Thursday, April 30, 2015

Jon Jones Is Not Going To Jail

No matter what this nitwit thinks.
A Third Degree Felony conviction can include sentencing of up to three years imprisonment in a state prison.
If it's a max of three years, he's going to get probation and that's it.  Talking to someone who thinks he should plea down to "maybe a year" is talking to someone who doesn't know how the fuck anything works.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Where Has This Been?

No sooner do I post about it...

As such, Wednesday's press conference continued the theme of playing up Good vs. Evil, not so much by calling out Floyd, but pumping up Manny.
I'm really curious what all was happening there.  Everything I've seen about the fight that isn't relevant to the way things will go down in the ring has focused on one fighter or the other.  It sounds like that may still be the case- that the good vs. evil thing was more of an undertone, and perhaps the idea was simply to play up Manny's personal story to get more people on his side.  But this is the first time I've seen anything directly point to this morality conflict being part of the storyline, be it explicitly stated by the writer, or observed (as in this case) by someone watching the goings-on.

So I Heard There's This Boxing Match Coming Up

It's the evangelical Christian vs. the guy who beats his girlfriends.

The linked Kevin Iole article comments on how Mayweather's half-dozen charges (and one jail sentence) for domestic violence have been largely ignored in the build-up to the fight.  It's a good article, and correct, but if you really want to see the lack of seriousness with which our society as a whole treats domestic violence, look at the fact this fight hasn't even been grazed by the good vs. evil brush.

As much as Mayweather has done well promoting himself as someone who can easily be disliked- customers who pay to see you lose are still paying customers- his team spins that off of his personality and relatively mundane behaviors, such as how he spends his money.  And Pacquiao's team might have good reason not to attack him on those grounds either: it's hard to imagine a large potential audience that doesn't plan to tune in now, but would specifically to watch a known domestic abuser get beaten up.  Compared to how many people could decide to boycott the fight in order to avoid putting more money in Mayweather's pockets, it would probably end up costing Pacquiao money to hit this angle particularly hard.

And who knows what Mayweather's team could dig up about Pacquiao's pre-conversion history...

What about the rest of the media, though?  The idea of truly neutral journalism is largely a fallacy; neutral wording doesn't change the choice of what stories are covered.  It's not surprising to see Mayweather's record of abuse go with minimal remarks most of the time, but if you're covering a fight like this in a country like the U.S., with its substantial overall religiosity and substantial evangelical population, how do you not spin the story this way to pull in the entire Bible Belt as readers?

Is it because Pacquiao's not American?  That would affect the perception of some, but it's not as though American Christians have stopped partaking in or supporting overseas missionary work.  Plenty of people love his come-to-Jesus story, and plenty more would if they knew about it.

Is it because Mayweather is American?  More specifically, a rich, successful American?  This is trickier to contemplate.  The U.S. still has tons of issues with what one might call "subcutaneous racism"- the kind that sits just under the skin, unnoticed but ever-present, that can make a person genuinely believe they treat people of different ethnicities equally in one breath, and in the next label a young black man they've never met and know nothing about a thug based on a single report of a single newsworthy incident.

Given that Mayweather has done enough to earn that sort of negative perception, it seems like painting him as the devil to Pacquiao's avenging angel should be easy.  It may not seem that way if you look at, for example, any comment section on any web article about Mayweather's domestic violence history, but those articles are always specifically about Mayweather's abuses; in something more comparative between the two fighters, there would probably be a lot of comments such as, "But Pacquiao's still obviously the better person," if for no other reason than he's found religion.

Is it because the good vs. evil angle is, as always, oversimplified and not entirely true?  Consider what the effect of this would be: any comparison of the two, where Pacquiao is the bastion of morality and Mayweather the terrible fiend, would set off a firestorm between people bashing Pacquiao's past or lauding Mayweather's positive deeds, and those who take the current situation and cling to the absolutism good vs. evil provides.  What media outlet would turn down that sort of attention on their work?  There are a few, probably, but most live and die off hits, and this type of article would be a hit magnet.

So why isn't anyone going after this story?

Sadly, the best guess here is that hardly anyone considers it a story at all.  Relatively few people are open apologists for abusers like that fucking prick Stephen A. Smith, but boxing media is almost entirely male, and plenty of men- especially the older ones who disproportionately populate that segment of the media- still question the veracity of domestic violence accusations, how much it matters even in an instance where someone famous went to jail (which is rare like birds' teeth), or- at best- how to approach this topic.  Iole has an enormous platform at Yahoo, but he is very much an outlier in the importance he places on the topic.  And the nature of the boxing economy makes it so there is no way to punish Mayweather the way the UFC just did to Jon Jones- title belts are ubiquitous to the point of meaninglessness, and the only thing Mayweather would ever be suspended for is a failed drug test.

To be literary about the matter, it's a whole bunch of bullshit.

I'd like to see Pacquiao dump Mayweather on his face.  I want to see that enough to feel like any prediction would be skewed by the feeling.  I'll stick with the low-hanging fruit: a fight ended by stoppage will be won by Pacquiao, a fight that goes the distance will be won by Mayweather.

And then they'll have all the issues involved with deciding how to spend nine figures worth of money.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

All This Jon Jones Bullshit

If you didn't hear, which seems unlikely if you're reading this, Jon Jones was charged with felony leaving the scene after a hit and run accident Sunday in Albuquerque.  I suppose "hit and run" isn't the best way to phrase it; that suggests he drove away, when in fact he took off on foot.  This is according to witnesses, as well as the logic that running is the only way to leave the scene when your rental car looks like this:

Are you fucking kidding me?  How smoked out do you have to be to do that?  Or maybe not smoked out, exactly; a marijuana pipe was found in the car- apparently he didn't remember to take it when he returned to grab the pile of cash he'd left behind when he initially fled- but that thing would have been burnt to cinders from all the weed he'd have to smoke to think leaving that situation is a good idea.

Jon Jones is the best fighter on the planet, and has more public personal issues than the rest of the top ten combined.  It's been suggested in multiple venues that he be stripped of the title and removed from the UFC 187 card, at the very least.  Those people will get no argument here over that idea.  So far the UFC has stuck by him with minimal punishment following his DUI and getting popped for cocaine before his last fight; it's done nothing to help him, and makes the organization look like they're coddling their moneymaker.  But cutting him outright doesn't really do much for him, either, as Bellator (or theoretically some Asian promotion like ONE FC) will pick him up for whatever it costs and either ride him into the ground or crash and burn completely if he winds up not pulling the numbers they expect.  Either way, he'll be enabled as much or more than he has been in the UFC.

Plus, stripping the title will have a positive impact on another fighter who's earned some good luck: Anthony Johnson.  In the aftermath of Jones' weekend incident, Johnson said he has no desire to fight anyone unless it's for the title.  Given what he did to Alexander Gustafsson, it's a very reasonable stance- any fight that isn't for the title would be a high-risk/no-reward scenario.  The only positive would be if Johnson feels he needs fights to stay ready, which apparently isn't the case if he's saying he's willing to sit for a year if need be.

This is not an instance where an interim title is warranted.  Jones is physically capable of fighting; the problem he doesn't seem to be mentally capable right now of being someone the UFC should want as one of their key faces.  If they end up agreeing and pull him from the fight, it would be desperately unfair to Johnson to just pull him as well and not give him a fight.  He should get a fight with whoever else they can get into the cage with him- preferably Cormier- for the real, undisputed light heavyweight belt.  At worst that fight should be set up for a couple of months down the road so whoever Johnson's opponent would be has the opportunity to go through a full camp.

It's the morally and logically correct thing to do.  Watch it not happen.

Update, 4/29: My cynicism proves fallible.  Indefinite suspension for Jones, Johnson/Cormier for the title at UFC 187.

Belated note on UFC 186

Randa Markos beat Aisling Daly; not a peep was heard regarding Paige VanZant's next opponent.  Prediction of VanZant vs. Namajunas remains.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Smart or terrible?

I'm kind of leaning towards both.

Some revenue, in what could amount to millions of dollars, is in jeopardy here. Bob Arum is even stating that he's now hearing stories of people canceling their reservations in Las Vegas, worried that they won't get their hands on a ticket. Some ticket vendors are also not even willing to sell speculative tickets (ones they don't actually have in hand) because of how up-in-the-air everything is, and aren't willing to carry that risk. Additionally, tickets haven't gone on sale for closed circuit either. Clearly this rollout of the fight hasn't gone off without a hitch.

Now, reporters at Bloomberg are speculating that the public sale of tickets may never actually take place, and that resale with a substantial markup may be the only market for tickets.

The terrible part is obvious.  Vegas holds fights like these to help the local economy; if the behavior of the two camps is costing the city substantial money so they can maximize profits, that's a shitty way to treat the Fight Capital of the World and an excellent way to make boxing appear as incapable as ever of looking at benefits to the sport and the fighters beyond the most immediate buck.

And it makes no sense at all.  Mayweather and Pacquiao will retire soon, but most of their income will be derived from the PPV figures, and the promoters will presumably be in business for a long time to come.  The only particularly old man involved in the proceedings is Bob Arum; even if he could not give less of a shit about what happens to Top Rank once he's gone, Al Haymon and Mayweather Promotions will benefit for years (or decades) to come from any positive boost to boxing's image- or be damaged by any hits to that image.

So how could this be smart?

It depends on how cynical you are about boxing's future, and its ability to quit stepping on the rakes it keeps throwing around its own yard.  By all accounts Haymon is working to secure boxing's future in the public's eyes, namely with the Premier Boxing Champions series on NBC.  If he sees more overall profit in rigging the ticket sales for this one fight than doing what's necessary to make sure the current Fight of the Century doesn't appear to be stepping all over its own feet, then he has to believe whatever negative press is drawn from this ticket fiasco will have a negligible effect on perceptions of boxing going forward.

Sadly, if that's his mindset, he's probably not far off the mark.  From this chair it seems that using such a megafight as a way to show what boxing promoters can positively accomplish could create at least the beginning of faith in fans that boxing might be able to pull itself together one day.  But fans have had so little reason to do anything but doubt the methods and intentions of boxing promoters for so long, it may well be the case that short of the fight not happening, public perception of the way boxing is handled as a business can literally not get any worse.  If Haymon feels like can make a cool half-million or so without negatively impacting the business... it might be a decision rooted in the most cynical kind of pragmatism, but it's also an extra briefcase full of cash getting thrown into his lap.  We might not like it as fans, but we'd probably feel a lot different if we were getting a piece of that bundle.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Analysis of Being Wrong

"I'm an idiot" is a nice pithy line, but for at least the first two minutes of the Herrig/VanZant fight everything looked like it would go exactly as I imagined.  Herrig was crisper and quickly worked into a dominant position until VanZant escaped with about three minutes left in the round.  From there VanZant started to mount some offense, but Herrig stuck with her.  I gave Herrig the round, though it was very close.

After an early burst in round two, however, Herrig seemed to have no idea what to do.  Joe Rogan observed that VanZant was hustling in scrambles in a way Herrig was not, which is a completely accurate statement. The single reason I thought Herrig would win was because she would have more tricks up her sleeve and know what to do in those types of tough situations, but by the halfway point of the fight she just seemed lost.

Was it cardio?  Maybe by round three, given the severity of VanZant's beatdown, but even if VanZant has superior cardio (very possible for anyone who trains with Team Alpha Male), Herrig should not have been that gassed after a round and a half.  VanZant commented afterwards that she thought she broke Herrig mentally, and it certainly looked like that might have been the case.

So what does that mean for VanZant going forward?  Beating someone into mental submission is a feather in any fighter's cap, but at the same time it says as much about the loser as the winner. She was never going to get a fight with Jedrzejczyk immediately after this, but will she deserve it after one more fight?  Or will it take two?

The biggest question is probably who will be available for her to fight. Jedrzejczyk, Esparza, and Gadelha are probably all too high unless there's no one else available.  Maryna Moroz just beat Joanne Calderwood, but she's near the bottom of the top ten and would do less to set VanZant up for a title fight than some other women.  That leaves Jessica Penne (#3), Rose Namajunas (#4), Tecia Torres (#5), and Randa Markos (#6).

Upcoming fights, by date:

Markos vs. Aisling Daly, April 25th
Namajunas vs. Nina Ansaroff, May 23rd
Penne vs. Juliana Lima, May 30th
Torres vs. Angela Hill, June 13th

If VanZant beats Penne, Namajunas, or Torres next, a very reasonable argument can be made for her to get a title shot.  A win over Markos might mean a bit less, but Markos has the toughest next opponent of these four; if she beats Daly, especially if it's not close, then she'll appear to be a stiffer test for VanZant.  And right now the Markos/Daly winner may be VanZant's most sensible next opponent since they fight a month before any of the other three mid-top ten strawweights.

Assuming Penne, Namajunas, and Torres all win their next fights, the logical way for the division to shake down is this:

VanZant fights the Markos/Daly winner.
Penne (probably) or Namajunas (unlikely) gets the next title shot.
Torres faces whichever of Penne and Namajunas doesn't fight Jedrzejczyk.
If VanZant wins, she faces Gadelha or Esparza, then earns a title fight with a win there.

However, VanZant's popularity may short-circuit this.  It really depends on whether or not the UFC brass feels she needs a slightly bigger-name opponent to help build up to an eventual title shot, even if that means leaving her on the bench for a little longer.  If they think she's not going to beat Jedrzejczyk even with two or three more fights beforehand, and especially if they don't think she'll beat Gadelha or Esparza, they may just choose to test her against Penne or Namajunas so she only has to win once to be a credible title contender.

And while that might seem unfortunate to those of us who want to see her be an unquestionable title contender before getting that shot, the truth is, a loss to anyone besides Jedrzejczyk is likely going to take a lot of air out of her balloon. From a promotional standpoint, they have no reason to risk VanZant's popularity in a tough fight against Gadelha or Esparza unless they feel there's no other way to maximize VanZant's value as a contender.  Likewise, there's no reason to risk a rematch with Torres unless that is clearly the best available fight.

Thus, the prediction here for VanZant's next fight is Namajunas.  VanZant has a reasonable shot against Penne, but Penne is better on the ground and the highest ranked fighter Jedrzejczyk hasn't beaten yet.  On the other hand, Namajunas is probably ranked a little high at #4, but she should still whip Ansaroff, and the marketability of a VanZant/Namajunas fight would be a promotional wet dream.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

UFC on Fox 15

As much as I'd like to believe otherwise, I am unlikely to change the world with a couple of blog rants left to the whims of fate, so let's start with something both simple and likely to make me look like an idiot: Fight predictions!

Just the main card this time.

Paige VanZant (-135) vs. Felice Herrig (+105)

I like VanZant as a personality and as a fighter.  She definitely has more potential to be great than Herrig, and there would be something pleasing about seeing her throw the figurative finger at everyone who dumped on her because of Reebok's decision to offer a sponsorship (key words: Reebok's decision).  But the question is who's going to be better tonight, and I'm not convinced VanZant has risen to the level necessary to take down someone who, in the last five and a half years, has only lost to top opposition (Barb Honchak, Carla Esparza, Tecia Torres).  If she does win, it puts her in a very good position, and the UFC will probably start hearing the jackpot going off.  But I think Herrig takes this one.

Pick: Herrig via decision

Result: I'm an idiot.

Cub Swanson (-155) vs. Max Holloway (+125)

The battle of the probably irrelevant.  Swanson lost his last fight to Frankie Edgar, and is not in any position to challenge Jose Aldo or Conor McGregor.  Holloway has yet to beat anyone of note.  This is a gateway fight for Holloway, and like VanZant, if he wins it sets him up for some major fights very soon.  But anything short of a demolition is going to make him look unable to match up well against the best in the division, and I don't foresee that happening.  I'll pick Swanson, although I think it's even more of a toss-up than the betting line indicates.

Pick: Swanson via decision

Result: I'm still an idiot.

Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza (-1400) vs. Chris Camozzi (+750)

If ever a fight this lopsided were worth a bet, Souza would be the one to place your money on.  Dana White himself said Camozzi was only re-signed for the fight because no one else would face Souza on a week's notice.  I hope Camozzi is getting paid enough to absorb the beatdown he's about to suffer.  At least he has some idea what he's getting into, having been submitted by Souza to start the four-fight losing streak that saw him bounced from the UFC in the first place.

Pick: Souza via first round TKO

Result: I might look like an idiot for saying the BJJ ace was going to get a TKO, but that was just trying to be a little different because there was no way to get the winner wrong here.

Luke Rockhold (-165) vs. Lyoto Machida (+135)

When Machida was flying up the ranks, and word was no one could solve his karate/sumo blended technique, there was no question he had a troublesome, slick style that would make him dangerous to anyone.  Even once he started losing fights, nobody ever suggested he was immediately out of any fight he took (his odds against Jon Jones never looked good, but then, no one's odds do).  And he's still that fighter today.

The problem for him is that Rockhold is a better fighter.  Apart from his utter screwing at the hands of Vitor Belfort, who was so juiced he could have doubled as the Kool-Aid Man, Rockhold hasn't lost a fight in over seven years.  Machida is probably the most skilled fighter Rockhold has faced, and deserves to be no more than a slight underdog, but the only way he wins this fight is if the old, unsolvable Machida reappears and he plain outsmarts Rockhold.  I don't like the chances of that happening.

Pick: Rockhold via decision

Result: I'm surprised Rockhold got the finish, given Machida's defensive competence.  But maybe that's just a sign of how legit his chances are against Weidman, and that for whatever complaints Souza might have, Rockhold deserves the next title shot.

First post, redux

I once said I never got into blogging because I didn't like talking at air.  Now I find myself routinely commenting on stuff no one will see, especially MMA.

Let's see if I can get behind entertaining nothing for a while this time.