Archive for April, 2012

Getting to know … Jon Jones

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Jon Jones went from prospect to contender to champion to the pound-for-pound short list within a 12-month span. (Hector Acevedo/ZUMAPRESS.com)

This time last year, Jon Jones was a 23-year-old prospect with fewer than four years training in mixed martial arts. Over the past 12 months, the Rochester, N.Y., native captured the UFC light heavyweight title — becoming the youngest champion in the organization’s history — while soaring up most outlets’ pound-for-pound ratings. (He’s No. 2 on SI.com’s list.) SI.com caught up with Jones, who makes his third defense of the 205-pound title Saturday against Rashad Evans at UFC 145 in Atlanta.

Who is your all-time favorite fighter in boxing or MMA?

Anderson Silva and Muhammad Ali. Both of them.

When was your first fight?

I was around nine years old. I lived in Rochester, N.Y., and I was at my elementary school outside hanging out. I think we were drawing on the ground with chalk. And this kid, he said something about my mom. And at the time when you’re a kid — especially in the neighborhood where I grew up — when someone says something about your mama, it’s on. I said, “Come over and say that to my face!” The kid came across the street, said it to my face, and then he lifted me up in the air, slammed me on the ground, hit my head on the concrete and I just kind of blacked out from there. I don’t think I won that one.

Did you have fear in that moment?

I don’t remember being afraid, I just remember feeling out of control. It was a terrible feeling, and it’s a feeling I’ll probably never feel again — and don’t want to feel again.

When did you realize MMA was something you could make a living with?

After my second pro fight [against Carlos Eduardo in 2008]. I got paid $1,200. At the time, that was life-changing for me.

Who is the toughest opponent you’ve ever fought?

It depends on what mood I’m in. It varies. A lot of times it’s Stephan Bonner.

What was your favorite subject in school?

Lunch.

What’s on your iPod?

Actually I don’t have an iPod right now. I don’t listen to music while training.

What is your favorite movie?

300.

What’s one misconception about MMA fighters?

That we are aggressive and violent and not civil. In reality it’s the complete opposite. We’re men of great integrity. I think we’re some of the most disciplined athletes there are.

What would you be doing if you weren’t fighting?

I’d be law enforcement in upstate New York.

What is your biggest guilty pleasure?

Eating unhealthy. I love greasy fast food. It’s not good for me, but I love it.

Favorite meal when you’re out of training?

Probably a Wendy’s triple stack hamburger with cheese.

What would you change in MMA?

Nothing. I love the sport as it is.

When is the last time you cried?

Recently. Doing the Primetime show for this fight. They asked me about my sister [who died of brain cancer when Jones was 12], and it brought tears to my eyes to think about how beautiful she was and how much I missed her.

What’s the biggest thing that’s changed for you since becoming champion?

More Twitter followers.

Name three people you’d like to have dinner with (living or dead).

I would invite Muhammad Ali, Bruce Lee and Michael Jackson.

What advice would you give to young fighters coming up?

Remain extremely passionate and have patience — but mainly to be extremely passionate. A lot of people want to be successful, but a lot of people don’t really want to put in that work and really be obsessive over success and obsessive over what they need to do to better themselves. We all know exactly what we need to do. You know where you [stink]. Work on it.

Favorite place to vacation?

Brazil. Rio de Janeiro.

What is your dream venue for a fight?

Madison Square Garden.

What sports do you watch outside of MMA?

Football.

Tell us something no one knows about you?

[Thinks for nearly a minute.] I’m not saying.

When’s it’s all over, how do you want to be remembered?

I want to be remembered as a great champion. I want to be remembered as someone who inspired the people around me to better themselves. I want to make people reach for their goals and to look at themselves in the highest regard possible. I want people to be cocky in a good way. I want people to be extremely confident, because you only have yourself.

What’s your prediction for Saturday night?

Mark my words, I’ll finish the fight before the third round.

– As told to Bryan Armen Graham


  • Published On Apr 17, 2012
  • CSAC passes amendment that would allow exemptions for TRT, marijuana

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    Dan Henderson

    Dan Henderson was granted a medical exemption for testosterone when he fought 'Shogun' Rua at UFC 139. (Josh Hedges/Forza/Getty Images)

    The California State Athletic Commission voted on Monday to approve an amendment that allows therapeutic use exemptions (TUE) for combat sports’ athletes who use drugs currently banned by the state agency for medical purposes, including testosterone and marijuana.

    To be adopted into state law, the amendment’s verbiage must now be reviewed and approved by the Department of Consumer Affairs and then the state’s Office of Administrative Law, a process that could take months or even years, if it passes at all.

    A DCA representative was present at the Monday hearing to read a letter from its director, stating the agency’s concern that the proposed exemption process wasn’t specific enough and undermined the CSAC’s purpose to ensure fighter safety.

    Loosely modeled after the exemption process the World Anti-Doping Agency uses for Olympians, Monday’s CSAC-approved amendment states that the exemption will only apply to “medication needed to maintain health and not obtain an unfair advantage over an opponent during a match.”

    Prior to Monday’s vote, the CSAC inserted additional verbiage clarifying that the TUE applicant would be responsible for all costs related to tests and medical evaluations that might be requested for an approval.

    The amendment’s origin dates back to late 2010, after UFC middleweight Chael Sonnen tested positive for elevated testosterone levels, then maintained at his suspension appeals hearing that he’d gotten an exemption under the previous commission’s staff for the medical condition hypogonadism. Entering CSAC executive Officer George Dodd was unable to find any documentation to support Sonnen’s claim, and the fighter’s one-year suspension was reduced (only to be reinstated later).

    In response, the CSAC began to draft a formal TUE process for future applicants.

    Read More…


  • Published On Apr 09, 2012
  • CSAC upholds Cyborg’s one-year ban

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    Cris Cyborg Justino

    Cristiane 'Cyborg' Justino will be eligible to apply for reinstatement in December. (Josh Hedges/Forza/Getty Images)

    The California State Athletic Commission voted 4-2 to uphold the one-year suspension of Strikeforce champion Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino (formerly Santos) for steroid use following a Monday appeals hearing in which the Strikeforce 145-pound women’s champion appeared asking for leniency.

    Justino’s license to compete in California had been suspended in January after a pre-fight urinalysis came back positive for three Stanzolol metabolites following Santos’ dominant 16-second victory over Hiroko Yamanaka on Dec. 17 in San Diego. Justino, who earned $66,000 for the December win, has already paid a $2,500 fine and the fight’s result was changed to a no decision.

    Justino, 26, appeared before the CSAC in Sacramento on Monday, requesting that the commission reduce the suspension to six months.

    “I made a mistake and I accept the penalty you have given me,” Brazil native Justino told the commission, reading from a prepared statement. “I do not condone the use of performance-enhancing drugs.”

    Robert Bartlett, Justino’s attorney, presented evidence of his client’s rehabilitation since the positive test to the state agency. Bartlett cited an online public service announcement Justino had released in March denouncing steroid use, and said the athlete’s personal physician would test and analyze all supplements for banned substances before she took them moving forward.

    In an affidavit Bartlett submitted to the commission prior to the hearing, it stated that Justino, should her suspension be reduced, anticipated taking a bout with Strikeforce 135-pound champion Ronda Rousey in late June or early July. At Monday’s hearing, Bartlett said the proposed bout would likely take place in San Diego.

    During questioning, Justino and her attorney stated that she’d taken what she thought was a weight-loss agent that had been provided to her by a conditioning coach, who was named but wasn’t present at the hearing. Bartlett stated that the coach was no longer employed in Justino’s camp. When asked, Bartlett said this was the first time Justino had taken a performance-enhancing drug.

    Read More…


  • Published On Apr 09, 2012
  • Muhammad Ali throws out first pitch at Miami Marlins opening game

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    Muhammad Ali was on hand to throw out the ceremonial first pitch Wednesday to commemorate the first game at the Miami Marlins’ new stadium, but the decision has drawn criticism.

    Ali, who suffers from the effects of Parkinson’s Disease, rode onto the field on a golf cart from the stadium’s center field entrance alongside team owner Jeffrey Loria. But cheers from the sold-out crowd of 36,601 quickly turned to silence when the symptoms of the 70-year-old boxing legend’s deteriorating health became evident.

    The three-time heavyweight champion, who trained for years at the Fifth Street Gym in Miami Beach, struggled to acknowledge the crowd and was physically unable to throw out the pitch.

    “It was uncomfortable,” Fox Sports’ writer Ken Rosenthal tweeted of the distressing scene. “And I think unnecessary.”

    Deadspin was even more frank in a post titled: “The Marlins Opened Their New Stadium In The Saddest, Most Awkward Way Possible.”

    “The opening of Marlins Park started off with a parade of showgirls and Jose Feliciano singing the National Anthem,” Erik Malinowski wrote. “It ended with the sad, shameless sight of Loria trotting out Ali’s disease-ravaged body for a forced on-field ceremony. Happy Opening Day, everyone.”

    “Muhammad Ali is already GOAT, of course,” added Jesse Spector of the New York Daily News, “but how much could he add to his legend by KO’ing Jeffrey Loria? I say he’d double it.”


  • Published On Apr 05, 2012
  • Adamek, Chambers to fight with Klitschko possibly on horizon

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    Tomasz Adamek

    Tomasz Adamek (right) beat Nagy Aguilera via unanimous decision on March 24. (Ed Mulholland/US Presswire)

    Heavyweight Tomasz Adamek has an opponent for his June 16 date: former heavyweight title challenger Eddie Chambers.

    I’ll admit, I was a little wary about who Adamek’s promoter, Main Events, would pick as his opponent. Adamek already had the venue (Prudential Center, where he routinely draw crowds of 10,000-plus) and a TV deal (the fight will air on NBC Sports Network). It would have been easy for Main Events to try to throw Adamek (45-2), who will be just nine months removed from a hellacious beating at the hands of Vitali Klitschko, a softball.

    But they didn’t. Chambers (36-2) would not have been my first choice (Odlanier Solis, whose name was in the mix before he signed to face Konstantin Airich next month, was), but he is a lot better than my last (Kevin Johnson, who has not done squat since barking at Vitali Klitschko for 12 lopsided rounds in 2009). Chambers has a pedigree. He has fought just once since getting knocked out by Wladimir Klitschko in 2010 — a decision win over Derric Rossy — but before losing to Klitschko he beat former champion Samuel Peter and prospect Alexander Dimitrenko. His only other loss was to alphabet titleholder Alexander Povetkin.

    It’s a true crossroads fight. Chambers, who abruptly pulled out of a January fight against Sergey Liakhovich with a rib injury, needs a win to continue his quest for another title shot. So does Adamek. Neither fighter has big knockout power, but both are active punchers, which should make for an entertaining show. The winner will be of great interest to Wladimir Klitschko, who has been scouring the rankings for opponents to face on U.S. soil. The loser will, well, be of interest to very few.

    – Chris Mannix


  • Published On Apr 04, 2012


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