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The Fightlinker Guide to Your UFC/Invicta/WSOF Weekend

Once upon a time, here were about five UFCs a year, and they’d air on satellite pay-per-view so you’d have to travel via bus to the only sports bar in New York City just to watch the damn thing. If you wanted more than that, then maybe, if you knew a guy who knew a guy, you could get your hands on a VHS copy of PRIDE or one of the old Extreme Challenges that had a production value of about negative ten dollars. And that was it. That was all you got. Now, however, you have MMA coming out the ying-yang. Take this weekend for example. On Friday, there’s UFC Fight Night 33, which is taking place in Australia on Saturday, but through the magic of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity we get to watch it a day early. Then on Saturday there’s Invicta FC on Internet pay-per-view, and also the World Series of Fighting on the Home Shopping Network (or something like that). That’s a lot of mixed martial arts.

So what’s a true fan like you supposed to do to keep track of all this impending violence? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.
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Your Daily Dose of Twitter Beef

Four out of five nutrition specialists agree that a balanced MMA diet consists of at least one daily dose of beef of the Twitter variety. So here’s today’s helping, courtesy of some inflated senses of self-worth and big egos.

Ben Askren vs. Phil Baroni?

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Ronda Rousey, International Woman of Mystery

It’s been a weird year for Ronda Rousey. She became a trailblazing and beloved UFC champ and superstar, scored some movie roles, coached a season of TUF, and – when everyone got to see her on camera – became pretty reviled for being somewhat of a tool. Of course, what we see on a highly-edited reality show is likely the farthest thing from what we’d see with our own eyes if our daily lives included interacting with the UFC’s female bantamweight champ. But that just begs the question, “Who is this Rousey chick and what makes her tick?”
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Roxy, Gray Maynard, Josh Koscheck and the “Must Retire” List of 2013

Somewhere around Chuck Liddell’s 32nd brain-altering concussion, I transitioned from ardent MMA nut-hugger to sober realist, and began seeing just how much brain trauma these fighters subject themselves to for the sake of sport. Don’t get me wrong, I love watching fights in the cage, and I know full well that these athletes willingly accept these risks as part and parcel of the whole “shed blood for a living” thing. So this isn’t me speaking out against the ills of unarmed combat, nor is it me asking for everyone to join hands and sing “Kumbayah” in the name of all the grey matter that’s leaked out onto the Octagon floor. Heck no. It is, however, me broaching the subject of expiration dates, and how, like that carton of 2% milk sitting in your fridge, each and every one of the warriors we watch set foot in the cage must at some point call it quits.

That’s right. I’m talking about the “Must Retire” list of 2013.

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This? Oh, It’s Just Some Wrestling Stuff

Twenty years of MMA here in the States and it is has become an irrefutable truth that the art of wrestling is an essential component for success within the cage. Whether it’s about getting the fight to the ground or diligently keeping it on the feet, if a fighter doesn’t have at least a working knowledge of the intricacies of takedowns and sprawls, he or she is going horizontal in the worst way possible.

I’ve never donned a wrestler’s singlet myself, but the aforementioned truth is what prompted me to go to Madison Square Garden on Sunday morning to check out the second installment of Grapple at the Garden – an event that can best be described as “more amateur wrestling than you can possibly keep track of at once”. There were eight mats laid out on the Garden’s massive floor, thousands cheering from the stands, music pumping out of the speakers, and entire teams representing such colleges as Rutgers, Cornell and Boston University, their individual wrestlers battling it out for superiority and an ephemeral concept of points. Yet for all the mysteries of the scoring process (and to me there were plenty), what was crystal clear was the action, and the elation of the crowd when one competitor skillfully ragdolled his opponent to the mat. Therein lies wrestling’s general appeal.
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