Ask Ant: The Tragedy and Transcendence Edition

By Anthony Walker Jul 27, 2019

Editor’s note: The views and opinions expressed below are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of, its affiliates and sponsors or its parent company, Evolve Media.

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YoungCashMoney: Maxim Dadashev, 28, dies from brain damage suffered in a TKO loss to Subriel Matias. What can be changed to make boxing safer?

The frightening thing about what happened to Maxim Dadashev is that I don’t think anything really could’ve been done differently. It wasn’t like Subriel Matias was mercilessly beating him throughout the entire 11 rounds. While Matias undoubtedly controlled the action, Dadashev was doing just enough to keep the referee from interfering.

It’s not like Dadashev’s corner dropped the ball either. The moment it was clear that it was an impossible mountain to climb, his trainer Buddy McGirt made the hard call and decided he had seen enough. While one could argue that there could’ve been a bigger sense of urgency immediately after the fight, that’s a debate fueled by hindsight as a fighter walking out of the ring under his own power is normally a good sign. I’ve sat cageside or ringside many times as a freshly knocked out fighter walked to the locker room to the sounds of the crowd and relief of onlookers.

Within the confines of this fight, not much would’ve changed the outcome without compromising the sport. From the ruleset itself, there is a lot that can be changed to make boxing safer. Fewer rounds, shorter round times, doing away with gloves, etc. all come to mind. But all of those changes fundamentally alter boxing as we know it. The regulatory nightmare of making it happen along with the shift in the tradition-heavy boxing world make this next to impossible.

As evidence, take a look at the struggle of bare-knuckle boxing. While the men at the helm of the two foremost promotions leave a lot to be desired as far as ethics are concerned, the mainstream world of pugilism has been very hesitant to take this new sister sport seriously. Shifting what they do to be more in line with the latest addition to the combat sports family seems like nothing more than a pipe dream.

The basic reality is that these are combat sports and martial arts. They translate warfare and brutality into a digestible and entertaining package. Despite that shiny coat of paint, they are still violent and dangerous activities. They are inherently unsafe and tragedies like this will happen sometimes. Just days after Dadashev passed away, Argentine boxer Hugo Alfredo Santillan died as a result of his bout against Eduardo Javier Abreu. It’s only a matter of time that the same thing happens in MMA. While smaller gloves, variety in techniques and lack of 10-counts make it less likely, as long as the sport involves taking blows to the head we have to accept that an in-cage death is an eventual reality.

With that being said, the most important thing fans can do is to respect the fighters and what they do. Understand that they are human beings that exist beyond your entertainment. There are very real consequences to what they do. Dadashev’s wife is now a widow and his young son will grow up without a father. When you boo or criticize a safe and “boring” strategy, you ignore what can happen on the other end. We all appreciate the action on a visceral level. Just know that it comes with a huge human price.

BRaVo cHoKe: How do you think Weidman will fare at light heavyweight? Can 185-pound grapplers survive at 205?

I think Chris Weidman will be just fine at light heavyweight. He has always been one of the bigger middleweights out there and went through a lot of agony to make the 185 pound limit. Skipping out on 20 additional pounds of weight loss should be beneficial to his overall health and performance.

Weidman also has a style that can translate well to the higher weight class. Even with his incredible strength at middleweight, he possesses an uncanny ability to hone on the nuances of technique. Grossly underrated on the feet and wizard in the grappling department, I don’t see where he struggles on a technical level at 205. Recent examples of his colleagues moving up shows what can happen without the same rigors of dehydration. Thiago Santos and Anthony Smith have looked great since making the move to light heavyweight and were rewarded with title shots for their troubles. While Luke Rockhold didn’t quite pass that same test, his issues were much more about his defensive liabilities and mental focus than physical deficiencies.

His upcoming light heavyweight debut against Dominick Reyes isn't the first time Weidman has pondered what life could be like 20 pounds heavier. He was supposedly extremely close to inking a deal with Bellator at 205 before the UFC signed him. He also was one of the volunteers that attempted to save UFC 151 against Jon Jones. I can only imagine what was swirling through his mind before making the insane late notice weight cut to face Demian Maia at UFC on Fox 2.

Questioning how far Weidman can go seems more about what he has left as a championship-caliber fighter. He has endured some serious damage in recent years and has a long track record of injury related layoffs. At this point it’s a matter of what his body has left.

The Reyes fight is a good litmus test that has the ability to instantly cement Weidman as a force at 205. It also has the potential to provide a promising prospect the signature win he needs in order to justify future title contention.

CBohl: What UFC moment that you saw live in the arena will you never forget?

I’ve been fortunate to see some incredible things in the arena as a fan and cageside as a media member. As a fan the two moments that stand out the most to me are Anthony Johnson’s last successful trip to welterweight and an all-time great event. Rumble’s KO of Charlie Brenneman at UFC on Versus 6 was stunning. First of all, to see Johnson on the scale looking like a skeleton on the brink of death and seeing him fully hydrated the next day was an incredible contrast. I’ll never forget the sense of dread that I felt as they entered the Octagon and looked at least two weight classes apart. The head kick that began the finishing sequence made a cracking noise that echoed through the then-Verizon Center in Washington DC.

I also sat in the nosebleeds for UFC 199. The combination of action fight after action fight with an absurd amount of Jack Daniels made it a very memorable night. Being part of the crowd that lost its mind about the Brock Lesnar announcement, Dan Henderson’s head kick-to-elbow combination that iced Hector Lombard and the insane Michael Bisping title upset was unforgettable.

As a media member, I can’t just pick one either. Seeing Amanda Nunes become a dual weight champion by knocking out Cris Cyborg at UFC 232 was unreal. Witnessing the greatest pairing in women’s mixed martial arts and the ridiculous slugfest that transpired was nothing short of historic.

Additionally, Jorge Masvidal breaking the all-time fastest KO record was a jaw dropper. The entire press section was in stunned silence and we all looked at each other in total disbelief. The combination of Masvidal’s personality clash with Ben Askren and the sudden, violent end left us all speechless. There are plenty of other moments I won’t forget but those have to top the list.


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