contest ruling.

During the second round, Alvarez landed three knees to Poirier’s head. Poirier had his hand on the mat when Alvarez delivered the first knee. Both of Poirier’s legs were on the ground when Alvarez’s second and third blows struck him in the head and couldn’t continue the fight. Referee Herb Dean ruled the fight a “no contest,” after declaring that Alvarez’s illegal knees were unintentional, much to the chagrin of fans who thought he purposely landed the knees and should have been disqualified.

Fans weren’t the only people who not happy with Dean’s ruling. Both commentator Brian Stann and UFC President Dana White felt Alvarez should have been disqualified, as did I. I don’t think Alvarez was trying to cheat to win, and he may have not seen Poirier’s positioning when he landed those knees, but the rules are in place for a reason and he broke them, whether he meant to or not. Look at other sports. Players get called for fouls for breaking the rules, even if they had no intention of doing so.

To read the rest of the column, follow the link.

Maurice Smith, Welcome to the Hall of Fame

Note: This is a column I wrote for Champions

During the Fight Night: Nashville event, the second member of the 2017 Hall of Fame class was announced. Former UFC heavyweight champion Maurice Smith will be inducted into the Hall on July 6, during the UFC Fan Expo.

Smith will join former WEC featherweight champion Urijah Faber, who will be inducted in the hall’s Modern Wing at the expo.

Smith will join the Pioneer Wing, alongside fellow former UFC heavyweight title holders Mark Coleman, who he defeated for the belt, Randy Couture – who won the championship from him – and former interim champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.

Although some UFC faithful might look at Smith and say “who is that guy and why should he be inducted into the Hall of Fame?” However, the Seattle native has an extensive – and impressive – combat sports resume that includes a murderer’s row of UFC stars and mixed martial arts legends.

To read the rest of the column, follow the link.

Crunch Time: Demetrious Johnson a fighter anyone can get behind

Note: This is a Crunch Time column I wrote for the April 20 issue for the Cheney Free Press.

UFC flyweight (125 pounds) champion “Mighty Mouse” Demetrious Johnson recently declared that he is “the best champion to stand in the octagon.”

That’s not hard to argue — and I’m not saying that because of his fight last Saturday with Brazilian challenger Wilson Reis. Late in the third round of their fight, Johnson took Reis to the ground and managed to get side control before transitioning to the full mount and locking in an armbar to submit his opponent.

The reason that Johnson’s bold proclamation is not necessarily false is because he has now tied the record for most UFC title defenses with 10. The only other fighter to boast that claim is former middleweight champion Anderson Silva, who accomplished the feat in July 2012 — two months before Johnson began his run as UFC flyweight champion. Of the UFC’s 11 champions, Johnson is the only fighter to have held his belt for more than two years. But Johnson doesn’t want to stop at 10 title defenses. During a post-fight interview, he said “next time we’re in the octagon, I’m going to break it,” referring to the record.

I first watched Johnson fight in 2010 when he was under contract for World Extreme Cagefighting. One of his highlight performances was against Damacio Page, who he submitted with a guillotine choke. Like many longtime fight fans, I was thrilled when he signed his UFC contract in 2011 and defeated the highly touted Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto in his octagon debut.

To read the rest of the column, follow the link.

Invicta FC 23: Tiffany van Soest has opportunity to capture first MMA win

Tiffany van Soest has accomplished a lot in her combat sports career, but she has yet to capture her first professional mixed martial arts victory. That could all change on May 20 at Invicta FC 23.

At the event, which is headlined by a flyweight bout between former title challenger Vanessa Porto and undefeated prospect Agnieszka Niedźwiedź, van Soest will face Las Vegas native Christine Ferea in a strawweight bout.

This is an important fight for van Soest, one that could be the start of a great MMA run.

To read the rest of the story, follow the link.