The Never Ending Dilemmas of Jon Jones and the UFC PR Machine.

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Tuesday, April 28th, 2015 is a date that will be remembered as the day that one of mixed martial arts finest talents lost his chance to be transcendentally great. Jon “Bones” Jones, the most dominant champion in light heavyweight history, and number one pound for pound king was stripped of his title and suspended indefinitely by the UFC Tuesday night after Albuquerque police arrested him on a suspected hit and run.

After an accident left a young pregnant woman injured with a broken arm, Jones (allegedly) fled the scene of the crime. Jones ran a red light and crashed with two vehicles, he immediately took off, but then ran back and stuffed a large amount of cash into his pockets, as he went to run off again an off-duty police officer identified Jones and after the police were notified of the woman’s injuries, the misdemeanor was upgraded to a felony and and a warrant was written for his arrest. The punishment he’s facing is unclear at this moment, although Jones was released on $2,500 bail, the charges are not set in stone, but it is possible he can face up to three years of incarceration.

Everyone involved can agree, this is not a good look for the UFC, and definitely not good for Jon Jones. Jones’ past run-ins with the law and personal problems outside the octagon are all very well-known at this time. DUI, getting in a brawl at a press conference, testing positive for cocaine; not very good PR for a man who may be the biggest star in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. At this point in time, Jon Jones’ problems are very far from over, but the UFC might have done the biggest possible favor in his life by removing him from his title fight at UFC 187, suspending him and stripping the 205 pound belt.

Since the night of March 19th, four years ago, when Jon Jones originally took the light heavyweight strap from then champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, it was said that this young man could be great, barring any acquiescence to temptation. The beating that Jones put on Rua was equal parts amazing, and just plain hard to watch, and the aura surrounding UFC 128 immediately after Jones’ performance was that he was already one of the top pound for pound fighters in the sport. Jones did his part for the better part of a year, but on May of 2012 he tasted his first serious run-in with the law after he crashed his Bentley into a telephone pole and was charged with driving while intoxicated. Plea bargains were made, fines were paid and Jones kept dominating opponents in impressive fashion until 2015.

After Jones’ last fight, the long anticipated grudge match against Daniel Cormier at UFC 182, it was revealed that Jones had tested positive for cocaine during his training camp a few weeks prior. However, due to strange circumstances surrounding the test, there were no significant repercussions, but all these snafus were relatively mild compared to last weekend’s ordeal.

Jon Jones is a one of a kind marvel that come perhaps once, maybe even two or three lifetimes. Jones length, his athleticism, and just overall sense of getting the game is outstanding, the man is an absolute natural. The improvements he made from his UFC debut to even his next fight were astonishing. The sky really was the limit for Jones, even as the champion, he still seemed to be getting better with each fight.

The hit and run incident was being discussed in many matters. People were upset, some people said it was getting played up too much, but the undeniable truth is, it is a crime. If one decides to withhold judgement, it is their prerogative to do so, however the UFC does not have the same privilege. The UFC needed to make a decision, letting Jones resume training and allowing him to fight at UFC 187 would have been incredibly foolish, negligent, and above all greedy. Due process is owed to any citizen under U.S. law, employers don’t require the same rights.

The UFC has been scrutinized in the past for many different things, from botched drug testing to fighter pay, but everything requires a process. This is not to excuse or justify the UFC in any manner, many criticisms have been well deserved, and after the actions they decided to use against Jones, it is becoming evident Dana White and company are getting a grasp of what it means to be a mainstream sport. The more eyeballs the UFC draws, the harder the eyebrows will scowl. The UFC is finally starting to get it, but it seems Jon Jones still hasn’t.

Jon Jones did not grow up privileged, he was a relatively normal child with a typical American family upbringing, but you can’t blame a guy who may have some disillusions given his accomplishments. Jon Jones is a man who after two appearances in the Octagon was already being named a future champion, he’s the man who destroyed Shogun, one of the most feared and respected fighters in mixed martial arts history, with only six weeks of training and 3 years of overall MMA experience, and still holds the record for the most defenses in light heavyweight history and the youngest champion in UFC history.

It’s safe to say Jon Jones is different than the majority of people reading this right now, he is a world-class athlete and fighter, but his mental state is endlessly fascinating. How can a person with this clear deficit in decision making, be such an exceptional talent? It is not out of the realm of possibility that his poor decision making skills may overlap with his combative nature. What coach would ever advise to throw a flying knee in the first ten seconds of a title fight? What fighter throws spinning back elbows after he’s caught a kick? What junior college level wrestler gets the idea to clinch and takedown Olympic level wrestlers like Daniel Cormier? There is only one man with these attributes, Jon Jones.

Jones is a daring individual, the things he displays in the cage take a lot of skill, but also a lot of confidence, and some parts madness. It has been said that combat shows one’s true nature and true character, if this is accepted to be true, Jones actions should not be all too shocking. Jones fights like a madman, like Pablo Picasso met Edgar Allan Poe and decided to use their unique brand of art to conjure a fighting machine. Jones’ unique brand of artistic beatdowns are a clear product of his mentality, and his bravado allowed him to get away with things that he shouldn’t have, but fate can only be cheated for so long until it catches up.

The time came and on Tuesday he received a strong and appropriate punishment, but in addition to the UFC doing the more conscientious PR move by stripping and suspending Jones, they also did him a big favor. Jones is a young man with some time to still right the ship, the legal proceedings are a given, he will have his day in court, but this isn’t a problem that is solved with some time in jail or some fines. Jones has the world at his fingertips, he’s young, rich, famous, and can literally be labeled as the baddest man on the planet. One can forget that Jones is just a regular person like most of us, but that is why this unprecedented course of action is so significant. Jon Jones is now closer to being one of us, he has lost a prized possession, the tag of the elite, the UFC made a statement; no matter your ranking, star power or revenue making capabilities, there will be consequences for your actions even outside of the Octagon.

Jones maturity is a ripe target at this point in time. The man who notoriously posts inappropriate tweets only to delete them mere moments later, shows that his poor sense of judgment doesn’t only apply to his recreational use of illegal substances and questionable decisions behind the wheel of a car. This is no way, a diatribe about Jones growing up and getting his life together, it’s not a question of morals, it’s about common sense.

Jon Jones has a family, and anyone with a little common sense can see that these problems that he’s having are made exponentially harsher when you consider his loved ones. Great figures are not always great people, in fact history seldom has any examples of the two coexisting in one being, Jon Jones is no exception. In the grand scheme of things, the narrative surrounding this unfortunate incident will be of a highly privileged MMA champion being his own worst enemy, but let’s take a step back and disassociate spectacle with the real world.

The longer it takes for Jon Jones to come back into the cage the better, time away from the circus that is mixed martial arts should do much more good than bad in his personal life, and although some of his prime moments in his career may be cut short, the rearranging of his priorities can finally be set correctly.  Moreover, the time away from the cage will undoubtedly make his aura glow even brighter. If all turns out well, Jon Jones will return sooner rather than later and can possibly headline a card at Madison Square Garden, and just imagine the atmosphere in the arena that night. Jones walking out first, waiting in the cage for the man who is holding the belt he never lost, in front of a hometown crowd. Will he shine through as he always has, or fold under the pressure? Only time will tell, and time is Jon Jones’ best friend right now.

Matchmaker: Fights to Make Post UFC on FOX 15.

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UFC on FOX 15 is in the books, and the event can be summed up in one word, “Wow.” Not the most sophisticated way to expound on the results of what happened Saturday night inside the Prudential Center, but it’s as close as one can get. From top to bottom there were upsets, competitive contests, shellackings, and breakthrough performances, about everything a mixed martial arts fan can ask for in one night. So now that there’s been some time to digest the evening’s offerings let’s discuss the possible options for the athletes going forward.

Luke Rockhold vs. Chris Weidman/Vitor Belfort winner
The debate for the next title shot has officially commenced. Rockhold or Jacare? Both are deserving, both make sense, unfortunately only one spot is available and that spot should be reserved for the AKA standout. Luke’s performance was easily the best of his career. He outstruck Machida, dropped him and on the floor, it was a mismatch of an absolute master grappler against a virtual novice. Machida is a legit Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt but Rockhold was hearing none of it and went for the finish with total disregard to  his opponent’s ranking. That is the reason why Rockhold has earned his date with the champion, he is dangerous on the feet, even though he’s not an elite striker, his killer instinct is unmatched and his ground game is true artistry. The arsenal he wields is a serious problem for both Chris Weidman and Vitor Belfort.

Lyoto Machida vs. Chris Weidman/Vitor Belfort loser.
To say Machida’s performance was underwhelming is an understatement. Machida was hurt, was outmatched and by the second round, utterly broken. But make no mistake about it, Lyoto Machida is still one of the most dangerous guys in the middleweight division. Machida is rarely given an easy fight but given the beating he took at the hands of Luke Rockhold, he needs some time away and a top ranked opponent with a similar situation. The loser of UFC 187’s co-main event makes all the sense in the world. If Chris Weidman retains his title, a fight against a veteran like Vitor Belfort is great, and if Belfort manages to pull off the upset, a rematch of one of the best fights of 2014 between Machida and Weidman could be even better.

Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza vs. CB Dolloway/Michael Bisping winner.
Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza could be the most unlucky man in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s roster. Jacare is a top contender with world class Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and ever improving striking that poses nothing but problems in his division, and yet, given a set of severely unfortunate circumstances, he is now known as the guy who has involved in the least dramatic and unlikely rematch in UFC history. Yoel Romero pulled out of what was an already rescheduled bout between him and Jacare a week out from the fight, Chris Camozzi took the spot and the outcome was no different than their first encounter two years ago, dominant first round submission. No one will begrudge Jacare for wanting to sit on the sidelines and wait for the opportunity to fight for the belt, however that can be easily over a year away. The winner of CB Dolloway and Michael Bisping is not a great matchup, but it is the best match available for him, it keeps Jacare busy with a respected opponent who he should most likely beat.

Cub Swanson vs. Ricardo Lamas
Both Cub Swanson and Ricardo Lamas were outgunned and finished in their last bout. Lamas was on the receiving end of a stunning first round knockout by Chad Mendes in Fairfax, Virginia earlier this month. Swanson was outclassed and submitted by the rising prospect in Max Holloway on Saturday’s Fox card. A pairing between these perennial contenders makes perfect sense, both will be hungry for a win after such sound defeats and the fight will be a gauge of their future standings in the featherweight division.

Max Holloway vs. Chad Mendes
Max Holloway’s performance against Cub Swanson was not only the best of his career, it was a statement to every featherweight under contract that he is here, and he is for real. Chad Mendes is being seen as the prince in Jose Aldo’s kingdom, and after his quick KO of Ricardo Lamas, it’s rekindling talks of a third crack at the title. It may be too much, too soon for the 23 year old Hawaiian, but let him test the waters of the elite competition at featherweight. If Mendes is able to handle Holloway, it’s a nice feather in his cap, and if Holloway beats Mendes, the search for new contenders to Aldo’s crown is rapidly over.

Felice Herrig vs. Joanne Calderwood
Felice Herrig handed the torch to Paige Van Zant in Newark, New Jersey. Herrig was already being considered as a gatekeeper to the stars before the Van Zant bout, Saturday’s performance might have just cemented it and unequivocally showed that Van Zant was the new cute blonde girl who can throw fisticuffs. Herrig is a solid fighter with well-rounded skills, she is still a tough out for any woman weighing 115 pounds and isn’t going anywhere any time soon. Joanne Calderwood received her first professional loss in Krakow, Poland earlier this month to newcomer Maryna Moroz and it has to be eating away at her. A bout between Herrig and Calderwood is a good bit of matchmaking due to their complimentary styles, it is a very feasibly entertaining fight between two women who are still climbing to reach the top.

Paige Van Zant vs. Maryna Moroz
“12 Gauge” Paige Van Zant is in elite company, just six fights into her professional career, she could easily be named the third biggest name in women’s mixed martial arts only below Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate, respectively. The comments on her good looks, kind demeanor and exciting fighting style will unquestionably continue, but the real focus should be set on her skill set. For as good as Van Zant is, she’s still very raw, not surprising, given her age and experience, and even after a solid win over a well-respected opponent in Felice Herrig, the questions will continue to linger. After a shocking first round submission over top ranked Joanne Calderwood, Maryna Moroz was met with praise but also some doubts over the validity of her unexpected domination of Calderwood. Let there be no more questions, a fight between Van Zant and Moroz will answer all questions including one of pinnacle importance, “Who can challenge for Joanna Jedrzejyczyk’s title?”

Beniel Dariush vs. Al Iaquinta
Beniel Dariush showed what a real talent he is against Jim Miller, he outgrappled the well-regarded Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt and just blanketed him over 15 minutes. Al Iaquinta is being bashed over some “heat of the moment” comments he yelled to the audience, but his skills are where the real focus should be. Although his win over Jorge Masvidal was controversial, Iaquinta was still very competitive and gave Masvidal some problems. The lightweight division is hardly ever in need for contenders, but it’s always fun to see when the young guys come out and try to state their claim. Pair Dariush with Iaquinta and let these youngsters make their argument with some exciting MMA action.

Jim Miller vs. Danny Castillo
Saturday’s event highlighted Jim Miller’s descension from perennial top 10 contender to the unenviable fringe top 15, Danny Castillo is facing similar problems. Castillo was last seen being starched by a spinning back fist from Paul Felder at UFC 182 and is being thought of in the same light as Miller. Both fighters are coming off back to back losses and both are dreading being in the sub-15. Miller’s aggressive grappling style against Castillo’s wrestling and strong boxing skills is a recipe for some good old-fashioned scramble inducing mixed martial arts.

Aljamain Sterling vs. Frankie Saenz
Aljamain Sterling had a lot of hype behind him since his Octagon debut last year, Saturday night he proved that the hype was warranted. Sterling dominated tough veteran Takeya Mizugaki for 3 rounds before catching him with a once in a blue moon seen, arm triangle choke from the bottom. It was impressive to say the least but now it’s time he faces some real contenders in the division. Frankie Saenz put on a wrestling clinic on Iuri Alcantara in February, it was a pretty big upset considering the betting lines. Saenz’s dominant wrestling, speed and pace can provide a very stern test for Sterling.

Takeya Mizugaki vs. Iuri Alcantara
Takeya Mizugaki is a strange fixture in the bantamweight division. Most will agree that Mizugaki is most likely not going to challenge for the title any time soon, and in that regard is seen as a gatekeeper to the stars, but his skills and record imply he’s much better than that. Iuri Alcantara was seen as a dark horse at 135 pounds for a bit but after his loss to Frankie Saenz, it appears those claims have softened. A fight between Mizugaki and Saenz is a fun stylistic matchup and is very close to call even at first glance. A win for either man will clearly establish their place in the rankings.

Lyoto Machida Vs. Luke Rockhold. In-Depth Breakdown and Prediction.

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The fifteenth installment of UFC on FOX takes place at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey this Saturday April 18, 2015. The main event will pair two of the top contenders in the middleweight division in a pivotal bout that could very well determine the next challenger to Chris Weidman’s title.

Lyoto Machida, the 36 year old former light heavyweight champion has won 3 of his last 4 and is coming off a quick dispatch of top 10 contender CB Dolloway last December in his home country of Brazil. After coming up short in his competitive title fight with Weidman, he reminded everyone why he’s one of the most dangerous men in the middleweight division after TKOing Dolloway with a thunderous liver kick and follow up punches just 62 seconds into the contest.

Luke Rockhold, the 30 year old former Strikeforce middleweight champion has won three straight bouts all by early stoppage. After being knocked out with a highlight reel spinning wheel kick by the surging Vitor Belfort in his UFC debut, Rockhold has gone through middleweight contenders with relative ease. Most recently, Rockhold made an impressive statement by head kicking and submitting the notoriously tough Brit Michael Bisping last November in Australia. Rockhold staggered Bisping with a left head kick, and quickly locked on a mounted one arm guillotine forcing Bisping to tap and became the first man to ever submit Michael Bisping in his professional MMA career.

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THE MATCHUP
Both Machida and Rockhold are as good as they’ve ever looked. Machida has finally seemed to have found his true fighting demeanor and combined his high level counter striking with a calculated aggression that is a real threat to any man that weighs 185 pounds. Rockhold has really come into his own in the stand up realm and is now much more precise and economic with his strikes. Add that to his elite killer instinct and brilliant grappling skills and you have a fighter capable of beating and finishing any middleweight on the planet.

It is no secret that both these men are dangerous and closely matched. However, the not so obvious aspect of this fight is how similar their skills and styles actually are. It can be said that Machida and Rockhold are two sides of the same coin when it comes to their approach and tactics. Both fighters are southpaws and have a very kick heavy centered style of attacking, Rockhold throws many body and head kicks to gauge range and disincentivize his opponent from closing the distance. Machida, on the flip side, uses his lead hand to gauge distance and relies on his feints and speed to frustrate and keep the opponents guessing.

Takedowns have never been a strong suit of either fighter. It’s very rare to see them actively trying to drag the opponent to the mat, however the underutilized grappling can not be forgotten, and it can be very effective when timed properly. Machida uses very swift foot sweeps and clinch trips to disorient opponents and take opponents down. Rockhold has a much more defensive and grinding style of grappling when it comes to his clinch game and tends to use it when the opponent manages to close the distance on him or after he’s landed crisp close quarter punch combinations.

With the similarities having been stated, let’s look where they each have their advantages.

MACHIDA’S ADVANTAGES
Striking.
Machida has a clear advantage in striking, this is not to say that Rockhold is a non-threatening or subpar striker, but Machida’s record of lightning fast kicks and one punch knockouts illuminates the point of why Rockhold can’t just stay static, as he at times is liable to do, within range of Machida’s strikes. Machida’s speed and power is still very prominent and as good as Rockhold is on the feet, the probability of a KO lays heavier on the Brazilian’s side.

Experience.
Lyoto Machida has been competing in the Ultimate Fighting Championship since 2007. In his nineteen Octagon appearances, eight have been scheduled for five rounds, and those are big numbers that can’t be ignored. Machida has almost twice the professional fights that Rockhold has and held his own for five rounds with a pound for pound great in Chris Weidman just under a year ago. Rockhold last went the full 25 minutes with Tim Kennedy in Strikeforce three years ago. Significant stats to take into account with a scheduled 25 minute bout approaching.

ROCKHOLD’S ADVANTAGES
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Though Rockhold doesn’t possess the dynamic double leg of a GSP, his ground game is very legit. Machida possesses a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt like Rockhold, however, unlike Rockhold, he owns very few submission victories. Rockhold is a very savvy, technical and opportunistic grappler, and can end a contest very quickly with transitional brilliance like his mounted triangle/Kimura submission over Tim Boetsch, or his previously mentioned homage to Urijah Faber one armed guillotine of Michael Bisping. Machida’s ground game is much more basic and he has shown bad habits of not advancing position and keeping a very open guard, he must keep everything tight and be keenly aware of his defense on the ground.

Work Rate/Output.
Both fighters have good conditioning but their work rate is much different. Rockhold will tee off with kicks at his mid-range distance and throws decent punching combinations as opponents move in on him. Machida tends to wait on attacks, so he can counter, limiting his output and that aspect of his game has come back to haunt him, namely, his bout with Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and most recently to Chris Weidman. According to ufc.com, Rockhold has an average of 3.60 significant strikes landed per minute, beating Machida’s stat of 2.65 significant strikes. Waiting too long and being inactive is most definitely a risky proposition in a five round fight.

THE VERDICT
Each fighter has their work cut out for them, they both have excellent records, solid well-rounded skills and real fight finishing potential. Expect a slow feeling out process in the opening round since they both like to fight at range and use feints. Rockhold will land his fair share of strikes and may be able to wear Machida down for a bit against the fence with his strong over/under clinch game throughout the course of the fight. However, Lyoto Machida’s striking, speed, experience and overall craftiness should be enough to win at least three rounds in the judges scorecards.
Lyoto Machida by 48-47 Unanimous Decision.

Gonzaga vs. Cro Cop II; The Fight You did not Realize You Wanted to See.

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If you came across this article and were looking for an in-depth breakdown of this weekend’s UFC Fight Pass card, you’re at the wrong place. However, if you were not aware of the heavyweight bout taking place on Saturday, or were looking for a reason to watch a semi-meaningful rematch in which one of the most disturbing head kick knockouts in combat sports history occurred, you’re in the right place.

UFC Fight Night 64 taking place in Krakow, Poland on Saturday is not a fight card for most non-European MMA fans. The card is dominated by European newcomers and prospects, not too many names that will stick out even to some of the most hardcore MMA fans. Although, British bomber Jimi Manuwa, and Scottish striking virtuoso Joanne Calderwood are both on the lineup, their opponents are virtually unknown. Which leaves us with the main event, a 5 round heavyweight affair between Gabriel Gonzaga and Mirko Cro Cop, a rematch of their 2007 bout at UFC 70 in where the unthinkable happened. Mirko Cro Cop, a former K1 kickboxer notorious for his left head kick knockouts had the tables turned in the most devastating fashion imaginable. In the waning seconds of the first round, Gabriel Gonzaga threw a right head kick that landed with every violent intention known to man, Cro Cop fell like a hundred foot oak tree and bent his ankle in a gruesome manner that may very well have been more unsettling than the knockout itself. After the fight, Gonzaga lost his title fight with Randy Couture and would imminently be cut from the UFC roster and Cro Cop had a tumultuous run where he would retire from the sport. Now, 8 years after their first encounter, they meet again in a rather strange and head scratching form of circumstances.

It is safe to say, that both men are passed their prime and are rather unlikely candidates to make a title run, so why? Why care? Why care about a fight with no clear endgame,  that means almost nothing in the rankings perspective? Because, there is a sick, nefarious notion in our minds that something epic could happen. Cro Cop seems determined to avenge the loss and Gonzaga seems set to not be on the wrong end of a losing streak. However, it’s not enough to compel many people to tune in and watch, but the very idea of seeing a colossal level of violence does intrigue.

Gonzaga vs. Cro Cop II is a fight that slaps the MMA fan in the face, and not necessarily in a bad way. Too often can the MMA fan have the inner battle of whether this is a spectacle or a sport, and Saturday’s matchup makes no bones about it, it’s both. Both Gonzaga and Cro Cop have a penchant to dish out exorbitant amounts of violence, and absorb scary amounts of concussive blows, so the chances of a finish are sky high, the opportunity for a “Fight of the Night” bonus are there too. Moreover, there’s a chance Cro Cop can avenge his loss and return the knockout he suffered, but, there’s also a chance of the one thing that people are thinking but, for one reason or another, don’t want to say out loud; Gabriel Gonzaga can shock the world and head kick Cro Cop again.

In MMA, anything is possible and no outcome can be truly obvious, that is why it’s so exciting. Can lightning strike twice? Can such a ridiculous all-time great knockout be replicated? Who knows, that is why we’ll watch. Don’t be afraid to indulge the insidious desire to watch professional fighters concuss each other on the grandest of scales. True martial arts builds character and represents the most organic form of competition, but it’s also about inflicting damage and pain, they can and do, coexist. So don’t feel guilty, don’t question your love of the sport, enjoy the bouts however you see fit, because this is one of the rare times where the outcome means little, but it doesn’t matter because the anticipation for brutality is the true merit. True competition or cheap entertainment? No difference, the spectacle is competition, and the beauty is in the irony.

Brock Lesnar; The Prime Example of When Common Sense Trumps Desire.

The last time Brock Lesnar stepped foot inside a mixed martial arts cage, he was seen slumped over against the fence after Dutch kickboxing star Alistair Overeem liver kicked him into oblivion. Lesnar was coming off a 14 month layoff due to complications from diverticulitis, and was obviously rusty stepping in the cage. After a few battering knees to the body from Overeem, it became abundantly clear that it was only a matter of time before the contest would be stopped. The agony that Lesnar displayed after being kicked in the liver was evident, but the innumerable questions that plagued his mind quickly thereafter, were not.

The star that was Brock Lesnar can be difficult to explain for people who were not there to witness it. Much like Ronda Rousey, Brock commanded attention but unlike Rousey, it was almost for ambiguous reasons. Lesnar had the look; a freak specimen with Adonis DNA, he had strange medieval-like tattoos that looked like they came out of a Slayer album cover, and he was a freight train of power and violence. For all his attributes though, Lesnar was not much of a talker, the silver tongued skills of a Ronda Rousey or Chael Sonnen were lost on him, but it did not matter. The numbers the man generated were unprecedented, he almost instantly became the biggest draw of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, and he did it, for the most part, just being himself. The pro wrestler brought in big dollars to professional prize fighting by not holding back his persona and competing to the best of his ability.

Yesterday Brock Lesnar announced on ESPN, that he will never step into an MMA cage again and will remain with his current employer, the WWE. Reactions throughout the mixed martial arts community were mixed, some disappointed, some thrilled, some downright apathetic, but it was the things he stated that made this announcement strike a chord.

Desire; it is a word that is embedded in all people, a word essential for fighters. When a prize fighter finds his/her self at the twilight of their career, the question is always asked, “How badly do they want it? What more do they have to fight for?” Brock Lesnar had the desire, he wanted to prove himself, he wanted to be the best in the world. The common wisdom was, Lesnar was not happy with the WWE and he wanted to return to MMA to fulfill his true desire to compete and right the ship after two consecutive TKO losses to current heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez, and Alistair Overeem, and although that seemed to be the mindset and even began training to prepare himself for a bout, it did not come to pass. All in all, the announcement that Brock Lesnar would not be returning to the Octagon wasn’t too shocking, what was shocking was his reasons as to why he wouldn’t.

Vengeance, redemption, validation all the reasons in the world for a former champion and wrecking machine like Brock Lesnar to return were not enough. Lesnar stated that he signed his WWE deal because just imagining walking into a mixed martial arts cage was “like a bad dream” and “it didn’t feel right,” those are some strangely disturbing, yet refreshing comments to come out of a fighter’s mouth. How many current fighters can one think of that are out of their prime and should have already considered retirement a couple of fights ago? How many are nervous and scared to death to step in a cage to get into a fist fight? How many lie to themselves and say that they’re better than their last fight and “this new young guy can’t beat a veteran like me?” Strong feeling the answer to those previous questions are, quite a few. That is where Brock Lesnar shines through, sure he has a tons of money, sure he has more options other than fighting, and of course he did some remarkable things in his short stint inside of mixed martial arts that very few fighters, including himself, might ever replicate. However, Lesnar’s uncompromising honesty left him making a decision that was intelligent and gave him peace of mind, those two phrases don’t live in simultaneous continuity in the mind of most fighters. Mixed martial arts fighters and spectators alike can learn a great deal from Lesnar’s statement, this is a sport of all or nothing, there’s no room for doubt, and very little for concern.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with being dedicated and confident in MMA, in fact, it is vital, however where is the point of no return? When is enough truly enough? The saying goes, “fighting is a sport, but it is not a game,” how very true, yet, it seems that people perpetually try to play the odds, only to end up getting played themselves. Lesnar is the best example of when to say enough, so instead of criticizing and speculating, let’s respect the man, his decision, and value the mixed martial artists there are now. The Jose Aldos, Jon Jones, Ronda Rouseys, Demetrious Johnsons, Chris Weidmans only come by once in a lifetime and any fight can be their last, let’s treasure them and appreciate every strike thrown, every takedown attempted, every submission applied, because no others have done it with the skill and majesty that they have.