LAS VEGAS – Professional athletes routinely have short careers, and their window of time at the top, if they ever get there, is tiny.
Only the greatest of the greats manage to reach the top and stay there for a considerable length of time.
In fighting, once that inevitable decline begins, that's normally it. The fighter usually faces a painful road to retirement, one with lots of lumps, bumps, pain and disappointment.
And that's how the careers of former UFC heavyweight champions Frank Mir and Andrei Arlovski seemed to be playing out.
Each reached the pinnacle, ran into hard times, faded from prominence and seemed ready for the glue factory.
But on Saturday at the MGM Grand in the co-main event of UFC 191, Mir and Arlovski will meet in a match that carries great significance within the division.
And though this could have been one of the sport's biggest fights in, say, 2004, the amazing thing is that after this roller coaster each man has been on, they may be better now than ever.
It's a remarkable turnaround for a guy who in a two-year span from 2009 through early 2011 lost four in a row, including three by knockout.
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It raised eyebrows when Peter Quillin turned down a title fight that would have paid him a career-high amount of money for an eminently winnable fight against Matt Korobov.
For that decision and for being managed by Al Haymon, Quillin is despised by a small but vocal group of fans. He’ll headline a card on NBC on Sept. 12, when he faces Michael Zerafa in a tuneup fight.
Like any professional athlete, Quillin has no shortage of “advisers” who are more than willing to tell him what he should do even if their own lives may be in tatters.
But judging by his actions, Quillin seems to have a pretty good handle on how to prepare for the future.
In a sport in which, sadly, a large majority of its biggest stars go broke not long after their careers end, the unbeaten former middleweight champion is planning for life after boxing.
He recently purchased a home for his mother in her hometown of Grand Rapids, Mich.
That is something many athletes do, but Quillin is proving not to be just any athlete. This is a guy wise beyond his 32 years.
There are countless athletes in other sports who have done the same.
Quillin became determined not to be one of them.
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Whether it's because the UFC's incredibly dominant and amazingly underappreciated flyweight champion doesn't care much for John Dodson, his opponent in the main event of UFC 191 Saturday at the MGM Grand, or because he's sick and tired of being disrespected and overlooked isn't clear.
But this version of Johnson is more direct, more blunt, than ever.
He's clearly annoyed at Dodson, whom he defeated in 2013 but who has still taken to ripping him at every opportunity. Dodson called Johnson a "plague" on the flyweight division and blamed him for its relative lack of popularity.
He's also had enough of justifying himself. He's made six consecutive title defenses, is widely regarded as one of the best three or four fighters in the world, regardless of weight, and pretty much has gotten better every time out.
But because he's good at everything and doesn't have that one defining skill, like the famous Ronda Rousey arm bar, he frequently doesn't get the recognition he deserves.
Johnson is essentially in a no-win situation.
Kevin Iole at Cagewriter 3 days ago
The World Series of Fighting on Tuesday hired ex-UFC title challenger Chael Sonnen as an analyst for its NBC Sports Network television broadcasts. He will debut in his new job on Sept. 18 for WSOF 23 from Phoenix, when Justin Gaethje defends his lightweight belt in a rematch against Luis Palomino.
Sonnen's broadcast career began while he was still an active fighter in the UFC, not long after the UFC began its deal with Fox in 2012. Sonnen was the host of UFC Tonight and became very popular for his in-studio work.
But Sonnen failed multiple drug tests prior to a planned fight last year in Las Vegas against Wanderlei Silva, and lied about it repeatedly. Both the UFC and Fox cut ties with him.
In November, ESPN hired Sonnen to serve as a part-time MMA analyst. He's done studio analysis on all of the big fights since the deal was done.
Sonnen praised the WSOF and the quality of its fighters in a statement.
Sonnen, who has admitted all of his drug transgressions, also does a popular weekly podcast that is heavily though not exclusively MMA-focused called, "You're Welcome."
Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports 3 days ago
He's widely regarded as one of the three finest pound-for-pound fighters in the world.
Yet, John Dodson, his opponent on Saturday in the main event of UFC 191 at the MGM Grand, calls him "a plague on the flyweight division. Who wants to see the guy?"
When a reporter answered in the affirmative, Dodson didn't flinch.
"OK, you and who else? Yeah, I forgot, his mother, for sure," Dodson said. "You and his mother. Who else? OK, maybe his wife."
Dodson chuckles and then, as if to twist the dagger he just inserted, makes one last taunt.
" Maybe his wife," he says, firmly, laughing at his own joke. "Maybe. And that's it. We have such a great division, and he's bringing it down. He's giving us a bad name."
Dodson aims to make the flyweights "the most awesome and amazing division in this sport, just like me."
But for all his words, he has had a chance to rid the division of the man he calls the plague, and he failed.
It was Johnson who was awesome and amazing on that frigid January night in Chicago in 2013 when they first met. He survived a second-round knockdown to pull out a unanimous decision victory.
Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports 6 days ago
LOS ANGELES – Leo Santa Cruz and Abner Mares threw more than 2,000 punches at each other, bouncing shots off the head, arms, shoulders and mid-section in a stirring battle for Southern California supremacy.
Their featherweight bout, which Santa Cruz won by majority decision, is what boxing is supposed to be all about.
It had an engaged crowd, which began roaring lustily during the pre-fight introductions and rarely stopped during the non-stop action at Staples Center. When the fight ended, the largely Hispanic crowd began to sing.
The fighters left everything they had in the ring and competed with passion, pride and poise. Mares literally raced out of his corner at the opening bell and fired a hard shot at Santa Cruz, his long-time Los Angeles rival, signifying the kind of night this would be.
Mares smothered Santa Cruz early, and did brilliant work on the inside, taking away Santa Cruz’s punching room.
But Santa Cruz showed his class and made an adjustment. He used his jab, often hooking off of it, to slow Mares’ assault and keep him at a distance. Whenever they were at a distance, Santa Cruz was raking Mares with hard shots.
Kevin Iole at Cagewriter 7 days ago
An injury to welterweight champion Robbie Lawler forced a postponement of his Nov. 15 title defense against Carlos Condit in the main event of UFC 193 in Melbourne, Australia.
As he often does, UFC president Dana White turned to women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey to fill the void. White said Friday on "SportsCenter" that Rousey's title defense against Holly Holm, which was previously announced as the headliner for UFC 195 on Jan. 2 in Las Vegas, will now headline UFC 193 in the 90,000-seat Etihad Stadium.
White told Yahoo Sports on Friday he is not certain when Lawler will fight again, but said it is not a serious injury.
He said when he heard that Lawler needed time to recover, he had no problem granting it. But he needed Rousey to bail him out given the importance the company is placing on UFC 193.
White, who said Rousey is the UFC's highest-paid fighter "even before pay-per-view," said he hopes to set a new attendance record for an MMA event.
Kevin Iole at Cagewriter 7 days ago
The UFC reinstated heavyweight Travis Browne on Friday following a seven-week suspension after the results of an investigation into allegations of domestic violence were inconclusive.
Browne was suspended July 9 after his wife, Jenna Renee Webb, posted pictures to her Instragram account showing marks and bruises on her arms, neck and face that she said were the result of a beating from her 6-foot-7 husband. The UFC immediately suspended Browne and barred him from all International Fight Week activities he was scheduled for at the time the incident became public.
The UFC hired the highly regarded Las Vegas law firm of Campbell & Williams to investigate. Donald Campbell, the firm's partner, hired an FBI agent with more than 25 years of experience to head the investigation. On Friday, the UFC reinstated Browne after the results were deemed inconclusive:
From the UFC's statement announcing Browne's suspension had ended:
In the statement, it noted:
Good for the UFC for acting so swiftly to correct a glaring problem.
Kevin Iole at Boxing 8 days ago
You want to know what is wrong with boxing? Well, nothing paints the picture more clearly than this: Adrien Broner will fight for a world title yet again.
It's enough to make one physically ill. Yet, Broner will challenge Khabib Allakhverdiev (19-1, 9 KOs) for the WBA super lightweight championship on Oct 3 on Showtime.
Broner is coming off a clear defeat to Shawn Porter in the main event of a Premier Boxing Champions card on June 20 in Las Vegas. There were many complaints by fans that week about the way Broner treated them, both before and after the fight.
It would have been a lot easier to overlook his arrogance and his crude antics had he actually done his job in the ring. But he was a clear failure.
He was outworked by Porter and didn't seem to much care. Only in the 12th round, when his corner told him he was way behind, did he step it up and fight up to his capabilities. He knocked Porter down and showed glimpses of the fighter he could be. It's not acceptable, though, for a fighter to try in only one of 12 rounds, but Broner has routinely gotten away with it.
Broner is nowhere near the dedicated, complete boxer that Mayweather is.
Kevin Iole at Cagewriter 8 days ago
Alexis Davis is going to be out of action for well more than a year. In a rarity for a professional fighter, that's a good thing.
Davis, a one-time challenger for the UFC women's bantamweight championship, announced Tuesday on Instagram that she is pregnant and expecting her first child on March 14. But just as significantly, Davis said that her 5-year-old niece, Hayden, who was diagnosed earlier this year with Stage 4 neuroblastoma, is making considerable progress.
Neuroblastoma is a type of cancer common in children that attacks nerves that control the heartbeat and blood pressure. The tumor often spreads. The Stage 4 diagnosis indicates that the tumor has spread to distant organs. The five-year survival rate for a child diagnosed at age 5, according to Cancer.gov, is 52 percent.
Hayden certainly is by no means out of the woods yet, though her tumor has shrunk. She still faces many obstacles, but Davis said the family is optimistic.