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CagePotato.com Presents: The 2014 Potato Awards

Gnarliest Injury of the Year: Leslie Smith‘s Ear Falls Off at UFC 180 (11/15/14)

Things I Can No Longer Do After Seeing Leslie Smith’s Ear Implode on National Television:

-Get a full night’s sleep

-Give Wet Willies…to anyone

-Eat cauliflower

-Eat ravioli

-Watch The Descent

-Find a woman who is willing to have sex with me (unrelated)

-Drink Hi-C, fruit smoothies, or any other strawberry flavored beverage

-Physically separate slices of deli meat

-Vote

-Feel

Honorable Mention: That other dude whose ear exploded, and everyone who followed in Anderson Silva’s footsteps and broke their legs this year (Spong, Malikov, Cruz, Souza)

- Jared Jones

Greatest Failed Propaganda of The Year: The Time Is Now (11/17/14)

Prior to November 17, 2014, the UFC flooded every possible outlet with the slogan/hashtag, “The Time Is Now,” teasing a grandiose announcement. The unveiling was billed as a “can’t-miss event,” in which followers had to “save the date” for something important.

Leading up to this shameful bit of sneaky marketing, rumors of Brock Lesnar and Georges St-Pierre returning circulated, not to mention the brass wanting to sign Gina Carano for an immediate title shot against Ronda Rousey. Fans were hopeful of UFC revamping their digital online network, Fight Pass, wishing that pay-per-view (PPV) offerings would be included in the service. Also, the UFC was on the verge of implementing a uniform for its fighters, which would have changed the landscape of sponsorship and fighter pay for the foreseeable future.

Hell, even CM Punk was rumored to be switching the squared circle for the Octagon. We MMA fans have been let down in the past, but this time — this time — something significant was about to happen.

When the press conference commenced, observers saw Anderson Silva, Jon Jones, Ronda Rousey, Chris Weidman, Lyoto Machida, Nick Diaz, Alexander Gustafsson, and Conor McGregor, to name a few, who would all be fighting against their respective opponents (also on stage) within the next three months. Jon Anik even introduced the new 2015 schedule, a frontrunner in the causes for suicide among the MMA media in the upcoming year.

When the UFC head honcho took the stage, the brave Amber Dixon from NBC Las Vegas asked what the big announcement was, and Dana White, laughing it off, said:

“That’s the first question, huh? Well, I hate to disappoint everybody, but we didn’t get it done in time for this. You could all go home now, thank you … next question?”

The media members didn’t disperse, as they should have, but instead, continued to ask the promotion’s biggest stars about their upcoming fights. Now, it’s nice to have an end-of-year presser with these marquee fighters to promote these highly anticipated showdowns, but this was a ridiculous attempt to generate interest in something not all observers would have tuned in to see. This “Time Is Now” slogan was subsequently stamped on fight posters of the near future, and fabricated in a sense where the time is now, the time is in a month, and the time is in two months when that particular fight happens.

To be fair, the Reebok deal and CM Punk’s signing were both announced shortly after the fact, but that didn’t stop MMA journalists from watching this entire non-event and covering it as news.

File this one under another well-played tactic from the promotion who has left the NFL and soccer in its dust.

- Alex Giardini

Worst Use of Social Media: Anthony Johnson Laughs Off Domestic Violence Questions During Twitter Q&A (11/19/14)

There were so many wonderful missteps in social media this year, but the UFC’s complete lack of foresight when they organized and promoted a Q&A with Anthony Johnson, paired with Johnson’s entitled, oblivious responses, cemented the incident as the social media blunder of 2014.

Johnson, the light heavyweight near-title-contender, has a history of having domestic violence accusations brought against him. In 2010, he plead no contest to domestic violence charges from 2009 in California. In September, Brent Brookhouse at Bloody Elbow revealed more accusations of domestic violence from 2012, and just a few weeks later, MMAJunkie revealed police reports from March of this year that Johnson stopped by his ex-girlfriend’s place of employment, “…grabbed her shirt behind the neck, lifted her up from the chair by her shirt and grabbed her right arm. She showed the investigator ‘bruising on her right forearm and a reddish scratch mark near her right collarbone.’” The UFC responded by placing him on indefinite suspension.

But despite multiple accusations of domestic violence from three women over five years, and despite Johnson’s no contest plea, the UFC reinstated Johnson immediately when the charges associated with the 2012 case were voluntarily dropped. Less than two weeks later, the UFC trumpeted their Q&A with Johnson, and apparently no one prepped him for the possibility people might ask him about the likelihood that he’s a domestic abuser, which I did. His response was, ‘lol’ and he then referred to concerns as a ‘joke.’ The Q&A, which was probably never going to garner that much interest anyway, was largely derailed as he responded with the type of gleeful idiocy reserved for those who think they’re untouchable and their supporters. Luckily for the UFC, it’s primarily MMA fans who care about MMA, so a bungle of this enormity went mostly unnoticed. (I still wrote about it on womensmma.com!) Nevertheless, it remains the worst use of social media this year; whether that applies more to the UFC or Johnson is debatable.

- Sydnie Jones

Honorable Mentions: Angela Magana’s #YourMajesty gimmick; Mark Hunt claiming he was fired by the UFC in a hunger-inspired moment of confusion; Conor McGregor calls Dennis Siver a nazi; War Machine using Twitter to spin a woe-is-me web of lies after breaking into Christy Mack’s home and beating up her and her friend.

MMA Fail of the Year: Amateur Fighter Comes Face to Face With His Own Limitations (11/28/14)

I’ve seen this described as both a botched Showtime Punch and also a botched Showtime Kick. Both descriptions are wrong. No, this isn’t a failed MMA technique: This is what would happen if you combined Trainwreck.GIF with AlBundy.GIF and put it inside a steel cage for three five minute rounds. In fact, this isn’t so much “amateur MMA” as it is a real-life reaction GIF for the most horrifyingly-hilarious fails imaginable. Just watch how well it works for the following scenarios…

When you drunk-text a dick picture to every female in your contacts…including your mother:

When you fart at the gym while wearing headphones, assuming it’ll be quiet, and everyone’s reactions clue you in that it definitely was not quiet:

When you see your wife’s picture on one of those “Fuck ugly local moms! Discreet encounters!” ads:

When you wake up one morning and realize that you could have done anything with your life, yet chose to be a mid-level MMA blogger:

When you invite all of your friends and the girl you’ve been crushing on to watch you in a cage fight, leave your shirt on the entire time — SERIOUSLY, AMATEUR MMA FIGHTERS, NO ONE CARES THAT YOU HAVE BACK FAT — and attempt the most tubular maneuver ever conceived, only for both your body and the laws of physics to laugh in your face:

I rest my case.

- Seth Falvo

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