Video: Boxer Terence Crawford plays at NBA All-Star Celebrity game

One of the top pound-for-pound boxers participated at the 2018 NBA All-Star Celebrity game in Los Angeles. It’s the NBA All-Star Weekend, and a world champion boxer participated in one of the many festivities in Los Angeles. Terence Crawford…

One of the top pound-for-pound boxers participated at the 2018 NBA All-Star Celebrity game in Los Angeles.

It’s the NBA All-Star Weekend, and a world champion boxer participated in one of the many festivities in Los Angeles. Terence Crawford joined the star-studded Celebrity All-Star game that also featured several other actors and musicians such as Justin Bieber, Michael B. Jordan, Common, Jamie Foxx, and more.

Crawford, who is considered as one of the top pound-for-pound boxers, was part of Team Lakers. The 30-year-old lineal welterweight champion, who is probably the most in-shape athlete on his squad, played a team-high 30 minutes. He scored 9 points and despite being just he 5-foot-8, the fighter grabbed 12 rebounds and notched 3 assists as well.

Unfortunately for Crawford, Team Clippers eventually took home the victory with the final score of 75-66. Rapper Quavo won MVP honors after scoring 19 points and getting the win.

Watch Crawford get introduced in the Celebrity game, along with highlights of the game below.

Crawford is currently set to face Jeff Horn this April.

Bloomberg: ‘Without fresh talent, the UFC would be dying, not boxing’

According to Bloomberg, UFC plans to use boxing as a “lifeline” because of their recent struggles. Bloomberg has decided to cover Mixed Martial Arts, with the outlet recently taking a look at the UFC’s recent struggles. The author, Brin-Jon…

According to Bloomberg, UFC plans to use boxing as a “lifeline” because of their recent struggles.

Bloomberg has decided to cover Mixed Martial Arts, with the outlet recently taking a look at the UFC’s recent struggles. The author, Brin-Jonathan Butler says that the UFC’s planned venture into boxing is to use the rival sport as a “lifeline”, as the MMA organization is “amid a talent exodus and ratings decline.”

He says that Dana White announcing a boxing venture only “confirmed what many insiders already knew: Without fresh talent, the UFC would be dying, not boxing.”

Bloomberg also interviewed a couple of people, who said that the UFC’s $4.2 billion sale may have been a terrible investment. Boxing author Thomas Hauser says the WME-IMG purchase is “starting to look like Time Warner’s decision to merge with AOL.”

Kurt Emhoff, a sports attorney who managed fighters from MMA and boxing, says that “the worst-case scenario is that they just bought Myspace.”

As for how they got to these pretty bleak conclusions, they cite an “erosion of viewers” with low TV ratings, an aging fanbase, and an “exodus” of stars.

Let’s take a look at these arguments, and how realistic they actually are.

LOW TV RATINGS

2016 was a banner PPV year for the UFC, with five events going over a million buys. Bloomberg says it hasn’t been sustainable and low numbers after that shows it. They noted that the last UFC on FOX had the lowest viewers in history.

The author also concluded that boxing has “consistently higher ratings” than UFC events.

Manny Pacquiao & Jeff Horne Press Conference
Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images

They came up with this after comparing four Top Rank ESPN events that have gone head-to-head with UFC Fight Night cards on the same day. They note that boxing has come up with higher ratings, with the most recent comparison being ESPN’s Vasyl Lomachenko vs. Guillermo Rigondeaux and Fox Sports 1’s UFC: Cub Swanson vs. Brian Ortega.

Bob Arum was also quoted gloating about how they “beat the pants off” the UFC on a “level playing field.”

Now, UFC numbers are indeed down compared to recent years in both TV ratings and PPV buys, but context to these arguments matter.

UFC on FOX’s lowest rated event was Jacare vs Brunson, which is also the weakest line up they’ve ever put on the network.

It’s also not a “level playing field” if you compare ESPN vs Fox Sports 1, and draw conclusions on a major event featuring two top pound-for-pound boxers “beating” a small UFC card topped by an unknown prospect and first time headliner.

Bloomberg notes that this “erosion of viewers” may lead to troubles securing a new TV lucrative deal that the UFC is looking for. We have yet to see how this plays out — especially if the UFC indeed has that large $450 million asking price — but with ratings down for most live sports, the market for a lucrative TV deal is indeed thin for anyone right now.

AN AGING MMA FANBASE?

The post quoted Bob Arum saying “Boxing is not an old man’s sport. Our demographics are young.” As mentioned above, the Bloomberg article noted that boxing has come out on top on the key 18-49-year-old demographic during head-to-head events against the UFC.

They also cite a recent study featured on the Sports Business Journal, and state how the “median age of TV viewers who watch mixed martial arts increased the most, from 34 years old to 49 years old.”

Once again, context matters. This doesn’t necessarily mean the MMA audience “is getting older,” as they conclude. People who follow the sport, attend UFC shows, subscribe to Fight Pass, stream MMA events, and frequent this very site, won’t be mostly 49-year-olds.

These were TV-only numbers, with the actual study concluding that “nearly all sports see quick rise in average age of TV viewers as younger fans shift to digital platforms.”

This shift also seems more natural, as numbers have also shown that MMA generally has one of the biggest and most consistent web traffic and online presence in sports.

So can this affect a potential domestic TV deal for the UFC? Maybe. It’s yet to be seen, but this is also an issue being faced by all sports these days, with the younger fans seemingly more happy to just consume their content online.

EXODUS OF STARS

Bloomberg mentions that the UFC is looking towards boxing because of their failure to make and keep stars.

“The UFC tend to kill their idols,” Emhoff said. “By having the best facing the best constantly, they are wearing out all of their top fighters.”

WWE Mae Young Classic
Photo by Bryan Steffy/Getty Images for WWE

The article listed the UFC stars the promotion has lost recently:

“By 2017 the UFC had lost Ronda Rousey, a fighter who transcended combat sports and became one of the most famous faces in America. Anderson Silva and Jon Jones—arguably the two best MMA fighters in the history of the sport—have both tested positive for PEDs on multiple occasions. Brock Lesnar, another major attraction, has also tested positive more than once and joined Rousey in the WWE. George St-Pierre, one of the most popular MMA fighters, reemerged last year for one fight but is now out indefinitely with a case of colitis. (His pay-per-view numbers were south of 900,000 buys, well below projections.)”

It’s worth noting that Georges St-Pierre drawing 900,000 pay-per-view buys after being out for four years is a major success. It is indeed lower than White’s bold proclamations right after the contest, but it was certainly not below most people’s expectations coming into that event.

The author also calls Conor McGregor the “biggest threat” and “biggest potential” for the UFC, and quoted Emhoff as saying “going forward, it’s all pretty dependent on the new TV deal they negotiate and whether McGregor comes back to fight.”

It is true that the UFC’s lower pay-per-view buy rate is affected by the lack of legitimate draws as of late. It is also true that for them to put these numbers back up, they need a better way to build new stars — and probably pay McGregor enough to convince him to return.

That being said, these lower numbers have only meant somewhat lower revenue, not an absence of profit.

UFC’S RESPONSE?

Bloomberg seemingly tried to paint a pretty grim picture of the UFC, showing how they’re struggling and might die if they don’t find new stars. The outlet did contact the promotion about these, but did the UFC do a good job of defending themselves? Based on the info that made it to the article, I’m not quite sure.

When addressing the organization’s popularity, UFC’s Thomas Gerbasi said “We’re rolling long. Look at Dana’s track record. He’s not a guy who says something and it doesn’t happen. He’s a man of his word, and the results speak for themselves.”

When talking about the 49-year-old median age, UFC claimed it was instead 39.

UFC also pointed out how they’re doing well in international markets such as Brazil and Poland. They also spoke about their Shanghai event that drew “1 million live views on PPTV, China’s main sports provider, and an additional 1 million in video on demand.”

So while Bloomberg looked set on talking about their struggles, the UFC just countered and boasted about 1 million views in China. That could be deemed as impressive in the US, but 1 million doesn’t exactly hold the same meaning in a country with over 1.3 billion people.

SO IS THE UFC ACTUALLY DYING?

People can point out all these declining metrics — which are really there, despite White’s protests — but I fail to see how they’ve come up with these very bleak conclusions and a possible “death” of the organization.

When looking at these numbers, it’s easy to forget that the UFC has a lot of other revenue sources. Even back in 2012, pay-per-view buys only represented 30% of that pie. As I’ve detailed recently, the top MMA promotion is still highly profitable even while being in somewhat of a downswing these days.

Has it been as lucrative as WME-IMG imagined when they bought it for 4.2 billion? Maybe not, but it’s still earning a lot, and is very much alive and healthy. The sky isn’t falling just yet, and like boxing, Mixed Martial Arts isn’t dying out anytime soon.

White: Woodley is ‘full of s—t,’ UFC lawyer already told him to stop lying about Nate Diaz fight

Dana White called his UFC welterweight champion a liar, and Tyron Woodley has since responded. Nate Diaz and Tyron Woodley have both publicly spoken about a potential 170 lb clash recently. Diaz called the welterweight champion the ‘best op…

Dana White called his UFC welterweight champion a liar, and Tyron Woodley has since responded.

Nate Diaz and Tyron Woodley have both publicly spoken about a potential 170 lb clash recently. Diaz called the welterweight champion the ‘best option’ for his return UFC bout, while Woodley has said that the bout is ‘way more likely’ to happen next than people realize.

According to Dana White, those are all lies and the UFC lawyer has instructed his welterweight champion to stop spreading falsities.

“[Woodley’s] full of sh*t,” White said on UFC Tonight (transcript via MMA Fighting). “That fight was never made, you couldn’t be more wrong, he couldn’t be more full of sh*t, and it’s absolutely not true. It’s so not true that our lawyer hit him up today and said he needs to stop saying these kind of things, because it’s absolutely not true.”

“Dos Anjos is the fight we’re looking at for Woodley,” White said. “That’s the fair fight, he just won a great fight against Robbie Lawler and looked good and what I love about that fight is dos Anjos will bring it. He will come after Tyron Woodley and it will be a great fight. That’s the fight that’s gonna happen.”

It didn’t take long for Woodley to reply on social media.

Dos Anjos criticized him for going after money fights by seeking this Diaz match up, and Woodley also responded to it.

Coach predicts Jon Jones returns late 2018 and faces Daniel Cormier for heavyweight belt

Jon Jones’ coach Brandon Gibson has made a pretty bold prediction. Brandon “Six Gun” Gibson recently made a pretty bold prediction about Jon Jones.
The JacksonWink striking coach took to social media and not only predicted Jones’ next oppon…

Jon Jones’ coach Brandon Gibson has made a pretty bold prediction.

Brandon “Six Gun” Gibson recently made a pretty bold prediction about Jon Jones.

The JacksonWink striking coach took to social media and not only predicted Jones’ next opponent, but a change in division and an early return for suspended fighter as well.

Does Gibson have inside information on Jones’ upcoming hearing, or is he simply having fun? Because as of right now, there are several somewhat unlikely things that have to go right for this to come true.

Despite that legally meaningless polygraph test that he passed, Jones is still facing a potentially lengthy submission for testing positive for anabolic steroids.

Daniel Cormier is also an underdog on his UFC 226 title bout with Stipe Miocic. So not only should he move up and beat the heavyweight champion, Cormier also has to come out unscathed and healthy enough to compete for the third time in 2018. That’s something the oft-injured 39-year-old hasn’t done in years.

Even if by some miracle all of that happens, Dana White and company will also have to decide to trust Jones enough to give him another title shot upon his return. That’s something the UFC president has been hesitant of, calling him “unfixable” after being stripped of his title three straight times for various drug test failures and run-ins with the law.

So basically, if this all comes true, we’ll probably have to start calling him “Psychic Six Gun” Gibson instead.

Eddie Bravo: Tony Ferguson will thank Khabib for taking him down, attack him on the ground

Tony Ferguson’s coach Eddie Bravo also says that Conor McGregor is an easier fight than Khabib Nurmagomedov. Tony Ferguson’s coach Eddie Bravo recently spoke about the UFC lightweight title picture, saying that he believes Conor McGregor wou…

Tony Ferguson’s coach Eddie Bravo also says that Conor McGregor is an easier fight than Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Tony Ferguson’s coach Eddie Bravo recently spoke about the UFC lightweight title picture, saying that he believes Conor McGregor would actually be an easier match up than the one they have ahead of them in Khabib Nurmagomedov.

“Khabib will be the toughest guy in the lightweight division for a very long time,” Bravo said about Ferguson’s biggest challenges, during an appearance at WFAN’s Outside the Cage podcast. “Conor would be an easier fight for Tony. Khabib’s going to be tough.”

According to the 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu founder, Khabib is dangerous on the ground, but they will be taking a completely different approach than most of his opponents. Bravo says they plan to attack him in his strengths.

“Nobody is doing what he’s doing with his ground and pound, with his takedowns, with his ground control, and his smashing. He’s the best, probably of all time, really. It’s a tall order, but most people are running from Khabib when they’re on the ground,” Bravo said. “They’re spending most of their time trying to get back up, trying to drag themselves up on the fence, and he just rides them and drags them down.

“That’s a good strategy in certain situations. But we’re going to turn around and attack him,” he said. “We’re going to thank him for taking Tony down, and we’re going to throw some fire at him. It’s going to be different. No one has done that.

“I’m sure his defense is going to be tight. I’m sure he’s going to be studying rubber guard and all that, but we’re going to come there with fire,” he said. “We’re going to come right at him.”

Although he will likely be the more dangerous striker in this match up, most of Ferguson’s finishes in the UFC have actually come via submission. This includes his interim title win over a strong wrestler in Kevin Lee, who he tapped with a triangle choke.

Khabib of course is a completely different animal, and it will be interesting to see if Ferguson’s opportunistic and somewhat unorthodox submission game can actually stifle that dominant top control.

Ferguson vs Khabib happens on April 7 at UFC 223. According to Dana White, it will be for the “undisputed title,” while McGregor is somehow also still the champion.

Velasquez reacts to Cormier’s heavyweight title bout, still plans to ‘get my belt back’

Cain Velasquez reacts to his teammate Daniel Cormier getting a UFC heavyweight title shot. Daniel Cormier is officially moving back up to heavyweight for a super-fight against Stipe Miocic at UFC 226. With his teammate and former champ Cain …

Cain Velasquez reacts to his teammate Daniel Cormier getting a UFC heavyweight title shot.

Daniel Cormier is officially moving back up to heavyweight for a super-fight against Stipe Miocic at UFC 226. With his teammate and former champ Cain Velasquez returning to competition soon, the UFC light heavyweight champion initially had reservations about accepting the bout, but it was still eventually finalized and announced on Friday night.

Velasquez took to social media to react to the fight booking, saying that he will train and support his teammate during the entire process.

As the former heavyweight champion stated, it “could get interesting” if his teammate wins and holds the title he’s still looking to reclaim.

While the idea of these long time friends and teammates fighting each other could get a bit complicated, it is worth noting that there could be a scenario that they don’t face each other even with a victory. As Cormier recently noted, whatever happens in his career, he plans to retire before March 2019, when he turns 40.

Velasquez hasn’t fought since July 2016, when he beat Travis Browne in the first round. He lost the belt to Fabricio Werdum back in 2015, who then lost it to the current title holder in Stipe Miocic.