Welcome to Midnight Mania! Tonight we have TJ vs. DJ in the works, Kobe Bryant endorsing fighters unions, fighters going back and forth on Reebok, Al Iaquinta almost giving out Dana White’s phone number on air, sumo, stories, and much more.
Did someone say superfight?
It turns out, even the German medical experts and their stem cell treatments couldn’t save UFC 213’s main event, Dana White’s confident prognostications aside. As TJ Dillashaw predicted, Cody Garbrandt is officially off UFC 213. (On the plus side, we do get an interim middleweight title co-main event between Yoel Romero and Bobby Knuckles, which is awesome.)
Dana White also tells me Cody Garbrandt is officially off UFC 213 and that plan is to have TJ Dillashaw fight Demetrious Johnson in August.— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) May 24, 2017
With Cody Garbrandt out of the picture for the time being, T.J. Dillashaw plans to drop down to bantamweight and spoil Demetrious Johnson’s bid to break Anderson Silva’s consecutive title defense record. Dillashaw has long expressed willingness to challenge the Mouse in his native flyweight division, and now he finally gets the chance. But, just in case he can’t make the weight, UFC does have a backup plan in Ray Borg.
UFC would like to do Demetrious Johnson x TJ Dillashaw for the 125 title 8/19 in Seattle, but it's not done yet, sources say. Borg = plan b.— Ariel Helwani (@arielhelwani) May 24, 2017
Dillashaw may not be the champion at Bantamweight any more, but this has all the feel of a bonafide superfight. “Mighty Mouse” has looked absolutely untouchable at Flyweight, but Dillashaw is an offensive Bantamweight buzzsaw with near-perfect takedown defense and potent striking. Let’s hope this one does come to pass. Mighty Mouse still isn’t sold on the idea- he wants Ray Borg next, over TJ Dillashaw.
Kobe Bryant, Real Talk
There has been a lot going on at the UFC Fighter’s Retreat. The dramatic: Cyborg punching Angela Magana and getting a battery charge for it. The protective: “Platinum” Mike Perry shoving Jeremy Stephens on his ass for trying to grind his girl. The offensive: Drunk beer rep telling UFC fighters to be more like Conor McGregor. And the Uniting: Kajan Johnson standing up to UFC brass and the Reebok rep ... and all the fighters getting a meeting with UFC brass because of it.
Along those lines, Leslie Smith — long a proponent for collective action on behalf of fighters — stood up and asked retired NBA legend Kobe Bryant, a speaker at the summit, how important athlete’s unions had been to him in his career. For some background, fighters in UFC — unlike other major sports organizations with unionized athletes — get approximately 17 percent of UFC’s gross revenue. In the NBA, players get more than 50 percent of gross revenue based on collective bargaining agreements.
Naturally, Bryant was supportive of unions, and expressed as much in the video below:
Here is the full exchange (transcription via MMAJunkie.com):
“I’m very curious: How essential to your personal negotiations and the success of basketball in the world do you believe a players association has been?” Smith asked Bryant. “We’re on the verge of forming a union here, so I was wondering here, some of us are on the fence about how much do we pay in, or worried about rocking the boat. How significant to you and your career, and basketball in the world, do you feel like the unity of the players represented by the association has been?”
The other fighters can be heard in the background vocally cheering and clapping Leslie on. Kobe responds:
“(A union is) extremely important,” Bryant said. “Even us as players, where we have our union meetings and things of that nature, we’re normally at each other’s throats competing against each other. But, we understand completely that a rising tide raises all boats. When you guys have this unity and you guys are operating together on the same page together, it does nothing but simply fortify the sport, make the sport better. Not just for present, but for future generations that are coming. So it’s extremely important.”
Hopefully, Bryant’s support will hold up a mirror to UFC athletes. Bryant’s career earnings are over 680 million, approximately 17 times that of the UFC’s biggest money-maker, Conor McGregor. Most UFC fighters are struggling to make ends meet, despite the promotion they work for recently selling for 4.2 billion dollars, none of which went to the fighters. Bryant mentioning how difficult it is for competitive athletes to work together is important, too. Mixed martial artists are intensely individualistic, and this has led to numerous hitches on the road to collective action.
Along with Kajan Johnson’s protest and the subsequent meeting it entailed, this may be the most UFC fighters have thought about collective action in a long time. Unions don’t actually make sense for them, because they aren’t employees; they are independent contractors. Fighters associations, though, are present; up till now, however, they have made limited inroads.
Perhaps this will be the tipping point.
That drunk Budweiser rep made quite the impression.
@bjpenndotcom He also said they don't want to sponsor the guy who just got knocked out. With the most arrogant tone and attitude. Seriously disrespectful— Cub Swanson (@CubSwanson) May 23, 2017
Rafael dos Anjos comes out in support of his countrywoman, after Cris Cyborg has come under fire for punching Magana’s teeth in.
This new fighter...talk sh**, get hit and call cops. I don't get it.— Rafael dos Anjos (@RdosAnjosMMA) May 23, 2017
That’s not the most impressive statistic to go with.
Invicta tryouts were ...
There are different ways to react to a deal that wasn’t made in your best interests as a fighter. Cat Zingano appears to be sincere thanking Reebok for the half-off coupon for Reebok apparel.
Oluwale Bamgbose chooses to focus on the positive.
Just wanted to state, that we the "UFC fighters" are blessed to have an amazing company like @Reebok who believes in our talents. Thank you— Oluwale Bamgbose (@HolyWarAngelMMA) May 22, 2017
Former UFC fighter Nate Quarry, who is currently part of the class-action lawsuit against the UFC, ridicules Bamgbose’s approach.
A starving man thanking his captor for a crust of bread. 7 years ago I made 10 times in sponsors what they're getting paid now. https://t.co/NdCgk15jTN— Nathan Quarry (@NateRockQuarry) May 23, 2017
Uncle Creepy also speaking out from the perspective of experience.
The younger gen just doesn't understand the landscape back then and benefit of being able to make that much just from sponsors. https://t.co/Krh8DVzjcs— Ian McCall (@Unclecreepymma) May 23, 2017
Retired UFC fighter Cathal Pendred, who has previously landed acting roles on “Ray Donovan”, now is the lead in a new Amazon series.
Yeah, this is weird but pretty awesome
Remember this epic, anime inspired, fan made promo for UFC Japan a few years ago? Still the best promo in MMA history: pic.twitter.com/UR18zLnzNk— Luca Fury (@FurysFightPicks) May 23, 2017
This isn’t creepy at all
Al’s mom texting him “don’t do it” is the best thing.
Slips, Rips, and Sumo Clips
Hakuho still undefeated, sends Takayasu flying. Great bout pic.twitter.com/Z2YF8zYxQ2— MEGATON (@BasedDongeezus) May 23, 2017
Ura takes out the leg to topple the monstrous Kaisei pic.twitter.com/kgAU89Bsor— MEGATON (@BasedDongeezus) May 23, 2017
Someone check and make sure Ishiura's head is still attached to his body pic.twitter.com/l6Wn4Nxexl— MEGATON (@BasedDongeezus) May 23, 2017
- Michael Venom Page says he had to calm down Paul Daley’s mother after Daley ran up on him at Bellator 179
- Pankronicles? Sign me up.
Podcasts and Video
Flyin Brian J breaks down Gustafsson-Texeira
Andy Richardson breaks down Glover Texeira’s ground game
Stay woke, Maniacs!
Follow me on Twitter @Vorpality