The UFC 253 After Action Report
I want to believe this shit is as real as it gets. In fact, I know that the vast majority of fights in mixed martial arts are as real as the athletic commissions will allow them to be. Though just below the surface of the sea of violence lays an increasing number of weird, strange and out of the ordinary circumstances and chain of events worthy of Academy Award nominations that call into question the integrity of the entire sport itself as mixed martial arts broadcasts increasingly suffer transmission interference from the Twilight Zone. The problem becoming so common and apparent that even UFC president Dana White is beginning take notice of an issue that I’ve likened to the sport coming full circle back to its professional wrestling roots.
The UFC 253 main event between middleweight champion Israel Adesanya and Paulo Costa in Abu Dhabi resulted in pure domination on the part of Adesanya who seemingly had all of the answers for his Brazilian challenger in route to a second round TKO stoppage victory for the pride of New Zealand. But as has all too often been the case in combat sports for some time now the weird, strange and out of the ordinary managed to once again find its way into mixed martial arts. Wasting no time in getting right down to business at the UFC 253 post fight conference, UFC president Dana White was vocal about the peculiarities he found surrounding the UFC 253 main event performance of Paulo Costa.
“Well so much for fight of year,” said White of Saturday night’s main event. “It was weird, I mean if you look at every other fight that Costa has had he comes out and goes after people like they owe him money and I think he landed one jab in this fight. Didn’t try to clinch on the fence, didn’t try to put pressure, kept going back to the center of the Octagon. Very weird,” said White in critiquing Costa’s performance.
Later, White would again revisit Costa’s performance after the UFC 253 main event stating, “You guys know enough about the sport that if he fought the way he fights; look at the way he went after Yoel Romero. One of the most dangerous guys ever. And then he stays away, he stays on the outside taking damage to that front leg then, then he, and when he does rush in and gets him up against the cage he backs out to the center of the cage again. Never tried to get in the clinch, I think he only landed a jab. Didn’t really throw any punches at all, only threw kicks. It was very weird,” said White.
White’s comments came on the heels of former UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman’s Twitter social media comments where he too Tweeted about how weird the fight looked through the eyes of a seasoned championship caliber fighter. Which was an assessment I shared myself, noting that Costa appeared to be sandbagging throughout the fight in failing to close the distance against Adesanya or even letting his hands go in an attempt to make it competitive. At one point, Costa took an uncomfortably long pause during the middle of the fight, seemingly in nod to the previous UFC middleweight challenger Yoel Romero, who himself turned out a bizarre performance against Adesanya in route to a unanimous decision loss to the champion back in March.
“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 towards a championship fight,” explained former boxing manager Charles Farrell in the award winning 2016 Benjamin Best documentary “Dirty Games – The Dark Side of Sports.”
According to Farrell, who admits to fixing literally hundreds of fights, “You fix fights to win in order, again, to position someone strategically. 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,” explains Farrell. “You fix fights by buying judges, that’s you know, one easy way 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 the fight in your guys favor, he does. You fix fights by colluding with the fighters, generally the loser. It’s almost always the loser. The winner almost never knows that the fight is fixed,” explained Farrell in masterfully laying out the cold, hard truth about the combat sports entertainment industry today.
In this case, the goal appears to be to position the UFC middleweight champion Adesanya into a UFC super fight against perhaps the greatest fighter the sport has ever seen in former perennial light heavyweight champion Jon Jones who recently vacated his title in a move to the UFC’s heavyweight division. Adesanya, who has enjoyed the complete promotional backing of the organization has had a back and forth war of words with the light heavyweight kingpin Jones in an increasingly likely potential matchup as time moves forward.
“Those of you guys that are giving me a little grief, you know what? First of all, you’re right. That I’ve been, that I’ve been more pushing UFC and I’ve been a boxing guy my whole life, 45-years. Maybe a little more,” admitted ESPN boxing analyst Teddy Atlas in his October 2, 2020 YouTube video titled, “Teddy Atlas Addresses Haters Saying He’s Promoting UFC over Boxing.”
“You’re not wrong, I gotcha,” said Atlas. “But let me ask you a question. And really, I think, let me ask you a fair question. I’m here to report what’s going on. I’m the weather man,” explained Atlas. “I’ve got to tell you if it’s raining or if it’s snowing. Or if it’s going to be sunny. Boxing hasn’t given us a lot of sunny days, guys. I’ve got news for ya, it’s been rainy. It’s been a little rainy. But I’m not supposed to report the rain,” explained Atlas, a living legend in professional boxing.
“If you’re putting on a lot of fights over the last month, whether its ESPN or wherever the heck its been, they were the first ones out. And they’re all sparring sessions and the UFC is putting on fights that are fights, what am I suppose to say? Not say it? And not say that I’m interested in it and I appreciate the competitiveness that they’re giving us? Damn right I’m going to say it and part of it is for you knuckleheads that think you’re aware, that you know, to get an umbrella when you walk out so you don’t get rained on,” explained Atlas in why he has recently shown a lot of interest in UFC based professional mixed martial arts fights.
The irony in all of this being that if Atlas, who has a long track record of calling bullshit on fights that he suspects are fixed in professional boxing, would listen to UFC president Dana White or the former reigning and defending UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman he would quickly discover that it’s not always sunny in Abu Dhabi either. In fact, things have been downright weird lately in mixed martial arts. And unless you’re tuned in to the MMA Press Room it could be easy to miss the forecast considering the outbreak of yellow fever in the mainstream MMA media circles where matters of torrential downpours in mixed martial arts are a taboo subject not to be reported on or discussed publicly by the media elite.
Like Atlas, they’re not allowed to report on the rain either though most of them wouldn’t recognize when it’s time to open the umbrella anyway or even whether bringing one is a good idea to in the first place to begin with. The charade playing itself out week in and week out in the combat sports entertainment industry as the sports most respected analysts break down fixed fights as if they were legitimate contests with no shame in the lies that they’re selling to their unsuspecting audience as truth. Every day is a sunny day in combat sports and the casual fanbase unfortunately eats it up hook, line and sinker as the cash is vacuumed from their checking accounts without even an iota of suspicion that the game is as crooked as a question mark.
The possibilities of who is ultimately responsible for and behind the fixed fights in combat sports today likely varies from case to case. Considering the nature of Charles Farrell’s experience with fixing fights in professional boxing, the managers are among the first places to start in mixed martial arts as the liaison between the athletes and those who control their destiny. But as any true investigator will tell you following the money is ultimately where gold resides at the end of the rainbow. Whether that’s the casinos, the various organizations involved in promoting the fights on down to the ground level where access to the fighters is most readily available, the list of suspects is short but sweet.
Unbeknownst to most today, professional wrestling once had very real, no holds barred roots similar to modern MMA today. In many ways, history is beginning to repeat itself as mixed martial arts begins to come full circle back to its historical professional wresting roots as the lines become blurred between reality and choreographed cinematic entertainment. With bringing the pain having long been associated with mixed martial arts, today many of the fighters appear to be bringing Hollywood acting scripts as the increasing encroachment of the weird, strange and out of the ordinary in mixed martial arts among the sea of legitimate violence is beginning to strike at the integrity of the sport even if I truly want to believe this shit is as real as it gets.