MMA and karate questions: What have UFC and IOC learned?

The increasingly indispensable Morning Report at is a fun read today that also raises a lot of questions:

Jon Jones says the UFC has “learned a lesson” about offering “full cards” in the wake of the UFC 151 cancellation. We’ll have to see whether that’s true. Blame Jones, blame Dan Henderson, blame anyone in sight — the fact is the UFC needs to have co-main events that can be viable main events in case a fight falls through. If not, we’re going to see more cancellations.

– An MMA Live rundown of the top 5 upsets in MMA history could provoke plenty of debate, but have you ever seen a better three-minute highlight package of the sport? If you want to introduce someone to the sport, you may not find anything better.

– Should I listen to Rampage Jackson and King Mo talking about to fix all the problems in MMA? I haven’t yet.

– Is Stefan Struve the funniest trash-talker in MMA? It helps that he keeps getting matched up with people like Pat Barry and Stipe Miocic.

– Should karate be in the Olympics, perhaps ahead of taekwondo? Karate may be a more widely accepted martial art. Taekwondo’s new rules and sensory equipment have been a mixed bag — it’s still “fencing with feet” and a little difficult to follow. But if you watch the video on the Morning Report, the winner basically takes the decision because she was punched in the face. That might be a tough sell.

2012 medal projection update: Taekwondo

Should we worry that the home page for the 2011 World Championships at has been replaced by a 400-word piece of prose? It starts with this:  “The happiness is simple that they did not guess, who it such. And they have demanded, that it has collected installation. And it has made it. But he knew that first of all will code him.” What is this, an online numbers station?

This sport has its idiosyncrasies. Let’s leave it at that.

In any case, the last picks were done after the World Championships. Then the WTF released an Olympic ranking. If you follow that link, the PDF you really want is the “draw sheet,” which lists the top eight seeds. The rankings are a bit more, um, detailed. And remember that we only have eight Olympic weight classes, and each country can only enter four. So a lot of what we’re doing here is checking to see which of our 2011 favorites actually wound up going to London.

Strap on your chest protector, head gear and electronic sensors. Away we go.

Continue reading 2012 medal projection update: Taekwondo

2012 taekwondo: Slightly more violent than Riverdance

Hop, hop, hop, hop, KICK, hop, hop, hop, KICK, hop, hop, hop, hop, hop, hop, hop, hop, hop, hop …

It’s a curiously constrained combat sport, and it has gone through some changes recently. The new scoring system (see the rules PDF) gives 1 point for a punch or kick to the chest, 2 points for a “turning” kick to the chest, 3 for a kick to the head and 4 for a “turning” kick to the head.

They’re also wearing sensors on their feet and chest, making the sport resemble fencing with feet.

All of this is on display in this clip of a dramatic and controversial comeback in the 2011 World Championships, in which a Spanish fighter controls the bout until a Chinese fighter lands a 3-point head kick (or so they say) with three seconds left.

Ready for some more complications? Check out the qualification system, in which the sport offers four weight classes per gender but forces countries to pick two in which to enter. And that’s whittled down from the eight weight classes per gender offered in World Championship and world rankings. South Korea, the Chinese women and the Iranian men will have tough choices.

To keep things simpler here, I’m just linking to the World Championship results page and the June 2011 rankings, and I’m not going to show as much of my “work” as usual.

That’ll reduce the confidence level in these projections, though we know that South Korea (4 for 4 in 2008) is a solid favorite in whichever classes the country chooses. The USA, thanks in large part to the Lopez family, also has solid medal chances throughout.

Note that we have two bronze medals per weight class:

Continue reading 2012 taekwondo: Slightly more violent than Riverdance