The Ultimate Fighter: Season 14, Episode 2

Slight change in the opening credits from season past — it’s almost all fight footage. Very little from the gym. It’s as if they’re sending a message that the fights this season are going to be as impressive as we saw last week.

Rare bit of trivia: The house is 15,000 square feet.

“We ate and ate and ate and ate,” they say of their early time in the house. John Dodson is manning the grill.

Draft day — we see Miller’s rankings. Dodson (bantamweight) and Diego Brandao (featherweight) are No. 1.

The coin toss goes awry when “we have a roller,” in Dana White’s words. Bisping wins and opts to take the first pick rather than first fight. That suits Mayhem, who’d rather have the first fight.

In a change from years past, they draft each weight class separately. Bantamweights first:

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The Frimpong questions

Former UC-Santa Barbara soccer player Eric Frimpong, now serving time for an alleged rape, has lost another round in court. Bill Archer has reacted angrily, dropping giant tomes of evidence suggesting that Frimpong is a long-suffering victim of a misguided prosecution, a hapless defense lawyer, and a judge with his hands over his ears and eyes. This is on top of an exhaustive ESPN piece that summed up quite a few questions about the case. Fake Sigi, in the final bit of proof that he is not Bill Archer (in case anyone was still clinging to that theory after Fake … Continue reading The Frimpong questions

Single-Digit Soccer: The Shin Guardian “treatise” and the fundamentals

A blog post making the rounds this week is the ambitiously headlined “A Treatise: The State of American Youth Soccer.” To underscore how serious an effort this post really is, The Shin Guardian presents it with an intro saying the author, Ryan McCormack, is a USC master’s candidate who “spent hours refining the piece with TSG’s US Youth expert Nick Sindt.”

Given that buildup, I was a little disappointed. The piece wasn’t terrible, but given that introduction, I guess I expected more novelty and perhaps less of a fixation on Jurgen Klinsmann. But this piece is far better researched and argued than a lot of what you’ll find on the Web and much more worthy of actual discussion. And the commenters have brought on that serious discussion.

My basic objections are that the treatise is big on unanswerable problems, and it doesn’t take into account what makes the USA unique, for better or for worse.

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Current projects

Here’s what I’ve been doing for the past eight months or so: – Working on a book about mixed martial arts. – Writing about women’s soccer and a few other topics for espnW and ESPN. – Writing about MMA for USA TODAY. – Contributing to USA TODAY’s magazine specials. – Blogging at SportsMyriad and Mostly Modern Media. SportsMyriad includes the ambitious 2012 Olympic medal projections. Continue reading Current projects

The Ultimate Fighter: Season 14, Episode 1

I’m optimistic about this season. It might be because they’re bringing bantamweights and featherweights into the mix, two weight classes that haven’t already been scraped of their top talent by several seasons of this show and years of UFC scouting. It might be because Michael Bisping and Jason “Mayhem” Miller have compelling personalities — neither one a true villain but both willing to mix it up verbally. It might be because I’ve outgrown my youthful cynicism.

I also saw the tryouts, and I’m worried about one thing. The most best personality there was John Dodson, a strong flyweight fighter I’ve seen in action before. But we’ve been told that there were some surprises in the preliminary fights (seriously, Dana — have the “wild card” after the prelims, not after the first round), and I didn’t see Dodson in a long preview for the show. The second best personality there was a guy nicknamed “Haggis Basher,” and he didn’t even make the final 32.

Can’t have everything, I suppose. As Steven Wright said, where would you put it?

Off we go …

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Kids in the cage: How not to do mixed martial arts

A big fear for the UFC and other reputable MMA promotions is that some promoter or sports commission with more brashness than brains will put on a card that puts the sport in a bad light or actually gets someone seriously hurt. Case in point: This youth grappling exhibition from England. See the YouTube video and the Telegraph piece about it. Some of the criticism in the Telegraph is nonsense. The griping about protective gear misses the mark — this is grappling. They’re not hitting each other. And the condescending quotation marks around “mixed martial arts” are unnecessary. It’s as … Continue reading Kids in the cage: How not to do mixed martial arts

Single-Digit Soccer: Do small-sided games backfire?

Start with a nearly unanimous point in today’s youth soccer: We don’t take 6-year-olds who’ve never played soccer and fling them out onto a 110-by-70 field playing 11-on-11 games. We start them with small-sided games where they can get used to touching the ball often, and we worry about teaching them the tactics of being a withdrawn forward or holding midfielder a few years later. The idea is perfectly sound. But like many sound ideas, can it be taken too far? In U6 soccer, you can hope the kids eventually pick up a few basic ideas. I’ve seen coaches try … Continue reading Single-Digit Soccer: Do small-sided games backfire?