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Checking out China : Part 2

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Remember when Dana White relieved judge Howard Hughes from his duties after the second fight in UFC Macau : Bisping vs Le? The UFC president could exercise such authority in Macau because it lacked an athletic commission. Though the political governments of Macau and Mainland China are independent of each other, MMA promoters in China share the same absolute power that Dana White had in Macau. And as they say, absolute power corrupts absolutely.

As mentioned on the first part of this series China have been notorious within the Asian MMA community as plain dirty. A fighter commented “Not a 100% dirty but too dirty to be taken seriously” on my facebook wall post  So what exactly is “too dirty”?

Two fighters with contrasting views on the China MMA scene

Two fighters with contrasting views on the China MMA scene

Biased officials

in 2014 alone, there were 57 split decisions in the UFC. The most recent controversy coming from Robbie Lawler’s decision win over Johnny Hendricks at UFC 181. Fans and fighters who were siding with Hendricks questioned the competency of the judges scoring MMA bouts which have been a recurring theme in the MMA world. According to some of the fighters I have interviewed, China have taken a notch up in “incompetency”.

PXC Welterweight Champion Zebaztian Kadestam

PXC Welterweight Champion Zebaztian Kadestam

Pacific Xtreme Combat Welterweight Champion Zebaztian Kadestam recalls his bad experience fighting in China.

“The last time I fought in China my opponent was 4kg over weight even though i went up one weight class from 77kg to 84kg just to fight him on 2 weeks notice. Motherfucker came in just under 88kg. I beat him but they still gave him the win. Fuck China’s MMA scene, I would never recommend anyone to go there unless u want to waste your time”

I had a few other fighters who shared similar experiences and views as the 170lbs champion and interestingly, all of them pointed out the most highest profile incident in allegations to biased officials in China. On a fight that wasn’t updated on Sherdog, current UFC Chinese fighter Jumabieke Tuerxun faced Marcus Waters, a well known BJJ black belt in the Asian scene. A number of fighters who witnessed the bout stated that Marcus locked Jumabieke on an armbar twice but the ref on hand called a reset on both occasions as the judges proceeded to give the hometown fighter the decision win.

One of the two armbars that the ref reset on the fight between Jumabieke Tuerxun and Marcus Waters

One of the two armbars that the ref reset on the fight between Jumabieke Tuerxun and Marcus Waters

Jumabieke manager, Bill Eng who was also interviewed on part 1 of this series begged to differ.

“It was on the side of ring and pushed outside thus it was deemed dangerous so the ref pulled them apart. Marcus did not have it on tight, kind of a triangle”

I didn’t get a reply from Marcus Waters so I consulted two BJJ brown belts, an MMA fighter who declined to be named and 10th Planet Melbourne Jiujitsu instructor Frank Barca to examine the picture. Both agreed that the armbar could finish the fight.

 

Biased rules

Zebaztian also claimed that illegal moves such as head stomps and soccer kicks are illegal in China but estimated that 90% of the times it would be legal for a local.  A well known head coach who vowed to never send his fighters to China again had this to say.

“They explained the rules in Chinese and English as UFC rules; no soccer kicks. His Chinese opponent soccer kicked him and was awarded the KO win for it. The promoter later apologized saying he forgot about that rule”

Below video seen on a similar article by Fightsportasia in 2012

Loaded Gloves

Boxing had the infamous Margarito tampered handwraps saga in 2009 and China had their fair share of controversies as well. Most of the fighters I had interviewed had the opinion that loaded gloves are a norm in the unregulated country. Ramsey Dewey was hit with a punch that broke his skull in two places. His frontal bone caved suffering a compound depression fracture with a 6 inch crack up the side of the cranium on RUFF 1 in the August of 2011

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Guan Wang celebrating his win on RUFF 1

The fighter in questioned Guan Wang and his manager Bill Eng flatly denied the accusations that the gloves have been illegally tampered with. Silas Maynard, a well known figure in the Chinese MMA scene claimed he was present in both corners and stated that none of the gloves was loaded.

A close up look of Guan Wang Gloves

A close up look of Guan Wang Gloves

I consulted MMA Latest resident doctor, Dr Miria Soedarsono and she said that it is highly unlikely that a punch could result in an injury suffered by Ramsey Dewey. She stated that such injury is usually suffered if the skull hits a weapon or a very hard object at sufficient speed. A close source with extensive cutman experience within the region said that the red tape and the thickness of the wraps on the palms looks highly suspicious though he could only determine if he could get a close up look on the knuckles. He continued that the unified rules state that the gauze provided have to be evenly spread across the knuckles and the wrist and claimed that he had seen some fighters being wrapped with a 3:1 ratio; thicker on the knuckles. The illegal wraps can then be soaked in water and once it gets dry will be as hard as stone.

All of the accusations and accounts that I had were events occurring a few years back with the most recent case in 2013. So to really figure if there have been a positive progress on the MMA scene, Part 3 will feature two fighters that will be fighting this weekend on the 18th of January 2015 in China.

KunLun fight, 18/01/2015

KunLun fight, 18/01/2015

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Announcement

Felice Herrig vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz in the works for UFC 223

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UFC 223 looks to add a variety of intriguing bouts. With Paul Felder vs. Al Iaquinta reportedly set for the unannounced UFC 223 card, the promotion looks to add a high stakes female flyweight match-up. According to MMANYTT.com, sources confirmed a bout between Felice Herrig and Karolina Kowalkiewicz, is in the works for the pay-per-view card.

 

Assuming the match-up does come to be, both women have much to gain from a victory. For Herrig, she currently sits on a four-fight win streak. A streak in which the strawweight contender defeated Kailin Curran, Alexa Grasso, Justine Kish, and Cortney Casey. The MMA veteran, Herrig, began fighting professionally in 2009. As of late, her issues with the marketing machine that is the UFC have intensified.

After demonstrating her technical prowess over Justine Kish at UFC Fight Night 122: Chiesa vs. Lee, Herrig put her emotions on display. She stated at the post-fight media scrum, “Sometimes, I feel like, I’m not young and beautiful enough for the UFC to want to promote me. And it’s sad because I’ve really worked so hard to be here and it’s hard to see these people who’ve not been through what I’ve been through. Who just got into the UFC at the right time. They’re getting all these opportunities and I see how hard I work to get here and it’s just like, it doesn’t matter. I just feel like, ‘I’m not pretty enough and I’m not getting any younger'”.

A frustrated Felice Herrig then spoke to MMAJunkie.com in December. She claimed, “Aside from (former UFC women’s strawweight champ) Joanna (Jedrzejczyk), I’m the only strawweight who’s gone on a four-fight winning streak. That’s a fact. At this point, I want to fight someone in the top 10. It doesn’t really make sense for me to keep fighting girls that are ranked below me. That’s the whole point. If I want to keep working my way up. I fight the most dangerous girls outside the top 10”. The #9 ranked women’s flyweight has a point. In her UFC career, she recorded one loss in six appearances. Yet, she has one co-main event booking, while fighters like Michelle Waterson, booked the main event in her second UFC bout. In Waterson’s third bout, she received a co-main event scheduling. Understandably, Felice Herrig is upset with her situation.

Later in her interview, Herrig brought up Kowalkiewicz as a potential next opponent. “For whatever reason, I really want to fight Karolina. I just think that would be an exciting fight… Stylistically, I really like that fight. She’s ranked above (me), and it may be a good gauge for me,” she stated. Right now, it looks like Herrig is close to getting what she wants.

Kowalkiewicz last fought in her native country of Poland on the UFC Fight Pass card, UFC Fight Night 118: Cowboy vs. Till, in October. The Polish star defeated Jody Esquibel, after losing consecutive contests to former UFC female strawweight champion, Joanna Jedrzejcyk and Claudia Gadelha, respectively.

A win for either makes a good case for the next or an eventual title challenger. Kowalkiewicz holds a victory over current division champion, Rose Namajunas. While a win for Herrig would further establish her impressive win streak and undoubtedly give her the boost in the rankings she deserves.

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Bellator

Douglas Lima found out about change to co-main event at Bellator 192 from the internet

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Bellator 192 fight card has gone through a shake-up over the past week. Bellator president Scott Coker revealed last week that the scheduled welterweight title fight between Rory MacDonald and champion Douglas Lima will now be serving as the co-main event and the heavyweight matchup between Chael Sonnen and Rampage Jackson would instead take top billing. At the time no explanation was made for the change. Monday Douglas Lima was a guest on The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani to discuss this change.

“I was little bummed, but it is what it is, it’s business you know. I was pretty excited you know? Being the main event, having Rampage fight as the co-main event, I was happy there. Then I was bummed out that they changed it back to the co-main event. It’s not going to change a thing for me, I’m just focusing on the fight.”

Lima has been notoriously looked over in the eyes of fight fans. A longtime member of Bellator and a two-time champion has not gotten the notice he deserves and hopes to get.

“I found out through the internet, nobody tells me anything, I didn’t know. the same thing happened in New York, I thought my fight would be before the two main events there, but it ended up being the first fight of the night on Pay-Per-View. Hopefully, it doesn’t take anything away from the fight, you know spotlight and stuff.”

Lima is looking to make all the naysayers take notice at Bellator 192 that takes place at The Forum in Inglewood, Califonia on January 20th.

“This is the fight I’ve been waiting for for a long time. To get my name out there, to get people to know who I am. I’ve been delivering a lot of good fights, fights fans like to watch but no attention yet. I’m hoping though that after a win over Rory this week it will really put my name out there and show all these welterweights out there that I am for real.”

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Fight Announcements

Al Iaquinta vs. Paul Felder rescheduled for UFC 223 in April

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MMA fans around the world wept in deep sorrow when Al Iaquinta withdrew from a bout scheduled for UFC 218 against Paul Felder. Weep no more, for Paul Felder faces Al Iaquinta at UFC 223. Rumblings behind the match-up, first reported by FloCombat.com, came Sunday night before MMAFighting.com confirmed the bout scheduled for unannounced pay-per-view card, later in the evening.

 

The original bout fell through due to a severe knee injury to Iaquinta. He spoke to BJ Penn Radio about the injury nearly a week before the December 2nd, PPV event in Detriot. The Long Island real estate agent claimed, “I tore my PCL and my MCL maybe three or four months ago… for me to really put in a full training camp and do what I need to do, I would’ve had to just focus on fighting and physical therapy… it was the kind of thing where all roads led to me not kind of taking a risk and fighting on December 2nd”.

Iaquinta went on to say, “I kind of accepted the fight, but I never signed a bout agreement… I was kind of told I had to give them an answer pretty quick. It was a fight I thought I really wanted. I thought it was a good stylistic match-up for me, so I accepted the fight, and then thinking about it over the course of a day, we realized it probably wasn’t a smart decision for my health, for everything”.

An outspoken lightweight, he is not the first of his kind. Al Iaquinta is no stranger to idly waiting on the sideline for the UFC to make a move. Contract disputes and other bad strokes of luck left the Serra-Longo with three octagon appearances since 2015. The feud between Iaquinta and the promotion comes as a surprise when looking at the credentials of the aforementioned fighter. With an octagon record of 8-2, he earned notoriety as one of the best lightweights in the world. During his time in the UFC, he defeated Kevin Lee, Ross Pearson, Joe Lauzon, Jorge Masvidal, and most recently Diego Sanchez.

His opponent, “The Irish Dragon”, Paul Felder, holds an impressive UFC record of his own. At 7-3, Felder defeated tough competition as well. His record notes wins over Daron Cruickshank, Jason Saggo, Stevie Ray, and Charles Oliveira. Even more impressive than his record, his knockout ratio. At this stage of his career, Felder knockouts 55% of his opponents (10 knockouts in 18 career pro bouts).

Like his opponent Iaquinta, Paul Felder has a separate career outside of fighting. As many should notice, Felder found a role as a color commentator with the promotion he fights for. Following the footsteps in a long line of fighters before him, Felder announced multiple events alongside another new addition to the UFC broadcast team, Brendan Fitzgerald.

PPV card, UFC 223 and its location are not official yet. Despite a lack of an announcement, the event takes place in Brooklyn, New York at the Barclays Centre, according to multiple reports. Currently, the card features no official bouts. Reports state Felice Herrig vs. Karolina Kowalkiewicz (per Jim Edwards), and Evan Dunham vs. Mairbek Taisumov (per Farah Hannoun) are both in the works for UFC 223.

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