Movie Fights: Godzilla – Official Asian Trailer

In non-MMA news, but still fight news, the Godzilla trailer for Asia, which comes via CHUD.com, reveals a lot more than the US trailer. Much less Walter White. Much more fake Ra’s al Ghul.  Also, the appearance of the real big bad. See below:

Color me giddy. There is something very magical about this footage. It lies somewhere between my affections for the old school man-in-suit Godzilla films and my rejection of the Puff Daddy-themed musical nonsense of Roland Emmerich’s 1998 version with Ferris Bueller.  The Mothra inclusion makes it leaps and bounds better than the ’98 version, tons better than the Godzilla/Godzuki cartoon, but less than Dave Chapelle’s Blackzilla sketch:

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Where Is the Line for Dana White Before He Donald Sterlings the UFC?

photo via Matthew Black

photo via Matthew Black

The Donald Sterling situation the NBA finds itself in should be a cautionary tale for all owners, GMs, and presidents. Judgment hasn’t even been handed down to Sterling by the league’s commissioner, yet the court of public opinion has already sentenced Sterling. Sterling was taped in a private conversation allegedly saying some pretty disgusting things about race.  However, for those NBA fans who follow the league in more than just a passing way, Donald Sterling’s reputation has always preceded him.  In a 2006  piece, ESPN’s Bomani Jones talked about how Sterling was sued by the Department of Justice for refusing to rent Beverly Hills apartments to black people.  The lawsuit features quote-worthy testimony regarding Hispanics and African Americans including, “Black tenants smell and attract vermin.”  There is nothing alleged about those comments. Those words are classic Sterling.

The remarks captured on tape are abhorrent as are the comments Sterling gave in his testimony in 2006, and he is reaping the just rewards of a public, fan base, organization, and league that demand more out of someone in power.  The media is rightfully disinfecting the Donald Sterling situation by bringing his track record to light, but with his characterization labeled old hat, why is there such the uproar now?  Perhaps it’s because the target was Magic Johnson.   Magic is loved by the general public and is NBA royalty.  For him to be involved in the Donald Sterling situation, even in a peripheral way, shows how all it takes it the right circumstances and the right name for someone to seek out the bread crumbs.

If the tone of Sterling’s comments sounds familiar to MMA fans, it’s not surprising.  In fact, Dana White is likely one bad day away from Donald Sterling MMA fans, the UFC, and the general public.

Take, for example, the sport’s recent TRT scandal and how some basic poking and prodding by ESPN (as well as its megaphone) brought to light the unusual amount of TRT exemptions the Nevada state Athletic Commission issued to many MMA fighters.  Within a week of the publication of the report, coincidentally, the athletic commission reversed its stance and banned TRT exemptions. The same day, the UFC adopted the commission’s policy. It was widely viewed as a step in the right direction that should have been done years before.  However, it wasn’t until Georges St. Pierre went on record that part of his decision to step away from the sport was due in part to a lack of drug testing within the promotion that the issue gained traction for change within the UFC.  In fact, weeks later Lorenzo Fertitta discussed the random drug testing efforts, a policy started with Jon Jones and Glover Teixeira, with SI’s Jeff Wagenheim.  Said Fertitta, “In order for the program to be successful, it truly needs to be random and it needs to be pretty in-depth.” Much like Magic Johnson, sometimes all it takes is someone with name recognition to bring the issue front and center.

For those who cry that Ronda Rousey is the UFC’s most well-known and popular fighter, there is anecdotal evidence to suggest otherwise. And it isn’t pretty.  It starts with Rousey’s comments about Cristiane Justino being an “it” instead of a woman.  Subjectively, it’s a pretty classless thing to say, but had Rousey been the MMA superstar that transcends the sport that Dana White claims she is, the media would have (and should have) been quick to point out how such comments violate the UFC’s own policy for fighter conduct.  Outside of the MMA community, the mainstream media didn’t pick up on this, partly because Rousey isn’t quite the draw the promotion considers her to be.   Partly because the uproar from MMA fans went silent.

Last week, when White was asked about Rousey’s comments, instead of saying the UFC would look into the comments or discuss the comments with Rousey, White decided a better course of action would be to defend Rousey and further denigrate Justino by criticizing Justino’s looks and then pantomiming the way Justino walks in high heels. This is the face and voice of a fight promotion that is supposedly “neck and neck with soccer” on a global level. This was also just before he told reporters on hand to “Grow up,” because they had the audacity to ask if he had a comment on Rousey’s gender-bashing comments (comments that his fighters would normally get punished for according to the UFC’s own code of conduct).

In the past, the MMA media has held White’s feet to the fire regarding drug testing in MMA.  They are also quick to point out any hypocrisy White may espouse in an effort to sell a fight. There were even a few media members who were repulsed by White’s recent comments and actions mocking Cristiane Justino.  However, with all due respect to the solid MMA journalists covering the sport, White’s words and actions will not see any repercussions until the mainstream media picks up on these incidents or until a Jon Jones or a Cain Velasquez speaks up.  Even in that instance, the coverage and vocalization about White’s comments being inappropriate and out of line only hold water if there are sanctions set up by the owners of the UFC. Lorenzo Fertitta and Frank Fertitta need to be just as vocal.  If Dana White’s comments and actions echo without a response from the owners, that speaks volumes louder than Dana White’s bloviations.

Dana White's accessibility makes him a favorite with MMA fans.

Dana White’s accessibility makes him a favorite with MMA fans. Photo via: John Griffin

Make no mistake; Dana White has done remarkable things to help bring MMA and the UFC in particular to the public’s awareness. And, Dana White can sell a fight. He does it so well, it’s sometimes easier to chalk up his bluster and bravado as promoter-speak.  He’s almost always on record, he accessible to the fans, and it’s clear, he will speak his mind when asked and when not asked.  His openness is the very thing that UFC fans find so refreshing about the sport, and it’s something that is lacking in other major sports organizations.  However, if Donald Sterling-gate teaches the public anything it’s that billionaires can be brought down by words—especially their own.  Donald Sterling, unlike White, doesn’t have a social media presence or much interaction with the sports media, and he still managed to have his laundry aired out by a disgruntled mistress.  If/when Dana White ultimately crosses the line, odds are it will likely be in the most public of forums and under the most public of circumstances.  The only questions that remain are if transgender slurs and misogynistic comments don’t qualify as a tipping point that results in outrage, what does? And what does that say about MMA fans?

UFC 172 – Jones/Teixeira: The Afterglow

Jon Jones delivers one of many elbows to Glover Teixeira.

As the main event started for UFC 172, Jon Jones did an homage to Ray Lewis, one he apparently worked on all day to perfect to the delight of the Baltimore crowd.

It was something the small watching party of friends and family who sat with me recognized immediately.  They are a mishmash from different backgrounds.  None of them follow MMA with any fervor or zeal.  Most of them are sports fans, so they only knew of Jon Jones by name, probably from an ESPN ticker.

“Of course he would do that,” I say. “He’s looking for the crowd to pop.”

“Why do you dislike Jones so much?” a friend asks.

The drunk driving incident? His predilection for hypocrisy? The 80% comment? The ridiculous excuse about his phone being hacked/his PR firm was to blame for homophobic comments?

There’s no one answer that could truly justify it. Especially one that wouldn’t come off as petty.  I’m aware of my bias. I’ve made no bones about my dislike of Jon Jones outside of the Octagon. However, I’ve also been just as vocal about how much admiration and respect I have for him inside the Octagon. He is the best fighter today. He’s unique.  And that’s part of the problem.  When someone is that unique, you immediately search for something or someone that is a touchstone for comparison’s sake.

Teixeira’s power was a non-factor at UFC 172.

The fight itself wasn’t unique.  It was classic Bones Jones.  Jones proceeded to dismantle Teixeira over five rounds, making Teixeira look ordinary.  It was a beautiful performance punctuated by a slew of short-range elbows and hand fighting that kept Jones safe and Teixeira in danger.  Teixeira, who had more wins than Jones had total fights. Teixeira, who hadn’t seen a loss in nine years. Teixeira, who had the power Jones had yet to encounter.  Teixeira, who?

Jones took the one area that was Teixeira’s strongest attribute and used it against him, fighting in close quarters and lighting up Teixeira time and time again.  The performance was so dominant, UFC cameras overheard Teixeira apologizing to his coaches in his corner for his performance.  It was a sad scene.  What made it even sadder was there was still one more round to go.

Jones wrecked a very tough Glover Teixeira and made it look easy. It was a brilliant performance by an athlete who has yet to even really show the world the entirety of his fighting abilities.  It’s a scary thing to consider, but not nearly as scary as the weak ways fight analysts have been trying to describe Jones’s greatness.

After the fight, the praises sung for Jones were justifiably loud, and they were legion. In fact, some fight pundits have crowned Jones the “Michael Jordan of MMA”. Of course it will be interesting to hear the change of tune if, when the PPV numbers are released, UFC 172 ends up tanking.  In the meantime, oh, how sweet the hyperbole tastes.

That yardstick shows just how far away Jones is from those expectations of greatness that are being heaped upon him.  It shows the lack of imagination of fight analysts.  It also shows the immaturity of MMA as a sport. Legacies take time and reflection.  For a sport that still manages to wet the bed in a wild crawl to go “mainstream”, time and reflection are luxuries rarely allotted to fighters.  The more Jones wins, the more he pulls away from a small pack that includes Fedor Emelianenko, Anderson Silva, and Georges St. Pierre. But it’s the very short shelf life of fighters in this sport that will likely prevent them from making the kind of lasting legacies that someone like Michael Jordan can claim. It apples to apricots, so why make it more difficult by asking fighters to live up to comparisons of legends from other sports?  It comes down to identity.  How can fight fans ask for Jones to be the ambassador for a sport, when we still have to pantomime what MMA is when we describe it to people who don’t follow the sport?  After all, no one is saying, ”Michael Phelps is the Jon Jones of swimming.”  At least, they aren’t yet.

Back to fight night.

“How can you not like that guy? He was completely dominant,” my friend asks, clearly impressed by Jones’s complete dismantling of Glover Teixeira.

I, much like the ridiculous comparisons to Michael Jordan, searched for an equally absurd arrow in my quiver for a response I knew he would understand.

“He’s the Isiah Thomas of MMA.”

ESPN aired the 30 for 30: Bad Boys documentary earlier last week (one you should seek out at all costs), and it had been a topic of conversation for many NBA fans that grew up watching the NBA in the late 80s.  That connotation, Isiah Thomas, cut through and immediately hit a nerve.

Isiah Thomas was one of the best point guards to ever play the game, and watching the Bad Boys doc, you’re reminded of that in stark detail as all of his brilliant performances with the Pistons come flooding back.  The reason they come flooding back is because many times, Isiah did and said things that were so stupid, they distracted NBA fans from his brilliance.  They pounced on Thomas’s comments about race. They dug their teeth into his decision to leave a game early that the Pistons were losing.  Even his peers had such animosity for Thomas, they refused to allow him to be part of the 1992 Olympic Dream team, a team coached by Thomas’s own coach, Chuck Daily.  Sound familiar? On the surface, sure. But Jones is also not Isiah Thomas.

Jon Jones isn’t the MMA Isiah Thomas… he doesn’t even have his own candy bar!

Ultimately, Jones  isn’t comparable to Isiah Thomas, Michael Jordan, A-Rod, Derek Jeter, Muhammad Ali or any other sports idol/role model in the public eye because he simply hasn’t reached the general public’s eye.  If Jones continues to dominate his opponents in spectacular fashion, he will carve out an identity for himself and the sport. The mainstream sports media is just as overwhelming as Jones is in the cage. Provided Jones can stand up to the scrutiny of the media outside the circle jerk of MMA news outlets, he could be the first one through the wall.

Time and reflection. He may not be there, yet, but he’s also not too far off.  We all better get used to it.

FIGHT PICKS – UFC 172: Jones VS. Teixeira

Finally giving Glover the attention he deserves.

The last time a UFC champion had a title defense was February 22 of this year when Ronda Rousey defeated Sara McMann at UFC 170, and the last time a title was on the line was in March at UFC 171 when a new welterweight king was crowned.  Since UFC 171, and in between UFCs 170 and 171, there have been six events total where the stakes were high, but the hardware was out of the picture.  Tomorrow, Jon Jones, one of the few uninjured UFC champions, will take to the cage to face Glover Teixeira, a man who hasn’t lost a fight since Chuck Liddell was the UFC Light Heavyweight Champion—three years before Jon Jones started his MMA career.

It’s no secret that Jones is the overwhelming favorite.  The big question going into Saturday’s light heavyweight showdown is whether or not any effects from Alexander Gustafsson’s mauling of Jones—either mental or physical—will linger. Leading up to the fight, Jones has been distracted, making excuses, and generally circling the wagons in his camp.  However, there has yet to be an opponent to have his hand raised against Jones when the fight is over.  Only Gustafsson has made Jones look human.  However, as Chris Weidman showed the world, once you make an MMA idol look human, once you’ve made a god bleed, other fighters smell the blood in the water. There’s no un-ringing that bell.

Glover Teixeira has been easy to overlook fight week, especially with the intense media glare reflected off of Jones, Dana White’s fetish for putting his foot in his mouth, and Hurricane Rousey. But make no mistake, Teixeira is a unique challenge for Jones.  As I mentioned yesterday, if Gustafsson represented a physical challenge (in terms of genetic gifts), if Machida represented a stylistic challenge, and if Shogun represented the veteran challenge, no one has yet to represent the challenge of brute power that Teixeira will issue.  We’ve seen Jones get hit and keep coming against Machida, but Machida didn’t have Teixeira’s power.  We’ve see Jones get hit repeatedly against Gustafsson, but Gustafsson didn’t have Teixeira’s power either. Of course, Teixeira has to get close enough to utilize that power

Given everything I’ve seen from both men, I think Jones still has the advantage and the arsenal to make quick work of Teixeira.  That being said, I’m picking Teixeira in the upset. Jones has proven he can get taken by surprise. Vitor Belfort caught him in a bad armbar.  Gustafsson surprised an 80% Jones and sent him to the hospital.  If Teixeira can surprise Jones, I think he might be able to pull off the improbable.  One of the few occasions I’m letting my gut overrule my brain.

In the co-main, Phil Davis has been trying too hard the last two weeks to stay relevant outside of the cage in the 205-pound picture.  He’s trying so hard to poke the bear that is Jon Jones, the only thing people are discussing about his opponent Anthony Johnson is whether or not Johnson will make weight.  The problem is that neither Johnson or Davos are doing much to sell their own fight.  Unlike the main event, this matchup should play out exactly as the betting lines expect.  Davis is the superior wrestler and has had a better quality of opponents while Johnson has been learning to adjust to his new weight class.  With Davis’s focus on Jones instead of Johnson, there is an outside chance that Johnson could level Davis; however, I’ve already got my upset pick set in stone.

As for the rest of the undercard, look for Jim Miller to have a stellar performance against a late addition in Yancy Medeiros. Miller is a handful for most everyone in the 155 pound class, and his armbar against Fabricio Camoes was so beautiful, it belongs in the  Louvre. I only hope he returns to Bad Moon Rising as the walkout song of choice.  The Hollies was a nice change up in his last out, but whenever I hear CCR I no longer think of American Werewolf in London.  I think of Jim Miller.

Solid card up and down.  I expect Isaac Vallie-Flagg and Takanori Gomi to be a fun fight and for Benavidez and Elliott to go a hard three rounds. As always, feel free to come back to ridicule my picks as I am proven wrong.

My “of the night” predictions:

  • Fight of the night – Joseph Benavidez/Tim Elliott
  • Performance of the night 1 – Jim Miller
  • Performance of the night 2 – Glover Teixeira

 

IN THIS CORNER: A PROFILE OF GLOVER TEIXEIRA

Glover Teixeira before his fight with Ryan Bader.

With Jon Jones focusing on Chuck Liddell, Phil Davis, Alexander Gustafsson, himself, and everybody but his opponent Glover Teixeira, it seems like now would be a good time to revisit just how Teixeira got to where he is, co-headlining a main event at UFC 172 and what Teixeira can expect from the champ.

ON PAPER

  • Teixeira started his MMA career in 2002 with a loss, believe it or not, in the WEC.
  • In fact, Teixeira fought 4 times under the WEC banner.
  • Since his MMA debut, Teixeira has only lost one other fight in the 24 matches under his belt.
  • In the 2+ years Teixeira built up his undefeated record in Brazil, only 1 of his fights went to decision.
  • In his 5 fights with the UFC, only 1 win has been by decision.
  • Teixeira has more wins on his record than Jon Jones has total fights.
  • Teixeira has never fought past the 3rd round.

BETWEEN THE NUMBERS

Teixeira is a quiet guy.  He doesn’t smack talk.  He doesn’t try to sell himself.  He doesn’t belittle his opponents. He’s a marketing firm’s worst nightmare.  Despite his affiliations with former champ Chuck Liddell, Teixeira’s climb to the contender’s position, while a quiet one, has been earned of his own merits, most of the time by decimating his opponents.

Much like Jones, Teixeira is a finisher with 12 wins via KO/TKO and 7 coming by way of submission. The quality of competition, however, is where both Jones and Teixeira diverge.  Jones has notable wins against Lyoto Machida, Shogun Rua, Rampage Jackson, and Rashad Evans. For Teixeira, notable wins over Rampage Jackson, Ricco Rodriguez, and Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou strengthen his resume.  The two share similar wins against Ryan Bader and Rampage Jackson with Teixeira getting the slighter edge on the quickest time to finish their shared competition.

From 2007 through 2010, the UFC Light-Heavyweight Championship title became a hot potato among Forrest Griffin, Rashad Evans, Lyoto Machida, and Shogun Rua, with few of the title holders able to hold on to the belt for more than one defense.   Meanwhile, Teixeira was building his reputation in Brazil as a finisher. Often, viewers to UFC events would hear Joe Rogan opine about Glover Teixeira and the visa issues that prevented him from competing in the UFC and adding depth to its light heavyweight division.

When Teixeira was finally able to debut in the UFC, he was quick to impress, submitting Kyle Kingsbury less than 2 minutes into the first round. Since then Teixeira has shown has shown he is an intelligent and consistent fighter, for the most part.

THE BAD

Take his ridiculous fight against Fabio Maldonado in Brazil. Maldonado lured Teixeira into a brawl after Teixeira had dominated him on the feet early.  It was enough to get Teixeira’s attention, but the fact that Maldonado put him in a bad spot in the first place raises a red flag. Maldonado has one speed: zombie.  He moves forward. Much like a zombie apocalypse, it’s easy enough to plan for. To see Teixeira get lured into Maldonado’s kind of game is troubling even though Teixeira was able to get out of it ultimately.  It doesn’t fall into pattern though, until you look at his fight against Ryan Bader.

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In the Bader fight, Teixeira was dominating on the ground until, as he did in the Maldonado fight, Teixeira got suckered, this time, into chasing his opponent. Bader lit him up, briefly, before being floored by a Teixeira bomb.  The question remains though: does being baited twice prove a pattern?

THE GOOD

In his fight with Rampage Jackson, Teixeira pressed the action and stood his ground.  When Rampage attempted to get close, Teixeira took him down at will.  With Rampage’s reputation as a hard hitter, Teixeira took no chances allowing him to find a range.  It showed his intelligence and dominance.  Using both in a fight is a hard rope to walk, and in his fight against Rampage, Teixeira made it look effortless. His controlling performance against Rampage aside, Teixeira has shown two things that happen when he does get into trouble on his feet:

  • It’s temporary.
  • He KOs/TKOs the guy who put him in trouble.

Maldonado was so crushed by Teixeira’s power, the doctor didn’t allow Maldonado to continue his fight against Teixeira. Ryan Bader pushed Teixeira against the fence and unleashed a barrage until Teixeira saw enough of an opening to touch Bader just once, forcing him to turtle up on the canvas.  That’s the power Teixeira wields.  It’s atomic.

THE UGLY

Of course, none of the people on Teixeira’s ledger have the physical gifts of Jon Jones. For Teixeira to get inside and touch Jones’s chin, he has to pass the miles of highway that is the Jones reach.  And that’s a long ride to reach the destination. He has to avoid the “oblique” kicks that Jones throws to keep his opponents out of range. He also has to be ready for the creative way Jones implements attacks.  They come from odd angles and at odd times.

In short, the things that Glover gets criticized for in his performances will likely be a non-factor in the championship fight with Jon Jones. Glover won’t get suckered into a brawl with Jones because that’s not what Jones does. Knowing that, does it give Teixeira carte blanche to make the fight ugly?  Does Teixeira attempt to bait Jones into thinking that Teixeira can be baited into a brawl, allowing Jones to get close enough to unload?  Probably not.  Jones scares the bejesus out of most people not named Alexander Gustafsson, and Jones’s opponents respect his abilities too much to allow him to get that close; however, that’s exactly the kind of blueprint that Teixeira’s mentor followed so well.  Chuck Liddell was a counter striker that used his wrestling to keep the fight standing, made his opponents wade into his range, and then uncorked on them with power counter shots.  Liddell’s success with that blueprint is one that might justify Teixeira going retro in his fight on Saturday and taking a page out of the past in order to beat Jones.  Jones, in his countless distractions leading up to the fight, has even been vocal about Chuck Liddell this week, going so far as to challenge the retired former lightweight champion, further endearing himself to MMA fans everywhere. Does Jones see something about Teixeira that gives him pause so much so that he’s sniping at Teixeira’s camp? Maybe Liddell, John Hackleman, and Glover Teixeira know something the Vegas oddsmakers don’t.

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If Gustaffson represented Jones’s test against a physical threat, Machida represented Jones’s test against a technical threat, Belfort and Sonnen represented Jones’s test from the outside threat of smaller opponents, surely Teixeira represents Jones’s biggest test against the threat of raw power. The more Jones keeps talking about Chuck Liddell, Phil Davis, Alexander Gustafsson, and social media snafus, the more you have to wonder if he’s had adequate time to cram for the kind of assessment that is Glover Teixeira.  If not, here’s hoping he at least has planned an excuse.