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Midnight Mania! Conor McGregor worried about brain trauma, Ronda Rousey returns to Instagram

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UFC 196: McGregor v Diaz Photo by Brandon Magnus/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Welcome to Midnight Mania! Tonight, we have Conor McGregor’s coach, John Kavanagh, worried about brain trauma for his star pupil, Ronda Rousey’s return to Instagram with an inspirational quote, Tyron Woodley and Stephen Thompson’s beef and subsequent fight announcement, and the assorted oddball content you have come to expect from this entertaining column.

Kavanagh (via The Independent) confirmed that long-term brain trauma is something the reigning Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight champion does think about.

"It's a concern of every fighter. At that level of fighting the risk is very real. But, I think you can add on two hands the number of clean head shots Conor has taken in 10 years of pro-fighting. His style of fighting answers that, because his style is not brawling. He doesn't step in the pocket and exchange punches. His style is in-and-out -- he's very defensive. That style was born through not wanting to lose and not wanting to take head shots, and not wanting to damage the software."

Professor Dan Healy recently gave a lecture in Ireland to nearly 50 professional mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters in which he addressed the concerns of brain damage to combat athletes, but struck an optimistic chord:

"I've seen five brain haemorrhages in Irish MMA. The fighters were a variety of ages, both amateur and professional. It included people in their twenties and early thirties. CTE concerns me more than anything about all combat sports. This can be the first generation of fighters ever who don't get CTE."

McGregor has seen firsthand the toll this sport can take. Remember, McGregor was cageside for Joao Carvalho, who later died following a technical knockout loss to his SBG teammate, Charlie Ward, in Ireland. That bout affected McGregor deeply. He was critical of the referee for not stopping the fight sooner and posted the following on Facebook in support of someone he regarded as a fallen comrade, someone who chased the same dream he did.

Terrible news regarding Joao Carvalho. To see a young man doing what he loves, competing for a chance at a better life,...

Posted by Conor McGregor on Tuesday, April 12, 2016

McGregor has always said the goal of the game is to get rich, win belts and get out. This concern, as well as his growing family, surely fuels that outlook further. McGregor has already retired once, although it was short-lived.

However, for that move to be so readily on the table for the Irish star is a signal that we may see him depart the game sooner rather than later. He is already incredibly rich -- estimates of his income in 2016 center on a figure of $40 million. He has other avenues to make money, too. Indeed, his acting isn’t at all bad, WWE wants him, he’s made appearances in video games such as “Call of Duty,” and is even scheduled to appear as a Viking/pirate character (a Euron Greyjoy crew member from the Iron Islands) in Game of Thrones.

However, Kavanagh was also optimistic about the progress possible for MMA athletes with increasing knowledge of the dangers surrounding the sport.

"We can reach that lofty goal of this being the first generation with no incidents of CTE."

Perhaps that is the reason every SBG fighter is now required to undergo mandatory brain testing. Taking an honest look at the risks inherent in combat sports is an essential step in minimizing them.

Bobs and Weaves

Ronda Rousey made her social media return today with an inspirational quote that perhaps indicated her mental state is better than after her last loss.

A photo posted by rondarousey (@rondarousey) on

Long-time rival Cris “Cyborg” Justino left the following comment on Rousey’s post, which, despite the vitriol in the past between the two athletes, was incredibly positive and supportive.

Both athletes have faced adversity of late, though of very different nature. Cyborg is facing a positive drug test, while Rousey was of course nuked by Amanda Nunes in her Octagon return.

In other news, Meryl Streep made a passing jab at MMA during the Golden Globe acceptance speech, which, because of the platform and the nature of her comment, drew some ire from the MMA world. She essentially said MMA is not part of “the arts” (along with football), claiming they would be the only things left if all the outsiders and foreigners were kicked out. For football, that makes some sense. Football is a decidedly American phenomenon, and would probably not change all that incredibly much were only Americans to play it. MMA, however, is notable for it’s distinctly international feel. Amanda Nunes, Conor McGregor, Joanna Jedrzejczyk, Jose Aldo and Michael Bisping are not American. Max Holloway is Hawaiian, Stipe Miocic is the son of Croatian immigrants. And those are just the folks who wear UFC gold. Top contender Khabib Nurmagomedov is from poverty-stricken Dagestan. Yair Rodgriquez, who headlines next weekend’s FS1 card, is Mexican.

As far as being “the arts,” Jack Slack wrote the best response I have read so far on why MMA in particular, and combat sports in general, count as art. I just had this discussion as to what constitutes art with my girlfriend last week, which didn’t go so well, so I won’t get into it here, but it is very difficult to draw limits around what is “art” and what isn’t.

This is my favorite response meme so far:

Perhaps because MMA is still regarded as a fringe sport in some places fuels the defensive response to Streep’s uninformed comments. Dana White, however, who has actually aligned himself with president-elect Donald Trump (the person Streep was ultimately targeting), is probably the worst person to offer a rebuttal. Joe Rogan had a discussion about it on Twitter in which he suggested Streep almost certainly takes the good pills:

High Drama

Tyron Woodley, after much back-and-forth on social media, finally announced he actually will fight Stephen Thompson on his podcast, “The Morning Wood.”

However, he dragged it out till the last minute, perhaps to sell the fight, perhaps just to get under Wonderboy’s skin.

The Twitter beef came after Wonderboy tweeted a pic of his signed contract.

To which Woodley responded:

Chael Sonnen jumped in the fray in favor of the champion:

The fight is the first title fight announced for UFC 209, which takes place at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, on March 4, 2017.

Slips and Rips

Speaking of “Prodigal” art ...

Jon Jones gets crushed in arm-wrestling:

“Bones” has been having fun lately!

A photo posted by Jon Bones Jones (@jonnybones) on

Sick wrestling throw ...

I talked about Arnis over the weekend, but this is the best stick fight of all time:

Sage Northcutt with his boo?

Motivation Monday, courtesy of World Series of Fighting:

Looks like Mike Tyson is training Chris Brown for that celebrity beef boxing match. Mayweather is reportedly training Soulja Boy. Tyson released this Soulja Boy diss track:

Soulja Boy needs all the gym time he can get.

Day 3 of Big Soulja aka Yung a DRACO aka #souljaboy in the gym training for #chrisbrown ... he look ready yet? Like AkademiksTV for more

Posted by AkademiksTV on Monday, January 9, 2017

Quick Hits

  • John Anik talks about going on-air after Rousey lost a second time ... in just 48 seconds.
  • Schwan Humes talked about prospect development, and how it can go wrong even for the best athletes, including Ronda Rousey.
  • Dave Meltzer reports exactly how well UFC 207 did.

Random Land

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