**Steven Marrocco at MMA Fighting has written one of the best and most important pieces in MMA journalism profiling the cognitive decline of former UFC fighter Spencer Fisher. Fisher is now 44 years old and reeling from the effects of a life dedicated to fighting while receiving medication for vertigo, cognitive improvement, concentration, insomnia, mania & depression along with Ambien for sleep assistance among his intake. Fisher was a very popular lightweight due to his high-action style and best remembered for a trilogy of fights with Sam Stout that began in March 2006. Their first fight was received so well that the second fight headlined a Fight Night on Spike in June 2007.
In 2013, Fisher had been preparing to fight Yves Edwards, but a series of tests halted that fight after results of an EEG were concerning. A follow-up test detected bilateral destructive lesions on his brain and he’s never fought since. Marrocco has been working on this story for years as Fisher was hesitant to go public and speak against the UFC. The promotion had been paying $5,000 per month as an ambassador once his career was over but didn’t extend his deal when it came up shortly after the purchase by WME IMG. Now, Fisher was motivated to tell his story while he can still do so and serve as a cautionary tale for younger fighters. There is a lot to this feature and I highly recommend it being read especially by fighters. Among the most difficult realities to this story is the knowledge that we are likely going to read plenty more of these stories of fighters that have paid a price both physically while also left with the inability to financially support themselves.
One line that stood out in the piece came from Fisher’s wife Emily when speaking with doctors and being informed they cannot fix Spencer’s issues and her response was, “I know you can’t fix it. Just help us deal with it.” If the transaction for fighters is the potential of losing cognitive functions later in life, there need to be measures in place for their financial well-being when the trade-off is so drastic. That needs to an essential priority for fighters of this generation to establish for themselves and future eras of fighters.
**UFC president Dana White and Khabib Nurmagomedov have posted videos and photos of their meeting in Abu Dhabi. White has spoken about this pending meeting for several weeks and his desire to see the lightweight champion fight one more time and go for 30-0. Nurmagomedov announced his retirement last October following his victory against Justin Gaethje at UFC 254.
— danawhite (@danawhite) January 15, 2021
**The UFC’s debut card on ABC is Saturday afternoon and represents the first time the network has aired MMA and the last of the big four networks to do so. CBS was the first in May 2008 partnering with Elite XC at the peak of Kimbo Slice’s popularity when he fought James Thompson in the main event of that show. Elite XC died several months later with the final card on CBS airing in October 2008 where Slice was scheduled to fight Ken Shamrock, but a crazy set of circumstances led to Seth Petruzelli replacing Shamrock and defeating Slice. Later, Strikeforce would get onto CBS with their tenure on the network ending after the April 2010 brawl in Nashville inside the cage after Jake Shields defeated Dan Henderson in the main event. NBC got into the industry through World Series of Fighting (now the PFL) where they had run several of their New Year’s Eve cards prior to the PFL’s existing relationship with ESPN. The largest network presence belonged to Fox, who acquired the domestic television rights for the UFC in 2012 but held an event two months prior in November 2011 where Junior dos Santos defeated Cain Velasquez for the UFC heavyweight title. UFC aired regular specials on Fox until the end of 2018 when their deal expired and migrated to ESPN.
**During an appearance on Tim & Sid on Sportsnet 590 in Canada, Georges St-Pierre spoke about the potential of fighting Khabib Nurmagomedov. Earlier in the day, Dana White spoke on the network and said if Nurmagomedov is only willing to fight St-Pierre then he would get to work on that fight. They aired the clip for St-Pierre, who sounded surprised and explained that he’d moved on with his life after pursuing the fight with Nurmagomedov and the UFC didn’t want to make the fight. However, he didn’t rule it out but said the circumstances are difficult now with gyms closed in Quebec and would have to give it a lot of thought. He added that he wakes up at 183 pounds these days and is 39 years old now.
**USADA has announced a significant shift in its stance regarding future marijuana failures among athletes. The new policy is retroactive to January 1st where the agency will no longer punish athletes who test positive for THC unless it could be proven it was taken for performance-enhancing purposes and notes that fighters cannot compete if impaired or showing the effects of usage. Prior to this news, USADA would test fighters in-competition with a threshold level of 180 ng/ML that could not be exceeded. This new policy has only been introduced by USADA and the individual athletic commissions still have their own policies.
**Here are the weigh-in results for Saturday’s UFC Fight Night, its first of 2021 with the main card airing on ABC:
MAIN CARD (3 pm ET on ABC & ESPN+)
*Max Holloway (146) vs. Calvin Kattar (146)
*Matt Brown (171) vs. Carlos Condit (171)
*Santiago Ponzinibbio (171) vs. Li Jingliang (170)
*Joaquin Buckley (185) vs. Alessio Di Chirico (186)
*Dusko Todorovic (186) vs. Punahele Soriano (186)
PRELIMINARY CARD (Noon ET on ESPN+)
*Phil Hawes (186) vs. Nassourdine Imavov (186)
*Wu Yanan (136) vs. Joselyne Edwards (135)
*Carlos Felipe (264) vs. Justin Tafa (265)
*Ramazan Emeev (171) vs. David Zawada (170)
*Sarah Moras (136) vs. Vanessa Melo (136)
*Jacob Kilburn (145) vs. Austin Lingo (145)
**Conor McGregor was a guest on The Weighing In Podcast with Josh Thomson and “Big” John McCarthy promoting UFC 257 next weekend.
**ESPN is releasing an interview on Sunday that Ariel Helwani conducted with McGregor. It will be released across their platforms including SportsCenter, ESPN.com, and their other social channels.
**Shaheen Al-Shatti at The Athletic has a story on Calvin Kattar. The 32-year old headlines the UFC’s debut on ABC and competed on the undercard of Elite XC’s Primetime show for CBS on May 31, 2008. Kattar was 20-years old when the CBS card occurred and was a 3-0 fighter. On that show, he was submitted by James Jones but Kattar would win fifteen of his next sixteen fights. The loss to Jones is the only time Kattar has been stopped in twenty-six pro fights.
**LFA is running a card in Park City, Kansas tonight at 9 pm ET on UFC Fight Pass. The promotion noted that all fighters tested negative for COVID-19. The show is headlined by a lightweight title fight between Nick Browne and Arthur Estrazulas. The main card features seven fights. This was the show Pat Miletich was scheduled to be part of the broadcast team but was pulled by LFA after photos surfaced of Miletich in attendance at the Capitol in Washington last Wednesday. There was a photo of Miletich alongside an individual wearing a patch of “RWDS” for Right Wing Death Squad. LFA has said they are investigating before making their next step. Miletich has stated the people he walked with at the Capitol were not involved in any violence that he knows of.
Paul Craig vs. Jamahal Hill – UFC Fight Night on March 20 (Nolan King at MMA Junkie)
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