MMA Life

MMA Life

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A prime Tyson vs. a prime Ali? Most would favor Ali, but you never know. Tyson could crack back in the day. A prime Sugar Ray Robinson vs. a prime Sugar Ray Leonard at welterweight? I got Robinson, via late-round TKO.

For hardcore boxing fans, those mythical match-ups are a source of endless debate for devotees of the sweet science. That’s because the old-time fi ghters of the ’30s, ’40s, and ’50s would be competitive, even dominating, over today’s champs in every division. If you don’t believe me, let’s resurrect the Joe Louis of the second Max Schmeling fi ght, transform him into a cruiserweight, and then watch as he crushes everything put in front of him for the next 15 years.

MMA junkies don’t have that problem. At least not right now. There is simply not a chance in hell, for example, that the Royce Gracie who dominated the fi rst UFC cards 15 years ago would stand a chance against any of today’s top guns.

The reason today’s superstars would crush the old generation of champions is obvious: Compared to any other mainstream sport (and by now, it unquestionably qualifi es as mainstream), MMA’s infancy is barely in the rearview mirror. 1993? Might as well be the Ice Age, a time as antiquated as the days when a boxer like Jack Johnson didn’t have to go to a neutral corner after knocking a man on his ass, or when the two-handed set shot could win a team an NBA championship, or a pure serve-and-volley man could become the number one tennis player in the world.

On July 19, MMA nuts had their hands full. In one night, on competing cards (UFC and Affl iction), two of the best fi ghters in the world—Russia’ Fedor Emelianenko and Brazil’s Anderson Silva—were about to separate the men from the boys. And they did. Despite some lengthy contract disputes that had prevented him from facing off against marquee heavyweights for the past two years, Fedor annihilated former UFC Heavyweight champ Tim Sylvia in just 36 seconds. Silva was just as dominant. The current UFC Middleweight belt holder, who over the past two years has completely cleaned out his division with KO after KO, moved up to 205 and effortlessly picked apart the dangerous James Irvin before putting him out of his misery at 1:01 of the opening frame.

For the past two years, Silva and Emelianenko—along with a rejuvenated UFC Lightweight Champ BJ Penn and UFC welterweight king Georges St. Pierre—have been touted as representing a new, truly elite class of fi ghters: the Four Horseman of an MMA Apocalypse. While their games remain distinct from each other, all four men earned the superstar strips because they boasted a lethal combination of world-class athleticism, toughness, conditioning, and a fl owing style that could not simply be reduced to a handful of weapons, let alone any major weaknesses. This year, both BJ and GSP absolutely outclassed the consensus second-ranked contenders (Sean Sherk and John Fitch), winning their titles in thrilling but one-sided contests.

But watching a handful of guys mow down everyone in front of them can get a little old. Aside from a potential rematch for the Welterweight title between BJ and GSP, a 205-lb. run for Silva (he has publicly stated that he wants to remain the 185-lb. champ, for now), or the very outside chance that a 45-year-old Randy Couture could somehow pull another rabbit out of his hat and give Fedor a run for his money, the view from the top isn’t so exciting.

“In the early days you didn’t have a lot of complete fi ghters, but we’re seeing more and more of them,” says fi ghter/trainer extraordinaire Bas Rutten. “Right now mixed martial arts has become its own martial art—it’s really happening. To be a top guy you’ve got to be able to win in every way possible. The fi ghters are going to keep getting better, the techniques will keep improving, but today the top guys are just blowing everybody else away.”

But while some debates about the current MMA landscape seem to be closed for now, others remain. Will the top guns of today someday be considered the Robinsons and Alis of mixed martial arts in 10, even 20 years? Or will GSP, Silva, Fedor, and BJ be regarded in the same way that today’s fans see Royce Gracie and Dan Severn—innovators and champions, for sure, but nothing compared to what’s inside the ring and octagon right now? “In the past year or so there’s been a been a huge technical leap forward in terms of what fi ghters are doing in the ring, but right now, there’s only a handful of fi ghters who can do it,” says EliteXC star Frank Shamrock. “Older systems have been getting more effi cient. Guys like GSP now have what Bruce Lee always thought you needed—not style, but the ability to work effi ciently. When I see fi ghts, I see a lot of holes—the spaces, the extra movement, the wasted energy. But over the past year, I’ve seen everybody tightening up his game.”

But Shamrock, who is widely acknowledged as one of the fi rst true innovators of the “complete game” approach to MMA training, doesn’t think today’s elite will have what it takes to compete against the next generation in a mythical match-up. “I think we’re about 70 percent there, about two to three years away,” says Shamrock. “Because of the nature of our sport, techniques and styles come and go in terms of waves of popularity. Every year, athletes get better, techniques get better, and technology gets better. That being said, I don’t think we’ll fi nd guys that will make GSP look like Royce Gracie does today.”

Shamrock isn’t the only member of the MMA brain trust who feels that the future hasn’t quite arrived. “I think with time we’re going to start seeing individuals who will be able to compete at the top level in any of the disciplines in MMA,” says American Kickboxing Academy’s Javier Mendez. “For example, soon it won’t be enough to just say an MMA has good boxing technique. We’ll be able to put the top guys up against pro boxing champs and they might win, then they’ll go off and win gold at an international Jiu-Jitsu competition. That’s how good they’re going to get, because we’ll have more elitelevel athletes, and techniques that will be considerably more refi ned.”

Exactly what techniques will evolve into must-have knowledge for the next elite class depends on whom you ask, and whether the handful of truly unconventional fi ghters like Lyoto Machida and Cung Le get the opportunity to compete for a championship. (Machida, whose defense-fi rst Shotokan Karate style may not result in any Chuck Liddell-style highlight reel haymakers, currently holds an unblemished record, and Le, whose Chinese San Shou high kicks broke Frank Shamrock’s ulna in an EliteXC card in March, is just getting his MMA career off the ground.) “Every artist has his own interpretation of our art,” says trainer Greg Jackson, who prepared GSP for the Fitch fi ght. “Just look at how Mohammed Ali fought compared to Sugar Ray Robinson. That’s what an artist does. I have no idea when we’ll see a bigger group of guys with the skill set of a GSP or Anderson Silva, but that day’s coming, believe me. And it’s not far off.”

One discipline that’s currently being heavily tinkered with is the traditional Gracie BJJ guard position, which allows a fi ghter to have more options when fi ghting from his back. Current variations on the technique include the Rubber Guard, the X-Guard, the Spider Guard, the Butterfl y Guard, and the De La Riva guard. Don’t be surprised if that list doubles in two years’ time.

Eddie Bravo, the man credited with introducing the Rubber Guard into MMA, currently counts up-andcomer Shinya Aoki as his main pr
otégé. “In Gi Jiu-Jitsu, taking the high guard (moving your legs up to the high torso of your opponent) is a way to attack. But you can’t play high guard in MMA because your legs will slip down when there’s sweat on you and punches are coming down on you. Rubber Guard is a way to play high guard with no Gi. It is essentially the best defense in MMA, as well as the best offense.”

Whether Bravo’s style becomes standard issue in the years to come remains to be seen, but one thing is certain: There are children out there, in the gym, who are currently training in all aspects of MMA, learning things that guys like Tito Ortiz didn’t even know about until well into their pro careers. “I’ve got a 12-year-old son who’s been in a gym since he was born,” says boxer-turnedmixed martial artist and trainer Jeremy Williams. “He can kick, punch, wrestle, grapple, and submit, and do it all instinctually. The fi ghters of tomorrow are defi nitely going to be better than the guys out there today because training methods are evolving, and so many more people are getting into the sport. Michael Phelps is the greatest swimmer that anyone’s ever seen. If you look at 1972, the times Mark Spitz was putting up couldn’t compare, and he was the man back in the day. In the same way, today won’t compare to tomorrow.”

And it’s not just fi ghters’ kids who are drinking the MMA Kool Aid. “I have a couple of boys working out of my gym who are 10, 11 years old, and they’re already beasts,” says training guru Pat Miletich. “I mean, we are talking champion wrestler, who can already perform at a high level with judo, Jiu-Jitsu, and kickboxing. When they’re 18, I wouldn’t want to be sparring with them. There are bits and pieces of all the disciplines that really work well for MMA, and honing and combining them into a real effective art is an ongoing thing all the time. To be honest with you, in fi ve years, you’re going to see some really scary things on TV.”

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When UFC ring announcer Bruce Buffer gets on the microphone, you know IT’S TIME. With an unmatched passion and unmistakable voice, Buffer’s fighter introductions have become a staple of the UFC experience. We caught up with the maestro to get his thoughts on what the hectic world of the UFC looks like from his unique perspective.

Do you have any idea of the actual number of UFC cards you have announced?

I really don’t. I started at UFC 8, and we just wrapped up UFC 154. Over that time, I’ve only missed one event. When you add in the non-pay-per-view cards, like Fuel TV and FX, I have easily done close to 200 shows.

With multiple cards per month, how do you handle such a busy travel schedule?

I’m very passionate about what I do, but the travel required for this job takes some getting used to. For instance, I did the Atlantic City show in June, and in less than 24 hours, I was announcing fights in Brazil. I was basically in two different hemispheres doing two different UFC shows in less than 24 hours. I’m quite proud of that accomplishment, and with the help of Zuffa, I was able to get it done. It’s all about the travel.

You’ve announced some huge fights over the course of your career. Are there any that stick out in your mind more than others?

As soon as I think I’ve seen the greatest fight ever, something will come along and change that. It doesn’t matter if it’s the Randy Couture wars with Pedro Rizzo or Stephan Bonnar versus Forrest Griffin—it keeps getting more amazing. I can’t point out what I consider to be the greatest fight ever, but I can tell you I look at it as a privilege and an honor to be in the Octagon and announce these great warriors.

Are there any particular fighter names you look forward to calling?

I enjoy calling all the fighters. I really like to pay respect to these warriors because they train six to eight weeks—it’s their big night, and that’s what my phrase ‘It’s time’ is about. But if you ask me about the one that stands out, everybody always talks about the Dan Hardy introductions. We are like two singers going back and forth, getting in each other’s face, and doing a duet because he is mouthing back to me what I’m saying to him.

I know the Buffer 360 was specific to UFC 100, but will we ever see it again?

The Arial 360 is retired. I’ve already done three or four grounded 360s, with the last one coming at UFC 129 in Toronto where we had 55,000 people in attendance. I did a grounded 360, a 180, and even did an Arial 180 out of the blue corner. At that event, when I said, ‘Georges Rush St-Pierre,’ he came running out, and I hopped back and injured myself. I had an ankle injury from earlier that week, didn’t land correctly, and blew the ACL in my knee out. I didn’t get it operated on right away, and strangely enough, Georges injured his ACL months later, and we were both operated on by the same doctor. We even wound up together at the tail end of rehab. It’s kind of funny when you think about it.

How do you unwind after the chaos of an event has ended?

After the show is over, the first thing I do is go back to the hotel and change out of the monkey suit. I usually like to have a nice glass of wine to relax, then go out and have some fun. After returning from a show, I like to get into the water and do some surfing or chill out and catch up on my favorite TV shows.

You always seem to have several projects in motion outside of the cage. What is your latest endeavor?

I’m really excited about my Bruce Buffer ‘It’s Time’ application for iPhones. It’s an alarm clock and a reminder messages and a game. There are over 150 sayings, such as, ‘It’s time…to get your ass out of bed.’ There are other reminder messages you can use for everyday situations. You can have a lot of fun with it, and I made it really cheap [99¢]. I’m very excited about it, and the response has been great.

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We’ve all seen it while fl ipping past the National Geographic channel at 11pm on a lonely Saturday night. (OK, maybe that’s just me.) It could be footage of two silverback gorillas squaring off, beating their chests, howling like there’s no tomorrow. Or maybe it’s two rams charging towards one another at top speed, looking to bash each other’s heads in. The announcer, in his accented, hushed voice will tell you it’s to show dominance or protect their territory. But we all know the truth. It’s for the chicks, man.

Women love bad boys (the fact that it will piss off their parents only makes you hotter). Before the insane growth of MMA, it was hard to describe to a girl how much of a badass you were. “I do Tae Kwon Do,” just isn’t going to pull at a bar. Trust me. My usual, “I took Karate at the YMCA when I was six,” still has yet to work. Saying you were in a bar fi ght last week doesn’t really mean anything to a girl, without a police report to back it up. However, now that MMA can be seen every day, your chances of scoring have increased tenfold. Chicks dig fi ghters. So here’s some tips to help you look like one… without ever having to step foot in a cage.

Wanna get the girls? You’ve gotta learn the rules:

1. YOU DON’T TRAIN MMA, YOU TRAIN UFC.

Most girls (I said MOST not ALL; I don’t need e-mails from women telling me how much of a chauvinist I am… unless you’re hot. And if so, include pics) are casual fans, watching MMA at a pay-per-view party, or catching a fi ght when a bar has it playing. So of course, what promotion do they know? UFC. Therefore, saying you train MMA isn’t going to have the same panty-pulling ability that saying you train UFC will.

“So you do that UFC stuff?” “Yes… YES I DO.” Also, I don’t think this will work if you substitute UFC for any other fi ght organization. Saying you train STRIKEFORCE will probably have people thinking you’re a Chuck Norris/Bruce Lee hybrid… which, now that I think about it, may not be that bad. Maybe use that as your backup plan.

2. NOTHING SAYS “I’M A FIGHTER” LIKE CAULIFLOWER EAR

“OMG, what happened to your ear?” If you hear those words, that’s it. She’s hooked. Now all you gotta do is reel her in. Like a shark fi sherman on that VS channel that also shows competitive barbecuing. Just explain to her that you get it from having your ear mangled every night at practice. Sure it sucks, but hey, that’s part of the game. Then wink at her. But how do you get caulifl ower ear without ACTUALLY training?

Every night before you go to bed, make a fi st. I know, I know, you’re not a real fi ghter, so you may be confused. A fi st is that thing you make when you close your hand. Got it? Good. Place the fi st against your ear. Now proceed to rub it hard against your ear anywhere from two minutes to six hours (depending on how fast you want your caulifl ower ear to form).

In no time, you’ll have a nice tender ear, sensitive to the slightest touch…and looking like a potsticker from TGI Fridays. Just imagine the MySpace picture possibilities!

3. BE SURE TO BRUSH UP ON YOUR LAY-Z-BOY-JITSU

When watching an event with a sweet young lady, make sure to point out all the things you would have done, had you been the one fi ghting. When someone gives up his back, groan loud and curse at the screen. Explain to her how you never would have gotten caught in that triangle, because you would have bridged and then taken the guy’s back and swept him for an armbar, or transitioned from there into a guillotine, which would leave him open for a heel hook with a gogoplata on the side. Does that even make sense? Of course not… but it doesn’t have to!

She’ll be so impressed with your use of MMA terms that she’ll practically be putty in your hands. It also helps if you only drink water during the evening as well. When she asks why you’re not boozing it up, inform her that you try not to drink when you’re in training. She’ll fi nd your dedication to be very attractive.

Knowledgeable and disciplined? I hope you wore your good underwear, buddy!

4. MYSPACE

Every fi ghter has a MySpace, it’s a rule. Not only is it a great way to market yourself, it’s a fantastic way to nab some groupies. Make your background black. Edit your “Top Friends” and add some fi ghters. The key, however, is to not have forty UFC guys so that you look like über-groupie 5000. Instead, just toss in a few famous guys, along with some unknown talent, some MMA schools, and a couple MMA companies that you can claim as sponsors, like Cryogel or Rick’s Tire Barn of Kenosha, Wisconsin. Heck, toss me into your top friends. That way, she’ll see that you also look out for the losers of the community.

5. DRESS THE PART

Nowadays, regular black shirts and tattoos aren’t going to cut it. You’ll be confused with a bro. No one wants to be mistaken for a bro. Not even bros want to be mistaken for a bro. Instead, you need to pick up an MMA brand shirt. Sure, you could wear a Triumph United shirt (and automatically be the best-looking guy in the bar) but unfortunately, TU doesn’t scream, “I’m gonna break 94% of your facial bones with my fi st.”

Instead, fi nd a company that conveys your true feelings. Like Punch in the Throat fi ght gear, or Bloody Appendages MMA apparel. Skulls are a must, maybe some blood splatter. Preferably, get a black T-shirt with black lettering, so that it becomes extra black. The blacker, the better. Then, and only then, will you be taken seriously. You defi nitely earn bonus points if you greet your friends from behind and administer that fake, friendly rear naked choke. Only a real fi ghter would know how to do that.

6. NAME DROPPING

It’s a subtle art that normally gets abused. However, if used correctly, will probably let you see some boobies that night. You may hear a girl say, “Chuck Liddell is my favorite, he’s such a badass!” That’s your cue to chime in. “Nah, he’s a really nice guy. Always cool with me.” “YOU KNOW HIM!?”

Now, do you actually know him? Of course not. Maybe you got a picture with him at a book signing, or at a weigh in. But, he was nice to you when you asked for the picture, right? Remember, you’re not lying. You’re just not telling the whole truth. To take this one step further, put a “Chuck Liddell” into your cell phone address book. The number doesn’t matter; it could call your local Papa John’s (and if it does, make sure to get that garlic butter sauce – epic). All you need is to be able to fl ip open the phone and say, “Would I have his number if we weren’t boys?”

Now, this may come off as me insinuating that women are stupid and will fall for anything. But don’t get me wrong, in no way am I saying that. I believe everyone is stupid, male or female. Us guys are stupid for even trying to pull off stunts like these to impress girls. Just trust me when I say that these will work. I could go on and on about what else you can do to pretend to be a fi ghter, but I have to run face fi rst into a doorknob to get a black eye. The WEC is this week, and I gotta look my best. Watch out ladies!

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There stood Rich Franklin, in his trademark pink and brown shorts, with a broken arm courtesy of a Chuck Liddell high kick only one minute into their UFC 115 fight. He knew it was broken the moment “The Iceman” connected, but “quit” was not in his vocabulary on this June evening. “Even though you are feeling pain in a fight, you have two options: you can quit or you don’t. It’s that simple,” Franklin says. “As soon as the arm broke, I could have quit. But quit is not in me. When you are in that kind of pain, you can say that you want to quit, but tomorrow I have to wake up with myself and live with being a quitter.”

 

With a leaner and more dangerous Liddell looking to silence his critics, Franklin had some critics of his own to send a message to. After a first-round knockout loss to Vitor Belfort in September 2009, fans lit up message boards that Franklin should call it a career. But that’s not what Franklin needed. He just needed to have his batteries recharged.

 

“I had fought top-notch opponents for that past year, and I told Dana White that I was worn out mentally as well as physically and needed some downtime,” he says, when asked about the retirement rumors. After wars with Wanderlei Silva and Dan Henderson earlier in the year, Franklin was admittedly exhausted. However, Franklin is a company man who never turns down a fight, and with UFC 100 sucking up most of the headliners, White needed Ace to step into the cage. Franklin, against his own better judgment, accepted and looked flat the moment he stepped into the cage with Belfort at UFC103. The Brazilian took advantage and laid Franklin out in the first round.

 

“It just wasn’t a good time for me,” he says. “In MMA, once you reach the upper echelon of fighters, every fight you get is going to be a tough fight. It takes a lot out of you to mentally prepare for the big fights over and over again.”

 

The ex-teacher turned mixed martial artist spent the next seven months reenergizing and was rumored to be in talks to fight Randy Couture, when a surprising twist of events found him on a flight to Las Vegas to coach opposite of Liddell on The Ultimate Fighter. The UFC found itself painted into a corner yet again when Liddell was left without an opponent and an opposing coach due to Tito Ortiz’s back injury. And who was the first person White thought to call? Rich Franklin.

 

But this time, Franklin had the time off he’d needed and was ready to fight whomever, whenever. White came calling again, and Franklin took a mere 15 minutes to decide that he would take Ortiz’s place in the cage and as a coach on TUF.

 

Now, here stood Franklin, broken arm and all, across the cage from a living legend, fighting like a man who had nothing to lose. Even though Liddell had dropped two in a row, Franklin knew that this version of The Iceman would be more dangerous than the rest.

 

“I knew that Chuck made a huge lifestyle turnaround,” Franklin says. “When we were at a photo shoot for The Ultimate Fighter, Chuck was in the best shape I’d ever seen him in. Not like the best shape in the last year or two, but the best shape ever.”

 

Despite the pain shooting through his arm, Franklin couldn’t quit. Here was a man, who was never a prodigious athlete, fighting another future UFC Hall-of-Famer in front of thousands. Quit? That would make Franklin laugh. Perhaps the most under appreciated fighter in all of mixed martial arts fought through the injury and, with seconds left in the first round, uncorked a hellacious right hand that separated Liddell’s body from his spirit.

 

And just like that, Ace was back. It was a highlight-reel knockout that he could add to his mantle of devastating finishes—right next to his flatlining of Nate Quarry. But getting Franklin to discuss his past accomplishments is like pulling teeth.

 

“I guess at the end of the day, it’s nice to look back at all of the things that I’ve done, but I’m not really one of those people who reminisces on his own accomplishments,” says the former UFC Middleweight Champion. “I’m always looking toward the future at what’s next. Life isn’t about what you did—it is about what you are going to do.”

 

With Franklin eyeing an early 2011 return, one has to wonder if a run at the Light Heavyweight Title is what he is going to do.

 

“If I wasn’t here to make a title run, I would have already hung up my hat,” he says.

 

Even though the names Bader, Jones, Evans, Machida, and Rua dominate the conversations at 205, you cannot look past the man who would probably still rule the middleweight division if it weren’t for pound-for-pound king Anderson Silva. He may not possess the freakish natural ability of Jon Jones or the exceptional wrestling background of Rashad Evans, but Franklin has something that he believes they don’t.

 

“I wasn’t popular in high school or groomed to be a world champion. It just so happened that by the stroke of God’s hand I was able to become a world champion,” Franklin says. “I’ve gotten to where I am today for two reasons: God, and that He blessed me with a hard work ethic. I have more desire and will outwork anybody in this sport. That’s something that I’m not humble about. I know where I came from.”

 

They say you have to know where you came from to figure out where you are going. Rich Franklin’s accomplishments have put him on a path straight to the UFC Hall of Fame, and we trust the man with a master’s degree in education to be smart enough to know that’s exactly where he’s heading before it’s all said and done—whether he wants to admit it or not.

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51 Things Every MMA Fan Should Know

Fast facts to prevent you from ever being the noob again.

1. Contrary to what you might think, leg kicks fucking hurt.

2. Referee Big John McCarthy was a Gracie jiu-jitsu student who was originally planning to enter the first UFC, but was later told that he couldn’t because this was Royce’s time to shine.

3. Fedor’s only loss was due to a cut from an illegal blow. He’s undefeated in our book.

4. UFC 100 did over 1.5 million pay-per-views, the highest total in UFC history.

5. Brett Rogers won the first ever televised MMA bout on live network television.

6. Travis “The IronMan” Fulton has fought 153 times since 2000, an average of just over 15 times per year.

7. At one point, Tito Ortiz called Dana White his manager.

8. Nobody becomes a pro fighter if they’re concerned with preserving their good looks. Just ask Dan Henderson.

9. Tim “Big Perm” Persey does not actually have a perm. He is big, though.

10. While plenty of fighters have had impressive one-night tournament runs, no one tops Ricardo Morais, who won five fights in one evening (four in under two minutes) at AFC 1’s 32-man bareknuckle tournament on Sept. 9, 1995. Oh yeah, that was also his professional debut.

11. The UFC and MMA are not the same thing.

12. Mark Kerr’s submission win over Dan Bobish via chin to the eye at UFC 14 prompted the UFC to add the move to its expanding list of outlawed moves.

13. The fastest KO in UFC history belongs to Todd Duffee at 7 seconds, while Marcus Aurelio earned the fastest submission in 16 seconds.

14. The ring girl is not interested in you. Wait, are you rich? No? Not interested.

15. Royce (pronounced Hoyce) Gracie won three of the first four UFC tournaments.

16. John McCarthy is the best referee in the sport ever, whether or not he’s licensed in Nevada.

17. Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu was an aristocratic sport in Brazil. That gave way to no-gi grappling known as lutra livre for the common people. The rivalry was stylistic and cultural.

18. UFC color commentator Joe Rogan is a brown belt under Eddie Bravo and a former Tae Kwon Do champion.

19. ZUFFA is Italian for Fight.

20. Nobody has a chin when you’re wearing four ounce gloves.

21. The way a guy looks at weigh-in has nothing to do with his fighting ability. (See page 108)

22. Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta purchased the UFC in 2001 for 2 million dollars. Its estimated worth today is in the billion dollar range.

23. Complain all you want, Goldy and Rogan are the best broadcast team in MMA, period.

24. There is absolutely, positively nothing sexual about grappling, homo — or otherwise… unless you make eye contact.

25. Unless they do something illegal or unethical, booing fighters is lame.

26. Jiu-Jitsu is important, but this ain’t submission grappling; it’s a fight.

27. The cage can be and is used as a weapon.

28. Bob Sapp is big and mean looking, but he pretty much sucks.

29. In 1985, Shooto was formed, becoming the first formal mixed martial arts organization.

30. The Ultimate Fighter show is easily the reason the UFC is still around today.

31. UFC 22 introduced the first 10-point must system – a system that we feel is kinda shitty.

32. Wanderlei Silva held the PRIDE Middleweight Championship in excess of 6 years. Over that time period, Silva had a record of 15-4-1, defended his title 4 times, and won the 2003 PRIDE Middleweight Grand Prix.

33. At one time, Mark Kerr (15-11) was considered the best MMA fighter in the world, no joke.

34. UFC 66, featuring the rematch between Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz, was the first MMA PPV to break the million buy mark.

35. The Octagon was designed by John Milius, screenwriter of Apocalypse Now. The intent was to create a new fighting arena never seen before — a spectacle. They even considered a moat!

36. Bruce Lee was ahead of his time but so were Helio Gracie, Judo Gene Labelle, and Karl Gotch.

37. A liver shot will make you feel like you’re being stabbed from the inside out.

38. The most important man in mixed martial arts that you rarely see is UFC matchmaker Joe Silva.

39. Ref “Big” John McCarthy made his debut at UFC 2. Bruce Buffer at UFC 10. Joe Rogan at UFC 12.

40. Strikeforce still holds the US paid attendance record of 17,465 with their Shamrock vs. Gracie show on March 10, 2006.

41. It is ok to critique a fighter even if you are not a fighter. We all know JaMarcus Russell sucks as a quarterback and we’ll never sniff the NFL.

42. Dan Henderson is the only person to hold two major titles at the same time. He held the Pride welterweight (183-pounds) and middleweight titles (205-pounds).

43. Founder of TapouT, Charles “Mask” Lewis Jr. is the only non-fighter in the UFC Hall of Fame. Its members are Ken Shamrock, Royce Gracie, Dan Severn, Mark Coleman, Randy Couture, and Chuck Liddell.

44. Going to a live event and shouting instructions at fighters you don’t know never makes you sound as knowledgeable as you think it does. (“Kick his ass, Seabass” isn’t funny. In fact, it never was funny and never will be.)

45. That guy in your neighborhood who claims that he could kick ass in MMA when you watch fights because he won some fights against sloppy drunks is delusional. He most likely wouldn’t make it through the warm-up in a fight gym with the contents of his stomach intact.

46. The guy on his back is not always getting beat or in a bad position.

47. Yes, you would tap if put in just about any submission you saw on television.

48. Chuck Liddell has the most appearances in the Octagon with 22.

49. Do not go up to a fighter and discuss a fight of his/her’s you just saw on tv if said fighter lost the fi ht… it is just awkward.

50. Brock Lesnar wasn’t the first pro wrestler to cross over into MMA. Look up Sakuraba, his fights and entrances were something to see.

51. Sure, Dana White shaves his head and swears like a sailor, but MMA is where it is because of him. Like or lump it.

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“When you’re young, you think it’s going to last forever. But it doesn’t.” Don Frye says, growling the words in his diesel engine voice. “One day it all comes to an end. That’s when you realize you should have appreciated it more while it was happening.”

This is the distinct brand of wisdom that comes with age. It is the kind of wisdom that must be earned and paid for. In his time in the sport – from UFC 8 to Pride 34, with a little K-1 and New Japan Pro Wrestling mixed in – Frye has learned more than he ever expected about the fi ght business. It has a way of using people up, squeezing them for all they’re worth, and then leaving them behind. It’s like anything else in life, really. Only it happens faster.

Frye found this out for himself in the late nineties. In between stints with the UFC and Pride, he was making good money as a pro wrestler in Japan. But a few weeks before the biggest show of the year in the Tokyo Dome, his fi ngers starting going numb. Right away he knew this was a bad sign. Pain he was used to. He understood it. Numbness was something else. He gave in and went to the doctor, who told him that he’d broken his neck nearly a year earlier. He needed surgery, and soon. He called the New Japan offi ce to explain the situation. When he told them the bad news the line went silent, and then in the background he heard muted but frantic voices conversing in Japanese. A voice came back on the line.

“It’s your health and your decision,” the voice said. “But we’ve already advertised you for the event…” So he pushed it one more time, against his doctor’s advice and his own common sense . He emerged from the match relatively unscathed and proceeded almost directly to surgery, where doctors fused three of his vertebrae together. The Japanese promoters asked him how long he’d be out. Frye informed them the doctor had insisted he take it easy for at least three months.

“Okay,” said the promoters. “We’ll see you in three months.” Frye thinks about this sometimes. He compares it to the quiet life he lives now – taking his daughters to school, riding his horse, shooting guns in the Arizona desert with his brother-in-law, waiting for elk season to roll around again – and he doesn’t think boring life. He thinks easy life.

He watches contemporaries of his, guys like Ken Shamrock and Kazushi Sakuraba, still at it after all these years. Sometimes he even still dreams of greatness himself. “Every fi ghter thinks he has one more good fi ght in him,” he says. “Hell, some days I think I have about ten more in me.” And yet, every fi ghter reaches a moment where he has to admit he’s not the same athlete that he used to be. For Frye, that moment came while he was getting pummeled by James Thompson in his fi nal ˆPride appearance.

“About the fi ftieth punch I just started wondering, ‘Why aren’t I better than this?’ Why aren’t I beating this guy,’” he laughs. Even though he sometimes still longs for a good fi ght, Frye says MMA isn’t the same sport he started out in. And these days the offers from promoters aren’t the same , either. His last outing on May 2, 2009 saw him submit judo fi ghter Rich Moss in front of an appreciative, but relatively small crowd in Lubbock, Texas. He took the fi ght on just a few weeks’ notice. Competing on the “Shark Fights 4” card isn’t where you might expect to fi nd a guy who once performed in front of sold out arenas in Japan, but if there’s one thing Frye has learned over the course of his career it’s that the only constant is change.

“[In Pride] they treated you as a professional and a valued asset. They knew that without the fi ghters there was no show. They didn’t try and screw with your head or cuss at you or treat you like a migrant farm worker. You get used to that, people fl ying you out fi rst class to Japan, staying in nice hotels, getting wined and dined. You get used to that, and to the paychecks. You sure miss those.” For a short while Frye made a go of it as a coach in the IFL, but his personality wasn’t cut out for coaching. As a member of his Tucson Scorpions team once put it, “Don is a man who sees things in shades of red.”

It also didn’t help that while being on the road with the IFL he was given to drink. Frye isn’t the ‘glass of wine with dinner’ type. He drank tequila, and he drank it prodigiously. Trouble usually followed not far behind. There was time he nearly got the IFL kicked out of a hotel in Groton, Connecticut for trying to start a fi ght with Dennis Hallman in the hotel bar. Or the time he dumbfounded a room full of reporters at the post-fi ght press conference by likening his team’s performance to “a faggot eating a corndog.” It’s safe to assume that no one in the IFL was terribly surprised to see Frye show up on YouTube brawling in a hotel lobby after a local MMA event with an opposing team’s striking coach, and getting himself felled more by booze than by punches.

But Frye claims those days too are over.. “My dad died about a year ago, and he drank. It starts out being for fun, and then it’s for escape, and then you can’t even escape any more. Pretty soon instead of helping you escape your problems, it just compounds them.”

Before the booze it was painkillers, which he became dependent on after using them to get him from one fi ght to the next, trying to make the most out of the relatively short window of fi nancial viability accorded most athletes. He simply didn’t have time to be hurt. “Your athletic lifespan may only be six or seven years, so you have to make the most of it while you can. You end up taking a bunch of painkillers to push yourself through it, and it catches up with you,” Frye says. “It’s a tough business. It’s an isolated life. And those people beating down your door wanting to hang out with you when you win, they won’t give you the time of day when you lose.”

It’s the same story when you retire. The people who used to love you are struck with a sudden amnesia. That’s part of why Frye barely even pays much attention the sport anymore. The last UFC he watched was the second meeting between Randy Couture and Chuck Liddell at UFC 52. He went up to Las Vegas to meet some friends and wound up getting his tickets stolen. He had to buy new ones from a scalper outside the MGM Grand. It was a surreal moment for the man who fought for the UFC back when the events were in single digits. “I just felt like, these people don’t care about me anymore. You know, it ain’t Dana White who put MMA on the map. It was guys like Ken Shamrock and Royce Gracie and Don Frye and Mark Coleman.”

But like many of his contemporaries, Frye can’t seem to stay completely retired. He might not be able to compete at the same level he used to. The sport may have changed dramatically, and for him, somewhat painfully. Still he can’t quite turn his back on it. As much as it’s taken from him, it’s given even more. “I sound a little bitter, but I’m not. Somebody’s got to tell the truth, and sometimes it hurts. But I had great friends. I loved it all. I had the time of my life. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

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Vegetarians pass flyers to impressionable teenagers outside the entrance of the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre in Charlotte, North Carolina, in an attempt to persuade them that eating meat is wrong. Once inside the venue, kids line up to display their killer skills on Guitar Hero. Others head to the skate ramp. A plethora of 15-year-old girls hold cardboard signs that offer “FREE HUGS,” some of which parade around in bikini tops and those short-shorts that read “juicy” on the ass. Coincidently, the Trojan soldiers give out condoms to promote safe sex. Between the six stages, various activities, and band tents, concert goers are entertained. Although this is the typical Warped Tour environment, the potential for a mixed martial arts growth looms.

 

Known as the biggest alternative festival of the summer, Warped Tour is the land of opportunity. Since its creation by Kevin Lyman in 1994, the event has showcased some of the biggest names in music, up-and-coming talents, worthwhile causes, and action sports that complement the punk rock culture. As Bryan Kienlen, bassist of punk quartet The Bouncing Souls, says, “Each year, it’s a snapshot of what the kids are in to. It was always supposed to be set up to be music and lifestyle combined.”

 

Perhaps, among this sea of humanity, MMA is a perfect lifestyle fit.

 

Pitching A Tent

 

Throughout the summer festival, artists,companies, and organizations set up tents to interact with fans and spread brand awareness about their merchandise or causes. Clothing brand Glamour Kills, headphone manufacturer Skull Candy, and suicide prevention/depression nonprofit To Write Love On Her Arms all developed a larger presence due to this tour.

 

With the rise of MMA, which is growing more and more each day, an organization like Bellator FC, Strike force, or even the UFC could benefit by setting up a tent of their own and appealing their product to the younger demographic. “No company can ever have too much exposure,” says Dan Kenny, bassist of metal group Suicide Silence. “It would be smart to possibly have a street team with flyers passing them out to people to watch an upcoming event. UFC could totally benefit with a Spike card or something.”

 

Andy Williams, guitarist of melodic hardcore act Every Time I Die, agrees and takes the idea a step further. “It needs to be well educated,” he explains. “It can’t be something like a full-on Affliction covered, TapouT head-to-toe guy screaming with face paint on. I think it should be some sort of educated things [and] have videos, almost like a little seminar.”

 

But as Junior Flores, guitarist of punk band Set Your Goals, is quick to point out, people are there to see bands first and foremost. Lifestyle activities and product promotion are secondary. “Let’s say you’re doing some event at noon on a Warped Tour day, but there is a big headliner playing at the same time,” he explains.“Are kids gonna see what the UFC tent is gonna provide, or are they gonna go see a band they are there to see? It’s the same thing with any sponsors. They got Rock Band and you’ll see some kids hanging out there because they’re there to get entertained and stay in a tent away from the sun. But the minute a band they wanna see comes up, they’re gonna leave. It doesn’t matter what sponsor is there, so it would be a hit or miss.”

 

Music And MMA Are Cool

 

Action sports are a key fundamental to the Warped Tour atmosphere. For instance, there is a skate ramp every year where kids can shred, and whenever pro skater/musician Mike Vallely is on the bill, he’ll join in the festivities. In 2007, Mexican luche libre promotion AAA toured with six wrestlers and held matches every two hours. One year, there were even after hours boxing bouts between select band members.

 

MMA could very well be the next sport showcased on the festival, be it on an amateur or professional level. Greg Kerwin, lead guitarist for chick-led screamo outfit Eyes Set To Kill, likes the sound of it. “That would be badass man,” he says.“You get the half pipe going, and then, some dudes kicking the shit out of each other. And you got great music after that.”

 

Dan Kenny echoes those sentiments. “I could actually even see amateur cage fights during the day. They already have motocross, tattoo booths, and other random fun shit. If they had fights everyday or every other day, I think it could benefit both sides. People can watch a band and then be all ‘Shit! It’s 3:30 p.m. We need to run to this part of Warped to catch the fights and then go back to watching bands,’” Kenny says. “In all reality, I don’t see any of this coming true. It would take a lot of work and probably a lot of insurance policies. Even some states can’t adjust to MMA yet.”

 

It might seem difficult to achieve at present time, but if fighters and athletic commissions were to commit, then it could become a reality. Even tour organizer Kevin Lyman has had some preliminary talks about it.

 

Can’t We All Just Get Along?

 

Hard rock, heavy metal, and hip-hop have always been the top musical selections for fight organizations, as many feel the aggression and intense attitude perfectly complements the MMA vibe. While several bands like The Dillinger Escape Plan and Suicide Silence are performing at this year’s Warped Tour, the festival itself has become a stronghold for lighter music like pop punk, pop rock, and ska—all of which are rarely ever used as theme music or for promotional videos.

 

Just ask Greg Puciato, vocalist of The Dillinger Escape Plan. “Warped Tour is not the highest on the list when it comes to bands that have balls,” he explains. “I don’t feel much in common with 90% of the bands on that tour [where] 15-year old kids have girl haircuts. That stuff is so foreign to me. When I look at the other 90 bands and they’re all 18 years old, they’re all making music that to me has nothing to do with rock and metal where I’m used to coming from. So I don’t feel it has anything in common with an aggressive sport like the UFC.”

 

Though a lot of heavier bands share Puciato’s view, Bryce Avary of rock solo project the Rocket Summer, feels very differently. “Music, in general, ignites in people’s souls, and it can create so many different kinds of emotions and really help people through hard times,” the song writer says. “It can get people pumped up, and Warped Tour is definitely a place where there is intense music being played that goes along with the feelings of just getting amped, and I can definitely see how people listen to it. There’s so many different types of music, and it affects and awakens these feelings within us all.”

 

Despite opposing views, it’s overwhelmingly clear there’s room for MMA’s growth and cross promotional opportunities at the summer festival, and it could only be a matter of time before a fight organization—be it amateur or professional—pitches a tent at Warped Tour.

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Whether it’s a scrap over a video game, the last piece of meatloaf, or the new girl in the neighborhood, there is no set of brothers on Earth who haven’t had a tussle and got their clothes a bit dirty at some point. Thankfully, most of these disagreements end with a truce — the major exception being those Cain and Abel guys.

The sport of MMA is no different, as there are plenty of brotherly bloodlines that run through the Octagons and rings of the fi ght game. However, instead of battling against one another, most of today’s fi ghting brother combos are competing side-by-side – the major exception being those Shamrock guys.

THE GRACIES

One of the most recognizable names in MMA, the Gracie family is revered and respected for their dedication and execution of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) . It began with brothers Helio and Carlos, who helped develop and create BJJ in the 1920s, and the founding of their legendary martial arts academy. Carlos, who passed away in 1994 at 92 years old, had 21 children, 12 of whom earned black belts in Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.

Helio – who passed away in January at 95 years old – is the father of UFC cofounder Rorion and fighters Rickson, Royler, Relson, and some guy named Royce who won three UFC tournaments and went on to become a Hall-of-Famer for the organization. Looking at the entire Gracie family tree is dizzying, especially when it comes to their penchant for competitive fighting. While many parents may have discouraged brothers from roughhousing in the living room, the Gracies likely encouraged it.

THE NOGUEIRAS

Here’s one for you: twins, both MMA fi ghters, both named Antonio Nogueira, and both with just a few letters separating the spelling of their middle names AND nicknames. Just a weight class and a scar really help distinguish these Brazilian brothers.

“Minotauro” truly introduced himself to the North American public with his inspired coaching performance on the eighth season of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF). Nogueira won the interim version of the UFC Heavyweight title with a submission win over Tim Sylvia at UFC 81, but lost the belt to opposing TUF coach Frank Mir at UFC 92. A black belt in both judo and BJJ, the former PRIDE Heavyweight Champion has the scar on the lower part of his back.

“Minotoro” is the lighter brother at 205 pounds and is a two-time Brazilian Super Heavyweight Champion in amateur boxing. “Minotoro” also competed in PRIDE, earning wins over Dan Henderson, Alistair Overeem, and Kazushi Sakuraba. He last competed in January, downing Vladimir Matyushenko via second-round TKO at Affl iction’s Day of Reckoning card.

THE RUAS

Another well-known and well-traveled pair of Brazilian fi ghting brothers is the Ruas. Murilo “Ninja” Rua is the older of the two, a veteran of PRIDE and a former EliteXC Middleweight Champion. A Muay Thai and BJJ expert, the 16-9-1 Ninja has battled a who’s who of fi ghters such as Dan Henderson, Denis Kang, Robbie Lawler, and Kevin Randleman, and lost a controversial fi ght to Rampage Jackson. A winner of fi ve of his last seven fi ghts, Rua was last seen getting KO’d by Benji Radach at EliteXC’s fi nal CBS-TV event in October.

Mauricio “Shogun” Rua is slightly younger and also has PRIDE experience, winning the Middleweight (205) Grand Prix in 2005. A BJJ black belt, “Shogun” has put together several impressive win streaks in his career, downing opponents like Jackson, Randleman, “Minotoro” Nogueira, and Alistair Overeem twice. He debuted at UFC 76 with a loss to underdog Forrest Griffi n and ruptured his ACL, which kept him out of 2008 completely. He returned to action at UFC 93 and defeated Hall-of-Famer Mark Coleman via third-round TKO and had an April date with Chuck Liddell at UFC 97.

In January, it was announced that 22-year-old Marcos would make his debut in the early part of 2009 as a Heavyweight, likely in Brazil. No word yet on what cool nickname he’ll receive.

THE SHAMROCKS

Another well-known brother combo, Ken and Frank aren’t even blood-related as the former Ken Kilpatrick and Frank Juarez were both taken in by adoptive father Bob during their youth. Ken remains one of the sport’s most well-known competitors and groundbreakers, becoming the UFC’s first Superfight Champion with a submission win over Dan Severn at UFC 6. Now in his mid-40s, Ken also competed in PRIDE and Pancrase in his 15+-year career and signed on with the WarGods promotion for several fights.

Frank Shamrock also has compiled an excellent MMA resume, winning the first UFC Light Heavyweight (then Middleweight) title. Frank has competed all over the world in Pancrase, K-1, Strikeforce, and recently in EliteXC. After breaking his arm and losing the Strikeforce Middleweight title to Cung Le last March, the 36-year-old Shamrock made an unsuccessful return to Strikeforce in April, droppping a very one sided match to Nick Diaz. A bout against brother Ken is still being tossed around.

THE LAUZONS

Coming from Brockton, Mass, are the fightin’ Lauzons, Joe and Dan. Joe is well-known for competing on season five of TUF, less than a year after an upset TKO win over Jens Pulver in his UFC debut. A 2006 graduate of the Wentworth Institute of Technology, Lauzon runs an MMA school in Bridgewater, Mass, and last defeated Jeremy Stephens via second- round submission at February’s UFC Fight Night 17.

20-year-old Dan became, at the time, the youngest fighter ever to appear in the UFC at 18 years, 7 months, and 14 days old, losing to Spencer Fisher at UFC 65. Since then, he has been competing at the regional level but has won eight straight fights, including a submission win over Bobby Green at Affliction’s Day of Reckoning event. He also was featured on an episode during Tapout’s second season.

THE FLORIANS

The Lauzons aren’t the only set of brothers mixing it up in Massachusetts, as the Florian brothers are making a major name for themselves in MMA. Kenny Florian is obviously the most well-known of the three, gaining popularity and respect with every fight. Known for his black belt skills in BJJ and destructive elbows, the 11-3 155’er will take a sixfight win streak into his eventual Lightweight title shot with BJ Penn. If that isn’t enough, he also co-hosts ESPN. com’s MMA Live.

Brother Keith isn’t a professional fighter, but he has won his share of BJJ/submission wrestling titles, including Pan American BJJ Championships bronze medals in 2001 and 2003. A BJJ black belt, he teaches and trains with Kenny and other Boston-based fighters. There is also Kirk Florian who has fought just once, submitting Colin Joyce via rear-naked choke at a regional show in August 2008.

THE MILLERS, PT. 1

Inked by the UFC this past July, the New Jersey natives have wrestling in their blood and have been fighting pro since 2005. The 27-year-old Dan (11-1) was the final IFL Middleweight Champion, winning the belt last May. Just months later, he debuted in the Octagon with a first-round win over Rob Kimmons and has extended his win streak to 10 with victories over Matt Horwich and Jake Rosholt.

25-year-old Jim has equally tasted success, running up a 13-2 record. He also is an IFL alum, scoring a unanimous decision victory over Bart Palaszewski last May. He debuted at UFC 89 with a rear-naked choke victory over David Baron in October and followed that up with an 8-day-notice unanimous decision win over Matt Wiman at December’s Fight for the Troops. He dropped a decision to Gray Maynard at March’s UFC 96.

THE MILLERS PT. 2

Another set of Zuffa-inked Millers are Cole and Micah. The 24-year-old Cole (13-3) was defeated by Joe Lauzon on season five of TUF, but has rebounded with
UFC wins over Andy Wang, Leonard Garcia, and Jorge Gurgel, the latter of which earned him Submission of the Night honors. He won his last match against Junie Browning at April’s UFC Fight Night.

Micah Miller turned 21 last year, but has been making opponents feel punchdrunk in the ring to the tune of a 10-2 record. The 145’er has a 2-2 mark in the WEC, last losing to Josh Grispi via fi rstround strikes in August. The American Top Team member rebounded with a submission win over Jason Palacios at a regional show in December.

THE EMELIANENKOS

There can’t be much more said about the sheer dominance of Fedor Emelianenko, one of the world’s best pound-for-pound fi ghters. The reigning WAMMA Heavyweight Champion was expected to have his toughest challenge to date against Andrei Arlovski in January, but one right hook changed that quite quickly. The 29-1 killer hasn’t lost since December 2000, and prospects aren’t good for him to lose anytime soon.

However, there is another Emelianenko competing in MMA: younger brother Aleksander. The fellow Red Devil Sport Club fi ghter is a two-time World and Russian national SAMBO champion and has been a pro since 2003 with a 14-3 record. The 27-year-old stands 6 feet 6 inches tall, tips the scales at 250+ pounds, and took a fi ve-fi ght win streak into 2009. And while there have been rumors of young Ivan Emelianenko on the horizon for a few years, no sightings of him in a pro ring have been documented.

THE LIDDELLS

Sure, Chuck Liddell is well-known for being one of most popular fi ghters in MMA today, having won and defended the UFC Light Heavyweight title for 2 years in the boom period for the sport. But the “Iceman” isn’t the only Liddell to trade blows professionally. Like Chuck, Sean Liddell was a Light Heavyweight, compiling a 1-2 record in three fi ghts spaced over almost 4 years. His other brother, Dan, was supposed to debut this past August in the Heavyweight division for California- based Pure Combat, but he pulled out.

THE GUIDAS

One of the Guidas is known for exciting battles, while the other is regarded as somewhat of a letdown. Most UFC fans are familiar with the wild-haired Clay Guida, a 27-year-old 155’er who made his pro debut in 2003. Three years later, Clay went 2-3 in his fi rst fi ve UFC contests, including an entertaining loss to Roger Huerta in December 2007. Lately, he’s turned it around and won his third-straight fi ght, downing Nate Diaz in UFC 93’s Fight of the Night.

Brother Jason (17-20) is known mostly for showing up to season eight of TUF out of shape and being cut from the prelim bouts after failing to lose 11 pounds in 24 hours. He followed that up with an embarrassing scene in a loss to Mamed Khalidov this past October at an EliteXC event that involved a disappearing and reappearing mouthpiece and him shoving the referee once the fi ght was called.

THE DIAZ BROS.

The defi nition of “love or hate ’em” fi ghters, the California-born Diaz brothers have made their mark both in and out of the Octagon. While only 25, Nick has been fi ghting pro for most of the decade. A former WEC and IFC Welterweight Champion, Nick has fought all over the world and for almost every major organization including UFC, PRIDE, and EliteXC. The 19-7-1 fi ghter made it look easy in a TKO win against Frank Shamrock in April.

Brother Nate has followed in his brother’s footsteps, amassing a 10-3 mark in his near- 5 years in the cage. Also a Strikeforce and WEC vet, Nate won the fi fth season of TUF and launched what has been a successful UFC career, going 5-1 in his young Octagon career – the last two bouts earning Fight of the Night honors. Nate turns 24 in April and has a very bright future in the sport.

THE HUGHES BROS.

Just a couple of farm boys from Illinois, the Hughes twins – Matt and Mark – grew up playing football and wrestling, earning All-American honors in their collegiate careers. From there, Matt (41-7) compiled a Hall-of-Fame-worthy career over the past decade, twice winning the UFC Welterweight title and holding victories over Georges St. Pierre, B.J. Penn, Sean Sherk, Frank Trigg, and Royce Gracie. The 35-year-old is now preparing for who could be his fi nal opponent: long-time rival Matt Serra at May’s UFC 98.

Mark fought at 190 pounds, racking up a 6-1 record that included a two-round decision victory over Alex Stiebling at UFC 28 in November 2000. However, he hasn’t fought since 2003, and despite Matt claiming last May that Mark signed a UFC deal, nothing was ever announced.

THE EVANS BROS.

From the state of New York come the Evans brothers: Rashad and Lance. The 29-year-old “Sugar” got his big break by winning the Heavyweight division of TUF’s second season. He went on to defeat Forrest Griffi n for the Light Heavyweight title at December’s UFC 92, which kept his undefeated record alive. Rashad continues to build on his wrestling background forged on the mats of Michigan State and a season at Niagara County Community College, where he won a National Junior College title.

Brother Lance launched his own MMA career in 2004, but he has just a handful of pro fi ghts. Recently, he got a shot to make it onto season 8 of TUF, but he couldn’t continue after hurting his rib in a qualifying match against eventual fi nalist Vinnie Magalhaes. He has been mainly north of the border in Canada, training in Quebec and fi ghting in Montreal for the TKO promotion.

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During my global travels as host of The History Channel’s Human Weapon, I was able to explore a variety of martial arts. While the show’s focus was primarily the history of these arts, mine was their practicality. Having been involved in some form of traditional martial arts since I was six years old and MMA since I was 16 years old, I see two very different sides to the collective martial community.

 

On one side of the fence is mixed martial arts. Mixed, by definition, is a hybrid—a combination of techniques consistently refined by today’s gladiator, the MMA fighter. The problem we tend to have as MMA fighters is tunnel vision. We have seen martial arts come further in the past 15 years than the past 150 years. We have seen hundreds of fights and now have a strong sense of what works and what doesn’t in the cage.

 

On the other side of the fence are traditional martial arts. Some date back hundreds of years and are rooted deeply in a nation’s people, including Kung-Fu and Karate. These are the styles that—as mixed martial artists—we tend to almost look down on as “not effective” or “for fitness only.”

 

I admit that I was guiltily of prejudice. I would journey to a country and be genuinely captivated by the culture, people, and history, but often times lacked the respect for the actual “art.” If this worked, we’d see it in the cage. If we didn’t … it didn’t.

 

This was my thought process until I went to Israel and met some awesome Krav Maga instructors. They opened my eyes to the simple fact that MMA, as all encompassing as we think it is, is really linear. We have techniques designed and refined for very specific combat. While highly effective in the cage and often outside, they are, like it or not, for sport.

 

Don’t get me wrong, if you train in MMA you can handle yourself better than 99% of the population. The difference is what works inside the cage isn’t necessarily what will work outside the cage.

 

Ask yourself these questions:

 

• What if I have to defend a family member while I’m getting attacked?
• What do I do if I’m a BJJ black belt but have to fight two guys?
• How can I minimize damage if someone picks up a knife or bottle?

 

The list could go on and on. This paradigm shift forced me to reevaluate all martial arts and realize that in the big picture, some are very underrated. Here is my list of martial arts that I believe should get their due.

 

6 Judo

 

Judo makes the list due to its extreme effectiveness.We have seen a few MMA guys use Judo, but as a whole it is not trained on a regular basis. With Judo you are able to manipulate an opponent using minimum force and still remain standing, alert, and aware. Judo also gives you a great sense of balance, which is a fantastic attribute in any sport.

 

5 Krav Maga

 

Due to the fact that Israelis a country with roughly seven million people surrounded by 40 million people that “aren’t too fond of them,” Krav Maga is an art consistently being refined to deal with very real world threats. Every citizen has to do their time in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and everyone in IDF is taught Krav Maga. While most of the techniques are not cage-ready, this is arguably one of the most effective martial arts for the real world.

 

4 Jeet Kune Do

 

Often called the “Father of Modern MMA,” Bruce Lee designed a martial art with one simple principal: use what is useful. Similar to Krav Maga, JKD builds on many art forms and encompasses a wide range of attacks. Simplicity is key.

 

3 Kung Fu

 

As one of the oldest arts known to man, Kung-Fu focuses on the holistic sense of balance. Body, mind, and spirit are all trained in this art. While I am not sold on many of the technical aspects of Kung-Fu, I do believe that martial arts at its highest level is a use of the mind, be it to meditate for focus before a fight or avoid a street altercation all together. Another great benefit of Kung-Fu is that it teaches us to use our chi, a vital part of fighting if not just life.

 

2 Escrima/Kali

 

While I don’t advocate beating someone with a stick, Escrima/Kali (yes, they are the same thing) is a great art for several reasons. First, a stick, unlike a sword, nun-chuck, or sai, can be found almost anywhere, making this weapons system a viable choice in the real world. Secondly, the techniques taught in Escrima/Kali can also be applied to knife and hand-to-hand combat. A focus on attacking angles and proper footwork is also a keynote for the curriculum.

 

1 Tai Chi

 

China has a few zillion people in it. How do they manage not to go nuts on a daily basis? I’m going to go with Tai Chi. This ancient art is not combat based, but rather a way to focus and align oneself. Many fighters have found the benefits of calming your mind thru yoga, meditation, or Tai Chi. I chose this as the #1 underrated martial art simply because if you do not have a calm mind, it is difficult to focus in any area of life. Have you ever had those days where you had so much going on you didn’t want to train? How about so much stress that it affected work? Train the mind and the body will follow.

 

Remember, at the end of the day, whether you are a Judoka, BJJ’er, boxer, mixed martial artist, or high school wrestler, we are all martial artists first.

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We often set unrealistic goals for ourselves, especially around this time of year. These are some unequivocally unrealistic resolution suggestions I’d like to share with some of our fighting friends.

JOHNNY HENDRICKS

RESOLUTION: IMPROVE CAMPAIGN STRATEGY

It is hard to argue Johny Hendricks’ place as the number one contender to GSP’s long-held welterweight belt. With wins over Mike Pierce, Josh Koscheck (albeit controversial), Jon Fitch, and Martin Kampmann, it doesn’t exactly take a rocket surgeon to figure out he should be at the front of the line. Unfortunately, the big man isn’t listening.

The problem lies in his presentation. Sounding more like Zach Gali- fianakis in The Campaign than a dominant wrestler with brutal KOs over top contenders, “Bigg Rigg” needs to up his hype game. In lieu of going to law school for the next few years of his fighting prime, I would suggest Johny use his most recent KO of the Night bonus to hire an unholy alliance of two of the most unscrupulious campaign managers of all time—Rahm Emanuel and Karl Rove. In an epic final push, they could paint Johny as the blue-collar, working man’s candidate against the big money, corporate-backed incumbent. I bet it would help get the vote out to get Johny a title shot against GSP.

JAKE SHIELDS

RESOLUTION: BE A BOXING CYBORG

Jake Shields is a master of “American Jiu Jitsu” and an absolute beast on the ground. Eye pokes aside, on the feet, he often appears more akin to an improperly alibrated robot in dire need of oil than a well-seasoned fighter who was recently on an absolutely epic 15-fight win streak that saw wins over Yushin Okami, Carlos Con- dit, Mike Pyle, Paul Daley, Jason Miller, Dan Henderson, and Martin Kampmann.

If we are living in the future (a belief I have maintained since y2k), it shouldn’t be too much trouble for Jake to be fitted with a state-of-the-art cybernetic exoskeleton, controlled remotely at ringside by his box- ing trainer. I’m not sure what the commis- sions will think of this, nor am I sure how having machinery attached to your body will affect grappling exchanges. What I am sure of is, he will look more like an actual robot, but a Jake Shields with elite level boxing is indeed a scary thought.

BJ PENN

RESOLUTION: POI ON WHEELS

The popular opinion is that BJ Penn is one of the greatest lightweights. Some believe he was among the best ever at any weight class. With only one win in his last 6 fights, the latter case can no longer be made. The “motivated Penn” was a beast in the cage, and even coming off loses, he always made a good case that this time around things would be different. His recent fight with Rory MacDonald was an absolute bludgeoning. Rory beat him from bell to bell in every single aspect of MMA, and it wasn’t even remotely close.

As of late, he has seemed more motivated to not get in awesome shape, not fight in his proper weight class, and run out of gas in one minute. I’m not saying he should retire, but the emerging and trendy food truck market could be a place he could find a home. BJ’s Famous Sweet Poi and Spam Musubi Tacos on wheels? I can get behind that.

WANDERLEI SILVA

RESOLUTION: EAT TIN CANS

The A xe Murderer was once an abso- lute terror of ferocious, reckless aban- don. Unfor tunately, the years have taken a toll on him, and his abilit y to absorb big punches is simply not what it once was. The damage of his epic PRIDE bat- tles was evident on his face, so much so that a couple of years ago Wand visited a plastic surgeon to remove scar tissue around his eyes and repair a many-times broken nose.

I have no idea if it’s possible to train a better jaw, so my own selfish vote is for sending Wand back to the doctor once more for a permanent solution to his beard issues—something bet ween Jaws from Bond and Trap Jaw from He-Man. An Axe Murderer with a bear trap jaw? That’s Wander ful.

SHOGUN RUA

RESOLUTION: BECOME PURE ENERGY

Much like the questions about a “motivated Penn,” it’s often a toss-up as to which Shogun will show up. The agile, in-shape Shogun who fought Lyoto? The post-PRIDE-nagging-injury-out-of-shape Shogun who fought Forrest? The seemingly sluggish Shogun who beat Vera?

I don’t know if the makers of 5-Hour Energy sell their product in five-gallon cans (I’m guessing they don’t, considering just one of those makes my ears hot and my hands vibrate), but at the rate Shogun uses energy, I think they should. A five-gallon can of 5-Hour Energy would equal about 1,658 hours of energy. I don’t think even Shogun could expend that much energy in 15 minutes—bottoms up!

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