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Gone in 40 Seconds - The UFC 246 Conspiracy Theory Report

“This shits all fake” proclaimed UFC welterweight star Nate Diaz immediately following the main event of UFC 246 on his Twitter social media account Saturday night which saw Conor McGregor absolutely eviscerate Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone by TKO in just 40 seconds of the first round of McGregor’s highly anticipated return to the Octagon. For those who saw the fight with their own eyes, it would be hard to call Donald Cerrone’s first class, all expenses paid trip behind Conor McGregor’s woodshed fake, but there are many ways to fix a fight and the rumor mill was circulating, questioning whether or not “Cowboy Cerrone was paid to take a dive against Conor McGregor?” well ahead of Saturday night’s main event showdown at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

In the MMA Press Room’s first article of 2020 titled “The Ultimate UFC 246 Conspiracy Theory,” we analyzed McGregor’s rather dire need to pick up a victory at UFC 246 after a three year winless streak which has left the Irish sports star at the edge of irrelevance and the MMA Weekly article cited by ESPN MMA analyst Chael Sonnen as allegedly responsible for sparking the rumor that “Cowboy” Cerrone was paid by the UFC to take a dive against Conor McGregor. A theory in which Sonnen, a future UFC Hall of Fame inductee, described as ridiculous and went on record as stating simply did not happen.

After assuring us that the rumor wasn’t true, that “Cowboy” would never accept money to take a dive, the Bad Guy Inc. CEO posed the question of why would Donald Cerrone even take a dive against Conor McGregor in the first place? What would the motive be? The answer to which is almost certainly for McGregor to align himself for another $100-million dollar pay day against the undefeated boxing legend Floyd “Money” Mayweather or another well known, highly incentivized boxing champion.

Coincidentally, after McGregor claimed victory over Donald Cerrone Saturday night, representatives from the Floyd Mayweather Jr. camp immediately began to promote “Mayweather McGregor 2 2020” on Instagram social media. None of which is surprising considering I called all of this from a mile away, including McGregor’s victory over Cerrone, long before any of it actually began to materialize while highlighting as BoxingInsider.com’s UFC correspondent over the course of 2019.

And considering Conor McGregor has some very serious sexual assault allegations pending against him, a fact many influential mixed martial arts analysts would very much like to sugar coat and down play, a game the MMAPressRoom.com refuses to play, anything short of a victory Saturday night against “Cowboy” Cerrone for the sports biggest star would have been financially devastating for those involved in the McGregor vs. the world of boxing sweepstakes.

"I would humbly submit to you I would be much further along if I just played the game a little bit, much further along,” said Sirius XM radio show host Luke Thomas in his November 27, 2019 interview with the Pull No Punches podcast substitute host Shakiel Mahjouri. In the BloodyElbow.com follow up article titled, "Luke Thomas on 'reality' of MMA media: 'You have to attach yourself to power'” Mahjouri went on to explain that, "Thomas has managed to carve out an important position for himself in the landscape of MMA media, but that does not mean he can advise others to do the same."

According to Mahjouri, in summarizing his interview with the long time MMA analyst, "The Morning Kombat host elaborated on his disenchantment with the media, how the business model puts journalists in compromising positions, and also shared his advice for how to cope with grief." Breaking the mixed martial arts media landscape down for the audience Barney-style, when asked about MMA reporters maintaining their integrity in the face of an industry wrought with conflicts of interest, Thomas went on to explain that, "If you want to get ahead in this business, generally speaking, you have to attach yourself to power. That’s the way to do it. There are ways to do it without it, but they are much slower, they are much harder, they are much longer, they are certainly a lot less grateful and rewarding."

Thomas went on to elaborate on the many problems that are saturating the mixed martial arts journalistic landscape, professing that the, “MMA media is so deferential to power. That power could be a very famous fighter, that power could be an institution, that power could be anything. Anything that has real sway and command of the industry.” In suggesting a potential solution to mixed martial arts media corruption plaguing the viewership fanbase, Thomas hypothesized that, “I think to really do it you have to not be part of the traveling machine: the people who go to the Bellator shows, UFC shows, the media days. You have to be completely, and I mean utterly, divorced from that.”

In a tale of Twitter social media exchanges from some of the leading combat sport opinion makers in the mixed martial arts media today, we examine the messages coming from the media elite and the overall body of insight coming from these individuals concerning a subject which strikes at the very credibility of the sport itself.  "Just once, I want to take an MMA fan who believes a fight was fixed and put him in a room with the losing fighter and just let him argue his case. I'd pay $64.99 for that. No undercard needed," wrote TheAthleticMMA Managing Editor Dan Stupp in a January 20, 2020 social media Twitter post. A fact which highlights Thomas’s ultimate point about how the industry model puts MMA journalists in compromising positions where elements of the mixed martial arts media are fearful of the consequences in confronting their suspicions and thus, the truth itself.

In a follow up social media response, Sherdog.com Senior Editor Ben Duffy went on to agree with Stupp, stating that his comment was a “Great idea,” with an emoji included shortly thereafter expressing the idea of tears of joy. While such sentiments are likely, at least in part, subconscious justifications for their own part in playing the game referenced earlier by Thomas; it pays to understand mixed martial arts journalists have an obligation to report the truth, not simply dodge the question itself or even deny its possibility entirely. For those unwilling to confront their own suspicions or even entertain the idea of such, some serious credibility issues arise that ultimately become a personal issue that pulls on the strings of professional and ethical integrity.

For those framing their fallacy based argument that one has to march into a fighters locker room in order to report the possibility, however unlikely, that a fight may or may not have been fixed is a curious position to take considering it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out all one needs is Microsoft Word, some common sense and a set of balls. This simple mistake in logic and reason offers a glimpse into the true nature of the sport’s most elite combat sport media websites today, where true grit and insight is in short supply and only those willing to play the game, harboring a distinct fear of confronting the truth, need apply.

Elaborating further upon Stupp’s “great idea,” Duffy went on to write, “The other thing is…we’ve had fixed fights in MMA, and it turns out they’re pretty fuckin obvious, because most fighters aren’t any better at pro wrestling than most pro wrestlers are at MMA. We’ve seen what worked fights look like, and McGregor-Cowboy ain’t it.” In response to the Sherdog radio network personality, Bleacher Report Senior Writer Jonathan Snowden weighed in with his own two cents on the subject, suggesting that, “There have been plenty of fixed fights in MMA and you likely have no idea about them because they are not obvious and MMA has a variety of ways to end a fight and consistently weird shit happening.”

As the proverbial fly on the wall, we are privileged to Monday morning quarterback our way through among the final exchanges in the conversation, with the Sherdog.com Senior Editor going on to reply that, “I was overstating a bit for humor, and I can believe there have been fixed fights I don’t know about or suspect, but the idea that Cerrone getting his face put on sideways is eliciting calls of “work” is still ridiculous to me.” And rounding out the final exchange, with the everlasting dose of truth, Snowden went on to remark that “Fixing fights is not work and lots of fixed fights include a fighter getting their shit wrecked. It’s part of it.”

In stating the obvious, Snowden is absolutely correct about the consistently weird shit happening in MMA that the mainstream mixed martial arts media outlets conveniently ignore on an all too regular basis. And considering being involved in fixed fights is an illegal, fraudulent activity it stands to reason that if fighters are going to be involved in any alleged, hypothetical illegal activity in front of millions of fans that being on the receiving end of a fight ending sequence, no matter how brutal it may be, would be a an excellent idea if you’re hoping to minimize suspicion and a world of legal trouble. When the idea is to sell the audience the violence that they are looking for, delivering the angle that the audience came to see not only makes sense but is absolutely critical in putting the babyface over on the Marks, or those who believe what they are seeing is as real as it gets.

There are generally only two outcomes in mixed martial arts, victory or defeat. And with the glory that comes with competing inside the cage, comes the very real possibility all combat sports athletes must accept in that getting hurt inside the ring or cage is an inevitable fact of life for a prize fighter. Any suggestion that a fighter would not accept a convincing sum of money or promise of a favorable outcome in order to position his opponent up the ranks for a potential big money fight is not only laughable, but reason to question one’s overall knowledge of the nature of prize fighting itself.

As referee “Big” John McCarthy is famous for saying, “This is the hurt business, and in the hurt business people get hurt.” In a world where post-fight bonuses such as Performance of the Night exist, to suggest fighters will not choose to stand and bang with the promise of monetary incentive on the line win, lose or draw is preposterous. Of course, fighters can, will and do take trips behind the woodshed for financial gain, that is the very nature of combat sports themselves. Sometimes the ass kicking is all but assured, the fight itself little more than a formality.

In my December 2018, BoxingInsider.com article titled, “The Anatomy of the Fight Game,” the 2016 documentary “Dirty Games – The Dark Side of Sports” was explored where investigative journalist Benjamin Best interviewed former Leon Spinks manager Larry Farrell who offered priceless insight into the world of fight fixing in combat sports. According to Farrell, “You fix fights to make betting money. You fix fights to get a fighter a championship. You fix fights to maneuver a fighter up the ranks toward a championship fight. You fix fights to win, in order, again, to position someone strategically.”

Continuing, Farrell went on to add that, “You fix fights to lose, in order to get paid and in order to make, you know, betting coups. The way you fix fights varies greatly. You fix fights by buying judges. That’s, you know that’s one of the easy ways to do it. You fix fights by having the referee working for you, so that, if there’s any way that the ref can stop a fight in your guy’s favor, he does. You fix fights by colluding with the fighters, generally the loser. It’s almost always the loser. Winners almost never know the fight is fixed.”

Often times when I conduct critical analysis on opinions stimming from mixed martial arts pundits, I am left questioning whether these people actually believe the things that they are writing about and saying due to the overall lack of true insight from many of these individuals and the naivety saturating their thoughts. Regularly, the idea of whether these individuals are using the Socratic Method to foster and encourage critical thinking among their viewership has crossed my mind. Because if we were to simply take these various mixed martial arts opinion makers solely at their word, that the things they are writing and talking about publicly are actually the things they truly believe in their heart of hearts, then the mixed martial arts community who rely on these individuals for the best information possible is in some serious trouble.

At the end of the day, when it’s all said and done, it is the overall body of written work and the veracity of the idea’s these writers have left behind on paper that will be the hallmark of their mixed martial arts insight and legacy. If a journalist chooses to spend their entire career hiding behind the Socratic Method for fear of reprisal, their true knowledge and insight forever hidden behind a veil of fear and self-imposed censorship, then history will never mistake these individuals for anything else but a fool.

Of course, that is giving these various combat sport pundits the benefit of the doubt, because there always remains the distinct possibility these mixed martial arts personalities in fact believe the things they are writing and talking about. Or, perhaps worst yet, we may even be left to entertain the idea that “Members of the Mixed Martial Arts Journalists Association are Alleged to be on Fight Promoters Payroll,” which could be the missing piece to the puzzle that we have been looking for in order to fill in the blanks and get a better view of the overall landscape combat sport fans must navigate through today.  Whatever the case may be, failing to report on the truth, no matter how ugly it may be while relying on others to do your dirty leg work for you is a losing proposition once the veracity of your work is held up to scrutinizing review.

In conclusion, was “Cowboy Cerrone paid to take a dive against Conor McGregor?” The only person who would know for sure is Donald Cerrone, though to be fair according to mixed martial arts legend Chael Sonnen that “ridiculous” conspiracy theory simply did not happen. Though in a sport with a variety of ways to win and a fast and loose system of meritorious promotion through rankings and divisions, the traditional ways in which the naïve, sitting duck general population perceive fixed fights only serves to benefit the casino as the lines between mixed martial arts and professional wrestling continue to be blurred. And considering how many ways in which a fight can be fixed, including through matchups alone, its little wonder why mixed martial arts star Nate Diaz believes “This shits all fake.”