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Vince McMahon

Verbal Tap Productions Presents: Kevin Phillips' Review of Nick Diaz's WAR MMA


Verbal Tap Productions Presents: Kevin Phillips' Review of Nick Diaz's WAR MMA


xfl Does anyone remember that time when Vince McMahon tried to start the XFL?  If not, google it and thank me later, it was a crazy time.  For those who don’t know, remember or who spent years in therapy trying to forget, the X in the name was intended to stand for Xtreme.  Which meant Xtreme athletes, Xtreme cheerleaders, and Xtreme fans.  The organization even pitched itself as football “without the rules” (and without the viewers, heyo!!!).  Semantics aside, it seemed like an interesting attempt to deviate from the norm... that crashed and burned into a terrible death.

Nonetheless, it was an attempt to give the fans something different.

So when it was announced that everyone’s favorite MMA villain, Nick Diaz, was going to put on his own fighting organization, I had an XFL-like flashback.  And despite my love for all things UFC and MMA, I tend to be somewhat skeptical of new organizations popping up.  But this time I allowed myself to say, “screw it,” Diaz is behind it, so, at the very least, it has to be entertaining.


WAR Diaz

Five hours and six minutes of OnDemand replay later, I feel exactly the same way I did after watching my first XFL game; a little bored, a little used, and maybe just a little confused.  Much like the XFL, the minimal adjustments brought nothing more than a variation of the same kind of product we’re used to seeing elsewhere — only with less talented players involved.  And much like how the XFL’s competitors looked like an NFL practice team, WAR MMA, presented by Nick Diaz featured a set of new mixed martial artists who were given the spotlight for the first time.  While I don’t fault them for taking advantage of the exposure (a few of whom managed to produce a couple of really fun fights throughout the evening), I guess I was just surprised that Diaz was behind the start of a shockingly normal fight promotion -- and maybe that is there where the disappointment lies?

With my admitted bias out of the way, now on to the event:

So turns out all you had to do to watch the fights was to head over to the subtlety titled, where TJ De Santis and Javier Vasquez were calling the action.  The five hour event featured 12 fights and, sadly, not a single high power knockout to show for it.  In fact, only two of the 12 fights were decided by the fighters in the ring.

Do I personally suggest that you stop reading this now and head over to

Well, that depends on if you magically have five hours and thirty minutes of free time (five to watch the fight and thirty to read this article then send it to every person you can think of in the world), then definitely!  If you don’t, keep reading and you’ll get the gist.

Lets start with what was different about the fights. First of all it was in a ring, not a cage.  If I'm allowed to get on my soap box for a minute: May I just say, there is a reason most major MMA organizations use a cage?  It’s because it works better.  The cage allows for body position and continued striking in a way that a ring does not.  Fighters just kept getting caught up in the ropes and occasionally kept the dominant fighter from continuing to hold dominant position.  Granted, not in a way that would have saved Diaz in his last few decisions, but rather in a distracting, “is this still happening” kind of way.  I, like any boxing fan, will always hold the ring with some regard, it’s just not my sort of thing when it comes to MMA.

The next difference was the banning of elbow strikes from the ground.  Essentially when a fighter is grounded, no throwing any bows (suffice to say, Jon Jones is never fighting for WAR MMA, presented by Nick Diaz).  Diaz says this is to keep people from stalling in a top position.  From his perspective, too many referees see someone throw an elbow and count that as being active from the bottom.  My comment after watching 12 fights of which eight went the WHOLE 15 minutes?  Not a huge difference.  In fact, had I not looked up the rules earlier, I probably wouldn’t have even noticed.

Final difference, and, in my opinion, the smartest thing this promotion did, they opened up a livestream option and gave people the ability to donate what they wanted to watch the fights.  I love that they did this!  Had they asked for a set amount, I probably would have skipped watching the event altogether.  Opening it up for the fight community to pay what they wanted after watching the fights is a very cool and modern way of promoting an event that's just starting.  This also leads into my favorite sidebar in writing this article.

war_flyer_web_mediumSIDEBAR BEGINS: My Verbal Tap co-host, Raf Esparza, tried to watch the livestream of the event Saturday night, but paypal wouldn’t let him put in zero dollars as a donation (they will, however, let you put in $ 0.10 FYI).  So he pulled a genuine Nick Diaz and said, “well, fuck this (his exact words)." In a weird way, shouldn’t Nick Diaz have no choice but to endorse Raf’s emotional outburst as familiar?  I mean, we are talking about the only fighter i can think of in recent memory to get fired from a UFC Main Event Card for missing “media obligations?”  I like to think Nick Diaz smiled a little as Raf said the F’word -- but I have not been able to confirm that with any sources close to Nick Diaz.  SIDEBAR ENDS, REVIEW CONTINUES.

Okay, we’ve genuinely covered all of the differences.  Now onto the fights!

Fight 1: Aziz Rashid vs. Derek Brown.  For some reason both fighters didn’t know they were fighting at 140, so they came in at different weights (139, and 145) because... why not?  The color commentary guys did a good job chalking it up to a new promotion blunder, but here’s my question: have people heard of that before?  Is that a normal thing?  Because in my personal fight watching career, that’s a first.  So if I ever fail to make weight I can just chalk it up to being around a new promotion?  Good to know.  Having said that, it was a fun fight that went the distance and Brown won via decision.  There was a screwy ref decision during this fight (the first of many), but suffice it to say the guy who refereed these fights enjoys rewarding people who break the rules by taking them out of a bad position (yeah, I know that’s vague, it was really hard to understand while watching live, even the commentators just sort of laughed it off).

Fight 2: Powell vs. Ortega.  These two light heavyweights brought the pain, but the fight went the distance and Ortega won via Split Decision.

Fight 3: Hamilton vs. Adona.  The win in this fight should go to the “ringside doctor,” but, by default, went to Adona.  He ended the fight because of a not very bad cut on Hamilton’s eye.  It wasn’t the doctor’s only win of the evening.  Stay tuned.

Fight 4: Tatum vs. Cabezas.  All you need to know about this fight was that at the end Tatum threw his mouthpiece into the crowd... and they threw it back!  Hilarious!  Tatum won the fight by decision, but it was genuinely one of the weirder fights I’ve ever seen.  Tatum appeared to be able to end the fight about 12 times, but just didn’t.  My sincere thanks to the crowd for both boo’ing him and returning his mouthpiece.

Between Fight 4 and Fight 5: WE SEE NICK DIAZ (as presented by War MMA, presented by Nick Diaz!)!  He’s bald, wearing a suit, and appears to be doing his best Dana White impression......NOT!  But wouldn’t that have been hilarious? (I’m here all day, folks!)

Fight 5: Marsh vs. Fortuna.  FIRST SUBMISSION OF THE NIGHT ALERT!  Fortuna submits Marsh early with a baseball choke.  The announcers kept calling it a side choke submission (I’ll be sure to verify with my instructor/black belt), but I am pretty sure it was a modified baseball choke.  Either way, sweet move from Fortuna and the highlight of the night in my opinion.

Fight 6: Quitiquit vs. Clark.  2 and 0 goes the ringside Doctor!  He ends the fight, giving Clark the win due to a moderately-sized cut on Quitiquit’s eye.  The cut wasn’t even bleeding when the fight was stopped.  It was a genuine shock to everyone in the stadium and the dozens upon dozens of people watching around the world.

Fight 7: Boughton vs. Martinez.  WE HAVE A VERBAL TAP!  Boughton wins by toe hold 20 seconds into the fight forcing Martinez to Verbally Tap Out!  Thanks to these guys for the ringing endorsement.

Fight 8: Cooley vs. Gibson. Cooley lost a point for passivity (the first real Diaz enjoyed moment of the night; also, is that a word?).  This was a weird fight.  Cooley kept trying to pull guard, Gibson kept striking.  Finally late in the third, Cooley pulled guard as Gibson was throwing a punch and the ref just called a TKO.  It’s unclear if the NBA has fined Cooley for flopping, but either way it was a weird end to a not so great fight.

Fight 9: Hays vs. Linderman.  Linderman takes it by decision.  There, I just saved you 15 minutes of your life.

Fight 10: McKinney vs. Persons.  Great exchanges, fun fight, Clayton “MONEYSHOT (if you say so)” McKinney wins by unanimous decision.  Lets now spend 4 paragraphs theorizing how he got that nickname — even if I’m almost positive Raf will cut these paragraphs in post-editing... sorry in advance (Raf’s Editorial Note: I did and I’m not sorry).

Fight 11: “Evil” Evan Esguerra vs. Calev “The Machete” Mitchell.  A back and forth war that “Evil” pretty much controlled from start to finish.  He won via Unanimous Decision, but Esguerra was genuinely throwing HUGE bows till the very end.  Impressive fight from both guys, easily fight of the night.

Fight 12: Daniel Roberts vs. Justin Baseman.  Close fight that went to Baseman in a 2-1 decision.  Not a great fight, but a close one.

That does it for WAR MMA, a Nick Diaz Promotion (they must have said this tagline 75 times).  All in all, I recommend this event if you're in Stockton, CA (they’ve even talked about the idea of moving to a new location on Twitter, more on that as it becomes available).  The announcer was okay, the commentary guys were great, and the fights were still fights, which means they were exciting.

Now lets see if Nick Diaz can keep it together for the inevitable sequel: “ WAR 2: What Is It Good For (Absolutely Nothing).”

For a link to MMA Fighting's excellent twenty two minute documentary on the behind the scenes making of WAR MMA, Presented by Nick Diaz, check out the following link.  Believe us when we say, you won't want to miss it!



For Argument's Sake: Chael Buys the WWE

We here at VERBAL TAP are proud to present the latest addition to our website: a column that by-passes the rumor, the fact-checking, and maybe even the research to ask, “But what if…”  Without further ado, we hope you’ll indulge a little segment we like to call For Argument’s Sake: ChaelSonnen-610x406Over the weekend Chael Sonnen reportedly told some dirt rag that he wasn’t interested in just being in the WWE, he’d rather buy the company outright.  Now we've all learned to take most things that Chael says with a grain of salt (i.e. "Hispanic accent"), but according to said dirt rag’s “very reliable sources,” he apparently isn’t joking this time.

Of course, anyone who knows a single thing about the WWE knows that the company is far from ever selling its half-billion empire to a mouthy UFC fighter with a few "investor friends" (also it's a publicly traded empire, but I'm getting ahead of myself here).  That doesn't even include the insane death grip that Vince McMahon and his family have on the business, which many speculate will eventually be run by his daughter Stephanie and her real life husband/occasional sledgehammer enthusiast HHH.

But, for argument's sake, let's just pretend this could happen.  Imagine the possibilities.  The overlap between Chael the UFC fighter/entertainer/promoter isn't all that different from the potential of Chael the WWE wrestler/entertainer/promoter.  He has a love/hate relationship with fans (that works perfectly here!).  We all know the man cut's a mean promo.  He's got a strong wrestling background that's proven helpful to guys like this.  And this.  And, hell, even this guy.

I mean even Chael's own book cover looks similar to Kurt Angle's.

But, even if you don't buy all of that, consider the following irrefutable argument:

Sonnen Roperumblecling

If "The Bad Guy" can channel Shawn Michaels, it goes to say he is a natural for the Royal Rumble (thus becoming a #1 contender for one of the two World Championship titles, see how fast this is all coming together?).

Now that we've proven that Chael is a good fit for the organization, what if he got his full wish and actually got to run the company (shh, quiet logic, you have no place here)?  Don't worry, I've got you covered.

Before I begin, please keep in mind that some of these plans will be written in kayfabe (pro wrestling speak for “fake reality”), which may seem odd for Sonnen until you realize most of his UFC career has been spent “in character.”  With that, please consider the following multilayered plan:

  1. Revive “Tough Enough” with Chael as a coach.  Love ‘em or hate ‘em, we’ve already seen the impact Sonnen can have as a mentor to young athletes.  He's good for ratings, he'll promote the hell out of the show, and since he's trained with the host of the last incarnation (Stone Cold Steve Austin) for his UFC fights, I'm sure he'll have the blessing of the bionic redneck.
  2. Trash-talking your way into a championship match isn’t just welcomed, it’s required.  Lots of people think Chael talked his way into a fight for the Light Heavyweight title (he did!)—and, in this world, it’s exactly the kind of thing that's expected.  Only this time, the WWE Superstars now have the added benefit of going through a rigorous Chael Sonnen media preparation class, with lessons ranging from: playing up to the home crowd, utilizing new media to cut promos, and, of course, proxemics
  3. Steroids are mandatory for all on the WWE roster (just to even the playing field, of course).  It’s really more of a health issue.
  4. Chael also gets control of WWE’s film division.  It’s a well established fact the Chael-CM Punkcompany's film division has been hurting for a hit.  Why not invest in a low-budget action adventure?  He's already friends with CM Punk; put the two of them together in a buddy cop comedy and let the moderate box office magic happen ("One of them's a straight edge, the other lives on the edge. West Linn Gangsters, Summer 2015!").  Besides, I hear that Chael's got great connections to secure filming locations.
  5. Chael becomes new Mr. McMahon.  In it's Attitude hey day, the WWE, (I'm sorry) WWF created a fictionalized version of it's owner, Vince McMahon, that was designed to be so evil it could put over any other wrestler.  And he'd wrestle matches just to give fans the escapism of watching their boss get the crap kicked out of them.  It was a genius idea and one that helped to solidify the anti-hero status of Stone Cold Steve Austin—a model that has since been used to help elevate other wrestlers who have needed notoriety or exposure over the years.  Vince is CrazySince the Attitude era, Vince has made fewer on-screen appearances to fill whatever storytelling void is needed, but has admitted himself that at his age he doesn't really need to get in the ring all that much anymore (even if he still does bat shit crazy stuff like this).  And even now with HHH filling in for the role of corporate guy who occasionally wrestles as an "in betweener," he doesn't have the same pathos to pull this kind of high-wire act off (the fans still identify too much with him after all these years).  What the WWE needs is someone it can turn against.  A symbol.  Someone who can be an extremely non-silent guardian.  A watchful protector, if you will.  But how does Chael become the new Dark Knight of the WWE...
  6. Chael Sonnen vs. HHH at Wrestlmania 30: I know many of you will argue that current WWE roster guys like CM Punk or even former UFC champ Brock Lesnar would make for an ideal opponent, but hear me HHH-Challenges-Lesnarout here.  Sonnen comes out to say he wants to buy the company, HHH comes out to confront him says “the family will never do it,” Sonnen challenges him to a match at the 30th anniversary of Wrestlemania for control of the company.  BOOM.  There you have it.  A new main event to headline Wrestlemania.  HHH loses via a run in from CM Punk, allowing Chael to hit his finisher (a spinning back fist) and Chael now “runs” the WWE.

Well, there you have it.  Problems solved, everyone makes money.  I'll be waiting by my mailbox for my royalty checks if anyone's looking for me.

In the meantime, let me know if I missed any magic in the possibilities of Chael Sonnen running the WWE (along with your argument as to which finisher would be a better fit for Sonnen) in the comment section below!