Joe Stevenson's Blogs
Opinion: Danger in the Cut
By: Jason Probst
Joe Stevenson (file photo) did not look strong at 145 pounds. | Photo: Daniel Herbertson
With the mass exodus to drop down a weight class in MMA, in general, and among lightweights, in particular, Tyson Griffin and Joe Stevenson both clearly showed the effects of it at UFC Live 4 on Sunday in Pittsburgh.
That is a troubling trend, because anyone familiar with the stress of cutting weight knows the considerable health risks it brings. Yet in today’s ultra-competitive MMA climate, the inevitability of having to take those risks to stay relevant with one’s career intact closely mimic those in other dangerous sports, like the NFL.
In a word, fighters put their body through an enormous cycle of deprivation to make weight, especially when they drop down a weight class in which they either have never competed before or grew out of earlier in their career. After hitting weight, standard fare is to rehydrate with an IV administered; that’s why if you compare many guys’ physiques while on the scale and at fight time, they look significantly less shredded because they’re terribly dehydrated.
This is not an argument against cutting weight -- which is part of the sport -- nor to move the sport’s weigh-ins to a same day time; if you made fighters weigh in on fight day, most of them would have to move up a weight class, and it would essentially turn the sport on its head. However, what the 30-hour weigh-ins have done is create a contest in how to cut weight while rehydrating back to as large a size as possible, packing on 20-plus pounds in extreme cases to bring an advantage into the cage.
There are diminishing returns to this, which is a grim governing mechanism. Think Joe Riggs at 170 pounds, James Irvin at 185 or the many other Skeletor-like figures we’ve seen on the scales. Griffin, though he won a decision over Manny Gamburyan, looked tired and nowhere near as busy as in previous showings. Stevenson sleepwalked through a decision loss to Javier Vasquez.
With MMA moving toward its second decade, the long-term effects of weight cutting will show up as stars retire and move on to life after fighting. While we’ve often prided ourselves that our sport isn’t boxing, with countless blows to the head causing brain damage, the spate of MMA tragedies related to concussions is a growing body of concern. Weight cutting figures to become part of that discussion in the future.
Follow the jump for reader comments. Read more
Stevenson on Fighting Friends, Vazquez: 'Nature of the Beast'
By: Greg Savage
Jackson: Stevenson Fights Injured Constantly
By: Sherdog.com Staff
Greg Jackson, on “The Savage Dog Show,” discussing Joe Stevenson’s struggles lately:Read more
“Part of the issue is him fighting injured constantly. He will not pull out of a fight if his head is cut off. He’s one of those guys that is always fighting injured or gets injured and will not step out of the fight. That’s been part of the problem. I think part of the problem too is he’s a big guy, but he’s short for the division and that has its own limitations. And I think yeah, we need to change it up a little bit and see what else we can do at a lighter weight.”
Picking MMA’s Youth Movement
By: Jason Probst
Don’t bet against MMA athlete 3.0. | Jose Aldo file photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
As part of my regular assignments covering MMA, I do an event preview with fight picks. What I have noticed is how the game seems to be trending toward younger fighters, and how the latest wave threatens to displace the old guard of veterans.
It felt odd picking Danny Castillo over Joe Stevenson on the UFC Live 3 card. As someone intimately familiar with both fighters’ careers, Stevenson seemed a slight favorite. Yet the bout played out exactly as I thought it would. The same was true in choosing Chris Weidman over Alessio Sakara.
In short, the younger guard in MMA -- roughly defined as anyone under 25, or with less than 15 fights -- is quickly displacing the older guard. There are many theories as to why, but in a nutshell, it is easier for a fighter to improve before he or she reaches their peak, and especially tough to improve at the same rate once they reach it.
As MMA moves toward the completion of its second decade, the evolution curve of today’s fighter is markedly different than that of five or six years ago. Fighters are starting younger than ever and, perhaps as importantly, are often aware of MMA in grade school or high school. Read more
Fighters and Health Insurance
By: Jake Rossen
File photo: Stephen Albanese | Tailstar.com
Not long ago, there was a story floating around that Bruce Willis -- who has made enough money in a career of smirking that he probably uses it as attic insulation -- sometimes holds a raffle for the blue-collar crew members on his film sets. The winning ticket each week gets $10,000.
Generous, yeah? The problem is, it’s also a major letdown to the losers, otherwise known as 99% of the set.
Zuffa does not raffle off financial mercy to fighters, but I’m not sure that discretionary bonuses are that much better. We know that a fighter’s base pay is often a useless marker for their real income: the promotion hands out checks in the locker rooms depending on an athlete’s performance, sometimes for a considerable and life-altering amount of money. It’s a way of corralling strategies that have the potential to be deadly dull. Be exciting, win, and make extra money. Bore the crowd and Dana White will not come bearing gifts.
When that cherry-picking extends to a fighter’s health care, it becomes a stickier issue. Read more
Joe 'Daddy' Australia V-Blog II
Joe 'Daddy' Australia V-Blog
BAM (Back Against the Mat): UFC 104 Edition
By: Jake Rossen
Guys with more to lose than just teeth.Read more
Lyoto Machida: The 15-0 record is a pressure cooker -- without the “unbeatable” tag, would Lyoto Machida’s eccentric style be as captivating?
Joe Stevenson: A strong UFC start was sidetracked by the B.J. Penn loss: Joe Stevenson is 2-2 since that bout. To flirt with the top of the ladder again, beating Spencer Fisher isn’t optional.
Yushin Okami: On numbers alone, the 7-1 Octagon record should have earned Yushin Okami a title shot against Anderson Silva. Beating Chael Sonnen decisively could make him harder to ignore. (Though both fans and the promotion are doing solid work on that front.)
“Saw VI”: “Saw V” was the “Au Revoir Les Enfants” of movies featuring fake and displaced intestines. Expectations are high.
Primer: UFC 104
By: Jake Rossen
In 2007, when Pride folded into the origami shape for failure, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua took his 16-2 record to the UFC, where he was expected to beat his chest atop a pile of corpses. Instead, he was thoroughly battered by Forrest Griffin and barely eked out a win against a man fifteen years his senior in Mark Coleman. Knocking out Chuck Liddell, the new statistical norm for that fighter, resulted in confidence that the “old ‘Shogun’” had returned. It also resulted in a title shot. Not exactly a walk through the gates of fire, but okay.
I remain skeptical, mostly because “old ‘Shogun’” is a nightmare of punctuation and I loathe typing it, but also because he’s looked good for roughly five minutes out of a 35-minute UFC career. Oddsmakers believe he has only a 33% chance of defeating Lyoto Machida, whose base style of karate should have given him only a .005% chance of success in the sport. So maybe odds aren’t everything.
What: UFC 104: Machida vs. ‘Shogun,’ an 11-bout card from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Calif.
When: Saturday, Oct. 24, at 10 p.m. ET on pay-per-view, with a live preliminary show airing on Spike TV at 9 p.m. ET.
Why You Should Care: Because Machida is the closest thing we’ve got to a profound, peerless martial artist; because whether “Shogun” has found his old form or not, he will make it exciting; because Ben Rothwell is going to force Cain Velasquez to scramble and work like hell to overcome his size; because judo remains an under-represented style in MMA and Yoshiyuki Yoshida can counter Anthony Johnson’s stand-up with the highly technical ploy of dumping him on his head.
Fight of the Night: Machida’s unblemished record raises stakes for every second he’s in the ring; “Shogun” will stay in his face.
Sleeper Fight of the Night: Joe Stevenson vs. Spencer Fisher: three rounds of Fisher getting scooped up and then working overtime on the feet to compensate.
Pre-emptive Complaint: Chael Sonnen vs. Yushin Okami might be a concentrated effort to keep blood pressure among viewers steady; Okami, talented as he is, makes Ricardo Arona look like Jet Li.
Hype Quote of the Show: “I just saw what he wrote about me and I am going to punch him in the face for that, plain and simple.” -- Fisher on Stevenson’s verbal warfare. At least he’s not in Fisher’s head. Read more
UFC 104 Closer Look: Stevenson-Fisher