Welcome to Midnight Mania, a new column where you get a nightly dose from the crazy side of mixed martial arts (MMA). It’s a lot like eating an Ambien and refusing to go to sleep. Anyway, this will go up nightly, at midnight, as the title suggests. To paraphrase what a famous Gladiator once said, if you find yourself alone, riding in green fields with the sun on your face, do not be troubled. You are in Midnight Mania ... and you are already lost.
So, you have probably already heard that Daniel Cormier went and got himself injured, which started a cascade of events that led UFC to strip Conor McGregor of his Featherweight title (the official announcement is that he "relinquished" it), and now Max Holloway and Anthony Pettis are headlining UFC 206 next month for the new and improved interim 145-pound belt. That means that reigning interim roost ruler, Jose Aldo, has been restored as the rightful champion once again. McGregor’s reign as a two-division champ lasted all of two weeks. The stranger part? McGregor hasn’t said a word about it. If he ever goes back to Featherweight, I am willing to bet my whole bank account (that’s almost $10, so yeah, pony up) that he brings his own belt to the press conference as if this never happened. So far, he’s doing exactly that ...
... baby bump and all.
On the plus side for McGregor, the media magnet, this is just one more thing that puts him in the limelight without even trying.
The belts situation at Featherweight got pretty confusing, so Bloody Elbow contributor Phil Mackenzie has offered a solution:
Others in the so-called media wrote about the McGregor belt problem but I bring SOLUTIONS, not PROBLEMS pic.twitter.com/M2a1YAlpBK— Phil Mackenzie (@EvilGregJackson) November 28, 2016
I for one think everything is fine. Belts are a fairy tale, anyway.
Oh, and if you happened to be thinking in the wake of Daniel Cormier’s injury that American Kickboxing Academy (AKA) fighters get injured at an unusually high rate, well, as it turns out, you aren’t alone. Michael Hutchinson over at Bloody Elbow updated his fantastic piece about injury rates of major camps. You’ll never guess who’s No. 1 ...
Over The Weekend
There was a lot of fighting that happened over the weekend. Not just MMA, either. We had a boxing card that featured the brilliance of one Vasyl Lomachenko, who made Nicholas Walters say, "No Mas!"
UFC’s card in Australia was not the deepest in terms of name value, but the headliner was one of the best one-round fights I’ve seen in a while. Both men had each other hurt and stunned at times, with Whitaker trying his best to circle out of trouble as Brunson chased him down, connecting with brutal dirty boxing in the clinch. Brunson eventually ran face first into a counter, then Whitaker dropped him with a gorgeous jab-headkick combo and finishing him off with a barrage of unanswered punches. Jack Slack summed it up nicely in his article, complete with GIFs. It’s certainly worth another look here:
In case it slipped by unnoticed in the middle of all that, Dana White was up to some pranks on Saturday as well.
Speaking of famous CEOs, remember how Conor McGregor imitated Vince McMahon’s strut in his last two fights? Well, it’s caught on, and now all the cool kids are doing it. Manchester United star Paul Pogba called it "The Notorious Walk."
Marc Gasol of the Memphis Grizzlies also got in on the action after he sunk a three-pointer to end the night for the Los Angeles Clippers.
So, the WWE took it upon themselves to set everyone straight.
Does that qualify as throwing shade, or does shade need a sense of subtlety? Here’s a great example (screen-capped from Nick Diaz’s Snapchat):
I’m guessing that’s directed at both Dana White, UFC’s "Warrior King," and Conor McGregor, his brother’s rival.
Meanwhile, Brandon Gibson, Jon Jones’ coach, wasn’t even trying to hide his disdain for another recent trend, the revival of "Gilmore Girls" on Netflix.
My girlfriend is more into the "Walking Dead," but I can feel your pain from here, Brandon. At least you’ve got the man cave.
UFC 206 may not end up being huge on PPV, but I’m still really looking forward to this:
If you don’t follow BossLogic, he puts together amazing fan posters like this as if it’s no big deal. They are consistently better than the official posters, and he does it for free. Someone pay this man for his work.
Remember Lyoto Machida? Remember how he got suspended for 18 months for a substance that hasn’t been shown to enhance performance? Iain Kidd has a great article on it, and it turns out USADA isn’t all that eager to answer his questions.
For those wondering: No, USADA still haven't responded to the questions I sent, nor any of the follow up questions I sent.— Iain Kidd (@iainkidd) November 28, 2016
Speaking of questions, a recent press release has everyone speculating on what ex-Bellator CEO, Georges St. Pierre, and Cowboy Cerrone have in common.
Will wait to see what they announce but asked both Danaher & Rebney if they were planning on starting a fighters association awhile ago— John S. Nash (@heynottheface) November 28, 2016
Bjorn said he'd call back, didn't and then didn't answer my calls. Tim gave me a "no comment" but asked if it would be a bad thing.— John S. Nash (@heynottheface) November 28, 2016
So, the speculation is, it’s going to be a fighter’s union. If that’s the case, this takes on some interesting aspects, including the possible conflict UFC’s new overlords, WME, have with their rivals, CAA, in the celebrity-repping industry.
While he was away Bjorn Rebney explored bringing fighters together for a sort of union venture. Seems the CAA crew are in. MMA: WME vs. CAA.— Josh Gross (@yay_yee) November 28, 2016
So that’s one of a number of possible changes coming down the pike. Another one more favorable to the UFC? That new TV deal is expected to be a big one- $450 million dollars annually.
SBJ article on #UFC states it will request $450M annually over 10 years for next media rights deal. Current deal is 7 years for $115M.— Jason Cruz (@dilletaunt) November 28, 2016
Hopefully for the fighters, the union gets done in time for them to benefit.
Oh, That Guy!
Remember Demetrious Johnson a.k.a "Mighty Mouse?" You know, the only Flyweight champion in UFC history? The dude who is ahead of Conor McGregor — and everyone else — in the pound-for-pound rankings? Yeah, that little guy, who happens to fight this weekend (Sat. Dec. 3, 2016) at The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 24 Finale: "Tournament of Champions." He’s looking jacked, too, especially for a 125-pound ass kicker.
Bobs And Weaves
The "Co-Main Event Podcast" went up today in case you need some late-night discussion to put you to sleep.
As did the "Beatdown after the Bell," featuring the man responsible for the UFC taking Conor McGregor’s belt sooner than expected ... Daniel Cormier.
Oh, and for you technique heads, Luke Thomas deconstructs Whitaker vs. Brunson:
I mean this in the most literal sense: Stay woke, Maniacs. Or go to sleep ... you probably need it.