BJJ in My Eyes August article – The good, the bad and the ugly?

BJJ in my eyes August article – The good, the bad and the ugly?

The UFC started in 1993.  When the No holds barred now called Mixed martial arts sport began, there was a point of view on the entire sport.  For a while, Senator John McCain from Arizona began a legislative process to rid it entirely.  Fans were irritated, but then again we didn’t know if fans were simply beer drinking armchair quarterbacks or actual martial artists who were legitimate fans of martial arts.  Probably back then it was somewhere in between.  It probably still is.  I cringe when I see a group of guys watching the UFC with “Affliction” or “Tapout” tshirts.  Expertise on each fighter is dually expressed.  In a previous article I mentioned a gentleman who was bussing tables in a restaurant that saw a group of students and I wearing my school “Vandry BJJ” tshirts.  The difference is we don’t need to speak outloud, vent our opinions or thoughts trying to impress the public while eating.  So how is MMA viewed to general public these days?  Obviously we have had one persistent thing in MMA, basically not the best way for the public to perceive.

Lets start with the good, the bad and the ugly and see how we can view the industry, which incidentally compels the public to view our industry such as my academy, my association schools and values of our reputation.  The good, the bad and the ugly will not be personal attacks on these athletes, but I will compile the general view overall based upon their own words, actions and patterns of behavior, not whether someone likes or dislikes these athletes.  I get about 20 or so emails a week from people that “wanna fight mma”.  Geez, you would think once we grew past 18, assuming we are of sound mind, that we actually pursue careers realistically.

There are people that fight MMA that either make it careers such as Couture, Anderson Silva and others, but the main thing is most probably need other work.  One or two fights a year may not even hit 50k for some fighters.

For instance, lets look at the pay for the last UFC:

The full payouts for the event included:

Jon Fitch: $90,000 (includes $45,000 win bonus)
def. Paulo Thiago: $8,000

Brock Lesnar: $400,000 (no win bonus)
def. Frank Mir: $45,000

Georges St-Pierre: $400,000 ($200,000 win bonus)
def. Thiago Alves: $60,000

Dan Henderson: $250,00 ($150,000 win bonus)
def. Michael Bisping: $150,000

Yoshihiro Akiyama: $60,000 ($20,000 win bonus)
def. Alan Belcher: $19,000

Mark Coleman: $100,000 ($50,000 win bonus)
def. Stephan Bonnar: $25,000

Jim Miller: $22,000 ($11,000 win bonus)
def. Mac Danzig: $20,000

Jon Jones: $18,000 ($9000 win bonus)
def. Jake O’Brien: $13,000

Dong Hyun Kim: $58,000 ($29,000 win bonus)
def. T.J. Grant: $5,000

Tom Lawlor: $16,000 ($8,000 win bonus)
def. C.B. Dollway: $14,000

Shannon Gugerty: $10,000 ($5,000 win bonus)
def. Matt Grice: $7,000

Obviously some fighters may have other costs such as medical bills not covered, but perhaps the UFC knows what its doing with their pay.  They have a consistent monopoly in the game right now, and with Affliction just folding due to Josh Barnett’s positive steroid testing, they really used the USA vs. England TUF show promo for this UFC.  PPV sales were good for them, and they look forward to tackling a fight with Floyd Mayweather, when his next fight will coincide the same date as the next UFC next month.

So where does this head in viewer’s direction?  Many fans enjoy watching competition in the UFC, and like other sports, there is a variety between armchair quarterbacks, actual practitioners in the sport for leisure or competition or just plain fans who enjoy them.  So what flows in the direction for our society?  I have watched the UFC, Pride and other events since they started.  I have a few pro MMA fighters that are my students.  We know a bit about the game, the preparation, the pay, the fight and the going home part.  The last UFC unfortunately had a black eye in the industry with Brock Lesnar’s remarks, acts and absolute unprofessional behavior.  Fighters can get irritated, frustrated as many athletes do.  However, like all martial arts, we have to keep in mind our behaviors are monitored daily and by the hour.  There are children watching, viewing and sometimes families want to view sports.  The good thing is fighters like George St. Pierre (UFC champion), make absolutely proper remarks, comments and professional behavior that appeals to the audience.  Brock Lesnar’s comments was the compete antithesis.  Lets discuss a bit about these fighters according to the media:

The Good

1. Randy Couture

Couture, a former UFC champion that is an ageless wonder, recently turned 46.  Couture is like the Ronnie Coleman of the bodybuilding championship Mr. Olympia.  Coleman himself is 46, and possibly the greatest Mr. Olympia ever.  Age at times does not obviously deflect good genetics, hard training and good work ethic.  Couture has been a great sport, never runs his mouth about other fighters, and has been a media darling for the UFC.  Couture plans to fight Nogueira, former UFC champion himself, and may line up for a possible rematch with Brock Lesnar.  Couture is also a pretty darn good commentator.  He remarks on training styles, fighter’s strategies and gives what is probably the best analytical approach to predicting outcomes on fighters other than an obvious blowout being an obvious prediction.

2. Fedor Emeliankenko
Fedor has dominated the MMA scene and is arguably the best fighter in the world.  Fedor has fought the best in Pride, and has destroyed two past UFC heavyweight champions.  Fedor just signed a deal wwith Strikeforce, snubbing the UFC despite what appeared to be a good $30 million, five fight deal.  I think Fedor’s comments about restrictions in contracts with the UFC gives us a reminder of the Randy Couture legal pain he endured. Fedor too is a media darling, and has professed respect for other fighters, and definitely has the right outlook that we need to see in fighters.

3. Anderson Silva 

Although Anderson does not speak English very well and uses an interpretor, his sportslike attitude is another good shot in the arm.  Anderson has dominated his competition, and I am sure his code of honor would be so much better received if his English was more direct for the fans to hear him.  He has discussed a boxing match with Roy Jones Jr.  Silva may have shown he arguably is the most technical MMA fighter on the planet right now.  GSP and Machida are good debate conversations, GSP has better takedowns and sprawls, Machida probably is too.  Regarding perfect timing in striking and razor sharp hits, no one is better than Anderson.  The absolute Silva-Forrest fight seemed akin to wrestling with your Uncle.  Silva demonstrated a very impressive accuracy in his striking, but definitely the absolute lack of any fear of Forrest Griffin’s punches showed his technical dominance, but not disrespect.

4. Lyoto Machida
What can you say?  Machida too has destroyed his opposition.  His now current championship status hallmarks his good work ethic, and his absolute pofessional behavior.  You just cant help but like this guy.  His striking ability is accurate, and very unorthodox.  Difficult to see who can beat this guy right now unless Anderson Silva wants to take 205 seriously.

5. GSP
This soft spoken, devastating fighter has shown no one in his division is close to his game.  He reminds me of the old stories of Sugar Ray Robinson from many decades ago.  He could outpunch the punchers and outbox the boxers.  When asked about GSP moving up in weight, I think his comment was perfect.  Why does he have to prove anything by moving up to weight to fight Anderson Silva, who he himself has a light heavyweight frame?  Good work ethic, dream fighter, and has shown people what professional behavior is about.  His loss to Matt Hughes had him come back without running his mouth.  His loss to Matt Serra had him come beack without running his mouth.  The rematch with BJ Penn was the same thing.  All three rematches he destroyed his opponent, broke them down, mentally and physically defeated them and was still a nice, polite guy.


The Bad

Fighters come and go.  Sometimes there are some that just didn’t fight their particular fight.  Any fighter can lose at anytime.  GSP avenged his loss to Matt Serra, but didn’t make excuses, just went back to the books and trained hard.  Couture came back to dominate Tim Silvia to rewin his title.  Winning or losing happens, but unfortunately there are fights that will forever be remembered.  The bad section I will save it for one fight, and Dana White’s damning comments on Kalib Starnes in his fight against Nate Quarry did not help:

(Yahoo sports),78124
“It wasn’t such a good night, though, for Kalib Starnes, who spent most of the evening running from Nate Quarry in their middleweight bout. A native of Surrey, B.C., Starnes was booed heavily by the Canadian crowd that had been boisterous in its support of all the other Canadians on the card.After losing a unanimous decision on scores of 30-26, 30-27, and an unheard-of 30-24, Starnes received even worse news: He was cut from his contract by UFC president Dana White.He just doesn’t belong in the UFC and after his performance the other night, he should consider a new line of work,” White said Monday.”


The Ugly

Ok, here it goes.  The one thing is times that there are fighters that don’t see how they affect others with comments or actions. These fighters have done well in competition, but unfortunately this is an example of one or two or more statements can get carried away, intentionally or not, and actually black eye this industry.  Usually the case in these areas are one or two statements or some type of consistent behavior that irritates the audience.  I don’t think any of us have a right to state exactly or judge any of the fighters on their personal life.  The problem gets more in what they may have said or done that personally can have an effect on fans negatively.

 1. Brock Lesnar 
Lesnar was a successful NCAA collegiate wrestler and former pro wrestling star.  Lesnar has a massive frame, and some good athletic skills and potential to become a successful fighter.  Training with JKD players such as Erik Paulson and a good muscular frame to deal with fights has put him in a top spot in the UFC.  However, much of his public criticisms come from UFC 100.  When he didn’t touch gloves with Frank Mir was a show of disrespect, when he won yelling at Mir when the Doctors were treating him was not a very good sportsmanlike showing, flipping off the crowd just wasn’t a good championship behavior, but to disrespect the UFC’s main sponsor Budweiser was not smart politically, career wise, nor in any fashion a smooth transfer to the general public as a mainstream ESPN weekly type sport.  Lesnar has received a multitude of criticism from many directions, and to be fair, this may or may not be his actual personality or the real Brock Lesnar.  When Randy Couture stated: “Busting out one of the major sponsors and other comments are things we have worked hard not to be associated with” reflects a general opinion from fans and fellow fighters.  Lesnar’s comments on Couture’s age by calling him “too old” were not warranted, and downright disrespectful.  Many blasted Lesnar for his unsportsmanlike and demeaning comments, including UFC fighter Randy Couture again, who told Seattle radio show host BJ Shea that he was confused by some of Lesnar’s remarks. “We really don’t need to know that he’s getting on his wife that night.” Couture stated. “You’re married to Sable, you think that would be happening all the time.” As for Lesnar’s comments about Mir, Couture said,“That’s not the kind of thing our sport is known for. Those kinds of antics and those kinds of comments. It’s about comraderie and respect. And that’s the martial arts part of what we do. And I think he lost sight of that or hasn’t found that yet”

For Lesnar to have a speak before you think attitude, the problem is this like other fighters can deter crowds.  The WWE style of mouth, in my opinion is not best for this sport.  Trash talking is always in athletics, but disrespect to crowds, fighters, promoters and sponsors goes a little beyond that.  We hope there is a day where wives and children can watch Brock Lesnars without shocking a crowd with words.  Lesnar has had positive comments in some interviews, as the current UFC champ, hopefull Lesnar will remember that kids do watch too.


 2. Tito Ortiz
The Huntington beach bad boy has mad many controversial statements, good and bad, but controversy follows Tito.  News on a news report:  

Posted Jun 5th 2009 7:19PM by TMZ Staff
Tito Ortiz is on the receiving end of a serious legal attack — one that started after the UFC legend bashed “Rampage” Jackson’s former trainer to the media.

The guy filing the lawsuit is Juanito Ibarra — a fighting expert who claims he’s trained more than 15 world champs and several Olympic Gold Medal winners. Ibarra’s pissed over an interview Tito gave to a website back in 2008, in which the fighter ripped Ibarra as a “thief” who had financially “taken advantage of Rampage.”

In the lawsuit, filed today in L.A. County Superior Court, Ibarra claims Tito’s statements are all false and “highly offensive” — and things got worse when scores of sports websites began publishing follow-up stories, repeating Tito’s comments.

Ibarra is suing Tito and all the blogs and publications that ran Tito’s interview for defamation, invasion of privacy and emotional distress.  Incidentally, Tito has been known to have comments that have stirred controversy.  I also note that despite criticism Tito has faced, I think his personal life of having kids with former adult actress Jenna Jameson is not the issue and personal  life should be left and respected to privacy.
Tito sparked controversy in his own book he discusses the Lion’s den feud and his tshirts.  Some of his tshirts worn by Tito in earlier UFCs were derogatory comments made after a fight, expecting to win he already prepped some type of phrase that was meant to put down his opponent.  A list of his own tshirts to the following opponents state:
Jerry Bohlander -“I Just F—-d Your @$$”
Guy Mezger – “Gay Mezger Is My B—h”
Elvis Sinosic – “That’s American For Whoop Ass Mate”
Ken Shamrock – “I Just Killed Kenny, You Bastard”

The tshirt Tito wore at UFC 84 stating “Dana is my b—h” stirred more controversy against UFC promoter Dana White.  Tito challenged White to a boxing match, in which he later received criticism for backing out due to claims for business reasons by not receiving a portion of a possible box office.  Tito also has been brought back to the UFC, and may be fighting Mark Coleman.  On the website, Tito was listed as no. 2, behind Tim Silvia in the article:

Top Ten Most Hated Fighters in the UFC and Mixed Martial Arts

Tito has been criticized for not being in his prime anymore, but I don’t believe this to be the whole truth.  Tito has had to endure back surgery, and has fought either not at his top or slightly injured.  The main problem is like Chuck Lidell, the style is not the dominant style anymore.  In Tito’s last three fights, he has a loss to Machida, a draw with Rashad Evans, and a loss to Chuck lidell.  If Tito tweaks his game, perhaps he can be a darkhorse in the light heavy division with a solid win over Mark Coleman to step up to the top 4.  


 3. Tim Sylvia
Silvia is a former UFC champion, beating Ricco Rodriguez and defending his title until eventually losing to the immortal Randy Couture.  Silvia expressed an interest in boxing until his 9 second knockout to boxer Ray Mercer occurred.  Silvia has received tremendous criticism for things like the championship belt wearing at afterparties, although other fighters did too.  Silvia’s main issue seemed to be his dismay for again thinking before acting.It seemed when Silvia Koed Tre Tellingman of Lion’s Den, he cheered and celebrated when Tellingman was being carried out in a stretcher.  Ouch.


Regret the words and will be back award:

BJ Penn
Oh, how I really liked BJ.  I think he is one of the most talented fighters and ground technicians in MMA.  I remember at the 2000 Pan American world championship I competed at, I saw this little guy standing in the back of a long line at a restaurant.  I told one of my guys: “Hey, that’s a BJJ guy, tell him he can come sit with us so he doesn’t have to wait in line.”  The guy came over, and we ate, talked a little, and we all left.  That was BJ Penn.  He seemed like a nice guy and I remember his Pan Am match where he and the other competitor got disqualified.  What happened with BJ?  Everyone loved BJ in mma.  Everyone cheered for him against Matt Hughes and other fighters.  He lost a close decision to GSP the first fight, and this is where it all seemed to really put a black eye on BJ’s name.  BJ lost the rematch to GSP by stoppage due to his own corner calling it quits.  That itself is nothing to be ashamed of.  BJ just simply fought a fighter just as talented as he, and with a better style.  BJ has heart and no one should ever question that.  He has been around, fought his way, and done well.  Then comes unneeded comments:


August 6, 2009
Penn said he believes St. Pierre uses steroids, though he concedes he has no proof. St. Pierre is arguably the sport’s most popular fighter and Penn knows that making such allegations isn’t going to win him any friends.
Penn, though, isn’t the type to be shy about offering his opinion though it may be unpopular.
“It’s just my opinion that he uses steroids,” Penn said. “That’s it. My opinion. I do believe it. I can’t hand you any proof, but that’s my opinion.”
In an earlier conversation on the topic, Penn said, “In my opinion, he doesn’t play by the rules when it comes to steroids and growth hormones and that stuff. Look at him. He’s the worst. He looks like that every day. That’s cheating. There is a reason why there are rules against using steroids. The rest of us, we get fat, then we train and get skinny and the cycle goes over and over again. He looks the same way all the time. Come on.”
A little damage control ensued as BJ did apologize, and this shows he does look at things he doesn’t want misunderstood:

Before the rematch with GSP, Penn made one of the most damning comments that disappointed many of his fans:

When asked about GSP’S heart Penn stated that ” only a little bitch would turn to the side and tap the canvas, and when he fought Matt Serra the first time I was there and I saw it, Georges is a quitter, he tapped out from strikes.”
This comment from BJ is obviously an emotional one.  I don’t think BJ is really a bad guy.  BJ has overall been very popular in MMA, and has a very charismatic personality.  At times fighters are nervous, irritated and stressed.  BJ rejuvenated his career with a very decisive destruction of Kenny Florian via naked choke.  BJ definitely is back as a fighter and we will see where he goes.  Hopefully BJ will also ease back, and his last fight was a good step at reminding fans he has a good intent, is a great fighter and has charm fans like to hear.


Overall the view of MMA affects martial artists of all kind.  Public or semi public figures are always on the spotlight, and have to work with their community.


Professor William Vandry
Head instructor VBJJ (Austin Headquarters)

Vandry BJJ Academy: Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) & Muay Thai Boxing, Austin, Texas.

Submitted by William Vandry on Sat, 08/15/2009 – 11:14