Check Out Demian Maia On The Latest Grappling Central Podcast!
In this episode, we are joined by arguably the greatest representative of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in MMA, Demain Maia. Demian talks about why he quit Kung Fu as a teen to start BJJ, funny stories from the mats and his excitement for a Welterweight title shot!
What a change a few months can make. When the UFC sale was revealed following UFC 200, one of the big things the UFC made sure to do was lock down Joe Rogan’s continued participation as color commentator for another year, ensuring the voices behind the fights wouldn’t change with the new ownership. But now that WME-IMG’s plans to try and increase TV deal revenues by over 300% are starting to become clear, it seems like they don’t feel like he’s an essential part of the product.
Longtime cable television insider Dave Meltzer has reported that many aspects of UFC shows may change. WME-IMG is willing to hand control of production (currently taken care of in-house by the UFC) over to whatever network wins the next TV deal. And that means Mike Goldberg and Joe Rogan may go.
They certainly are hype masters. You can’t watch a commercial for an upcoming UFC event without Joe Rogan screaming in excitement and Goldberg catchphrases all over the place. But is that such a bad thing? We’ve experienced other networks handling MMA production duties in the past, and I have yet to witness anyone doing it better than the UFC. As homogeneous as the shows may have become, there’s something to be said about the way the company keeps the trains running on time. And it’s nice to have a commentary booth devoid of clueless chucklehead announcers who don’t know the sport (I’m looking at you, Gus Johnson).
This isn’t a matter of WME-IMG just having a hate on for the job Goldberg and Rogan do, though. The whole thing has a lot to do with money. They just paid $4.3 billion for the company, and they need to start making some of that back, fast. We’ve already seen them wipe out a huge section of UFC staff, including most of their international offices. Next up is the in house production team. While letting the networks handle things means less control, it also means big savings, and that’s clearly what the new owners are looking for as they prepare to sort out future TV rights for the sport.
Ralek Gracie Heading To Bellator. His Brothers Rener And Ryron Break Ties.
Ralek Gracie, of the famed Gracie jiu-jitsu family, has signed a contract to compete in Bellator MMA.
Gracie, 31, confirmed the signing to ESPN.com. His debut is currently targeted for a televised event on Jan. 21 in Inglewood, California, against an opponent yet to be determined. He plans to fight at middleweight.
Son of iconic jiu-jitsu practitioner Rorion Gracie and nephew of UFC legend Royce Gracie, Ralek Gracie (3-0) hasn’t competed in MMA since 2010. All of his pro fights occurred in Japan. His most recent was a decision win against Kazushi Sakuraba in May 2010.
“I’m ready to get myself back out there,” Gracie said. “I competed in a Metamoris jiu-jitsu match [in July], and I felt like I got in amazing shape but wasn’t able to focus like I wanted, because I was running my own show.
“I’ve always fought MMA. I never really competed in jiu-jitsu. I was always attracted to more of a real fight. I think people still want to know what this original style of jiu-jitsu can do in modern MMA. I’m into that, and I’m into being a catalyst in that story.”
Gracie jiu-jitsu has served an integral role in the evolution of mixed martial arts. The sport was born in many ways at UFC 1 in November 1993, when Royce Gracie submitted three men on the same night to win the first UFC tournament.
Ralek Gracie’s involvement in professional MMA has been limited thus far. He said injuries and the responsibilities of fatherhood contributed to his decision to step away from competition years ago.
“Life got in the way a little bit,” Gracie said. “For me, it was always the goal [to compete in MMA], but I didn’t get paid for my last fight against Sakuraba. [Japanese promotion] DREAM was in a position where they were going down, and it was bad timing for me. At that time, I needed something more stable. I had kids. I needed to be more responsible for their future and think differently, but in the meantime, I always watched the growth of the sport.”
In 2014, Gracie founded Brazilian jiu-jitsu promotion Metamoris, which got off to a strong start but has since fallen under controversy.
The submission-only promotion has featured the likes of several Gracie family members, decorated grapplers and MMA stars in Chael Sonnen and Rory MacDonald, among others. Along the way, however, the promotion faced accusations of false charges on stored consumer credit cards and failure to pay its competitors.
Earlier this week, Flograppling.com reported Gracie’s brothers, Ryron and Rener, issued an internal email cautioning Gracie academies from conducting business with Ralek and Metamoris. Ralek Gracie expressed optimism about Metamoris and his relationship with his brothers, while reiterating his excitement about MMA.
“I really want to focus on this right now, but I definitely would say [Metamoris] is doing everything it can to move forward in the most honorable way possible,” Gracie said. “It’s tough, man. We went through a hard time, and I think people took for granted what we were bringing to the table — something that was revolutionary for the sport. We were really young, really green and didn’t have the business experience.
“It’s a surreal thing, to answer questions about my brothers — and even trying to defend yourself is dishonorable in this kind of situation. We’re just doing the best we can, and I think there are some stuff behind the scenes that people don’t know about and shouldn’t know about. I really don’t like avoiding questions, but at the end of the day, I really don’t think it’s important or relevant in this circumstance. This [Bellator signing] is very exciting and I’m excited to compete.”
Jordan Parsons, the late Bellator fighter, is the first MMA competitor to ever be publicly diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), according to a report Thursday in the Boston Globe.
Dr. Bennet Omalu informed the Globe of Parsons’ diagnosis. Omalu is a forensic pathologist who first found CTE in a pro football player in 2003 and a pro wrestler in 2007.
CTE is a progressive degenerative brain disease found in those who have had severe or repeated blows to the head. Colloquially, it has been known as “punch drunk.” CTE can only be officially diagnosed through direct tissue examination post mortem.
Parsons died at the age of 25 on May 4 after a hit-and-run accident in Florida.
CTE has been at the center of lawsuits against the NFL and WWE. Omalu’s CTE diagnosis of Mike Webster, a former football player for the Pittsburgh Steelers, led to the NFL settling a lawsuit with players for $1 billion. Omalu was portrayed by Will Smith in the recent Hollywood film “Concussion,” based on the book of the same name by Jeanne Marie Laskas.
Hockey players are also suing the NHL in a similar case. With Omalu’s diagnosis of Parsons, promotions like the UFC and Bellator could be open to lawsuits as well. The UFC was just purchased by Hollywood talent agency WME-IMG in July for more than $4 billion. Bellator is owned by media conglomerate Viacom.
“These findings confirm that the danger of exposure to CTE is not limited to just football, hockey, and wrestling,” Omalu told the Globe. “Mixed martial arts is also a dangerous sport, and it’s time for everyone to embrace the truth.”
Bellator president Scott Coker released a statement to the Globe.
“Jordan was a shining star in this sport and a beloved member of the Bellator family who we miss very much and we continue to honor through the ‘Jordan Parsons Memorial Scholarship Fund,'” the statement said.
“Bellator MMA is committed to the safety of our fighters and has been a strong supporter of the Cleveland Clinic [Professional Fighters Brain Health Study] for the last few years.”
Parsons’ autopsy was done by Dr. Julia K. Kofler, a neuropathologist at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Presbyterian. The college is associated with Omalu’s charitable foundation and he has endorsed Kofler’s findings.
“As a scientist, a physician, and a person of faith, I beg everybody involved with these sports to come together and identify the problems and find solutions,” Omalu said.
Omalu said it was “impossible” for the CTE to be caused by the accident that led to Parsons’ death, because “it is a chronic disease that develops over time.”
Konstantine Kyros, the Boston-area lawyer who helped players sue the NFL, told the Globe he has no plans to file a lawsuit against Bellator.
“Out of the tragedy of Mr. Parsons’ death, I hope the results serve to both warn and educate other athletes and their doctors about the hidden risks involved,” Kyros said.
Parsons was struck by an alleged drunk driver driving an SUV while walking across a road in Delray Beach, Fla., on May 1. The driver did not stop.
Dennis Wright, 28, was arrested six days later and is being accused of being the perpetrator. Wright, a multiple-time DUI offender, is facing several felony charges, including vehicular homicide. The case is ongoing.
Conor McGregor Talks Dillon Danis And UFC 205 Jiu-Jitsu Training
Pan American Jiu Jitsu Champion Dillon Danis is in Ireland as a training partner to Conor McGregor ahead of the UFC champion’s bout at UFC 205.
Conor gave us his thoughts on Dillon’s upcoming grappling match against Jackson Sousa at Polaris 4 on October 29th, as well as his feelings on competing in jiu jitsu and the other disciplines that make up MMA.
We greatly appreciate the time given to us by John Kavanagh at Straight Blast Gym Ireland, Conor McGregor, and Dillon Danis.
Polaris 4 is a professional jiu jitsu event that takes place on October 29th in the UK, for information on live tickets, pay per view, and the preliminary card free stream, please visit http://www.polaris-pro.org
UFC Fighter Brian Ortega Out 9-12 Months From Not Tapping To Ryron Gracie
UFC featherweight prospect Brian Ortega will be out for nine to 12 months after suffering a torn labrum in his right shoulder while training.
Ortega, ranked 10th in the UFC’s 145-pound division, confirmed the reason for recently pulling out of his Oct. 1 fight against Hacran Dias at UFC Fight Night 96 in Portland, Ore.
He is scheduled to undergo surgery next Thursday — a procedure he had done on his left shoulder five years ago.
“My heart’s telling me I can beat Hacran Dias even with one arm. And I truly believe I can,” said Ortega (11-0, 1 NC). “But at the same time, I don’t think my mind will let me forgive myself if I gave him that chance and let the whole world say that he beat me and he stopped me.
“I don’t want to do a decision based off of ego and pride. So now I just have to make a wise decision.”
Almost seven months after nearly dying in a surfing accident, Ortega has another setback.
In an interview Wednesday, Ortega and trainer James Luhrsen explained the circumstances, at times shaking their heads in frustration with the Aug. 25 training incident as well as what they feel was a missed opportunity.
“Everything was going perfect,” said Ortega, who lives in Lomita and trains at Black House MMA Gym in Gardena and the Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy in Torrance.
“Training was going good. Our game planning. Everything was just right on the dot.”
Coming off a third-round TKO of veteran Clay Guida at UFC 199 in June at The Forum, the 25-year-old Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt was looking to improve his craft ahead of his fight against the 11th-ranked Dias.
It was in a spirited session with renowned Brazilian jiu-jitsu expert Ryron Gracie that Ortega, who often rolls with Ryron’s brother Rener, suffered the injury.
“We had this crazy battle of face shots, him on top, me on the bottom and we’re both hitting each other,” Ortega recalled. “James could tell it was getting wild, like, ‘All right, these guys are not even training.’”
In the fourth round, the overzealous battle continued. Gracie caught Ortega in an armbar and the former RFA champion tried to shake the larger Gracie off. When he couldn’t, Ortega described it as almost like putting his own right arm in a kimura, or a double-joint armlock.
“My hand got caught somewhere and then my arm came out,” Ortega said.
Once he got Gracie to disengage, Ortega said he clicked his arm back into the joint.
By then, the damage was done — and everyone knew it.
“Right when I was talking to the guys, it was heating up. It wasn’t the same roll I always see with Rener and Brian,” Luhrsen said. “Right when I went in there, ready to go and stop it, Brian pops up.”
Luhrsen spit out an expletive at the memory, then followed with, “I was so pissed off.”
Ortega said he rested for three days before returning to training. He was lifting weights and getting back to his routine, but the pain did not subside. Not only was his arm sore, but he couldn’t feel three of his fingers.
Despite not being able to throw a right hook, Ortega continued to train and spar with the intention of fighting Dias.
“He looked great in there. If he was fully healthy, he could take anyone in the world,” Luhrsen said.
A session on the mat, however, exposed Ortega’s limitations without full use of his right arm.
“The day after that, my arm pretty much gave out,” he said.
Ortega received a platelet-rich plasma injection into the shoulder, which set him back longer. Many told Ortega not to fight, but he was determined even though he couldn’t quickly raise his arm over his head.
When even his father told him not to fight, Ortega ultimately looked to Luhrsen, who has been by his side even before he debuted as a pro in 2010.
Luhrsen’s reply? Let’s see what the doctor says.
The answer was simple and swift.
“Right when I got to the doctor, the doctor was like, ‘That’s a big old no,’” Ortega said. “And James goes, ‘Well, there’s your answer.’”
Ortega was given two choices.
Stitch up the tear and be back in a few months, with the understanding the injury will likely happen again.
Or a full labrum repair that would put him out anywhere from nine months to a year.
Having already had the same surgery on his left shoulder in 2011, Ortega knew the better option.
Having been through it before, however, doesn’t make it easier to stomach.
“Training is my escape. It’s my outlet, you know? And now it’s like, now I gotta go and find out what I really am again and find a different outlet, which is gonna be hard because I have my passion,” Ortega said. “I have my outlet. I have my career. This is my world.”
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