The Fight Nerd

July 17, 2014

Art Davie explains UFC history in “Is This Legal?” – Book Review

Filed under: Product Reviews — Tags: , , , , , , , , — The Fight Nerd @ 3:36 PM

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Old School MMA is kind of our thing here on TheFightNerd.com. I was not a TUF bandwagon fan, but I was also not one of the people who was watching the first event when it aired in 1993. With that said, my fandom began with the debut event of “The Ultimate Fighting Championship” on VHS, and 90 minutes later I was hooked. Many years later and I am doing a video series all about the old SEG UFC events from a historical and comical perspective. There is a ton of info out there, but finding it all in one spot has always been tough, as well as being able to read between the lines and find the truth of hearing the same story told from different people. Today, we are checking out a book about the origins of the biggest MMA promotion in the world from the man that was responsible for making that happen.

Written by Art Davie (with help from Sean Wheelock), “Is This Legal?” tells the inside story of how the first no-holds-barred martial arts fighting show made it to pay-per-view, and all of the struggles along the way. It’s hard to review this book without giving away too many spoilers that make the experience so enjoyable and informative, and that sentence right there should give you an idea of where this review is headed.

Davie holds nothing back, whether it is about himself, the Gracie family, the business side of setting up this event and who he worked with, and the fighters themselves. Some of these are stories we have heard tidbits of before, such as the tumultuous rules meeting at the first event and how the structure of the fighting surface was initially formed, but now we have the deeper stories behind them from the man that witnessed and influenced these things. There is little time spent on autobiographical details preceding the first spark that set Davie on the path to the UFC, but it’s not all a behind the scenes of UFC 1 book, but a real origin story that sets the pace for the future of the sport.

Did you ever wonder why Royce fought in the first UFC and not Rickson? How movie director John Milius first met Davie and became involved in creating what would eventually become the familiar octagon shape that we all know and love? Or how Bob Meyrowitz and SEG came in, and all of the drama between Davie’s company, WOW, and Bob’s SEG? There are so many stories in this book, many of which I never even knew about until after reading it, that even the most hardcore know-it-all fans will learn something new by the time they finish it. Learning about how Davie recruited fighters and advertised the show was extremely interesting, as well as the contract negotiations between WOW and SEG that cut it close to the time of the actual pay-per-view airing live. Seeing all of the rejection letters that Davie received while trying to sell the event was also pretty amazing, when you consider how many of these people passed up on the sport that years later, they would cover or be interested in exploiting in some way or another.

This is a book that I want to discuss with people, but much like reading “Game of Thrones”, you can not talk about it until the other person has read it. There are few books about MMA history that I can say that about, but this is one of them. Much like the old UFC slogan, “Seeing is Believing”, this book is very much the same. I thought I knew a lot about the first UFC event, and this book taught me far more than I ever expected to know about it. Fight fans and history buffs need to pick this up right away!

You can order Is This Legal?: The Inside Story of The First UFC from the Man Who Created It as a hardcover book from Amazon.com for under $20, and is a 100% must buy for knowledge-seeking MMA fans. The worst thing about this book is that it ends, so Art Davie – if you ever see this review – make a sequel! I want to hear more about the good ole’ days of NHB fighting and would definitely buy another book like this one.

June 24, 2014

Hendricks wants Weidman in UFC Super fight, Dana says no!

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , , , — The Fight Nerd @ 12:43 PM

Fans were hoping to get Anderson Silva and GSP into the octagon down the line for an epic superfight, but with GSP taking an indefinite leave of absence and Silva still recovering from his horrific leg injury, it looks like we might have a new multi-division super fight on our hands.

UFC welterweight champion Johny Hendricks appeared on AXS TV’s “Inside MMA” last week, alongside UFC President Dana White, who was there to discuss the recent signing of Scott Coker to take helm over at Bellator MMA, as well as other recent UFC news stories and upcoming events (including UFC Fight Night 43, for which you can view odds here ).

Hendricks asked, “Realistically, if I won three or four fights, and so does Chris Weidman, three or four fights, do you think we could have that [super fight] happen? 185?” White responded in typical fashion, “Well I don’t know about three or four fights. First of all, champ, you are in a very nasty division that is packed with talent from one through thirteen. You got a lot of housework to do before you start talking about Chris Weidman. So hypothetically, if five through thirteen quit in the next two years, yeah, maybe we can do you and Chris Weidman.”

Hendricks seemed to be put on the spot by host Kenny Rice or a producer in the studio, as his response to Dana was just to reiterate it was hypothetical and that he is focused on his division. In the end, all the talk of a super fight will probably not happen, although if it did, it would be a tremendous match to see.

Weidman will be fighting Lyoto Machida at UFC 175, with the champ postponing his last fight due to surgery on his knees. Hendricks is currently recovering from an injury still that he suffered in his last fight, and has just recently begun training again, with no new challenger to his belt named at this time.

June 17, 2014

Topps “UFC Knockout” 2014 Trading Cards Review

Filed under: Features,Lead Story,Product Reviews — Tags: , , , , , — The Fight Nerd @ 9:58 AM

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Topps has been producing UFC cards for a few years now, with every line topping the last one. Whether it be special inserts, contests, or just re-designing the ordinary cards, Topps has proven why they are the leading trading card manufacturer in the industry. I got my hands on an early release of the company’s next batch of UFC cards, titled “UFC Knockout”, and am sharing with you what I saw to see if the cards still live up to the hype or not.

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This year, the cards are not packaged in shiny wrappers, but come in small cardboard boxes shaped like a long octagon. This parallelogram packaging makes these cards stand out on shelves, and they look pretty cool too. Each pack contains only five cards, which is the smallest amount ever seen with this line. The reasoning behind that is that the paper stock of the cards is now a much thicker stock, twice the size of the older cards, and every pack guarantees either a signature or memorabilia card, which were rare in the previous releases.

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Inside the box, the cards are still wrapped up in a silver package to prevent people from peeking into the cardboard to see what they are getting before purchasing. If you buy these in stores, make sure your boxes are sealed to prevent yourself from scooping up a pack that was rummaged through, or worst off, cards were removed and you get screwed.

Let’s tear into a few packs and see what the cards look like!

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As I mentioned, the cards are all on very heavy stock, and remind me of the Marvel cards that Flair released in the mid ’90′s. This heavier card allows for some fancy new printing techniques, with some of the best resolution photos of fighters we have seen in this line. No pixelation or grain, these pictures are crystal clear and the printing helps make that possible.

Below are a few other cards I got, including a horizontally aligned card so you can see what that looks like.

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Here is the back of the cards, which feature succinct bios and stats for the fighter on the card. There are 100 cards total in this line, not counting the special inserts or the sub-lines, which are also included in each pack and are numbered (something that still puzzles me to this day). So, the breakdown for each pack is three normal cards, one numbered normal card, and one special insert – guaranteed for every pack.

And below are some of the special cards I got!

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These are the memorabilia cards AKA relic cards, which include either a piece of fight-worn gear or a piece of the cage the fighters battled in. I lucked out and got a GSP card, which made me extremely happy. Back in the older lines, the super thick card stock was used solely for these specialty cards, but now they are all thick (although Soa’s card was a bit thicker because of the material from the mats).

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And above are two types of signature cards, one of which includes some fight-worn gear. The signatures are all hand-signed, and every card is individually numbered to drive hardcore collectors insane. Worth noting, in the four packs that I got, I only got single fighter cards and these special cards. Gone are the famous fights cards that featured a fight in action rather than a shot focused solely on one fighter, as well as all other special cards. The focus has now become the signature or memorabilia cards, and since I got no other types of cards, it’s safe to assume that those other types have been cut from the line. There are some other rarer special inserts, but I can not comment on those since the luck of the draw gave me what you saw above.

A big part of the new launch will be the 2014 UFC Knockout Golden Ticket Promotion. There will be ten Golden Tickets randomly inserted into boxes of these cards. Those ten will have a chance to be selected for a meet-and-greet session with UFC Ambassador, Chael Sonnen, and a chance to train with him, while the nine runner-ups will receive a piece of training equipment signed by Sonnen.

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This is definitely Topps’ strongest line in terms of targeting card collectors or very serious UFC fans. However, because of this, these cards are not really the type or card just anyone is going to pick up. With a sealed box of these holding eight mini-boxes costing around 80 on Amazon.com
, that means a single mini-box will cost around $20. That is a HUGE price to pay for only five cards, but you are guaranteed a signature or a relic card, which makes them worth the price if you are an autograph hound.

The cards are all extremely nice and great to look at, made from some high quality paper, and the special cards are definitely some of the best Topps has made, so if you can afford them, dive in and pick them up today.

 

June 2, 2014

UFC Fight Night 42: Henderson VS Khabilov Breakdown

Filed under: Features — Tags: , , — The Fight Nerd @ 2:26 PM

BY RICH MILLER

Benson Henderson can be a frustrating fighter to follow. On the one hand he holds a career record of 20-3 and has held lightweight championship titles in two different promotions, most recently UFC. On the other hand, he hasn’t been nearly as convincing in the ring as his record or potential suggest he should, often leaving decisions in the hands of the judges (sometimes with controversial results) instead of leaving no doubt against opponents many feel he is clearly superior to.

Still, he has earned his place at the top of UFC’s Lightweight division, where he currently sits as the number one contender for Austin Pettis’s title. The fact that Pettis has beaten Henderson twice (with a championship on the line both times) and given Henderson his only UFC loss adds a certain aspect to Henderson’s next bout with the intriguing Rustam Khabilov.

The two meet this weekend at UFC Fight Night 42 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the first time UFC is holding an event in the state. Albuquerque is also the adopted hometown of the Russian-born Khabilov, who could become a serious contender in the lightweight division if he is able to upset Henderson.

Khabilov has many around the sport wondering just how good he can be, and this fight is a prime opportunity to figure that out. He holds a career 17-1 record, including 3-0 in UFC, and his one career loss came via split decision in 2010. His first two fights after signing with UFC were impressive victories over Vinc Pichel and Yancy Medeiros. In those fights he dominated while displaying a flair for suplexing his opponents that is rarely seen in MMA. While his most recent fight in November against Jorge Masvidal wasn’t quite as dominant, he still secured a unanimous decision victory and his overall body of work has solidified him as a fringe contender for the top spot in his weight class.

Henderson, however, is anything but a fringe contender. Since losing the Lightweight title to Pettis in August he has won his only fight while limiting his risk in order to properly to stay in the championship picture. To that end, Khabilov could be dangerous if Henderson looks past him to a time when the currently-injured Pettis is accepting fights again.

Henderson, for his part, seems to know what he is getting in to. He recently called Khabilov a “tough kid,” while displaying an impressive knowledge of Khabilov’s fight style. That dedication to scouting combined with Henderson’s talent and past performance are the reason he is the big favorite heading in to the fight, with almost every sportsbook on www.gambling.com installing him as a 2/5 favorite less than a week away from the fight.

While Khabilov is fighting for respect and will have the hometown advantage, it might be just a little too early in his promising career to expect a victory over one of the division’s top names. Add Henderson’s desire and focus to avenge his previous losses to Pettis and the blow a loss would deal to his contendership, and Henderson seems like a solid bet.

No matter what, the June 7 fight should pit the Lightweight Division’s present against one of the more promising faces of it’s future.

 

April 15, 2014

“Beyond the Lion’s Den” Book Review

Filed under: Product Reviews — Tags: , , , , , , , — The Fight Nerd @ 1:00 PM

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There were very few names in the early days of no-holds-barred combat that were universal, and Ken Shamrock was one of them. The first King of Pancrase in Japan and inaugural UFC Super Fight Champion, early UFC events were often headlined with Ken, and his name and star power grew when he jumped ship to join the WWF. However, Ken’s story has not been one of pure success, but one marred with all sorts of obstacles, and this is where the story begins in Tuttle Publishing’s “Beyond the Lion’s Den” book.

Co-written by Erich Krauss, who also worked on various instructional books and DVD’s with Randy Couture, Matt Lindland, Anderson Silva, and Lyoto Machida to name a few, Shamrock’s book is the direct sequel to Ken’s first book, Inside the Lion’s Den. Shamrock gives us a succinct recap of the events leading up to where the first book ended, which includes some new stories about fighting in Japan and his incident with the Nasty Boys, and brings us up to speed with his fight at the Ultimate Ultimate 2 and explains why he initially left the UFC, what happened during his time off from MMA and entered the WWF, and how the time on the road led to the birth of many of those problems.

Ultimately, it was the traveling around to pro-wrestle that fed the feud between Ken and Frank, his break-up with his dad, the fall of the Lion’s Den, and Ken’s problems with alcoholism. The book also covers his time in Pride and his fights against Kazuyuki Fujita and Don Frye, and his return to the UFC with his first fight with Tito Ortiz and rematch with Kimo Leopoldo. Since this particular book came out in 2005, we will have to wait for a third book to give us the rest of the story after this, but it was great to read the continuing story of Ken after his first book ended.

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As opposed to Ken’s first book, which was 80% autobiography and maybe 20% techniques, this book is quote the opposite, with over 200 pages of techniques. It’s a very diverse book that covers striking, submissions, takedowns, guard passes, clinch fighting, using the cage fence or wall in a fight, and combination tecniques that many fans will recognize as moves that Ken had done in his own fights. My favorite has to be the sunset flip into the hammer lock (AKA the Northern Lights Suplex into Kimura that Ken did to Matt Hume during the first King of Pancrase tournament). There are also a ton of moves that we have never seen Ken do (dude, he does an omoplata in this book!), but it was refreshing to see this variety of techniques in a book, especially when you do consider that this book is nine years old now.

The techniques are well-written and easy to understand, and surprised me with how detailed they were, as well as with the selection of maneuvers. Krauss was surely a big part of that, and his efforts paid off as he went on to do some amazing books that would come out in the next few years. The team of Shamrock and Krauss was an excellent pairing, and gave us a very complete book about Ken Shamrock and building a complete MMA arsenal.

Overall, I really liked this book, and that is without wearing nostalgia glasses. Sure, the Ken Shamrock we know and love today is a very different one, who has seen better days, but at least is on the mend and working on himself. The Ken from this book is one in progress, working to achieve what he has done today, which to me, was peace of mind. That might be one of the best things about this book, is seeing where he is today and where his journey has taken him. The book itself stands out, and if you are a fan of old school MMA, this is the book for you. Newer fans to the sport might not be as interested, but the techniques will certainly catch your interest.

You can order Beyond the Lion’s Den: The Life, The Fights, The Techniques from Amazon.com for around $22, and is a good value for a good book that is filled with info. I suggest getting the first book as well, since it is only $7 these days, to complete the set. Ken has always been a polarizing part of MMA, and as a fan of the early days of MMA/ NHB fighting, I am happy that I finally got this book in my own library and can add more great stories to my knowledge of the game.

April 11, 2014

GSP has successful knee surgery, unsure about return to Octagon

Filed under: News — Tags: , , — The Fight Nerd @ 12:27 PM

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Georges St. Pierre had a successful surgery on his left knee earlier this week in LA, and he does not seem downbeat at all about the upcoming road to rehab to get himself back to normalcy.

According to a report from Canada’s “The Globe and Mail”, the former UFC welterweight champ will not let this operation affect his overall training, but is still not positive about stepping back into the cage.

“I climbed Everest once before and I’m going to climb it again — if I want to,” St-Pierre told The Canadian Press on Thursday. “It’s not a problem for me. . . . Anyway I didn’t plan to come back to competition before 2015.

“And if I want to come back, when I want to come back, I’ll do it again. I’ll have all the tools to do it again. I’m not going to be less strong or less athletic — I’m going to be just better.”

“I’ll have two bionic knees,” he added.

GSP has reconstructive surgery on his left knee back in 2011, which sidelined him for some time, and with this current operation behind him, the former champ expects to resume training in five months, with full sparring in six to seven months.

GSP also told the writer of the original post that if he does ever come back to the UFC, drug-testing better be the best possible format availabe: “It’s not personal to one fighter,” he said. “It’s personal to me. It’s something that has to be done, I believe.”

March 27, 2014

UFC Fight Night 40 Quick Preview

Filed under: Features — Tags: , , — The Fight Nerd @ 12:55 PM

BY JAMES PETERS

As UFC Fight Night 40 edges closer, the fascinating main card at the U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati, Ohio looks set to give fans another thrilling night of fights. Opening the main card in Ohio will be Chris Cariaso versus the unbeaten Louis Smolka in the flyweight division. With a 6-3 record inside the Octagon, the experienced Cariaso goes into the fight with more UFC appearances than his opponent has professional fights, and that could be the difference in this bout.

Next up on the card is the heavyweight clash between Australian Soa Palelei and promotional newcomer Ruan Potts. With two straight KO wins since returning to the UFC, Palelei will be a strong favorite to see off the untested South African Potts, with everything pointing to an early finish for the big Aussie. Palelei has been undefeated since 2011, and is an easy pick for winner by whatever he wants in this match.

Next up, William Macario and Neil Magny meet in an evenly matched welterweight match-up, with both fighters looking to win second straight bouts inside the Octagon. While Magny has the greater top level experience, Macario has the tools to possibly surprise the Betfair odds and take the win. Both fighters are looking to keep their confidence high after returning to the winners circle, and neither man will want to go the distance either, so expect to see Macario push for a finish with Magny holding on and trying to grind it out.

Erik Koch will be looking to follow up his impressive TKO victory over Rafaello Oliveira with a win again Daron Cruickshank. The 25-year old has mixed it with the best throughout his time in the sport and will be a comfortable favorite in this lightweight fight. Cruickshank is coming off his epic spinning wheel kick knockout against Mike Rio back in January, but Koch seems to be the more explosive of the pair. Look out for this one to be fight of the night material!

Heading to Ohio on the back of two straight defeats, Costas Philippou is in desperate need for a win against Lorenz Larkin in the co-main event. But despite his relatively low profile, Larkin had been building up a decent run before his points loss to Brad Tavares in January and the Californian will be confident of handing the Cypriot fighter his third straight UFC defeat.

The main event of the night sees Matt Brown look to continue his ruthless tear through the welterweight division when he meets Erick Silva. Brown will enter the Octagon on a six-fight winning run and will be a firm favourite with Betfair, but Silva showed what he is capable of with his bonus-winning KO victory against Takenori Sato in February.

UFC Fight Night 40: Brown vs. Silva is set for May 10, 2014 at U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati, Ohio.

March 13, 2014

Robbie Lawler credits return to sparring with rise in UFC

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , , — The Fight Nerd @ 10:18 PM

This weekend at UFC 171, Robbie Lawler gets a crack at the UFC welterweight title, a long and arduous journey behind him that has spanned his time as a top dog in Strikeforce all the way to his return in the UFC. A recent interview on Yahoo! Sports revealed a surprising fact about Lawler’s training camps during his tenure in Strikeforce – that he stopped sparring during his fight camps!

Lawler has gone 3-0 since his return to Zuffa land, and the sportsbook odds are in his favor for this championship bout, but it took a drastic change in his training to get him to where he is now. Back in the summer of 2012, after losing to Lorenz Larkin at “Strikeforce:Rockhold VS Kennedy”, Lawler opted to stop having intense sparring sessions in his gym, eliminating it completely from his regimen. Kevin Iole has the details, via Monte Cox:

He basically didn’t spar before facing Larkin, in effect going 180 degrees away from the aggressive sparring philosophy he was brought up with at the Miletich camp, and it left him unprepared.

“We talked after that and we both realized that he needed to spar some,” Cox said. “Not sparring kept him concussion-free, but in this sport, you need to spar some to be able to see the openings and get your timing and all of that.”

Lawler also stated that he never felt truly ready to be the best fighter that he saw himself being, but it seems that things have begun to click for the MMA veteran, and it might be enough to get him the belt that has eluded him so long during his journeyed career.

Lawler will meet Hendricks (whose last appearance in the octagon was a controversial loss to the now retired Georges St. Pierre) in what is expected to be either a five-round brawl that will go the distance, or a very short and violent scrap, this weekend at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas at UFC 171. Welterweights Carlos Condit and Tyron Woodley will also meet on the main card, along with Diego Sanchez VS Myles Jury, Jake Shields VS Hector Lombard, and Ovince St. Preux VS Nikita Krylov

February 27, 2014

NSAC bans use of TRT, UFC is okay with that

Filed under: Lead Story,News — Tags: , , — The Fight Nerd @ 7:24 PM

Earlier today, the Nevada State Athletic Commission banned testosterone-replacement therapy, AKA TRT, from all combat sports in their state. NSAC chairman Francisco Aguilar was quick to note that he hoped the Association of Boxing Commissions would take notice of this and make this a universal change.

“I would encourage the ABC to look at this issue for all commissions in all states across the country,” Aguilar said. “I think it’s important that there be a standard and I think [the NSAC] is not afraid to set that standard.”

UFC President Dana White issued a statement regarding the decision:

“The Ultimate Fighting Championship fully supports the decision made today by the Nevada State Athletic Commission regarding the immediate termination of therapeutic use exemptions (TUE) for testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). We believe our athletes should compete based on their natural abilities and on an even playing field. We also intend to honor this ruling in international markets where, due to a lack of governing bodies, the UFC oversees regulatory efforts for our live events. We encourage all athletic commissions to adopt this ruling.”

This announcement comes two months before Vitor Belfort is scheduled to face Chris Weidman for the middleweight title at UFC 173 on May 24 in Las Vegas. Belfort previously has been approved to use TRT in his past three fights, all of which took place conveniently in Brazil.

Currently, the UFC has six fighters that are approved for TRT use in Nevada: Dan Henderson, Shane Roller, Todd Duffee, Chael Sonnen, Frank Mir and Forrest Griffin.

January 17, 2014

Rich Franklin can not retire on MMA earnings, will have to work again to “live comfortably for the rest of my life”

Filed under: News — Tags: , — The Fight Nerd @ 1:53 AM

Former UFC middleweight Champion Rich “Ace” Franklin spoke with Fight Hub recently to discuss fighter pay, and the topic inevitably came to how life after fighting has been for Franklin. What might surprise some fans is that, while Franklin was one of the top dogs in the octagon for a long time, he is not rolling in the dough that one would hope a champ would make.

Franklin had this to say during the interview:

I leave comfortable, but. Here’s the thing…the reality of my situation is I’m not…and you can tell this based on my career, my persona, I’m not the guy that’s rolling around in $250,000 sports cars. I’ve never spent money on stuff like that. I live a very modest lifestyle and I will probably the rest of my life.

I find value in experiences rather than material things. I’m the kind of person who would spend money to like, go observe lions in their natural habitat before I would buy a brand new sports car or something like that.

So, with that being said, I’ve made enough money that I could live my modest lifestyle comfortably for a little while, but I couldn’t retire for the rest of my life. If I could just retire for the rest of my life and never work, I don’t know that I would have opened up ZeLin as a business venture. Instead I would have just taken my passion for teaching people and would have done lifestyle lectures and motivational speeches for fun. I would do a bunch of charity work. I’ve done tons of things in the past for disabled veterans, for children’s hospital here in Cincinnati, I’ve been involved in a lot of different things.

So, I’m not going to put it on cruise control the rest of my life. I’m going to need another financial source to make money to live comfortably for the rest of my life.

My funds would definitely run out before my heartbeat did, that’s for sure.

Franklin was grateful for the way the UFC had consistently treated him and always followed through with him when they said they would do things. Unfortunately, Franklin was champ in the odd transition time when the UFC was just beginning to get more mainstream recognition, and fighter pay was still generally awful (Nate Quarry was paid 10K to fight Franklin for his belt way back at UFC 56 in 2005). Thankfully, the fighters of this era are doing much better in terms of finances, but the question begs to be seen how well the fighters will be once they hang up the gloves.

Transcript via Bloody Elbow

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