Daniel Herbertson, MMA Fighting
Congratulations, fight fans. You've made it all the way to the final weekend of the UFC's spring hiatus. That wasn't so bad, right?
We still have to find a way to get through these last few days, so we might as well pry open the Twitter Mailbag one more time and see what's in there. You know, aside from a bunch of questions about Alistair Overeem's testosterone levels. Let's start with something different and work our way up to The Reem, shall we?
Ben I know u r no huge Rampage fan but these attacks on him for that skit r absurd. R the MMA pundits now the new censors?
Before we get to the video itself, let’s make an important distinction between censorship and commentary. Censorship involves suppressing free expression in some way, whereas commentary is free expression about free expression. It’s the difference between telling someone ‘You can’t say that’ and telling them ‘I think what you just said was stupid.’ Nobody is censoring "Rampage" Jackson’s video. It’s still there, still in its original form, still just as baffling as it was the day it was uploaded to YouTube.
For those of you who haven’t seen the video yet, well, I can’t exactly recommend it, but if you want to be able to follow this discussion I guess you might as well take a look at it. Obviously, once we start talking about whether a video on YouTube was funny/entertaining/offensive/dumb, we drift into the land of subjective value judgments. What’s funny to me might be offensive or just boring to you, and vice versa. Personally? I thought the video was unwatchably bad. It is so unfunny that I can't even tell if it was supposed to be funny. It is so bizarre that I have to consider the possibility that everyone involved in making it was under the influence of powerful hallucinogens at the time.
I don’t think any subject should be off-limits for humor. I think you can joke about absolutely anything, as long as you’re funny. There’s some valuable humor out there on every subject -- rape included (link is totally NSFW, by the way) -- but the more sensitive the topic, the greater the risk. You tell an unfunny joke about your parents, people might smile politely and feel embarrassed for you. Tell an unfunny joke about violent sexual assault, and you’ve just alienated everyone within the range of your voice. Tell that same joke at work, and you just might lose your job.
Honestly, when I saw that video my first thought was that it must be an attempt to get fired from the UFC. Maybe I just hoped that’s what it was, since at least that made some sort of sense. After Miguel Torres was fired for making a rape joke on Twitter, who could seriously think it was a good idea to star in a how-to video about a parking garage sexual assault, even if, according to Jackson, it had some sort of convoluted anti-rape message? It’s just shockingly bad judgment. It would be like some fighter seeing what happened to Mo Lawal after he lashed out at a state athletic commission member on Twitter, and then deciding that it would be a good idea to go egg Keith Kizer’s house.
Some people seem to find Jackson’s video funny. I don’t understand how or why, but I could say the same about most Adam Sandler movies. If you watched it and came to the conclusion that, yes, this is an excellent use of time for both a pro fighter and a film crew, then fine. But when other people tell you that they think you’re wrong, they’re not censoring you. They are disagreeing with you. That’s how this free expression stuff works. The traffic runs in both directions.
Roger Crandy @rogercrandy
what are the odds that Frank Mir is the next heavyweight champion?
Not great. Dana White recently assured a tweeter that the Mir/Velasquez fight would go down as scheduled, so Mir probably still has to get through a fellow former champ before he can get within smelling distance of UFC gold again. Even then, I don’t like his chances to beat Junior dos Santos -- assuming he still has the belt by then, and who knows with this division. In answer to your question, I say it’s 3-1 against Mir becoming a UFC champ again, and 5-1 against him becoming the very next champ.
Ryan Young @YoungRyan4
Great Overeem article. Should he be released by Zuffa and, more importantly, do you think will he be?
History tells us that punishments for failed drug tests in the UFC vary greatly depending on the fighter and the situation. Chael Sonnen gets popped for high testosterone after a title fight? Let’s let "the government" sort it out. Vinicius Quieroz gets popped for steroids after losing his UFC debut? It was nice knowing you, kid.
Typically the UFC has gone harder on fighters who get busted before a fight (see also: Nate Marquardt), and Overeem definitely falls into that category. Not only did his drug test failure put the main event in jeopardy, it messed with the entire UFC heavyweight title picture. Dana White normally prefers to leave punishment for failed drug tests up to the commissions, but you know he’s got to be fuming over this one.
Personally, I don’t feel right about going all torches and pitchforks on a guy for his first failed drug test. While it certainly seems possible that Overeem has dabbled in PED’s before now, officially this is still the first strike for him. Doesn’t everyone deserve a second chance? Don’t some fighters get a third and fourth chance? Overeem looks to have screwed up big time here, but he has plenty of company in the drug test doghouse. Seems only fair to give him the same chance to redeem himself.
Zach Thorax @sephiroth872
y is it that TRT seems to be exploding nowadays? Are fighters just now using it, or is it being caught more 4 sum reason?
Testosterone use itself isn’t new, but it does seem like more and more fighters are discovering it lately, and I can see how it must be an attractive option. For one thing, you can get it legally, if you find the right doctor. The same is not true of anabolic steroids. For another, it’s the rare PED that you don’t have to make any effort to mask in your drug tests. As Dr. Johnny Benjamin points out, testosterone occurs naturally in the body, so it’s just a matter of doing the math and figuring out when your levels will come down to the acceptable range, which is relatively easy to do.
I also think there’s a fad element to it. Fighters are no different than people in any other business. Of course they talk and gossip about each other. So do NASA scientists and hairdressers and carpenters. That’s just how it goes. Fighters hear through the grapevine that so-and-so has a doctor willing to play ball on TRT, and suddenly that guy’s hitting the gym harder than ever and feeling great. He doesn’t get as worn down in training camp. His nagging injuries heal faster. He has more energy, and he’s winning fights. That sounds good, right? Sure it does. And what if you have to fight that guy? Odds are you think you’re a better fighter, but if he’s getting that outside help then don’t you want to level the playing field? Of course you do. That’s why you should go see this doctor. Tell him I sent you. Trust me, he’s cool.
quebert X. einstein @oldskoolunchbox
Nobody mentions Cain Velasquez for a title shot...Why has the MMA world shunned him so?
Nobody’s shunning Velasquez. It’s just that, when your last fight was a first-round knockout loss, it’s tough to make the case for an immediate title shot. You’ve got to win at least one before we can start talking about you as a top contender again.
seeing how your gonna get a million questions about reem, I figured I would spice it up bit. Best UFC fight ever was?
I appreciate you breaking up the monotony for me. My fingers were getting tired of typing the word ‘testosterone’ this week. To answer your question: the best fight in the history of the UFC, in my humble opinion, was Dan Henderson vs. "Shogun" Rua at UFC 139. Though, I guess there’s another fight where testosterone played at least some sort of role. Forget it. There is no escape.
Tim Kennedy @TimKennedyMMA
who is hotter Katy Perry or me as Katy Perry?
You know, I didn’t think this question would be so difficult until I really started to think about it. It’s possible that I spent entirely too much time thinking about it, in fact, but I can’t change that now. For those of you who somehow didn’t see Mr. Kennedy’s Katy Perry music video...what, parody? Homage? I don’t even know what to call it, but it doesn’t matter. Stop what you’re doing and go watch it. Then come back here and tell me that you still think "Rampage" Jackson’s video was funny. I dare you.
Anyway, back to the question. While Katy Perry is an attractive woman, she’s also a terrible singer and kind of a cultural disaster. Tim Kennedy, on the other hand, is an American hero who isn’t afraid to put on a wig and dance to make his point. After crunching the numbers on this one, I declare it a tie. Katy Perry is exactly as hot as Tim Kennedy dressed up as Katy Perry.
Martin Lindgren @MarreoMedia
Do you think it's right to take away everything an athlete has done prior to his/hers doping conviction? #twittermailbag
Good question, and one I’ve thought about a lot with regards to both Overeem and "Cyborg" Santos recently. It does seem unfair for one positive test to wipe out everything that came before it. At the same time, what are the odds that this person got caught on their first and only effort to cheat? It makes you look back at their other accomplishments and wonder. It leaves you with this nagging doubt you can’t ever get rid of, and it leaves the fighter with a suspicious public that will always look at him like it’s trying to figure out whether he’s lying right now. Maybe that punishment fits the crime.
Matt Baxter @Sneaky_Scrote
#1 contender for the hw strap getting popped for roids = watershed moment? does random testing HAVE to be implemented now?
How do you think we got this positive test result to begin with? That was out-of-competition testing, so maybe we should take a minute to appreciate the Nevada State Athletic Commission stepping up its efforts. The UFC 146 heavyweights showed up for a press conference in the middle of their training camps, and NSAC executive director Keith Kizer wisely took the opportunity to hand them each a cup to pee in. As easy as it is to beat up on athletic commissions, let’s not forget to pat them on the back a little bit when they get it right.
But yes, I agree that this should serve as a reminder that there is a huge difference between scheduled drug tests the day before a fight and surprise tests more than a month out. That doubt and fear is what will help keep fighters honest, and we need more of it. Hopefully the UFC realizes that too, and will start conducting some of its own random testing, if only to avoid this exact situation. Dana White is right when he says that it’s difficult and expensive to do. Then again, how much money do you think the UFC will lose by having Overeem pulled from this fight? How much bad press and needless headaches will result from it? How many ulcers do you think this one situation caused in Zuffa’s Las Vegas office? If I had as much money as Zuffa, I’d be willing to spend some of it to avoid weeks like that.
James Alberghine @JamesAlberghine
As steroid use becomes unveiled (TRT/Otherwise) do you think it's effected the decline/legacy of clean fighters like Fedor?
After spending the bulk of his career in Japan, you think Fedor knew what it was like to fight a ‘roided up opponent long before TRT became so fashionable? I’m going to say yes. He probably beat plenty of dudes who were chemically enhanced, and unless he was completely naive, he probably knew it.
In general though, I think we have to be careful about assigning too much importance to the ability of PEDs to decide the outcome of a fight. When Fedor got triangle-choked by Fabricio Werdum, that had nothing to do with what was in either man’s bloodstream. The same is probably true of his loss to Antonio Silva, who would still have a tremendous size advantage over Fedor even if he was subsisting on a diet of Ritz crackers and acai shakes. That’s not to say PEDs don’t matter, or that we shouldn’t do our best to eradicate them from the sport. We should. But in the meantime, let’s be honest with ourselves and admit that Fedor’s decline probably had a lot more to do with what was going on with Fedor than what was going into the bodies of his opponents.
Karim Zidan[Founder] @TheFlyingKneeTO
still didnt get your thoughts on Jake Shields as a middleweight contender? Do you think he would beat Bisping/munoz etc
I think the Akiyama fight showed that Shields still has some shortcomings in his game, and I doubt they’re the type that will be fixed by going up in weight. Obviously, he’s a superb technician on the mat. He’s just not that great at getting the fight there, and not threatening enough anywhere else to make up for it. Against a guy like Mark Munoz, I think he’d be in a lot of trouble right now.
Ben why has Reem been so silent? And not asked for b sample test? Every second that goes by he looks ..guiltier
Absolutely. Unlike with your view on the "Rampage" rape video, here I totally agree with you. The longer a fighter in this situation says nothing, the more it seems like an admission of guilt. It’s like an episode of The First 48, when they bring a murder suspect in for an interrogation. The innocent man slams his hand on the table and demands that the police apologize for even daring to suggest that he could have killed his friend. The guilty man shakes his head and mumbles something about a lawyer or cigarettes. I can understand taking some time to form a coherent response, but if you think there’s even an outside chance that you may be innocent, you ask the NSAC to test that B sample right away. If you’re Overeem, you have to know that the whole MMA world is calling you a cheater right now. To remain silent is to tell them that they’re right.
Matt Looney @RMLooney
since you are such a manly man, and for sake of comparison, what's your T/E ratio?
I have no idea. It never occurred to me to go get it checked, but maybe now I will. Maybe all of us should, just so we can have some personal frame of reference for when a bunch of heavily muscled pro athletes in their late 20s and early 30s try to tell us that their own levels are chronically low.
Oron L Crawford @OronLCrawford
twitter mailbag: all four of mike russow's opponents have been cut after losing to him. Is he MMAs grim reaper?
Maybe he is. And you know what else? Maybe that’s kind of awesome. If I were Russow, I’d embrace it. I’d let everybody know that the worst thing that could happen to their MMA career is a loss to me. "The Grim Reaper" seems like kind of a cliche nickname, so I might go with something like "The Contract-Shredder" or "The Harbinger of Pink Slips." If he wanted to go all Chael Sonnen with it, he could even cut post-fight promos where he referred to himself as the worst thing to happen to the unemployment rate since The Great Depression. Then again, maybe this still isn’t the right economic climate for that particular gimmick.
Nate Pagano @Nate_Pagano
Do you see Anderson Silva retiring with the belt? If not, who beats him for it?
Chael Sonnen is the last best hope to separate Silva from that belt. If he can’t do it, then yes, I think "The Spider" will ride into the sunset with the strap still around his waist. It’s either that, or do what so many other great fighters have done and stick around way too long for no good reason. Fortunately, I don’t think he’s that type. Or maybe I just hope he isn’t.
Matt Giesbrecht @MattGiesbrecht
What do you think of Brock Lesnar's return to pro wrestling? What kind of legacy do you think his MMA career leaves? #mailbag
I think Lesnar is better off in the WWE. The money there is good, or so I hear, and he no longer has to worry about people trying to hurt him on purpose (just on accident). As far as his legacy, my guess is we’ll look back on the Lesnar era in MMA and think of it as a strange period that was as exciting as it was brief. I mean, it’s pretty weird when you think about it. The guy quits pro wrestling, can’t make it in the NFL, becomes the UFC heavyweight champ in his fourth professional fight, then retires three years later, following his second consecutive loss. It was a wild ride, but I’m not even sure you can really call his time in MMA a career. Let’s think of Lesnar as a sort of visiting professor in the grand university that is the UFC. He swept in here, freaking out the undergrads and smashing his office furniture, then swept right back out again without even returning his parking pass. They’ll still be talking about him at faculty cocktail parties for years to come.
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