Category: MMA

RIP: Stephan Bonnar

Stephan Bonnar, the UFC Hall of Fame mixed martial artist, died on December 22, 2022.  He was 45.  No official cause of death was given, but it was believed to be the result of heat complications.

Mr. Bonnar was the first runner-up on Season One of The Ultimate Fighter.  His bout against Forrest Griffin is considered a classic.  As the fight progressed the ratings for the finale continued to climb as viewers called friends to tune in.  The winner of the bout was to get a six-figure contract with the UFC.  Because the fight was so entertaining and competitive, both Griffin and Bonnar received contracts.  Dana White, the President of the UFC said that the Griffin/Bonnar fight saved the promotion (which is now a multi-billion dollar business).

Stephan Bonnar ended his professional MMA career with a 15 -9 record.

I watched the first season of The Ultimate Fighter.  I was also one of the people that called friends during the finale. The Bonnar/Griffin fight truly saved the UFC.  It was because of that fight that the UFC television contract was extended.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Stephan Bonnar’s family, friends and fans.

RIP: Anthony “Rumble” Johnson

Anthony “Rumble” Johnson passed away yesterday at the age of 38.  His cause of death was organ failure from a form of cancer known as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis.

In 2004, Anthony Johnson won the 174 pound National Junior College Athletic Association championship.  He then transitioned into martial arts.  Mr. Johnson had a 4-0 record when he accepted a UFC fight on just a few days notice.  Johnson won the bout with a 13 second KO.  Anthony Johnson would go on to post a 23 – 6 record, with one Fight of the Night bonus, two Knockout of the Night bonuses and five Performance of the Night bonuses.  When Anthony Johnson fought, fans were assured of an exciting bout.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Anthony Johnson’s family, fans and friends.

RIP: Gene Lebell

Ivan Gene Lebell, martial artist, actor, stuntman, professional wrestler, and real life tough guy passed away in his sleep on August 9, 2002, at the age of 89.

Gene Lebell began training in wrestling and judo before the age of ten.  After earning his black belt, Mr. Lebell went to Japan to further his training.  When he returned to the US, he competed in the Amateur Athletic Union National Judo Championships, winning the heavyweight title at the age of 22.  In 1963, Mr. Lebell agreed to fight a boxer who claimed he could beat any martial artist.  Gene Lebell choked him out in the fourth round.  Using his martial arts training it was easy for Gene Lebell to transition into professional wrestling where he often was used as an enforcer during big matches.

Gene Lebell’s reputation as a martial artist brought him to the attention of Hollywood where he got work as both a stuntman and actor.  With over 250 stunt credits and over 150 acting credits on his resume, odds are you’ve seen Gene Lebell on television or feature films.

Television appearances include: The Jack Benny Program; The Munsters; Gomer Pyle; The Man from UNCLE; Mission Impossible; The Green Hornet; Batman; The Wild, Wild West; Mannix; The Rockford Files; Kung Fu; Kojak; The Six Million Dollar Man; Starsky & Hutch; Knight Rider; The Fall Guy; Walker, Texas Ranger; Married with Children; The X FIles; More Wild, Wild West and The Shield.

Feature Films include: Blacula; Walking Tall; Earthquake; The Towering Inferno; The Killer Elite; Rocky;  Every Which Way But Loose; The Jerk; Raging Bull; Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid; City Heat; Remo Williams; Rush Hour; Runaway Train; Rocky IV; Die Hard 2; Marked for Death; The Last Boy Scout; Waterworld; Strange Days and Spider-Man 2.

There’s a famous story that when Gene Lebell was working on a Steven Seagall film, the star said that due to his martial arts training, no one could choke him out.  Mr. Lebell took exception to the statement.  Seagall allowed Gene Lebell’s  to place him in a chokehold to prove his point.  Steven Seagall not only lost consciousness but also control of his bowels.  While Steven Seagall denies this ever happened, there are others who claimed to have been there and seen it happen.

Gene LeBell was a man’s man, a 10th degree Black Belt; and appeared in some of my all-time favorite movies and television shows.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends and fans.

RIP: Bob Wall

Robert “Bob” Wall, martial artist and actor, died yesterday at the age of 82.  No cause of death was reported.

Bob Wall was a 9th degree Black Belt who began his career as co-owner of the Sherman Oaks Karate Studio in California.  When Mr. Wall’s partner decided to sell his interest in the studio, Chuck Norris became co-owner with Wall.

Bob Wall was also an actor best known for his role as O’Harra in Bruce Lee’s classic Enter the Dragon.  Mr. Wall also had roles with Lee in Way of the Dragon and Game of Death.  Bob Wall also appeared in several Chuck Norris movies (Code of Silence, Invasion U.S.A., Firewalker, Hero and the Terror and Sidekicks) as well as Norris’ Walker, Texas Ranger series.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Bob Wall’s family, friends and fans.

Here are the Changes We Need to See in MMA Now!

Jeff Wagenheim, at ESPN, posted a piece titled, Hey MMA, It’s Time for a Few Changes.  Wagenheim goes on to list ten suggested changes and his rationale for each.  I agree with every change that Wagenheim suggested and here are the top three I would push for first.

What’s the score? Let’s allow fighters to know where they stand. (I am for posting fighter’s scores after each round.  In most sports, athletes know the score prior to the competition ending.  I think that this would be helpful — especially in light of some of the terrible scores we seen from judges lately. – Craig)

Cut down on weight cuts. (I believe we need this for two reasons: 1) The safety of the fighters.  We’ve seen too many fighters who are medically unable to make weight or make the cut and then have health issues.  If fighters have to be monitored throughout fight week, I think we will see fighters making more reasonable weight cut decisions.  2) Fighters who come in overweight have an advantage over the fighters who make weight.  Most of the time the overweight fighter wins.  How can that even be considered a fair fight?  If you don’t make the weight, you shouldn’t get paid and also have a DQ added to your record.  I’ll bet we’d see more reasonable weight cuts then! – Craig)

Judges should learn numbers other than 10 and 9. (I’ll go one step further.  When a judge has scores that are out of line with the other two judges a panel should meet with the judge to determine the rationale for his/her scores.  These discussions could help bring some conformity to scoring. – Craig)

“UFC1: Origins” – The Trailer is Here!

Below is the trailer to UFC1: Origins.  I am a huge fan of UFC and mixed martial arts.  Truth be told, when the UFC first began, I wouldn’t tune in.  There were no weight classes and few if any rules.  I loved the idea of the top talent of each style (boxing, karate, wresting, jujitsu, etc.) facing each other in contest but to me it wasn’t a true sport yet…

Once there were rules and weight classes in place I was on board.  I watch UFC and Bellator regularly.  The interesting thing that has happened over the last 20 years or so is that the best fighters no longer have just one style.  They have grown up to be true mixed-martial artists!

From the producers of THE LAST DANCE. Tracing the roots of the pro-MMA league back to its tumultuous first event in 1993, UFC1: ORIGINS explores the improbable tale of how Rorion Gracie, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist, and Art Davie, once a used car salesman, teamed with Bob Meyrowitz’s pay-per-view company SEG to mount UFC 1 in Denver and launch a sports phenomenon.

Bruce Lee Gets the Criterion Collection Treatment!

Bruce Lee is getting the Criterion Collection treatment and his fans are going to love it.  The seven-disc Blu-ray box set will contain Lee’s greatest hits (The Big Boss / Fist of Fury / The Way of the Dragon / Enter the Dragon / Game of Death) and will be chock full of special features, including alternate versions of the films, interviews, documentaries and much more!

Here’s some of what the seven disc Special Edition will feature…

  • 4K digital restorations of The Big Boss, Fist of Fury, Game of Death, and The Way of the Dragon, with uncompressed original monaural soundtracks
  • New 2K digital restoration of the rarely-seen 99-minute 1973 theatrical version of Enter the Dragon, with uncompressed original monaural soundtrack
  • 2K digital restoration of the 102-minute “special-edition” version of Enter the Dragon
  • Alternate audio soundtracks for the films, including original English-dubbed tracks and a 5.1 surround soundtrack for the special-edition version of Enter the Dragon
  • Six audio commentaries: on The Big Boss by Bruce Lee expert Brandon Bentley; on The Big Boss, Fist of Fury, Game of Death, and The Way of the Dragon by Hong Kong–film expert Mike Leeder; and on the special-edition version of Enter the Dragon by producer Paul Heller
  • High-definition presentation of Game of Death II, the 1981 sequel to Game of Death
  • Game of Death Redux, a new presentation of Lee’s original Game of Death footage, produced by Alan Canvan
  • New interviews on all five films with Lee biographer Matthew Polly
  • New interview with producer Andre Morgan about Golden Harvest, the company behind Hong Kong’s top martial-arts stars, including Lee
  • New program about English-language dubbing with voice performers Michael Kaye (the English-speaking voice of Lee’s Chen Zhen in Fist of Fury) and Vaughan Savidge
  • New interview with author Grady Hendrix about the “Bruceploitation” subgenre that followed Lee’s death, and a selection of Bruceploitation trailers
  • Blood and Steel, a 2004 documentary about the making of Enter the Dragon
  • Multiple programs and documentaries about Lee’s life and philosophies, including Bruce Lee: The Man and the Legend (1973) and Bruce Lee: In His Own Words (1998)
  • Interviews with Linda Lee Cadwell, Lee’s widow, and many of Lee’s collaborators and admirers, including actors Jon T. Benn, Riki Hashimoto, Nora Miao, Robert Wall, Yuen Wah, and Simon Yam and directors Clarence Fok, Sammo Hung, and Wong Jing
  • Promotional materials
  • New English subtitle translations and subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • PLUS: An essay by critic Jeff Chang

Bruce Lee’s Greatest Hits: The Criterion Collection will be available July 14, 2020.

Justin Bieber vs Tom Cruise + Conor McGregor vs Mark Wahlberg – Craig’s Thoughts

So Justin Bieber issued a challenge to fight Tom Cruise in a cage match.

Any way you look at this…

If Bieber did it for free publicity…

If Bieber thinks Tom Cruise is a real fighter because of his movies…

If Bieber believes he is a tough guy and wants to prove it by fighting Tom Cruise, an actor who is more than twice as old as Bieber…

…it is just plain stupid.

If Bieber wants to prove he’s a tough guy, then he should challenge someone known for fighting like say, Nate Diaz.  Nate would probably show up at any location for free if Bieber called him out.

How could this get any dumber?

Oh, boy.  I shouldn’t have asked.

So Conor McGregor, the former UFC Champion and now also a sports and entertainment promoter has offered to promote/host the Bieber vs Cruise fight should it ever happen.  If it wasn’t for the fact that McGregor is already known for saying outrageous things and looking for free publicity where he can get it, I’d say he should know better than to get involved in something so stupid.

Well, at least McGregor didn’t go full on stupid and challenge an actor to a cage fight.

Are you kidding me?

So McGregor has upped the ante and challenged actor Mark Walhberg to a cage fight?  For my thoughts on this please refer back above to “Any way you look at this…” and substitute McGregor’s name for Bieber and Wahlberg’s name for Cruise.

I also offer the same suggestion as to an alternate fight — McGregor should challenge Nate Diaz to a cage match.  They’ve already fought twice with each man winning once, so a third time would make sense.

Hey!  I’ve got an idea: How about Bieber and McGregor fight each other?  McGregor could promote it and each of them would get what they want.  Bieber would get a chance to prove he’s a tough guy.  McGregor would get to fight a celebrity.

The reality is of course that Bieber would get knocked out.  McGregor would be ridiculed for taking the fight and hardly anyone would tune in.

You know I started by saying that Bieber challenging Cruise was stupid.  I still think it is, but I will say this, Bieber is sure getting the publicity.   The news of his challenge is blowing up everywhere.  Heck, in all my years of blogging, I’ve never mentioned Bieber even once.  Yet today I’ve devoted a long post to him.

Well played, Justin Bieber.  Well played.

Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson – R.I.P.

Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson died yesterday from heart complications at the age of 42.

Ferguson rose to fame after a series of videos showing him participating in one-on-one backyard brawls for money became an internet sensation.  Because of the popularity of the fight videos and his charismatic personality, Ferguson was able to become a professional MMA fighter (for EliteXC, UFC and Bellator), an undefeated professional boxer and even a movie actor.  People tuned in to see Ferguson fight and his bouts were always entertaining.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Kevin “Kimbo Slice” Ferguson’s family, friends and fans.

Jon Jones vs Daniel Cormier on Instagram

Jon Jones, who many consider to be the best pound-for-pound MMA fighter of all time, has a real dislike for the current champion, Daniel Cormier.  

Jones beat Cormier when they fought, but Cormier won the title when Jones was relieved of it after some bad personal decisions resulting from drugs and run-ins with the police.

Cormier and Jones will fight for the title on April 23rd.

In an effort to get under Cormier’s skin, Jones posted the photo above.  Not to be outdone, Cormier responded with the one below.

In this contest, Cormier wins by decision.

Source: MMA Fighting.

Dana White & The Fighters: A New Boxing Series!

Growing up I was a fight fan.  That meant I was a boxing fan.

MMA as we know it today was decades away.  It was a time of tough guys.  Marciano – Liston – Ali – Frazier – Norton – Foreman.  Boxing appeared regularly on television for free.  ESPN had a weekly boxing show.  NBC – CBS and ABC regularly aired live boxing cards.

Later boxing became an event sport with all eyes on pay-per-view Super Fights.   Ali vs Frazier.  Hagler vs Hearns.  Duran vs Leonard.  The top tier of boxers became celebrities and were given mega paydays.  Of course the vast majority of boxers made little and often retired battered and poor.  There were fewer and fewer big name fighters and the popularity of boxing began to wane.

Then 20 years ago the UFC was born.  Although the company struggled at first the popularity of MMA, specifically the UFC took off.  The UFC was on tv with a weekly series and regular pay-per-views.  Name fighters began to emerge.  Fighters that fans loved or hated but would tune in or equally importantly pay to see fight.  Many thought the rise of the UFC would be the death of boxing.

Boxing fans had heard that before.  So had the folks in the video below.  Check it out and we’ll continue after you watch.


The Fighters  looks interesting.  Will it bring back boxing?  Who knows?  It could be the start though.  And the kicker is Dana “UFC President” White is one of the creative forces behind the show.

I know I’ll tune.  I’m a fight fan.


Source: MMA Fighting.