MMA Life

MMA Life

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Saturday, July 19, Fedor Emelianenko is set to face Tim Sylvia under the banner of Affl iction‘s fl edgling MMA promotion. The Russian heavyweight legend has been the subject of frequent discussion, for while his prowess is evident whenever he enters the cage, he has not faced any of the other champions in his weight class. The closest he has come to a well-matched fi ght very well might be arm barring bears in the Siberian wilderness.

Mention Fedor in conversation with hardcore MMA fans, and you’ll be bombarded with passionate opinions on both sides. His fans consider him the undisputed king of the heavyweight ranks, while his critics think he’s the most overrated fi ghter in history, and would be handily defeated by the UFC’s heavyweights.

Fortunately, the debate may be soon laid to rest. His battle against the former two-time UFC champion will likely either secure his legendary status or prove his frailty against one of the best the sport has to offer.

FEDOR EMELIANENKO

Fedor is widely regarded as one of the top heavyweight mixed martial artists on the planet, even though he has never set foot in the top MMA promotion, the UFC. Holding a 27-1 record, Emelianenko was at the top of most heavyweight rankings for his entire tenure as PRIDE’s heavyweight champion, from March 2003 until the organization dissolved.

Emelianenko’s place in the rankings is controversial. Detractors claim that years of fi ghting inferior opponents has unfairly infl ated his record. Additionally, other former PRIDE standout fi ghters, such as Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic, have performed disappointingly outside of Japan. There is no indication that Emelianenko’s success will continue against UFC talent.

Even the lone blemish on Emelianenko’s record is contentious. The Russian’s sole loss came in a Rings tournament in December 2000, when he faced Tsuyoshi Kohsaka (26-18). Seventeen seconds into the fi ght, Kohsaka opened a fi ght-ending cut with an unintentional illegal elbow strike. Usually, if a fi ghter wins with an illegal strike, the fi ght is ruled a no contest (or loss via disqualifi cation if the strike was intentional). However, as the event was a tournament and Emelianenko could not continue, Kohsaka was declared the winner and allowed to advance. As a result, Emelianenko had his fi rst and only loss.

The fi ghter’s background in the Russian martial art of Sambo prepared him well for MMA competition. Emelianenko is a decorated Sambo practitioner, winning the World Combat Sambo Championship and the Russian Combat Sambo Championship. He’s a strong grappler, with half of his wins coming by way of submission. But he’s also an incredible striker, with punishing stand-up and brutal ground and pound.

Sylvia might be the fi rst legitimate competition Emelianenko has faced in four years. His last fi ve fi ghts have been unorthodox at best. Most recently, he defeated 7’2” Hong-Man Choi at Yarennoka! While his opponent prior to that fi ght, Matt Lindland, is a legitimate MMA threat, Lindland is a middleweight and not even in Fedor’s weight class. His three other recent fi ghts were Mark Hunt, a 275-pound super heavyweight with a 5-3 MMA record, 43-year-old Mark Coleman, an MMA legend past his prime, and 400-pound Vale Tudo // PHOTO BY SUSUMU NAGAO fi ghter Zuluzinho.

TIM SYLVIA

Sylvia, who trains at Pat Miletich’s MFS camp, is a two-time UFC heavyweight champion. He fi rst won the title by defeating Ricco Rodriguez at UFC 41. He successfully defended his second title, won by defeating Andrei Arlovski at UFC 59, by winning a rematch with Arlovksi by unanimous decision at UFC 61, and defeating Jeff Monson by unanimous decision at UFC 65.

Sylvia fi nally lost to Randy Couture at UFC 68. After the Couture fi ght, Sylvia defeated Brandon Vera at UFC 77. As Couture’s estrangement from the UFC left the heavyweight division without a champion, the win against Vera granted Sylvia a shot at the interim UFC heavyweight title. Sylvia won the fi rst two rounds before falling victim to Nogueira’s slick submission early in the third round.

The fi rst thing you notice about Tim Sylvia is his stature. Sylvia is 6’8” and has to cut weight to make the heavyweight top limit of 265 pounds. Sylvia’s primary strengths are his standup and his reach. He has a background in wrestling and grappling, but hasn’t demonstrated much of either inside the cage. To his credit, Sylvia did show off adequate submission defense in his bout with Monson at UFC 65, and even attempted a triangle choke in the bout.

MATCHING UP THE FIGHTERS

Four of Sylvia’s last fi ve wins have come by way of decision. By comparison, Emelianenko has fi nished thirteen of his last fi fteen fi ghts. A decision-heavy fi ghter is typically at a severe disadvantage when facing an opponent with the ability to fi nish fi ghts.

Emelianenko’s primary strengths are Sylvia’s greatest weaknesses. Sylvia has diffi culty with strong wrestlers and grapplers – outside of his loss to Couture, Sylvia’s three other losses were all by submission. Additionally, Sylvia’s most valuable tools will not be particularly effective against Fedor. Sylvia’s extraordinary reach will not be much of an advantage. Emelianenko has repeatedly demonstrated the ability to close ground against much larger opponents.

Sylvia also won’t be able to utilize his size and strength to clinch, as he did against Vera. Emelianenko’s Sambo and Judo provide an extensive repertoire of throws from the clinch. If Sylvia attempts to tie up, he’s likely to fi nd himself on his back.

Expect this fi ght to be fairly one-sided. Sylvia is a legitimate opponent and should provide a great measuring stick, but I just don’t see any realistic way for Sylvia to win, outside of something like a stoppage due to a cut.

While I’ve counseled against relying on “MMA Math” in previous articles, in this case looking at common opponents does have value. It’s important to note that Emelianenko has two wins over Nogueira, who recently defeated Sylvia.

As of press time, betting lines for this fi ght haven’t been released. However you can try to predict your own line and be ready to jump on the opener. I expect this line will open strongly in favor of Fedor. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Emelianenko an 80% favorite or better at open (-400 to -450), with Sylvia in the range of +350.

However, I believe that Emelianenko will win this fi ght close to 90% of the time, making him an acceptable bet at anything short of -550. I expect the fi ght will go no farther than the second round, with Emelianenko winning via submission. And I’m sure the following day he’ll be back to arm-barring bears.

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Rick DeJesus SingingRick DeJesus is at the head of the class

Two years ago, Rick DeJesus—the vocalist of rock band Adelitas Way—was staying cool inside the Tropical Smoothie Café in Las Vegas, Nevada, without a care in the world. His group’s single “Invincible” had just landed on mainstream radio and was being featured on television programs such as Bully Beatdown, CSI: Miami, and WWE Superstars. Simply put, the 27-year-old was at ease. Minutes later, then-rising UFC welterweight contender Dan Hardy entered the cafe. As “The Outlaw” walked inside, he noticed DeJesus sitting at a table. The more he glanced at the singer, the more he began to recognize him.

“He looked at me and said, ‘You look familiar.’ And I said, ‘Hey, you look familiar too.’ That’s how we met,” DeJesus recalls. “He wasn’t a big star yet. He’d just had his second fight in the UFC and was getting ready to fight Marcus Davis, and we just hit it off. I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m in a band called Adelitas Way.’ He said, ‘Yeah, I know you. I hear your song on the radio all the time.’”

This wasn’t the first time DeJesus met a high profile mixed martial artist. In fact, the rock vocalist lives in Las Vegas and has a habit of running into many top UFC superstars. Whether it’s hanging out backstage at awards shows with José Aldo, Jon Jones, and Urijah Faber or bumping into guys like Chuck Liddell at nightclubs, the singer has been embraced by the MMA community. It’s a good thing, because DeJesus is a diehard fan of the sport.

When DeJesus first discovered MMA, he was a fan of the Gracies, the Shamrocks, Kimo Leopoldo, and Dan Severn. Although the aforementioned families and fighters were pioneers of the sport, the initial bout that hooked him was a UFC 3 matchup between Keith Hackney and the morbidly obese Emmanuel Yarborough back in 1994.

“Everyone was basing the fight on the size of Yarborough, thinking he was gonna kill Hackney, and I was so interested in the fight,” DeJesus says. “Hackney goes out there and knocks the guy out. I think that was my first real eye-opener. There’s something special about two athletes proving who is superior, and that’s always what’s been interesting to me.” He never really had time for any casino games.

Growing up in an athletic family, DeJesus always competed in basketball, baseball, and hockey. The 6’3”, 210-pounder also took up boxing at a young age and wrestled on the Harry S. Truman High School team in Levittown, Pennsylvania. Then, while attending junior college, he took a class in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, learning the submission game. It piqued his interest enough to consider fighting on the amateur level.

Rick DeJesus Band“A couple of my friends are fighters and sometimes I’ll scrap with them, and we’ll go put some gloves on or something,” he says. “I’ll mess around with them, and they’ll always break my balls, like, ‘Dude you should train.’ Obviously music is first for me, but if there was ever time where I got off, I’d go back to the gym and polish things up.”

However, due to his band’s hectic schedule, it might be a while before that ever happens. DeJesus formed Adelitas Way in 2005, and the group (also comprised of lead guitarist Robert Zakaryan, rhythm guitarist Keith Wallen, bassist Derek Johnston, and drummer Tre Stafford) spent the next three years writing material, handing out demos, performing concerts at any venue that would host them, and, in the process, developing a strong following. All of that hard work paid off. Three years later, the empowering rock troupe signed to Virgin Records and released their self-titled debut album in July 2009. The studio effort became a mainstream smash—thanks in large part to the singles “Invincible,” “Scream,” and “Last Stand.”

Once they finished touring with Breaking Benjamin, Chevelle, and Shinedown, Adelitas Way returned to the studio to record their sophomore set Home School Valedictorian. Fueled by the banger “Sick,” the explosive full-length offering is loaded with an assortment of intense compositions that have piercing significance. Yes, this album is packed with attitude. “You put track one on, it’ll punch you in the face,” DeJesus says with a laugh. It’s a much bigger thrill than playing the slots!

For DeJesus, he mainly wants people to experience two things upon hearing Home School Valedictorian. “I want them to listen to the record and be able to relate to it. If they’re having a bad day or feel a certain way, I want them to put the record in and hope it makes their day better,” the singer says. “And second, I want them to listen to it and when that thing ends—when track 11 is over—I want them to say ‘Holy fuck.’ I want people to call their friends up and say, ‘Did you fucking hear this album? It’s amazing!’”  

 

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Among MMA’s hottest topics is an aspect of the game that gets attention for all the wrong reasons. Seemingly every event has a decision where either side can debate a winner and not come to a consensus on why.

But with any sport that can have an outcome based on objectivity, there are always going to be arguments and calls for change. With so much at stake these days, state commissions cannot afford to turn a blind eye to the furor, lest fans, promoters, and fighters feel they are hopelessly viewing and competing in a flawed system.

With a full slate of events scheduled for 2010 and no foreseeable changes to the system on tap, the spotlight will continue to focus on today’s judges and the decisions they are entrusted to make. No matter how far things have come, this fight isn’t going away.

The Best of What’s Around?

Without regurgitating the rulebook word for word, the 10-point must system can essentially be broken down like this:

• In any given round, 10 points go to the fighter that wins the round based on effective striking, aggressiveness, defense, grappling, and control of the fighting area.

• The fighter that loses the round traditionally gets nine points, but more points can be deducted based on rule infractions or damage.

• There also can be a 10-10 round if it’s simply too close to call, but it’s rare.

While this seems simple enough, it’s the perception of the rules and the interpretation of “effective” that raises the biggest issues. One major complaint is that judges don’t understand the ground game and sometimes can mistake being on top as “effective grappling.”

“The biggest problem is when judges and refs don’t understand effective ground and pound,” says Strikeforce analyst Stephen Quadros. “As soon as the fight hits the ground, they think it’s a death match.”

WEC bantamweight contender Scott Jorgensen cited the August 2009 Jeff Curran/Takeya Mizugaki fight as an example of a case where damage can be done from the bottom and be missed, a bout Curran lost by split decision.

“Curran was throwing up submissions and strikes and everything from the bottom. If a guy is that active and being that proactive about his ground game, that’s an offense,” says Jorgensen.

“When you’re keeping your opponent’s offense from happening, you’re winning that position, and that needs to be taken into account.”

In Nevada, the 10-point must system has been a constant since the summer of 2001. Nevada State Athletic Commission Executive Director Keith Kizer has heard it all when it comes to MMA, boxing, and kickboxing scoring, including suggestions on rule adoptions, variations on the point system, and lots and lots of feedback.

As part of the Association of Boxing Commissions—a group that legislates and enforces rules for both boxing and MMA in North America—Kizer says they have reviewed various systems but haven’t found anything to compel them to drop the 10-point must system.

“There’s not a lot of support to change what’s been going on for the last 10 years or so,” says Kizer, adding that boxing and MMA don’t necessarily have to fall under the same point scoring system. “The other systems didn’t seem to be getting any better, and in fact, they seemed to be worse.”

Eastern Thinking

In looking for potential changes, two Japanese systems have been pointed to as alternatives.

“In Pancrase, fighters were given a certain number of points to start the match. When they were caught in a submission but made it to the ropes to escape or were knocked down to the mat, they lost points. When the time limit was reached, the fighter with the most points remaining was the winner,” explains Total MMA author Jonathan Snowden.

PRIDE had a system where judges were instructed to choose a winner based on the fight as a whole, not by individual rounds. “The major criteria consisted of the fighter’s effort to end the fight by submission or knockout and causing damage to your opponent. It was a system that rewarded aggression and penalized a fighter looking to do nothing more than control position,” Snowden says.

Jorgensen has never fought under either system but is open to the idea.

“I think there are a lot less controversial decisions over there. The fights might be closer and require a judge to be more cognitive of what’s going on, but if they’re trained and know what’s going on in MMA, it shouldn’t be an issue to know throughout a 15 or 20 minute fight who’s creating all the action.”

Judged By Your Peers

While various systems can be debated endlessly, the crosshairs remain on those brave souls who put numbers to paper and can change the course of fighters’ careers just by giving their opinion. For the most part, judges are relatively obscure and don’t tend to comment too often, aside from Cecil Peoples, who staunchly defended his scores for one of 2009’s most controversial decisions: Lyoto Machida vs. Mauricio Rua at UFC 104.

In Nevada, there are 15 to 18 judges that cover boxing and MMA, with just a handful doing both. Depending on the event, either Kizer or the Commission (with Kizer’s recommendations) will assign approximately seven judges to a card.

During a fight, judges are front and center to the cage, but in the occasion that they are blocked by a referee or can’t get a good vantage point of what’s happening on the other side of the cage, they are at the mercy of their own eyes or looking up at a screen in the arena.

“When we watch an event, we get three to five camera angles, replays, and commentary on those replays to shade our view of who won. Judges don’t have that. Why?” Quadros says. “All these people online are geniuses, as they have the luxury of great production value to see every minute move that the judges don’t see live.” Jorgensen agreed, adding that when he’s cornered fighters, he sometimes misses action due to the referee or angle.

“You might not see strikes landing from the bottom or a guy on top landing short elbows. Even up against the cage, you might not see the complete control of a guy if he’s landing stuff in the clinch,” Jorgensen says. “Some of the action and attacks are in closed space. Judges may not see it, and you may not get credit.” Kizer said that judges haven’t asked for monitors and is unaware of any jurisdiction that has them.

Quadros—who has judged in both the UFC and King Of The Cage—feels that the amount of events is problematic in today’s judging and that quality is being stretched too thin. However, when it comes to judging, there is one simple truth.

“Judges are good up until they render a decision fans don’t agree with,” Quadros says. “It should be obvious: ‘Who won the fight? This guy or that guy?’ That’s the bottom line.”

SIDEBAR

SO, YOU THINK YOU CAN JUDGE?

If you’ve ever thought that you can judge a fight better than those who get paid for it, step right up. You too can become an MMA judge if you’re willing to work for it. When Nevada State Athletic Commission Executive Director Keith Kizer gets applications from inexperienced wannabe MMA judges, he tells them to spend a few years judging in one of the state’s amateur MMA organizations before they are considered. Even then, Kizer is careful not to put judges in high-pressure situations until they are fully ready and have proven themselves at various events. “There’s nothing like the pressure of being in that seat, judging the fight, and knowin
g the whole world will hear your score in a few minutes,” says Kizer. “No matter how well you do, there’s always going to be discontent— unless it was a very easy fight with a clear-cut winner.”

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Frank Mir gives us a peek into his past and dishes on growing up a loner, playing Dungeons and Dragons, and how an introduction to sports ultimately gave him the confidence to express himself on one of the largest stages in the world.

 

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Comedians have an attachment to mixed martial arts. Listen to even a few hours of Jay Mohr’s cosmically popular podcast Mohr Stories, and you’ll hear comedian after comedian talk about their affection for the world’s fastest growing sport. Opie and Anthony, Jim Norton, Bob Kelly, and preeminent comedic MMA nut Joe Rogan all share a fascination for the abuses and beauty in the cage. Maybe it’s the thought of being alone on stage, struggling, and having to soldier on. The cage and stage can seem eerily similar.

image descFellow funnyman Rob Riggle shares the same fondness for MMA. Riggle made his climb to the stage via the United State Marine Corps, a setting that taught him hand-to-hand combat and the humble nature of a man who has seen war zones in Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan. It also taught him to respect the fighters who lock themselves in a cage to fight.

“I remember being a Marine in Corpus Christi, Texas, and turning on the first UFC and seeing Royce Gracie walk out there against guys who’d get progressively bigger and scarier,” says Riggle. “I’d be like, ‘This guy’s dead, what’s he doing?’ Then he would win, win, win. I was the biggest fan of him. I’d tell all my buddies about him.”

Riggle was a 2nd Lieutenant, a recently commissioned officer, who like many of today’s young fighters, saw that he could “get a job as a waiter…or do something unique in the Marines and see the world.” He had graduated from Kansas University with a film major and done well on his AQTFAR, a flight aptitude test that is essentially the “SAT for flight school.”

The Marine Corps wanted pilots and Riggle wanted to fly. It was a match, or so Riggle thought.

In addition to studying G-forces and hoping to one day keep up foreign relations after a stint at Top Gun (“You know, sir, flipping him the bird.”) Riggle, was sent to Quantico Marine Corps Base in Virginia, a base with the moniker “Crossroads of the Marine Corps,” because all office candidates are required to clear The Basic School (TBS) and Officer Candidate School (OCS). When Riggle went through the schools in the late 1980s, much of the hand-to-hand combat training was focused on how to “submit assailants with quick and lethal force.”

“The Marine Corps called it Line Training—it wasn’t Krav Maga in name, but it was a mix of martial arts. We focused a lot on getting opponents to the ground with judo moves and used a bunch of lethal and non-lethal holds,” says Riggle. “Combat training was really focused on wrist locks, elbow locks, grappling, and wrestling—things of that nature, like dealing with knife attacks and how to fight with the butt stock of your rifle.”

Riggle says that a few years after he completed TBS and OCS, the Marine Corps developed Marine Corps Martial Arts Program. The new system focused on Marines becoming thoroughly proficient with their techniques and earning belts of green, tan, and gray. “It’s nothing elaborate,” says Riggle. “The point was to get to neutralization as quickly as possible.”

For Riggle, the fighting was fun. However, it was only a few weeks before Riggle was supposed to get pinned with his wings that he started having second thoughts about his career plans. “I was a 24-year-old kid, and I’m thinking that maybe, just maybe, I want to give the comedy thing a try. I want to try, I wanna know.” Days before committing to flight training and signing over the next eight years of his life to the Marine Corps, Riggle decided to become a ground officer. He’d serve his four-year contract, and, in the meantime, he’d practice his comedy.

image desc

Riggle joined the Upright Citizens Brigade in New York City where he worked in the Office of Public Affairs, which was well-thought placement by a senior officer who knew of Riggle’s affable disposition. He worked during the day as a Marine, and in the evening, he’d dip into Chelsea and work on his comedy. The Marine Corps didn’t have a problem with his moonlighting. “As far as I know, it was allowed. They never said a word about it, and I never mentioned it.”

Riggle never went to Flight School, but he also decided against full retirement. Instead, he became a Marine Reservist—able to be called into service as needed. Staying on meant that he had to keep up with his drills (one weekend each month and two weeks each year) and that he’d be sent on occasion to combat zones to work as a Marine and to later entertain the troops. In late 2012, he made a full retirement after serving for 23 years and earning the rank of Lt. Colonel. “I would’ve liked to see if I could have made full-bird, but it was too much trouble keeping up with my drills.”

Riggle is still meddling in MMA. In addition to picking up poker games with former UFC Champion Randy Couture, his FOX pregame show invited UFC president Dana White to the set to promote the UFC on FOX. The skit included White dressing up as a homeless man, which some of the thin-skinned media types balked at for being crass. “I just heard about that and was dumfounded. I mean, get a sense of humor, Give it a break,” says Riggle. “Dana was a stud for coming out and playing with us. I appreciated it so much.”

Although Riggle had scene-stealing roles in some of the biggest comedies of the last five years, including The Hangover (“Ride the lightning!”), his career is still in rapid ascent. This year, he’ll be producing more episodes of his hit online series TK and shooting a pilot for FOX with a working title The Gabriels. Riggle also made a guest appearance in May on the number one show on television, Modern Family, which gave him a chance to work with Ed O’Neill.

“Ed is a black belt—a Gracie black belt!” says Riggle. “How cool is that? A comedian with a black belt who loves fighting.”

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Everyone grows up eventually. After graduating college, Erich Krauss set out to live the life of a wandering writer in Spain, Morocco, Thailand, and South America while living on as little money as possible. But at thirty years old, Krauss found the vagabond lifestyle getting a bit tiring, and he decided to accomplish something with his life. So, with an empty wallet and a laptop full of stories, he moved back to California and wrote several books while working as a Muay Thai coach at Ken Shamrock’s gym.

After publishing books on the Asian tsunami, the Mexican Border Patrol, and California wildfi res with different publishing companies in New York, Krauss co-authored Jiu-Jitsu Unleashed with Eddie Bravo, and got it published by McGraw Hill. But there was a problem: They didn’t know anything about MMA.

“They jacked it all up,” Krauss says. “They didn’t know how to edit it or market it, and then they tried to sell it as a striking book. Eddie Bravo has never thrown a kick in his life!” That experience lit a fi re under a guy who normally had an asbestos ass, and, along with his training partner, Glen Cordoza, he founded Victory Belt Publishing in 2005.

But a lifetime dedicated to adventuring instead of higher education left Krauss qualifi ed to host a show on Travel Channel, but not to run his own company. “We had to learn business real quick because we didn’t know much,” Krauss admits. Fortunately, his father was experienced at making money, and guided the pair though the steps of starting a small business. Before they knew it, the they hit a gold mine when BJ Penn agreed to let them publish his book, Mixed Martial Arts: The Book of Knowledge.

Today Victory Belt has sold over a million copies of its books, regularly outselling the major New York publishing houses. So if you’ve bought an instructional book on MMA in the last three years, there’s a good chance it was published by Krauss and Cordoza. The Las Vegas-based company has cranked out titles by notable fi ghters like Randy Couture, Anderson Silva, Antonio Rodrigo Noguiera, Fedor Emelianenko, and Karo Parisyan, among others. This makes them the unoffi cial “How-To Guys of MMA,” whose infl uence has reached all corners of the sport.

The average MMA tome takes between fi ve and twelve months from photo shoot to release, depending on how many projects the pair are juggling at the same time. Their fi rst book, Guerilla Jiu Jitsu with Dave Camarillo, took a mere fi ve months to shoot, write, design, and print, while a book by Matt Lindland has been languishing in the design phase for over a year because other projects keep jumping ahead of it in the line. A year is actually a relatively short time in the publishing world, especially when you consider the amount of information that’s embedded in each book and the impact it will have on its readers. Customers throw down their money because they want to learn how to fi ght, so a fi ghting system like Lindland’s, which took him years to develop, cannot be trivialized or rushed.

“We put everything we can into our books,” Krauss says. “All of our books are a complete system instead of just a bunch of moves lumped together. Glen [Cordoza] is a master at breaking down a fi ghting system and presenting it in a way that’s easy to understand, so it fl ows naturally.”

But just how much of an instructional book is written by the athlete versus the publishers? Fighters like Fedor Emelianenko and Anderson Silva are celebrities with busy schedules, and when you add in a language barrier, the challenges of writing a four-hundred page book are clear. With Victory Belt, the ratio is about 50-50. “The athlete has the system and the philosophy,” says Krauss. “We get as much information as we can out of them at the photo shoot and then get more as we write the book, but we put in the little things. You don’t need Fedor to say, ‘I put my right foot here when I throw a cross.’ We know that so we put those little details in.”

That approach has made Victory Belt one of the best-selling publishers in the business today. But with so many titles, there’s a risk of saturating the market so heavily with MMA books that they might go straight to the bargain bin. Fortunately, Victory Belt doesn’t publish just anyone’s book. Randy Couture’s Wrestling for Fighting is a completely different system from Karo Parisyan’s Judo for MMA, and Marcello Garcia’s X Guard isn’t the same as Eddie Bravo’s Rubber Guard.

Krauss and Cordoza don’t just take on a project because there’s a popular name associated with it. There has to be a compelling reason to spend a year preparing a book about a fi ghting system—and a market to sell it in. “We only publish books by people who have something to offer,” adds Cordoza. “Kimbo Slice might be a marketable guy and a recognizable name, but he doesn’t have a fi ghting system that people will want to learn. He’s still developing his skills, so we wouldn’t publish a book by him.”

What they will publish are eight more books; one by BJ Penn on gi-style grappling, as well as titles by Lyoto Machida, Cung Le, Greg Jackson, and another book by Anderson Silva in 2009. It’s not exactly what Krauss set out to do when he hit the road so many years ago, but if Victory Belt continues to be successful, his tales of hang gliding in Guatemala and running with the bulls in Spain will make their way to the bookshelves too.

When you travel far and wide to capture the fi ghting styles of the best in MMA, it’s easy to gather some stories of tomfoolery along the way. Here are some of Krauss and Cordoza’s favorite moments:

1. Punking Eddie Bravo – “We were videotaping one of Eddie Bravo’s DVDs and decided to mess with him a little, so we had this big Samoan dude come into the gym and hit on a girl Eddie was interested in. Eddie kept looking at this guy and fi nally walked over, got in his face, and started yelling at him to leave the gym or they were going to fi ght. The funny thing was the girl kept instigating it. She was saying, ‘Kick his ass Eddie!’ and all these other things to stir the pot. When it was fi nally over Eddie admitted he was scared to confront the dude, but had to for this girl. The things we do for hot chicks.”

2. The Missing Day –“We had to fl y to Russia to photograph Fedor for his book. Well, I don’t really like fl ying, so Glen gave me two Zanax and I was out cold. I was so out of it that, when we were changing fl ights in New York, they had to carry me from one plane to the other. And when they propped me up against a wall some kids started looting my pockets. When I fi nally came to, we were in Russia…25 hours later!”

3. Anderson Silva’s Impersonations – “There isn’t much to this, but it was so funny at the time. We were photographing Anderson Silva for his striking book and during one of the breaks he suddenly goes into a deadon impersonation of Royce Gracie’s fi ghting style. Then he broke out Randy Couture, Bruce Lee, and Chuck Liddell imitations that had the whole gym rolling.”

4. Sleeping on Couture – “We had to drive from Chico to Randy Couture’s Legends gym in L.A., and like always, we’d stayed up all night working beforehand. So we drive the nine hours down there and go straight into the photo shoot just as tired as hell. Well, Glen got into the clinch with Couture, and suddenly I had to adjust some of the camera equipment, which took a minute or so. When we were ready to shoot, Glen was asleep on Couture’s shoulder…standing up! Randy had to wake him up to do the photos, but he was totally cool about it.”

5. Tempers Flare in Albuquerque – “
We were shooting Greg Jackson’s fi rst book, and one of the co-authors was this Army guy who was pretty intense. He had a video recorder going, so whenever Greg talked he could capture it. Well, I forgot he had it on and kept saying, ‘write this down,’ or ‘did you get that?’ every time Greg spoke. I didn’t know it was starting to wear on him, so I did it one more time and he blew up. He was yelling, ‘Yes I got it, mother f**ker. What do you think I am, a f**king idiot? I’m a damn Army offi cer with a Masters degree and you’re poking at me like a f**king kindergartner with crayons!’ He was joking a little bit, but only a little.”

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Most bands use the Internet to spread the word about their music. Although Benji Madden is promoting Good Charlotte’s fifth studio album Cardiology on various social media platforms, the rock guitarist also uses it to interact with mixed martial artists such as Shane Carwin, Josh Koscheck, and Jason “Mayhem” Miller. In fact, those budding online bromances have transcended outside the cyber world.

 

“That’s the amazing thing about Twitter—you break the ice with people, and then start hanging out with them,” says the 31-year-old Madden. “I think it also lets fans get to know fighters. When you get to know these dudes, you feel emotionally attached to them. You see the work they’re putting in. You see their dedication, and you begin to root for them. It becomes personal.”

 

Madden first became a fan of MMA in 2001 when, during a tour, Rancid guitarist Lars Frederiksen introduced him to Chuck Liddell. After spending a few minutes with “The Iceman,” the tatted rocker thought he was “a cool guy” and began keeping a close eye on MMA. Not only did Madden learn about all the fighting styles, but now he serves as an unofficial ambassador to the sport by converting those who pay little attention to MMA into instant fans.

 

“For UFC 117, I was with four guys who knew nothing about MMA. I walked them through the card and during the Stefan Struve fight where he was losing to Christian Morecraft, they were all like, ‘He’s getting his ass kicked,’ and I was like, ‘Yeah, but anything can happen in this sport. Just watch!’ Then, Struve gets his knockout,” Madden recalls. “By the end of the night, they were like, ‘When’s the next one? When’s the next one?’ I just know anyone who really watches and takes the time to try to understand the sport will be hooked on it.”

 

While Madden is a die hard aficionado, he recently got his own “fight on.” Earlier this year, former MTV Headbanger’s Ball and current NASCAR 24/7 Live host Riki Rachtman trashed him by calling Good Charlotte a “pop” band (a no-no in the punk world) and challenged him to a boxing exhibition.

 

Though caught off guard, the guitarist accepted the fight, which served as the headliner for Ellis Mania 5—an event created by skateboarder/radio host Jason Ellis. In preparation for the bout, the tatted musician trained at Fortune’s in Hollywood, California, alongside Ellis and Mayhem Miller.

 

For Madden, this fight wasn’t a joke.

 

“Anyone who knows about my band knows that we’re not shit talkers and we’re not dickheads. At the same time, before I ever started training, we still threw down with anyone. We don’t care. That’s just how we were raised,” he says. “So I said, ‘If I’m gonna do it, I’m gonna do it right,’ and when it came time for the Ellis Mania fight, I wasn’t walking in there laughing, because he told me to my face that he was gonna kick my ass.”

 

The rock guitarist knocked Rachtman down multiple times, and the fight was called in the first round. “Not to pat myself on the back or anything,” he says, “but for my size, I have heavy hands.”

 

Although Madden isn’t a professional mixed martial artist or boxer by any means, he understands the sacrifice it takes to compete on an elite level. In fact, it correlates well into a touring musician’s lifestyle. While playing in a band is quite a different and less physically demanding occupation compared to being a cage fighter, there are similarities between the two, such as perseverance and dealing with the critics who label you as an overnight sensation.

 

“When you have your first hit, everyone is like, ‘Oh, those guys came out overnight,’ but it’s like, ‘Actually, nah.’ We’ve been a band sleeping on people’s floors for the past five years. Losing every job we ever had, because if we had a show, of course we’d take it,” he says. “You dedicate everything to it. You’re homeless at times, you lose your job, you sell all your shit, and you go on tour and come back. Then, when you finally get that breakthrough, that deal or whatever, everyone thinks, ‘Oh, that just happened overnight.’”

 

Now, 10 years removed from crashing on people’s couches and dropping their debut album, the band resides in beautiful Los Angeles, California, and returns with their fifth studio album Cardiology. For Madden, it’s a defining moment of his career.

 

“This is gonna be our best record for sure, and fighting has everything to do with that,” he says. “The work ethic, the lifestyle, and the encouragement—the thing I love about the whole MMA scene is how encouraging they are of each other. There is so much positive energy going on when the training is happening. You see these guys getting ready and see how much they build each other up, and that was something I got a chance to learn from.”

 

And now, it’s time once again for Madden and company to share that encouragement among their legion of fans, and, of course, the Twitter universe.

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“That’s the unfortunate thing about hype—when there’s a lot of hype behind you and you don’t live up to it, it goes away really quick.” —Dana White, UFC 149 press conference

Ultimate DisappointmentsIt’s probably our fault—overzealous media members—who, in our endless quest for an intriguing story, over-hype an athlete who has yet to prove anything at the next level. Every sport has endless examples of athletes never living up to the expectations that the media and fans place on them (see JaMarcus Russell in the NFL or Kwame Brown in the NBA).

Mixed martial arts has seen its share of fighters who have experienced success in other promotions only to struggle when they make their long-anticipated debut in the UFC. Do they fold under the bright lights and pressure of the big show? There’s no doubt that it’s a whole new level of stress when a fighter making his UFC debut is walking to the famed Octagon in front of 15,000 rabid MMA fans, and suddenly ring announcer Bruce Buffer is screaming “It’s time!” Many industry experts believe that experiencing “Octagon jitters” is natural, but how an athlete deals with the jitters is what marks the difference between success and failure.

“Octagon jitters are real as far as allowing the pressure of the event to affect your performance,” says Greg Jackson, one of MMA’s most successful trainers. “Making sure that your mind is focused on controlling what you can control and letting the rest go is very important.”

MMA legend and former UFC Heavyweight Champion Bas Rutten also believes a successful transition to the UFC can be a psychological challenge.

“When a fighter makes his name in another organization and the UFC starts to take notice, there’s a lot of hype to live up to,” Rutten says. “They’d better be good and have confidence, because some will wonder if the level between the UFC and their old organization is a big difference. Once they start thinking like that and other people tell them that the UFC is a much higher level, doubt starts kicking in. Once doubt gets ahold of them, some fighters can’t deal with it. They need a few fights to overcome this feeling. Others will never have a problem. It’s all in your mind.”

Matt Hume, the founder of AMC Pankration in Kirkland, Washington, has trained some of the biggest names in the sport, including Rich Franklin, Chris Leben, and Demetrious Johnson. Hume believes the fighter’s preparation is the key to Octagon success.

“Teach them everything they need to know as an amateur before becoming a pro,” Hume says. “You need to have patience to reach your technical goals before making the jump. Be honest with them about their true ability to be successful at the highest levels of MMA. If they are truly prepared and capable, it should be treated like any other fight that preceded it.”

Former Strikeforce Middleweight Champion Jake Shields was riding a 14-fight winning streak and was widely considered one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in MMA when he finally signed with the UFC in 2010. The potential of Shields facing the UFC’s top middleweights had MMA fans drooling, but a lackluster and semi-controversial victory over Martin Kampmann in his Octagon debut had critics questioning if he could compete on the biggest stage.

Shields did nothing to silence those critics when he lost back-to-back fights to George St-Pierre (for the UFC Welterweight Title) and Jake Ellenberger. Since the losses, Shields has earned much-needed wins over Yoshihiro Akiyama and Ed Herman, improving his UFC record to 3-2, but many fighters have not experienced the same success.

Here’s a look at five fighters who did not live up to the hype-train when they stepped into the Octagon.

Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipović

Pre-UFC Record: 21-4-2
Notable Achievements: 2006 Pride World Open-Weight Grand Prix Champion/1999/2000 K-1 World Grand Prix Runner-Up
UFC Record: 4-6

After winning the 2006 Pride Grand Prix and earning victories over some of MMA’s best fighters—including Wanderlei Silva, Josh Barnett, and Mark Coleman in PRIDE—Cro Cop entered the UFC in 2007. He defeated Eddie Sanchez at UFC 67, but then he dropped consecutive bouts to Gabe Gonzaga and Cheick Kongo. Cro Cop left the promotion to fight three times in Japan before getting a win over Mostapha al-Turk in his return to the Octagon in 2009. It would be a rollercoaster ride the rest of his UFC career, and after losing three straight fights to Frank Mir, Brendan Schaub, and Roy Nelson, Cro Cop walked away with a disappointing 4-6 record.

Norifumi “Kid” Yamamoto

Pre-UFC Record: 18-3-1
Notable Achievements: 2005 K-1 Hero’s Lightweight Tournament Champion
UFC Record: 0-3

Known for his aggressive fighting style and controversial personality, Kid Yamamoto’s move to the UFC in 2011 after a successful fight career in Japan had fight fans excited. However, he’s yet to get a “W” in three UFC fights, dropping bouts to Demetrious Johnson, Darren Uyenoyama, and Vaughan Lee, who supplied Yamamoto his first loss via submission in front of his countrymen in Saitama, Japan, at UFC 144.

Yoshihiro “Sexyama” Akiyama

Pre-UFC Record: 12-1-2
Achievements: 2006 Hero’s Light Heavyweight Grand Prix Champion
UFC Record: 1-4

“Sexyama” won a split-decision victory over Alan Belcher at UFC 100 that earned him Fight of the Night. However, following his impressive debut, Akiyama has yet to get back into the win column, losing four consecutive fights to Chris Leben, Michael Bisping, Vitor Belfort, and Jake Shields. Winning three Fight of the Night bonuses has eased the pain.

Wanderlei Silva

Pre-UFC Record: 5-1
Achievements: PRIDE Middleweight Champion/2003 PRIDE Middleweight Grand Prix Tournament Winner
UFC Record: 4-7

In his first UFC fight, Silva was TKO’d by Vitor Belfort at UFC Brazil in 1998. He then beat Tony Petarra at UFC 20, before losing to Tito Ortiz at UFC 25. By the time Silva returned to the promotion in 2007, he held records for the most wins, knockouts, title defenses, and longest winning streak in PRIDE history. He has not, however, experienced that same type of success in the UFC. Following his latest defeat to Rich Franklin, “The Axe Murderer” has dropped to 4-7 inside the Octagon.

Jason “Mayhem” Miller

Pre-UFC Record: 16-3
Achievements: Superbrawl Welterweight Champion/ICON Sport Middleweight Champion
UFC Record: 0-3

Miller made his first appearance at UFC 52 in 2005, where he lost a unanimous decision to Georges St-Pierre. “Mayhem” bailed, and proceeded to earn wins-galore in other promotions, before returning to the big show six years later. He may have wished that he didn’t come back. After two uninspired, lopsided losses to Michael Bisping and CB Dollaway, the UFC brass sent Miller packing.

Dishonorable Mention

Kimbo Slice – UFC Record: 1-1
The YouTube sensation was given the opportunity to compete on The Ultimate Fighter 10, where he beat Houston Alexander in the finale. In Slice’s next fight at UFC 113, Matt Mitrione picked him apart, and he was promptly cut from the roster.

Rolles Gracie – UFC Record: 0-1
The son of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu pioneer Rolls Gracie, Rolles was one-and-done after Joey Beltran TKO’d him at UFC 109, prompting Renzo Gracie to call his performance “embarrassing.”

Jorge Santiago – UFC Record: 0-2
Santiago won the Strikeforce Middleweight Grand Prix in 2007 and the Sengoku Middleweight Grand Prix in 2008, but he was taken out by Brian Stann and Demian Maia in his only two UFC fights.

James Toney – UFC Record: 0-1
The former World Champion boxer talked (incoherently most of the time) his way into an MMA fight against Randy Couture at UFC 118 in 2010. Couture shot a low-single, tenderized Toney from mount, and mercifully submitted him with an arm triangle.

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T he Ultimate Fighter reality television show has been given a lot of credit for the meteoric rise (I used a Goldie-ism) of mixed martial arts into mainstream culture. TUF 1 debuted in January 2005 and was a big hit for Spike TV. Likewise, another cultural phenomenon came into existence around this time. YouTube—the video-sharing Web site where users can upload, view, and share video clips—was launched in February 2005.

What, if any, is the correlation with regard to the success of YouTube and the rise of MMA? I’ll leave that for some grant-winning wiener to decide. In the meantime, these seven YouTube videos—the majority of which happened outside the cage—are inherently entertaining and may be able to shed some light on the increasing popularity of MMA. If you haven’t seen these clips, check them out the next time you need a good laugh. Like it or not, Kimbo Slice didn’t make the list.

7. Heath Herring Kiss www.youtube.com/watch?v=udyVPmXiLKY +104,800 views

The phrase “protect yourself at all times” has never been more apropos than it was in a 2005 K-1 Dynamite fi ght pitting Yoshihiro Nakao against Heath Herring. While the ref was going over his fi nal instructions with the fi ghters in the center of the ring, Nakao decided to forgo the traditional touching of the gloves, and instead, leaned in and gave Herring a kiss on the lips. Living up to his nickname, The Texas Crazy Horse instantly delivered a right hook that knocked Nakao out cold. No man since has tried to kiss Herring.

6. LFC 25—A Double Knockout www.youtube.com/watch?v=jhiHatGncek +222,600 views

The title says it all. At the Legends of Fighting event in Indianapolis, Shaun Parker and Tyler Bryan simultaneously knock each other out in less than 10 seconds of the fi rst round. The bout was ruled a draw, but if you watch the video closely, you can see that one of the fi ghters—although unconscious— raises his arms in victory. The best part of the video is the reaction of special guest referee Shonie Carter. I’ve got a feeling no one prepped Mr. International with a contingency plan to handle this freak occurrence.

5. Rampage’s Chuck Liddell Impression www.youtube.com/watch?v=cM6Yv9a96j4 +334,800 views

Rampage + video camera = funny. When Rampage retires from MMA, he could easily go work for an improv troupe. His impression of Liddell, from his punching stance to his victory celebration, is spot-on.

4. BJ Penn Tells It Like It Is www.youtube.com/watch?v=LZ76VkRe-gA +128,000 views

Immediately after his TUF 5 defeat at the hands of Brandon Melendez, warrior Andy Wang broke down in tears and began to wail inside the Octagon. Ok, that’s not so funny. The hilarity ensues when Wang’s coach, BJ Penn, shows him no sympathy and begins to imitate the yowls of Wang. Penn then proceeds to kick Wang off his team for refusing to follow his repeated instructions to go for a takedown during the fi ght. Wang has since achieved cult status on message boards like Sherdog and The Underground for his self-professed status as a ronin (masterless warrior).

3. Dear Don: Getting Married www.youtube.com/watch?v=huuhRcnDUUk +17,000 views

It’s almost impossible to pick my favorite Don Frye moment. Is it his nose-to-nose staredown with James Thompson, his punchfest with Yoshihiro Takayama, or his brawl with Ken Shamrock? Actually, I prefer a gentler, more vulnerable Frye moment.

In an IFL segment called “Dear Don,” fans were encouraged to ask Don for some no-nonsense advice. The topic in question for this particular segment was Don’s thoughts on marriage. Let’s just say his answer is awesome in every sense. There is something about Frye polishing an automatic rifl e and giving marriage advice that I fi nd humorous. Frye leaves us with these poignant thoughts: “Why buy the cow when you are getting the milk for free,” and “Don’t do it. Run.” If this video doesn’t make you want to grow a mustache and get a gun, you aren’t a man.

2. Bob Sapp—Pizza Commercial www.youtube.com/watch?v=xUgJ9hEufGU +325,000 views

It’s no secret that Bob Sapp has a bit of a cult following in Japan. In fact, the popular behemoth is the television pitchman for products ranging from fabric softener and gummy candy to noodles and arcade games. Perhaps Sapp’s most entertaining endorsement is that of Pizza-La, the highest-grossing pizza chain in Japan. Not to ruin it for you, but the commercial consists of Sapp wearing red spandex, dancing, and lip-synching. He also has a bevy of female backup dancers. It’s 15 seconds of marketing that is sure to have you craving Japanese pizza.

1. Bas Rutten Street Defense www.youtube.com/watch?v=D3K-mrlYG7Y +2,500,000 ews

This clip is a compilation of some of the more entertaining techniques Bas Rutten offers in his video Lethal Street Fighting Self Defense System. The clips are vintage Rutten, as he offers up the following nuggets of street fi ghting advice: “Everyone underestimates a kick to the groin,” and “If some guy said something about your girlfriend and he’s sitting cross legged, well that’s a no-brainer—just break his kneecap.”

Rutten provides his own sound effects as he demonstrates punches, elbows, and his favorite … yes, the kick to the groin. The government should mandate that every bouncer in the country purchase and study this video. The Dutch Master is supremely entertaining in every way.

Watch them now at FIGHTMagazine.com/youtube From Rutten and Rampage to Frye and Sapp, YouTube allows you to delve just a little deeper into the lives of many of your favorite mixed martial artists. If it’s somewhere being recorded on a camera, there is a good chance it will end up on YouTube—good, bad, funny, sad, and everything in between.

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There are certain rights and privileges that come with being the big brother in a family, one of which is the ability to physically dominate your younger brethren. This right is one that Baltimore Ravens’ defensive end Arthur Jones still enjoys to this day

“I would have to say me,” Arthur says when asked who would win in a fight between him and his two younger brothers, “unless they both jump me at the same time.”

The “they” in question are his youngest brother, Chandler, who is a standout defensive end at the University of Syracuse, and middle brother, Jon, who is the UFC Light Heavyweight Champion. Surely Arthur Jones is delusional—there is no way he could physically dominate one of the baddest men on the planet, is there?

Art Jones“I’m a lot bigger than Jon, and I have pretty good speed as well,” says Art. “We’ve been wrestling each other for years, so we know each other very well, especially the takedowns we’re both going to use. It’s like a game of chess, and I’ve got the advantage because of my size and speed.”

When you dig a little deeper into the history of 25-year-old Arthur Jones Jr., his statements might not just be hyperbole. Not only was he an outstanding high school football player at Union Endicott High School in Endicott, New York, he was also a superb heavyweight wrestler, winning the New York State Championship in 2003 and 2005, while finishing as the runner-up in 2004. Then, when you hear it straight from the horse’s mouth—Jon has publically said that Art is the better wrestler—you start to ascertain that Art Jones might not really be boasting when he says he’s the toughest dude in his family. Jon should know, as the NFL lockout this past offseason allowed his big brother the time to train with him at Greg Jackson’s Mixed Martial Arts in Albuquerque, New Mexico, before his showdown with Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC 128.

“We both benefited from the training,” says Art. “We worked on a little bit of everything— wrestling, Muay Thai, BJJ. Being a wrestler, you’re never comfortable on your back, but I picked it up, and I learned Jon’s work ethic is second to none.”

Having big brother in his training camp definitely turned out to be a mutually beneficial experience, as little brother went on to smash Shogun and snatch the UFC Light Heavyweight Title in the process, and Art has had a far better sophomore NFL season than his debut a year ago. After only seeing action in two games his rookie season of 2010, Jones has already played in three games (through Week 3) in 2011 and recorded four tackles. And, he credits his rise in playing time to his offseason spent training with Jon in Albuquerque.

“It helped me out a lot mentally,” says Art. “I pushed myself harder—not that I ever quit or anything—but I just learned how to beat myself mentally. When times are rough and you can’t breathe, just keep pushing forward. I think the high altitude definitely helped out a lot. It played a big role in me coming to camp in shape, and it’s just a great way to change up the workouts.”

And this brings us to another seemingly unbelievable statement about Art Jones—Jon says that with a few more years of training, Art would be able to “smash” current UFC Heavyweight Champion Cain Velasquez.

“I just laugh at the whole thing,” Art says of the controversy his brother’s statement has caused. “Who knows with a couple years of training. I’m pretty sure my brother didn’t mean to start any tension. That’s just what he believes. My brother has never seen me lose—in a wrestling match or any time we had a physical altercation.”

Cain doesn’t need to look in his rear-view mirror just yet. While a scheduled MMA fight this past August was thwarted due to NFL labor peace, Art hopes to be in the NFL for at least another decade. However, when you take into consideration his size, speed, wrestling background, and elite athletic ability, the day when Art Jones is a force in the UFC’s heavyweight division doesn’t seem so unfathomable. And Jon Jones’ supreme confidence in his big brother’s pugilistic
skills shouldn’t come as a surprise either—brothers are expected to have each other’s backs.

“I get a lot more butterflies watching Jon fight than I do when playing football,” Art says. “Any time you see a family member in the cage, being the older brother, you always want to protect your younger brother.”

It’s okay, Art—little brother Jon has proven time and again that he is fully capable of taking care of himself.  

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