There's no UFC event this weekend, and no Strikeforce or Bellator fights, either. So what are mixed martial arts fans supposed to do with ourselves? Well, it's a prime opportunity for us to settle in front of a TV and scout for future stars.
Former Penn State star quarterback turned star witness Mike McQueary is expected to testify Friday in a key hearing for two university officials charged with lying after McQueary had described an alleged sexual assault he witnessed in a locker room.
Director Tom McCarthy is some kind of wizard. In his hands, simple stories ("The Station Agent," "The Visitor") take on the gritty texture and emotional heft of life as it's lived, not contoured by Hollywood. "Win Win," which he wrote with Joe Tiboni, is McCarthy's latest gem, hilarious and heartfelt with a tough core that repels all things sappy.
The UFC's light heavyweight division has long been the promotion's premier class. With relatively few exceptions, the UFC has locked down top stars and prospects at that weight, which makes Ryan Bader -- an undefeated 27-year-old former Arizona State University wrestler who made a statement by easily winning the eighth season of Spike TV's The Ultimate Fighter -- someone worth watching.
It's late May on the campus of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Mott Gym is packed. This is a welcome sight for Lennis Cowell and John Azevedo, who fondly remember the halcyon days when wrestling drew more than 2,000 fans -- four times today's average -- to dual meets against Cal State Bakersfield, the California coast school's rival.
Her choppy blue-and-blond hair hiding the fear in her eyes, a 15-year-old voiced her dislike for a hip-hop music group and got punched in the face by a classmate. The whole thing was caught on tape and social media helped police in their investigation.
Though rarely asked these days, the question "What is mixed martial arts?" was a common inquiry not too long ago. The best response came from Randy Couture: "Take elements of wrestling, boxing, judo and taekwondo, and you've got MMA."
Halfway into the third and final day of Greco-Roman wrestling on Thursday, it looked as if the Americans would leave Beijing without a medal for the first time since 1980 -- until an unlikely savior stepped up.
BEIJING -- Dremiel Byers doesn't flinch easily. The man is an Army supply sergeant and was a world champion super heavyweight in Greco Roman wrestling in 2002. He is 6 feet, 264 pounds of guts and granite. But on Thursday, the man had met his match.
They sit inside the Saint Mary High gym, a musty brick building in Rutherford, N.J. The previous Friday, it was a similar edifice in nearby Clifton; the Thursday before that, St. Joe's in Montvale. After nearly two years of waiting for these February mornings -- all three of them here, alive, together -- Jim Lombard, 45, can't help but look at his two sons and exhale.
The bridge had been dangling in the river for less than a week, but it had already become a macabre civic landmark, the Twin Cities' answer to Manhattan's Ground Zero. On a scorching day last August, Roger Huerta was piloting his Jeep Commander from downtown Minneapolis to the St. Paul YMCA, where he trains in mixed martial arts. He drove slowly as he crossed the Mississippi River, pointing out the remnants of the I-35W bridge, whose collapse had caused the deaths of 13 Minnesotans six days earlier. When Huerta saw a slab of folded highway bobbing in the water, his eyes widened, and he rested a hand on his beard. "Unbelievable," he said, his voice dropping to a whisper. "One second you're driving home from work, wondering what you're going to eat for dinner. Then wham! In the snap of a finger you're underwater."
If it wasn't for the chiseled physique or the nicknames like Captain America and The Natural, Randy Couture wouldn't be the most convincing UFC Heavyweight Champion before entering the ring. But behind the warm smile and polite demeanor, the 44-year-old is one of the sports toughest champs. Saturday night at UFC 74, Couture will look to pull off yet another improbable victory.
The long, low-slung wrestling room at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs is not a welcoming space. There are no windows or air conditioning. Sweat streaks not only the mats but also the padding on the walls. During a typical two-hour practice session for the men's freestyle team, when the activity of roughly 30 wrestlers pushes the temperature well over 80�, the atmosphere gets downright ripe. The only sounds, besides the commands of coaches, are the grunts of combatants, the thuds of falling bodies and the occasional yelps of pain. It is a room in which the weak don't stand a chance.
Bouncing off the walls and looking for a way to release his excess energy, sophomore David Taylor recently had the night off from high school wrestling practice, but his mother did not know what to do with him.