Morning Report: John Cholish retires from MMA, urges UFC to raise low fighter compensation

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

As the sunny rays of Jaraguá do Sul, Brazil shined down on him, John Cholish had already made up his mind. So the morning of his UFC on FX 8 bout against Gleison Tibau, Cholish took to his Twitter account to announce it to the world.

"Looking forward to my last fight today, Win, Lose, or Draw," he wrote. "I'll do my best to put on a strong performance and of course be having fun!"

Cholish ultimately fell short against Tibau, submitting to a second-round guillotine choke. Afterward he made good on his promise and retired from the sport of mixed martial arts.

But the thing is, Cholish isn't like most fighters. He may only be 29 years old, but MMA was just a side job for Cholish -- a hobby. His real career, working for a Wall Street commodities brokerage firm, is a far more lucrative endeavor, so it's not like he'll be strapped for cash anytime soon.

That unique position afforded Cholish the opportunity to reflect back on his time with the UFC, in particular the low wage scale that led to his current predicament.

"I'm fortunate enough that I have a job that provides for me really well," Cholish told MMA Junkie. "I give a lot of these guys credit that fight at this level. I think they could be compensated much better based on the income that the UFC takes in. Fortunately, I can just walk away and I'm okay with it. By no means do I mean it disrespectfully toward any other fighters because I think they do a great job. But hopefully Zuffa and the UFC will start paying them a little better.

"At the end of the day, it's hard. I have great coaches that take time off and travel. They deserve money, as well. To be completely honest, on a fight like this, I'm losing money to come down here. Flights, hotel rooms, food -- and that doesn't even cover the cost of the time I have to pay for my coaches for training. It's funny because people talk about the fighters, but at the same time there's camps and coaches behind the fighters that you don't even see. So if a fighter is having a tough time making ends meet, how do you think his coaches are doing?"

Cholish earned a reported $4,000/$4,000 split for his UFC debut win against Mitch Clarke back in 2011. His salaries against Danny Castillo and Tibau are unlikely to be disclosed.

It's rare to hear UFC fighters speak out against Zuffa's stranglehold on the market. We're inundated with specifics of the six-figure contracts of Eddie Alvarez and the sport's top draws, but Cholish is a perfect representative of MMA's lopsided class structure. The fact that he believes he actually lost money by fighting Tibau is alarming.

Unfortunately, other than the far-fetched formation of a fighters' union, Cholish isn't sure what can be done to alleviate the problem.

"It's hard because you have top-level guys like Georges St-Pierre, Jon Jones, Anderson Silva that have started off where we started and worked really hard to get there," Cholish finished. "So is it right for them to have to give up what they did to try and sacrifice for the greater good? It's an individual sport, at the end of the day. It's not like you have a whole team that can kind of step away, like in baseball, when the first union started. Only time will tell. (Zuffa is) a private company. Maybe when it goes public at one point?

"I know the Zuffa higher-ups probably aren't happy with what I'm saying, but I'd like to think I can speak for the lower portion of fighters. A lot of guys I'm sure would love to say the same thing but aren't in a position where they have another source of income."

And with that, ladies and gentlemen, let's get to the fights.

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7 MUST-READ STORIES

Belfort rolls. The old lion struck again. 36-year-old Vitor Belfort knocked out former Strikeforce middleweight champion Luke Rockhold with a spectacular first-round spinning heel kick in the main event of UFC on FX 8. (Video.) Afterward Belfort staunchly refused to answer questions about his TRT use or Anderson Silva, while Belfort's supporters and critics within the MMA community weighed on his performance.

'Jacare' impresses in debut. Former Strikeforce middleweight champion Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza made short work of Chris Camozzi, putting the veteran to sleep with a first-round arm triangle in his impressive UFC debut. Souza earned a $50,000 'Submission of the Night' bonus for his efforts.

Barao out in jeopardy. UFC interim bantamweight champion Renan Barao suffered an undisclosed foot injury, which may force him to withdraw from his scheduled title defense against Eddie Wineland at UFC 161. Brazilian outlet Tatame first reported the news, which UFC President Dana White later confirmed to MMAFighting.com.

Hunt good to go. According to a report from New Zealand's Stuff.co.nz., Monday was considered the "last possible day" for Mark Hunt to resolve his visa issues, fly to the Unites States and acclimatize to the significant time change. Luckily, everything worked out.

Cholish retires. UFC lightweight John Cholish retired from mixed martial arts following his second-round submission loss to Gleison Tibau at UFC on FX 8. On his way out, Cholish urged the UFC to increase fighter pay. "I give a lot of these guys credit that fight at this level," he said to MMA Junkie. "I think they could be compensated much better based on the income that the UFC takes in. ... To be completely honest, on a fight like this, I'm losing money to come down here. Flights, hotel rooms, food -- and that doesn't even cover the cost of the time I have to pay for my coaches for training."

Caraway, Zingano feud. Cat Zingano claims Bryan Caraway intentionally struck her in the head with an elbow prior to TUF 17 Finale's weigh-ins, according to a report from Bloody Elbow. Zingano's husband, Mauricio Zingano, later released a statement echoing the report.

Riddle to Bellator. Former UFC welterweight Matt Riddle inked a deal with Bellator MMA after the promotion bought out his multi-fight contract with Legacy Fighting Championship.

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MEDIA STEW

That kick, man. That kick.

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UFC President Dana White sat down for a candid hour-long interview with announcer extraordiniare Michael Schiavello. You can check out the whole episode here. Annnd it's down. Well, never mind then.

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This was uploaded while we were away, so in case you missed it, check out Dana White's latest video blog. Nate Diaz keepin' it classy at 4:30.

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Myles Jury isn't just an undefeated 24-year-old rampaging through the UFC's toughest division. He's also trying his hand in the video blog game.

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"I feel for the guy. I did another interview and I feel like I was a little brash towards the whole marijuana thing. And, you know, it's not the biggest deal in the world, but it is a rule and it was broken, and it sucks." - Bryan Caraway on the Pat Healy situation.

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Rin Nakai videos are always a little weird, right? Well, today is no exception. Yep, that's Nakai dressed (kind of) like a bunny during her weigh-in over the weekend. And yep, she still totally looks like she doesn't want to be there.

(HT: Reddit)

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But you know what's even better? Rin topped the bunny costume just 24 hours later with her spectacular walkout outfit.

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DAT KICK

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ANOTHER TAKE

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FEAR THE GATOR

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DON'T WORRY GUYS, WE'RE GOOD

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FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS

Announced over the weekend (Friday, May 17, 2013 - Sunday, May 19, 2013):

  • N/A

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FANPOST OF THE DAY

Today's Fanpost of the Day comes from jme.mansour, who gives us a: Quick Technical Breakdown of Vitor's New Kicking Strategy

At face value, it seems that Vitor is randomly throwing kicks that are just happening to catch people. Comments denoting his success despite 'no set-up' are plentiful. However, Vitor's recent KO's have not been even remotely caused by a combination of random kicks and chance. They are part of a well known strategy.

The strategy involves establishing oneself as a power striker, thus forcing ones opponent to frequently slip or circle away from ones power punch. At this point, the opponent is very susceptible to kicks (they have blocked incorrectly and are moving towards the kick).

Spin kicks are very powerful. However, they land infrequently because the spin telegraphs the attack. But there are a few ways to use them effectively. That is, one shortens the spin by:

1. Distracting the opponent while stepping across to set up the attack, and/or

2. Tricking/forcing the opponent to slip or circle towards the spinning attack, and/or

3. Tricking the opponent into thinking a liner attack is coming, so that they react accordingly such that their reaction to the spin (the real attack) is slowed

What we saw today was a combination of 2 and 3. Vitor has established himself as a powerful striker who attacks with his fists in a linear style. He often utilises what is termed a straight blast (stepping forward with the back leg while firing 1-2's in rapid succession). His hand power is feared and opponents know it is coming straight.

Sequence breakdown:

- Rockhold is watching Vitor

- Vitor's left shoulder pulls back and his right jerks forward

- Rockhold expects either a (loaded) lead left hook, a jab or (most likely) a right straight

- Thus, Rockhold back hand rises to parry, he braces and he begins to slip to his left

- Rockhold realises he has reacted incorrectly and tries to return his hand to block and to brace on the opposite side; and

- BAMN! Too late.

A similar thing happened with Bisping. Michael expected a powerful straight attack, slipped to his left and into the trajectory of the kick which he ate in devastating fashion.

In summary, Vitor's opponents adapted to his linear power style by practicing their slips and circling, and he in turn adapted by developing a kicking game that intercepts them as they maneuver away.

Found something you'd like to see in the Morning Report? Just hit me on Twitter @shaunalshatti and we'll include it in tomorrow's column.

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