Robin Black Let Go By Canadian Media Outlet Fight Network, What Gives?

The post Robin Black Let Go By Canadian Media Outlet Fight Network, What Gives? appeared first on Cagepotato.

What gives, aye?

With the recent string of UFC layoffs, it would only make sense that the trend would eventually trickle down to other networks. Now it seems even our poutine eating brethren are starting to feel the strain.

In a recent facebook post, former Fight Network color commentator Robin Black put out a statement saying he had been released from the Canadian media outlet earlier this week. Robin says this came as a complete shock as he was helping others grieve over the company’s major layoffs – little did he know, he was also on the  chopping block.

“I got a few calls yesterday about big cuts at Fight Network, about friends being let go. I was sad and scared for them. Then the call came in to me. Heavy scaling back of originally-produced content. Down- sizing. After 8 years, my job is being eliminated.

I’m now a free agent. I don’t have a job today. I’m a bit frightened to be honest. Surprised and frightened. Analyzing The Martial Arts and breaking down fights is not a job for me. It’s a way of life. A lifestyle. It’s who I am. I will continue to do it. I will continue to do my breakdowns, they are a great joy of my life. Where? For whom? I don’t know. I’m hoping those answers reveal themselves soon. There is no one more passionate than me, no one more driven, no one who will work harder on their craft.

My name is Robin Black and i analyze fights and do Colour Commentary on The Art of Combat. For whom?
I’ve got my phone in my hand. I’ll let you know when it rings.
To be continued…”

 

Woah, heavy stuff. But to be honest Robin Black is well known and has worked with damn near every professional in the sport, so we’re sure he’ll find a home soon. If not, just go rogue, in the age of the internet do you really need a boss to make money? In the words of Joe Rogan “Dude…you should start a podcast…”

Surprising as it may seem, not everybody took this news hard. Some people were even happy to see the former Robin Black and the Intergalactic rock band member go. Many MMA fans found his breakdowns a bit too ephemeral, stating he used a lot of lofty words to say a whole lot of nothing. I mean how dare the man refer to mix martial art as…art?

I for one am a fan of anyone who is passionate about the sport. In a Meryl Streep world – outsiders see MMA as just violence – it’s refreshing to see someone who appreciates it as an artform. A never ending personal journey that’s inner just as much as outer. Sure, he can be a bit long winded, but if he gets his rocks off by giving us a great breakdown, then so be it. Let the man have his fun.

Even from an economic standpoint he was good money. Many of his picks lined my pockets for many Sunday brunches. Mimosas anyone? All kidding aside,  the man could predict a fight, and will be missed.

Whether you found him cringe worthy or dy-no-mite, he was part of the close knit MMA family. I still consider this a niche sport so anyone with the knowledge and the passion to give the people what they need is okay in my book.

What really scares me is not so much the firing itself as to what it may imply. Is MMA doing that badly as a sport that major players such as the UFC and Fight Network have to conduct major overhauls? Have the best days of UFC come and gone? Although I don’t believe this to be true, it is food for thought. Could big money fights and short sighted gains be coming back to bite us in the tuckus?

Hit us up on in the comments section below and tell us what you think of the recent firings.

 

Lionel Harris-Spence is a writer, filmmaker, and functioning alcoholic. You can catch him screaming obscenities at flat screens on fight night.

The post Robin Black Let Go By Canadian Media Outlet Fight Network, What Gives? appeared first on Cagepotato.

Five Reasons Dennis Siver Is Fighting Conor McGregor at UFC Fight Night 59


(Dennis is the guy on the right. Poster-‘shop via Jeremy Botter)

By Mike Fagan

The UFC hasn’t been subtle about fast-tracking Conor McGregor for a shot at Jose Aldo’s featherweight title, so it surprised many people when they booked the young Irishman to fight Dennis Siver at UFC Fight Night 59, this Sunday in Boston. Why not a highly-ranked wrestler like Chad Mendes, Frankie Edgar, or Ricardo Lamas? The crack research team at Cage Potato dug into the data and may have figured out how the UFC came to its decision…

1. Siver is familiar with Brazilian jiu-jitsu


(Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Dennis Siver made his UFC debut at UFC 70, and Mike Goldberg noted that Siver was “a German kickboxing champ” who had “defeated ten of thirteen opponents.” That’s a great record! The UFC matched him with Jess Liaudin, who was also making his promotional debut and had accumulated a 12-8 pro MMA record. Above .500! Also pretty good! Siver took down Liaudin early on, and Goldberg remarked that Siver had a lot of jiu-jitsu training. That training came in handy when he was cognizant enough to tap out to Liaudin’s armbar from guard at 1:21 of the first. People can criticize McGregor for not having fought a wrestler, but they won’t be able to say the same of a jiu-jitsu player after Sunday.

2. Siver is a model of German efficiency


(Dennis is the guy on the right. Poster-’shop via Jeremy Botter)

By Mike Fagan

The UFC hasn’t been subtle about fast-tracking Conor McGregor for a shot at Jose Aldo’s featherweight title, so it surprised many people when they booked the young Irishman to fight Dennis Siver at UFC Fight Night 59, this Sunday in Boston. Why not a highly-ranked wrestler like Chad Mendes, Frankie Edgar, or Ricardo Lamas? The crack research team at Cage Potato dug into the data and may have figured out how the UFC came to its decision…

1. Siver is familiar with Brazilian jiu-jitsu


(Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Dennis Siver made his UFC debut at UFC 70, and Mike Goldberg noted that Siver was “a German kickboxing champ” who had “defeated ten of thirteen opponents.” That’s a great record! The UFC matched him with Jess Liaudin, who was also making his promotional debut and had accumulated a 12-8 pro MMA record. Above .500! Also pretty good! Siver took down Liaudin early on, and Goldberg remarked that Siver had a lot of jiu-jitsu training. That training came in handy when he was cognizant enough to tap out to Liaudin’s armbar from guard at 1:21 of the first. People can criticize McGregor for not having fought a wrestler, but they won’t be able to say the same of a jiu-jitsu player after Sunday.

2. Siver is a model of German efficiency


(Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

After the Liaudin fight, Siver dropped down to lightweight and split a pair of fights. He then fought Melvin Guillard, who was returning to the UFC after one fight outside the organization. Guillard knocked Siver down right off the bat with two overhand rights. Siver attempted an armbar — he had a lot of jiu-jitsu training, remember — but Guillard snuck out. Siver bravely got back to his feet before Guillard landed a right hand that stiffened his legs and another right hand that put him back on the mat. Herb Dean officially stepped in at 36 seconds of the first round. Siver went 0 for 1 in strikes, and it doesn’t get any more efficient than that.

3. Siver is an artist in the cage


(Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Siver came into this bout on a four-fight winning streak, the longest of his UFC career. As he entered the arena to Papa Roach’s “Last Resort,” Goldberg mentioned that Siver “is truly the possessor of the most dangerous spinning back kick in the UFC today, but Dennis Siver is a lot more than a spinning back kick.” Cerrone must have known this too, because he didn’t allow Siver to unleash even one. Cerrone followed up an inside leg kick with a high kick that caught Siver flush, sending him Fedor-Fujita fish-flopping. (Fedor’s a great comparison for Siver, because they were both born in Russia and they’re both great fighters.) Siver clinched and recovered, but a Cerrone right hand sent him rolling around on the mat like Lesnar-Overeem. (Brock Lesnar’s another great comparison for Siver since Siver looks like a miniature Lesnar and, of course, they’re both great fighters.) Cerrone locked up a rear-naked choke, and even Goethe would have admired Siver’s irony. Suffocation, no breathing.

4. Siver raised his stock against Manny Gamburyan


(Photo by Donald Miralle/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Siver needed a bounceback after being finished by Cub Swanson, and he got it against Manny Gamburyan at UFC 168. Unfortunately, the Nevada commission found hCG in Siver’s system. This hormone is often naturally produced during pregnancy or by some cancerous tumors. The NSAC decided the Gamburyan fight never happened (though I assure you it did), fined him nearly $20,000, and suspended him for nine months, despite never following up on whether was pregnant and/or had cancer. The silver lining, though, is that these events helped raise Siver’s profile higher than ever before, putting him in position for the McGregor fight.

5. Siver is comfortable under pressure


(Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Sunday will mark Siver’s first time in a main event, and he’s even stated that it’s the biggest fight of his career. You might worry that the heavy promotion and stature of the fight will play a role in Siver’s psyche, but you needn’t worry. Siver is coming off a victory over undefeated American wrecking machine Charles Rosa (Wikipedia page under construction) that saw him overcome the pressure of fighting on the prelim portion of a Fight Pass event in Sweden. A man who has dealt with the hostile politeness of a nonpartisan Swedish mob will not be phased by the six-degrees-of-Irish-heritage Boston crowd.

UFC Fight Pass Adds Pancrase and Seven Other Promotions, Still Kind of Sucks As a Digital Service

(“What was your question? Are we looking to buy the entire Internet? I mean, yeah, we’ll see what happens.”/Photo via Getty)
UFC’s digital subscription service, Fight Pass, has its fair share of pros and cons. The cost isn’t all that damaging to the wallet, but it’s not exactly the game-changer promotion officials thought it would be.

Without knowing too much about subscriber info and profits, the network allows you to watch free UFC cards, including FOX Sports 1 events, preliminary fights, and exclusive Fight Pass broadcasts that usually take place outside of North America. It also has an extensive UFC library, containing an abundance of full main cards from UFC, Pride, WEC, EliteXC, and those two Affliction MMA cards that were surprisingly fun.

(“What was your question? Are we looking to buy the entire Internet? I mean, yeah, we’ll see what happens.”/ Photo via Getty)

UFC’s digital subscription service, Fight Pass, has its fair share of pros and cons. The cost isn’t all that damaging to the wallet, but it’s not exactly the game-changer that promotion officials thought it would be.

The network allows you to watch free UFC cards, including FOX Sports 1 events, preliminary fights, and exclusive Fight Pass broadcasts that usually take place outside of North America. It also carries an extensive UFC library, containing an abundance of full main cards from UFC, as well as Pride, WEC, EliteXC, and those two Affliction MMA cards that were surprisingly fun, among others.

After reports surfaced that hackers stole login info and credit card numbers from tens of thousands of subscribers late last month (which confirms that early security concerns were never fully addressed), fight fans were met with a better announcement, as Zuffa announced hours before UFC 182 it has acquired eight fight libraries from well-known international and regional promotions, including legendary Japanese outfit Pancrase, as well as King of The Cage, HookNShoot, TKO, Cage Rage, Extreme Challenge, UCMMA, and XFO.

UFC Chief Content Officer Marshall Zelaznik announced the news in a press conference on Saturday, revealing that over 13,000 individual bouts are slated to be added to Fight Pass this upcoming spring. The content comes from the brain of UFC matchmaker Joe Silva, who apparently made his own list of what promotions he wanted to see on the digital service (according to MMA Fighting).
After news broke that hackers stole login info and credit card numbers from tens of thousands of subscribers a few days ago (which really speaks volumes about the lack of security), fight fans were met with a better announcement, as Zuffa announced hours before UFC 182 it has acquired eight fight libraries from renown and regional promotions, including legendary Japanese promotion Pancrase (complete library), King of The Cage, HookNShoot, TKO, Cage Rage, Extreme Challenge, Ultimate Challenge MMA (UCMMA), and XFO.

But there’s still a lot to complain about, after the jump:


(“What was your question? Are we looking to buy the entire Internet? I mean, yeah, we’ll see what happens.”/ Photo via Getty)

UFC’s digital subscription service, Fight Pass, has its fair share of pros and cons. The cost isn’t all that damaging to the wallet, but it’s not exactly the game-changer that promotion officials thought it would be.

The network allows you to watch free UFC cards, including FOX Sports 1 events, preliminary fights, and exclusive Fight Pass broadcasts that usually take place outside of North America. It also carries an extensive UFC library, containing an abundance of full main cards from UFC, as well as Pride, WEC, EliteXC, and those two Affliction MMA cards that were surprisingly fun, among others.

After reports surfaced that hackers stole login info and credit card numbers from tens of thousands of subscribers late last month (which confirms that early security concerns were never fully addressed), fight fans were met with a better announcement, as Zuffa announced hours before UFC 182 it has acquired eight fight libraries from well-known international and regional promotions, including legendary Japanese outfit Pancrase, as well as King of The Cage, HookNShoot, TKO, Cage Rage, Extreme Challenge, UCMMA, and XFO.

UFC Chief Content Officer Marshall Zelaznik announced the news in a press conference on Saturday, revealing that over 13,000 individual bouts are slated to be added to Fight Pass this upcoming spring. The content comes from the brain of UFC matchmaker Joe Silva, who apparently made his own list of what promotions he wanted to see on the digital service (according to MMA Fighting).

Now, the Pancrase library certainly gets us giddy, seeing that their current events are pretty difficult to find, without the availability to download those events after they take place. The rest is a nice treat, yet we’re still holding out for Yamma and Rhode Island Vale Tudo. With that said, Fight Pass is starting to shape up as definitive library of MMA fights from the most important promotions, and it’s apparently still growing.

This comes not too long after UFC’s inclusion of Invicta FC events, providing streaming of live events and past showcases from the leading all-female MMA promotion. We could really do without exclusive shows like The Ultimate Fighter: Whatever Country We’re In and MMA Mindset, but variety is never a bad thing.

On the other hand, this also means a boatload of free content will likely be pulled from YouTube and other free streaming sites. Zuffa legal teams will be out in full force and prohibiting fans from watching some old Bas Rutten and Frank Shamrock Pancrase fights because they now own that material.

In spite of that, it still feels like Fight Pass is “under construction,” since the search tool is fairly problematic; you’d think the service could at least rank the bouts you’re looking for in chronological order. It’s also incredibly glitchy, with a lot of complaints about getting bounced out of a live broadcast, only to have to sign back in. There are rewind functions, but it’s kind of annoying to be asked to log in again after the site freezes and have to reenter your password during the critical moments of a fight.

Also, for those that think pro wrestling isn’t direct competition to MMA, think again. Fight Pass was overshadowed by the WWE Network days after its launch, which isn’t doing so good itself, according to pundits. The reason WWE stole the glory was their inclusion of the 12 PPV events they put on a year (including WrestleMania, Royal Rumble, and Survivor Series), not to mention countless hours of WCW and ECW footage. By comparison, the UFC didn’t even have their complete fight library posted at first (nor did they have as much Pride material, which is sort of a deal-breaker if you’re going to monopolize the online MMA world). For what it’s worth, Japan’s top wrestling promotion, New Japan Pro Wrestling, launched its own digital network a few weeks ago, called NJPW World. The cost is similar, and since Puroresu is rising in North America, it’s a lot more compelling to watch old Antonio Inoki contests from decades ago, instead of an Ultimate Bigfoot Silva collection.

If that’s not enough, there’s no indication the new additions will help generate more subscribers. It’s a nice bonus for the MMA diehards who are already staying up all night to watch international UFC cards on the Internet, but is it a true selling point for those who are still on the fence? If the UFC was willing to take a little bit of a pay cut to include a couple of PPV events on the network, then the service would be a must for your typical UFC enthusiast. But apparently, PPV isn’t dead, despite more and more people cancelling their cable subscriptions in favor of laptops and HDMI wires.

Oh, and one other thing … word on the streets is that UFC had geoblocked the prelims for Canadian fans this past weekend, presumably in attempt to get Canucks to sign up for specialty channels like The Fight Network. Stemming from the new deal UFC signed for their Canadian broadcasts, this would absolutely suck if you had to pay extra to watch a handful of prelim bouts that you used to watch for free when the UFC was on Sportsnet.

I’d like to think all these issues will be resolved this year, but pessimism is one of my favorite pastimes.

Alex G.

#TheTimeIsNow — But Only Because of Jon Jones


(Photo via Getty)

By Matt Saccaro

MMA reached its zenith at UFC 182 on Saturday, but if you looked at and listened to the crowd throughout the night you’d have hardly recognized that.

The audience was sparse and half-dead. They’d have done a wave to entertain themselves if the first four fights of the PPV — four decisions featuring unimpressive and sluggish performances — hadn’t already put them to sleep. An incessant stream of “this event sucks” tweets rolled in. This script has played itself out in the past. A card that’s supposed to be the pinnacle of the sport turns out to be a boring, uninteresting, overhyped amalgam of everything wrong with it, only this time we spent an extra $5. It appeared the poor showings, as well as the restless (and partially absent) audience would ruin one of the most anticipated UFC cards in recent memory.

Then Jon Jones fought Daniel Cormier.


(Photo via Getty)

By Matt Saccaro

MMA reached its zenith at UFC 182 on Saturday, but if you looked at and listened to the crowd throughout the night you’d have hardly recognized that.

The audience was sparse and half-dead. They’d have done a wave to entertain themselves if the first four fights of the PPV — four decisions featuring unimpressive and sluggish performances — hadn’t already put them to sleep. An incessant stream of “this event sucks” tweets rolled in. This script has played itself out in the past. A card that’s supposed to be the pinnacle of the sport turns out to be a boring, uninteresting, overhyped amalgam of everything wrong with it, only this time we spent an extra $5. It appeared the poor showings, as well as the restless (and partially absent) audience would ruin one of the most anticipated UFC cards in recent memory.

Then Jon Jones fought Daniel Cormier.

“Domination” and “breaking your opponent” are cliched phrases in MMA, but when fans and pundits originally coined them they had performances like Jon Jones’ in mind. Not only did Jones beat Cormier, he beat Cormier at what he was best at — wrestling…and he made it look easy. Jon Jones took an Olympic wrestler to the mat multiple times just for kicks, broke his will in the later rounds through the same fabled “grind” Cormier was supposed to be the master of, and made him cry at the post-fight press conference.

The in-cage martial artistry isn’t even the best part. That came after the phantasmagoric displays of violence. Jones taunted a dejected Cormier with a “crotch chop” circa late 1990′s WWE. When Joe Rogan conducted a rushed (the PPV was about to hit the end of the allotted time) interview with Jones, the reigning light heavyweight champ chided Cormier’s supporters by telling them to burn their “Break Bones” t-shirts and buy his “Unbroken” t-shirt. Already guffawing (or seething, depending on your alignment) at these antics? There’s MORE. In the post-fight show on Fox Sports 1, Jones continued to bash his defeated foe.

“I hope he’s somewhere crying right now,” Jones said. “I’m sure he is.” He continued on, saying Cormier is the kind of fighter who breaks when fights get tough. Jones also said Cormier is no king of the grind like people thought.

When asked about a possible reconciliation, Jones refused to let up on his verbal onslaught.

“I know if he would have won, he would have been up here, talking all types of trash,” Jones told MMAJunkie. “So I don’t feel sorry for him. This is combat.”

The hashtag #TheTimeIsNow became the butt end of many jokes on MMA Twitter during the last few weeks. The UFC used the hashtag to promote their embarrassing “omg big announcement” press conference where they announced they had no big announcement. People used #TheTimeIsNow to mock the UFC’s recent legal troubles as well as the grim state of their PPV business.

But despite all that has gone wrong — and all that’s still currently going wrong — the UFC was right. The time is now. Not because of CM Punk‘s entry in to the UFC. Not because of the upgrades to Fight Pass. Not because of the complete 2015 schedule. Not because of Brock Lesnar’s rumored return.

The time is now because of Jon Jones.

Jon Jones is the best MMA fighter that any of us will ever see in our lifetimes. You can claim Fedor Emelianenko was the GOAT while clutching your Pride VHS collection, but you’d be wrong. Jon Jones is capable of violence and technique on a level we’ve never seen before, nor will we likely ever see again if MMA continues its current descent in popularity.

In addition to his fighting acumen, Jon Jones posses more personality and emotional magnetism than all the other UFC champions combined. Remember how MMA erupted when Ronda Rousey didn’t shake Miesha Tate’s hand after submitting her at UFC 168? What Jones did to Cormier after UFC 182 makes that look like a bro hug by comparison.

The best part is it’s not a gimmick. Jon Jones doesn’t caricature over-the-top professional wrestling promos from yesteryear. Jon Jones doesn’t exclaim that fighters from less fortunate countries mistake public transit for barnyard animals. Jon Jones breaks people. Jon Jones chokes people out and drops them on the canvas, limp and limbs quivering. Jon Jones makes people cry, then says he’s glad about it. Jon Jones is unabashedly himself. A large percentage of fans hate him for it — just look at the comments on any Jones-related article to see that. Hell, someone even tweeted to CagePotato last night saying they hope somebody shoots Jones. But despite the hate, they pay to see him. Estimates already state UFC 182 achieved over 750k buys. In an age where fighters who draw 400k are considered the company’s top stars, this is almost a miracle.

The time for watching the best MMA fighter of all time and the UFC’s current biggest star is right now. Jones is the light in the current dark age of MMA. Every second of watching Jon Jones display his craft is a gift from a Lovecraftian god of violence. Cherish this gift, even if you don’t like Jones as a person.

CagePotato.com Presents: The 2014 Potato Awards


(We tried to give the Potato Awards a classier vibe this year. We failed.)

By the CagePotato Staff

Look, you already know how we feel about MMA awards ceremonies: They’re meaningless exercises tainted by personal bias and stupidity, in equal measures. The only thing that makes the Potato Awards different is that we’re completely honest about the fact that our awards are biased and stupid. But it’s the end of the year, and we have to acknowledge that somehow, right?

Putting together this year’s Potato Awards list was a harrowing experience. Honestly, 2014 was an awful year for mixed martial arts. It was the year that the UFC’s pay-per-view business tanked due to injured stars and general disinterest among fans — what else is new, amirite? — while competing promotions stooped to terrifying depths in order to get your attention. (Not that the UFC didn’t do some of that, too.) 2014 answered the question “Could the UFC survive an entire year without Anderson Silva and GSP?”, and that answer was “yes, but just barely.” It was also a year in which domestic violence incidents involving MMA fighters became a tragic recurring theme (see: War Machine, Thiago Silva, Josh Grispi, Anthony Johnson, Michael Johnson).

But years from now, we may look back at 2014 as an important turning point, thanks to some major developments that took place near the end of the year. Notably, the UFC’s Reebok uniform deal is poised to transform the sponsorship landscape, while the Le/Quarry/Fitch class-action lawsuit and the related suits that came out in its wake could drag out some long-hidden truths about the UFC’s finances. We don’t yet know if these developments will turn out to be good or bad overall, but MMA could be a lot more interesting in 2015.

As we enter a new year, let’s look back at the past 12 months that got us here — the highs, the lows, and the moments that were so “WTF?!” that they defy all judgment. Use the page links below to peruse our mostly-chronological list of 38 award categories, and thanks so much for sticking with CagePotato for another year.

Page 1: Comeback Fight of the Year, The Steve Nelmark Memorial “Is He Dead?” Award, MMA Screen-Caps of the Year, “Just Bleed” MMA Superfan of the Year Award

Page 2: Worst Performance in a Drug Test, The Cecil Peoples Shittiest Decision of the Year Award, Worst Event of the Year, Sponsor of the Year

Page 3: Submission of the Year, MMA GIF of the Year, Worst Fight of the Year, Most Embarrassing Knockout of the Year

Page 4: Greatest Unsanctioned Fight of the Year, Catchphrase of the Year, The Krazy Horse Bennett Arrest of the Year Award, Greatest Fight Canceled Due to Injury, Best Reference to Medieval Europe in MMA

Page 5: Knockout of the Year, Photo of the Year, Media Shill of the Year, Most Awkward Interview, Most Satisfying Beatdown

Page 6: The Gilbert Yvel Award for Outstanding Creativity in a Cheating Performance, Greatest Hype Inflation, Best Use of Social Media, Best MMA Personality Appearance in a Non-MMA Setting

Page 7: Most Bizarre News Story of the Year, The “Really? You’re Just Gonna Keep Doing That Shit That Gets You in All That Trouble?” Award a.k.a. “The Koppenhaver”, Best Event of the Year, The Minowaman Freak Show Hall of Fame Award

Page 8: Gnarliest Injury of the Year, Greatest Failed Propaganda of The Year, Worst Use of Social Media, MMA Fail of the Year

Page 9: Most Terrifying Game-Changer, Fight of the Year, “WTF?” Moment of the Year, Promotion of the Year


(We tried to give the Potato Awards a classier vibe this year. We failed.)

By the CagePotato Staff

Look, you already know how we feel about MMA awards ceremonies: They’re meaningless exercises tainted by personal bias and stupidity, in equal measures. The only thing that makes the Potato Awards different is that we’re completely honest about the fact that our awards are biased and stupid. But it’s the end of the year, and we have to acknowledge that somehow, right?

Putting together this year’s Potato Awards list was a harrowing experience. Honestly, 2014 was an awful year for mixed martial arts. It was the year that the UFC’s pay-per-view business tanked due to injured stars and general disinterest among fans — what else is new, amirite? — while competing promotions stooped to terrifying depths in order to get your attention. (Not that the UFC didn’t do some of that, too.) 2014 answered the question “Can the UFC survive an entire year without Anderson Silva and GSP?”, and that answer was “yes, but just barely.” It was also a year in which domestic violence incidents involving MMA fighters became a tragic recurring theme (see: War Machine, Thiago Silva, Josh Grispi, Anthony Johnson, Michael Johnson).

But years from now, we may look back at 2014 as an important turning point, thanks to some major developments that took place near the end of the year. Notably, the UFC’s Reebok uniform deal is poised to transform the sponsorship landscape, while the Le/Quarry/Fitch class-action lawsuit and the related suits that came out in its wake could drag out some long-hidden truths about the UFC’s finances. We don’t yet know if these developments will turn out to be positive or negative overall, but MMA could be a lot more interesting in 2015.

As we enter a new year, let’s look back at the past 12 months that got us here — the highs, the lows, and the moments that were so “WTF?!” that they defy all judgment. Use the page links below to peruse our mostly-chronological list of 38 award categories, and thanks so much for sticking with CagePotato for another year.

Page 1: Comeback Fight of the Year, The Steve Nelmark Memorial “Is He Dead?” Award, MMA Screen-Caps of the Year, “Just Bleed” MMA Superfan of the Year Award

Page 2: Worst Performance in a Drug Test, The Cecil Peoples Shittiest Decision of the Year Award, Worst Event of the Year, Sponsor of the Year

Page 3: Submission of the Year, MMA GIF of the Year, Worst Fight of the Year, Most Embarrassing Knockout of the Year

Page 4: Greatest Unsanctioned Fight of the Year, Catchphrase of the Year, The Krazy Horse Bennett Arrest of the Year Award, Greatest Fight Canceled Due to Injury, Best Reference to Medieval Europe in MMA

Page 5: Knockout of the Year, Photo of the Year, Media Shill of the Year, Most Awkward Interview, Most Satisfying Beatdown

Page 6: The Gilbert Yvel Award for Outstanding Creativity in a Cheating Performance, Greatest Hype Inflation, Best Use of Social Media, Best MMA Personality Appearance in a Non-MMA Setting

Page 7: Most Bizarre News Story of the Year, The “Really? You’re Just Gonna Keep Doing That Shit That Gets You in All That Trouble?” Award a.k.a. “The Koppenhaver”, Best Event of the Year, The Minowaman Freak Show Hall of Fame Award

Page 8: Gnarliest Injury of the Year, Greatest Failed Propaganda of The Year, Worst Use of Social Media, MMA Fail of the Year

Page 9: Most Terrifying Game-Changer, Fight of the Year, “WTF?” Moment of the Year, Promotion of the Year

Comeback Fight of the Year: Dan Henderson vs. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua 2 at UFC Fight Night 38 (3/23/14)


(Photo via Getty)

Three words: HENDO. VERSUS. CORMIER. (I jest, but Hendo was involved.)

Despite the fact that their first encounter resulted in one of the greatest fights in UFC, nay, MMA history, there weren’t many of us who were chomping at the bit for a Dan Henderson vs. Mauricio Rua rematch when it was announced for Fight Night 38. Like Dumb and Dumber To, the bar had simply been set too high by the original for a sequel to ever live up to it, so fans approached the matchup with an overwhelming “meh.”

And through the first two rounds of the fight, our apathy seemed rightfully placed. Henderson looked every bit the 44 year-old fading legend that he was, getting flash KO’d by the 33 year-old Rua (who himself is approximately 85 in fight years) on no less than three separate occasions. We were watching a man’s career come to an end in real time, or so we thought, and the best thing that Henderson could do would be to just stay the f*ck down already and go out with some dignity.

But there’s a reason Dan Henderson is, well, Dan Henderson, and the rest of us are Lewis Skolnick in comparison. It’s called the H-Bomb — a fabled right hand that was bestowed upon Hendo by Thor himself according to the ancient texts — and it essentially acts as a failsafe should Henderson ever find his back against a wall. It is the great equalizer, and roughly one and a half minutes into the third round, Henderson used it to equalize Shogun’s nose into a million pieces.

It was an absolutely insane comeback for Henderson, a lightning strike TKO that snapped an unprecedented three-fight skid and earned him unanimous praise from fans, fighters, and critics alike.

“Dan Henderson has just surpassed John Wayne, Chuck Norris, and Tom Selleck as the most American man in history.” – Tim Kennedy

“What a fight! Tune into UFC on FOX for my objective analysis!” – Ariel Helwani

“A punch so powerful that it made my jaw hurt. My jaw.” – Roger Ebert from beyond the grave

In short, never count Dan Henderson out. Unless he’s fighting Daniel Cormier.

Jared Jones

Honorable mentions: Abel Trujillo vs. Jamie Varner, Matt Brown vs. Erick Silva

The Steve Nelmark Memorial “Is He Dead?” Award: Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Roy Nelson at UFC Fight Night 39 (4/11/14)

I would say that watching Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Roy Nelson was like spotting a car accident moments before it was about to happen, but that doesn’t quite do it justice. Because even if you happen to…er…happen upon the scenario I just mentioned, chances are that you only get a few second buffer before everything gets all-

Really, Nog vs. Nelson was more like watching a Paranormal Activity movie. You walked into it with a stomach-turning sense of trepidation, and knew from the moment that the opening credits rolled rolling that something terrible was going to happen to at least of the people on screen. From there, it was just an endurance test — an agonizing, dread-filled slog toward death where everything is silent and time seems to stand still.

Roy Nelson is called “Big Country” for a multitude of reasons, the least of which being that he has never been considered the fastest man at 265 lbs. But compared to Nogueira — who appeared to have dipped his gloves and legs in concrete before stepping into the Octagon that night — Nelson was nothing short of Usain Bolt with a beer gut. For three and a half excruciating minutes, we were forced to watch a PRIDE legend and former interim champion serve as target practice to an IFL champion and TUF winner, until it inevitably happened.

Us Nogueira fans have witnessed some heartbreaking moments in recent years — the Velasquez fight, the Mir fights, the Werdum fight — but nothing quite compares to the night our hero was mummified by Rubeus Hagrid. And while it’s true that Big Nog may not have actually died that night, I sure as hell did. On the inside.

Jared Jones

Honorable mentions: The drooling tornado kick victim, Raquel Pennington drops Ashlee Evans-Smith’s broken corpse on the public square for all to see, Melvin Manhoef goes out on his sword (again) vs. Joe Schilling

MMA Screen-Caps of the Year: Gabi Garcia on TUF Brazil



Jesus Christ, take that thing back to Baltimore. By the time this surreal moment aired on TUF Brazil 3, BJJ champion Gabi Garcia had already failed a drug test for Clomiphene, confirming our suspicions that her 24-inch pythons were earned with a little hormonal help. A month later, Wanderlei Silva was surprised with a random drug test of his own and responded by fleeing out of the side door of his gym; as a result, he caught a lifetime ban from the NSAC. But here they are on the set of a reality show, having a conversation about drive, determination, and being a role model to women. And meanwhile, Gabi looks like she could crush an apple in either one of her hands. So yeah, it was a little ironic in retrospect.

Honorable mentions: Chris Nelson‘s incredible ongoing tribute to MMA faces; this classic, which has been our Facebook header image since August; the one they call Berz Dog

Ben Goldstein

“Just Bleed” MMA Superfan of the Year Award: Chuck Liddell Costume Guy (5/10/14)

It’s easy to be cynical about MMA. And it would be easy to be cynical about a guy who dresses up in a Chuck Liddell costume in an attempt to get on TV and meet Dana White and a bunch of fighters.

But look at that thing. It’s marvelous. And he times his Chuck Liddell victory pose perfectly with the crane camera that’s flying through.

Yeah, Greg Insco seems like a bit of a goober who sends the same photo to Jeff Probst and Mark Burnett over and over, but for one night he made MMA fun for a lot of people. You keep doing you, Greg.

Mike Fagan

Honorable mention: Drunk dancing doofus at UFC Halifax

Brock Lesnar Is Probably Coming Back to the UFC (But It Doesn’t Matter. Here’s Why)


(Brock Lesnar flashes a rare smile after being informed he’s the highest-paid 5-3 fighter of all time. / Photo via Getty)

By Matt Saccaro

Brock Lesnar will likely return to the UFC in 2015, but it won’t usher in a new golden age for MMA.

The news of Lesnar’s UFC return came recently. Dave Meltzer’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter reported that “within the [WWE], the belief is that he’s going back to the UFC, and his showing up lighter to TV last week confirmed that to people who thought it.”

Earlier this year, UFC President Dana White expressed openness to a Lesnar return, and even claimed Lesnar was willing to return. “We have a great relationship with him,” said White. “We’ll see what happens.”

Furthermore, Lesnar’s longtime friend Paul Heyman noted this summer that Lesnar still has an intense drive to compete in the Octagon.

Unlike every other time Brock Lesnar’s name has been in the headlines over the last few years, this round of “Is Lesnar coming back” speculation isn’t a gimmick to drive up pageviews during a slow news week. This appears to be the real deal. Lesnar is coming back. However, unlike conventional wisdom would have you believe, it won’t do a damn thing to turn the UFC’s fortunes around.


(Brock Lesnar flashes a rare smile after being informed he’s the highest-paid 5-3 fighter of all time. / Photo via Getty)

By Matt Saccaro

Brock Lesnar will likely return to the UFC in 2015, but it won’t usher in a new golden age for MMA.

The news of Lesnar’s UFC return came recently. Dave Meltzer’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter reported that “within the [WWE], the belief is that he’s going back to the UFC, and his showing up lighter to TV last week confirmed that to people who thought it.”

Earlier this year, UFC President Dana White expressed openness to a Lesnar return, and even claimed Lesnar was willing to return. “We have a great relationship with him,” said White. “We’ll see what happens.”

Furthermore, Lesnar’s longtime friend Paul Heyman noted this summer that Lesnar still has an intense drive to compete in the Octagon.

Unlike every other time Brock Lesnar’s name has been in the headlines over the last few years, this round of “Is Lesnar coming back” speculation isn’t a gimmick to drive up pageviews during a slow news week. This appears to be the real deal. Lesnar is coming back. However, unlike conventional wisdom would have you believe, it won’t do a damn thing to turn the UFC’s fortunes around.

The UFC’s PPV buys plummeted throughout 2014, hitting an estimated low of 115,000 for UFC 174. The 2014 yearly average for PPV buys was only 256,000 — about 200,000 lower than the previous three years. The UFC’s business soured so much Standard & Poor’s downgraded Zuffa’s credit rating and financial outlook.

MMA fans have problems interpreting numbers, so let me spell it out plainly: The UFC’s domestic popularity hasn’t been this low since before the Ultimate Fighter boom. The PPV market is collapsing. The FOX deal is not the UFC’s catapult to mainstream super-stardom we all thought it would be. Casual fans have fled MMA, only to return sparingly for free television shows and almost never for PPVs. The resolve of hardcore fans, tasked with keeping the sport alive during its dark times, is withering. These problems are a result of Zuffa’s oversaturation approach as well as the fading/retirement of old stars. I’ve discussed both these problems numerous times so I won’t repeat myself suffice it to say one man can’t fix the MMA marketplace in the United States.

Brock Lesnar last fought at UFC 141 in 2011 against Alistair Overeem. Care to guess the buyrate? A mediocre 535,000. UFC 91 in 2008 — the first event Lesnar headlined, this time against Randy Couture for the UFC heavyweight title — drew 1,010,000 buys.

Only half as many people cared to see Lesnar in 2011 compared to 2009. So how many people will care in 2015, four years and thousands of brand-killing, generic, unfit-for-television-and-PPV fights (that still made it onto television and PPV) later? Furthermore, Lesnar is 37 now. The last memories people have of him in the cage are Alistair Overeem liquefying his intestines with a body kick and Cain Velasquez punching him so hard he did a hilarious pirouette across the cage. Even if the UFC matches Lesnar up against the Brendan Schaubs of the heavyweight division, it’s not likely given Lesnar’s age that his second UFC run will be longer than his first.

Think about it this way, MMA is in such a state that if Lesnar’s first PPV back draws 500k buys it’ll be a tremendous success. Four plus years ago that same number would’ve been an abject failure for someone of Lesnar’s name value.

Brock Lesnar’s return is not the salvation of MMA. It’s not the restoration of MMA’s golden age. It’s Zuffa throwing two or three fight’s worth of kindling onto a dying fire — LIVE for $59.99.