Shayna “The Queen of Spades” Baszler: Competing professionally since 2003, you’d be hard pressed to find a WMMA fan who hasn’t heard of Baszler. The Strikeforce, EliteXC, and InvictaFC veteran is currently 15-8 and 3-2 in her last 5 and holds notable victories over Sarah D’Alelio, Alexis Davis, and Julie Kedzie. Baszler most recently suffered a third round submission loss in her rematch with Davis at Invicta FC 4.
There are only three certainties in life: Death, taxes, and dreadful refereeing in mixed martial arts. With tax day behind us and a clean bill of health from the doc, the only thing left to avoid is blunders like those that occurred this past Saturday night at The Ultimate Fighter Season 17 Finale at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas. The offenses ranged from unrepentant fence-grabbing to controversial stoppages. (Surprisingly, we’re not talking about Steve Mazagatti this time.) Sadly, this might have been prevented if Nevada State Athletic Commission executive director Keith Kizer would squash his beef with the godfather of MMA referees, “Big” John McCarthy.
What’s the beef about, you ask? To hear McCarthy tell it, Kizer got upset and took his ball home when UFC’s first head referee said the same thing the fans have been saying for years. Via MMAFighting:
“I thought he was putting some people in positions to judge fights that didn’t understand actually what the fighters were doing, and that’s wrong,” McCarthy explained. “I said that and I stood by it. He got mad, and from that, he has never licensed me again. And that’s okay. That’s his choice. I’m not going to cry about it and worry about it.”
McCarthy apologized publicly to Kizer and three years ago resubmitted his application for licensure. Not surprisingly, he hasn’t heard back, other than an ominous note stating that his “application will stay on file.”
A revolution is something that changes the system in a radical way. It’s an advancement that brings new ideas to the forefront. In many ways, this was what UFC 1 was. Organized by Rorian Gracie, Art Davie, and Bob Meyrowitz of Semaphore Entertainment Group, martial artists from a variety of styles were called upon to prove the superiority of their art by entering an eight-man elimination tournament at a November 12, 1993, event hosted in Denver, Colorado.
Many MMA fans know about the legend of Royce Gracie defeating professional boxer Art Jimmerson, Pancrase fighter Ken Shamrock and Savate champion Gerard Gordeau in one night to be crowned the first ever UFC tournament champion. But now, nearly 20 years after that historic event occurred, how much “truth” about how to effectively train and prepare for fights has trickled down to martial artists across the globe?
Sure, there are growing numbers of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu schools and a resurgence of interest in Muay Thai or other stand-up styles suited for MMA across North America. But the same old “McDojo” styles consisting of impractical or untested methods are just as prevalent today as they were decades ago before the inception of the UFC.
I learned this for myself a couple of years ago when I was working part-time at a downtown gym. Because it was free, I checked out the “kickboxing” class that was offered. I knew the basics of boxing, and had done some Muay Thai before, so I figured I’d at least get a good workout. I didn’t bank on discovering that the McDojo mentality was still alive, even well into the heyday of the UFC’s dominance in Canada.
The class itself was basic Taekwondo repackaged as kickboxing. Some unorthodox TKD kicks can be effective, as various MMA fighters have demonstrated over the years. That still doesn’t compensate for a lack of footwork, defensive drills, or other deficiencies inherent in this variation of kickboxing.
The stone in my shoe that started with irritation and eventually became unbearable over time wasn’t the lack of useful techniques taught, but the tall tales that the instructor told. In one of his stories, a disrespectful jiu-jitsu practitioner (identified by his T-shirt) stepped to him at a bar; he responded by thumbing the BJJ guy in the eye, bragging to his students “Sometimes you have to fight dirty.” In another story, one of the instructor’s students — who knew nothing whatsoever about wrestling or grappling — had gone to a BJJ school, and “did well.” The student had also “almost KO’ed” another student.
Judging by the comments section on our TUF 17 Finale Aftermath, the majority of you felt that Travis Browne’s victory over Gabriel Gonzaga should have an asterisk next to it. Early in the fight, Gonzaga pressed Browne against the cage looking for a takedown. Browne unleashed a series of elbows to Gonzaga’s head that knocked him out just one minute and eleven seconds into the first round and earned Browne the Knockout of the Night bonus. However, as many fans have pointed out, it appeared that the elbows that ended the fight hit Gabriel Gonzaga directly in the back of the head.
Shortly after the fight, Gabriel Gonzaga’s manager, Marco Alvan, took to his Facebook page to inform fans that he would be appealing the outcome. Via Facebook:
Guys Gabriel Gonzaga is ok, thanks for the messages.
I need to review it to count how many illegal elbows but Its a fact that it was illegal.
I contacted Keith Kizer head of Nevada Athletic Comission and he told me to file a complaint and he would review it.
I true believe it was illegal. I never complaint about a losses who knows me know that I handle it good but illegal we can not accept.
In a follow-up post, Alvan also expressed his interest in setting up a rematch against Travis Browne:
Saturday night, Kelvin Gastelum put the brakes on perhaps the biggest Ultimate Fighter hype train in the show’s history, Uriah Hall, by winning a split-decision at TUF 17 finale but today he told MMA Fighting that just a few months ago he was close to hanging up his gloves. “Before [TUF] I was struggling. I was about ready to quit MMA for a while, and just get another job because obviously I wasn’t doing well financially,” he said.
“I was like, man, if I don’t make it, it’s going to be a while until I’m back in a cage somewhere. Luckily it worked out all in my favor.”
Hall had knocked out and sent multiple fellow contestants to the hospital during his reign of terror on the TUF 17 set but Gastelum was able to shut down the striker’s dangerous offense for the most part. Promoter Dana White had said Hall was the scariest guy in TUF history before the fight and afterwards, suggested that Hall was, in fact, mentally broken and not mean enough.
The new TUF 17 champion wasn’t afraid of the hype going into Saturday’s fight and he doesn’t buy the hype now that he only managed to win because Hall suddenly became a shell of himself, psychologically. It was hard for Uriah to look great because Gastelum wouldn’t let him.
“People are saying he didn’t perform, and I guess I would have to agree,” Kelvin said.
“Mostly because I was putting the pressure on him and actually bringing the fight, which it what a lot of the guys didn’t do. Adam Cella was the guy that brought the fight [during the season] until he stayed stationary the last couple seconds and got caught with that kick. Then the other guys were just scared. I wasn’t scared, I brought the fight to him…it worked out in my favor.”
“Bringing The Ultimate Fighter to FOX Sports 1 is like adding a big bat to an exciting young lineup,” said [Fox Sports Media Group COO and co-president Eric] Shanks. “TUF has jump-started the careers of dozens of fighters, many who have gone on to become UFC champions. It’s going to be a welcomed addition to FOX Sports 1, and the perfect anchor for our Wednesday prime time UFC block. We’re absolutely thrilled to have it.”
“Season 17 of The Ultimate Fighter just ended and it was the best season we’ve ever done,” said UFC® President Dana White. “Season 18 is going to be historic and groundbreaking with the first-ever women coaches, and men and women training and living together, and we’re excited to be airing it on the best new sports network in the country, FOX Sports 1.”
It’s a good way to waste your lunch hour today — better, at least, than talking to that weird guy at the office who always just eats a can of soup for lunch, like, every day. (Seriously? Get some protein in there, you’re a grown ass man.) Anyway, watch it and tune in Saturday. It’s free, so you’ve got no excuse not to, fight fans.
(Anderson Silva’s knees and GSP’s shorts — no can defend. / Photo via Getty Images)
According to information released by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, the UFC paid out $708,500 in disclosed salaries and bonuses to the 24 fighters who competed at the Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale on Saturday. Main-eventer Urijah Faber was the only fighter to crack six-figures. (If you don’t include end-of-night bonuses, he was also the only fighter to earn over $50,000 in show/win money.) Check out the full payout list below, and keep in mind that these numbers don’t include additional revenue from sponsorships or undisclosed “locker room bonuses,” or deductions from taxes, insurance, and licensing fees.
Going head-to-head against UFC promo king Chael Sonnen would be a tall order for anybody — but you’d think that Jon Jones would at least try to make it competitive. In case you missed it, here’s Jon and Chael’s interview segment from the TUF 17 Finale broadcast, in which Jones acts like a 15-year-old whose weed stash was just discovered by his stepdad. The first words out of Jones’s mouth are a slurred jumble of Ortizian proportions. He can’t stop swinging his arms. He won’t make direct eye contact. He refuses to address Sonnen — who continues his carnival-barking, undeterred — even though this segment was specifically arranged to generate interest in their UFC 159 fight in two weeks. As David Letterman might say, “Jon, I’m sorry you couldn’t be here tonight.”
This clip unfortunately leaves off the very end, in which Jones sulks off stage left at his first opportunity, while Sonnen remains standing next to Jon Anik; Jones may still be the light-heavyweight ruler of the Octagon, but Sonnen has rightfully claimed his territory in front of the camera. We’ll give Jon the benefit of the doubt and say he was trying to come off as intensely focused, instead of bored, or pissed off, or half-drunk. Either way, it was a missed opportunity to spark some more fan-interest in a fight that is completely uninteresting from a competitive standpoint. That’s no way to get some fans, bro.
At the The Ultimate Fighter 17 Finale last night, Cat Zingano earned a shot at Ronda Rousey’s UFC bantamweight belt as well as an opposing coach slot on The Ultimate Fighter 18 with her beastly TKO over Miesha Tate. At the post-event press conference her and Rousey posed for photos and Rousey spoke with MMA Junkie about, among other things, the tight ship she plans on keeping as a TUF 18 coach.
Presumably for the same reason that TUF producers have been quick to stock and re-stock at fighter requests the TUF House liquor cabinet in direct opposition to what is good for training, fighting and fighters, the TUF 18 House will be co-ed, occupied by both female and male contestants on the competition. That is, the idea that setting up as many extra curricular, dangerous roadblocks for fighters can make for tragic lost opportunities but also, and more important, great, drama-riddled television.
If anyone wonders what type of sexual tension and (network executive fingers crossed oh so tight) actual activity might be spurred on among male and female fighters locked in a mansion for months without access to their family or friends back home, television, radio, newspapers or reading material of any sort outside of the Bible (the Matt Hughes special dispensation), then it is likely you’ve gotten the precise point of why the UFC and Fox are doing this way. Rousey was clear, however, that she’ll tell her female team members what types of consequences will be in store for those who can’t keep it in their pants.
“If they’re the chick that was screwing around the house, for the rest of their career they’re going to be known as the chick that was screwing around the house. Sponsors are going to be looking at that. Everybody’s going to be looking at that,” she told MMA Junkie.
“If you think it’s $100,000 worth of that lay [ed. note - she talkin 'bout boning], then go for it, but I’m just going to remind them that there’s a lot of very permanent consequences to how they carry themselves in the house,” Rousey went on.