What a week it has been already here in Sin City and the fun is nowhere near over yet. On Saturday night, Nate Diaz will take on the ‘Notorious’ Conor McGregor in the main event of UFC 196 whilst in the co-main event, Miesha Tate will challenge Holly Holm for the UFC Women’s Bantamweight title.
I’ve been on the ground all week and the temperature around the McGregor vs Diaz fight has been rising every day. On Wednesday, McGregor, Diaz, Holm and Tate showcased their skills in front of a packed out crowd in one of many theatres inside the MGM Grand. All four of them put on a good show for the crowd but it was predictably McGregor who stole the limelight. Having turned up an hour late the Notorious drilled for 30-minutes before making his way around the entire crowd signing autographs and taking hundred of selfies. Quote of the day came fron the ‘Notorious’ when I asked him for a message to send to the people back in Ireland:
“Thank you for the support. Don’t blink. I’m coming out the gate fast…I’m coming out the gate fast! Let’s see what he’s about! He talked a lot, now he don’t talk no more!” – Conor McGregor
Roll on yesterday to the UFC 196 Pre-Fight press conference and what a spectacle that was. After a slightly subdued media day wit the likes of Ilir Latifi, Gian Villante, Amanda Nunes and co, both media and fans headed to the David Copperfield studio in the MGM Grand for the final press conference featuring all of the main and co-main event stars. After some fool handed me a microphone :) and after insults were traded back and forth for more than 45-minutes, the fighters were then squared off and all hell broke loose when McGregor came toe-to-toe with Diaz when the American inserted his right fist into the face of McGregor. The Irishman was having none of it and he slapped away the hand of Diaz which sparked off a scene that saw entourages and security run on to the stage. Thankfully nothing else go down and with that, the press conference concluded.
Who knows what we are in for today when the two meet again at the UFC 196 weigh-ins.
JimTalk: UFC 197 is A New York State Of Affairs
“Why should I allow this guy to go and fight where he’s comfortable? No, he has to go somewhere where he has to look at people in the eyes and hear the anger they have toward him for the actions that he did.
I just think at the end of the day, when Jones gets reinstated, New York is the only place that he’ll be welcomed without just venomous anger.
I think he’s the greatest fighter of all time and when he gets cleared to fight, we’ll fight. But I’m not gonna fight him in New York. So you guys can write that.”
Daniel Cormier, 2015
Back at the UFC 192 post-fight press conference, Daniel Cormier was quick to make it known that he didn’t want to fight Jon Jones in New York. Why would he do such a thing!? He could have been just speaking from the heart, though if you are more skeptical you might be thinking Cormier was playing a very clever game to maximize his earning potential for a fight that the UFC so obviously want to put together.
In reality, Daniel Cormier’s reluctance to fight Jones is really the least of the UFC’s problems in putting this fight together, there is a political minefield that the UFC have yet to successfully navigate that will likely determine the fate of this fight being put together or not.
Professional mixed martial arts is still yet to be legalised in the state of New York and whilst that ban remains in place there is obviously no chance of UFC 197 going ahead there.
So what is happening right now?
Back in September the UFC announced a new tactic for challenging the State Law and announced that they had booked Madison Square Garden for April 23rd, 2015.
In August, the UFC filed an appeal in the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit – the federal appellate court with jurisdiction over New York – stating that New York’s prohibition of regulated professional MMA events violates the First Amendment rights of athletes and fans throughout the state.
On September 28, UFC filed a new case in federal court, reiterating its claim that the New York law banning MMA events is unconstitutional. This out-of-date law is too unclear for the public to understand, and has allowed regulators in New York to pick and choose arbitrarily what events they will permit. Events featuring every combat sport except MMA seem to be allowed in New York, though this is not explicitly stated in the law. The statute, and the state’s pattern of enforcing it, violates the Constitution’s prohibition on unconstitutionally vague laws.
It is then required that a federal judge then issues a preliminary injunction against New York state officials enforcing its unconstitutional law. Without such an injunction, the event at Madison Square Garden will not be able to proceed.
What do the experts say?
JE: What did you make of the UFC announcing they had booked MSG for UFC 197 in April?
MLM: “It sounds big, but in reality, it’s not much different than in the past when they said they had reserved a date. This was just a press release rather than a quote from Dana White during a news conference. The one difference here, I suppose, is that it was sent out in conjunction with their re-filing of a federal lawsuit against the state.”
JG: It’s a brilliant move because it gives them the legal standing they need to get somewhere with their lawsuit against New York.
MLM: It’s too hard to truly put a number on it other than 50/50 (5/10). Either it happens or it doesn’t.
JG: A solid 2/10. The April show is premised on the NY Combative Sports Law remaining the way it is, with its ban on pro-MMA except for that which is sanctioned by an approved third-party organization. But the UFC is fighting this war on multiple fronts, and they’re on the cusp of getting things done via the legislature. If the Combative Sports Law is changed there first, then there is no longer any loophole that would allow the UFC to use a third-party to sanction their April show.
MLM: Nothing significant, as far as I am aware.
JG: There has been a push to get the MMA bill passed early in the 2016 session instead of waiting until the end as usual. Since there will be an Assembly committee hearing on the topic on December 11 – before the session has even begun – I’d say that push is working.
MLM: Public comments in favor of the bill from powerful legislators in New York would be a boost, I suppose.
JG: Nothing. We’re where we want to be.
What can you do?
As you can see, UFC 197 in New York City is by no means a certain and a lot of work still has to be done if this event is to go ahead. One thing we know for certain is that if the event does go ahead is that it will be a historic day for the UFC and Mixed Martial Arts.
JimTalk: UFC 193 – Making Sense Of The Madness
Up until the main event, UFC 193 was probably one of the worst pay-per-view events that the UFC had put on this year. Rosholt vs Struve was a fight that never deserves to be spoken of again and Mark Hunt KO-ing a very fragile looking Bigfoot Silva was a timely reminder as to why the UFC should think twice before booking non-required rematches that went far beyond expectations the first time they happened.
That said, Whittaker and Hall put on a fun 15 minutes, whilst the bravery and talent of both Valerie Letourneau and Joanna Jędrzejczyk deserves a lot of respect, especially the gutsy Canadian challenger.
Roll on 5.40am here in the UK and, seemingly just like for many in the crowd in Melbourne, fatigue was beginning to set in. The main event was set to be a total walkover. How long would Holm last? Under or over 3 minutes? Will this fight be ‘Instagram-able’? Will Rousey KO her or submit her?
Very few people of note in the MMA Community, perhaps Robin Black excluded, ever predicted what we saw. Holm dominated Rousey from bell-to-bell and eventually KO-d her after 59 seconds of the second round. It was a shocking scene that manufactured an atmosphere in the arena that some described as ‘like New Years Eve’.
Most jaws are still on the floor right now in disbelief of what we saw, though many are already asking the question – How did this happen?
Firstly, we could consider the fact that Ronda’s Mother wasn’t in attendance at UFC 193. This was reported on Monday, November 9th by Emma Challands of MMA Latest and AFN when she learned via a source close to her that Ronda’s mother was not going to be travelling to Melbourne for the fight (See HERE). Now some may say this is of insignificance, but, before you do, go back and view Ronda’s previous fights and look at the proximity that her mother has to Ronda during both fight week build-up and the fight night itself. Could this have unsettled Ronda enough to throw her ‘off her game’?
Secondly, we could look in the direction of Rousey’s controversial coach Edmund Tarverdyan. Several allegations have been thrown Tarverdyan’s way in recent weeks, with people speaking openly about his ‘poor coaching abilities’ and some supposed money troubles. Could this have been weighing heavily on the mind of Ronda?
Thirdly, we could look at the enormous pressure Ronda is under in her everyday life. When she’s not picking up awards, she’s making movies, when she’s not making movies she’s dissing Floyd Mayweather, attending premieres, appearing on TV … we’ve not even mentioned training or fighting yet. Could the rock-and-roll lifestyle have finally caught up with Ronda?
Well, all those above are variables – perhaps they did affect her, perhaps they didn’t. Let’s for one-second focus on what do we do know, and that is that at UFC 193 Ronda Rousey met an extremely well-prepared opponent who executed her gameplan flawlessly. As Joe Rogan said, Holm ‘fought a perfect fight’. Jackson WinkelJohn built their gameplan around using Ronda’s aggressiveness against her, using Ronda’s constant forward movement to her disadvantage by using Holly’s strong left hand and footwork to create angles that bamboozled Ronda and forced her to miss landing her own strikes frequently. After 59 seconds of the second round the gameplan paid dividends with the stunning head kick knockout – we had ourselves a new champion.
The result was devastating but one that MMA Latest said COULD happen (HERE) and one that Robin Black said WOULD happen (HERE). Let’s forget the boring ‘I told you so’s‘ and focus on what is important here. What happened at UFC 193 was a consequence of excellent preparation and ruthless, perfect execution by Holm and her camp. The other variables above? Yeah, they could have had some effect, but frankly we won’t know for sure until we hear it from Rousey herself, so for now let’s focus on the definites.
Having made sense of the now, the only question remaining is – what is next? … sorry guys only Dana White and the UFC brass really know that.
JimTalk: “The Ben Rothwell school 101 on how to take s*** news and roll with it…”
Last week I saw some incredibly rare things in Dublin. I saw full-body Irish flag lycra suits, American Top Team invaded Nandos, and Andrei Arlovski answering a question with a smile (just one mind you).
Nothing impressed me more, however, than the performance Ben Rothwell put on last week. You see, Ben Rothwell wasn’t competing in the cage, he was competing outside of the cage with a number of different emotions that must have been sweeping over him.
Disappointment – that his arranged bout with Stipe Miocic bout had been cancelled less than 2 weeks before fight night; meaning he wouldn’t be able to compete in front of the much-lauded Dublin environment.
Anger and perhaps embarrassment – at the fact that merely days after this fight cancellation he had been overlooked by the UFC for an upcoming bout featuring a fellow ‘guest fighter’ for the week AND the guy that pulled out of his fight that week injured (why not throw bitterness in!!)
BUT … this is where it gets interesting because Ben Rothwell didn’t do what most would have done: moaned and complained.
He proceeded to speak to the press openly, gave us answers that were honest and showed us the same respect we showed him. That was merely just the tip of the iceberg of Ben’s behaviour.
Like he did at UFC International Fight Week in July, he showed an eagerness to turn up at any place he could in Dublin. He didn’t perform any theatrics or put on an act to grab attention, he simply did everything with a smile on his face and simply told the truth.
He greeted fans, took their pictures and engaged with every single one of them until the last person in line got a chance to meet with him. At the fan Q&A, he simply stole the show. Many of us in the media sit there and cringe at most of those Q&As but Ben, together with Rory, made it an entertaining 45 minutes that flew past for everyone.
Watch this video with me speaking to Ben after the UFC Dublin event had concluded. Apologies about the dark lighting but it’s actually quite appropriate given the mood he was probably in at the time.
When he said ‘I shed a little tear’ it wasn’t a sign of weakness, more just a revealing moment that let me know Ben hurt inside at not being able to compete.
Ben Rothwell 100% would have rather of been fighting last week but I tell you he was one of the stars of the week for me.
Ask any Irish fan now what they think of Ben Rothwell and I bet you won’t be able to find a single one that has any ill feelings towards him.
This was Ben Rothwell school 101 on how to man-up, take s*** news and roll with it until things are in your advantage.
Other fighters should really take note of the masterclass he put on last week, I’ve no doubt Ben has big things coming very soon and now he’s even got the fighting Irish behind for back-up.
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