MIAMI - JULY 09: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat greets fans as he is introduced during a welcome party at American Airlines Arena on July 9 2010 in Miami Florida. (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
Did all this LeBron James nonsense feel a little bit familiar to anyone else?
While the "mainstream sports world" was falling all over themselves to act as if the "new media" aspects of LeBronnukah were a first. But to some of us MMA fans it just felt like Fedor Emelianenko and the fall of Affliction MMA all over again.
While the whole media hearing rumors from "independent sources" thing has turned into a bit of a running joke in the sports community it isn't anything new to those of us who were following the tweets and articles in the wake of Affliction's collapse. Anyone remember this little ditty from Kevin Iole?
Affliction itself is fighting simply for survival. Several sources have said that Affliction and Strikeforce will have some type of merger with Strikeforce retaining its name. Affliction’s Tom Atencio denied any merger is imminent, and Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker is in Italy on vacation and couldn’t be reached for comment.
However, two independent sources told Yahoo! Sports a deal is either completed or on the verge of completion.
And, much as we saw with stories like LeBron and Bosh going to Chicago as a "sure thing," independent sources are wrong...all the time (again from Iole):
Later on Friday, Affliction opted to get out of the promoting business and, in a joint statement with the Ultimate Fighting Championship, announced it would become a sponsor of the UFC. The fate of the fighters under contract with Affliction is not known yet.
Of course, there are a lot more similarities between the Fedor and LeBron free agency situations than breathless speculation, rumor-mongering and minute by minute twists and turns. Both situations featured "the most sought after free agent in the sport's history" and both athletes were coming out of situations where being the best didn't really matter because they didn't have the supporting cast needed to really make that mean anything. LeBron didn't have the teammates to allow him to win a title and Fedor didn't have the opponents to keep him as the undisputed top dog in the heavyweight division. LeBron had fat, past his prime Shaq...Fedor had fat, past his prime Sylvia.
While it was at various points over the past few weeks announced that James was going to sign with New Jersey, Cleveland, Chicago and Miami we went through the same situation where it was a done deal that Fedor was going to sign with the UFC, DREAM and Strikeforce.
And then there was the shameless, pointless display put on Thursday evening by ESPN/James. Am I the only one that remembers the shameless, pointless conference put on by M-1/Fedor with such gems as this (taken from our conference call live updates back on July 29, 2009):
Josh Gross asks why Fedor can't do the same deal GSP, Anderson Silva, and every other big fighter signs? Evasive answer. Why is co-promotion so important? Answer: M-1 is very big, we develop MMA all over the world.
And then there is the spurned representative. Cleveland Cavs owner Dan Gilbert's response to LeBron leaving Cleveland is the stuff of legend already:
Some people think they should go to heaven but NOT have to die to get there.
Sorry, but that's simply not how it works.
This shocking act of disloyalty from our home grown "chosen one" sends the exact opposite lesson of what we would want our children to learn. And "who" we would want them to grow-up to become.
Of course, Dana had a similar (but more explicit) reaction to Fedor's decision to sign with Strikeforce:
"I'm in Abu Dhabi right now and my reaction is Fedor is a [expletive] joke. [He] turns down a huge deal and the opportunity to face the best in the world to fight nobodies, for no money. Fedor is a [expletive]."
Sure, for the rest of the sports world this was all new. But for us MMA fans? Well, we've all seen the superstar make the disappointing, legacy crushing decision already.