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Midnight Mania! Demetrious Johnson vs TJ Dillashaw possible with Cody Garbrandt off UFC 213

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UFC Fight Night: Johnson v Reis Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

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.)

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.

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.


Insomnia

That drunk Budweiser rep made quite the impression.

Rafael dos Anjos comes out in support of his countrywoman, after Cris Cyborg has come under fire for punching Magana’s teeth in.

That’s not the most impressive statistic to go with.

Invicta tryouts were ...

... competitive.

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.

Former UFC fighter Nate Quarry, who is currently part of the class-action lawsuit against the UFC, ridicules Bamgbose’s approach.

Uncle Creepy also speaking out from the perspective of experience.

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

This isn’t creepy at all

Al’s mom texting him “don’t do it” is the best thing.


Slips, Rips, and Sumo Clips


Good Reads


Podcasts and Video

Pankronicles:

Flyin Brian J breaks down Gustafsson-Texeira

Andy Richardson breaks down Glover Texeira’s ground game


Random Land

Stay woke, Maniacs!

Follow me on Twitter @Vorpality