The Ultimate Fighter: Season 14, Episode 6: How to win friends and influence people

First up: A quick recap of last week’s controversial Akira-Neace fight, in which everyone in the world thinks Akira tapped besides Akira, Bisping and Herb Dean. And everyone in the world thinks Akira and Bisping acted like idiots, taunting Neace and Miller after getting a gift win, except Akira and Bisping.

We finally put a name to the face of the bald Miller assistant who has had the most issues with Bisping. He’s Ryan Parsons, and he confronts Bisping, telling him he now understands why the Englishman is the most hated man in the UFC. Bisping responds by saying how rich he is. If Bisping were on Wall Street, he’d be the guy mooning the Occupy movement with the word “SUCKERS” tattooed on his butt.

For good measure, Bisping is also incredulous in the confessional, giving the Bill Laimbeer “What’d I do?” routine. I’ve had good conversations with Bisping, and I never thought he was quite as bad as people thought. I’m starting to wonder, though, if he’s simply decided to burn down every last bit of fan support he ever had.

Miller reassures Neace that he doesn’t owe anyone an apology. And we move on.

Miller doesn’t understand why Steven Siler, his last draft pick, wants to fight Diego Brandao, Bisping’s first. Dana White is also a little surprised that he wants this fight, but I’d guess Dana is also a little impressed and will remember that willingness to step up. “(Diego) has this Brazilian mystique about him.” But Siler has great cardio. I should say here that I’m watching this while already knowing the results. The cardio isn’t going to matter.

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The ups and downs of promotion and relegation

Long the province of cranky conversations in the virtual soccer community, promotion and relegation leaped into the news in recent days with a couple of pieces of bad reporting:

1. An English executive of some kind, Richard Bevan, claimed that some overseas owners of Premier League clubs want to scrap promotion and relegation. American-owned Aston Villa responded: “Put up or shut up.” Neither happened. Liverpool’s John Henry has now weighed in with his own denial.

Let me back up with a disclaimer: My love/hate relationship with Britain (probably 80% love) can be summed up like this – Britain invented many things I love in the arts, sports, sciences and intellectual thought. That includes Monty Python, the Beatles, the Comedy Store Players, soccer, antibiotics, economic theory and (eventually) the notion that a capitalist country should find a way to take care of its least fortunate.

But don’t let anyone tell you it’s not provincial, especially in sports. They’re miffed that the rest of the world doesn’t play the same sports they do. Some people even prefer the “awkwardness” of the UK version of The Office to the full-fledged character development and creative situations of the American version. They’ve spent decades thinking there’s something wrong with the way South Americans play soccer. They STILL think the 1930 U.S. World Cup semifinalists were all Brits, no matter how many times Roger Allaway and company smash that myth into pieces.

So we shouldn’t be surprised when the bad old Americans are seen as overlords who want to turn the Premier League into the NFL. They really should be more worried about people who want to form a pan-European NFL of their own.

2. Meanwhile, in Korea, the soccer powers that be want to start promoting and relegating. Here’s the problem: They tried that just a few years ago, and the lower-division teams didn’t want to move up.

That’s not unusual. In the USA, teams have often preferred to move down or stay down. The USL’s sprawling three-tier system of 15 years ago is now a scaled-back third-division pro league with scores of teams opting instead for fourth-division amateur status. Some clubs, like the well-rooted D3 Richmond Kickers, have no desire to bounce back up to a division that would require cross-country travel every other week. (Yes, I’ve asked.)

Teams also aren’t that likely to see a giant leap in revenue with each step up the pyramid. Consider other U.S. sports. I saw Greensboro’s minor-league hockey team move from the brutish ECHL to the flashy AHL, a big step up the ladder that brought much more talented players to the Coliseum. Attendance dropped.


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Single-Digit Soccer: When do you split the kids?

In the single-digit years, kids have two reasons for playing soccer:

1. Getting good at it, competing and challenging themselves.

2. Being on a team with their buddies.

Some kids play for both reasons; some for just one. But at some point, they have to be split up. The kids who are playing for recreation keep playing recreationally, perhaps making a breakthrough in aptitude and interest at a later age. The other kids are herded into national training camps at age 7 to practice eight hours a day, living on a special regimen of protein-boosted smoothies … oh, no, I guess we’re not to that point. Yet.

What we actually do is this: We take the top players in each age group into “travel” soccer. In my area, that starts at U9.

But it’s creeping downward. Back in the first installment of this series, I mentioned a program that took U8 players into an Academy program in which they would practice more and play less. Here’s another club’s program: When a lot of rising U9s (and U8s looking to play up) turned out for travel tryouts, they created a program straddling the House and Travel programs. This middle “Club Academy” tier is like House league except that teams practice twice a week, and Travel players make guest appearances in their games.

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The Ultimate Fighter: Season 14, Episode 5: Bisping’s bad, he’s bad, you know it

Really not a fan of the mouthpiece shots in the opening credits. Arlovski has creative. These guys? No.

Mayhem calls in his team for a quick huddle after Dustin Pague’s win over Louis Greenhairnot. Dustin asks if they can yell “Glory to God!” Mayhem is not one for religion, but he grants the wish with no fuss.

For some reason in this rapidly paced opening segment, Diego Brandao (Bisping’s top pick) yells at Steven Siler (Mayhem’s last). “You think I’m here to kiss or what?” Bisping calms down Diego after he punches a wall, warning him that he’ll break his hand. Diego recognizes the sound advice.

Mayhem drops by the house with a cowboy hat for Dustin Neace. It looks like Josh Ferguson’s. Josh: “I’ve got one thing going for me, and you’re trying to rip it off.”

But Mayhem had an ulterior motive. He pulls Siler into the pantry and mentions that he thinks there’s a mole on the team. They quickly figure out that it’s John Dodson. So Mayhem says he’s changing the matchups, but we’ll keep that on the DL. He decides to make Diego wait.

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Design the Rio 2016 golf course!

One of the underreported curiosities about the decisions to rid the Olympics of baseball and softball in favor of rugby and golf is that a golf course is a good bit harder to build than a softball diamond. So if you’d like to give Rio a hand … Olympic Design “Contest” Announced… –, With –. Continue reading Design the Rio 2016 golf course!

Union opens up in fight against the UFC

If union group Unite HERE is trying to get sympathy in its long-standing dispute with the Fertitta brothers and their business, Station Casinos, they don’t seem to be succeeding. So they’ve ratcheted up the pressure. They decided a while ago to go after the Fertittas’ other business, the UFC. They lobby against MMA regulation in New York, the lone major holdout in the United States. Their role was uncovered a while ago and went more public this year. The latest step, among many: They’re going after UFC advertisers, beginning with Anheuser Busch. Fight Opinion has the letter. The issue they’ve … Continue reading Union opens up in fight against the UFC

The Ultimate Fighter: Season 14, Episode 4: You know the matchup, but can you stop it?

Who decided that a bantam was lighter than a feather? Never really understood that.

Next matchup: Stephen Bass (Bisping featherweight) vs. Dennis Bermudez (Miller). We learn this from Louis Gaudinot, who tells his coach Bisping, who heard it from (sigh) John Dodson. My man. The mole.

Stephen doesn’t want to do a third round in training. Bisping pushes him through it. This is what we in the media call “foreshadowing.”

Bisping doesn’t show for the fight announcement. Not the first time he has spaced out on a TUF commitment (see USA-UK season). Mayhem gets a fight dummy to stand in for him and does a pretty good voice impression. Bisping’s absence is never explained.

The fight announcement is … Bass vs. Bermudez. Shocker.

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