An Initiation to Rival All Others

When the bell concluded Nate Diaz versus Conor McGregor Part II, many new fans believed they had just watched the GREATEST fight in UFC’s history! It is undeniable that the main event at UFC 202 launched the sport into the main stream, but the events that were played out at the Ultimate Fighter I Finale on SPIKE TV, on the 9 of April 2005 ignited the passions of many fans who waited for many years for their beloved sport to reach the main stream.

A New Era

While Diaz Vs McGregor II set a new UFC record for Pay Per View buys, an estimated 1.2 and 1.5 million in North America ALONE!, Griffin versus Bonnar was available on Spike TV; The Ultimate Fighter season One Finale was the first ever UFC card to be available on a US cable TV channel for free. While millions worldwide ordered the UFC 202 PPV after months of marketing, the TUF One Finale was observed by peak audience of 3.3 million; in 2005 people rang friends and told them to watch the crazy events on SPIKE TV! To contrast the UFC’s fortunes between the two bouts, Griffin Vs Bonnar was held in front of three thousand people at the Cox Pavillion in Las Vegas, while Diaz Vs McGregor II was attended by over fifteen thousand people in the $375,000,000 futuristic-looking T-Mobile Arena. While UFC 202 is believed to have brought the company to the attention of the mainstream media, it is believed, in many chatrooms, that the Light Heavyweight contest of 9 April, 2005 may have been even more significant in the UFC’s history, it SAVED the company!

Unintentional Contact

College should always be a time for discovery, my first contact with MMA was in 2008, after finding accommodation with a family who lived down the road from my college in Dublin, Ireland. One night, well early morning, after arriving in from a night out with college friends, I observed a housemate, Kevin, watching a low quality DVD copy of a fighter by the name of Forrest Griffin being introduced to the arena. The gloves were the first thing that caught my eye, they were different to anything I had ever seen before; having watched Irish boxers competing for years. I was used to watching short and stocky Irish boxers previously, but Griffin towered over the security and camera men that followed his walk to the ring…CAGE! My curiousity was peaked as Griffin approached the looming enclosure and I took a seat beside Kevin ’… just for a minute.’

Enter the Giants

The commentators, one who’s voice I knew from the Fear Factor but whose name escaped me, discussed Griffin’ unique personality and eccentric hairstyles. Then the commentators told the audience a story of a previous bout, also told in Griffin’s 2009 book ‘Got Fight?’, where Griffin’s left arm was broken while trapped in an opponent’s arm-bar. Griffin promptly knocked the opponent out using his right arm, while still trapped by the opponent’s attempted submission.

Next Stephan Bonnar, or ‘Stephen Bonnar’ as proclaimed by a youthful looking Bruce Buffer, made his way towards the cage; he looked smothered in an oversized hoodie with a crass looking ‘UFC’ emblazoned across the front. ‘The American Psycho’ looked determined as he made his walk to the cage.

The phrase ‘A battle of mirror images’ was mentioned in commentary. In contrast to my previous experience of boxing neither man had an official ranking and so my intrigue heightened. Both men were identified as sharing similar skill sets; ‘Well Rounded’ and a ‘Good Striker’. In a bout up with two competitors so well matched, I was compelled to watch the fight in order to see how the men would match up. Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg identified how both men had trained together, and had intimate knowledge of each other from living and training together. This made the fight more exciting to a person who had no previous experience of the Ultimate Fighting Championship!

Round One: Insanity

My first reaction to the events of round one was awe; the frantic pace both men set out was exciting, it was nothing like I had seen before in all the boxing I had watched. Griffin’s offensive combinations in the early striking exchanges really caught my eye. I was struck by the opening kick by Stephan Bonnar shocked me, as did the Muay Thai clinch that was initiated several times by each man; it was completely different to anything I had seen on the boxing and professional wrestling I watched previously.

Griffin’s counter punching was exciting to see, assisted by the hyperbolic commentary of Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg! The statements gushing from the commentary box added to my enjoyment of the opening round! As it probably did for the crowd at home watching the original broadcast.

The momentum shifted several times as both fighters remained In the pocket, attempting to impose their will; two minutes in Griffin pursued Bonnar with some chin seeking striking as he pursued a first round Knock Out.

Kevin was startled as I Jumped off the couch as Griffin initiated a takedown, but it was Bonnar that gained a full mounted position! I will hand-on-heart confess my pure ignorance of Brazilain Jiu Jitsu and wrestling at the time as I did not know what could happen next. Rogan explained and I let out a ‘Whoop!’ as the fight returned to the feet.

mma_g_griffin-bonnar_mb_576

I was astonished to see Forrest grow tired and now it was Stephan Bonnar that advanced landing heavy blows! It was then Forrest Griffin did the unthinkable, he SMILED! From that moment I was a Griffin fan! Bonnar pulled guard after Griffin threw knees into the latter’s stomach, I punched the air as Griffin got Bonnar’s back with seventeen seconds to go. As he sought to lock in the rear naked choke the buzzer concluded the first round. I sat back into the chair and rubbed my sweaty palms on the legs of my jeans. Kevin asked if I wanted a glass of water, with a grin!

Round Two

The second round began slow and tentative … for forty-five seconds! The glass of water spilled onto the coffee table as Griffin landed a takedown. But both men returned to the feet almost as quickly. Before I knew it Griffin’s nose was cut, I thought the fight would be finished. But then again Griffin SMILED! Herb Dean paused the fight as a medic checked Griffin’s condition.

After the fight recommenced the pace picked up again! Within a ten second period Griffin had Bonnar backed up and it looked like Griffin would finish victorious, within the next few seconds Bonnar had taken the centre of the octagon and was in the ascendancy. The second round seemed to swing in this back and forth scenario.

With two minutes to go Bonnar delivered knees that rocked Griffin. It HAD to finish here; Griffin looked like he was tiring as both men were wrestling against the cage.  But Griffin’s now legendary cardio, kicked in to help him survive the final two minutes of the round as Bonnar pressed him looking for the finish.

Between rounds two and three both men returned to their corners exhausted, Stitch Durant immediately began working on Griffin’s nose. Rogan suggested both men receive contracts as a reward for their output in such an exciting contest. Bonnar stared across the octagon at a bloodied Griffin, who in turn stood up and returned the gaze. Griffin took a deep breath and readied himself for the third rounds.

Round Three:

The spilled water had long now been soaked up by a tea towel, and Kevin suggested Bonnar was winning, I confessed I hadn’t a clue and just hoped to see more! Both men answered Herb Dean’s call to resume the fight. Pace was slow, and both men were cautious. Chants of ‘Forrest! Forrest!’ rang throughout the arena. Griffin seemed re-energised and took the fight to Bonnar: winning the clinch and landed jumping some knees. Both men exchanged strikes; with three to four combinations whilst moving forward. Bodies were tired but their will drove them forward.

As the third round approached the third minute both men were content to counter punch, Griffin retained the centre of the octagon, then Bonnar, then Griffin! I was nervous, rose from the couch and began pacing the room, eyes glued to the screen.

As the fourth minute of the third round reached its conclusion the crowd rose to its feet and cheered the two men on as the fight approached its final minute.

Bonnar threw a wheel kick with twenty-five seconds remaining! With ten seconds to go both men threw as many punches as they could in a bid to secure victory!

An exhausted Joe Rogan announced ‘I say hand out two contracts’ as the buzzer signalled the end of the round. Kevin laughed as I echoed Rogan’s sentiment of being ‘honoured’ just for witnessing the fight.

bonnar_griffin640
LAS VEGAS, NV – APRIL 09: (L-R) Stephan Bonnar and Forrest Griffin react after their historic three-round battle during the Light Heavyweight Final bout during the live Ultimate Fighter Season Finale at the Cox Pavilion on April 9, 2005 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

As a fourth round was possible both men were being attended to by their respective corners. I was hooked, invested in the fate of two men I had only known existed for under twenty minutes!

I punched the air Griffin winner by unanimous decision, ‘Stephen’ Bonnar dropped to the ground. The crowd responded with dissent, but were elated and gave both men a standing ovation when it was announced by Dana White that BOTH men were to receive contracts! Both Griffin and Bonnar embraced, what a sport! Two great competitors showing respect after a fifteen minute contest that would definitely affect them for the following week or two!

Looking Back & Legacy

Critics now will identify the raw technique of each man as many a punch missed its target; I would argue the two men were well rounded when you take time to consider the underground reality of the sport at the time: again check out Griffin’s ‘Got Fight?’ to read his colleagues hilarious reactions to the injuries and bruises he incurred while training Jiu-Jitsu. But this fight will rightly be remembered for the sheer determination and will to win shared by both competitors:

“That fight was fought in both of our heads. For three rounds, it was a nonstop flurry of punches and kicks. The only reason either one of us kept going was that each of was certain his toughness would break the other. I have since talked with him about that fight, and it was funny because we were both thinking the exact same thing: I’m catching him with some good shots, and eventually he’s going to get tired of this. He’s going to break. However, with both of us being too stupid to quit, neither one of us did.” (Griffin, Forrest. Got Fight? 2009.)

griffin-bonnar-hall-of-fame-dsk_2500_640x360_36915267575

It was with great pride that the fight, and the competitors, that introduced me to the sport were inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame in 2013. But I am only one of many thousands that can share that sentiment. Perhaps a decade later it is still not known how many viewers of that fight, either live or delayed, have strapped on gloves, shin pads, adorned Gis and rashguards following that night in 2005. I for one am happy to say that it was my initiation into the sport! And what a way to start a journey!

Advertisements

Purpose and Potential with the Westmeath Minotaurs’ Youth Team

On Sunday last, the 18th of September, the Westmeath Minotaurs Youth Team played host to the South Kildare Soldiers and the Craigavon Cowboys in Mullingar Rugby Club. The weather made conditions difficult in the Minotaurs’ first ever games at home, but through some introspection the Minotaurs players emerged with a steely determination to emerge victorious against the 2015 IAFA Junior Champions, the Craigavon Cowboys.

 

Westmeath Minotaurs 6 South Kildare Soldiers 12

The first game of the day left the Minotaurs team frustrated following a narrow loss to local rivals, the South Kildare Soldiers. A strong wind and heavy showers disrupted both teams passing game and made the football difficult to handle in the running game. Rafael Monteiro, a second year player, was imperious in the running game. His power running, coupled with powerful blocking by the Minotaurs’ offensive line, caused trouble for the Soldiers’ defense and handed the Minotaurs the momentum during the first and second quarters. The weather hampered the Minotaurs’ progress at crucial times and a slippery football, along with a soft surface underfoot, caused irregular turnover of possession which would not happen in ‘ideal’ footballing conditions.

The South Kildare Soldiers employed a mixture of passing and running and capitalised early on a turnover in possession to score the opening touchdown following a scramble for a loose ball in the Kildare half. The Soldiers lead by eight points after this touchdown and two-point conversion. A sense of frustration began to creep into the Minotaurs team following a number of fumbles and loss of possession caused by a wet ball. While the Minotaurs increased the pressure on the Soldiers they were unable to prevent a rushing touchdown by the Soldiers late into the second quarter; the Minotaurs went into the half time break down 0-16.

The team rallied, led by a dominant offensive line, and scored both a touchdown and the two point conversion to bring the score back to within a touchdown, 8-16 to the Soldiers. This occurred when Quarterback Joseph Kinahan defied a strong gale to connect with Jack Lynch, who was making his first start at Youth level. Despite causing havoc among the Soldiers offensive line and skilled players, the Minotaurs’ defensive players were unable to build momentum and win the ball back. The Minotaurs’ offense received the ball deep within their own territory with less than two minutes remaining in the game. Through a combination of strong running by Rafael Monteiro and crucial catches by Jason Owens and Jack Lynch, the Minotaurs were advancing down the field with the intent to draw the game. Unfortunately the Minotaurs were unable to clinch a draw due to a key play made by the Soldiers’ defense.

Westmeath Minotaurs 22 Craigavon Cowboys 8

With a game between the South Kildare Soldiers and the Craigavon Cowboys (which finished 22-0 to the Soldiers) separating the Minotaurs from their second game of the day, it was crucial for both playing and coaching staff to alter the mind-set following a frustrating first game. Both coaches and players spoke openly about individual mistakes and miscommunication between team members on crucial plays. The players then relaxed and set about focussing on the second game. The weather cleared up and the Minotaurs dominated the opening possession with both sets of linemen from the Minotaurs controlling the line-of-scrimmage. The Minotaurs’ defensive linemen swarmed the Cowboys Quarterback and forced a fumble in Cowboys territory and set up the Minotaurs’ Offense to score following some bullish running by Running Back Rafael Monteiro. The Minotaurs’ offensive line were faultless in their pass protection and set up a comfortable passing pocket for several pin point passes from Quarterback Joseph Kinahan to receiver Jack Lynch, to put the Minotuars up 16-8 with two to three minutes left. With the game clock ticking down to the final two minutes the Minotaurs were again on the attack. A collision between Rafael Monteiro and a Cowboys defender brought an early end to two fine displays from the Minotaurs second year captain. The Minotaurs depth of talent was displayed when Jason Owens took up the mantle and jinked his way through two or three tacklers to score the Minotaurs third touchdown for the game.

Youths React

Following the youth team’s first ever victory, several of the players were delighted to put on a series of performances to build upon. Second year player Conor Dougherty spoke of the growth of team spirit following the youth teams first ever victory; “It’s a feeling you don’t forget, that feeling of pride on your face and on your teammate’s faces. I’m looking forward to feeling it again in the next games.” Dean Johnston, who has also played for the clubs seniors, reflected on the progress made by the players as a competitive force, “It’s nothing less than an honour to have gotten the first youth win with these great lads. It’s only onwards from here and we’re ready to take home this tournament!” Daniel Honan summarised the ecstatic atmosphere as he reflected on a victory that was two years in the making “It felt amazing, truly a memorable day for the team after all the hard work and a huge result following a frustrating first game.”

It is phenomenal to see a group of young men band together following a frustrating first display. While the coaching staff stoked the fires for an improved second performance, it was the players themselves that took it upon themselves to right the wrongs of the first game and to put in a resolute performance to emerge victorious and to record the clubs first ever victory at youth level.

It is no doubt that people in Mullingar, Pennsylvania, Rochfortbridge, Clara, Kinnegad, and Streete have a team to be proud of…

 

Squad List:

Joseph Kinahan: A solid and composed series of games from our second year QB. (QB)

Jason Owens: Calmness personified. A born leader and experience told throughout the two games. (One TD/ One Int) (LB/WR)

Rafael Monteiro: Solid running throughout the series. Excellent performance while playing both sides of the ball. (LB/RB)

Ros McAdden: Excellent performance at Nose Tackle catching the eye of all in attendance. (NT/TE)

Matthew Flynn: Excellent pressure throughout the series. (NT)

Jack Lynch: Fine displays on both sides of the ball (Caught three touchdowns and one 2 Point Score)

 Conor Coates: Great display in delivery of the ball to QB despite the awful weather. Composed in blocking and lead the O-Line well. Tackled well when called upon. (Center)

Liam Dougherty: Consistently improving and made several bursts to cause havoc in the opponents backfield (Several Tackles For Losses) (DE)

Conor Dougherty: Solid performer on the O-Line, growing into his role on the line and excellent blocking. (O-Line)

David Walsh: Great performances again from second year lineman ‘DW’. (O-Line)

Dean Johnston: Energetic and a constant nuisance to opposing offensive linemen. Developing with every game; thrives in competition. (DE)

Niall Brennan: A constant source of motivation for those around him and a solid performance in the first series of the year. (LB)

Daniel Honan: Energetic and composed performances. Ever present to prevent the running game of opponents when passing option had passed. Consistent and improving all the time. (CB)

Mark Finnerty: Promising performances; a threat while blitzing and composed in the tackle. (DE)

Carl Briscoe: Great display by the ‘rookie’ on the panel. Enthusiastic to engage and promising for future series of games.

The New Age of Irish MMA: Gallagher Seeking To Carve Out Own Pathway Towards Gold

An atmosphere of excitement had taken a firm grip on the Round Room of the Mansion House and the five hundred capacity audience were basking in the knowledge of John Kavanagh as he spoke at the launch of his autobiography, “Win or Learn.” The man himself had just walked up a stairs for the ten minute interlude, and by the stage a group of fans were huddled around Paddy Holohan and Cathal Pendred hoping for an autograph or a picture (none were left disappointed). Another group of fans had gathered around Tony and Margaret McGregor and spoke about their excitement at prospect of ‘the Notorious’ ones approaching rematch with Nate Diaz on the 20th of August. A small number of fans had noticed the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt Dillon Danis on the VIP balcony above the bar and were attempting to entice him to the bar for a chat and a photo. As I looked back towards the stage a short figure moved towards the VIP stairway clutching a tall glass of water.

A grin spread across the face of James Gallagher as I approached him and asked if I could have a minute or two of his time. A quick compliment of the shirt later and he promptly agreed. Gallagher was polite and spoke candidly of his ‘tunnel vision’ as he prepared for his Bellator debut this coming Saturday, the 16th of July. I told him the Irish fans of the ‘Strabanimal’ were looking forward to an extended International Fight Week as we looked forward to the opening Irish interest in Joe Duffy’s bout against Mitch Clark and then the culmination of the week, in the Tyrone native’s first fight under the Bellator banner.

Upon meeting Gallagher, 3-0 in his professional career, the first characteristics a person may note are his enthusiasm and humility. I was delighted when he willingly engaged in a survey of his previous performance at BAMMA 24, a first round submission victory by Rear Naked Choke against Gerard Gilmore. His delight and genuine nature was evident as he used both changes in vocal tone and a variety in arm movement to describe the finish that cemented Bellator’s decision to sign the Strabane native. The 19 year old has received many negative comments regarding his social media content; but it is the enthusiasm of youth, rather than a wish to boast, that lies behind Gallagher’s posts. Talking to the young man for only a few minutes will leave you in no doubt that within the young man burns a desire to represent his town, gym, and country with pride and to fulfil a potential that would cause others to miss a step in their development.

Gallagher is on firm ground; a tutelage under Kavanagh since the age of 15 and the product of the SBG Ireland ethos of humility leaves you in no doubt that Gallagher has a maturity beyond his years. In the pre-event conference held in London on Thursday evening it was Gallagher that received the loudest ovation when introduced to the media and fans that were present, yet he looked dignified and showing his youthful exuberance when meeting the legendary Royce Gracie, Tito Ortiz and Lennox Lewis. Gallagher, sitting in between veterans Michael “Venom” Page and Alex Reid, looked at home and comfortable ahead of his fight against Mike Cutting.

Gallagher took his time answering the media’s questions and remained composed when asked about topics varying from his experience at SBG Ireland to the ‘similarity’ in his body art to his SBG team mate Conor McGregor. Gallagher used a sharp wit, which has become well known among his fans through interviews with SevereMMA and other media outlets, to wave away a remark that questioned his individuality. It is clear that Gallagher can be compared favourably, in both skillset and personality, to his Icelandic team-mate Gunnar Nelson. Both men possess an excellent Jiu Jitsu knowledge that has been enhanced by a calm personality that helps them remain composed in the chaos of a MMA event and to await for the precise opening when a finish may become available.

Gallagher politely excused himself and then signed my copy of Kavanagh’s “Win or Learn” and left with a handshake and a ‘Thank you.’ It was a snapshot of the young man and as I returned to my seat other’s around me asked ‘Who was that?’ I replied it was ‘James Gallagher and you’ll find out what he can do on the big stage soon enough.’ It is clear, from his previous amateur and professional performances and that brief conversation, that Gallagher has the personality, maturity, and ability to carve out his very own path to MMA gold, and to emerge as a star in his own right.

A: Musings of the Ice-Cream Guy…

Part One: The One with the Introduction & Context !

 

Who doesn’t love a J1? The thrill of a warm sandy beach or the hustle and bustle of a metropolis! Or in some cases. the discount boutiques! What a relief it is to use as an incentive to study when you are booking it in mid-December when the weather is cold and dull and you are forced to study for your pre-/post-Christmas exam(or in my experience preparing for a teaching-placement)! Personally I spent my J1 on the southern tip of the Jersey Shore and LOVED it! It wasn’t just the warm weather, beautiful beaches, and decent travel time to Atlantic City, New York City, and Philadelphia that made this the best summer of my life; it was the people. Yes! Fellow J1ers, US residents and people from all corners of the globe now living and working in the area made the stay unforgettable!

The city I lived in was Cape May, New Jersey! A quaint seasonal shore location that boasts a history that leaves modern resorts worldwide feeling jealous! It transports you back in time with its colourful old style houses and horse carraige rides! This literature student was immediately transported to the Maycomb of Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ as the smell of the city’s flowers in the warm night air tickled your air on the walk home from work. The colourful houses boasted beautifully decorated porches bedecked with blossoming hanging baskets which could easily host a tired Atticus reading to an eager Scout.

What did I do for work? I worked as ‘the Irish ice cream guy’ in the Washington Street Mall’s branch of The Original Fudge Kitchen. As a trainee teacher at the time I was well used to speaking to crowds of people and keeping people invested in what I was saying, but that was in relation to my subjects, Irish students and, to the content of my subjects! How do I speak to holidaymakers from huge cities like New York and Philadelphia, when the tallest building in my home town is the steeple of the Cathedral? It was in the people of the locality, especially Ed at ACME, that enabled me to gain confidence to speak to the multitudes of people I would meet. It was in their sense of curiousity of me and my culture, coupled with their openess and friendliness that helped me through the first few weeks! The Bogle Brothers and their staff welcomed me with open arms and so I became a member of the Fudge Kitchen’s family. “Football, the weather, soccer,  Irish-isms and Johnny….don’t forget the FUDGE!” were to be my conversation topics when in contact with the general public!

As the season progressed word swept Cape May businesses and tourists that the Irish had returned for seasonal work. As a consequence my three friends and I were gaining great notoriety by the guests who returned to Cape May every summer and remembered the Irish who had ventured there in the past! It was with pride that I remember being requested by name by customers throughout their stay, they would usually arrive on a Saturday and leave on the following Friday. There were many times I would put on an American accent, a southern drawl being my own personal speciality, and deny wholeheartedly my identity as one of ‘the Irish guys!’

As previously stated the job was at peak season during the summer so what fun was to be had was done during the quiet time while holiday makers went to dinner. The staff were excellent; a mixture of year-round staff, high-school students, college kids, and us, the visiting workers! It didn’t matter where you were from, from the resident owners to the newest member of staff from Europe, you were trained well and expected to help! I had a house mate Keven who was a veteran and he patiently trained me! “Take your time,” “Relax,” and “Watch me do this again” were phrases that were repeated, tremendously patiently may I add, innumerably by him! On the third day he told the boss, with great relief, that I was finally ready! Keven remains a hero of mine! A guy with a heart of gold, the patience of a saint and the ability to motivate anyone to pursue all they wanted in life!

There is a saying, ‘amongst friends you should never discuss religion and politics’ because each person’s view on the topics were so diverse and so personal that you would ineviatably fall out over the alternate view! This was never the case with Keven and the other workers there! There was enthusiasm for discourse over football(the American kind: the locals found my interest surprising), language differences (mostly teaching each other the curse words), and the differences between our countries and the land of our hosts. Learning the hilarious differences between Hiberno and American English was great fun: I too dreaded ‘Shoobies’ and will forever more pronounce ‘Probably’ as ‘prolly.’ The inevitable ‘Jimmies’ versus ‘Sprinkles’ debate remains unsolved to this very day! Naturally the survey of Irish culture was fiddly-dee music and rain! It was nice that these and other Irish stereotypes were drawn from informed backgrounds as many of the Irish-American workers had learned Irish dancing at a young age and another work mate had ventured to his father’s homeland during Christmas holidays.

The working week was tough and you were kept busy via cleaning and the rotation of confectionery, in my case in particular it was ice cream cones and jimmies! But it was always worth it when you had a WAWA lunch for your break! If you haven’t had the opportunity yo eat a salad or a WAWA ‘hoagie’/sub/roll accompanied with a brain freeze inducing iced coffee while living in the US on a J1 you simply have NOT lived! When working in a candy store/sweet shop (think Mr Simms but WAYYYY better) it makes the calorie count lower when you have a WAWA with you! My break time was when I was closer to the other workers more often then at the ice cream area; which inevitably turned out to be a blessing in disguise as the ‘hand rolled’ or scooped ice cream machine was easy access to cool air on the days when the Air Con failed to keep out the 100 Fahrenheit heat! The variety of personalities was great, and the co-workers were such a great source of fun and delight when the spectre of home-sickness did arrive! NEVER have I met a more inspirational and fun loving group of co-workers than that group of the summer of 2012! Many have gone on to other jobs and ventures; and I will always take pride that I was once able to call them colleagues, but more importantly friends!

*******CONTD IN Blog B*******

Cormier’s Critics Justified?

As boos rang out across the T-Mobile Arena and social media became awash with criticism of a ‘mediocre’ performance, Daniel Cormier cut a frustrated, yet relieved figure. Cormier’s frustration was understandable; he had just defeated an opponent designated to him a mere 72 hours before their bout; but this was not just any opponent this was Anderson Silva, the greatest fighter in the history of MMA.

Many scoffed at the fight due to the expectation that Cormier was to emerge victorious, almost unscathed, within the opening round. This was based upon information that Silva had just made the journey to Las Vegas to be present at the 200 event, as a mere spectator, and to attend the UFC Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Sunday, July 10th. But Silva has a history of performing at peak levels at Light Heavyweight and, therefore, remained a dangerous proposition. His threat to Cormier was played down with age having supposedly caught up with him. This was evident, according to some, during his most recent fight, against Michael Bisping. However Silva retains the ability to ‘flick the switch’ despite his advanced age, as seen towards the end of round three against Michael Bisping and here in round three with a kick delivered to Cormier’s abdomen with scalpel-like precision.

Cormier’s quickly configured plan, to take ‘The Spider’ to the ground, was tactically sound as it subdued Silva’s spontaneous and devastating stand up offense! Cormier, even refused to push forward towards Silva just like Bisping and Nick Diaz had before him, therefore nullifying Silva’s counter punching.
Cormier’s progress on the ground was quelled by Silva’s intelligent defense, which saw him constantly elevate Cormier’s right leg, which hindered the Light Heavyweight’s ability to establish a firm base from which to launch a contest ending finish. An element of the fight that some audience members clearly missed. Cormier did his best with a barrage of short punches from the mount and showed great tact using his veteran knowledge to cover Silva’s mouth to put more pressure on an already shallow gas tank.

Those showing discontent in the venue and on social media must surely acknowledge the psychological and emotional impact the cancellation of Cormier-Jones 2 must have had on ‘DC.’ Cormier’s emotional reaction to the news on UFC’s Embedded was plain for all to see: most evident by his physical reaction, in the form of a foot stomp and bending over in anguish as UFC President Dana White informed him of Jones’ failed result. Surely we can all identify with the man for not being able to fully recover from such a disappointment so close to what may have been the fight he has identified as defining his career; avenging his only loss in his professional career. You surely acknowledged that if Jones returned from the rumoured USADA imposed two year suspension then Cormier, who will be 39/40 years of age may not be in a position to compete with Jones.
Silva had entered the contest with very little pressure and the post fight atmosphere was similar to that given to a veteran player in front of his home fans at the end of a regular season game at the end of an illustrious career. We have seen Silva enter the octagon countless times under similar conditions, most notably against Forrest Griffin at 205lbs, and we have seen him perform with a non-chalant demeanor and deliver strikes with devastating precision.

Cormier’s performance was calculated and precise; which will be applauded by coaches and fighters alike; he also avoided embarrassment and added an illustrious name to his win column; and handed Silva his first loss at Light Heavyweight. Cormier preserved his dignity, and pushes on to preserve his legacy, even if it does come at the howls of a ‘disappointed’ public, a public that cheered and praised a similar performance from Brock Lesnar a mere half an hour later!