Saturday, November 27, 2010

Things I Am Thankful For-MMA Edition

Ultimate Fighter-Thank God for Bruce LeRoy, Jamie Yeager & Junie Browning. These are the guys who keep us glued to the tv satisfying our need for total drama. And then they have at least one fight a week to satisfy our need for great drama.
Dana White-Name a boss who drops f-bombs like a native language. How about a guy who lets you flip him off (Dan Henderson anyone?) and laughs about it? How about a boss who took the mighty Brock Lesnar alone to a room to chew him out because he didn't want women to hear what he had to say to him? How about a man who always likes to make an equal or better substitution?
Bruce Buffer-Is there anybody better at psyching up a crowd than "The Veteran Voice of the Octagon"? (Say what you want about Michael Buffer, but Bruce Buffer and the UFC are nearly inseparable.) He has so much passion and it seeps out through his announcing.
The announce team-I love Mike Goldberg. He is the best of the best. I also love Joe Rogan with his bloodshot eyes. He is such a great motivator and seems to know so much about the sport. Also, from the Strikeforce realm, Mauro Ranallo has this fun game he plays where we guess what he will look like, whether clean-cut or looking like a homeless man.
The Heroes-I love Georges St. Pierre, Court McGee, Rich Franklin. There are so many legendary stories to tell. The silent athlete who exudes excellence like GSP. The former heroin addict declared clinically dead like Court McGee. The born-again Christian, former high school math teacher in Rich Franklin.
The Villains-
"If they didn't hate me so much, you think they would have been cheering you so much?"
-Rowdy Roddy Piper, WCW Halloween Havoc 1996
What is GSP without Josh Koscheck's antagonization? What would Chuck Liddell have been without Tito Ortiz? Would there have been any emotion with Efrain Escudero's victory against Junie Browning if it had been anybody else fighting? It's the villains that keep us coming back for more.
Brock Lesnar's Mouth-A corona and a burrito? I'm going to jump on my wife tonight? Don't drink Bud Light? As a blogger, I salivate every time I hear Brock speak.
Sportsmanship-Name a fight that doesn't end with the fighters at least touching gloves. Sportsman-like MMA is a redundant statement. I would much rather my daughter take the principles of MMA than most other sports.
Strong Female Role Models-I've already gone on about this ad nausuem so forgive my redundancy. But I like knowing that my daughter can look up to women like Sarah Kaufman, Miesha Tate & Marloes Coenen. That makes me happy as a dad.
Fighters I want to support-Sometimes, there just comes a fighter you want to support. I like Clay Guida, Efrain Escudero, Diego Sanchez, Kenny Florian & Kimbo Slice. It's guys like that who give everything make me appreciate the sport.
Thanks for a great year and giving me the entertainment.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

An Open Letter to Dana White

Dear Mr. White,
I know you will probably never read this letter, but I think this needs to be said as an MMA blogger, MMA fan and a father. If you ever do read this, I sincerely hope that you will take what I say to heart.
I am a faithful fan of the UFC. I have been since the first one when there was no rules and a total clusterf***. I have seen it evolve into the profitable cultural phenomenon it is now. I don't watch every PPV. They are too expensive for me to order every one, and my wife puts the wallet rear naked choke on me. I will go out to bars and hang out with friends to watch PPV's when I have the chance and haven't neglected my family or anything. (My wife is really hot, like she makes Arianny Celeste look like Janet Reno, so I cherish when I get to spend time with her.)
I also like you, Dana. I would lie if I didn't say I admired you. You have one of the best understandings of promotion I have ever seen. I see honesty, humility and enthusiasm when I see you on screen. When I saw you live at UFC 103, you were more popular with the crowd than Tito Ortiz AND Jenna Jameson combined. And you spent time taking pictures and autographs with everyone there. You understand where you came from and you seem to appreciate it: the fans, Vegas (Jesse Walker incident anyone?), sponsors. So you can mock me for total Man crush on him. From the book of Job, "Mock on."
Dana, I love the UFC. I love the sportsmanship. I love the uncertainty of outcomes. I love The Ultimate Fighter. I love the commentators (even Joe Rogan with his red eyes). I love Arianny Celeste and the rest of the Octagon Girls. I love your heroes: Couture, Liddell, Rampage. And I love your villains: Lesnar, Koscheck and Ortiz. But there's one thing I don't like. The UFC's lack of female fighters.
Let me speak to you as an MMA fan first. Strikeforce & Bellator have MMA female fighters. There are plenty of great female fighters out there: Sarah Kaufman, Marloes Coenen, Miesha Tate, Cris Cyborg, Roxanne Modafferi (whom I have a 13-year-old schoolgirl crush on), Jan Finney, Zoila Frausto. Let's talk about some of these fighters. Remember that slam Sarah Kaufman had on Modaffari? How about Coenen upsetting everybody (except me) by beating Kaufman? What about the big fight of Cyborg-Gina Carano? What about Jan Finney getting her a** handed to her by Cyborg yet still not going down? Dana, you claim to bring the biggest fighting around. Why do you not offer a female division?
This past Saturday, I had the privilege of watching a local event from North Texas Ultimate Fighting. There were two 17-year-old girls making their debut. They were cute and looked like they should be planning their prom dresses rather than a rear naked choke. There were 11 fights that night. The fight between the two girls was electric. The crowd was into this fight more than any other fight I've seen live. (Dos Santos-Cro Cop was probably the closest I'd seen before that.) This was a big fight. Both girls gave everything. How do you not reach out for the same electricity on a scale like yours?
Now I speak to you as a parent. My daughter is nearly a year and a half. Her universe centers around bath time, her pink bouncy ball and watching Fraggle Rock (though she did watch a surprising amount of Ultimate Fighter with me this past week). But I'm concerned about the coming years. My wife is the best role model for our daughter. I know that and am very happy. She also has two exemplary grandmothers and a great-grandmother, three aunts who make her the center of her universe, a rocking great-aunt who loves to spoil her and is involved often in her life. She also has a wonderful babysitter who runs a home daycare (also a major UFC fan). She has some great role models to follow after. And there are some women I admire in the public eye: Miranda Cosgrove, Condoleezza Rice, Kerri Walsh & Misty May-Treanor, Michelle Obama, Tina Fey. But other than Cosgrove, she's not going to be watching Michelle Obama on Disney or Nickelodeon. Who in the sports/entertainment world is there for my daughter to admire? Danica Patrick? Checked out a commercial lately? Lindsay Lohan? She got kicked out of a role playing Linda Lovelace, a woman best known for her role in a pornographic film. Britney Spears? A singer who sings about a threesome? Halle Berry? Seen Swordfish? How about Monster's Ball? "Yep, Pumpkin, I want you to be like them."
All the female fighters I mentioned above I admire and respect. I'd love my daughter to be like Sarah Kaufman, Miesha Tate & Marloes Coenen. Those are strong, powerful women who, at the same time, embody class, grace and beauty.  I also want my daughter to look at their sense of sportsmanship. When do you not find a fight where they hug after? In the world of sports, when baseball players charge mounds, football players get into brawls, and 95% of hockey fans just go for the fights, a sport like MMA is refreshing. I want my daughter to take that principle of sportsmanship to her every day life.
I noticed something else during the girls' fight. There were little girls there, 6, 7, 8 years old. The only time they paid any attention during the night was to watch the girls fight. They connected to them. This is something you cannot ignore. For all I know, the two girls fighting keep little kittens in the basement and torture them before sacrificing them to Glenn Beck. But what I know is that those little girls in the crowd cared about what happened in the outcome of that fight. Dana, you build that brand loyalty now, you will have fans for life.
Dana, you have a lot of power in this industry. But as Peter Parker's Uncle Ben told him, "With great power comes great responsibility." I believe you owe it to the fans to bring us the best fighters possible. And until you put Sarah Kaufman, Cris Cyborg or Marloes Coenen in the UFC Octagon, you are not giving us the best fighters in the world. I also believe that you owe it as a public figure to bring us positive role models for our kids. In an era where LeBron James, Tiger Woods & Ben Roethlisberger reign supreme, it's refreshing seeing role models like GSP, Randy Couture & Jose Aldo reign supreme there. Can we have some female role models I can point my daughter to?
As always, you know I am a huge fan of you and the UFC. I write to you because I think you can help.
Justin Ruff

Monday, November 22, 2010

NTUF-Annihilation 11-20-2010

Well, my dad and I had lots of fun. We got there at 4 when the doors opened and got to stake out our seats. We were front row, middle of the cage. For two hours, we got to “people watch.” It was fun to watch the referees and the fighters test out the octagon. We were also sitting behind the ring girls, the Cowtown Hotties ( It wasn’t my particular cup of tea. I don’t need much in life when it comes to ogling. Just give me Arianny Celeste, Jenny Wade of “The Good Guys” and Christina Hendricks of “Mad Men.” I’m pretty much good with that.

There was one thing that was funny at first then just got plain annoying-the DJ. He was a hip hop DJ and an MMA crowd is not a hip hop crowd. Maybe nothing gets you in the mood for MMA quite like Fergie’s “Glamorous,” but it does not for me. Oh, and he was so awful with his promotions. “Let me see your $100 bill for a free t-shirt.” “Um, yeah, please rob me after the show.” My dad I did not like this guy at all. MMA doesn’t need anything. A guy with some songs that rev up the crowd, not the club.

Very classy presentation of the colors and national anthem. My dad did point out that the ring announcer was under-dressed compared to the Athletic commission workers and most people at ringside.

First bout: Garcia def. Ngo via unanimous decision

Both fighters gave it everything in this fight. This was such an insane intense fight. All 15 minutes of it were full-throttle. These weren’t a bunch of UFC guys rolling around on the floor together. I personally had Ngo winning, but I had his homies next to me, so that probably influenced me. It was fun that this was the only decision of the night.

Second bout: Isaiah Gutierrez def. Sidney Cawdrey via submission

This was Gutierrez’ first fight. He won by submission in a great back and forth fight. Cawdrey looked like he had just triggered the Apocalypse by accident. This was lacking the usual sportsmanship you see in MMA, but lots of passion there. You have to love that.

Third bout: Jeremy Metcalf def. Tony Hadley via submission

Jeremy Metcalf was a featured fighter on the poster, even though he had never fought a fight. I was kinda wondering what was up with that. 34 seconds into the fight, Hadley passed out with a guillotine. It was a very pro-Metcalf crowd. Great showing by Metcalf and you have to admire Hadley for not tapping out. I would give this one “Submission of the Night.”

Fourth bout: David Cashion def. Ryan Nealy via submission

Cashion kind of seemed to be an underdog in this fight. He showed up, gave his all and got the victory. Kudos to his conditioning coach.

Fifth bout: Armando Servin def. William Badders via TKO

Both fighters looked good in this, but Servin was awesome. This is a guy who is now 3-0. I can see him having a future on a bigger stage. Badders put him in an armbar and Servin just punched him until the referee said enough.

Sixth bout: Joe Gorman def. Fernando Salas via KO

Salas’ people somehow took the seats to my right for his fight and then moved on. Weird, we were in those seats all night. Plain and simple, “Knockout of the Night.” My dad and I will still be talking about that knockout on our deathbeds. Salas could barely stand and we’re all surprised that he walked out of there on his own power. VERY impressive showing from Gorman. The irony is that Salas’ logo was “All day.”

Seventh bout: Coda Yazzie def. Dayton Briggs via submission

Yazzie was another one of the featured fighters, so I expected him to win. He is what I assume to be from a Native American background. He came out to what sounded like a tribal chant. (This is not meant to be offensive. I don’t know one way or the other.) A great definitive victory.

Eighth bout: Chris Goolsby def. Terry Meyers by injury stoppage

I’ve seen some sick stuff in my life. I remember Sid’s ankle injury in WCW. I remember a Julio Franco hamstring injury when he played for the Rangers. This fight was pretty sick. I know that we all watch “Big Country” Roy Nelson and think “Wow, this guy is great, but surely nobody else will try to make it in MMA with his figure.” Goolsby proved us wrong. This guy was Big Country, Jr. Meyers dominated this fight the whole first round. And then in between rounds, the fight was called. Goolsby won via Meyers’ shoulder getting popped out of socket. Goolsby acted liked he had just won the UFC Heavyweight Championship twice. If Goolsby was sucking any more wind, he would have to buy it dinner. He walked away with the win, so I guess that is what matters at the end of the day.

Ninth bout: Jordan Gaza def. Kylie Malone via TKO

Jordan Gaza’s whole family must have been there. A young lady two years removed from her QuinceaƱera was being (heavily) featured bout in an MMA event. Both girls gave everything. Gaza won with strikes. I felt a little dirty watching this, and my father the former high school teacher fought hard not to break up the fight between two 17-year-old girls. I was amazed by Kylie Malone’s maturity and gracefulness in handling this loss.

This deserves its own section. Jordan Gaza is a star. I see her up on a VERY high stage in the future. Miesha Tate, Sarah Kaufman, Marloes Coenen, enjoy your time at the top, because you won’t have it for long with Gaza on the rise. What’s funny is that in the post-fight interview she sounded so angelic and “girly.” I sincerely hope that we were there for a star in the making.

Tenth bout: Evan Cutts def. Andre Kavanaugh via submission

This was originally supposed to be a title fight, but Kavanaugh didn’t make weight. Now I am not a fighter, but I don’t understand how somebody cannot make weight. If you do not have the will, you need to find a different line of work. If it’s your dietitian, find a different dietitian. Kudos to Cutts for taking the fight any way. Cutts looked great; hopefully will be walking away with a title in the near future.

 Final bout: Javier Obregon def. Michael Lytle

By this time, there were so many emotions. This fight was everything advertised and more. After every round in this fight, I turned to my dad and said, “I’m glad I’m not a judge on this one.” This was “Fight of the Night.” Both guys placed everything on the line. I cannot describe the emotion of the crowd or the fighters or the people octagon-side.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

North Texas Ultimate Fighting: Annihilation

On Saturday, November 20,  North Texas Ultimate Fighting will bring us Annihilation. This 15-fight card will showcase some of the up-and-coming MMA fighters in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Andre Kavanaugh (5-5) Vs Evan Cutts (3-1) (170 Pound Title Fight)

So Kavanaugh’s been on a little bit of a losing streak recently. Three losses, two submissions and a TKO. Cutts is on a one-fight losing streak. Kavanaugh gets the experience; Cutts gets the momentum. I say Cutts walks away the winner.

Winner: Cutts

Javier Obregon (4-1) Vs Michael Lytle (4-1) (155 Pound Title Fight)

We have Obregon and Lytle’s fighting in their sixth fight each. Lytle and Obregon both have the experience, but Obregon is fighting out of Travis Lutter’s BJJ. Lutter was the winner of The Ultimate Fighter Season 4. All 4 of Lytle’s wins have been submission. I’m pretty sure this is going to be a ground battle. I like where Obregon is coming from. I’m calling him for the victory.

Winner: Obregon

Bout 9- Jordan Gaza Vs Kylie Malone (120 pounds)

Both fighters are 0-0. I’m not going to speculate on this. Both fighters are 17, young and should be a great opportunity to watch a future MMA star. And forgive me for sounding like a 13-year-old girl, but they are both cute. No winner chosen here.

Bout 8- Christopher Goolsby Vs Terry Meyers (250-265 pounds)

Again, both these men will be having their first fight. Goolsby is the young 21-year-old going against Meyers, the 33-year-old. I’m not going to pick a winner here, but one thing I do know. The Heavyweights are always fun to watch live.  This should be quite a bout.

Bout 7- Dayton Biggs (1-0) Vs Coda Yazzie (1-0) (155 pounds)

So we have matching records here again. And both have won submissions. Yazzie is coming back to NTUF, so he’s already been there before and has the victory under his belt. This fight could go either way. I’m picking Yazzie.

Winner: Yazzie

Bout 6- Fernando Salas (2-1) Vs Joe Gorman (1-1) (145 pounds)

We’ve got Salas coming off a two-fight winning streak. Gorman has lost 2 of his last 3. These two have won every fight by submission, so I’m thinking ground battle. I see Salas walking out a winner on this one.

Winner: Salas

Bout 5- William Badders (2-1) Vs Armando Servin (2-0) (170 pounds)

Servin has never tasted defeat. He has a submission and a decision. Badders has had both a submission and a loss. This I see going in Badders’ favor. Badders has experienced that first loss. He also has shown that he has more than one weapon at his disposal. On paper, I see Badders walking out with the win.

Winner: Badders

Bout 4- David Cashion (0-1) Vs Ryan Mira-Nealy (1-1) (155 pounds)

Cashion’s only bout has been at the same place and was a submission loss to Coda Yazzie. Ryan Nealy has had two bouts, both have been TKO’s. I expect Nealy to end this and end it quickly.

Winner: Nealy

Bout 3- Tony Handley (1-0) Vs Jeremy Metcalf (0-0) (170 pounds)

I don’t really know too much about these fighters. Handley won a split decision for his first fight. Metcalf hasn’t fought yet, so I’m not going to pick any winner here. Just good luck to the both of them.

Bout 2- Isaiah Gutierrez (0-0) Vs Sidney Cawdrey (0-1) (135 pounds)

Gutierrez is a member of Travis Lutter’s BJJ. So I’m not sure whether that means anything in his ability to learn from his teacher. Nobody would ever doubt Ted Williams’ ability as a baseball player. But his lifetime managerial record was .429, with 3 90+ LOSS seasons. (He only managed 4 seasons.) Cawdrey has one defeat, a submission. With this being Gutierrez’s first fight, I will not pick a winner here.

Bout 1- Steven Ngo (0-1) Vs Homero Garcia (1-0) (125 pounds)

Ngo has suffered a submission loss. Garcia has the one victory via TKO. Garcia is 38 while Ngo is 24. I’ve never seen Garcia, so for all I know, he’s in great shape. But the 38 doesn’t look great in any sport. Ngo has tasted that first defeat. I think it will make him hungry enough to reach for that first victory.

Winner: Ngo

Upset watch: Chris Lytle. He knows how to win and I see him utilizing his submission game.

For more information, go to

Monday, November 15, 2010

George Steinbrenner: Hall of Fame or Not?

First of all, before you read this, I must give you a quick disclaimer. I hate the New York Yankees. I do not like the team. I dislike most of the players. And I know that not all of them are alike, but I don’t like Yankees fans. Some of them are great, but they’re just like Phillies fans, Red Sox or Mets fans. You just remember the guy who puked on the 13-year-old.

There are figures in the world of sports that I generally dislike all around: Barry Bonds, Jerry Jones, Tiger Woods, Michael Phelps, Alex Rodriguez, Brett Favre, LeBron James. But then there are players I do not like that I respect: Derek Jeter, Peyton Manning, Kobe Bryant, Cody Ross (yeah, that one’s personal), Tom Brady. One name stands out to me in that category of people I respect-George Steinbrenner.

Why he belongs:

Let’s look at the numbers of championships by Yankees owners.

Jacob Ruppert 8

Jacob Ruppert Estate 2

Larry MacPhail, Dan Topping and Del Webb 1

Dan Topping and Del Webb 9


Steinbrenner 7

That’s good enough to put him #3 on the all-time list for most championships by owner. Only two franchises have more than Steinbrenner: The Cardinals and Athletics. Are you ready for the dagger to really go into your heart? He has as many championships as the Boston Red Sox do since 1903. That’s more than the Giants, Dodgers, Pirates, Reds, etc.

Steinbrenner exuded excellence. He was willing to win at any cost. While he had some moments where he got in his own way, Steinbrenner was a cultural icon. George Costanza worked for Steinbrenner on Seinfeld. Ask a person to name an owner of a professional sports team. I can name a few off the top pf my head: Robert Kraft (Patriots), “Mr. Plastic” Jerry Jones (Cowboys), Al Davis (Raiders), Jeffrey Lurie (Eagles; I know that one because the Eagles are my team), Bill Snyder (Redskins), the joke that is Tom Hicks (Stars), Jerry Buss (Lakers), the Ricketts family (Cubs), Chuck Greenberg/Nolan Ryan (Rangers), Mark Cuban (Mavericks). And I dare say I know more than the average sports fan.

Ask somebody to name a professional sports owner and more than likely, you’re going to hear them say George Steinbrenner. He was “The Boss.”

Why he doesn’t belong:

Baseball does not have a Hall-of-Fame if George Steinbrenner (and Roberto Alomar & Bert Blyleven) are not a part of it.

So hopefully, the Hall-of-Fame comes calling for The Boss for the Class of ’11.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

UFC 122

Ok, so after UFC 121, I am at .500 (16 for 32). Not pretty, but I'll live. I'm pretty excited about this card, as it's a lot more stacked than the usual UFC foreign cards. This should be a nice night of UFC.
Middleweight bout: Nate Marquardt (30-9-2) vs. Yushin Okami (25-5)
After He-Man (Marquardt) defeated Moss Man (Rousimar Palhares), he is trying to continue his momentum. Standing in his way is Yushin Okami. According to, we are watching the number 4 Middleweight in Marquardt and number 8 in Okami. Both look solid. 4 of Marquardt's last 5 fights have been knockout wins, as opposed to 2 for Okami's. I'm not really sure who to go for here. I think I'm going to go with Marquardt. (Hey, Okami, a quick warning. Marquardt likes to work up a good sweat. If you complain to the ref, Marquardt will knock you out. Just FYI...)
Winner: Marquardt
Middleweight bout: Jorge Rivera (18-7)  vs. Alessio Sakara (15-7, 1 NC)
This should be quite the slugfest. 60% of Sakara's victories & 68.2% of Rivera's have been via TKO. Looking on paper, there is not one fighter who stands out to me as a winner. Both are coming off three victories. Part of me goes with Rivera, just because this is what my gut tells me.
Winner: Rivera
Lightweight bout: Dennis Siver (16-7) vs. Andre Winner (11-4)
Andre Winner and Dennis Siver have both lost to Ross Pearson. Siver is a well-accomplished veteran who's fought in a lot of different environments. Andrew Winner is a strong fighter with lots of talent and promise. Siver will have the home country advantage, which will be rare for him. Somehow I see Siver walking out of this the winner. (no pun intended)
Winner: Siver
Welterweight bout: Amir Sadollah (3-2) vs. Peter Sobotta (8-3)
Amir Sadollah is one of my three favorite fighters. When TapOut had the sale on their t-shirts, his signature tee was the one I bought. So I'm not exactly partial with this one. I want Sadollah to win. Sobotta looks impressive, so I'm going to go with him. Sadollah could walk away, but they're in Germany. Sobotta's going to have the crowd behind him.
Winner: Sobotta
Light Heavyweight bout: Krzysztof Soszynski (21-10-1) vs. Goran Reljic (8-2)
Anybody who watched Season 8 of The Ultimate Fighter knows that Krzysztof is quite a character. But is being a character going to stop somebody who's knocked out or submitted 7 out of his 8 wins? And his two losses, those have been decisions.  It won't be The Polish Experiment's character that will win him the fight. It will be the fact he's had 1 decision in 24 victories. 10 KO's & 11 submissions. This guy has too many weapons at his disposal. I will call this Polish Experiment a success.
Winner: Soszynski

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Where to See the Future of MMA

One of my favorite wrestlers to watch is the WWE’s Vance Archer (Lance Hoyt). He’s a huge guy, amazing size, great charisma and good agility for somebody of his size. Now, you may ask, with the depth of the WWE roster, why do you choose Vance Archer as one of your favorites?
Well, to tell that story, I have to go back about 10 years or so. My mother and I discovered a local indy wrestling company called Professional Championship Wrestling (PCW) in Arlington, TX. It ran out of a gym in the most ghetto mall ever. You could watch entire matches where the guy never touched each other. You watched names like Action Jackson, Jeromy Sage and Redd Dogg (known better as Rodney Mack). Yes, there were some crappy moments, but at the end of the day, it was fun. I got to see some really intense feuds, some guys give everything and I got to see a wrestler by the name of “Shadow.”
Shadow was huge. He came out with a spooky Undertaker-like gimmick with Test’s pants. This guy had something that you can’t teach… presence. He would stare at some little kid and scare them during his entrance. When he walked out to the ring, you took notice. It’s no surprise his career took off. The story is well-documented. He did a dark match at TNA and they decided he looked like Kid Kash and made them a tag team. Thus was born the national career of Lance Hoyt.
Now, out of all the guys I used to watch, Lance Hoyt always has a special place in my wrestling heart (as do Rodney Mack and Jazz). That’s because I watched his career when he was up-and-coming. We got to see him from lowly guy sitting outside the ghetto mall to performing on national pay-per-views.
The world of MMA has those people and they all start somewhere. Before Rampage Jackson was starring in the A-Team, he fought at the International Sport Combat Federation in 1999. Forrest Griffin lost to Dan Severn in his first fight at Reality Superfighting in 2001. Anderson Silva lost at Meca World Vale Tudo in 2001. Here are a few places you can see the stars of tomorrow before they become the stars of today.
This is the original launching pad for a LOT of UFC’s current stars: Forrest Griffin, Rashad Evans, Michael Bisping, Kendall Grove, Nate Diaz. You get to watch a lot of shenanigans (urination, pranks gone wild and worse). There’s always that one explosive personality (Chris Leben, Junie Browning, Jamie Yeager, Bruce Leroy). Plus, you get to see some great fighting. The most emotional fight I’ve ever seen (Junie Browning vs. Efrain Escudero) took place on Ultimate Fighter. That was the night that I became part of Team Escudero for life. Not that everybody on Ultimate Fighter is a rookie, but you have a good place to watch these guys and get an emotional connection to them. Two of my three favorite fighters in MMA got their start in Ultimate Fighter (Escudero and Amir Sadollah).
Strikeforce Challengers
Again these are the hungrier guys (and girls). Sarah Kaufman, Miesha Tate, Ryan Couture  & Roxanne Modafferi (my inner geek’s soulmate) are a few names. Nothing is ever left behind. You have Billy Evangelista vs. Waachiim Spiritwolf, which was three rounds of the best fighting you will ever see. It right now is one of my favorites for fight of the year. You never know when one of these names might rise to the top.
I know. It is a killer economy out there. But there are local places all around us. For those who love wrestling, we don’t have to watch the WWE. We have local wrestling promotions. You don’t always have to see George Lopez perform; you can go see comedians perform at local comedy clubs. You don’t always have to see Sarah McLachlan live (though I recommend it very much, as I just saw her on Monday); you can go see somebody at a local bar. And while I can count on one hand the number of times UFC has been to Dallas, I found a local promotion that has MMA shows, North Texas Ultimate Fighting. Who knows if one of these starts might make it to the next level? Might I be watching the next Chuck Liddell or Randy Couture or Sara Kaufman?
But wait, I can’t drive to Arlington, TX. My solution is very simple. Go to and click on “Fights.” This won’t have everything, but it’s a nice place to start.
Let’s give of ourselves to invest in these new people as they are at the cusp of greatness.