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Rampage Jackson Reportedly Returning To The UFC

December 20, 2014 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts

Hell has frozen over. One of the UFC’s most outspoken critics has reportedly signed a new deal to return to the octagon. Former UFC light heavyweight champion Rampage Jackson is returning to the UFC.

Rumors have been swirling all week regarding Rampage returning to the UFC. MMA journalist Josh Gross tweeted not that long ago that Scott Coker told him that Rampage is still under contract to Bellator. Either something has changed or Gross was lied to because it appears that Rampage is heading back.

Sherdog broke the news on Twitter Saturday night. “I have confirmed from sources that @Rampage4real has signed by the UFC.” – @Sherdoggy

Jackson left the UFC in 2013 when his contract expired. Jackson signed with Bellator for a deal that reportedly included television appearances and a contract with TNA Wrestling. Jackson only made a handful of appearances for TNA and never trained for pro wrestling. I don’t recall seeing Jackson hosting any non-MMA Spike specials.

Jackson went undefeated in Bellator and looked pretty damned good. Jackson went 3-0 and won the season 10 light heavyweight tournament final. Jackson had two wins by KO/TKO and went the distance in a big grudge match, winning a unanimous decision over King Mo. Jackson has been pretty quiet since, although many reports surfaced indicating Jackson didn’t want to fight again.

Jackson left the UFC off of a three-loss streak. Overall Jackson went 7-5 during his last UFC run, paying immediate dividends right away by drawing a monster rating for a title unification fight against Pride middleweight champion Dan Henderson on Spike TV. Jackson was never the same fighter after getting upset by Forrest Griffin for the light heavyweight title.

One of Jackson’s biggest criticisms of his UFC career was the matchmaking. Jackson complained that the UFC matched him up against too many wrestlers, thus making for boring fights. It will be really interesting to see how the UFC match up Jackson upon his comeback. Do they acquiesce to his demands or do as they please?

Jackson also accused the UFC about lying to fighters about UFC pay-per-view numbers. “In my opinion, I just feel like me and the rest of the UFC fighters are getting taken advantage of,” Jackson explained to MMA Heat. “I feel like the UFC is cleaning house. Like the pay-per-view dollars, they tell me one number, but then they tell the press one number. Pay me the numbers that you tell the press. Don’t tell me, ‘Oh, we only made this, we only sold this many.’ Then you tell the press, ‘Oh we sold this many.’ But then I’m like, ‘Hey, you only told me we only sold 800,000 buys, but you told the press you sold a million buys.’ [They say,] ‘Oh, we’re just saying that for the press.’ No, no, just pay me like what you told the press then, because you lying somewhere. You either lying to me or you lying to the press about the pay-per-view numbers. You know what I’m saying? If they’re doing it to me, I’m sure they’re doing it to other fighters.”

I think the move screams of desperation. The UFC are obviously responding to Bellator’s big Bonnar vs. Griffin rating with recent moves such as this one and signing CM Punk. Neither add anything to the UFC inside of the octagon, although both will take viewers away from Bellator and put them on the UFC. I can’t imagine either Jackson or Punk getting a UFC deal otherwise.

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CM Punk Rips TV Host For WWE Questions

December 20, 2014 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts, Videos, WWE | Pro Wrestling

CM Punk has done a great job isolating himself from critics since announcing his UFC contract. Unfortunately for Punk the softballs came to an end when he went Off the Record and it didn’t take long for things to get ugly.

Michael Landsberg has had his share of verbal confrontations over the years and has never been known to shy away from tough questions or avoid the yellow elephants in the room. Which is why I am surprised that Punk wasn’t more prepared for the verbal joust that took place last week on Off the Record.

The interview started off on a bad foot for Punk when Landsberg made a complete mockery of Punk in the UFC by playing a video of potential Punk opponents which included Jose Cansenco and Chef Boyardeee. Yeah, you could see where this was going. Punk did not find it humorous and the interview grew to be contentious from there.

Landsberg asked Punk if he had ever been punched. Punk laughed and said he had been punched many times in a WWE ring. What a dumb answer. Here is a guy that is upset he isn’t being taken seriously as a UFC fighter yet he gives an answer which makes him look completely foolish.

This isn’t the first time Punk has helped fuel doubters and critics with his answers. It is amazing to me that someone as polished as Punk in media has been so unprepared to answer tough questions about his move to UFC. I don’t understand how someone from the UFC hasn’t sat down with him yet and crafted more well thought answers than some of the responses Punk has offered. Quite frankly it makes the UFC look more like a circus or mockery than Punk.

What is also interesting at this point is that Punk starts drinking coffee throughout the interview. I found it odd and a little unprofessional at the time but so be it. I saw it as Punk giving the interviewer a middle finger. At the end of the interview Landsberg brings that up and Punk says he needed to drink it to keep himself awake.

Punk is then asked about comments Dana White has made about Punk being offered an opponent at his own level. Punk says he’d fight anyone, including Anderson Silva for the right price. Punk says that he doesn’t want to take it easy and wants to put the “miles in.” He also says it probably wouldn’t be a good decision to fight someone like a Nate Diaz at this point in his career.

The interview progresses and it doesn’t take a psychologist to read Punk’s body language and assess his descending attitude throughout the interview. I will say that Landsberg appears to have picked up on it early and egged him on a bit as the interview progressed. Landsberg at the end of the interview finally calls Punk out on it and asks him if he was uncomfortable with the interview. Guess what? He was.

Punk says that the interview was very wrestling centric and he was there to talk about the UFC. Okay that may be well and good but it was Punk that first brought up wrestling when Landsberg asked him if he has ever taken a punch. Landsberg said nothing about the WWE up to that point. Even at the halfway mark there was only one question that Landsberg asked about the WWE and it was in comparison to UFC.

The truth finally comes out when Landsberg asks Punk he has no UFC fights scheduled, he has no UFC pedigree so what should he have asked them? Punk brings up the segment earlier in the show which made a joke of Punk fighting in the UFC. It’s funny because coming from wrestling you’d think Punk would just not sell the rib and move on. Instead he sat there with a sour puss for fifteen minutes. Nobody likes being laughed at but how Punk can expect journalists to take a former WWE wrestler with no MMA pro or amateur experience, not even a training camp under his belt seriously is incredibly naive of him.

Again, Punk is in desperate need of a media coach. It is in the best interest of the UFC to do that immediately. Punk is in for a reality check if he thinks that everyone in the sports media is going to treat this thing seriously. It is what it is and what this interview told me is that the criticism is starting to get to him. The more he feeds the critics, the more they will come to feast.

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Tom Brady’s Cuss-Fest Draws FCC Complaints

December 18, 2014 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

This blog is about the sideline rant that won’t go away. I should say, this sideline rant is the one that the sports media won’t let disappear. Yes, that cuss-fest on the sidelines of the November 30th Green Bay Packers vs New England Patriots game has reared its ugly head once again. I wish that this bit of news was a joke, but it’s not. I still can’t believe I am going to write about it.

To refresh everyone’s memories, at the aforementioned Packers vs Patriots game, at about the 2:00 warning in the 4th quarter, when it was evident that the Patriots offense was not going to get the ball back, Patriots QB Tom Brady, in total frustration, screamed the “F” word three times. CBS showed it several times. Even though Brady is not the first NFL player in NFL history to curse on the sidelines, and won’t be the last, the sports media went crazy. Brady, in his defense, said to blame the Networks. Well, three people have done just that.

Per a report found on Profootballtalk.nbcsports.com,  three complaints about Brady’s cuss-fest being shown on TV were reported to the FCC. I am serious. I could not believe my eyes when I saw that. I had a few choice words for those people complaining, and yes, the “F” word was involved.  I have to write professionally for this blog, however. Anyway, I thought this was a travesty. ( http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2014/12/16/tom-bradys-bad-words-draw-fcc-complaints/ )

First of all, looking at the complaints, not that I am endorsing bad language, but this is football, not a garden party. Why were these people surprised at Brady’s cursing? Why should anyone be surprised at ANY ATHLETE cursing on Network TV? The Coaches on the sidelines are just as bad, if not worse than the players. Coaches such as Bill Levy (formerly of the Buffalo Bills ) , Brian Billick ( formerly of the Baltimore Ravens ) , and most notably, Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan. Tiger Woods, Peyton Manning, and plenty of other athletes have cussed on the sidelines. I just don’t get why Brady is being targeted.

One of the complaints comes from Indianapolis,In. This woman claims that her six year old child can read lips, and was able to read what Brady said without the sound on. Well, let’s see. The complaint originates from Indianapolis. I’m not a tin foil hat person. However, I have been a fan for a very long time. I have noticed Peyton Manning, when he was in Indy, having hissy fits, and having cuss-fests when things go wrong. I am a decent lip reader also. I’m way older than 6. Andrew Luck gets ticked also. Why are there no complaints to the FCC ? I am just asking.

The second complaint comes from a woman in Pennsylvania. She said her grandson said “He (Brady)should not be saying that.”) Now, again, I am just curious. This person is from the State of Pennsylvania. The fact that both NFL teams (Eagles and Steelers ) are deadly enemies of the Patriots, this is all one should need to know. I mean, Steelers fans think that the Patriots “robbed” them of 2 Super Bowl opportunities. Eagle fans are upset that the Patriots beat them in SB39.

The third complaint comes from this lady from Iowa. She’s calling the Network, “Very unprofessional.” She is saying that the CBS announcers replayed Brady’s reaction, as if they got away with something. She goes on to complain that CBS knew what was said. This lady sounds like a mind reader, and all three of these people have too much time on their hands.

( http://www.thesmokinggun.com/documents/Tom-Brady-FCC-complaints-687543)

I also think that complaining to the FCC about something so minor is so lame. This country is already weakened by the Political Correctness brigade, and now the Family Values Thought Police is starting up again with this nonsensical trio of complaints to the FCC about some NFL player cursing on television ?

We are allowed to watch all these ads for Viagra, Cialis, Vagisil, and various other women’s products. However, three people got all upset over an NFL player using a bad word? We are exposed to so much violence from the news, talk radio, etc. Now, all of a sudden, people discover that a man, who participates in a VIOLENT, EMOTIONAL sport, said a cuss word, and they complain about it to the FCC??

Imagine what would happen if these people took their kids to an actual NFL GAME? The language that they and their kids would be exposed to would be out of this world . As a horse racing fan, I would not take a kid to the racetrack, if you have hypersensitive ears. I think our tax dollars could be used for something more worthwhile like a balanced budget, than being the word police.

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NFL Week 15 Recap and Week 16 Predictions

December 17, 2014 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

Alright, alright, ALRIGHT. I don’t want to hear it, don’t waste your time. I was able to see the same game you all saw this past week and was disgusted at the heinous portrayal that was there for all to see……..watching Johnny Manziel in his first game was more of a punishment than enjoyment (unless you have some general knowledge about Manziel and hate him already).

Let me put this in terms that Manziel may understand better – “Bro, you can’t put Cleveland and the NFL on blast and then have your spot blown up like that”. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think his career is over, or that the Browns made a mistake in drafting / starting him. He’s a Rookie. Manziel even self-admitted this week that “he hasn’t prepared as hard as he should have”. Despite that gigantic red flag, he gets a second chance in my book. Manziel now knows that his natural athletic talents aren’t good enough to scrape by in the NFL.

I have said before that I agree with the decision to go Manziel over Hoyer but when you think about it, Manziel’s first start was as close to a playoff game as it could be. Cleveland needed a win, turned to him and he didn’t come out with one. Manziel looked OK in the preseason because he was basically playing entire defenses made up players that can’t hack it in the league.

Coach Mike Pettine made the right call going to Manziel because despite how bad he was on Sunday, Hoyer is worse. In time, Manziel alone will be worth more wins more than Hoyer will be. On the other side of this it really is a shame that this circus caused by media and other personnel has really overshadowed how good this season has been for the Browns. Regardless of how Cleveland finishes their last 2 games, they will have their most wins since 2007 (when they won 10).

I didn’t take Mike Pettine and his staff seriously as the coaching carousel (and QB carousel) has been an absolute joke and very “Cleveland Brown-ish” but this team is one of the reasons why the AFC North will be even more competitive next season. The defense (although not very good this past Sunday) is a solid defense. I’m not the biggest fan of their rookie running back committee but they at least tried to sure that position up but failed with Ben Tate. I’m not going to pick Cleveland for the playoffs next year…..just yet.

Week 15 Picks:

Bold Prediction from Week 15: Bills over the Packers. –RIGHT - BOOM! Last week I wrote that I liked the sneaky good Bills defense to upset the Pack at home this week and low and behold, unlike Cincinnati who lets me down every week, the Bills pulled it out and keep their ever so slim playoff hopes alive.

Guaranteed Lock for Week 15: 49ers over the Seahawks. –WRONG – Give me a second here…let me redo what I wrote last week…..Does Colin Kaepernick’s apparent regression scare me? No Yes. Does the fact that Jim Harbaugh is guaranteed to not be in San Francisco next year scare me? No Yes. The game is in Seattle? Whatever Oh Crap. I still don’t believe in the 49ers to will make any some noise down the stretch and they will not go out quietly. There we go…that reads better now.

Week 16 Picks:

Bold Prediction for Week 16: Texans over the Ravens. The Ravens, Steelers and Bengals are all mirror images of one another. Although Cincinnati is clearly not as “big game” ready as the Steelers or Ravens, all 3 teams lose crucial games or lost to opponents they have no business losing too. This Sunday the Ravens are playing either rookie QB Tom Savage or Case Keenum. They should win this game….but they won’t.

Guaranteed Lock for Week 16: Colts over the Cowboys. I don’t buy Demarco Murray playing for one second (wrist surgery). If he does play, he is going to be useless in my opinion. I wrote a few weeks ago that this team’s final stretch is going to hinge on them running Murray into the ground. Dallas is dangerously close to finishing with 10 or 11 wins and missing the playoffs. I like Andrew Luck to run wild on the Cowboys Sunday.

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Fantasy Football Championship Week Dos and Don’ts

December 17, 2014 By: Category: Fantasy Football, NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

It is finally here for some of you, your fantasy football championship week. Many months and endless hours of draft preparation have brought you to this point. Unfortunately with big games comes big pressure, and the wrong decision can result in an early exit and an offseason of depression.

Don’t over-analyze - There is a reason you have gotten this far in the fantasy football playoffs. Stick with what got you here. The most common mistake for first-time championship players is to over-think your game. For example, you own Marshawn Lynch and the Seattle Seahawks are playing the Arizona Cardinals top rush defense this week. You start Foster no matter what. Especially this season as no defense has been consistent for fifteen games.

The worst words you want to hear before you play your running back are Baltimore Ravens. Yes, the Ravens have shutdown the run for most of the season and are first against the run in fantasy football. Yes the Ravem have given up only 5 rushing TDs all season.  However, are you really going to shut down an Arian Foster in your championship week for someone off the waiver wire? Are you going to sit down Peyton Manning just because he is playing the Cincinnati Bengals? Now if you are sitting there with comparable backups on your bench you may and I stress may want to consider it. However, the moral here is not to panic. Stick with the money guys who brought you to the dance, especially if you don’t have any suitable backups on your bench. Strange things can happen, just ask anyone who played against Cam Newton two weeks ago.

Skip the waiver wire - There is no reason you should even think of playing the waiver wire game.  Yes Joseph Randall is tempting, but can you really trust a guy off the wire who will be splitting time at this point? I look at it this way when it comes to playing guys in fantasy football at this point in the season. It comes down to, who do you trust? If there is a gem flying around your waiver wire, I’d grab him only to keep him away from your opponent. But I’d have a hard time resting my championship hopes on someone that has been hanging around for most of the year on the wire.

Go with a running back in your flex position - I have always had a rule which has cost me on some weeks, but has won me more games in the long haul. My rule of thumb is always start a running back in the flex position over a wide receiver. I don’t care if you have three great receivers. One of them has to sit for the running back. Remember what time of year we are in. It is the winter time, and this is the time of the year where most teams will be running over passing in outdoor weather.

Of course this is subject to change if you have no true starting running back to start in the flex while you have a great receiver sitting on your bench. At the same time, you know a running back is going to get his carries. Whether he scores or not, he is going to get double digit carries depending upon the offense. The wide receiver you want to play could be easily shut out. I’d rather take 7 points from a bad running back than 0 from a wide receiver.

Beware of fuzzy fantasy football statistics - This is something that could get you into big trouble if you don’t do your homework. There are a lot of writers and websites that give you fantasy stats such as average points a team gives up to tight ends, quarterbacks, etc. Read the stats closely.

Most of these websites are giving you seasonal stats. My rule of thumb is to look at a team’s last four-five games. For example, the Carolina Panthers and the Giants are ranked as two of the best bets for running backs by most fantasy sites. Those same “experts” will yell and scream to play your running backs against the Panthers and Giants. What they don’t tell you is that over the last four games, neither the Giants nor Panthers have given up one touchdowns to opposing running backs. Furthermore, the Giants have not given up more than 65 yards to running backs in their last three games while the Panthers have only allowed one team to rush for over 100 in their last four. A lot of those fantasy football sites use seasonal stats and while the Panthers  may have been shredded a few times, they aren’t the “give me” that most fantasy experts would lead you to believe they are. The same can be said for the Rams, who have greatly improved their defense over the last few weeks. The opposite could be said about the Buffalo Bills who while ranked 8th against RBs have given up four TDs in their last two games. These fantasy websites can be a great guide, but do your own homework. Remember this is the championship game and chances are your opponent is up to his neck in stats. Be prepared and you’ll be fine.

Go with your gut - This goes for the playoffs and regular season. I have been there. Your gut is telling you one thing but all of the “experts” or bloggers are telling you another. At the end of the day this is purely a guessing game for all of us. Nothing is ever a sure thing. Strange things happen in December whether it is weather, injuries, or coaches on the hot seat, or just flukes. Your gut is what got you to the championship game in the first place. It is okay to accumulate as much information as possible and use that towards making your decision. I just wouldn’t make a decision purely based off of something you hear or read that completely goes against your instincts. The only one who has accountability this week is you. Remember that.

So there they are, a few dos and don’ts for fantasy football championship players. Hopefully you followed some of my advice this season and had some luck in your league (and better luck than I had in some of my others). Good luck in your championship, and welcome to the big dance.

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UFC Star Rips CM Punk, Says Signing Is Ridiculous

December 15, 2014 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts, WWE | Pro Wrestling

He might do great, but why does he get a chance? He’s an amateur. You’re going to put an amateur in there with pros? That makes us all amateurs, so I think it’s ridiculous. As far as I’m concerned, f-ck him, f-ck the whole situation. Anybody who takes that fight is tripping.

Not everyone is excited about CM Punk coming to the UFC. Punk has now become the target of one angry UFC fighter who believes that Punk’s UFC deal is making a complete mockery of the sport and guess what…he’s right.

It didn’t take long for CM Punk to get a taste of his own medicine. Remember, Punk has been outspoken for the last several years of guys walking into the WWE and getting WrestleMania main-events while the rest of the crew are working house shows and putting their time in. Punk is now in a similar situation on the opposite side in the UFC. The biggest difference however is that many in Punk’s new locker room don’t believe he has earned any of it.

UFC veteran Nate Diaz is the first big UFC star to publicly bash the signing. Diaz went off on Punk over the weekend and while he doesn’t wish any warm on Punk, he believes the entire situation is terrible for the UFC fighters and the sport as a whole.

I don’t dig it,” Diaz said. “He has got no fights. I know he’s a big draw. I looked him up. Everyone’s going to buy tickets. It’s going to be great for the venue and the UFC, but at the same time, it downgrades all the fighters.

Whether you are a Punk fan or not, you can’t argue with Diaz. Having a guy fight in the UFC with no fights under his belt or no amateur pedigree makes the entire sport look like a circus. It hurts the credibility of the sport and the fighters. What does it say about the UFC if Punk walks in, without any experience, and wins? It says exactly what Diaz is saying.

If I want to, I can’t go play in the NBA – not even Stefan Struve’s big ass,” Diaz said. “He can’t go play in the NBA if he wants to because he feels like making a change. For a publicity thing? They wouldn’t pay him no money, and they wouldn’t even let him play. It’s ridiculous.”

I don’t think you should just let some millionaire WWE guy just come on over and play a little game, like have fun with his career. I’m over here busting my ass, fighting for 10 years and doing my thing and having a serious job that I have to do for this. And this guy is going to come over and probably get paid more than everyone in the room.

Hey, that kind of sounds familiar doesn’t it. CM Punk’s own words on a similar situation are coming back to haunt him.

I have no personal problems against Dwayne. It’s very frustrating being here and watch a guy come in and get credit for a WrestleMania buyrate when he didn’t do anything on the show. He certainly didn’t do anything entertaining.

This whole situation is making Punk look like a bigger hypocrite by the day. Once again you have to keep in mind, Punk has been the one beating this drum for the last three years in the WWE. This was his fight and unfortunately for him he is the one that opened up the comparisons to his situation and the ones he whined about for the last three years.

I’m sorry, but this guy’s making a joke out of my serious life and getting compensated more for it,” Diaz said. “I don’t mean no harm on him, but I don’t think it’s right.

Nate Diaz isn’t a popular guy but it is hard for any objective fan to disagree with him. This whole situation really is a complete joke.

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NFL 2014-15 Season Week 14 Recap and Week 15 Picks

December 11, 2014 By: Category: NFL | NCAA Football, Sports

  • All the years that Jeff Fisher was with the Tennessee Titans I never recalled him twisting the knife the way he did this past Sunday against the Redskins. 2 years ago the Redskins mortgaged their present and future to trade up and take Robert Griffin III with the 2nd overall pick. These trades very rarely, if ever, work out. I can remember when Mike Ditka traded 8 or 9 picks for Ricky Williams when he was coming out of Texas in the late 90’s. Tsk, Tsk, Tsk…..and people still think 1 man is greater than 6? I can almost guarantee if someone was crazy enough to call Bill Belichick and offer him 7 draft picks for Tom Brady, that he would assuredly take that offer. If I had the number one pick, 10/10 times if someone wanted to trade with me to get it and they were as insane as the Raiders, Mike Ditka or Dan Snyder and offered a gold mine, I would never turn it down.

When the Rams took the field for the coin toss this past weekend and Fisher sent out all 6 draft picks the Rams made thanks to the RG3 trade to be captains for the game. I don’t know what provoked this action out of Fisher but man, ever hear about not kicking a man when he is down? The Redskins are one of the worst disasters in recent memory. When the Lions went 0-16 years ago, THEY had a brighter future than what the Skins do now. Regardless of your feelings about what Fisher did, it sure did fire up his team and they posted their second straight shutout. Although the playoffs seem like stretch for the 6-7 Rams they continue to impress.

  • Do you hear that? Listen closely….It is the sound of Johnny Manziel rallying the Cleveland Browns and sending them into the playoffs. Don’t confuse my optimism with thinking Manziel can be a future great or a Hall of Famer. I’m not worried about his size or “ability to take an NFL hit.” The Browns have been abysmal on offense for the last few games and it was amazing that they won any of them and didn’t lose them all. Manziel will guaranteed give them a spark they need and even if they don’t win, they sure will be more entertaining than they have been. The Browns should have made this move last week and not stuck with Hoyer. They wasted one of their season’s best defensive efforts and were poised to beat the Colts but Hoyer messed it up with his terrible inaccuracy and turnovers. I laugh when I think that just a few weeks ago the stories were rampant that Hoyer was going to sign a “big money” contract and rumors of what the Browns will get for Manziel in a trade were wild throughout the NFL. Regardless of how Manziel and the Browns finish the season, Hoyer is done and gone from Cleveland. Manziel is the future for this team (for at least next season).

Recap of picks from Week 14:

Bold Prediction from Week 14: Buccaneers over the Lions. –WRONG – C’mon Tampa! Geez, I didn’t ask you to upset the Patriots or Packers this week.

Guaranteed Lock from Week 14: Bengals over the Steelers. –WRONG- I continue to talk myself into picking the Bengals for these big games and they repeatedly let down EVERYBODY. They are just not a “big time” team. They have no problems beating the lowly bottom feeders but with a real chance to put the division lead out there, they dropped the ball big time.

Week 15 picks:

Bold Prediction for Week 15: Bills over the Packers. I’m painted into a corner this week as either all the games are scrubs against scrubs or elite vs elite. To be honest I would not be stunned if the Bills can pull this off. It’s in Buffalo and Green Bay has proven that any other stadium is their kryptonite. Everybody stumbles and they almost did Monday Night against the Falcons. Let’s do it Buffalo!

Guaranteed Lock for Week 15: 49ers over the Seahawks. Does Colin Kaepernick’s apparent regression scare me? No. Does the fact that Jim Harbaugh is guaranteed to not be in San Francisco next year scare me? No. The game is in Seattle? Whatever. I still believe in the 49ers to make some noise down the stretch and they will not go out quietly.

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CM Punk talks UFC, AJ’s Thoughts, WrestleMania, and More

December 11, 2014 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts, WWE | Pro Wrestling

CM Punk is once again a hot commodity. The former WWE champion is on everyone’s minds after signing with the UFC. Punk is doing a lot of media and as expected, is shooting straight about his trajectory from the wrestling ring to the octagon.

It’s been less than a week and people still have questions. It is still hard to wrap my head around a guy with 0 fighting experience, amateur or pro getting a UFC deal after suffering numerous injuries as a pro wrestler, including several concussions. Yet that is exactly what Phil Brooks is going to do and he isn’t shy about discussing it.

Punk has talked to a lot of media and a recent stop at RollingStone.com may be one of the most insightful interviews he has done yet. The interview doesn’t touch on the WWE much at all but asks the questions we have all been wondering about Punk’s plan, his mindset, and what the hell is exactly going on here with the straight-edged superstar.

Punk was asked about whether critics and fans should reserve judgment until after Punk steps inside of the octagon as opposed to jumping conclusions. Punk says yes and even someone as confident as Punk isn’t going to make any bold predictions.

For sure. I’m not gonna sit here and make bold predictions about first-round head kicks and beating ranked opponents. This is about me and my journey to get there. I understand other peoples’ point of view about, “Oh, there’s great fighters out there like Ben Askren.” My only point on that is, “Don’t be mad at me, Ben. Be mad at [UFC President] Dana [White].” I’m sure Ben Askren’s a nice guy. If he’s mad at me, I understand. But if the Blackhawks came to me before Dana and Lorenzo did and were like, “We’re gonna put you in goal,” I’d be like, “That’s great. I played a little hockey when I was a kid.” You know what I mean? I’m not gonna deny myself some opportunity because somebody on Twitter thinks I shouldn’t have it.”

I do agree with Punk on one thing here. He is not the enemy. If you are upset that he is signed to a UFC deal, don’t be mad at him. Be mad at UFC management for signing him. Ironically, you could have said the same thing in regards to Punk whining for the last three years about The Rock and Brock Lesnar but I digress.

Punk isn’t quite sure whether the UFC will be more positive for him than the WWE, but he is happy with the way things are moving. Punk offered an interesting comparison between both companies to Rolling Stone.

I’m not sure I did know (whether UFC is more positive). If I can maybe throw out an example of how things are different – the lack of communication from the WWE office was astounding. They said they suspended me and never contacted me. They were in my town, about an eight-minute drive from my house multiple times, and didn’t feel like it was necessary to come try and talk to me, so I assumed that they didn’t want to talk to me.
Then, you’ve got Dana and [UFC CEO] Lorenzo Fertitta wanting to talk to me, and they get on a jet and fly to Chicago to talk to me. So that pretty much told me exactly how Dana and Lorenzo do business. I’m sure there are other people out there who have different situations with them, but they’re playing straight with me. And being backstage [at last Saturday’s UFC 181] and introducing everybody to my wife, it was such a great experience. And I’m sure part of that is the name value and who I am, but everyone seemed to be happy, which is different and odd for me.

I think most of us were curious as to what his wife, WWE Diva AJ Lee thinks of this. I think many of us wondered what his wife of less than one-year is thinking after hearing that her husband has signed to be a UFC fighter.

After I spoke with Dana and Lorenzo, that’s when it got serious and that’s when I brought it to her attention. Trust me, whatever nerves I’m gonna have stepping into the Octagon will pale in comparison to the nerves I had when I had to bring this up to my wife. I was honestly terrified. I was like, “She’s gonna shut it down, and I’m gonna have to figure out a way to smooth it over so I can do this, because I don’t take no for an answer, she doesn’t take no for an answer, and this is something I really wanna do.” Right off the bat she recognized that. She’s been around me long enough to know that, ever since the first day I met her, this is something I talked about doing, and she’s not somebody that’s gonna step in front of her husband trying to accomplish something that he dreamed about.

Finally, Punk is asked whether he is still itching for that WrestleMania main-event spot.

No, absolutely not.

All in all this is a fantastic interview with plenty of more details about Punk’s transition into UFC, reaction, and path to the octagon. Check out the entire interview over at RollingStone.com

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CM Punk in the UFC is the Height of Hypocrisy

December 08, 2014 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts, WWE | Pro Wrestling

This thing isn’t a joke. You don’t just decide “I’m a professional wrestler I think I’m going to fight.” It takes a lot of time, dedication and hard work — just like wrestling does. I’m sure these guys have to train hard and have to get in great shape to professional wrestle. You can’t just jump up one day and say, “I’m going to be a pro fighter and I think I’ll fight next month.” It doesn’t work that way. It doesn’t even come close to working that way.” – Dana White 2007

CM Punk will be returning to action…but not in a WWE ring. The former WWE world champ is stepping into the UFC octagon in a move that has a lot of WWE fans excited and a lot of MMA fans asking questions.

It (fighting MMA) was always in the back of my mind since then. There was a fork in the road, I chose one direction. I’m fortunate to be able to revfisit things and take another fork in the road.

Punk has signed a multi-fight deal to join the UFC. The announcement comes less than two weeks after Punk returned to the spotlight after a series of podcast interviews in which he blasted the WWE and gave his side of the story on his exit. Ironically the things said in those interviews make very little sense in light of his latest announcement.

Punk talked extensively about the injuries he has suffered over the last several years in the WWE. He talked about concussions, bad knees, and MRSA infection, and broken ribs to name a few. Punk talked about burnout and went on a lengthy rant about Ryback in particular injuring Punk during their program. For a guy who has been so badly beaten up in a pro wrestling ring the last several years, the move to an actual combat sport doesn’t seem very logical does it?

My first reaction to hearing the news is that this may be the height of hypocrisy for CM Punk. Especially when you look back on all of the harsh statements Punk made against The Rock coming back to the WWE.

I have no personal problems against Dwayne. It’s very frustrating being here and watch a guy come in and get credit for a WrestleMania buyrate when he didn’t do anything on the show. He certainly didn’t do anything entertaining.

Let’s fast-forward to 2014 and compare the situations. You now have a guy (Punk) who is getting a UFC fight without any professional or amateur athletic background simply due to his star-power. This is a guy who is taking a spot away from an MMA fighter who has made the sacrifices and trained hard to get a coveted UFC spot. It would be one thing if Punk had to earn it on The Ultimate Fighter but he has never even had an MMA fight. His spot on the UFC card is undeserving no matter how you look at it and he is now that guy walking into the UFC locker room, without even an amateur fight or background, and taking someone’s spot. It doesn’t get any more hypocritical than that.

And then there is Dana White. The same Dana White who blasted competitors in the past for signing fighters with no MMA experience for their celebrity.

Which athletic commission is going to let this guy fight?” White asked. “Who the f**k are they going to find to fight Herschel Walker? A guy in a wheelchair?

Great question! Which athletic commission is going to let CM Punk? At least Herschel Walker had a professional sports background and the same can be said for James Toney who got a fight in the UFC. They also did not have a history of concussions. Keep in mind that a couple of years ago when Kurt Angle expressed interest in joining the UFC that Dana White was going to make Angle go through TUF to get a UFC spot and Angle is an Olympic gold medalist in wrestling! CM Punk is getting a contract and a fight simply for being a professional wrestling superstar.

I don’t have any doubt in my mind that Bellator was the key factor in getting this deal done. There was no Bellator aggressively signing fighters back when Angle wanted in. Bellator is aggressively going after the UFC and there is no doubt that they would have given Punk a fight on network TV if the UFC didn’t jump first. I also don’t care what anyone from the UFC says, this move is about a company that is struggling mightily on pay-per-view and looking for a Hail Mary. Even with Anderson Silva coming back, the UFC will be lucky if they get two fights out of him in 2015. The UFC has been unable to create new stars and the numbers don’t lie. They need something and signing a popular WWE star is about as good as it is going to get.

Signing with the UFC is one thing. Getting into a UFC fight is another. Punk had a problem staying healthy in a worked pro wrestling sport for the last several years. Granted he wrestles a more physical style than most but it is pro wrestling. Will his body hold up through a full training camp? Has he even put in a full training camp to see if it would? That is a big question.

Regardless, it will be a must-see event the day Punk steps foot inside of the octagon. My suspicion is that a guy without one MMA fight, one camp, and no amateur wrestling or boxing background is not going to fare well.

But we’ll all be watching and as far as Dana is concerned, that’s more important that credibility in 2014/15.

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CM Punk and the UFC: The Internet Breaks

December 07, 2014 By: Category: Sports, UFC | Mixed Martial Arts, WWE | Pro Wrestling

One thing’s for sure: it shouldn’t be too difficult for Dana White to license the rights to “Cult of Personality.”

Oh, and Phil Brooks, whatever moniker he uses when entering the Octagon, won’t be denied sponsors for his trunks this time. He may not get Pepsi’s sphere emblazoned across his crotch, but it’s more than what Vince McMahon reportedly was willing to allow.

But a bigger loser, from an ego standpoint, has to be Triple H. Not only was CM Punk unwilling to work with McMahon’s son-in-law at WrestleMania XXX, but Punk will instead be sharing the stage with some 1-0 or 2-1 no-name, lunch-bucket rookie. There’s a chance Punk could get his teeth kicked in by this likely-undistinguished competitor, and it’s still preferable in Punk’s eyes than that WrestleMania ‘reward’.

The idea of 36-year-old Phil Brooks trading star-print tights for sponsor-plastered trunks sent aftershocks throughout the social circuit, as Brooks announced Saturday night at UFC 181 in Las Vegas that he’d signed a multi-fight deal with the organization. Brooks is expected to have his first fight at some indeterminate point in 2015.

From a fighting standpoint, it’s a headscratcher; despite incorporating mixed martial arts into his training regimen, Brooks has never competed in an actual MMA match, nor does he have an amateur background in competitive grappling or fighting. Brock Lesnar was a Division I wrestling champion who also competed in one MMA fight prior to his UFC debut. Brooks has no such experience.

From a business prospective, using Brooks’ name, and accumulated notoriety throughout 2014, makes sense. In this year alone, there have been some ghastly UFC buyrates. UFC 174 on June 14 drew only 115,000 buys, headlined by Demetrious Johnson and Ali Bagautinov for the Flyweight Championship. A Jon Jones defense of the Lightheavyweight Championship on April 26 at UFC 172 drew just 350,000 buys, paltry considering Jones’ name value.

While WWE buyrates largely sunk into the hopper from a combination of waning fan interest and the proliferation of streaming sites (not that UFC doesn’t face the second problem), it’s fair to say that Brooks probably wasn’t the cause. Repetitive booking, homogenized direction, and too much John Cena took their toll on the brand, and Brooks never was really allowed to ascend as undisputed number one. Would the numbers have rebounded with CM Punk as full-blown headliner? Can’t say for certain, but nobody else gets their name chanted for months after telling the company to go screw.

Only eight UFC events have drawn more than one million buys and Lesnar was in four of them, all of which were World Heavyweight Title bouts. Tops is his avenging win over Frank Mir at UFC 100 in July 2009, drawing 1.6M buys. That’s almost 500,000 more than the second-place event, his dramatic comeback win over Shane Carwin at UFC 116, sitting at 1.16M buys.

Since Lesnar returned to WWE, only one UFC event has cleared the million mark: Chris Weidman’s gruesome rematch with Anderson Silva a year ago at UFC 168, where Silva’s leg infamously snapped like balsa wood. That sits in third place with 1.1M buys.

Only four events have even topped 700,000 buys since Lesnar’s departure, and all had either Silva, Georges St-Pierre, or Jon Jones in the main event.

In other words, a little wattage wouldn’t hurt.

That’s not to say that Brooks is going to work his way up the caste and challenge Weidman for the Middleweight crown, or even Robbie Lawler for the Welterweight title. Dana White has already stated that Brooks’ first opponent will be some relatively inexperienced fighter (read: tomato can who may or may not have seen Eight Men Out). It’s hard to imagine a 36-year-old taking up the game becoming a virtuoso, especially without a competitive background in some form of martial art. Dave Bautista was relatively lucky to win his only MMA bout (and not even UFC) at age 43; despite his occasional big talk, he never competed again.

Best case scenario for UFC, it’s a novelty hire, which sounds like something a minor league baseball team would do as a promotion (“It’s Canseco Flip Off Night! Give us your ‘finger’ at the ticket office and get a free bobblehead!”). Chances are, that first fight against John Q. Gumshield will do a better buyrate than most seasoned, and recognizable, fighters would do. Brooks losing would taint his drawing power, so as implied, it’s important that Brooks win. A tease of him being in contention would probably win over an audience that likes the lure of the chase.

Best case, Brooks stays strong long enough to co-headline an event with Brock Lesnar, rumored to be flying the McMahon coop after WrestleMania. Think late 2015, maybe even the annual year-end spectacular that UFC favors, Lesnar headlining against someone like Cain Velasquez or Fabricio Werdum, while Brooks goes on semi-last against perhaps a more noteworthy middleweight, perhaps CB Dolloway or Gegard Mousasi. On paper, that sounds like Brooks would get torn to pieces, but it’s merely an idea. I’m not the promoter here, although I’m sure White’s already stained his rug with this thought.

And what if Brooks clearly enjoys the UFC lifestyle? Maybe he fights three or four times and then migrates into a talking-head position with Curt Menefee or Ariel Helwani, but an endorsement of the UFC life is an open door for others in WWE, those who call BS on the whole ‘brass ring’ speech McMahon gave last Monday, to give MMA a go.

There are names that would have a chance; Jack Swagger is a proven amateur wrestler with an irregular body type that could create mismatches through leverage. Rusev maintains a background in muay thai, and is young enough to have a realistic chance of making a dent in the sport. El Patron Alberto is no longer a WWE star, but as a household name in Mexico (not to mention suddenly relevant in America from his WWE horror stories), he could potentially resume his fighting career in some capacity, even as a two-fight novelty. It’s been five years since Alberto’s last fight, nearly the same time gap Ken Shamrock had in his MMA career (which doesn’t sound promising for Alberto).

The WWE connection to UFC worked once before with Lesnar drawing disenchanted, or just suddenly ‘grown up’, wrestling fans to the sport. Brooks’ name holds immeasurable sway in 2014, and his hiring is White’s savviest business move in quite some time.

It is indeed ‘clobbering time’, but for whom?

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