by Mike Booble

About The Author

If brains were gasoline Mike would have enough to power an ants motorcycle around the outside of a penny. Would be funny if it wasn't true. Sports, sports, sports. Often times he said if he didnt do SOMETHING in the industry in would be a complete waste of his childhood. Crisis averted. 
UFC 229: MY Balls Was Hot

     I’m not even sure where to begin. For those of you who watched UFC 229 you know, it was a success, as well as a massive failure. It was the most talked about UFC event in a very long time and the most infamous event the company has ever had. The hype surrounding it was incredible. Laws were broken. Religion and politics invoked. Two all-time great fighters, in their prime, deciding who could go down as the best fighter of their generation.
     Conor McGregor and Khabib Nurmagomedov, two very different personalities with two very different fighting styles, coming together in a perfect storm of sport, political discourse, subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) racism and a dolly. For the hardcore fans, this a fight that had been brewing for years. Khabib an undefeated, untested, unrivaled grappler, who mauls people the way a bear does (he legitimately wrestles bears btw) and one of the most effective, accurate and powerful strikers pound for pound MMA has ever had in McGregor.

     The fight was already a big deal before Khabib cornered Artem Lobov in a hallway, backed up by a dozen or so of his closest friends and gave a very indirect, direct message to one Mr. Notorious. Conor, never one to turn down an opportunity to inflict mayhem on the world surrounding him, hopped a plane from Dublin as soon as he saw the video and made his way to New York City to even the score. What followed on that loading dock at the Barclay’s Center was something only Vince McMahon could draw up. The only thing missing was a seven-foot giant turning over the bus.

     From that moment on, it became the biggest fight in UFC history and the biggest fight in combat sports that could be made, outside of Deontay Wilder and Anthony Joshua. However, the moment the fight was announced it took on a very different vibe from the normal Conor fights. There was no world tour. There weren’t multiple press conferences. Interviews with each fighter were scarce until fight week and even then, only a select few were given the luxury of talking to either of the two combatants. It seemed very personal. At least on Khabib’s side.

     In retrospect allowing Conor to continually bring up politics and religion seems like a bad idea. But hindsight is always 20\20. But keeping an eye on the big picture, one could see the inevitable outcome of such a personal conflict. And yet, this is where UFC and boxing are supposed to be superior. Unlike “beef” in baseball, basketball, football or hockey, at the end of the day, two parties will be locked inside a cage or step between the ropes and fight. Posturing, shit talking, showmanship, it’s there in all sports. But other sports either ban fighting altogether or only allow a weak version of it, with both fighters armed to the gills in pads, really in no danger of being hurt. Not the case in MMA or boxing. All of the shit talking, posturing and showmanship is done with the intent of fighting. This is what makes Khabib’s actions so terrible for not only him, but the organization, and the sport as a whole.

     Tyson v Holyfield. Fan Man. Mayweather v Judah. The Malice in the Palace. These kinds of incidents while not normal, are not exactly unheard of. So, what makes Khabib any different? Tyson and Holyfield, I more or less chalk up to idiots drinking and starting a riot. Fan Man was an entirely separate, very weird thing and if you’ve never heard of it, look it up. Mayweather/Judah was really just a boxing thing. The whole scene took place in the ring, was just between the two fighters and the camps, and in the end, the fight continued. Khabib took everything Conor said, internalized it, let it stew, marinate and eventually boil over to a one-sided beatdown of the seemingly superhuman McGregor. Then the fight ended.

     The fight ended in convincing fashion. Unlike in boxing where the biggest events are often marred by horrific judging, there was no doubt who the better fighter was. So much so, there is almost no reason for the rematch, besides financial gain. Honestly, another fight should go about the same way. The beauty of combat sports lies in the fact that at the end of the day, after all the talking, you have to fight. It can be settled. And Khabib did that. He won the fight. All the talking and nonsense coming from McGregor didn’t matter. Khabib showed who the better man was.

     Then, after getting McGregor to tap, he taunted him (understandable), yelled at Conor’s corner (again, understandable) and leaped over the cage, into the crowd, to go after other fighters in Conor’s camp. What?! Khabib went from a conquering hero in the minds of a lot of people to that drunk guy at a bar who wants to fight everyone. He turned into Debo during that fight with Craig, challenging anyone and everyone to “come get some.” From a business side, Khabib is an idiot. He was a made man. The guy who beat the guy. More people were watching him than ever before. More people now know his name than ever before. Unfortunately, it’s not because of the dominant performance he had inside the octagon. It was the actions outside of it that will live on forever. A massive fine and lengthy suspension from the Nevada State Athletic Commission will soon follow. He will likely be stripped of his title. All of this a virtual certainty because the Governor of Nevada was in attendance and had to be rushed out of the arena when shit hit the fan. Guess who oversees NSAC? Yup, the Governor. Good luck with that.

     Conor, for his part, isn’t a victim, in the “normal” sense. Sure, having two cowards jump the cage and attack you from behind sucks and no one deserves that, not even McGregor. And real quick, those two idiots, both fighters under contracts to UFC. Well, I should say they were. Good luck with that paycheck. You just pissed off the head of the biggest organization in a sport where the fighters are paid a laughable wage already, even in the UFC. Great career move morons.
As many people have pointed out online, Conor took it there. Dana White said as much in his post-event press conference. The issue between the two camps is no longer sports related. In White’s words “it’s street shit.” Save for a few skirmishes on the strip, the Vegas Metro Police did an amazing job containing and ultimately ending the chaos. As noted above with other incidents, once they start they’re almost impossible to stop without serious damage being done. But make no mistake, this is not over. I’m sure at some point we’ll get that rematch. It might be the only time in fight history where the two fighters will never be in the same room until that cage door is locked on fight night.

     That was a long recap to arrive at the point of this; what's my take? Who do I blame? Who was right? Who was wrong?
It's a hard question to answer. In these circumstances, I tend to believe 99% of what's said, is for the show. Politics, religion, race whatever, I believe for the most part it’s all an act. The goal is to get inside your opponent’s head. Get them so angry and ready for vengeance they’re thrown off their game and you take advantage. And it has worked for McGregor in the past. He did more or less the same to Jose Aldo, and Aldo entered that cage so hell-bent on revenge he got caught with a counter left and knocked out 13 seconds into the fight. That was Conor’s goal here. Khabib did a much better job managing his emotions, until after the fight. At the end of the day, that’s all people are going to talk about. And it’s a shame. As I said, Khabib’s performance was impressive. A career-defining win that will be an afterthought to a career detouring decision.

     Conor is not an innocent victim here. Having anyone entering the cage, ring or field of play is a no-no, at all times. That's where he gets the pass. And refusing to press charges on the idiots strengthens my point on that. He didn’t really care about the fight after the fight. But what led to all this, what caused all of this, he carries a large part of the blame for. Even as a part of the act, you have to be aware of your surroundings. You have to understand, especially with something so personal as fighting, a lot of people are not going to take it as entertainment. It will be very, very personal for them. If your Conor and you’re going to go down that road, you have to be ready to deal with the consequences, and by some measure he was. But make no mistake, he has no one else to blame but himself, for the fight, and the fight after the fight.

     Lost In all of this is what should’ve been the two highlights of the night. The Co-Main, Tony Ferguson and Anthony Pettis, put on the fight of the night and showed why people love this sport. It was Mortal Kombat come to life. Crazy kicks and punches, a crimson mask covering a crimson mask, broken hands, this fight had everything and more. And yet, before that fight, the highlight for me was Derrick Lewis. I cannot do it justice in print. If you have not seen his post-fight interview, go to the UFC YouTube page, and find it. You will not be disappointed. I’ll leave you with a little teaser;
Joe Rogan: Why did you take your pants off?
Derrick Lewis: My balls was hot
Joe Rogan: I understand
      If that isn’t enough to get you to watch, if you have it, lose my number. It only got better from there. And as always, I’m Mike Booble and that’s my opinion.
by Mike Booble

About The Author

If brains were gasoline Mike would have enough to power an ants motorcycle around the outside of a penny. Would be funny if it wasn't true. Sports, sports, sports. Often times he said if he didnt do SOMETHING in the industry in would be a complete waste of his childhood. Crisis averted. 

       It is the end of an era. Stability has been replaced with uncertainty. The promising, which gave way to the expected has now become the forgotten. Two score and five years ago, George Foreman demolished Joe Frazier to become Heavyweight champ, on what was to become modern day PPV, broadcasted by HBO.

       After Daniel Jacobs faces Sergey Derevyanchenko on October 27, at least for the foreseeable future, live boxing will no longer exist on the most watched premium cable channel.

       As an avid boxing fan, the sweet science was really the only reason I subscribed to HBO in the first place. I like enough shows now to probably warrant keeping my subscription, but it's not a guarantee.

       While this news is somewhat saddening, it’s by no means unexpected. Since Floyd Mayweather signed his six fight, $180M dollar deal, HBO has been in a steady decline.

       Except for Canelo Alvarez, they have not had a viable PPV draw since Manny Pacquiao was knocked unconscious by Juan Manuel Marquez in December 2012. GGG delivered the only consistently high ratings during World Championship Boxing or Boxing After Dark on the regular paid channel. And the only shoulder programming, “The Fight Game" has gone from a refreshing look at the sport to a spiteful, vindictive self-serving television show that's basically unwatchable.

       In the last 40 plus years a who's who has appeared over twenty times for HBO, names like Mayweather, Pacquiao, and both Oscar de la Hoya and Roy Jones Jr, with 32 appearances a piece.

       Non competitive fights, mixed with competitive fights between unknown fighters and the lack of any fights whatsoever have taken their toll on the viewership of HBO Boxing and the media's reluctance to cover it. The most prominent of pundits if given the choice almost always pick some other card as opposed to the one airing on HBO and a lot of the times the decision isn't hard.

       For the better part of three years Peter Nelson, President of HBO Sports has been asked over and over again about HBO's commitment to.boxing and time and time again he would reiterate that HBO was still in the business of boxing but were being selective of the fights they pursued and aired.

       Showtime ’s aggressive expansion into the realm of prize fighting, along with ESPN signing a long term deal with Top Rank amd the successful launch of DAZN (pronounced Da Zone) even without HBO boxing is the healthiest it's been in awhile. It also releases a lot of the top talent out of their contracts, allowing them to fight on other more accessible networks and also free up commentary to pursue other opportunities.

       Like in wrestling, never say never. This may be for all intents and purposes a retirement of sorts, do not be surprised if HBO makes a return in a few years, at least if a massive PPV presents itself. For now, fans of the sweet science on the O.G. network can enjoy a vast library and begin counting down until the return that will happen.  Someday.

As always, I'm Mike Booble and that's my opinion.