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December 30, 2010

Do MMA fighters need to unionize?

Here are my reasons for asking the question. First, there seems to not be a clear-cut rule on why some fighters are cut from rosters and some are not.  Also fighters need to have an organization that could represent them when a fight promoter chooses not to pay them their purse. We also haven’t seen the long-term effects of mixed marital arts on fighter health. It would help them with health care issues or financial problems in retirement.

UFC executive Lorenzo Fertitta was asked at UFC Fan Expo 2010 about fighters unionizing. "We have no role," Fertitta said. "So we're not in a position to say we support it, or we're against it. That's entirely up to [the fighters]" he told mmajunkies.com.

One unofficial rule that seems to be carried out differently, is the lose-three-fights-in-a-row-and-you’re-out rule. But that rule isn't carried out for all fighters. Light heavyweight Tito Ortiz has one draw and four losses in his last five fights, but he is still employed by the UFC. It’s being reported that Ortiz is not only fighting in Ultimate Fight Night 24 in March 2011, but he’s headlining the event. Veteran fighter Keith Jardine had to lose four fights in a row to be released from the UFC. Recently, lightweight Chris Horodecki was released after losing one fight.

The UFC also released Gerald Harris after losing his last fight; he had won three fights in a row. Two of his fights were awarded “Knockout of the Night.” The UFC releases him after one bad performance. His loss to Maiquel Falcão snapped an official 10-fight win streak.

UFC president Dana White expressed his displeasure with Harris at the post fight news conference when he said, “This isn’t the [expletive] Ultimate Staring Competition, it’s the Ultimate Fighting Championship.”

But this is another Dana White decision made without thinking it through, just like the comment he made about MMA trainer Greg Jackson's fighters not consistently finishing fights. Several UFC fighters have told me that’s just Dana White talking before he thinks.

Fighters being unfairly released is not the only issue. Fighter purse is a big issue as well. Veteran MMA fighter Gary Goodridge fought Gegard Mousasi at FEG's "Dynamite!! 2009" and complained that the promotion didn’t pay him for the match. It’s been more than a year and he is still waiting.


In the UFC, fighters’ payment is a problem, and the amount that fighters are earning is also a problem. How do you pay Matt Hamill $29,000, with a $29,000 win bonus and pay his opponent Tito Ortiz $250,000 to fight. Ortiz hasn’t won since 2006 when he last beat 42-year-old Ken Shamrock.

Now, I do take my hat off to Tito Ortiz for standing up to White in the past and now this could be a case of the squeaky wheel getting the oil. In 2008, Yahoo Sports reported White saying, “(Ortiz) is one of the most dishonest human beings I’ve ever met,” White said. “I put up with him when he was a good fighter. He’s not anymore. He’s done. I’m no longer in the Tito Ortiz business.”

How can you pay him a quarter-million dollar to fight and he loses his fourth fight in a row and still employed?

“These are the big-leagues, man,” White said. “It’s no different than Major League Baseball, no different than the NFL. You perform, or you go away.”

Yes there are differences; the NFL and MLB have rules that are the same for everyone.  The players union makes sure that management upholds the rules, that favoritism in the workplace isn’t tolerated and that rules aren’t made on one man likes or dislikes.

If the UFC ran its organization like the NFL or MLB you wouldn’t have hall-of-fame fighters insinuating to the media about being mistreated. Randy Couture told Sherdog.com, "I think the final straw for me was meeting with Dana and Lorenzo (Fertitta, UFC co-owner) where they claimed I was the No. 2 paid athlete in the organization, which I know is a bold-faced lie," Couture said. Polling other athletes, said Couture, he learned that his compensation — some $250,000 a fight with pay-per-view bonuses, according to the Couture camp — was nowhere near what other top UFC fighters were making.

"All us athletes are all pretty tightly intertwined," he said. "You hear what other guys were paid signing bonuses and what other guys were paid on the record and off the record with bonuses. I've heard Chuck's numbers. Tito's numbers. Hughes' numbers. Quinton's numbers. Cro Cop, Wanderlei. I heard what they were offering Fedor, and it's insulting."

Strikeforce and former UFC fighter Dan Henderson when asked if he missed being in the UFC, he said, “I have no regrets as far as in leaving the UFC and Strikeforce they are good to the fighters. They don’t take advantage of the fighters; it’s refreshing.”

MMA veteran Matt Lindland told Eddie Goldman, he doubted fighters ever would unionize and placed blame on poor representation.

"Unless you can get the top athletes, you're not going to [unionize]," said Lindland. "The fighters [are] all [opportunists]; they just fight for the biggest purse, and it's going to be tough unless you could somehow get all the fighters to agree to something like that. There's always somebody going to come up underneath who's not willing to do it.

"There's enough support [for a union], but these guys outside of the cage or outside of the ropes are cowards. You know they would not dare stand up to the powers-that-be."

What are your thoughts on fighters creating a union?

Posted by Kevin Richardson at 6:43 PM | | Comments (3)
        

December 19, 2010

Local MMA fighter wins bout by knockout

East Coast Combat Club held a Mixed Martial Arts fight card in Manassas, Va. Several local fighters competed, including Jon Delbrugge of Lloyd Irvin martial arts/Crazy 88 team in Elkridge. Delbrugge scored an impressive knockout of Robert Ruby of Newark, Del.

Posted by Kevin Richardson at 2:48 PM | | Comments (0)
Categories: Video
        

December 12, 2010

What's best for Georges St. Pierre after UFC 124?

UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre dominated Josh Koscheck throughout their entire fight Saturday night at UFC 124 in Montreal. It was a good performance, but not a great one.

 

St. Pierre won the fight the same way his team won The Ultimate Fighting show.  He outsmarted Koscheck. He used reverse psychology during the taping of the show, outwitting Koscheck in picking the fighters he wanted on his squad. St. Pierre wanted to select fighter Michael Johnson for his team, so he tricked Koscheck into thinking he would pick another fighter. Koscheck fell for it hook, line and sinker.

 

I believe St. Pierre took that same strategy in reverse for this fight. This time he did what he said he would do to win the fight. Leading up to the fight, he said he would stand up and fight toe-to-toe, but Koscheck didn’t believe him. So before the fight, Koscheck told UFC president Dana White,  “I guarantee you he won’t stand up with me.” Josh, you guessed wrong, once again.

 

The biggest question after this fight is, why has Jake Shields earned a title shot against St. Pierre?


Shields needs to fight any welterweight fighter in the top five to earn a title shot. Thiago Alves would be a great fight for Shields, with the winner getting a title shot.


Shields has only fought one UFC fight, which turned out to be a split decision win over Martin Kampman at UFC 121. If the argument can be made that Alistair Overeem isn’t a top 10 heavyweight, then that can be said for Shields as well.

 

Jon Fitch should be St. Pierre's next opponent, not Shields. Fitch fought St. Pierre in 2008 and it was “Fight of the Night.” Fitch has won his last five fights against top fighters in the octagon. 

 

Some might say that Shields has won his last 15 MMA fights. On mmafighting.com Dana White has said, “Strikeforce is the minor leagues” of MMA. So do 14 of Shields' 15 wins really matter in the UFC?

 

Fitch is now scheduled to fight BJ Penn in February at UFC 127 in Sydney, Australia.

 

The judges for UFC 124 did not earn the “Bone Head Decision of the Night” award for once. But, that honor goes to UFC officials for letting the fans pick the “Fight of the Night.” The Canadian fans picked their own countrymen St. Pierre for that honor.  For the last two weeks Dana White has labeled St. Pierre the greatest athlete in the history of Canada, and then he let St. Pierre fans pick the “Fight of the Night.” To White’s credit, after the fans chose St. Pierre and Koscheck as the winners, he realized that was a dumb decision.

 

I’m curious to see if any of the fighters at UFC 124 are released from the organization.

 

Josh Koscheck plays a great heel (bad guy).

 

What are your thoughts on Jake Shields getting a shot at the welterweight title?

 

I don't think this is as dumb as James Toney fighting Randy Couture, but it's in the same ball park.

 

UFC 124 results:

Preliminary card

 

Lightweight bout: Pat Audinwood (U.S.) vs. John Makdessi (Canada)

Makdessi defeated Audinwood via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-26).

 

Welterweight bout: TJ Grant (Canada) vs. Ricardo Almeida (Brazil)

Almeida defeated Grant via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).

 

Welterweight bout: Matt Riddle (U.S.) vs. Sean Pierson (Canada)

Pierson defeated Riddle via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).

 

Middleweight bout: Jesse Bongfeldt (Canada) vs. Rafael Natal (Brazil)

Bongfeldt and Natal fought to a majority draw (28-28, 28-28, 28-29).

 

Lightweight bout: Mark Bocek (Canada) vs. Dustin Hazelett (U.S.)

Bocek defeated Hazelett via submission (triangle choke) at 2:33 of round 1.

 

Middleweight bout: Joe Doerksen (Canada) vs. Dan Miller (U.S.)

Miller defeated Doerksen via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28).

 

Main card

 

Welterweight bout: Thiago Alves (Brazil) vs. John Howard (U.S.)

Alves defeated Howard via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).

 

Lightweight bout: Joe Stevenson (U.S.) vs. Mac Danzig (U.S.)

Danzig defeated Stevenson via KO (punch) at 1:54 of round 1.

 

Lightweight bout:  Jim Miller (U.S.) vs. Charles Oliveira (Brazil)

Miller defeated Oliveira via submission (kneebar) at 1:59 of round 1.

 

Heavyweight bout: Stefan Struve (Netherlands) vs. Sean McCorkle (U.S.)

Struve defeated McCorkle via TKO (punches) at 3:55 of round 1.

 

Welterweight Championship bout: Georges St-Pierre (Canada) vs. Josh Koscheck (U.S.)

St. Pierre defeated Koscheck via unanimous decision (50-45, 50-45, 50-45) to retain the UFC Welterweight Championship.

Posted by Kevin Richardson at 11:41 AM | | Comments (6)
        
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Kevin Richardson has been a fan of mixed martial arts competition ever since UFC 3, when 600-pound sumo wrestler Emmanuel Yarborough was beaten by Keith Hackney. Kevin will cover the world of MMA — in Baltimore, nationally and internationally. He plans to take readers into the locker rooms and MMA schools, where they'll hear from local fighters and trainers. If you have a news tip or suggestions for the blog, please e-mail him.

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