Steroids in MMA
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Well, There Goes Our Plan For How To Get UFC 106 Tickets

(What, you thought she was interested in your personality?)

Disturbing sports-related news out of Philadelphia today, Potato Nation.  It seems a hardcore female Phillies fan in need of tickets to a World Series game offered to get a little too hardcore in exchange for them, and wound up getting busted by some cops with no appreciation of what it really means to love a team.  43-year-old Susan Finkelstein allegedly posted a Craigslist ad rife with innuendo as to what she’d be willing to do to see the Phillies in the World Series, and when undercover officers responded she “offered to perform various sex acts in exchange for World Series tickets.” 

The first thing we did upon hearing about this was to delete our Craigslist ad in which we promised to do “n e thing” for UFC 106 tickets, as long as it didn’t involve taking our shirts off (don’t act like we’re the only ones who are self-conscious about back hair).  But the second thing we did was to stop and think about the serious ramifications that arrests like this could have on the MMA industry.  Anyone who’s ever been to a live UFC event knows that there are a lot of halter-tops on display, and they don’t all belong to wives and long-term girlfriends.  No, some of those women are friends or even acquaintances that male ticketholders are hoping to sleep with.  Sometimes they might even be friends of friends, or hot bartenders who mentioned in passing once how much they’d like to go to an event.  To punish these women for their opportunism is wrong, and it could cut live gate revenues in half. 

People perform sex acts for tickets to sporting events.  That’s just a fact.  Some may be more explicit about it than others, but that doesn’t mean they should go to jail.  It just means they need to learn a little subtlety.


Exclusive: Interview with N.Y. State Assemblyman Bob Reilly, Part One

My column this week on deals with the legislative fight over MMA in New York State.  At the center of this battle, as you probably know, is Assemblyman Bob Reilly, who is a committed opponent of the sport.  Mr. Reilly and I are obviously on different sides of the issue, but he was gracious enough to take the time and explain his position, and for that I thank him.  Part one of our talk is below.  Check back for part two later today, and head on over to SI for UFC VP of Regulatory Affairs Marc Ratner’s response to Reilly’s arguments against the sport.

You’ve said before that this isn’t your big issue, that you’re really into agriculture.  And yet this is the issue that’s gotten you the most attention.  Do you still feel like you’re reluctant opponent of MMA, because you seem to have embraced it rather eagerly of late.

That’s a tough question to answer.  What happens is, in the state legislature, with the hundreds of laws we vote on and a budget of maybe $120 billion with a $14 billion deficit and a worldwide financial crisis, there are many, many things we look at.  And when I said agriculture is one thing I’m interested in, that’s one thing.  I’m on the sub-committee on agriculture, but I’m also on the Racing and Wagering Committee, I’m on the Corporations Committee, so there are many other things I do besides this. 

But do I think this is an important thing?  Yes.  I think it’s going to be harmful to people.  I think it’s going to be harmful to our society and harmful to our economy.  So it’s one of things I address.  The legalization of MMA in New York State, I would say the only person pushing that or interested in it is Steve Englebright, the sponsor.  There aren’t a lot of other legislators pushing for it.  As I explored it further and became more educated on it, I changed my opinion and become more opposed to it.  

You say it’s going to be harmful to people.  How, specifically, will allowing live events of this sport in your state harm people?


Chris Leben Mini-Series, Volume Three

Chris Leben: Evolution of an Icon – Watch more free videos

Here’s the third installment of the Icon Sport series “Chris Leben: Evolution of an Icon.” When this started, we were among those impressed by the production value (for the internet, anyway) and pleased by the general concept of this web series. But now that we’ve hit episode three, it’s starting to feel a little too much like a Chris Leben infomercial. Maybe it’s the strength coach going starry-eyed over him or his girlfriend talking up his dedication, but when everyone is so unrelentingly positive it becomes hard to digest.

I guess I just thought/hoped this would be more of an inside look and less of an extended hypefest. Now that I’ve typed that sentence, I realize how stupid it sounds.

As an added bonus, check out the trailer for the straight-to-DVD Randy Couture joint, “Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior” after the jump. Is there really a point in the film where some weirdo magic blood is dripped onto Couture’s head, presumably granting him special powers? Really? Then consider it Netflix’d.


MMA and the Hardcore Fringe of American Culture

(My inner child, consumed with rage.)

One of the things I like to do in my spare time is read the internet and get mad. I honestly love it, to the point where it’s a shockingly poor use of my time. But I can’t deny that there’s a pleasure in indulging in the viewpoints of others that drive me absolutely insane, sometimes more so than reading opinions that I already agree with. I stumbled on to a gem yesterday by Jamie Samuelsen of the Detroit Free Press, who managed to say almost nothing that I agreed with in a relatively short article about why MMA “won’t catch on to the mainstream.”

Here’s one of my favorite lines of reasoning from Samuelsen, who explains that while people tell him MMA is increasing in popularity, he doesn’t see it happening:

I don’t see the roots of the MMA. I don’t see it inherently in our culture. It’s a fascination, but it’s certainly not a participation sport. “Yeah, I do a little cage-fighting in my spare time. Let’s go see how the big boys do it.” I went to a UFC event at the Joe in 1996 when the sport was really picking up steam and was supposed to be the next big thing. Twelve years later, the sport has certainly grown. But has it grown to the extent that it was supposed to have. Yes it’s bigger, but I don’t think it’s that much bigger.

I bring this up not to bash Samuelsen’s viewpoint, but because it’s a fairly new criticism of MMA. We’re used to the human cockfighting angle, but this — this claim that it’s not rooted in our culture and not “a participation sport” — is something different, and something worth responding to.


MMA’s Popularity Makes Judo Sad

Ryan Reser (above, right) is said to be one the United States’ best hopes in judo at this summer’s Olympics in Beijing, but apparently that doesn’t mean he isn’t still chapped about judo being largely ignored in the U.S. while MMA enjoys a growing a fan base. From a story in yesterday’s New York Times:

“It blows me away and upsets me because we’re not to that level,” he said at the Olympic judo trials in Las Vegas. “We’ve been doing a lot of that stuff all along. Not the punching and kicking, but the arm bars and chokes.”


Reser is hoping that the M.M.A. crowd will watch judo during the Olympics. He said the similarity between the two sports would lend to natural crossover appeal. And maybe get some athletes intrigued by the M.M.A. cage wearing a gi.

“We’re just not a very big sport,” he said. “We have a lot of judo, but it’s spread across the United States. It’s hard for us to get partners and news coverage. We’re hoping we can get more interest in judo.”

This is the second time in the recent lead-up to the Olympics that we’ve heard a judo-lover expressing frustration over the lack of interest in the sport stateside. First it was Karo Parisyan, and now Reser, who says he’s taken up training with some MMA fighters to learn a few new tricks. I’m not going to point out that the issue of “crossover appeal” for an Olympic sport that incorporates one aspect of MMA only reinforces my belief that MMA (which incorporates all the aspects of MMA) should be an Olympic sport all its own.

Instead, I’m going to hypothesize that crossover appeal is never the issue with the Olympics. Not really.

Read More DIGG THIS Presents: MMA Betting for ‘Tards

Matt Hughes Thiago Alves UFC MMA
(Photo courtesy of

Nothing amps up the drama of watching a sporting event like knowing you have a little extra riding on the outcome. UFC 85 is tomorrow, and for me, that “little extra” is the possibility that I’ll be hard-barfing afterwards. For the rest of you, it might be throwing a few 20-spots down on your favorite fighters. If you still have some disposable mad-money left from your economic stimulus check, why not open an account at And if you don’t know the first thing about what to do when you’re there, read on…


Let me first begin by saying thanks to the Bens for allowing me to take time away from eating the souls of virgin gypsy orphans to come on here and try to corrupt the minds of the Cage Taters.

For those of you who are too damn lazy to know who I am, my name is Damon Durante, and I’m the host of BetUS Sports Radio, a series of sports betting-related podcasts. To review: is a sportsbook, I am their radio host.

I cover pretty much every sport you can bet on, but I’ll let you know that football is pretty much the Cat’s Cotton Pajamas around here and is essentially 90% of what we do. I friggin’ love all sports, but MMA is my secret mistress.

I have made it my personal goal to bring MMA as far to the forefront of sports wagering as I can; football might pay the bills, but MMA burns deep in my loins, to which the only soothing balm is more MMA. (There have obviously been others in my industry attempting to capitalize on the popularity of MMA using different tactics, but through sheer lameness they ended up sucking donkey pouch.)

Unfortunately the newness of mixed martial arts as a whole contributes to the betting naivety of most people. I mean we’ve all seen football point spreads since we were kids, but the appearance of money lines for MMA fighters is still seemingly non-existent. Without a doubt the #1 question I get asked is “What the #%*$ does ‘minus 200′ mean?”

That’s why I’m writing this bad boy; to turn you all into degenerate gambling bastards.