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Journeymen, Cans and Jobbers: the Lifeblood of MMA

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For every Conor McGregor, Jon Jones and Demetrious Johnson we need a Shannon Ritch, a Shaun Lomas and a Jay Ellis. For every 10-0 blue chip prospect working his way up the ranks, we need 10 men to lose. Some journeymen are highly-skilled veterans of the sport, and some are less so, but it’s these men fighting for any promotion, at any venue, up to a dozen times a year or more that keep our sport ticking.

The underground world of the MMA journeyman is mysterious and murky. Does a man who is 13-60, who lost in under a minute to now-featherweight Anthony Pettis, really hold a 24-second KO victory over heavyweight Kimbo Slice (more on that later), not to mention a submission victory over Bellator featherweight champion Daniel Straus? How can a fighter with a 34-52 record on the regional scene hold victories over UFC stars Michael Johnson, Darren Elkins and Abel Trujillo?

Let’s take a look at the men with the most professional MMA bouts, some records good, and some not-so-good. I put together a list of 18 fighters who have made that walk more than almost anyone else in MMA history, then highlighted notable results/achievements in their careers. Just to note, as the number of fights these guys have had varies from source to source, all stats are from the online records on Sherdog.com.

journeymen2* It should be noted that it has been widely disputed online whether or not the Kevin Ferguson that Jay Ellis faced at an amateur MMA event in 2005 was indeed ‘Kimbo Slice.’ Sherdog’s fight finder still has the result listed as Kimbo’s, so for the sake of this table, the result will be treated as factual to ensure consistency, as all my information has come from the same source. It looks like Ellis’ giant-killing exploits may be limited to the submission victory over Bellator featherweight champion Daniel Straus though- an incredible achievement in its own right.

We’re all familiar with guys like Severn, Horn, and Monson but some of the career-highs on the records of guys like Ted Worthington and Jay Ellis are just as impressive. When putting this table together I also stumbled across the bizarre circumstances surrounding Shannon Ritch and Bryan Ebersole’s No Contest back in 2006, and I’d thoroughly recommend reading my colleague Keefe McKenna’s piece on Ebersole here for more information on that result.

So that’s one definition of a journeyman looked at- a fighter who has competed frequently, perhaps not always at an elite level, over many years (think Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler). There is also another kind of journeyman- one who is usually more familiar with elite competition and whose fight record boasts more variety than quantity.

I decided to also take a look at the fighters who have competed for the most different major MMA promotions. I had no quick method for gathering this information, I trawled through MMA veteran’s records individually, so I had to limit the promotions I could include. I decided to include arguably the four largest established MMA promotions active today; UFC, Bellator, WSOF and ONE FC, as well as possibly the three biggest extinct MMA promotions of yesteryear; PRIDE, Strikeforce, and WEC. Apologies to all Dream, Pancrase, WFA, Rings and EliteXC fans, I simply couldn’t include all of them.

It’s a four-way tie between Baroni, Curran, Edwards and Sokoudjou. I couldn’t find anyone who has competed in all four of the active promotions (left side of the table), although Baroni, ‘Babalu’ and Arlovski came close. The way I’ve manually collected this information surely means I’ve missed fighters who should be included in this table, and any feedback including fighters who should be up there would be greatly appreciated. I’d also like to thank everyone at Reddit MMA who helped me with collecting this data, especially user SignInName, who was extremely helpful.

And thank you to all the journeymen, the fighters who fill the cards of all levels of MMA promotions around the world every weekend- you are the backbone of our sport.


For the latest MMA news, live event coverage and more follow @mmalatestnws on Twitter.

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Sensor Equipped Tracking Gloves to be Used at UFC 219

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From implementing the likes of USADA, the UFC Performance Instiute and the introduction of the instant replay. The UFC has always prioritized being at the top of the sport science game. 

Now, at UFC 219 on December 30th, the Nevada State Athletic Commission has approved a test run for sensor equipped tracking gloves to be worn by a selection of fighters on the card.

The technology behind the gloves comes from AGI International (an analytics company) along with HEED (a consumer platform company). A collaboration founded by the UFC.

After a sparring exhibition between top lightweights, Edson Barbosa (19-4-0) and Mark Diakiese (12-1-0), HEED co-founder Mati Kochavi had this to say regarding how “70 insights” collected from sensors on the gloves, the corner-men, the octagon itself can depict a clearer image of a fight.

“Those insights are covering entire aspects  of the fight between Diakiese and Barbose. Their passion, power of the fight, resiliency and strategy. All happen in the octagon.“

Shouldn’t sport be told in real-time, with real data, information and emotions?”

He finally promises “We are a company which is trying to revolutionize the way we (broadcast) sports and live events”

As for now there is little to zero information into the technical aspects of the gloves, however products like a Fit Bit have similar abilities to give data on speed,  force, motion, elevation, heart rate etc.

The UFC 219 card takes place on Decemebr 30th at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. It will be headlined by a women’s featherweight title fight between current champion Cris Cyborg (18-1) and former UFC bantamweight champion, Holly Holm (11-3).

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Interviews

[Exclusive] Demarte Pena talks rematch with Sayed at EFC 66 and coaching on the “The Fighter”

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EFC 66: The Fighter 1 Finale is only two days away now in what is expected to be a historic night for the promotion as they round off their first season of the reality show “The Fighter”. In the finale fighting for a shot at the title and 500,000 rand is Brendan Lesar and Ibrahim Mané. Topping the card though is the rematch between Demarte Pena and Irshaad Sayed fight for the bantamweight strap. In their last fight, Pena walked away with the decision win, however, it was later ruled a no contest after Pena failed a drug test as a result of a tainted supplement.

Demarte Pena comes into this fight determined to take that win and is confident it will be easier than the last. Having worked hard on his overall game, in particular, his boxing, we could see a somewhat different approach to this fight.

“Yeah, the first fight I controlled the fight really well, used my kicks kept the distance and took him down when I wanted to. But for this fight, I’ve improved a lot, especially my boxing, I’ve been boxing a lot, with professional boxers that are both African and World Champions. So I feel that my hands will be a lot better for this fight, I’ll be able to use them a lot better. And I truly believe this fight will much easier for me in terms of stand up and if it goes to the ground obviously I’ll be better than him.”

Following the tainted supplement issue, Sayed has recently been vocal about wanting to see a positive test prior to the fight. Pena did not hesitate in mentioning how he has been tested numerous times leading up to this fight.

“The last time I remember Sayed was just a fighter and he doesn’t work for WADA or SAIDS, so he might just do his job, those people are doing their job. I’ve been tested multiple times so I feel that fighters should just fight and stop worrying about other people’s jobs.”

The Fighter 1 will officially come to an end this weekend, looking back on the show, Pena described the difficulties he experienced at first but quickly grew to like the coaching aspect of the despite it being time-consuming. His overall view of it being very positive.

“Y’know coaching was very cool, at first it was, hard because I train very hard throughout the day and my time was taken up during the show. I didn’t like that as much, but after some time I started to enjoy more. In the beginning, it wasn’t as nice but the exposure was great for me and that it was going to be ultimately something good. After a while, I got to know the guys and they’re really cool guys, I made a few friends on the show so overall it was great”

The opposing team coach was, of course, Irshaad Sayed, who did a lot of talking throughout the season, something that Pena anticipated so it didn’t faze him.

“With him there as a coach I knew he was going to talk a lot, but it is what is, it’s tough sport you just gotta take the shots and give them as well”

A member of Pena’s team, Will Fleury, was tipped to do great things in the competition but was removed early after receiving numerous illegal blows to the head. Demarte agreed with many stating that the fight should have been clearly ruled a disqualification.

“Yeah, the Will Fleury incident was right in front of our corner, I do feel that Shaw should have been disqualified because those shots were illegal but I think EFC only made that decision because Will couldn’t fight anymore. In an ideal world, Shaw should have been disqualified for sure.”

Despite Fleury missing out on a chance at reaching the final, Ibrahim Mané, who was on the same team on the show made it to the final. Pena spoke highly of him as he enters the fight Saturday, believing that if the fight is kept standing it’s Mané’s fight.

“I have trained with Ibrahim for the past two weeks, he’s an extremely talented athlete, very explosive, very strong with very good cardio but he does have a disadvantage on the ground. If he gets taken down him to ground, Brendan will have the advantage.”

Confident he’ll get the win once again on Saturday, Pena is looking for bigger things having accomplished everything he can in the EFC. The UFC being mentioned as what could be on the cards moving forward.

“After I beat Sayed, there’ll be nothing more for me to do in EFC I feel that I have done everything. Yeah, definitely I think the next is to try and fight in the UFC or any other big promotion.”

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Interviews

UFC 219’s Jimmie Rivera to TJ Dillashaw “Defend Your Belt or Vacate.”

Harry Davies

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MMA Latest had the chance to talk to #4 ranked UFC bantamweight Jimmie “El Terror” Rivera ahead of his fight at UFC 219 against John Lineker.

Rivera (21-1) extended his unbeaten run to twenty when he defeated Thomas Almeida at UFC Long Island in July. Originally scheduled to face former bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz, we began by asking Rivera how the opponent change had affected his preparation for UFC 219.

The only thing that’s changed is the game plan, everything else stays the same. Cruz is more of an irritating fight because he just doesn’t stop moving, but with Lineker, he’s going to stay in the pocket and bang, and I love that.

Recently, Rivera posted a video to his Twitter account of him sparring with the recently crowned bantamweight champion, TJ Dillashaw. He told us about the context of this video, and how the sparring went down between them.

It was 3 or 4 years back. I think TJ had just lost to (John) Dodson on TUF. My teammate Louis Gaudinot was actually fighting Tim Elliott at the time, and we were in Milwaukee so I got to train with (Urijah) Faber and Dillashaw.

I just sent it to TJ to say, don’t forget what happened. I was getting the best of him, and I don’t really brag about it. But he wants to leave the weight class and fight DJ for the money fight, and I want to fight for the belt, so it’s defend your belt or vacate.

After briefly referencing the potential superfight between Demetrious Johnson and TJ Dillashaw, I asked Rivera about his thoughts on the somewhat flawed UFC rankings system, and title fights being put together purely for entertainment value.

It sucks. When I become champ I won’t be like a TJ or McGregor, I’m going to be like Demetrious Johnson and defend my belt against people coming up, it’s the right thing to do. If you want to win the belt and leave the division straight away, it’s kind of bullshit.

Rivera concluded by telling me that although he isn’t looking past Lineker at 219, “the only fight that makes sense after this one, is fighting TJ for the belt.”

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