Travel Journal (#3): Iowa & The Full Monte

This post is about the second leg of my U.S. trip doing research for my book, “The Political Economy of Ultimate Fighting”. It covers events from 9 October 2017 to 14 October 2017. You can read my past journal entries here:

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“In boxing, you will never get a 5-0 fighter [five wins, zero losses] to fight another 5-0 fighter… that’s what I loved about MMA; everyone was willing to fight everyone.”

“I’m godfather to [former UFC heavyweight champion] Tim Sylvia’s son. [former UFC lightweight champion] Jens Pulver was over here this evening watching The Voice. I could hit [former welterweight champion] Pat Miletich’s house with a rock. We’re all still here, we’re still friends. The thing with MMA is that we’ve made lifetime relationships… you can’t have a better time than I’ve had in MMA.”

“I used to say to my fighters, ‘nothing is ridiculous, tell me what you want?’, and then I’d go out there and do my best to get it… Sometimes I would be in a standoff [with UFC matchmaker Joe Silva] for a month before we got the right deal.”

“The upper fighters, headliners and champions, would benefit from the Ali Act. The lower end guys [would] benefit from a union. For me, I can handle the lower end guys myself. I don’t need a union to negotiate good deals.”

That’s just a  few of the many anecdotes and insights long-time MMA manager and promoter Monte Cox shared with me during a phone-interview I conducted with him in September. A former newspaper editor and professional boxer, Monte began promoting MMA shows in 1996 in Iowa and soon after tried his hands at management.  He would go on to be the in-house manager for the Miletich Fighting Systems gym – MMA’s first super camp –  and would represent nine UFC champions and three Bellator champions over the next two decades. Continue reading “Travel Journal (#3): Iowa & The Full Monte”

The MMA One Year On

“I’m proud to announce the official launch of the Mixed Martial Arts Athletes Association. It’s gonna be big… we’re changing the sport forever starting today.”

That was Tim Kennedy this time 11 months ago, announcing the formation of the MMAAA alongside former champions Georges St Pierre, Cain Velasquez and TJ Dillashaw, perennial contender Donald Cerrone and former Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney. The organisation’s aims, outlined in their inaugural teleconference, were threefold: (1) to seek an “enormous settlement” on behalf of active and former UFC fighters; (2) to revise the revenue sharing model so that fighter’s received 50% of revenues; and (3) to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement that would entitle fighters to ancillary conditions like pensions and health insurance.

How they were going to do that was less clear – the group expressly ruled out forming a certified labour organisation under the National Labour Relations Act, or bringing litigation against the UFC. But they had the star power and resources give the UFC a serious headache where other efforts, such as Jeff Borris’ Professional Fighters Association, appeared out of their depth. In Rebney’s words, their capacity to create change “came from the megaphone that these athletes speak from.”

You can read the rest of this article at Fight News Australia.

Travel Journal (#2): Viva Las Vegas

This post is about the first leg of my U.S. trip doing research for my book, “The Political Economy of Ultimate Fighting”. It covers events from 3 October 2017 to 9 October 2017.

You can read my first journal entry explaining the project here.

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My first destination on this trip, not including Shanghai where I had a 20-hour layover, was Las Vegas. It was a last minute addition to my itinerary. Originally I was supposed to start in New York, but when I saw there were still tickets available to UFC 216, I figured: why not start the journey with a live event in the fight capital of the world?

Continue reading “Travel Journal (#2): Viva Las Vegas”

Scrutinising the UFC’s Response to Mark Hunt

For MMA fans that haven’t been living under a rock over the last few days, it’s no secret that Mark Hunt has, once again, gone on a public tirade against the UFC. This time, it is to protest the its decision to withdraw him from his upcoming bout against Marcin Tybura, which would otherwise have headlined the UFC’s return to Sydney next month. It’s an issue that warrants scrutiny, not just because it shines further light on the volatile relationship between the UFC and one of its biggest Australian stars, but also for the promotion’s inconsistent approach to fighter health and safety.

You can read the rest of this article at MMASucka.

Travel Journal (#1): The Political Economy of Ultimate Fighting

I was 13 years old when I first heard of the Ultimate Fighting Championship. A friend of mine sent me a link to a highlight video featuring a series of rotund men trading haymakers in the centre of an octagonal cage. Thousands of predominantly Caucasian spectators cheered on the brutality in the background, whilst a solemn-faced referee in black pants and a polo shirt paced anxiously a few metres away from the action. Emblazoned on the canvass floor were three huge letters: U F C.

Continue reading “Travel Journal (#1): The Political Economy of Ultimate Fighting”

Bellator is Gaining Ground on the UFC, Last Weekend was Proof

Over the weekend, the MMA Gods smiled down on fight fans.

On Friday night, the UFC’s held it’s first show in the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’ since 2015 showcasing a number of thrilling contests on the main card. On the following night, Bellator rolled into San Jose, California. They hosted an event stacked with UFC veterans, homegrown commodities and blue-chip prospects.

So, what were the highlights? And, how does this affect the ongoing battle for MMA supremacy between the two promotions? Let’s dive in.

You can read the rest of this article at MMASucka.

Navigating the UFC Middleweight Logjam

When Michael Bisping and Georges St. Pierre meet in the Octagon at UFC 217, at the iconic Madison Square Garden, it will mark a nearly two year period since a legitimate number one contender will have fought for the UFC middleweight championship.

The last time this occurred was in December 2015 at UFC 194. On that night challenger Luke Rockhold (T)KO’d then-champion Chris Weidman in the fourth round. An immediate rematch was slated for UFC 199 six months later, but fate intervened.

You can view the rest of this article at MMASucka.