On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman reviews the fights and some of the issues arising from the New Year's weekend cards, and presents the 2011 No Holds Barred Awards.
The boxing card on Showtime Friday night, December 30, only re-raised questions about the neurological health of returning fighters Jermain Taylor and Andre Dirrell. The UFC card, also on Friday night, again exposed Brock Lesnar, who was blown out by Alistair Overeem in the first round and subsequently announced his retirement from MMA, as the worst UFC heavyweight titleholder in history.
But the spiraling contractual and legal issues facing Overeem, which led to him being sued by his former management and his purse being held up for this victory, also highlighted the need for MMA fighters to have their own association like athletes in other sports do, and to get the same protections as boxers do under the Muhammad Ali Act in the U.S.
Also addressed is the decline of submissions and of grappling in MMA, particularly in the U.S., and what this says about the relative safety and level of technique of MMA compared to boxing and other combat sports.
Dream held its annual New Year's Eve card at the Saitama Super Arena in Japan, featuring a mix of MMA and kickboxing fights with several fake pro "wrestling" acts. This says a lot about the weakness of the governance of this event. On the other hand, the real matches on the Dream card, held in a ring, featured numerous fights displaying a wide variety of grappling and striking techniques. The main event saw a first-round knockout by Fedor Emelianenko over Satoshi Ishii. The co-feature saw a great fight loaded with superior grappling where Shinya Aoki won a unanimous decision over Satoru Kitaoka to win the Dream featherweight title.
Next is the announcement of the very selective and purposely non-comprehensive 2011 No Holds Barred Awards, to highlight some of the good and the bad in the combat sports in 2011. Among the awards are the combat sports athlete of the year, combat sport of the year, boxer of the year, grappler of the year, sports organization of the year, comeback sport of the year, worst state regulation of combat sports in the U.S., best combat sports vlog, best wrestler and boxer in MMA, best MMA ring announcer, best MMA TV announcer, best new MMA journalist, MMA journalist of the year, and a few more awards of varying degrees of historical importance.
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