I get asked a lot how I got into the professional side of MMA. While I never used to consider what I did to be a legitimate part of the business, I have, over the last couple of years--especially since signing on with Bloody Elbow--reconciled my work as being one of the smaller cogs in the machine. I'm not a key figure, but I'm proud to be one of the sport's scribes; a historian, if you will.
I've been a fan of MMA for the last 14 years, give or take a year. When I became fully immersed in it's culture--for lack of a better term--was about 10 years ago, when I discovered the Underground forums, and in some incarnation or other, I've been posting there constantly over the years. It was spotty at first, as I only used to post from work, when I was working as a night nurse in a nursing home.
Navigating the forums in those days was a fun thing, because back then, there was a ton of great debate and intelligent, and oft times humorous discussion. I mean, there was no Facebook or Twitter to get every single scrap of information from, and the MMA media was pretty much non-existent except for folks like Eddie Goldman, Josh Gross and Loretta Hunt. Back then, speculation was everything, and news was hard to come by, so quality discussion was at a premium.
Somewhere along the way, I think it was around 2005, I got really active on the forums (by this time I had also discovered Sherdog), and ran into some interesting characters. One of those great people, was a fellow who went by the name Uncle Justice. I didn't get to interact with him long, as he soon became Sandy Panties, the name being the direct result of a screen name bet gone wrong, I believe.
Sandy Panties was awesome. There's no other way to describe him. He was one of those cats that would defend his opinion on a fighter or some hot topic to the death, and he slayed many a fragile ego and even a mighty troll or two. Needless to say, we became friends, and over the years, especially when both of us became part of the media sphere, we intersected on professional levels more and more frequently.
About three years ago, I decided to try my hand at writing, so I had my own site built, Crooklyn's Corner. I had been doing my podcast since early 2006, so I figured maybe it was time to start making all those great interviews I did over the years work for me. Jeff Cain and Damon Martin, whom I had befriended along the way, took notice of me, and allowed me to to do a little freelance work at MMA Weekly, and from there, Mike Russell from Cage Potato gave me some writing work, as well.
By this time, Sandy Panties was back to being Uncle Justice, and later became the dashing journalist we all have come to know as Dallas Winston. He had gone from doing work for The Garv (Long live the chocolate finger), to being a well respected staff writer and technique guru here on the mighty Bloody Elbow. He reached out to me, and told me that he wanted to bring me into the family.
I couldn't believe my luck. Me working for a legitimate news site, and getting paid? Inconceivable! It wasn't, though. He connected me with El Jefe, Kid Nate, and while initially, they didn't have room for me, inside three months, I became a full time, paid staff writer. I feel I've grown quite a bit in a professional capacity in my time here, and you'd literally have to drag me out, kicking and screaming. In short, I plan for my Bloody Elbow tenure to be a long one, at least 100 years.
But, I digress. All that sentimental gobbledygook was my way of giving you guys a proper introduction to this week's edition of Journo to Journo. Of course I've chosen my good friend, Dallas Winston as the subject, and you will all be treated to a big, heaping spoonful of judging talk, as well as a little "getting to know ya" personal segment at the end. As always, this came from an MMA Sentinel interview that I conducted with my co-host, Iain Kidd. Here's what he had to say:
Scoring in MMA
First of all, I love Joe Rogan, and it's weird because the comments that he made justifying his statement? I agree whole heartedly with those; I don't know how anyone could not, but the statement itself? I disagree with that.
The ten point must system is fine. I'm still waiting for someone to tell me what the ten point must system isn't equipped for. What is it missing? It accounts for everything. The problem is the way that it has been implemented; it's the philosophy behind it. To me, that's what needs to change. The system is fine. Everything he said about, ‘guys will have a close round and it will be a 10-9, then one guy will beat the piss out of another guy and it will still be a 10-9,' is true. He also mentioned even rounds, those are the basic descriptors for the three different rounds in MMA. 10-10 is an even round with no clear winner. To me, that's the biggest cancer that we do not acknowledge: even combat.
I don't know what the deal is with the judges. Kizer told me there's no behind closed doors ban on 10-10 scores, but the fact 10-10 is the rarest score in MMA is a travesty. When those guys walk into the cage, and when every round starts, they're equal; it's on an even plane. What they do after that is what determines how far they move. A standard round is 10-9, when one guy beats the piss out of another, that's a 10-8. To me, the 10 point must system accounts for all of that, they just need to use it.
The fact 10-10 rounds are discouraged literally angers me. That will wreck my day, thinking about stuff like that. How can you do that? How can you discourage a 10-10 round? These are the highest trained athletes in the world, and the idea that at the end of five minutes of combat it might be even is outlandish? I think that's the biggest problem right now in MMA.
UFC Cutting Top 10 Fighters
Well... The way I look at that is, ‘who am I to tell the UFC how to run their business?' There are two things constantly at odds in MMA: Sport versus business. The two never jive. Yushin Okami is one of the best fighters in the world. He's one of the few guys that has been in the UFC for, I don't know, five or six years? But he has always stayed in the top five. He was the number two guy forever. That is the most difficult thing for a fighter to do in MMA; to show consistently that he is one of the best guys.
Cutting guys like that is ok, but the UFC and the fans in turn should then say, ‘Okay, the UFC doesn't necessarily have the best fighters in the world, they just have the most exciting fighters.' I don't think the UFC will be too anxious to say, ‘we're cutting one of the best fighters in the world because he's not very exciting, but believe me, we're not going to come out and say we don't have the best fighters in the world.' I think they kind of want it both ways. I hope the fans understand that they can't have it both ways; they either have the most exciting fighters, or the best. Cutting Yushin Okami is cutting one of the best fighters in the world.
How Did You Get Started at Bloody Elbow?
Oh man... That's actually kind of a strange story. Over the past five years my life has literally been turned upside down. I won't go into details, but I'll go through the bigger points: In the last five years I've pretty much lost all my money, all my physical ability and the three people that were the cornerstones of my life are all gone right now. Right when that first started, I had been working for my dad forever, and I wanted to appreciate the opportunity, because it was a good one, but my heart wasn't in it and I had just quit. So at that time, when I had lost all my money, wasn't working and I had to move out of my house, because it had all kinds of problems, one of my buddies from ‘The Underground,' Kevin Garvey, who ran thegarv.com, put out the offer of a job and I jumped on it.
This was writing for thegarv.com, and I think it was like 5 articles a day for $50 a month, and I don't say that in a bad way, because that was the springboard for everything that I'm doing now. I treated that like a full time job; I put all my effort into it. That's how I can call Nick Lembo now and say, ‘Hey, I'm with the media, I want to talk to you.' So, I don't know, it sounds kind of corny, but I'm a passionate guy about MMA and by taking that $50 a month job and treating it like it was gold I got my name out there.
Every time I saw something cool and wanted to write a topic on some technique, I would start researching it on google and the first thing that would come up would be a Bloody Elbow ‘Judo Chop' by Kid Nate; he had already recognized it, acknowledged it, studied it and broke it down. I reached out to him once and said, ‘Hey, I love the stuff that you do.' I hit him up another time and just said, ‘Hey man, I need a job. Why don't you put me to work?' I think it happened to be right after Leland was downgrading his responsibilities and he said, ‘Alright, I might have something for you.' I came on board after that.
I love Bloody Elbow, I used to think that maybe I wanted to do Sports Illustrated, or that there was a higher ceiling for me, but the fact is on Bloody Elbow I get to say whatever I want and have freedom. Plus, Nate is not only a good boss, but he's been a good friend to me, so I love Bloody Elbow, I have no plans on leaving, ever.
Android or iPhone?
Android. I was rocking a flip phone until about a year and a half ago, though.
Mac or Windows?
I'm rocking an Asus laptop
If you had $5,000 dollars right now, where would you vacation?
Rome. I've always wanted to go to Rome, I'm kind of an old mythology dork.
The Hero Of 1,000 Faces by Joseph Campbell. Campbell studied a bunch of cultures and religions and came up with a list of 25 common elements that are in every epic story or hero's journey. This book is all about that, and ties it back to individual examples in religion.
Top three movies?
I'm going to say Fight Club, because I actually thought that was an extremely deep movie that followed the hero's journey in a really warped me. There are pretty astounding metaphors all through that movie. I'm a big Star Wars nerd, that's why Chewie is always on my shoulder for every picture, and I guess The Outsiders, which is where the Dallas Winston name came from.
If you had $500 to spend on a really nice meal, what would it be?
I'm on a weird sushi kick. I'm in Grand Rapids, and I'm on the outskirts, so there hasn't been a good place, but recently a really nice sushi place just opened up here. I meet with my old man now, every Tuesday, and we have sushi together. I sure as hell can't afford that, so I would use that money to pay him back for all the times he's taken me out.
Where can people find you?
I'm on Twitter as @UncleJustice, but I have no clue what my Facebook thing is... something Dallas Winston related, and other than that I'm just chirping away on Bloody Elbow whenever I'm able.
I'm nervous now. Everyone is going to troll me about judging. It used to be the Fedor/Pride thing; someone could throw out a random comment and I'd go into a rage. Take it easy on me, people!
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