Mixed Martial Arts is a sport unlike any other. There are certainly obvious similarities to the other professional sports, namely, the most well-conditioned athletes in the world competing against one another on the biggest stage for the hope that one day, all of the elite training camps and rigorous diet maintenance will pay off and they will become a world champion. But that is mostly where the similarities end.
While the polarizing world of MMA is very much revered for the athletic abilities of the combatants, there is another realm of consideration that seems to equally dictate where a fighter’s career will ultimately go – the intangible, ever-important draw of “personality.” While the cool, quiet Anderson Silva’s of the sport can sometimes pull huge numbers off of their freakish execution of combat greatness alone, it is the Chael Sonnen’s of the game with their berating wit and absurd rhetoric that keep themselves in the spotlight. They make the most out of every moment that a microphone or a television segment is thrust into their schedule, and when one mixes these clever performances with decent athletic skills, a recipe for a noteworthy career is created.
Enter “The Warmaster.”
Josh Barnett is truly the closest thing to a modern day Renaissance man. He’s a professional UFC fighter, a collector and restorer of vintage automobiles, an avid “Magic: The Gathering” player, and an all-around intellectual, reader, and continually self-educating man. He’s even ventured into the wildly entertaining world of pro wrestling in Japan, and to this day, remains an enormously popular name in the East. His catch-wrestling and well-rounded fighting abilities placed him in some of the biggest fights the legendary Pride FC had to offer, and while he may not have been successful in his contests against the sharpest heavyweights in the world, he often made a perfect counter personality to the wordless, stoics of the division like Fedor and Cro Cop, while also retaining the skills to provide some very competitive fights that he most certainly could have won.
Plus, he looks like a freaking Norse warrior from ages past.
At a recent bodybuilding expo, the giant, red-bearded heavyweight gave a brief interview and touched on a few different subjects ranging from the individual subjectivity of events like bodybuilding, to filming a new movie in Romania (presumably a period film where they need a scary-ass, Viking-looking man with a beard to also be “emotive”). The most interesting quote of the whole interview however, was when he proclaimed with absolute seriousness that he can quite literally “beat any man in the world.”
Now, most fight fans and media reps would scoff at such a remark coming from a guy who hasn’t even yet been close to a UFC title shot. But, a few important things must always been kept in mind when considering such statements – the first being, he truly is an extremely talented fighter. Secondly, one must always remember that in the Heavyweight division, the better fighter does not always win. If one gets caught just right, the likelihood of recovery beyond the flying hands of those behemoths is dangerously slim. There was fifty full minutes of relentless mauling and sad brain punishment inflicted on Junior Dos Santos by the champion Cain Velasquez in their last two combined fights, and amidst the hard-to-watch destruction, one can easily forget that the first time those two met, Dos Santos skull-punched Velasquez’s face straight into the Octagon floor and won the Heavyweight title. Lastly, the division is shallow. Someone as elite as Barnett only has to win a couple fights to be in position for the right set of circumstances to see him become champion. Barnett has taken a little bit of time off, current champ Velasquez is continually injury-ridden, and contender Fabricio Werdum has looked more dangerous than ever. Perhaps Werdum wins the title, The Warmaster wins his next few fights, and just like that – the eighteen year veteran Josh Barnett applies almost two decades of experience with a rejuvenated body and wins his first UFC championship, fulfilling his declaration ‘I can beat any man in the world.”
Some will say it isn’t likely. But after watching the forty year old Croatian superstar Mirko “Cro Cop” return to the Octagon and revenge the worst loss of his Heavyweight career a couple of weeks ago, maybe a new successful run for the older, wiser veterans isn’t too far from the realm of possibility.
The late martial arts legend Bruce Lee once famously said “To Hell with circumstances, I create opportunities” and in keeping with this philosophy, if anyone could make the most out of the remaining possibilities in a fight career, the always entertaining, supremely dangerous Josh “The Warmaster” Barnett could be the one.
UFC Announces Liverpool Event, Darren Till Main Event
Scousers are drowning in celebration this evening. Earlier today, UFC officials announced the addition of a Liverpool show to their 2018 event calendar. Liverpool’s, Echo Arena, plays host for the event, which takes place on May 27th.
Liverpool’s own, Darren Till made the announcement this afternoon with Dan Hardy at the UFC Fight Night: Werdum vs. Volkov, ceremonial weigh-in. When asked by Hardy what it means to have the UFC in Liverpool, he had this to day, “Words can’t describe it. It doesn’t do it justice, words. So, it’s coming and I’m going to be the first Scousers to ever have done it. In 200 years they’re going to remember my name in combat sports in Liverpool. I’m gonna take someones chin off in Liverpool, that’s what’s happening”.
He was also quoted in an release from the promotion saying, “I can’t believe UFC is finally coming to Liverpool and I’m going to be headlining Echo Arena. My name is going to be remembered in 200 years time for being part of this historical event and I can’t even describe how much that means to me”. Till will headline the card, his opponent is yet to be announced.
In the official release, it quotes David Shaw, Senior Vice President International and Content, claiming, “The stars really aligned for the Octagon to touch down in Liverpool. We have seen such phenomenal demand from fans in the region for a live event. Pair that with having such a rising, local star in Darren Till it made absolute sense to bring our first live event to this historical combat sports city in 2018”.
UFC Liverpool lands on a date speculated for a different venue, in a different country. Reports swirled last month, specifically one from MMAFighting.com, which claimed the May 27th date belonged to the UFCs return to Dublin. A return to Dublin doesn’t seem to fall completely out of the realm of possibility. For now, it remains to be seen.
The UFC also announced two bouts, both in the Middleweight division, booked for the event. Elias Therodorou takes on Trevor Smith, and Daniel Kelly goes up against England’s Tom Breese.
Marco Reyes Flagged for Potential Anti-Doping Policy Violation
Earlier today, UFC officials announced that Lightweight, Marco Reyes was flagged for a potential UFC Anti-Doping Policy violation. The potential violation hails from a sample collected on March 8th, 2018, in an out-of-competition test.
Reyes made his way into the UFC through The Ultimate Fighter Latin America, season 2. Competing in the lightweight bracket, Reyes defeated Christhian Soto by 2nd rd. TKO of a preliminary round bout. He then went onto to face Horacio Gutiérrez, in the semifinals of the tournament. Gutiérrez defeated Reyes in the opening round by TKO.
Following his elimination from the tournament, the Mexican fighter met Cezar Arzamendia on the series finale, The Ultimate Fighter Latin America 2 Finale. Reyes impressively defeated Arzamendia, whom was the first overall pick for Team Gastelum, by 1st round KO.
From there, Reyes defeated Dong Hung Kim (rd. 1, KO), and Jason Novelli (Split Decision) respectively, before falling to rising contender James Vick. Most recently, the Lightweight fighter dispatched Matt Frevola in the opening round, ruining the Long Islanders promotional debut. His bout against Frevola took place at UFC Fight Night: Stephens vs. Choi, on January 14th of this year.
The UFC statement on the matter reads as follows:
The UFC organization was notified today that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has informed Marco Reyes of a potential Anti-Doping Policy violation stemming from an out-of-competition sample collected on March 8, 2018.
USADA, the independent administrator of the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, will handle the results management and appropriate adjudication of this case involving Reyes. Under the UFC Anti-Doping Policy, there is a full and fair legal process that is afforded to all athletes before any sanctions are imposed. Additional information will be provided at the appropriate time as the process moves forward.
Dillon Danis to make Pro debut against Kyle Walker at Bellator 198
Mixed Martial Arts officially adopted another incredibly talented jiu-jitsu practioner today. Bellator officials announced today the long-awaited debut of Dillon Danis, whom the promotion had signed in the year previous. After zero amateur and countless jiu-jitsu matches, Danis makes his debut at Bellator 198: Mir vs. Emelianenko, against Kyle Walker.
Kyle Walker enters the match up also making his Bellator debut. Walker recently made a resurgence in 2016 after taking off, almost exactly, 3 years. Since returning to the professional scene his record is 0-3, losing each fight by stoppage (2 Sub, 1 KO).
Walker looks to snap his streak yet, his opponent could provide a major challenge. In terms of advantages for Walker, he has a massive and obvious one. His experience. Walkers opponent fights for the first time in the sport of MMA. While Danis competed in many top-level jiu-jitsu tournaments and matches, comparing the competition would stop and end upon examining the rule sets. It is quite obvious, the difference. Danis will have a bit of adversity to overcome, in that respect.
In spite of this, Danis’ team, he trains out of the highly regarded SBG Ireland. Even before his MMA training, he trained under Marcelo Garcia. He earned his black belt in April of 2015, following an incredible 2014. In that year, Danis became UAEJJF World Champion, winning gold in the 82 kg (181 lb.) Brown belt category.
The prospect of what that could look like inside the cage is exciting. He may have developed some striking techniques but, the lack of time dedicated to that training in undeniable. Experience and time is required to develop skills of any kind.
Bellator 198: Mir vs. Emelianenko, takes place on Saturday, April 28th from the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois. Bellator 198 features the third of four preliminary bouts in the promotions Heavyweight Grand Prix, Fedor Emelianenko takes on Frank Mir. It serves as the nights main event. Other bouts on the card feature; Emmanuel Sanchez against Sam Sicilia, Neiman Gracie faces Javier Torres, Rafael Lavato Jr. vs. John Salter, and more.
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