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Eddie Goldman is the host and producer of the No Holds Barred international podcast, the publisher of the No Holds Barred blog, and a senior contributing editor at the ADCC News.

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Saturday, January 28, 2017

No Holds Barred: John Perretti on Meryl Streep, MMA, and Art 


On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman once again spoke with lifelong martial artist, former UFC and Battlecade Extreme Fighting matchmaker, TV commentator, and our senior correspondent, John Perretti.

Mixed martial arts was drawn into a recent controversy involving Meryl Streep, who John Perretti regards as "the best living actress we have." On January 8, 2017, Streep was presented the Cecil B. DeMille Award for Lifetime Achievement during the Golden Globes awards TV show. During her acceptance speech, she strongly denounced the racist, xenophobic, anti-Muslim, and anti-immigrant program of Donald Trump and defended the arts. She said, "Hollywood is crawling with outsiders and foreigners, and if you kick us all out, you'll have nothing to watch except for football and mixed martial arts, which are not arts."

It was her statement that sports like American football and MMA "are not arts" that elicited many negative responses from people in the MMA community, and not only from Trump backers.

There is perhaps no one better suited than John Perretti to discuss this controversy because of his background. Besides being a pioneer in MMA who developed the name "mixed martial arts" and the basic structure of weight classes and rounds which is still used today, he was a football coach, is a painter and sculptor, and was for a decade a professor at the School of Visual Arts in New York. In addition, he has extensive film and TV experience, both as an actor, stuntman, and stunt coordinator. He is presently finishing work on his memoirs.

To discuss this, we spoke with John Perretti, who is now in Japan, by phone Wednesday Japan time/Tuesday New York time.

While at one time he believed that the martial arts were an "art form", he said, "I had no intention of mixed martial arts, including Extreme Fighting ... to ever be more than a great sport. I never thought of it as art at all because I come from a different world. I'm a Martist, in a sense, because I come from a very different place."

He continued, "Not all those things that congeal into a sport like it is today, which is different than when I was involved in it, could be said to be artsy."

A key difference is the centrality of violence, both for sport and film.

"It's hard to separate out mixed martial arts as an art form if it's all about violence," he said.

We discussed the devolution of MMA in recent years, especially in the U.S., and the growth of the emphasis on a brawling style of fighting which some have called "professional toughman".

Yet even a violent sport can have many artistic elements. For boxing, he said, "The rules make it artistic."

We discussed a lot more on these topics, including how to interpet what Meryl Streep might have and might not have meant, kickboxing and leg kicks, art and sports in general including baseball and cricket, and much more.

We also open with a commentary on the issue of art and sport, in light of the contributions made by C. L. R. James in what many regard as one of the best if not the best sports book ever written, Beyond A Boundary.

You can play or download No Holds Barred here and here. If one link does not work, please try another.

No Holds Barred is available at Google Play Music.

Also, No Holds Barred is available through iTunes.

You can also listen to No Holds Barred via Stitcher through iOS or Android devices or on the web here.

The PodOmatic Podcast Player app is available for free, both for Android at Google Play, and for iOS on the App Store.

The No Holds Barred theme song is called "The Heist", which is also available on iTunes by composer Ian Snow.

No Holds Barred is sponsored by:

The Boxing Tribune, boxing's independent media. Unlike every other major boxing website, The Boxing Tribune is not funded or owned by promoters, managers, or networks, and is fully independent and free to write the truth. For independent boxing news and views, go to TheBoxingTribune.com.

Skullz Double-End Bags, the perfect bag for your combat sports training. Skullz Double-End Bags provide a realistic striking target, and help improve timing, distance, and hand and eye coordination. Hang it and hit it right out of the box! No pump required. For more information, go to SkullzDeBags.com.

USA Combat Wrestling, the official U.S. governing body for combat wrestling and U.S. delegate of the International Combat Wrestling Federation (FICW), which was founded by the legendary wrestler Noriaki Kiguchi of Japan. For more information, go to CombatWrestling.us.

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Thursday, January 26, 2017

Boxing, TV, and You 


Note: This article recently appeared on The Boxing Tribune, but since that site has been the target of hackers and is sometimes inaccessible, here it is in its entirety:


Repeat after me, ladies and germs: Boxing is a TV sport. Boxing is a TV sport.

If you don't get that, you don't get boxing, especially its immediate future. Yes, streaming is growing, but it is still often a lousy, glitchy, unreliable substitute for ye olde televisione, and will remain so for at least a few years if not longer. Besides, the major streaming services like Netflix seem uninterested in offering any live sports, much less one as ungeeky as boxing. And the most many of the streaming services offered by TV networks usually do is show the same thing, freezing pictures and all, as they do on TV. (Footnotes provided upon request.)

Even those who somewhat get this, that far more people watch boxing on TV than see it live in arenas, often with a far better view (if having to suffer through agonizingly idiotic audio propaganda), still have no way to evaluate this. A recent contributor article to that rag of the 1% parasites, Forbes, is entitled "HBO Still Rules Boxing Landscape Despite Criticism; Can Showtime Change That?" The writer argues that this is so because "29 the 30 highest-rated premium cable boxing shows in 2016 involved" HBO, proving it is "boxing's premier broadcaster."

Using this methodology, I can "prove" that Trump won the popular vote in the U.S. presidential election by conveniently eliminating from consideration all the states he lost. This is precisely what this guy did (and presumably got paid lots of bananas for doing so).

So here's the truth. Five of the top six most-watched boxing shows on U.S. TV in 2016 were Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) cards. Here is my list, compiled from various reports based on Nielsen ratings:

1 - Errol Spence Jr. vs. Leonard Bundu, Aug. 21, 2016, PBC on NBC: average 4.8 million viewers, peak of 6.34 million.

2 - Keith Thurman vs. Shawn Porter, June 25, 2016, Showtime Championship Boxing on CBS presented by Premier Boxing Champions: averaged 3.1 million viewers, peaked at 3.94 million viewers.

3 - Danny Garcia vs. Robert Guerrero, Jan. 23, 2016, PBC on Fox: ave. 2.1 million, main event peaked at 3.5 million viewers.

4 - Andre Berto vs. Victor Ortiz, April 30, 2016, PBC on Fox: 1.6 million viewers.

5 (tie) - Gennady Golovkin vs. Dominic Wade, April 23, 2016, HBO: 1,325,000 viewers. (Note also that Wade is a PBC boxer and is managed by Al Haymon.)

5 (tie) - Joe Smith Jr. vs. Andrzej Fonfara, June 18, 2016, PBC on NBC: 1.32 million.

The last two are listed as a tie, because statistically 1.325 million and 1.32 million in the Nielsen ratings are the same. But if you prefer, PBC has five of the top six. And if you have the free time and resources, you can expand this list to ten, twenty, or whatever pleases your heart and head.

The ratings for the early 2017 cards also appear to be strong. The PBC on Spike show of Friday, January 13, headlined by a less-than-competitive showcase fight for Erislandy Lara against Yuri Foreman, reportedly averaged 547,000 viewers and peaked at 707,000. This was 11% higher than the last time Spike had a PBC card on a Friday night, when Danny Jacobs fought Sergio Mora on September 9, 2016.

The night after the PBC on Spike card, Showtime aired a card run by many of the same people associated with PBC and the publicly invisible Al Haymon. Headlined by an early fight-of-the-year candidate involving James DeGale and Badou Jack, the fight ended in a majority draw with each man retaining his super middleweight belt. The telecast peaked at 454,000 viewers and averaged 391,000, quite high for a Showtime boxing card.

In recent weeks there have also been a number of new TV deals announced in the U.S. and U.K.

Besides PBC already having said that there will be more telecasts in 2017 than in either of their first two seasons, the troubled Golden Boy Promotions just announced a new deal with ESPN. A total of 18 shows on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes will be shown this year, on various days including Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, beginning March 23, and also around the world. There will be supporting programming developed. No doubt these fights will feature up-and-comers, but if Golden Boy makes them competitive rather than planned mismatches, they could be entertaining.

In the U.K., a deal was announced late last year for Frank Warren to promote 20 live U.K. events in 2017 on BT Sport, as well as 20 live U.K. events on BoxNation. This expands the number of shows Warren's company will air, as he strives to contract with more fighters and try to compete with Eddie Hearn's Matchroom Boxing and Sky Sports, who are the strongest in the U.K. at the moment.

On top of this, British heavyweight David Haye and American promoter Richard Schaefer have just announced a new partnership and venture, Hayemaker Ringstar. This aims to get a U.K. TV deal as well, along with co-promoting Haye's March 4 fight with Tony Bellew, which is on Sky Sports Box Office. For those unfamiliar with the 36-year-old Haye's drawing power, when he fought the overmatched Mark de Mori last January and stopped him in 2:11 of the first round, the fight was shown on the U.K. comedy channel called Dave, which is a free terrestrial channel. It peaked at three million viewers.

Oh, what about HBO? I think I heard a rumor that they are still around and will show a few fights and a lot of unworthy pay-per-views, but, who knows, that could just be fake news. Word is that HBO is trying to stave off being quarantined in intensive care by bidding with Showtime for the U.S. rights for the April 29 heavyweight blockbuster between Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko. Joshua has an exclusive U.S. deal with Showtime, but Klitschko, who has recently fought on HBO, will be 41 at the time of this fight and may be in the last bout of his career, ready to pass the heavyweight torch to the unbeaten star Joshua. It thus makes more sense for Showtime to outbid HBO for this fight, but sense and dollars and cents often travel separately.

So who really rules boxing's TV landscape? In a way, y'all do. What you watch on TV, what you tweet about, and what you even glimpse on those forbidden secret streams, all create buzz, bucks, and boom for boxing. Just don't tell these writers. The facts may confuse them.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

No Holds Barred: Curran Jacobs on Ortiz-Sonnen, Neck Cranks, and Catch Wrestling 


On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman once again spoke with the captain of the 2011 Michigan State University wrestling team and current catch wrestler, Curran Jacobs.

There has been a lot of discussion about the finish of the January 21 Bellator 170 MMA fight between Tito Ortiz and Chael Sonnen. Sonnen tapped out in the first round to what was said to be a rear naked choke, but a closer look at the actual hold Ortiz had applied says otherwise and shows that it was a neck crank.

Infuriatingly, many MMA fans who are ignorant of catch wrestling holds like neck cranks, and whose knowledge is limited to what they know, rightly or wrongly, of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, charged that this showed the match was "fixed" because the winning submission hold was not one which they had seen, a rear naked choke.

To discuss all this, we spoke with Curran Jacobs about this by phone Monday.

"You hear it constantly right now. 'It was fixed. It was fake. His arm wasn't even sunk. It wasn't even a rear naked choke. He didn't even have a choke,'" he said.

"That just proves how Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, how popular it is and how heavy it is in the grappling world. And it really, what it really did was show how, it revealed the lack of knowledge people have on catch wrestling.

"I was just working out with my gym, Murcielago MMA, today, and all the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu guys were like, 'Yeah, that was fake. That was fake.'

"And I said, 'Well, let me show you exactly why Chael tapped.'

"And I applied the same position that Tito Ortiz had, and it took them less than three seconds and they tapped.

"It's a very painful, painful neck crank."

Curran Jacobs also posted a video demonstrating this hold, which can be seen here.

We also discussed the need to educate people about neck cranks and other catch wrestling holds; why "catch wrestling is BJJ's Kryptonite"; the purposeful downplaying and denigration of wrestling and grappling by many MMA promoters; the second annual Frank Gotch World Catch Wrestling Tournament, which is scheduled for the weekend of July 15, 2017, in Humboldt, Iowa; and much more.

You can play or download No Holds Barred here and here. If one link does not work, please try another.

No Holds Barred is available at Google Play Music.

Also, No Holds Barred is available through iTunes.

You can also listen to No Holds Barred via Stitcher through iOS or Android devices or on the web here.

The PodOmatic Podcast Player app is available for free, both for Android at Google Play, and for iOS on the App Store.

The No Holds Barred theme song is called "The Heist", which is also available on iTunes by composer Ian Snow.

No Holds Barred is sponsored by:

The Boxing Tribune, boxing's independent media. Unlike every other major boxing website, The Boxing Tribune is not funded or owned by promoters, managers, or networks, and is fully independent and free to write the truth. For independent boxing news and views, go to TheBoxingTribune.com.

Skullz Double-End Bags, the perfect bag for your combat sports training. Skullz Double-End Bags provide a realistic striking target, and help improve timing, distance, and hand and eye coordination. Hang it and hit it right out of the box! No pump required. For more information, go to SkullzDeBags.com.

USA Combat Wrestling, the official U.S. governing body for combat wrestling and U.S. delegate of the International Combat Wrestling Federation (FICW), which was founded by the legendary wrestler Noriaki Kiguchi of Japan. For more information, go to CombatWrestling.us.

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