Postal Connections: Big Apple Finally Bites

By Greg Savage Apr 17, 2016

The sport of mixed martial arts on Thursday enjoyed a historic day. While I never thought the MMA ban in New York was as big a deal as some people made it out to be, I can understand why the fans from the state and the Ultimate Fighting Championship are overjoyed after such a long hard-fought battle. With the stroke of his pen, Gov. Andrew Cuomo ended 19 years of exile and opened up one of the biggest -- if not the biggest -- media markets in the world to MMA.

We’ll touch on the future of New York MMA as well as a slew of other topics in this week’s Postal Connections mailbag. Without further ado, away we go.

I am so excited to finally be able to attend a UFC event in my home state. I am also sad that the corrupt politicians kept my favorite sport out of New York for so long. Hopefully the UFC brings a huge show to MSG this summer so everyone can see what they were missing. -- Nicole P.

It is a pretty exciting day, Nicole. The UFC is coming to the Empire State, but you’re going to have to wait a little bit longer than summer to hit Madison Square Garden for a UFC event. It was announced that the sport’s premier promotion will host its inaugural NYC show on Nov. 12, and I would expect to see a whole host of the East Coast’s best fighters populating that card. There are always injuries and scheduling issues that could throw a monkey wrench into the equation, but I would anticipate seeing at least a couple fighters from the following group: Jon Jones, Chris Weidman, Frankie Edgar, Conor McGregor, Ronda Rousey and maybe even Georges St. Pierre.

I know everyone has been hyped to see how UFC 200 was going to shape up, but I’m holding out for this MSG card. It very well may be the biggest event the company will put on to date. The UFC will want to impress the Big Apple, and I’m certain it will pull out all the stops for the first show.

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Frank Mir, Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic, Tim Means, Yoel Romero, Viscardi Andrade, Gleison Tibau and now Lyoto Machida. Is this the “darkest before the dawn” that UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta spoke of?‬ -- @jaypettry

We go from the exciting to the depressing.

I remember hearing everyone talking about how things would probably get worse before they got better when the UFC-USADA deal was struck, and I have to tell you, I’m surprised it hasn’t been worse. I’ve been sounding the alarm about rampant PED use for years and couldn’t be more thrilled that the UFC took the initiative -- even if it was dragged there kicking and screaming -- to help create as level a playing field as possible for its athletes.

Hopefully this is as bad as it’s going to get, but I have a feeling we’re going to see more of the same. There will be spikes in positive tests and there will be lulls, but don’t kid yourself, some fighters will still do everything in their power to gain a competitive edge. It’s up to United States Anti-Doping Agency to stay ahead of the curve and curtail that kind of behavior.

PED use will never be a thing of the past, but I think the steps that have been taken are responsible and forward-thinking. They will go a long way in discouraging those fighters who might be on the fence about gearing up. What the deal won’t do is eliminate the pull Vitamin S has on some fighters desperate to maintain a roster spot or others who have become dependent on that crutch.

I would predict we get more of the same, some periods of very few positives and others where it seems everyone is on the juice. I don’t think either trend is indicative of how many people are using; it has more to do with the random nature of testing and how good some fighters are at covering their tracks.

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Is Khabib Nurmagomedov the next Ronda Rousey/Conor McGregor -- wildly hyped and talented but utterly one-dimensional? The first to keep it standing against him equals rout.‬ -- @brianchamill

This was a really interesting question to me, mostly because I just don’t have a solid answer for you. I think the hype by which these exciting and brash up-and-coming fighters are surrounded is just part of the game, but it sure does set them up for a big fall when they inevitably lose.

Going just with the percentages, I would have to say that Nurmagomedov is going to run into the same issue as Rousey and McGregor. Someone will eventually figure him out and will be able to keep the fight on the feet long enough to do some real damage or earn a decision, and then the schadenfreude will start flowing freely.

On the other hand, you just don’t really know. He could be the next Jon Jones -- a fighter who has thoroughly outclassed his opposition year after year. Who knows? Maybe Jones is on deck for his comeuppance. It’s all so chaotic, but that’s part of the beauty of this sport.

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What do you think about Dan Henderson going after Lyoto Machida after he got busted for steroids? “Hendo” was one of the first guys to be on TRT, so he probably should just keep his mouth shut, don’t you think? -- Paul

This is a question that has been raised over and over, and I have said the same thing all along. There’s a difference between a fighter getting a therapeutic use exemption -- especially a fighter who is at an age where it makes some sense -- and a fighter who skirts the regulations and uses whatever he wants. So I’ll give Henderson the benefit of the doubt; he did it the right way but definitely gained an advantage from his use.

On the topic of “keeping his mouth shut,” yeah, that would probably be the best way to handle something like this. The optics are bad no matter how you look at his therapeutic use exemption for testosterone. I’m sure there is no love lost from their last encounter, a very close decision that went Machida’s way, but there are better ways to go about this than calling him out publicly.

Henderson has since been booked to face Hector Lombard at UFC 199. I wonder what he’ll have to say about his past usage.

Sherdog.com Executive Editor Greg Savage can be reached by email or Twitter @TheSavageTruth. If you would like to have your question or comment answered in the weekly Postal Connections mailbag, please submit them by Wednesday evening each week.

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