Before I get into the bigger stories of the day here on the Evening Combat Sports News, I want to follow up about the LKG MMA camp in Afghanistan I wrote about last night. In last night's ECSN piece, I discussed photos on the Hoelzer Reich Facebook page that showed members of the LKG team posing in Hoelzer Reich gear and how I found it disturbing given HR's "white power" ties to see a camp filled with British and American servicemen supporting the company.
After the post went up, I reached out to LKG via their facebook page and told them about the piece as I thought it was only fair that they be aware something of that nature had been written. Following a rather angry initial response about how all colors, creeds, race and sex train at their gym, and my response about the history of Hoelzer Reich, John Smith of LKG wrote me back to say the following (compiled from a series of messages, all sent via mobile so forgive any grammatical errors):
We have no excuse for that being there we run the group page so it's totally our fault but having done some checking a ex member of the group who is not currently stationed in Afghanistan or in the military sent those photos to HR. I'd like to plead total ignorance to what they where about and there beliefs we just thought it was some cool free t shirts as nobody else offered to help us out with any kit as for the affiliation I've taken that off our page and any offending image and again apologise for the offence caused please believe that we don't condone those beliefs in any way it was a huge error in judgement on our part I have emailed the ex team member who sent the images to HR and also requested they be removed all we can do is apologise and hopefully you will believe they are sincere apologies
Please believe that there is no member here who cares for HR and there propsterious belief system again I can't stress this enough we have no love for it and was a stupid error in judgement . We would love to tell you of the hard work we do here and if you except are apology for our stupidity and blind ignorance please let me know
So I did just that, understanding that others, like Mac Danzig and Donald Cerrone, had been sponsored by Hoelzer Reich without doing the full check into HR's history. I'm willing to give a group of servicemen the benefit of the doubt that they just took some free shirts and took some pictures in them.
John informed me that LKG MMA started in 2010 as himself and one other guy training BJJ on ripped sit-up mats under a palm roof outside in Afghanistan. Eventually they begged and borrowed from people in their camp and ended up with a tent to use as the "gym" and plenty of interest from others in joining up.
The BJJ training expanded to include a variety of disciplines including boxing, Muay Thai and judo. While John runs the "MMA training" they have a judo brown belt to teach the judo sessions, an ex-military boxer teaching boxing and a traditional Muay Thai coach who is a Fairtex fighter.
Attending the gym are servicemen and civilians from the United States, United Kingdom, Denmark, Nepal and Bangladesh including some members who speak little to no English.
Here's more from John:
we run training 7 nights a week including 2 MMA circuit nights which gets interest from people who are not quite interested in fighting but the like hard physical training side of MMA. during the summer the temperature is up in the high 50s we do not have any aircon in the tent and often have to wear sock due to the heat on the mats during the winter we are down to minus 5 and again the socks are on to stop the feet from freezing.
due to us being the only established club in afghanistan we have gained lots of positive interest in MMA and have opened up the eyes of lots of people who were very skepticle about MMA and i feel we have educated them into realising this is not a brutal street fight but a real martial art with its own skill set and set of moral values just like all the other traditional martial arts.
during the last two years we have trained hundreds of fighters some of whom have gone on to fight on there local professional circuits and we hope to continue doing so, this is a real family team who live and train together with the back ground of a war going on
we hope we gain the support of the MMA loving public for the troops who are out here risking there lives daily but still find the time to train in the sport they love.
So, all-in-all, it's a pretty cool story of MMA bringing guys from different cultures together even in a strange environment. While the way I found out about them is unfortunate, the real story is certainly more interesting.
It looks like the ratings for the UFC on Fox show didn't really move from the overnight numbers, meaning basically it is tied with the third Fox show as far as the UFC ratings go (but they did set a record for Fuel TV). I maintain my earlier stance that this is neither a good number or a bad number.
The next Fox show, on December 8, is going to be the big test. There isn't likely to be any real competition and the weather will have people indoors. There aren't going to be any excuses that will fly at that point if a bad number comes in. The biggest blockbuster movie in the history of movies could come out the day before and that won't be a valid excuse for a poor rating.
December 8. Circle it on your calendar because it might be the UFC's most important card of 2012.
After hearing Junior dos Santos say that he was more interested in fighting Alistair Overeem than he was in rematching Cain Velasquez, and then Lorenzo Fertitta not fully writing that idea off, it was nice to get a response from Velasquez.
Cain reminded Junior that you don't get to pick who you want to fight when you're a UFC champion (Anderson Silva?) and that he earned his rematch via putting a beating on Antonio Silva. Of course, if it wasn't for that whole Overeem not being able to get a license until a few days before the event thing, that title shot would almost certainly go to Overeem.
After the odds came out with Daniel Cormier as the heavy favorite against Frank Mir, Mir discussed the fight. Frank admitted that his wrestling game is nowhere near Cormier's, which means that he has no choice where the fight will be fought. But Mir did say that he has the better striking and submissions so he'll just win the fight wherever Cormier takes it.
I actually like Cormier's striking better out of the two fighters. He's got quicker hands and mixes simple combinations better than Mir who is slow, overly reliant on single right hand bombs (or maybe the 1-2 he used against Nogueira to good success) and maybe a step behind the much younger (in MMA) Cormier.
A few other quick stories from today
KJ Gould hit the nail on the head by talking about the issue with eye pokes being the fighters, not the gloves. Once fighters aren't reaching toward their opponent's face with an open hand out of habit, we won't be worried about covering their fingers.
Siyar Bahadurzada talked to Steph "Crooklyn" Daniels about his public desire to fight B.J. Penn and said more badass things, like that he would have his arm cut off if it would get him medically cleared for the fight (it would not).
Erick Silva talked about getting a shot to fight Jon Fitch and seems pretty sure that he'll be in line for a title shot with a win. But the comments were great because, after all this time, people still get mad when someone likes Jon Fitch.