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Dear MMA,

I’ve put up with your shit long enough and now it’s time to walk away.

You may have been under the impression that I’d already left. I stopped making my silly prediction videos ages ago and haven’t reported on the sport of mixed martial arts in a minute. But while my professional interests pulled me away from MMA media, I remained an attentive, pay-per-view buying fan. After all, I’ve been interested in combat sports since I was a child. My uncle was a boxer and I grew up respecting fighters. I bore witness to the ways in which combat sports provides those who have grown up in an atmosphere of impoverished violence the opportunity to claw their way out.

But from an entertainment point of view, boxing never held my interest, not the way that mixed martial arts did. People criticize MMA for showcasing the ugliest, darkest impulses of man, but what I saw was a competition that celebrated our most intrinsic and awe-inspiring qualities. Heart. Courage. Faith. Determination. Self-belief.

I was given an opportunity to cover MMA for the Vancouver Sun and wrote a couple dozen pieces covering everything from small amateur shows to the politics involved in decriminalizing the sport to profiles on MMA’s biggest stars. During this time I felt blessed to have the opportunity to meet the athletes and do my bit to grow the sport. How great to be able to support these amazing athletes by educating people about their astounding work ethic, talent and courage.

But MMA, it isn’t all about you. I can’t wait any longer for you to grow up and treat me right. It’s not just the sexist comments on fan sites, it’s not just the homophobic slurs made by the athletes, and it’s not just the misogynistic crap spouted by the figureheads of the sports biggest organization – it’s all of these things. I can’t respect myself as an adult bisexual woman and support a sport whose leaders, stars and fans think it’s just business as usual to objectify and belittle me and my ilk. If I was able to make elbow room at a dinner table where everyone was talking shit about me, but the food was great, I wouldn’t do it. My hunger for respect is greater than my hunger for entertainment. I want to end this letter, and our relationship, on a positive note and wish you well, but that would be insincere. What I really want to say, MMA, is this: Fuck you, too.

Sincerely,

Candice Mackinnon

Fans of mixed martial arts sure have a lot to say. We talk excitedly with our friends about the great fight we watched and argue on message boards about who would win if Fedor fought Godzilla. And we become particularly vocal when politicians, famous boxers, or moms starts spouting off saying that MMA is not a sport or call it human cockfighting. And we digest a lot of content, which is the gas that keeps our motor mouth running. We read blog posts, listen to MMA radios shows, watch fights on the computer, on TV, at the bar.

But despite how dedicated we are to this amazing sport, the truth is that MMA struggles. It struggles for respect. It struggles for recognition. In many cities, states and countries it struggles to exist. But guess what, Sports Fans? You can do something about that. Here are some ideas.

1 )  Pony up.  If you can’t afford the $50 for every UFC event then support the little guys. The cost of buying a regional pay-per-view is usually around $10. Regional promotions are the middle men between amateur events and the big show. Sure the quality of the stream may not be as good as a UFC or Strikeforce pay-per-view but what’s lacking in quality is often made up in quantity. I purchased AFC 3 on July 17th and they streamed 13 fights.

2 )  Support companies that support MMA.  It was kind of easy for me to rag on TapOut when I saw them as just a big chain in a mutually beneficial relationship with the UFC  juggernaut.  And then I noticed that they sponsor local amateur fighters. Kids putting long hours in at the gym to fight for free and to whom a little corporate sponsorship goes a long way.

3 )  Go to local shows.  I live in Vancouver where we’ve had one professional MMA event in 3 years. Fortunately, there are some well run amateur shows held periodically, which are always exciting. Sports are meant to be enjoyed live. Check out your local circuit.

4 ) If MMA if unsanctioned where you live, phone your local political representatives. Email them. Ask them their opinion on sanctioning the sport and let them know it’s important to you.  Some of the councilors who voted to allow professional MMA in Vancouver in December had said less than a year before that they were against it. People bugged them and they changed their minds. Politicians do that.

5 )  Vote. This is always important, of course, but you need to pay special attention to what is happening with your local and/or federal representatives if MMA is unsanctioned in your city, state or province. When MMA was approved in Vancouver the vote was 6-3. Nine people decided whether this city would get live professional MMA and watch Cro-Cop, Chuck Liddell and Rory Macdonald in our backyard. The citizens of Vancouver voted in those 9 people. I just don’t know how much straighter I can draw the line.

6 ) Demand local media coverage. Sarah Kaufman is the belt wearing, number one ranked 135 female fighter in the world and a life long resident of Victoria, BC. The Victoria newspaper doesn’t tell their readers anything about her, and it isn’t because the readers wouldn’t care. When I write about Kaufman for the Vancouver Sun website, her articles rank among the top read for days in a row. Email your newspaper’s sports editor and tell him you want to know what’s going on with local MMA and request they cover it.

7 )  Represent the sport. People who are afraid of MMA think of it’s fans as gang bangers and hooligans. Macho, aggressive meatheads. I’m not asking that you wear collared shirts to the bar and golf clap your approval when your man wins, just look in the mirror and ask yourself how you are representing the sport.

8 ) Understand what opponents of mixed martial arts see. They see people trying to kill each other and young people getting excited about it. Young spectators who might be influenced by the violence they see and adrenaline they feel and look to take that out on someone. They see society going to hell. They see young athletes developing brain damage and then tax payers footing the medical bills. We can cut through these concerns using logic and fact, but not without first genuinely understanding the fear.

9 ) Get involved. Find out what it takes to become a judge and see if you can’t get started. Contact your local promotion and help out in exchange for behind the scenes access to events. Get creative and find out how to put your passion to use beyond arguing on message boards about the number one pound for pound fighter.

Or don’t do anything and just keep bitching amongst yourselves on the internet. But know that you have the power to affect the growth of the embattled sport you profess to love.

I’m a lesbian…

Actually, I’m bisexual, but I’ve been in a long term relationship with a woman for a few years now so if we’re talking about practically applied sexuality; I’m a lesbian.

fan of mixed martial arts.

I consider it mine. Not mine alone, but mine in a sense that I love, honor and cherish the sport in tandem with millions of other people around the world. The controversial nature of this sport inspires it’s fans to bind together in an effort to defend what we know to be a beautiful, honorable sport from those who wish to take it away from us.

It may shock you to learn this, but I am not the only homosexual fan of mixed martial arts. I’m not even the only lesbian fan of mixed martial arts. In fact, many of the women who report on or participate in mixed martial arts are queer. Lucky for me, I don’t hear fighters, promoters or fans going around calling each other dykes. Instead, their homophobic statements reflect a disdain for male homosexuality.

Logic leads me to believe that perhaps these fighters wish to distance themselves from the obvious initial observation of the casual sports fan of nearly naked men entangled on the mat in positions that remind them of sex acts.  Judging by the homophobic comments I’ve heard from fighters, they would surely be disgusted by the thought of a gay man becoming turned on by watching their sweaty muscled body rub up against another man.

Assuming this is true, isn’t it amusing that they might prefer a straight man become turned on by the thought of them getting knocked unconscious?

I admire fighter’s bodies as much as any fan; male, female, gay or straight. I might even like a fighter more because I think they’re sexy and have little celebrity crushes. But do you know what keeps me hot for this sport despite the fact that I get the feeling by some that I am invading macho sacred grounds?

It’s heart. The heart we witness when fighters stand up after a knockdown, wobbly, knowing full well they could get leveled again in seconds. Fighters who are dominated, bleed like faucets, tear muscles and break bones but answer the bell for the next round because they have the heart to fight until their bodies won’t go anymore.

It saddens me that so many people who love this sport don’t appreciate the heart and courage required to live a life as an out gay man. Sexism is still deeply entrenched in our society and many people cannot accept gay men who behave on the streets and between the sheets in a way that they qualify as female. I guess they don’t consider the balls of steel required to be openly gay in a world where you are continually ostracized, a  frequent target of violence, not protected by your government and told you are a gross, hellbound abomination.

Like casual straight MMA fans who are in it for the gore porn, perhaps it’s true that casual gay fans are in it for soft porn. Who cares? Like their straight counterparts, many of these pay-per-view buyers will eventually grow to fully appreciate this beautifully complex and compelling sport. Isn’t that what we all want? More fans, more money, more fights?

This sport is mine, and I fully intend to let my gay brothers know that it can be theirs, too.

@m4quinon

UFC 114 was interesting to me from a sports psychology perspective.

The pay-per-view kicked off with the weirdness of watching Diego Sanchez play counter fighter for 3 rounds. Remember what he looked like as he prepared to begin the 5th round against BJ Penn? His face was busted and he’d been thoroughly destroyed for the previous twenty minutes. And yet his posture and expression seemed to scream I can do this. Five minutes left. Miraculous come from behind victory. This is mine. I marveled at his mental toughness. Even after losing and while recuperating from surgery he seemed in good spirits. This guy can’t be broken, I thought. Amazing. But something in his mind must have shifted somewhere along the line because the brazen, confident, courageous zeal that typifies his fighting style was nowhere to be seen on May 29th.

Like many others, not Dana White, but many others, I was moved by Dan Miller’s plight. The mere facts of his personal life circumstance brought me to root for him hoping against hope that he wouldn’t be cut from the UFC. But what intrigued me come fight time was that he chose to stand with Bisping for the majority of the three round bout. It must have felt really good to tag Bisping, whom Miller had been told repeatedly was the stronger striker. And then in front of everyone to nail him, to hurt him with a punch, must have been exhilarating even if it came after getting clipped with 4 or 5 himself. I’m assuming that high must have been irresistible, otherwise why was he seduced into chasing a knock out instead of working the strongest side of his game in a fight that he had to win?

I’d heard people commenting that they thought Evans looked scared going into Saturday’s fight. But maybe what we took to be timid behavior was actually just Rashad’s typical relaxed demeanor. Clearly the man had a game plan that he believed in (for good reason, as it turned out). In the meantime, Rampage, who had amused us all with his cocky confidence, seemed to have messed up his own mental game in a vain attempt to get inside Rashad’s head. It appears that all the pressure he put on himself to win, prove that he’s still a relevant force against the UFC’s new breed, back up the trash talk, and return victorious after the controversial Hollywood layover, was too much. We’ve seen Rampage crack before so I suppose it shouldn’t have been a surprise that he scared himself frozen and sat back in the fight. But it was.

And Brilz? Everyone was so surprised by how well he took the judges decision but I think he was too busy feeling humbled by his success in rolling with Nog to be self-righteous. And Duffee? What does a young developing guy tell himself when he does everything right but loses in dramatic fashion anyway? Did Lauzon lose because his brother didn’t hug him enough as a child or because he is a lazy? And how great is Stun Gun? Ok, that broke with my theme but still: pretty great.

Twitter: @m4quinon

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With two title fights headlining UFC 111 the evening of March 27, casual combat sports fans will run in droves to their local watering hole. Maybe you are one of these stoked guys or gals. You haven’t gone out to watch the fights for a few months because, let’s face it, they’ve had a bunch of nobodies headlining the cards. But now you’re set to get liquored up and party with your boys to the tune of good old fashion meaty destruction. For you I’ve compiled the following list of Do’s and Don’ts for impressing your MMA wrecking crew.


DO: Express the most interest in the early fights. If the guys in the second fight of the night don’t look too old say “Oh this is the one I’ve been looking forward to!” Everybody knows the main event guys.  Only those in the know know the upcoming prospects that nobody knows including you.

DONT: Say you’ve been into MMA since UFC 1. Don’t regale people with stories of renting VHS copies of early UFC events. No one cares, Sweetie.


DO:  Mention another MMA promotion besides the UFC. This may require a little research.

DON’T: Go so far as to say that Strikeforce has a better product than the UFC. Just… no.


DO: Two words: lateral movement. They sound technical. Use them when one guy is dodging a lot of punches. Ex “He’s has great lateral movement!”

DON’T: Two Words: Athletic, Explosive. Do not, whatever you do, utter Roganisms.


DO: Slow your roll. Don’t be so excited. Jordan Breen and Luke Thomas are the knowingest and they are just so over it already.

DO: The above rule can be broken when the action hits the mat. Show some excitement when a fighter secures a submission. Arm bar! Neat!


DO: Figure out a way to mention that you listen to MMA radio and/or podcasts. You don’t, of course, but you’ve been meaning to. There are a billion MMA radio shows so you can just make up the name, say, Bone-Crunching Blood-Splashing Talk Radio. No one will know the difference.

DON’T: Talk TUF. Knowing who peed in whose fruit bowl on The Ultimate Fighter 8 does not make you sound like an MMA expert.

Remember these simple rules and you will be sure to impress your beer-swiling homies. And maybe even that cute girl sitting all alone at the bar. Doesn’t she look lonely? I bet she’d love it if you shared your insights.

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Josh Jauncey steals a squeeze from a Ring Girl

Josh Jauncey steals a squeeze from a ring girl.

If you are reading this blog but have yet to attend a live combat sports event then allow me to invite you. Find a small scale show, maybe even an amateur event. Intimate atmosphere. Good view. Young men and women battling for gym pride. It translates into a stellar evening out.

Saturday night I attended the latest in Master Song’s Kai Singthong Muay Thai Championship series. It was a truncated card with only 7 bouts, but each was entertaining and interesting in it’s way. Young Scott Allan looked like he belonged on Beverly Hills 90210 but displayed heart and an impressive chin. After eating a series of hooks, he foredged ahead ultimately losing the decision to Cory Hastings but proving his toughness along the way. World Kickboxing & Xtrm Fitness was the winner on the night as their two fighters, Tom Mattu and Josh Jauncey, each put forth an impressive technical display of skill en route to a lopsided victory.

17-year-old English transplant Josh Jauncey was particularly impressive landing crushing flurries to the body of Matt Gador who had his legs kicked out from under him several times. Jauncey’s speed, technicality, and power are exceptional for his age. Keep an eye on this newly crowned BC Junior Welterweight Muay Thai Champion, and his 22-year-old brother Jay, as well. (watch Jay’s last fight here)

Check out my Vancouver Sun article on the March 13th Kai Singthong event here. And photographer Sergio Mora’s images here.

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Last July I made my way to the Maritime Labour Centre for my first Vancouver Muay Thai event. As someone who regularly makes it out to local combat sports events, my most common complaint is lopsided match-ups. But on that night, I was impressed by the competitive and technical bouts. The event featured a great female contest, an aggressive but soft spoken 17 year old fighter, and a stunning knock out. I look forward to taking in my second Kai Singthong Muay Thai promoted event tonight.

Details on the March 13th event…

Main Fights:
John Edwards (KB One) vs Bruce Khademi (Kai Singthong)
Josh Jauncey (WKX) vs Jason Szakal (Chinese Gung Fu)
Cathay Cheng (Kai Singthong) vs Stephanie Dylle (Chinese Gung Fu)
Tom Mattu (WKX) vs Tai Lam (Lion King Muay Thai)

There will be 10-12 fights in total.

Advance Ticket Prices:
$40 – Ring Side
$30 – General Admission
$5 More at the door

For tickets call Master Song @ 778-896-1539

UPDATE: Post Event Blog Post

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