Ask Ant: The Europe1 Edition

By Anthony Walker Aug 4, 2019

As Jason Burgos and I were unable to sit down for our weekly live chat show, “The Trenches,” I thought it would be fun to pay tribute to one of our regular viewers who consistently asks great, relevant questions to keep the conversation moving forward. I present to you an entire edition of “Ask Ant,” featuring the man known only as Europe1.

What do you think about Joe Rogan’s commentary at UFC 240? Was Cyborg truly a second away from dying of exhaustion? Do you think it's time to let Rogan go as a commentator despite his big profile?

I was certainly not a fan of Joe Rogan’s commentary last Saturday. Overall, it was one of his worst performances. Endlessly praising the Brazilian jiu-jitsu pedigree of Sarah Frota as she’s being owned on the ground by Gillian Robertson seemed a bit strange. Questioning whether Frankie Edgar won a round after eating punches and eventually having his mouthpiece knocked out because he had a brief moment of relatively damage-free top control towards the end was odd as well. However, the calls during the “Cyborg” fight were particularly off from what was really happening.

Praising Felicia Spencer for being tough is certainly understandable. But doing so without really acknowledging the severe beating she endured to show said toughness, makes little sense. Continually pushing the idea that “Cyborg” was on the brink of falling off a cardio cliff didn’t line up with the steady offense and pressure. Save for a few moments when Spencer was able to force a clinch, Justino relentlessly pursued her opponent and unleashed a barrage of offense.

Despite breathing hard at times, she was nowhere near total exhaustion. Let’s keep in mind that Cyborg has spent the majority of her career scheduled for five-round title fights. I’m willing to forgive him mistakenly stating this was a five rounder. There’s certainly a large segment of the fan base that by default thinks of her as the champion and hasn’t fully adjusted to “Cyborg” the contender just yet.

I draw the line at the calls for Rogan’s commentary career to be brought out to pasture with Old Yeller. He has provided a consistent source of education and entertainment in the color chair. As an expert martial artist and passionate fan of the sport, he still has a lot to offer. But let’s be honest, UFC 240 wasn’t exactly the best card of the year. Fringe roster members and a few contenders made up the bulk of the lineup and not many were very excited before or during the event. Why would Rogan be any different?

Yes, he gets paid to be there, but live commentary is very hard work and mentally taxing. Six hours is a long time to intently pay attention to and communicate meaningfully about a pretty mundane fight card. With all of the time Rogan spends in front of the microphone between the UFC, his podcast, and standup comedy career, he’s entitled to a bad night every so often.

What is the rationale behind the UFC starting to do PPVs in the UK? I mean, the events start at 3 in the morning! Is this really a money-making avenue for them?

The rationale seems to be “make more money no matter what.” European fans who stick with the UFC already show a serious level of dedication. Staying up all night or waking up extremely early to watch the product is quite the commitment. Testing that level of devotion just seems like a risky idea.

It’s very easy to anticipate a fan deciding to get more sleep and save money by not tuning in. Just look at the drop-off in number of fans in North America that regularly follow the UFC based on the differences in the landscape now as opposed to when they began watching. More events meant that more people deemed a lot of them skippable, as not everyone wants to spend every Saturday in front of their TV. More pay-per-views meant that fans pick and choose which ones are worthy of their hard earned money. Moving exclusively to ESPN+ left even more fans by the wayside. If the change in attitude of North American fans is any indication, we can expect a similar exodus of diehards across the Atlantic.

That being said, the UFC is all about the benjamins. I doubt they moved forward with this decision without extensive research that suggests their bank account will grow. Everything in the United States seems to be behind some sort of paywall. Looks like our friends in the UK will get the chance to join in on this good ol’ American fun.

Thoughts on the ABC changing the definition of a grounded fighter? It's gone from fingers-down to palm-down starting on July 2020. Isn't this just one of those razor-close details that is going to cause an entire fardel of controversies inside the cage? Does the ABC know what they're doing — or are they just a Boxing Commission that doesn't watch MMA?

I firmly expect there to be more confusion and controversies as a result of this minor change in the definition of a grounded fighter. Where this will get really interesting is when a fighter is knocked out with a head kick as they attempt to get up. We will be zooming in on the concussed fighter’s hand as they lift themselves off of the canvas on slow motion replay questioning whether the kick landed before or after the palm came off of the floor and if fingertips were remaining.

While I do think the ABC isn’t exactly batting 1.000, they deserve credit for trying to tailor the rules to stay true to the spirit of the sport. That’s certainly more than what was originally done as boxing commissions sent inept judge after inept judge and made no apologies for their numerous mishaps.

At this point, I’ve grown to accept 12-to-6 elbows and weird definitions of grounded fighters, but what I refuse to accept is inconsistent rulesets within the same country. Hopefully, the individual states accept the rule change so we can at least get one step closer to actually having “Unified” rules.


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