Former Olympic Judo Gold Medalist confident against Khabib

Two-time Olympic gold medalist Kayla Harrison captured the mixed martial arts world after her first fight in June of 2018. The judo legend went on to win her next two fights in the Professional Fighter’s League. I watched all three of her fights, noticing that there was something unique about this talented athlete. The energy of the arena shifted when she walked into the octagon and fans immediately stopped what they were doing to focus on her.

Harrison’s magnetism and bravado was recently demonstrated outside of the cage when she told TMZ Sports that she would beat UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov in a judo match. This polarizing statement created a lot of buzz in the MMA community and in the world of sports.

“I think I would beat him in a judo match. For sure. 100%. I would beat Khabib,”

Harrison to TMZ Sports

One example of this comes from a post on the SB Nation blog, Bloody Elbow. The post has generated over 170 comments so far, according to Bloody Elbow. In comparison, the next most frequently commented post from May 8 had 40 comments, according to Bloody Elbow. While I feel that Harrison’s rugged, bulldozing fighting style contributes to the number of comments on this post, the dominating factor driving this post’s popularity is that it addresses whether or not women can compete with men on the same playing field.

This question has been answered in other sports such as tennis; but do we really want to find out the answer to this question during a combat sporting event? In my opinion, there is something off-putting about members of the opposite sex striking each other– with the intent to cause bodily harm– during a sporting event. I understand and sympathize with any athlete who wants to test their ability against the best competition in the world and I can see how my viewpoint on this issue could be taken as archaic. However, I would not watch Harrison grapple with Nurmagomedov and I would be against the event from taking place.

Right hook. Photo by: Walking Photographer at Pexels.Com

With the righteous fight for LGBTQ communities steadily gaining momentum, it will be interesting to see how the MMA world will adjust to the idea of transgender fighters and mixed sex fights. Based on the limited sample size from the comment section on the post from Bloody Elbow, it looks as if MMA fans are not yet ready to accept fighters like Fallon Fox. I personally would not watch a mixed sex fight, but I have no animosity towards anyone who would watch such an event. Additionally, I feel that I need to do more research on the topic of transgender athletes in MMA before I can form a cohesive opinion on the subject.

Harrison is one of those unique athletes who has the ability to compete with any human being on this planet. I think she could do extremely well against Nurmagomedov, but I don’t think this is a question that needs to be answered at this time. I feel that I am not ready to see men versus women in combat sports–particularly prize fighting. I am excited to see what the MMA world will look like in 50 years and I may look back on this article and laugh about how ignorant I was. But for now, I will continue to support Harrison in her pursuit of PFL gold and hope she doesn’t go after the UFC men’s lightweight title any time soon.

Do you feel that Kayla versus Khabib in a judo match would be a positive or negative event for mixed martial arts? Leave a comment and let me know.

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Degenerate From Brazil Demonstrates Larger Issue

A Brazilian man received a justified beating when a Brazilian MMA fighter discovered he was masturbating to her photoshoot, according to MMA Mania’s Ryan Harkness.

On a picturesque Rio De Janerio beach thirteen days ago, Brazilian amateur MMA fighter Joyce Vieira was participating in a photoshoot for a swimwear company, according to The Sun. Vieira noticed a man awkwardly standing off to the side of her and her photographer; she looked down and noticed the man was visibly erect and making animalistic noises, according to Deadspin.

Photo of Vieira striking creep in Brazil

Vieira approached the man and asked him to stop; the man allegedly said to Vieira, “Why, you don’t like it? Come here,” according to Deadspin. It was at this moment that this depraved creep knew he had messed with the wrong woman. Vieira threw a vicious strait right at the man’s face and began raining down punches on the masturbating creep, according to MMA Mania.

The man went a step further into the land of the wretched when he decided to throw a weak, soft jab at Vieira. This punch had no effect on her and she responded with a swift head-kick using her right shin bone to stagger the man, according to Deadspin.

“The punch made me even angrier. I wanted to kill him,”

Vieira to Deadspin.Com

As the fight continued, the commotion caused a few citizens to come and see what was happening. This caused the man to retreat and flee the scene of the crime, according to MMA Mania. The man was arrested hours later after a police report was filed, according to MMA Mania.

While the man may have been arrested and briefly put in jail, he is now out roaming the streets of Brazil, according to The Sun. Incidents like this can cause tremendous harm for the victim and can have lingering effects on the person who was degraded. Unfortunately for women today, these incidents are common and the punishments–in some cases–are less than severe.

I feel that men–like myself– need to have more accountability for our actions and attitudes. We need to recognize that some of the harmful behaviors and rhetoric that men exhibit may in fact lead to men thinking that what they are doing is normal or that the woman “Wants it,” like this degenerate allegedly said to Vieira. In my opinion, incidents like this make all men look bad. Even worse, it has affected Vieira’s life immensely.

“We feel powerless. It’s very strange because he’s going to be in the same city as me, and who knows he might be in the same places.”

Vieira to The Sun

Vieira should never have to feel frightened or anxious to walk around her own city. She should never have to get into a physical altercation with another human being because of their sexual deviancy. Men need to stop viewing women as objects placed on this planet for their twisted desires. I feel that we are slowly moving in the right direction in our treatment of women, but incidents like this demonstrate how much further we still need to come as a community.

Group hand fist bump. Photo by: raw pixel.com

Do you think punishments should be more severe for crimes like this? Let me know in the comments.

Montano Among Eight UFC Athletes Suspended in April

I argued that Nicco Montano would defend her title twice after she won the inaugural women’s flyweight title in 2017. Montano displayed tremendous heart in her win over Roxanne Modaferri that night in December and I loved the way she flowed around the octagon.

However, the brilliance displayed that night may have been due to performing enhancing drugs. Montano–along with four other UFC athletes–received a six-month suspension when she tested positive for the banned substance ostarine. While the positive sample was collected almost a year after her title fight, I feel that it tarnishes her title winning performance. Also, it makes me wonder if she was on a banned substance during her time on the Ultimate Fighter.

Montano’s suspension was one of seven handed down by the United States Anti-Doping Agency–also known as the USADA–in April. The USADA also imposed a lifetime ban on UFC heavyweight Ruslan Magomedov. These
eight violations in April demonstrate a problem that affects not only the UFC, but the entire sporting world.

Photo by: Sabel Blanco

While performing enhancing drugs are a problem that impacts the sporting community as a whole, they have a particularly heinous affect on combat sports. Athletes who are not undermining the rules are placed in compromising situations that could lead to death or serious injury.
The athletes using these performing enhancing drugs are behaving maliciously. Whether or not they are knowingly taking these drugs is insignificant in my eyes due to the harm these drugs can cause.

Current UFC flyweight champion Henry Cejudo experienced this first hand during his fight with T.J. Dillashaw at UFC Fight Night in December. While Cejudo won the fight, his opponent Dillashaw may have been using the performing enhancing drug EPO. EPO, also known as erythropoietin, causes the body to produce more red blood cells and can improve endurance, according to the USADA. Cejudo ended up knocking Dillashaw out in the first round, but if that did not occur, something more sinister could have taken place.

“In my eyes, T.J., there’s bad intentions, literally. I’ve always been drug-free.”

Henry Cejudo to MMA Junkie

I agree with Cejudo and feel that fighters who are taking performing enhancing drugs have malevolent intentions. These athletes need to face discipline that will discourage others from committing the same infractions. Dillashaw’s two-year ban is a start, but I feel that he should have been banned for life due to the blatant disregard for the damage he could have inflicted.

Dillashaw’s suspension was a step in the right direction; however, the latest suspension of Montano and three other athletes was limited to six months because there was no evidence of intentional use, according to the USADA. I have the utmost respect for the USADA but I feel that these suspensions are an insufficient form of punishment. “Intentional use,” is a slippery slope in my opinion because certain athletes with cruel intentions will use this excuse in their defense. While there certainly are cases of athletes being tainted unintentionally, I feel that a vast majority of athletes who test positive took these performing enhancing drugs willingly.

Photo by: raw pixel.com

Performing enhancing drugs will continue to evolve and athletes will always attempt to gain an advantage over their opponents. But as fans, we can choose who to support; I will not be supporting athletes who test positive for performing enhancing drugs.

Do you feel that athletes like T.J. Dillashaw who knowingly take performing enhancing drugs should be banned for life?

UFC Spearheads Leslie Smith

Former Invicta flyweight-title contender and UFC fighter Leslie Smith signed with Bellator MMA on April 16, 2019, according to a story first published by Kevin Iole of Yahoo Sports.

It has been almost two years since Smith last fought in the UFC and many fans are questioning the UFC’s motive after releasing her from her contract in April 2018. The UFC released Smith immediately after the controversy surrounding her canceled fight with Aspen Ladd, originally scheduled for UFC Fight Night 128.

I am already feeling an entirely different sense of being a part of a promotion since the announcement of my signing with @
BellatorMMA
yesterday

@LeslieSmith_GF

Smith is on a two-fight win streak and her fight against Irene Aldana received fight of the night at UFC on Fox 22. She was a UFC veteran, competing in the octagon seven times.

So, why did the UFC decide to let a marketable star like Smith walk away?

In my opinion, the most salient reason is Smith’s creation of Project Spearhead. Project Spearhead is a collection of mixed martial artists who are working to unionize all professional mixed martial artists, according to the organization’s website.

The UFC is a four-billion-dollar industry, however, there is no independent union set up to assist and protect their fighters. This is unacceptable and the UFC needs to cooperate with their fighters in order to create a fair work environment. These fighters lose their blood and sweat in the octagon; at the very least, they should have proper representation.

pexels-photo-1862785

Image by Derwin Edwards on Pexels.Com

However, once a fighter like Smith becomes proactive and decides to ignite a campaign for better work conditions, they are released or are quarantined so they don’t infect the other fighters. An example of this comes from a UFC fighter retreat in 2017. Smith asked NBA superstar Kobe Bryant a question about unions during a Q&A at the retreat. Smith alleges that she was kicked out of the summit for asking this question. If Smith’s accusations are true, it is a reprehensible act committed by the UFC and it demonstrates large organizations’ fear of the word–Union.

While the UFC may be labeling union supporters as subversives, there are several fighters who are behind Smith and Project Spearhead. However, some of these fighters feel that they are at risk of losing their positions if they publicly side with Smith.

“I talk to people and they tell me that they are worried about their jobs. They say they want to get on board with this, but they’re worried about their jobs. I’ve been talking to some people who are really, really high up — like basically champions. And they’re still saying that they’re worried about their jobs.”

Leslie Smith to mmafighting.com

If Smith’s assertions are true, then this demonstrates the rear-naked-choke the UFC has on its employees. Mixed martial arts is one of the most grueling and life-altering sports; these artists opinions should be listened to and honestly discussed. But, it looks as if any opposition or any discussions that hurt the companies wallet will be squashed or ignored.

One thing the UFC can’t control is who the fans support and give their hard-earned money. I feel that fans should start researching the UFC’s unwillingness to unionize and get behind fighters–like Smith–who want to provide equality and fair pay to those who risk their lives for their employer.

VanZant Criticism Demonstrates Sexism by UFC Fans

Sexism and the objectification of women is an intricate issue that has affected the sports culture for decades.

Unfortunately for fans of the UFC, mixed martial arts is not immune to this plague. While the UFC and mixed martial arts community has made progress promoting and expanding women’s mixed martial arts, there are still constant examples of sexism from fans and pundits. 

The latest example that demonstrates the sexist UFC culture comes from the women’s flyweight division. 135-pound fighter Paige VanZant participated in a Sports Illustrated photoshoot recently for the publication’s swimsuit issue. When this news was released, critics felt that this endeavor tarnished VanZant’s reputation as a fighter. 

Photo by: Coco Championship

In an article posted on the bjpenn.com blog titled, Paige VanZant knocks ‘morons’ who criticized SI swimsuit shoot, “12-guage” quickly dismissed these critics. “I don’t think there should be any question about my fight career at this point, said VanZant. “I’ve broken my arm twice. Maybe I don’t look like a professional fighter but, hey, I was born this way. Call my mom and dad.”

The UFC has been putting on mixed martial arts events for over 25 years, however, the first women’s match took place on February 23, 2013–20 years after the UFC’s inaugural event. Even UFC President Dana White participated in this sexism in 2011. In a video released by TMZ on January 9, 2011, White is asked if women will ever fight in the UFC. With a smirk on his face, he replied–Never. Two years later Ronda Rousey broke through that barrier and became one of the biggest stars in mixed martial arts history. Even Rousey experienced criticism stemming from sexism. Some critics felt that her looks were the catalyst for her career and the advancement of women’s mixed martial arts. 

Photo by: Coco Championship

Another example of the sexist culture surrounding the UFC comes from stand-up comedian and UFC fan Joey Diaz. Diaz was commenting on Mackenzie Dern’s UFC debut on Twitter following the UFC 222 event when he released this controversial tweet. I scrolled through the comment section under this tweet and in my opinion, the gifs, memes, and snide remarks seemed to support Diaz’s tweet. I don’t know why I was shocked to see this, but I had some small hope that the overwhelming majority of commenters would be condemning this type of tweet. Diaz went on to release a statement on Twitter claiming that he said this crude comment, “In the heat of comedic passion.” Pardon me Mr. Diaz–I know I am not the comedic genius you are–but comparing that tweet with anything resembling a joke is disrespectful to some of the legends you name dropped in that tweet. To make matters worse–less than two months later–Diaz went back on Twitter, doubling down on his sexist comments. Unfortunately for all of us, Joe Rogan was not able to comment on this tweet like he did on Diaz’s first tweet. 

Sexism and the objectification of women has been a parasite on the mixed martial arts community since its inception and we need to address this issue now. Not much has changed in the last six years and if we don’t address these issues now–sexism will continue to plague the sport we love.

What can the UFC and the mixed martial arts community do to curb the sexist roots imbedded in the culture?