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Midnight Mania! Khabib Nurmagomedov: UFC champ, Sambo star and ... fight promoter?

MMA: UFC 229-Nurmagomedov vs McGregor Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to Midnight Mania!

Last night, we discussed the relative pros and cons of athletic commissions vs. promotional oversight. Continuing on the topic of fight promotion and conflicts of interest, news has emerged that UFC Lightweight kingpin, Khabib Nurmagomedov, is the latest fighter to make the move from combatant to promoter. Oh, and Nurmagomedov happens to currently be suspended by one of those pesky commissions.

While the exact extent of his involvement is still unclear, there are plenty of examples of fighters working the other side of the table. Perhaps the best example right now is the Professional Fighter’s League (PFL), which was founded by Ray Sefo. Sefo was a decorated K-1 veteran with nearly 80 professional bouts. He also competed a few times in mixed martial arts (MMA), even stepping into the cage of his own promotion at one point!

The relationship between promoter and athlete is generally a difficult one. It is one of boss and employee (or technically, independent contractor). The promoter wants to spend as little as possible on fighter salary to keep overhead from swelling to unmanageable levels, while most fighters competing are scraping by with second jobs or supportive families.

I’ll be blunt: dealing with promoters is generally a pain in the ass. Despite their best attempts to act friendly, promoters are not to be trusted! In general, however, promoters/managers/agents who have a combat sports background themselves are more likely to earn the trust of their athletes. At the very least, they have some first-hand knowledge of what goes into a fight camp, causing them to be more understanding towards injuries and other complications.

Unfortunately, that trust can be abused. Bas Rutten is a former champion and legend of the sport. He was also the president of the World Bare Knuckle Fighting Federation (WBKFF). Though not the same bare knuckle promotion of all the recent Malignaggi-Lobov drama, WBKFF is currently being sued by Chris Leben for stiffing him and failing to honor their contracts.

Fight promotion is an ugly game. Hopefully, Nurmagomedov can help strike the right balance for the both fighters and company.


More fight promotion news! With a bit of luck, this announcement may give us better insight into UFC’s profitability and finances.

Speaking of PFL, I appreciate the promotion’s self-awareness and hope more fight fans tune into its events this season. There are some killer highlights from tonight’s events in the section below!

Body conditioning drills can be fun. When I’ve done the same drill, we tend to go more for volume and extended rib smacks than such big shots, but it looks cooler this way!

Who did this to my boy? Honestly, Sage memes only get better when you’ve experienced his constant joy and enthusiasm in person.

I tend to think the video looks sped up, but it could just be an odd angle.

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#UFC238 Las Vegas. May 2019

A post shared by Valentina Shevchenko (@bulletvalentina) on

Slips, Rips, and KO clips

What did I just say about the Southpaw left kick? Aiming at the head rather than liver means the kick is less likely to land, but the results are spectacular if it does!

One of the most common complaints regarding MMA technique is the general lack of head movement. Below is a clear explanation as to why very few roll like Mike Tyson inside the cage.

Watch Aliev step his right leg all the way forward through his knockout blow: that right hand had the weight transfer of a baseball pitch behind it.

Random Land

Fans tend to be bothered by fouls more than fighters (unless it directly affects one of our buddies). “If the ref doesn’t see it, it’s legal!” is definitely something of a mantra for active competitors ... but also F*** Jon Jones!

When helping me with my jab, my first boxing coach once told me to strike the bag as if you were touching a hot pan. This guy took it to a whole new level!

Music from the making of Midnight Mania! I listened to two albums in the making of this article: Nina Simone’s Pastel Blues and Big Brother and the Holding Company’s Cheap Thrills, a pair of pretty incredible albums from the ‘60s. Fun fact: the original title of the latter was Sex, Dope and Cheap Thrills before Columbia Records declined that option.

Sleep well Maniacs! More martial arts madness is always on the way.

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