The boss man, the overseer, administration, Super Nintendo Chalmers.
Pretty sure we’ve all had one. Even if you are as disco as the Tarnoff-Sherman Mothership Connection, at one point you probably had a paper route or washed dishes (not Andy or Jeff, though; they materialized with this site and will vape away when their mission is complete), and if you didn’t … well, frankly you haven’t lived.
The very tumultuous relationship between labor and management ebbs and flows. The economy, technology and shifts in general culture can all play a role in how we communicate with the boss. More often than not, though, the communication we remember is that which left us the saltiest.
Look, we can’t all have a boss like Hal Lindon’s portrayal of Barney Miller (who happens to simultaneously smash the stereotypes that cops and bosses can’t be cool), and truth be told even he had to deal with the Inspector Luger.
I like to try and balance my affinity toward taking care of my personal interests while also giving a hearty nod to the larger community. Therefore, in a very Pollyannaish way, I do my best to negotiate and understand both valuable sides of this oft-confusing free market capitalist equation.
I was but a wee sprout when in 1975 Marvin Miller commie’d Major League Baseball’s reserve clause from under ownership’s immoral grasp of their workforce. And although many a fan decried the loss of local control, labor in that sport became astonishingly rich, while ownership’s pockets got fatter and team values rose to NASA-like budgets.
Speaking of NASA-like budgets: According to the Google machine, NASA’s 2015 budget was an even $18 billion. A year later, the Ultimate Fighting Championship sold for an even $4 billion, and labor is irate.
For sports journalists that bemoan the fact that they aren’t able to dig into meaningful, life changing, investigative stories identifiable to the everyman, you are missing a massive opportunity. The acrimony and animosity between UFC fighters and ownership is at a tinder-box, gasoline flame-throwing level that is just begging for mainstream coverage. Conversations and accusations or being hurled furiously with the ear-shot intention of a Mariner-era Randy Johnson inside fastball.
Compared to the public battle between Dana White and his roster of fighters, Roger Goodell is providing individual rubdowns to each and every NFL rookie … gently.
The facts are certainly constant and hard to deny. WME-IMG bought the UFC at its peak. Fast forward one year later and the company is having one of its worst years in terms of PPV sales, so the idea of saving cash and repaying debt seems logical in the short term.
But previous ownership will tell you: Do not get into the fight game with short term intentions. Promoting and building fights that excite the public is an extended process. And it’s hard to get the public to salivate over your product (see $60 ppv’s) if you’re constantly low profiling your current fighters in the media.
I get that fighters get in to the game with a very transparent visibility of what their chances are. And certain fighters have done a phenomenal job of figuring out how to market themselves and grow within the business. But, there’s no surprise as to why McGregor continues his quest toward boxing and why MOST 200lbs plus males elect to play football or basketball in our country. It’s a quicker and easier path to the bank.
But the complainers in question have now reached cream-of-the-crop status. A few names to consider as we move forward: Mark Hunt, Cristiane "Cyborg" Justino, Al Iaquinta, the entire middle weight division, the Diaz brothers. All with relevant complaints that run the gamut. Drug testing, weight mismanagement, medical coverage, meritocracy and downright dereliction of common sense promotion. Each with their own unique problems and solutions.
Up until this point the common response from management was that either:
a). The UFC simply doesn’t make the money you all think it does.
b). Fighter "A" simply isn’t as good as he/she thinks they are.
With $4 billion in the bank, the latter has now become the go-to narrative.
But, let me ask a question then. As a consumer, why should I buy this Pay-Per-View? Why should I invest in this athlete if they are not "that good?"
The promotion tells me that fighter "A" doesn’t "move the needle." OK, I’ll bite. Watch my needle unmoved.
I understand that everything is a negotiation in this world, but can you imagine Adam Silver coming out against one of their biggest star’s talents? It wouldn’t make sense.
And an even greater worry. Step aside from the present and look toward the future. Why would any young athlete (outside of the honorable that just love to shed and draw blood) gravitate toward this endeavor?
MMA and the UFC in particular should be raising the pay and profile of their athletes and marketing themselves toward the D1 college lineman who isn’t going to sniff the NFL.
The high school wrestler who has no desire to compete collegiately.
The baseball player destined for a decade in the minors.
There are athletes out there ready to be picked up.
Time to make the fight future ripe for them.
News & Notes
As if I were Charlie T watching Travis Bickle count out stacks, the UFC’s foray into the pay for play marketplace this weekend is "load-ded". From top to bottom, UFC 211 has something for just about every fight fan.
The game’s highest honor, UFC’s Heavyweight belt, is on the line this weekend and you have no idea of who I’m talking about.
It’s true that no one has successfully defended the UFC’s heavyweight belt more than twice ever and in prizefighting of any sort, longevity is a must. Keep in mind how big these guys are though … and how small the gloves are. It only take one to drop and an inch here or there to pop, thus titles at this weight tend to get passed around often.
However, the current UFC’s Heavyweight Champion, Cleveland’s own Stipe Miocic, is someone you should get to know. And in an era where the UFC is looking for bankable stars I simply do not understand as to why he has yet to "get over" with the casual. With a win here, he would tie the record for two straight defenses.
As I’ve mentioned ad nauseam, MMA Heavyweights don’t typically rise to the top of the athletic crop. Fact is most guys that way above 225 lbs., find other sports to compete in. Less punchy, more money.
Stipe is unique in this regard and I hope a sign of things yet to come. A three-letter athlete in high school, he competed in football, wrestling and baseball, during which he also pursued and accomplished a Golden Gloves boxing championship. He went on to Cleveland State University and continued his baseball and wrestling endeavors.
Athletically speaking, Stipe may be the most well rounded specimen to ever fight in the heavyweight division. The guy can go yard at Jacob’s Field (it’ll always be the Jake to me … and Joey Belle), has the size and speed of a Clay Matthews, and can probably set a pretty mean pick.
Leaving college and continuing to fight, my guy got himself a job at the local fire department. You know? A firefighter? The heroes that save us? First responders? Maybe the subject of a few calendar glamor shots for my grandma? Anyone in the UFC listening? Anyone?
In Donald Trump’s America, this guy should be a shining star on a hill, this is who we want our kids to be. Midwestern, athletic, saving ladies and kissing babies. Come on people. Vince McMahon would have a field day with this guy!!
His opponent former Heavyweight Champion Junior Dos Santos crashes head first into fights with reckless abandon and has already done it once before with Stipe way back in December of 2014, when the Brazilian squeaked out a victory by decision against the current heavyweight champ.
He's gone 1 and 1 since their last fight and is coming off an excellent performance against Kenosha’s own Ben Rothwell.
If I have to go one way in the scrapper, I like Stipe’s chances here. I feel like he can absorb more punishment than Junior at this point.
That said, who the hell knows. Both of these guys have excellent hands, great speed for their size, take a world of hurt and have hearts the size of planets. Shame someone has to lose this fight. Love to watch 'em both.
The co-main event of the night features woman’s 125lbs champion Joanna Jedrzejczyk defending her throne against Brazil’s Jessica Andrade. Joanna "Violence," as we will now refer to her as, has been Poland’s greatest MMA export. Her diminutive stature shares nothing with her appetite for confrontation. She’s lighting quick, has shown a propensity to stay in her feet (which is where she does her best work) and throws the proverbial punches in bunches.
She’s an absolute killer, who seems to like herself some Disney and has a thing for high end sneakers. A true treat for fans of the fisty fights.
Andrade is riding a three-fight win streak and has put together a solid UFC run overall. But she best hope to put Joanna Violence down early, cause when the violence cometh late, the violence cometh hard.
The people’s main event features welterweight Jorge Masdival (5) against long in the tooth but not much else, Brazil’s Demian Maia (3).
Masdival has been on a tear racking up wins against ranked opponents Donald Cerrone and Jake Ellenberger. He’s a true pleasure to watch, always entertaining and willing to take chances in spots most shy away from.
That said, Demian Maia is the show here. An absolute grappling and Jiu Jitsu savant, Maia is on a six-fight win streak with his last victory coming over former champ Carlos Conduit. Maia is a throwback to the days of the early UFC, when competitors came in with one style and tested their base against all comers.
Of course, Maia can throw a variety of punches and kicks. He’s got a decent sprawl that can hold off a takedown if needed. But he’d rather fall to the ground in all kinds of awkward just to put himself in the most advantageous spot, which is anywhere on the ground. He’ll happily give up top position in order to get below and sweep. His game, while not the most aesthetically pleasing, is so damn effective.
My man has absorbed, according to Fight Metric, just 1.6 strikes per minute in his MMA career. Guys, those are Cy Young type numbers. Multiple no-hitters per season. For you football folks, that’s like going five years without an interception. This guy should be on Sports Center every night. Just sitting at his dinner table. Giving us a gentlemanly nod as to how much of a professor this guy is.
So, get out there. Spring is here. It sounds like we should have a really good weekend. Bier Gartens are open. The Brewers are competitive. Grab suds and buds.
And bring the fights with you.