Monthly Archives: April 2012

‘Fixes’ in MMA

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I’ve been involved, in and around Mma for a good ten years. One of the things I’ve noticed that has never really changed about it is people shouting “fix” at any available opportunity.

A lot of times something strange happens in a fight, (guess what? strange things do sometimes ‘just happen’ in fights and I feel like screaming ‘take off your tin foil hat, take your medication and calm the fuck down’). A good example of this is Rich Franklin v’s Ken Shamrock. If you look at this fight, Ken just seems to fall to his knees while Franklin then lands a couple of heavy shots and finishes the fight. People cried out ‘fix’ straight away. I admit, it did look weird but to actually assume it’s a fix out of looking a bit weird doesn’t make sense. You have to first ask the question, who other than Franklin would benefit from risking everything the UFC has built up and its reputation? What would be the purpose? Franklin won a fight he should’ve won anyway, so who would’ve gained in ‘fixing’ it?

Generally I think there are very few legitimate fixes. I’ll talk about a few below and two of the fights have the same person in them.

In my own career, no MMA Fight Organisation or promoter has ever asked me to throw a fight. It has never happened and I would be shocked if it did.The most that has been asked of me was when I was fighting in Japan (what I was asked was nothing like being asked to throw a fight- but I mention it to let you know the type of things a fight org might say to a fighter). I was asked, badgered and generally pestered to do the ‘gong and dash’ (running at my opponent at the sound of the bell). This was at a time I didn’t really want to do it, since people had got wise to it and I was getting caught out as I rushed them. But I was never threatened or forced to do it.

I was offered a KO bonus against Kimbo (which I had never been offered before for Elite XC) but I can’t see anything wrong with this, although it could be seen as a way to steer the fight in a certain direction. All fights come with these sorts of incentives these days.

People often ask me about the Kimbo fight and if the ref was ‘paid off’. My answer to this is ‘no I don’t think he was at all’. I do think he was swayed by promoters screaming at him to stand the action up and he acted in a biased fashion, add in the fact that Dan Miragliotta has a slightly higher IQ level than a block of cement then it makes sense that he’s going to listen to the powers that be, shouting orders, but I don’t suspect money was exchanged. He was on their payroll, so loyalties led with pleasing his bosses. Was it fair? like fuck was it but shit happens.

I’ve had more than my fair share of fights that have ended in a questionable fashion. I think it’s because I’m in a strange position of being a fighter with a few good wins, but also a lot of bad losses. So when a promoter of an up and coming Mma organisation wants to match his ‘golden boy’ against someone, I get a look in because I have a some creditability, I look the part, I always come to fight but most importantly for the MMA organisation in question, they think I’m beatable.. Thus propelling said ‘golden boy’ to even higher levels of shining goldenness.

This has happened with both Kimbo and Pudzianowski.

Now please don’t think I’m complaining… I’m not. I know I’m lucky to be getting the chances to fight in these massive main event fights, especially when my record has been less than stellar. But with all these incredible chances to fight in the main event on these shows, comes vast amounts of bias from the refs and judges. Whilst it’s far from fair, it’s not fixed.

Let’s take my last fight against Pudz. It wasn’t fixed, no money was exchanged but that’s because it didn’t need to be. Just take a ‘Polish hero’ add three Polish Judges that are around the Polish Mma scene, mix in the fact that they even train with some of the fighters they’re judging and your final outcome is the ‘fucking joke’ of a result we saw ( before KSW reversed the decision to a N/C).

Ok, I’ve gone off on enough of a tangent and explained about some of my fights and expectations of me by fight orgs that…whilst unfair I believe were not fixed. It’s just a simple lesson that, any time an Mma org has built their entire foundations of the company on one fighter…You’re likely to see these unfair questionable decisions. The more the bad decisions are pointed out and the more aware MMA fans become of this, the less likely they are to happen

So, a lot of Mma fights are biased but what about ‘fixed’ fights? What about when a fighter gets X amount of cash to lose a fight? Say what you will about Dana White and the UFC, I can’t think of any fight that was or has been accused of being ‘fixed’ that I myself deem as legitimate. I just don’t think it goes on in the UFC. Dana White & co would have too much to lose. You have to go way back to before White & the Ferro Ties took control of the UFC and that’s UFC 5.

Don Frye vs. Mark Hall. It was a tournament format. Hall say’s Frye offered him ‘£50,000′ to take a dive so he’d be fresh in the next round. Frye says Hall is a ‘very disturbed individual’.

Another fight that I’m pretty sure was a work, was in UFC 6 – Oleg Taktarov vs. Anthony Macias. They were training partners and decided between themselves that Oleg had the best chance of winning the tournament, so Macias gave him an easy pass.

The next fight which I’m pretty sure was a ‘fix’ was Marc Coleman v Takada. The idea was to give Takada more credibility with the fans. Takada is, for reasons that escape me, a Japanese legend, massively popular but with limited Mma skills, that beat Coleman (who was at the time- top of his game) with a heel hook. This is most defiantly a fix as many believe all Takada wins are. I think the commentator Bas Rutten said it best about this fight… “What is he (Coleman) doing!!?”

If ‘fixes’ take place in MMA then I do feel they are more likely to take place in Japanese Mma. I say this having fought over there a lot (please note as I said earlier I’ve never been approached to throw any fights, all my losses are painfully down to me). In my experience the Japanese fighters were controlled more than their foreign counterparts. This also fits in with the Japanese culture, which if you read up on is very ‘them versus us’. When an Mma organisation feels like it has control over its fighters, that’s when you’re more likely to see fixes occur.

One of my favourites is (our old mate) Takada vs. Tamura. What amuses me about this fight is that the only real way you can tell its fixed, is from Tamura’s reaction when he won by KO as Takada rushed at him. Tamura’s reaction was of a man totally gutted that he’d won! He didn’t even want his hand raised at the end & looked completely miserable. I’m guessing he was slightly worried about what the Yakuza were going make of it all since they’d probably betted heavily on that fight! As for Takada, it’s bad when you can’t even win a fight that’s fixed for you to win. I’ll include the video for you to check out, it’s funny.

All the fights I’ve mentioned above are because I’m sure they were ‘works’. The UFC ones happened a long time ago, and I’ve explained how I think it sometimes works in Japan. So summing up, yes fixes happen… of course they do. But they are very very scarce and personally I haven’t seen any legitimate cases in the UFC nowadays, unless the fighters sort it out between themselves and I just can’t see that happening. What is much more likely to happen is an MMA organisation want’s a particular fighter to win because they’ve based their whole organisation on the shoulders of this person, hence the deck is stacked in their favour in as many ways as possible. Unfair but no fix.

Here’s the Vid of Takada/ Tamura

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YbGAg_op3NY

Down, but far from out: Fred Ettish

Down, but far from out: Fred Ettish

With it being Easter, I figured you’d all be far too busy shovelling chocolate shaped eggs into your mouths to read. Having had some extra time to ponder what topic I’d like to tackle next, I settled not so much on a topic, but rather an MMA Fighter. “Of whom” I hear you ask “Silva, Wand, Fedor???” Well none of the above actually… I settled on a man named Fred Ettish. Now you’ll be forgiven for asking who the hell he is, but bear with me. Whilst I had witnessed Fred Ettish fight in the very beginning of the UFC I too was unaware of his story post UFC, up until recently.
After watching & reading about him, I managed to find the one emotion I still had in my body that hadn’t been deadened or hardened by life, and I was actually moved by his story. Also, with my last blog being about Traditional Martial Arts, I thought it followed on nicely from that topic and it shows that even if the Martial Art isn’t great, it doesn’t mean the person practising it can’t be.
(A quick note on my last blog. I forgot to mention some of the positive aspects of Traditional Martial Arts.. I.e. discipline and fitness for kids. Please forgive me, this sometimes happens when you get hit in the head for a living)…

So to the story of Fred Ettish

I had a few of the UFC’S on video tape back in the day- DVD’S weren’t all the rage then and we used to make phone calls on giant phones that looked like portable landline phones just so you can relate to how far we’ve all come. I think the dinosaurs were just dying off and becoming extinct around that time too but I digress and need to get back on topic.. Back to the Video Tapes..

The UFC shows on my old tapes weren’t in any particular order, UFC 2 I think, had the least rules. Refs were only there to enforce what little rules there were, rather than to stop the fights, which of course they did do; less there would have been a death! It seems at that time, the finer details of the UFC hadn’t really been thought out all that well, which is also the accusation you would’ve thrown at Mr Fred Ettish if you knew he was going to take part in such a contest. When I first saw him step into the cage I wondered why a good friend hadn’t taken a minute to say to him “Fred, have you really thought this through”. Fred looked like someone who had been pulled from behind the desk at the local accountancy firm, asked to swap his suit for a Kenpo Karate GI, then thrown in the cage. But we all know appearances can be deceiving.
As Fred uttered these fateful words, in an interview before his fight ” I have full confidence in my art of Kenpo Karate”, he was beaten like the accountant he looked like by a much larger Johnny Rhodes, he knocked Fred to the floor, delivered a couple of hard knees to his face before a landing a few more punches and choking poor Fred out.

That was my understanding of Fred Ettish, just another misguided Traditional Martial Artist who believed his misguided Traditional Martial Arts would see him through an MMA competition…. but it didn’t.
His story doesn’t end here which is a good job really as it wouldn’t make much of a blog….Luckily Fred story is just getting started.

After losing in such crushing fashion, Fred was belittled by fighters, laughed at by emerging MMA fans and shunned by his fellow Kenpo and traditional martial arts fans who wanted to disassociate from him as he was hardly a glowing advertisement for the art of Kenpo.

There was a website put up with Fred as the ‘poster boy’ which, although funny, was also cruel as it went under the name of “the art of fetal fighting” making fun of the fact that Fred spent most his time in that fight in the fetal position. All this happened to poor old Fred when his marriage was falling apart and on top of all this, his new born son had died.

At a time when things couldn’t get any worse for him, Fred did what must have been one of the hardest things to do given all the shit he’d been through.. He turned to the sport, that some would say had kick started his fall from grace, MMA. He learned the sport from one of the greats Pat Miletich; he talked to Pat about the possibility of opening a Satellite School in his home town of Kansas and then did exactly that. He now runs a successful MMA gym.

But the demons that haunted him from that embarrassing UFC appearance still resided in Fred’s psyche so much so that, at the age of 56, he went back into the cage and beat a man half his age in the first round!! What struck a chord with me in Fred’s story was that I’ve had experiences in my own career when I’ve been viewed as ‘a joke’ and it was the hardest battle to keep fighting on, and my experiences are nowhere near as bad as Fred’s! So Mr Ettish I don my cap to you. You took the very thing that some would say made you a laughing stock (MMA) and used it not only to get your life back on track but also to vanquish the demons that haunted you. That is what I call a true Martial Artist.

I encourage you all to watch the video MMA history Fred Ettish on you tube

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Traditional Martial Arts.. Do they have a place in MMA

Traditional Martial Arts.. Do they have a place in MMA

If you take a look back to the old UFC and how things were in the dark ages of Mma, one of the major things that stands out was that it wasn’t really MMA back then. Apart from a few guys along the lines of Ken Shamrock, there weren’t many fighters who were cross training different disciplines, it was all about style versus style.

I cast my mind back to the first UFC I ever watched, UFC 6 to be exact, I remember watching John Matua against Tank Abbot. It stands out so strongly in my mind because I got sucked from the off, by the intros where the fighters showcased their deadly crafts through shadow boxing and close up camera angles. I was trying to pick the winners based on these in-depth pieces. One that stood out was John Matua. I remember I whole heartedly decided to go with him as the one to win his fight, how did I reach this educated decision by simply watching his intro I hear you ask?.
Well, John had me at “the Hawaiian art of bone breaking”. I watched the screen in awe, looking at him throw a series of bone breaking elbows into thin air while I pondered what were the chances of my local social club doing a class on Hawaii bone breaking. I felt pity for this Tank fella and his poor bones, and wondered if he knew what he was in for.

My worrying was misplaced, well for Tank anyway, as he walked through Matua leaving him literally poleaxed. The realization started to dawn on me that you needed more than a cool intro showing you breaking bones in the sky, to be good at this Ultimate Fighting thing. It’s a good example, because it showed to me, that in order to be effective in Martial Arts you need to have more than just a cool sounding name that looks good on paper.

Looking back I see I was massively naive, but guess most of us were back then, and this is why I love MMA as it cuts through most of the crap. MMA can be one, or as many combat sports as you think would be effective. My girlfriend says its a ‘greedy’ sport as it combines several elements and while a somewhat a basic description.. she’s right.
The main disciplines in Mma that work are Thai Boxing, Boxing, Wrestling, Judo, Sambo, Ju Jit su & Catch Wrestling, but If a new Martial Art came along that really gave MMA fighters an edge (I’m not holding my breath) and helped kick everyone’s ass, then guess what? 99% of MMA fighters would be trying it.. simply because it worked.

We have the advantage of not having been brain washed since childhood, so that when their Sensei waves his hands in our direction we don’t fling ourselves across the dojo .
This is important because even though MMA guys love Thai Boxing, Boxing, Jits, Wrestling etc, they love them because they actually work, not because they’re chained to any one of them. That’s why MMA can’t be beaten, because it’s ultimately whatever works.

The more I watched back in the day, the more it became apparent that Traditional Martial Arts weren’t getting the job done. Karate, Taekwondo and Wing Chun practitioners were getting jacked pretty much every time they stepped in the cage. That’s why you don’t see a host of MMA fighters doing Wing Chun. Because when you step in there to fight, you really want effective shit in your armoury that works.
At the start of the UFC some Traditional Martial Artist’s drank their own Kool aid, you know this because there they were standing front & centre of the cage ready to put into acton their strong self belief of their misguided art. When they were smashed, beaten and spat out the other end, the excuses began to fly. I think a quote that I saw on the back of a old UFC video went something along the lines of ” I was in a bad position, I saw the chance to apply a move that can kill a man, but I didn’t come here to kill anyone” EYYY??!!?? the quote should of said ” I was in a bad position because I’ve wasted a lot of not only my childhood but my adult life on something that bears no relevance to fighting MMA” I can see how as a fighter, if you find yourself in this situation, how truly depressing it would be and that it takes a strong strong person to realise this and then carry on!

Here’s a couple of reasons why Traditional Martial Art’s are bound to fail. Let’s take Wrestling for example, Wrestling takes a long time to grasp and to say it’s hard is an understatement. Bristol is blessed with a couple of great Iranian wrestling teachers, I mean these guy are top notch. And guess what? Their classes aren’t half as busy as they should be. Why? Because people like the thought of doing something but don’t really want to sweat. Enter Traditional Martial Arts, some instructors see an opportunity to make some cash and start a T Martial Art that’s aim is to make people feel like their learning something without actually learning anything. All the while they’re making money I.E For Kit, Grading’s and Class Fees. So when some one achieves there 8th dan black belt in ‘Con Ing Yu’ they’ve learnt not a lot, but have definitely spent a lot. Why do I care? Well I don’t really, I’m not on a massive mission to open these peoples eyes because like the wfs/cfs they don’t want to see the light.

The biggest problem I have with Traditional Martial Arts, is that it’s dangerous and ironically NOT as a Martial Art.. but to the user. Let me explain, many years ago I was once asked if I’d like to go to a Ninjutsu class, I thought why not, I’m always open to learning a different style/twist on something. What I witnessed at the class truly horrified me.
Firstly, it was teaming with people all kitted out in the Ninjutsu team t-shirt and fight trousers.. all compulsive items. Next was the one and only technique I was taught, because after watching it i remembered I’d left an imaginary pie in my imaginary oven and I had to get home before an imaginary fire burnt my imaginary house to the ground.
So what was the this legendary technique?? First off, if a left hook was thrown, you were meant to block it by aiming both your arms at their elbow. Upon blocking this in-coming punch you were then to drop to one knee, and deliver a chop (to achieve this chop you fold your fingers to your palm) it was explained to me that you had three pressure points around the knee and when you delivered said chop with force ( which everyone was told not to do) it would collapse your victim to the floor.

I thought it was all a joke at first but with horror and dread I saw the sea of people having a go at this deadly technique, then with a mixture of excitement and zeal nod along in agreement at how very deadly this technique was. Now, I don’t know if there are three pressure points around the knees. Let’s say there are and when you chop one of these points you collapse on the deck. Let’s say all this is true.. In the real world were you ever called upon to use this move, in my opinion this is what’s likely to happen. First off, if you don’t get knocked out before blocking this one left hook with both your arms and you than drop down to your one knee to strike your victims knee, you have to be so so luckily to hit those 3 magic pressure points ( if they even exist) It’s not even like you can perfect your technique by practising this move as your told not to do it as it’s so dangerous and deadly.
Hence why I feel a lot of Traditional Martial Arts are dangerous, because what should happen on paper doesn’t always translate to real life. I hope no poor fucker has ever bent down to strike these famous pressure points while in a bar fight, because if they have, there teeth would have surely have been flying across the room as some random drunk booted them straight out of his mouth.

I can almost here the fans of Traditional Martial Arts shouting “but what about Bruce Lee” I would say Bruce Lee was in many ways the first real MMA Artist. He trained everything from Boxing to Wrestling, plus was amazingly dedicated and gifted!! MMA wasn’t around then so it makes it more amazing that he was training different disciplines (MMA), he was extremly knowledgable in that he realised one Martial Art doesnt cover everything. “So what then about Machida and Chung Lee? They’ve been at the top of the MMA food chain, They use Traditional Martial Arts”… explain that one Thompson!! Well ok I will.. It is true that both these MMA fighters have had great success in MMA using Traditional Martial Arts, but my friends they’re the exception to the rule because not only have they adapted the best bits of these Traditional Martial Arts to MMA they themselves have excellent timing and awareness of distance to put all this together.

Here’s a good example… My very good friend Zelg Galesic who I am sure has been doing Taekwondo since he was a foetus. Now.. I don’t care much for the Taekwondo, and that’s probably because I can’t even head kick a midget, but I do see a lot of effective elements in it. The spinning kicks, axe kicks and general hip flexibility are dangerous but translates that much better to MMA as you have someone like Zelg who only owns fast twitch muscles. Basically some of the moves are useful, if the PERSON using them is gifted anyway.

Summing it all up I’m not saying all Traditional Martial Arts are a waste of time and I’m not saying you can’t use some elements of Traditional Martial Arts in MMA. What I am saying is that you need Wrestling, Ju Jitsu, and Thai/ Boxing as your core and the rest is a useful add on.. If you’re one of the few who really wants to improve and advance but have just fallen into a joke Traditional Martial Art, you have to uncurl your chopping hand, burn those stupid fucking Combat pants and go learn some MMA.

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