It’s a somber week in the MMA world. UFC 249 has been postponed as have all future events and the future is very much up in the air. But, on the bright side, Fight Island is still a go! So let’s discuss some of the more salient things that happened recently and then wrap things up with a lighthearted hypothetical.
The state of the MMA world
Has everyone lost their damn minds? I ask sincerely. Thank you.— Brian Siskind (@thosedrones) April 8, 2020
Probably a little, yes, and honestly, that’s okay.
These are incredibly tumultuous, stressful times and it’s to be expected that people get a little out of pocket. At this point, COVID-19 appears to be one of the defining moments in recent global history and certainly has the potential to have serious and long-lasting consequences for practically everybody. On top of that, in the short-term things are uncertain for a great many people. Unemployment is skyrocketing and another recession looms. Things are going to get worse before they get better, so again, it’s understandable that in a situation like this, some people react poorly. It doesn’t make it right, but in the words of Max Holloway, “It is what it is.”
I’m not here to try and argue the myriad reasons why COVID-19 is so dangerous or the drastic steps taken the world over are necessary. Unless you’re Encino Man, you’ve read plenty about it and made your own decisions and if you’re sociopathic enough to think the death of millions of people globally is a statistic worth writing off, then I have little to say to you anyway. The only thing I will say to those people is that essentially every smart, informed person on the planet (by that I mean, scientists and doctors, the only people whose opinions should matter one whit) is pretty much in agreement when it comes to this so you should probably get on board.
Coronavirus is not something we can just call a wimp and then it’ll leave us alone. It’s a global pandemic and things may be bad for a while yet. All we can do is weather the storm and look out for each other in the meantime. So I would urge everyone to do their best to help one another out in these trying times and attempt to be part of the solution, instead of the problem.
The elephant in the room
What will the future of media jobs be like at MMA fighting, MMA Junkie, and many others that are smaller in scope, in a few months, if there is no fights?— Josh (@cubbiezfan80) April 10, 2020
So speaking of people going crazy, last week there was a veritable deluge of hateful invective from promoters, fighters, managers, and fans directed towards the media with regard to UFC 249, the cancellation of events, etc... Others in the space took the time to make reasoned arguments against this vitriol; it fell as waves against the rock of ignorance that such hostility is founded upon. If you’re the type of person who believes anyone in the media ever attacked the Dana White’s insistence on pursuing UFC 249 was founded out of malice or a desire to hurt the fighters, there’s just no common ground for us to reason with each other on.
However, with nothing else to do now, I too feel like shouting into the void, so here’s my argument and I hope it may find some of you: over the history of this sport, the media has been consistently on the side of the fighters, even as the fighters seem to not be on the side of themselves. No media member (to my knowledge) ever argued for fighters to be left in the cold, in fact, everyone agreed that the UFC should provide fighters with scheduled bouts some manner of stipend or relief, and was glad that Dana White said he would be doing so. The media took no joy in UFC 249 being cancelled. But there was a sense of relief when UFC 249 was cancelled because, and this is important, it was the right thing to do.
Fundamentally, if you believe the UFC should continue to hold events right now, you also believe that the NBA, MLB, NHL, NCAA, Premier League, the PGA Tour, the ATP, the IOC, and every other athletic commission in the world are either idiots, cowards, or both. There really is no other reasonable argument. And maybe you’re right (you aren’t). But that’s a lot of people, with A LOT more money being lost by sitting out right now. Hell, cancelling March Madness alone has led to more lost revenue than the UFC would make this year and they did it because continuing to hold events at this time is not just irresponsible in the extreme, it’s also a PR nightmare, which is why ESPN/Disney finally stepped in and now it seems like we will be without fights for a few months at least.
Which brings us back to the original point: the MMA media did not celebrate in the UFC’s indefinite postponement and you can know that’s true because our jobs—like the jobs of millions of other people in the United States and around the world—are now up in the air. The sports media landscape is being hit especially hard by the total lack of sports right now. And as this drought continues, it’s only going to get worse. The hope is that when everything finally returns to normal, those people laid off or furloughed will have jobs to come back to, but that’s not always how it works.
Like fighters, MMA media members operate in a tenuous workspace and a bit of bad luck, or a global pandemic, can create massive issues. It’s no one’s fault, sometimes life just sucks.
Wtf do we call strangle submissions, chokes? They're not the same thing. A choke is an internal blockage of the trachea, while a strangle is external compression. Just seems lazy and uneducated to use a term that refers to something entirely different.— _Metaphor (@Metapho73698592) April 8, 2020
Well at this point we call them that because nomenclature has momentum and that’s where we are. You can keep trying to make this, fairly reasonable, argument all you want but that’s just gonna be banging your head against a wall.
The other reason is because “choke” is simple and easy to communicate even if it is entirely false. “Rear-naked arterial compression” doesn’t have the same ring to it. But if it makes you feel better you can just call it a “mata leão.” That’s a substantially cooler name anyway.
Why is khabib so scared?— Koleberg (@Koleberg1) April 9, 2020
Because Tony is a ninja turtle. Wouldn’t you be scared?
"Have you, as an MMA fan, ever been happy? When did that end?"— Derek Suboticki (@InsiderSubo) April 8, 2020
The (ostensibly) lost fight
If Tony gets his usual bloody W vs Justin, will you finally give the man his due?— MMA K9 (@mma_k9) April 8, 2020
There’s an idea out there that I hate Tony Ferguson, which is categorically untrue. I have repeatedly given that man his props and have never once argued that any of his wins were lucky or bullsh*t or anything else like that. Tony has won 12 in a row in the most difficult division in the sport and, arguably, should actually be undefeated in the UFC. The guy is a top-5 P4P fighter, no questions asked and very well may have been the best lightweight on the planet at some point during his run.
But he’s not right now and saying so doesn’t make me a hater, it makes me a realist. Tony absolutely deserves his day in court to prove that very notion wrong—he deserves it more than any fighter ever has in the history of fighting—I just think he matches up terribly with the current top-5 of the division. If Ferguson and Justin Gaethje had fought, and Tony went out and D’arced Gaethje, he still wouldn’t be the best—as far as I know, Khabib is still alive and well—but it would’ve been probably the biggest win in his career, and certainly the biggest win in over three years.
The only real silver lining in the cessation of fighting for the time being is that it probably means the UFC scraps the Ferguson-Gaethje fight and goes back to Khabib vs Tony - for the sixth time (seriously, this is unbelievable). But if it does end up happening anyway, and Tony wins, I will fawn over him with all due reverence.
Quarantined on Fight Island
Best and worst fighter to be quarantined on an island with?— Simon O'Keeffe (@thesimonokeeffe) April 8, 2020
Well with the advent of Fight Island, it felt like there was no more appropriate way to end this week than playing the desert island game with MMA fighters. And I’m going to throw you a curveball here: Tim Kennedy is my answer for both.
First, the good. Out of every fighter, it feels like TK is by far the most likely one to help you survive being stuck alone on an island with. He’s a Green Beret who has spent practically every waking moment for the last 20 years preparing for exactly such a situation. Within three hours of arriving at the island, TK is going to have a fire, built the shelter, and killed a pig for us to eat. Seriously, there are a lot of woodsy, survivalist fighters out there but Tim Kennedy is obviously your best choice to stay alive and honestly, given everything we know about him, it kinda feels like he’d enjoy it. Tim Kennedy 100 percent watches the TV show Alone and gets mad when contestants make a guitar or something instead of building better animal traps.
Conversely, you then have to be on an island with Tim Kennedy. That’s a lot of intensity for your only other compatriot to have. You’d be trying to sleep and he’d be doing jumping jacks and yelling at you to quit dragging ass. You could never keep up with him and it would become an increasingly a point of contention. You’d then start resenting him but you’d be stuck in a massive existential quandary because you’d want to leave and go somewhere else but you literally are depending on him to survive. The internal conflict would slowly drive you insane, you’d end up in the dark place that Georges St-Pierre talked about and ultimately, something catastrophic would happen, almost assuredly to you because Tim Kennedy doesn’t have time for your sh*t.
Thanks for reading this week, and thank you for everyone who sent in Tweets! Do you have any burning questions about at least tacitly related to combat sports? Then you’re in luck because you can send your Hot Tweets to me, @JedKMeshew and I will answer them! Doesn’t matter if they’re topical or insane. Get weird with it. Let’s have fun.