Monthly Archives: February 2010

The Trouble With Frank Mir: Divergent Ways of Dealing with Post-fight Trauma

Frank Mir was a certifiable trash talker until yesterday. With the ” I want to break (Lesnar’s) neck in the ring. I want him to be the first person that dies due to octagon-related injuries” Frank Mir crossed a line that could make for an anecdotal case for having one’s head examined.

“A lot of individuals are so worried about being politically correct,” Mir said in a radio interview. “I’d rather go ahead and say what’s on my mind than to sit there and come up with some PC ‘Oh, the guy is a great fighter and I have a lot of respect for him.’ If I don’t mean it, why is it even coming out of my mouth?”

“I want to fight Lesnar. I hate who he is as a person. I want to break his neck in the ring. I want him to be the first person that dies due to Octagon-related injuries. That’s what’s going through my mind.” (Frank Mir with Mark Madden, Radio Interview)

That Frank’s remark was highly impolitic, regardless of what other purpoted trash-talkers have said in the past,  goes without saying – which is why the UFC came down hard on him (More on this later on.) The public significance of that is now moot. Frank has apologized, but not before  being publicly lambasted as a “(bleeping) idiot” by Dana White. These are sensitive times:

“Mir is a [expletive] idiot! I have never heard something so unprofessional and idiotic in my life,” (Dana White with Carmichael Dave of KHTK,  Sacramento, CA)

The remark was out of line – even when you listen to it in the context of the interview Mir had with Madden:

What does it say about Frank’s frame of mind? His touch or lack thereof with the bounds of propriety in time-space and circumstance?   To examine this from a different perspective, we would like to suggest two different ways in which two UFC fighters in recent memory have dealt with the challenge or trauma of losing, namely Frank Mir and Rashad Evans.

Frank Mir

Frank Mir stranded on a head trip? A study in contrasts

Rashad Evans

Rashad Evans: Grounded in victory and defeat? You be the judge.

Legend: The story of Rashad Evans is very instructive of how fighters can handle a traumatic loss, because this is a guy who went into virtual hibernation after the shock and awe of his loss to Lyoto Machida in UFC 98. Evans who should never have given into the temptation of playing the cocky-punk-ass  because he doesn’t play a very convincing heel to begin with, had the extra feelings of embarrassment to deal with. His post-hibernation interview posted on Youtube is a riveting study in humility and soul searching. True, Evans’ drubbing was not crowned with eggregious ridicule and unsportmanlike showboating, but his unstinting inner focus is very instructive of a man who had reconnected with his inner man and responsibilities, regardless of what had happened to him. To say that Frank Mir could not have  found this inner focus, especially after Lesnar’s unsportsmanlike demonstrations,  is to absolve him of personal responsibility in a way that belittles  him as a man.

We do have a theory though: Frank found it hard to recover mentally or emotionally because by the time the fight rolled along, he had already invested  too much in the mental and emotional bet of trash talking – and that the trash talking may just have been motivated by his own fears of what Lesnar would do to him. Remember that Frank had tussled with Lesnar at UFC 81 and had a pretty good idea of the kind of power Lesnar had. Fighters have a special place for these kinds of memories.

Whichever way one analyzes this, it is clear that Frank never really recovered from the gambit he committed himself to after UFC 81. Our theory would more than explain why someone who had won that fight would resort to over-the-top  trash talking as the next fight approached.  The champion/interim champion issue doesn’t explain the ensuing back-and-forth that ended up with quite a bit of ill-feeling as UFC 100 would show.

Case closed? Hardly. We are just clearing our throats.  Come back in about 24 hours for the fleshing out of this theme. This latest outburst by Frank Mir shows that he is not reliably in touch with the bounds of propriety. This greatly diminishes his status within the MMA community. This is baggage Frank does not need. Beyond his a need to handle his octagon demons better, he is faced with the nearly insurmountable task of winning back the fan goodwill that was his for the taking prior  to UFC 81.

Coming up in this article:

  • What the heck was wrong with Mir’s statement and why he doesn’t seem to be getting it. See Ben Fowlkes article under “Appendices.”
  • Like Lesnar before him, he has frittered away his P.R. advantage – and for what?

copyright© 2009


Frank Mir needs to learn to keep his mouth shut (Cyberaxis)

Mir can’t understand backlash to provocative Lesnar comments (Ben Fowlkes, Inside MMA)

Cain Velasquez and Postcards from UFC 110

UFC 110 in Australia will be remembered as a low-key event that nevertheless  sent back huge postcards about Cain Velasquez and the future of the UFC heavyweight division.  Set in the land down under, this is an even that  could have as well been billed as “Return of the Vets: Old Guns versus Young ‘Uns.”  Two of them (Wanderlei Silva and Mirko Cro Cop) won and the last two (Antonio Nogueira and Keith Jardine) lost for an even split with the young ‘uns.

People couldn’t help but cheer for Wanderlei Silva, the grand-daddy of old Pride championships who has given MMA his all, including his face and nose cartilage. His win over Michael Bisping was a like a shot in the arm for the MMA hard-core. You had to be heartless to not cheer for this take-no-prisoners warrior, especially against a colicky prick like Michael Bisping. Wanderlei’s almost knock-out flurry at the end of the last round was one of the high points of the night.

Postcard #1:  But the most notable postcard was the emergence of Cain Velasquez as a certifiably serious challenger to the heavyweight throne of the UFC. The kid earned his stripes last night and we duly revise our assessment of him from not being ready for primetime to someone who has as  a good chance as any, absent the buzz-saw named Brock Lesnar, of capturing the heavyweight title. What made us change our assessment, beyond the knockout of Antonio Nogueira at 2:20 of the first round, was his willingness to stand and trade serious punches. The stand-up game was impressive from the crisp accurate punches (accuracy percentage 64% – the second best in the UFC) to the crisp, agile kicks with explosive rotation. No, this was not a ground and pound scraper, but a fully-formed fighter materializing before our very eyes. Nuff respect. Nuff respect.

El Matador Cain Velasquez

“El Matador” Cain Velasquez – The coming of Latin pride to UFC-MMA in the form of a take-no-prisoners gladiator. At UFC 110, the 27 year old Velasquez sent notice to the entire world.

Does the UFC need a heavyweight champion like Cain Velasquez? As celebrated MILF and former vice-presidential candidate, Sarah Palin would say, “You betcha!” Reason? There is nothing negative about what this young man represents, from his overt ethnic pride, to his focus, work-ethic and low-key persona which comes across as humility. The demographic he stands to bring into UFC fandom, is one of the fastest if not the fastest-growing demographic in the United States. And the group has none of that highfalutin’ prejudice against the pugilistic of the arts. Are you reading this Mr. Dana White sir?

Cain’s win last night may have put him slightly ahead of Shane Carwin by virtue of  its improved stand-up game backed by a proven ground-and-pound game. The only thing Cain has to fear is Shane’s power.  Frank Mir has to pick a number behind Shane and Cain at this point. Beating Cheick Kongo means zip.  Zero.  Nada.

Drive and focus wise, Velasquez is on a par with Lesnar with a slight edge going to Velasquez because of Lesnar’s overweening confidence. Be that as it may, beating a healthy Lesnar – if at all, won’t be a walk in the park. The limiting factors for Velasquez would be size and strength. There is a very good reason Frank Mir has bulked up in preparation for a possible rematch with The Brock. Wiry grapplers just don’t cut it with Brock. He is just “too much man” for the average heavyweight stiff. Ask Randy Couture if ya doubt our contention. So coming in at a willowy 243lbs versus 265 plus pounds won’t be enough for Velasquez. Either he bulks up a la Frank Mir with corresponding strength gains or Lesnar comes down to Velasquez’s actual weight for a really fair match. But you know that won’t happen.  Regulations don’t call for it; end of  story.

Cyberaxis Prediction: So watch Cain Velasquez put on the pounds, slowly but surely.  There are no two ways about this if he wants to be counted as a credible contender against Brock Lesnar. Remember you heard it here first.

Postcard #2: UFC has gone international with no sign of the interest or attendance numbers waning.  Reports IFight365 from its website:

UFC President Dana White delivered the good news with the event drawing 17,831 people for a gate that is estimated at $2.5 million. That number moves the UFC 110 event ahead of the UFC 105 event held in Manchester, England last November that drew 16,693 fans. In addition to breaking the UFC’s record, White added that the event set an Acer Arena record for the highest-grossing sporting event in the arena’s history, as well as selling the most merchandise ever for any event, beating an Iron Maiden concert held at the venue. (IFight365 Website)

Rumblings of making MMA an Olympic are already being made even though Dana White is studiedly feigning disinterest or nonchalance.

Postcard #3: It is tough to watch the old-timers being methodically pulverized by the young ‘uns as they grab for that last bit of glory or  security – financial or otherwise. At the young age of 33 – young by any other standard that is – Wanderlei is already a grand-daddy of the sport. Now think of retiring at 33 and do the math. That is a good 40 years that one has to figure out how what to do with one’s time, assuming that one doesn’t have anything to worry about money. The message (among other things)? Fighters and the UFC have to figure out how secure prime fighters’ futures one way or the other. MMA fighting, like football and other sports, offers a woefully short career. An emerging body like UFC has to figure out how to  do things right by its fighters. The help that Brock Lesnar needed during his traumatic illness, is just the tip of the iceberg.

Poscard #4: When you hold other things constant, youth is an ascendant aspect in this sport. Nothing new here. The dominating performances by Cain Velasquez vs Antonio Nogueira and Ryan Bader vs Keith Jardine said it all. Watch for the changing of the guard at your nearest UFC event. The corn-fed young ‘uns are coming up bigger, stronger and physically more precocious than preceding generation; as if you didn’t already know that. If not, visit your local gym.

copyright© 2010

Unfiltered Reflections on Tiger Woods

The first to crumble was the moral indignation which had protected him from the press-ly hordes  like a ring of fire; the first intimation of vulnerability  in a man who had never known such. Without the sense of implied moral authority and the right to be left alone, Tiger was as vulnerable as a man running down the street with a vigilante mob  snapping at his heels.

The fire hydrant incident on Thanksgiving of 2009 turned the tables on the reticent superstar. Tabloidry, which was already sniffing around,  caught a whiff of scandal and vulnerability so strong they would not be dissuaded by anything. They began closing in like a pack of dingoes. The next thing to go was Tiger’s ability to posture or protest. His protective saber had lost its glow.

The cat was out of the bag for keeps and Tiger’s failure to realize that will be studied as a case of denial that led to more self-inflicted wounds. Tiger’s words and actions betrayed Michael Jackson-esque naivety and a misplaced belief in talismanic powers  he no longer had. What had been common knowledge among insiders had breached the wall of public knowledge, but it needed Elin Nodergren’s outrage  the way a flame needs an accelerant to burn out of control.  Mea culpa by press statement did not serve Tiger well. The next step – a staged press conference coming about three months later, did little to reverse the damage.

The Apology, Friday February 19, 2010

N.B. Because the YouTube version of Woods apology has been rendered private, you are gonna have to use Google or “The apology” hyperlink below to get to the video.

The apology is pure theater with an  unhealthy helping of the absurd. At this late hour, Tiger should have skipped it all together or given the press and the public something more genuine and believable. Something less scripted and awkward. The performance recalled Chris Brown and his video statement post Rihanna.

Tiger Woods should not have read that statement. The pauses between phrases and passages were pregnant with awkwardness instead of meaning. The closest Woods came to evoking genuine feeling was when he told the paparazzi to leave his mother, wife and kids alone.

Worlds Collide – (The world of sports, entertainment and corporate sponsorship) Tiger would not have needed today’s public apology had he been Joe Blow  caught in flagrante delicto with the family nanny. No, the apology was made necessary by the fact that Tiger is a corporation within a corporation with all kinds of fat cat stakeholders.

The rule book is out there, but athletes, entertainers and musicians, with very few exceptions, still find out the hard way: to wit within the crucible of scandal or inquisition by a pesky press and hypocritical public. There is an unwritten contract  out there, namely that you can get all fame and fortune you want as long as you pay the public/corporate  piper by doing things that shame neither.  There are  exceptions though – a few loopholes for discerning playas. Call it the envelope of tolerance. The playa can get away with virtual murder as long as he doesn’t  get too arrogant or sloppy or careless. Whatever he does should never appear to be daring the press and or the public  to find out …. if they can. Rubbing things in the press’ or public’s face is never a good idea …. as Gary Hart quickly found out.

The Playa and the Edge: Tiger Woods was arrogant and churlish to begin with. That is the edge most playas need to maintain their mojo and “street”  creds. He just got way too sloppy and arrogant in the end. And the result was  public emasculation by corporate and public edict. The result was as awkward as it was stilted. Tiger might have as well been taking the oath of celibacy – and the boys in the barrio reacted as if someone had just kicked them in the you-know-what. No playa, self-styled or otherwise, lives on public leash.  (Tiger as virtual priest? Nah. That ain’t life – at least the way it’s lived out there.  And therapy? Hell no.  Sniff whatever you sniffin’  but stay the hell away from my freak on.)

Back at H.Q. and throughout the land:  The mea culpa did not ring true, given what those-in-the-know know of Tiger and his M.O. The rationale  for it was less than persuasive beyond the need to salvage a brand. Tiger’s brand and that of his sponsors. The audience was hand-picked and the disclosures were selective. Beyond a semblance of contrition (which seemed like an extreme case of playing outside the comfort zone), the news conference did not reveal anything beyond Tiger Woods’ parallel universes. The corporate and the private. Whether he manages to bring them together in the coming months remains to be seen.

Tiger Woods and Mom

Tiger Woods and Mom, a touching moment of genuineness at the end of an awkward scripted presentation evocative of memorable mea culpas from stodgy world of politics (Photo: Joe Skipper-Pool/Getty Images)

“The blind lead the blind,
Into pits full of snares,
The preacher and the drunkard
Together shout into the night” (J.W.)

Gloria Allred: The crazy-as-a-fox side of this theater of the absurd, had Gloria Allred in a crimson suit that appeared to be running colors, holding a gonzo news conference calculated to capitalize on the moment and get more publicity bang for the buck for her and her client-of-the-moment, Joslyn James, a former porn star that Tiger allegedly “dated” for three years. In a situation brimming such ironies that only someone with the chutzpah of  Allred could brave it, she berated Tiger for lying to Ms. James and not apologizing to her  by name.  Intoned Allread: “Today was not an apology. It was a public relations stunt. It was a disgrace.”

Allred decried her client’s loss of income from porn on account of Tiger’s jealous tendencies. (Threat of a lawsuit? A hint to Tiger to settle with her out of  court? Oi vei!)

It doesn’t take a crystal ball to tell that given the way Tiger’s  saga has unfolded since Thanksgiving,  there is very little hope for his marriage surviving this. We would like to be wrong for his kids’ sake, but we doubt it.

copyright© 2009


Too many short putts doomed Tiger Woods at Augusta (Shane Bacon, Yahoo Sports) Note – Check out the comment section.