Mixed Martial Arts

My Favorite MMA Stories of 2015

I wrote a lot of stories in 2015. As of today, New Year’s Eve, I’ve published 153 stories for Bleacher Report this year.

It was a cool year for me, professionally speaking, because I was able to spread my wings a little more and delve into some long form stories. I went to Ireland in search of the real Conor McGregor. I spent five months reporting for a story on injuries and what the UFC is doing to prevent them in the future.

In short, I was able to do a lot of really cool things, and it was an encouraging year. I also wrote a few non-MMA things, but I’ll save those for another post.

Here is a collection of my favorite MMA stories from 2015.

Absolute Honesty Is Imperative from the UFC in Jon Jones Cocaine Fiasco (Jan. 7): The year started off with a bang after news broke that light heavyweight champion Jones tested positive for cocaine.

UFC and Reebok: A Detailed Look at the UFC’s New Athlete Outfitting Policy (Jan. 14): I obtained a copy of a document sent to fighters and managers that provided the first detailed information on the new Reebok clothing deal.

Conor McGregor, Next UFC 145lb Contender, Might Be UFC’s Biggest Star (Jan. 19): In hindsight, it feels easy to see McGregor’s rise to the top. But I had a hunch after the Dennis Siver fight in January that the UFC had something special on their hands. I was right.

UFC Must Take Drastic Stand on PEDs in Mixed Martial Arts (Feb. 5): After the test failures of Nick Diaz and Anderson Silva, I wrote that it was past time for the UFC to step up and take a leadership role in confronting PED’s in the sport. Thankfully, they did exactly that.

Josh Koscheck Earns Respect with Decade of UFC Competition (March 22): Koscheck, often a mercurial figure, deserves far more respect than he typically gets from MMA fans.

After Younger Brother’s Abduction and Murder, L.C. Davis Keeps Grinding (March 25): There are moments in this sport that aren’t always easy to write about. This was one of them.

UFC’s Decision to Strip Jones of Title Could Be the Biggest Moment of His Life (Apr. 29): I wrote that the UFC placing Jones on the sideline after his hit and run incident might be the best thing for his life and career. So far, it looks like I was right.

Even with Loss to Stipe Miocic, the Legendary Heart of Mark Hunt Grows (May 10): Hunt, a man who the UFC did not even want after the purchase of PRIDE, has repeatedly shown massive courage throughout his career. This was just another instance.

There Is Only One Ronda Rousey (May 12): Rousey, the biggest cultural star MMA has ever seen, is constantly compared to other athletes. I wrote that it’s time to measure her on her own merits.

Chris Weidman Won’t Back Down (May 22): He dethroned the greatest fighter of all time, but Weidman still has trouble earning respect from the fans. I spent nearly a week with him leading into his summer title defense against Vitor Belfort.

Outrageous Conor McGregor: His Irish Roots and an Improbable American Dream (July 8): I’m extremely proud of this one. I went to Ireland and spent time with McGregor’s family. I talked to dozens of Dubliners of all ages. And I shadowed McGregor as he prepared for UFC 189. I learned about McGregor’s devotion to The Secret and the Law of Attraction, and I discovered that he’s not exactly the national hero he’s made out to be. This was a fun one.

TJ Dillashaw, the Dominant UFC Bantamweight of the Future (July 25): I’ve been high on Dillashaw for years. This year saw him defend his championship and then leave his longtime home of Team Alpha Male. A fight with mentor Urijah Faber likely beckons in 2016.

The Trouble with Rousimar Palhares (Aug. 2): Palhares, the dirtiest fighter in the sport, was eventually banned for two years by Nevada. I wrote about it before that happened.

Justin Wren: The Big Pygmy Returns (Aug. 26): This one came out of nowhere, but it was such a pleasure to write. Wren is one of the best people in this sport. And the coolest part was getting feedback from former star of “The Office” Rainn Wilson.

Nick Newell – A Man in Full (Oct. 16): I was able to dig into the life of Newell, who was born with one arm. He retired shortly after this story was published.

The Cost: MMA’s Injury Epidemic and How the UFC Is Seeking to Fix It (Dec. 1): As mentioned earlier, I spent five months reporting on this story. It was a fascinating subject to dig into, and I did more interviews and research for this one than any story I’ve ever written.

The Legend of “Irish” Joe Duffy, the Last Man to Beat Conor McGregor (Dec. 31): I wrote this profile on Joe Duffy, who is about as different from McGregor as one can be.

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Myself and Michael Mardones (aka Layzie The Savage) attending the Nevada State Athletic Commission hearing on December 12. It was a blast, and by that I mean to say that it was not a blast at all.

General, Photos

NSAC Meeting – Dec. 12, 2011

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UFC

UFC Total Rankings: October 2008

I typically publish these rankings after the major UFC event of each month, but the scheduling of major events on back-to-back weekends in October forced me to delay these longer than I’d like. As a result, there are three shows worth of changes included here: Fight Night 15, UFC 89 and UFC 90. The November rankings will be published after UFC 91 in just over two weeks.

Before we start, here’s a brief disclaimer:

I call these UFC Total Rankings because they are based on a bunch of factors: win-loss record, method of victory, competition the fighter is facing, and the push given to them by the UFC matchmakers. I try to picture each weight class in the same way that Joe Silva or Dana White would, which means I factor in marketability, current drawing power and other things that rankings typically don’t account for.

They are wholly my opinion and should be treated as such. Champions are given top billing because they are champions and regarded by the company and mainstream fans as the best in their division by the company, regardless of the skills or overall record. This means that if a fighter ranked #7 one month defeats the champ for the belt, he will automatically jump to the #1 ranking. If a weight class has an interim champion, that fighter will assume the second position, with everyone else following. 

A complete archive of my fighter rankings can be found here. These rankings are also published at Inside Fights and on my Houston Chronicle UFC blog.

 

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A Note About Commenting

I appreciate people who take the time out of their day to comment on my site, and I love the sense of community it fosters. I’m even more appreciative of those who, after discovering my little blog via searching for UFC results and NFL playoff predictions, decided to stick around and keep reading. It means a lot.

I don’t want to become a hardcore moderator of comments and I’ll generally let most things pass through without a second glance, but I do ask that you keep things clean and on-topic around here. Two things in this world truly annoy me: filthy language and poor grammar. I don’t mind folks writing the occasional curse word and I don’t care if you decide not to put much care into the writing of your comments here, but I won’t stand for people who write nothing but nasty comments or troll for attention. You’re not going to get it from me or anyone else, and I’ve already banned one person from commenting around here after he just wouldn’t shut up. And yeah, you know who you are.

Again, thanks to those who have happened upon my site and have decided to stick around. I’m going into surgery on Friday morning to get all four of my wisdom teeth removed, which means I’ll be bed-ridden from Friday afternoon through Monday at some point, which likely will result in lots of non-sensical yet mildly entertaining posts around here.  I also have some UFC thoughts that I’ll put into a post coming soon, but for now I’d like to point you over to UFCJunkie.com; you won’t find a better-written MMA blog out there, so make it a priority to stop by there every single day for news and info that’s actually fun to read.

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UFC 70 Shaping Up To Be Great

UFC 70 (the one taking place in England) is shaping up to be an amazing card, and we’re still three months away from it taking place!

Yesterday the world learned that Mirko Cro Cop has been added to the card, and today Steve Sievert over at the Houston Chronicle reports that the show is expected to be headlined by the rematch between Tito Ortiz and Forrest Griffin. Many people, including myself, believe that Griffin won the first encounter between the two, but will he be able to do it again? There’s a lot of intriguing storylines going into this one, not the least of which being that both Griffin and Ortiz recently suffered high-profile losses and will be trying to both avenge those losses and gain footing in the light heavyweight division.

The rumored card as it stands right now:

Forrest Griffin vs. Tito Ortiz
Mirko Cro Cop vs. Cheick Kongo
Andrei Arlovsky vs. TBA
Michael Bisping vs. TBA

UPDATE: As I reported on this post, there is a pretty solid rumor coming out of the Zuffa camp today stating that the current plan for the top two matches at UFC 70 is Griffin/Ortiz 2 and Mirko Cro Cop vs. Andrei Arlovsky. I’ve no idea if the information is credible, but the source I obtained it from has been right 99% of the time when he gives me information. A Cro Cop win over Arlovsky would leave no doubt in the minds of every casual fan that Cro Cop is a force not to be trifled with, and it would also pull in even more PPV buys once Cro Cop fights for the heavyweight title.

Personally, I think Zuffa should wait until after Cro Cop has the belt around his waist before booking him in a fight with Arlovsky. I understand the risks you’re taking by holding that fight off until a later date, because if Cro Cop were to lose to Tim Sylvia, then a potential Cro Cop/Arlovsky “dream fight” wouldn’t mean nearly as much as it would if they were to fight in April.

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