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Bartendaz' empower youth with acrobatic exercise

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  • Bartendaz perform compound fitness moves using a pull-up bar, body weight
  • With limited equipment, the exercises are financially and logistically accessible
  • Group also stresses gang prevention, leadership, substance abuse awareness
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By Debra Alban
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ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- The Bartendaz of New York want to serve as many young people as possible -- and that's a good thing.

One of the Bartendaz, Metaphysics, performs the flag move during a demonstration at an Atlanta-area school.

One of the Bartendaz, Metaphysics, performs the flag move during a demonstration at an Atlanta-area school.

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These fitness gurus aren't promoting underage drinking. Named for the creative moves they perform on the pull-up bar, the Bartendaz are empowering youths through calisthenics.

By ditching free weights and weight machines in favor of using their own body weight on the bar and the floor, the Bartendaz have developed a series of acrobatic strength exercises that have sparked attention on YouTube and from such celebrity clients as rapper Ludacris and mixed martial arts champion Rashad Evans. Some members also earned a stint with New York's Apollo Circus of Soul.

But Bartendaz founder Hassan Yasin's proudest achievement is his program's impact on youths.

"My number one claim to fame [is] ... when I walk in the park and they're not chilling on the benches, they're at the bars," said Yasin, 40. "All the guys that [were] hanging out there, taking up space, [are] now leaving because there's too many youth coming back."

Dozens of New York City schools have adopted Bartendaz moves into their physical education programs through grass-roots networking, Yasin said. He believes the exercises resonate among students who have been otherwise tough to reach. Video See the Bartendaz in action »

The Brooklyn Academy High School for at-risk students incorporated the program into its curriculum to motivate students to become more involved in physical education, said principal Elaine Lindsey. But the kids love it so much, she said, that it became "a tool to motivate the students to actually come to school."

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The minimal equipment makes it financially and logistically accessible without the need of a gym. And the use of body weight, instead of free weights, keeps it safe for young bodies, said Dr. Stephen Sanders, the director of the School of Physical Education and Exercise Science at the University of South Florida. As a general rule, children should not lift heavy weights until after puberty, when their muscles are more mature, said Sanders, who is not affiliated with the Bartendaz.

The Brooklyn Academy was unable to afford the Bartendaz visits this year, which Yasin says cost about $400 to $600 per session for 25 to 30 students. But, Lindsey said, "Once they mastered it here, they could always do it [at] home or anywhere."

The Bartendaz have also found success teaching juvenile and adult inmates at Rikers Island, the New York jail facility -- an idea met with resistance about five years ago.

" 'Don't bring fitness in there. They're in jail, what are you doing?' " Yasin said, quoting early critics. "I said, 'It's like stress management. Give us an opportunity to present it.' Once we presented it, that was it. We started putting bars in the yard so the young men can work out."

"They put us in the worst buildings, the most violent, and we became a breath of fresh air because there [are] no organizations going inside. So for one to come inside, it gives ... the inmates the opportunity to come out and say, 'Let me listen to what they have to offer. And now I can get out of my cell,' " Yasin said.

Learning from someone who's been there

This wasn't Yasin's first experience with the New York City Department of Corrections. A native of Manhattan's Lower East Side, he spent four years behind bars in his early 20s and did time at a juvenile facility at age 17, both for drug-related charges.

After his release in the early 1990s, Yasin cleaned up his act and became a motivational speaker -- talking to New York youths about substance abuse awareness, conflict resolution, gang prevention and leadership -- which evolved into his nonprofit, Giant Thinking. Meanwhile, he was honing his acrobatic skills on the pull-up bars at local parks, and eventually gained a following and partners-in-training.

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Having built up respect from teachers and administrators at New York City schools, Yasin and his team were tasked with developing a program to get kids to stop cutting gym class.

"The ultimate thing was ... how can we do this in a way we don't have to use a whole bunch of equipment?" said Dr. G (short for Dr. Goodbody), one of the Bartendaz whom Yasin consulted in developing the school initiative. "So the concept of anytime, anywhere exercises came about."

Today, as the Bartendaz visit schools and other facilities, they divide their time between spreading the positive messages of Giant Thinking and the fitness training of Bartendaz.

The model effectively held the attention of students at Crossroads Second Chance South. Through a partnership with Atlanta, Georgia, nonprofit Next Century Youth, the Bartendaz recently held a series of demonstrations in the Atlanta area, including Crossroads South, an alternative high school for students who have been expelled.

After high-fiving one another for successfully naming 10 fruits that promote good health, the Crossroads South students gave a standing ovation for their classmates as they joined the Bartendaz for compound moves on the pull-up bar and on the floor for pushups.

Exercising at the pull-up bar brings a camaraderie that you don't see among weight lifters, Yasin said.

"[You see] healthy competition and a lot of smiling going on, versus the aggression" involved in weight lifting, Yasin said. There's "nothing to talk about when you're lifting weights. They're dead serious."

Crossroads South PE teacher Rachelle Bradley said she hoped to work further with the Bartendaz to incorporate their moves into her teaching.

"It's very practical, not something structured. ... Our students don't like structure, and this is more creative," Bradley said.


Bartendaz fan Justin Kemp, 18, found the group on YouTube about a year ago and took on its exercise techniques soon after. Before long, he went from doing three pushups during television commercial breaks to being able to do 100 to 150 consecutively, he said.

"I feel challenged," Kemp said. "I love when I'm challenged because ... it keeps me on top of my game."

Women’s Boxing: A Noble and Uphill Battle for Acceptance

For most people, the thought of their loved ones getting punched in the face for fun is not exactly appealing.

And when that person is a woman it becomes even more undesirable. But why are there so many women and girls attracted to the sport of boxing?

The first appearance of the sport was in the Olympic Games in 1904, as a demonstration bout. Female boxing remained a taboo and was banned in most countries for most of the twentieth century. Most societies saw boxing as a man's sport.

In the 1990's, there was a boom in popularity for women's sport in general. Big names started to emerge like Laila Ali the daughter of Muhammed Ali.

At an amateur level, the popularity of the sport continues to rise. Jennifer Santiago is a boxing trainer at the Printing House Sports Club in Lower Manhattan. As an amateur, she won the USA Golden Gloves tournament two years in a row.

She said: "In the beginning it was mostly males, but six-and-a-half years later, it's majority female."

Despite this growing popularity, professional women's boxing is a long way from being able to compete with the male sport. There are very few incentives for professional women boxers according to David Carter, the assistant professor of sports marketing at USC Marshall School of Business.

Said Carter "Denial of entry into the 2008 Beijing Olympics by the International Olympic Committee is yet another blockade that ruins any opportunity for potential business in the sport."

Ray Stallone is the vice president of HBO's media relations. He said "There is no incentive to do one fight. We like to do a series of fights."

Asked whether HBO would ever screen women's boxing he said "HBO would definitely entertain the idea of women's boxing, just not right now."

But do people only participate in sport to become professional? The huge popularity of amateur women's boxing suggests not.

Jim Atkinson is a trainer at Fitzroy Lodge boxing club in Lambeth, south London. Atkinson said "Fitzroy Lodge is fully in support of women's boxing and we installed a women's shower and changing room at our own expense."

In Dunfermline, Scotland, Jayne Mowbray hopes to organize the first all-female boxing bill. Mowbray, a 28-year-old social worker, trains amateur women boxers from all walks of life at Mickey's Gym. Many of her clients wish to fight competitively, once their affiliation with Amateur Boxing Scotland is formalized.

Mowbray said "Several (boxers) are married with children and are using boxing as a means to boost their confidence and condition their bodies."

Mowbray's star pupil is 29-year-old Venture Scout leader, Frances Elder.

She said "The thought of getting hurt doesn't bother me at all. When you've been running a scout troop you get used to being knocked around a bit."

However, boxing manager Adil Ciftici of Fight Night Events in Berlin said "Knowing that the average boxing fan doesn't fancy women's boxing as much, it needs a special combination of capability, personality and physical attraction in order to have a chance of achieving something big in this sport."


The 2008 UFC Awards: Part One

The year is coming to an end; we are in the final stretch. It's almost time to say good-bye and welcome in 2009.

The year 2008 has brought us new UFC pay-per views, new Ultimate Fight Nights, and a new season of The Ultimate Fighter.

Every sport has end of the season awards they give out, but MMA/UFC doesn't have seasons. So to solve this problem, I've came up with a great solution!

The First Annual End of the Year Awards (Part One)

There are 10 Awards to give out, so let's get the show started.

The Rookie of the Year Award

And the winner is...

Brock Lesnar

Brock Lesnar made his UFC debut in UFC 81 against Frank Mir. Despite being dominant the majority of the fight, Lesnar made some rookie mistakes and got caught in an knee bar. Lesnar did bounce back with an impressive win at UFC 87 against Heath Herring.

He then was granted a title shot at UFC 91 against Randy Couture. Although many MMA fans thought he'd surely lose, he shocked the world and TKO'd the champ in the second round. He's now sitting on top the heavyweight ladder, waiting on his next opponent.

Runner Up (Demian Maia)

The Submission of the Year Award

And the winner is.....

Steve Cantwell

I know he's one of MMA's most hated right now, but he did break a guy's arm with an arm bar. Cantwell has four submission victories on his record and three by arm bar. Cantwell is up for one more award, so this may not be the last we see of him.

Runner Up (Demian Maia)

The Knockout of the Year Award

And the winner is.....

Rashad Evans

Rashad Evans had a highlight reel knockout at UFC 88. What makes this KO even better, he did it against Chuck Liddell. I know Chuck is past his prime, but he's still one of the biggest names in UFC history.

This knockout also led to Rashad's upcoming title shot against Forrest Griffin.

Runner Up-Tie- (Josh Koscheck) and (Junior Dos Santos)


Do Dieting Monkeys Live Healthier and Longer Lives?

An ongoing study at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in which rhesus monkeys are being fed an extremely calorie-restricted diet gives preliminary evidence that the regime prevents age-related diseases. For decades, scientists have known that a diet of about 30-percent fewer calories than normal extends the lifespan of mice by 10 to 20 percent, reduces their incidence of cancer, and prevents the deterioration of learning and memory in the rodents (see "A Clue to Living Longer"). And similar effects have been shown in lower organisms from yeast to fruit flies. But such life extension has not been proven yet in primates.


Researchers at the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center have been studying a group of 76 rhesus monkeys, half of them on calorie restriction and half on a normal diet, for 18 years, to determine whether or not the restricted diet has the same health benefits in primates as it does in other animals. The study will likely go on for at least another decade, since the monkeys are only now entering old age. Captive rhesus monkeys usually live to around 25 years old, which is now about the average age of the monkeys in the study. An age of 40 for a rhesus monkey is similar to 120 for a human--the apparent maximum lifespan.


Although there is now strong evidence that caloric restriction prevents diabetes in the primates (the disease is a major killer of captive rhesus monkeys), it's still too early to assess the diet's effects on their lifespan, according to Richard Weindruch, professor of medicine at the University of Wisconsin, who is heading up the study.


But preliminary evidence suggests that the diet is preventing loss of muscle mass, arthritis, menstrual irregularities, and other signs of aging. "Over the next 10 years, survival differences will come out," predicts Ricki Colman, a scientist on the study. Meanwhile, eight of the monkeys on a normal diet have died of age-related causes such as cancer and diabetes; five on the restricted diet have died of these causes.


As the monkeys enter old age, the researchers are beginning gene expression profiling on them--the first step toward finding the molecular mechanisms that connect the extreme diet to its effects in the animals. The monkeys will also undergo MRIs and be tested for mental acuity, to assess whether or not the diet prevents age-related deterioration of learning and memory.


Even if a diet of 30-percent fewer calories proved to extend healthy human lifespan, however, it's unlikely that most people could be able to stick with it. (A group of individuals following such a diet, called the Calorie Restriction Society, seem to have some health benefits. See "Human Study Shows Benefits of Caloric Restriction".)


Researchers studying caloric restriction in animals, including Colman, say that, in general, such a diet is "not a long-term possibility in humans." Rather, the primary goal of their study, Colman and Weindruch agree, is to learn about aging and to understand how caloric restriction changes metabolism and gene expression.


Beyond Guacamole: Work Avocado Into Your Daily Menu

Although sometimes maligned for its fat content, the creamy, heart-healthy avocado can play a very versatile—and nutritious—role in your diet. Here are a few facts about avocados.

Avocados are a fruit, not a vegetable, and have more potassium than bananas.

The Aztecs, among the earliest harvesters of the avocado, used it as a sexual stimulant.

Avocados are cholesterol-free but have 30 grams of fat, most of which is heart-healthy monounsaturated fat.

Hass avocados (the most common variety) are available year-round. They're ripe when the skin is nearly black and the fruit yields to soft pressure.

Tip: In the bag
Contributing Editor Robin Miller, host of Food Network's Quick Fix Meals With Robin Miller, offers this tip: To speed ripening, put avocados in a brown paper bag with an apple for a few days at room temperature. The apple releases ethylene gas, a ripening agent.


Trainer Roach Seeks Revenge Against De La Hoya

Manny Pacquiao has nothing bad to say about Oscar De La Hoya. This comes as no surprise, since Pacquiao is an aspiring politician who plans yet another run for congress in his native Philippines.

Rather, the disparagement of De La Hoya has been left to Pacquiao's trainer, Freddie Roach. It's a task that Roach, among the most charming and accomplished people in the fight game, has performed with uncharacteristic relish. In fact, it's not too much to say he's carried this promotion. He's succeeded in making it personal.

Pacquiao won't speak of his business dealings with De La Hoya, but it is known that they met in September 2006 and that the Golden Boy himself, the namesake behind Golden Boy Promotions, gave Pacquiao a briefcase with $300,000, a sum intended as a signing bonus. No surprise that the politician took the money.

He even signed with Golden Boy. The problem was, he had also signed with Bob Arum, and when the 77-year-old promoter heard that De La Hoya was moving on his fighter, he immediately set out for General Santos, a slum that makes Manila look like the City of Light.

"That's the difference," said Roach. "Bob got his ass on a plane and went all the way to see Manny in the Philippines."

If Oscar wanted to sign him so much, I asked, why didn't he fly out, too?

"Oscar would never do that," said Roach. "Oscar would never pay that kind of respect."

The matter went to court, and was eventually settled through mediation. Pacquiao stayed with Arum and returned the $300,000. But the issue of respect—less easily quantified, and more irksome to Roach—is still being decided.

Roach has his own beef with De La Hoya, of course, having trained him for his fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. De La Hoya fired Roach after the split-decision loss.

"I didn't tell him to stop jabbing," said Roach. "But that's what happens. A fighter losses, he blames the trainer."

That's not what bothers him, however. The real breach in respect, at least to Roach's way of thinking, was not telling him to his face. "I found out in the media," he said.

This fight has afforded the trainer an opportunity to plot his revenge. A couple of months ago, I went to Roach's Wild Card gym in Hollywood, where the trainer declared that his fighter would knock out De La Hoya in nine.

On Wednesday, I asked if anything since had caused him to rethink his forecast. "No," said Roach. "I think this will be his last fight."

Oscar's last fight, he meant: "We're going to break him down and knock him out."

Here's his theory: Oscar is 35, and hasn't scored a true knockout since 2000. His last six fights include three losses, going back to 2003. What's more, in his advanced year, De La Hoya has developed a tendency to stop using his best weapon—the jab—after six rounds. If an opponent like Steve Forbes can bust up De La Hoya's face, what can Pacquiao do?

Pacquiao, always a tireless fighter, is in the best shape of his life. Roach says he won't give Oscar a moment's rest. As a southpaw, Pacquiao will be able to penetrate De La Hoya's defenses, beat him around the body, then attack the head.

It all sounds very logical, entirely convincing until I leave Roach's company. The fight is being billed as "The Dream Match," as if Pacquiao and De La Hoya were characters in a video game, as if their physical attributes could be adjusted to make for a fair contest.

The problem is that fighters don't exist in the cyber realm. There's a reason why "pound-for-pound" arguments are never adequately resolved. The 147-pound weight limit isn't an equalizer here. It's a huge advantage for De La Hoya.

The Golden Boy may be 35, but he's only coming down about seven pounds, four from his last fight. He's almost 5'11". His reach is 72 inches. That's just too much for Pacquiao, who's 5'6", with a 67-inch reach.

Pacquiao made his professional debut in 1995 at 106 pounds. His memorable battles with Juan Manuel Marquez, Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales were all been waged between 125 and 130 pounds. Only once has Pacquiao fought heavier. That was last June when he was 134 for David Diaz, whom he took out in nine.

You wonder, however, if Morales could beat him at 125; if he went the distance with Marquez at 129, then what can he do against a guy who's built like their older brother? Oscar's left hand will only be more potent with eight ounce gloves.

Finally, and perhaps more important, is the matter of style. De La Hoya has problems with cute guys, superior boxers like Pernell Whitaker and Floyd Mayweather. But Pacquiao is made to order. Not only is he small, he comes right at you.

"Pacquiao is going to fight his typical fight," said Bernard Hopkins. "That's Oscar's style. That's made for him."

Put another way: "If you know a guy's coming to rob your house, you don't go outside. No need to chase the burglar. You just load up the shotgun, sit in the rocker, and wait for him."

Hopkins knows of what he speaks. Four years ago, De La Hoya tried to come up to take his middleweight crown. They fought at 158 pounds, a tiny jump compared to that which Pacquiao will make. Hopkins was 39, four years older than Oscar is now. Of course, Hopkins knocked him out in nine.

That's what'll happen Saturday night.

I have all the respect in the world for Freddie Roach. So my heart says Manny.

But my head says Oscar. In nine.




Oscar De La Hoya is the Champ of Cross Promotion


LAS VEGAS - He's asking $54.95 to see him fight Manny Pacquiao on pay per view. Still, Oscar De La Hoya feels your pain.

"We know it's a tough economy," he said.

Here, then, was the Golden Boy's prescription for cost-effective pay-per-viewing: Get a twelve pack of the right beer for you and your friends. Next, get a bottle of the right tequila. Finally, to modulate your buzz, grab a can of the right energy drink.

Never mind the aggregate cost of these beverages. Disregard the potential hazard involved with imbibing alcohol and caffeine—that you may very well miss the fight's thrilling moments (and I think there will be some) while in the bathroom.

The recommended drinks were among the corporate sponsors for Saturday night's fight between Pacquiao, the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, and De La Hoya, the most bankable. Apparently, each purchase corresponds to a partial rebate on the pay-per-view fee.

Buy them all, said De La Hoya, and "you're practically going to get the fight for free."

He was smiling when he said all this, grinning in that way only the Golden Boy can. And why not? De La Hoya was engaged in boxing's most venerable tradition: hustling. Don King was a hustler. Bob Arum, too. No one bats an eye. But hearing Oscar pitch so brazenly in the final press conference at the MGM Grand, I couldn't help but resent it. And I wasn't alone.

Now, at 35, near the end of his outrageously profitable fighting career, De La Hoya remains a curious case. Call him a sell-out, if you must, but then you're also obligated to acknowledge him as a savior. It's difficult to overstate how much the sport owes him. It's not too much to say he kept the fight game alive.

It was De La Hoya who enabled boxing to move beyond its relentlessly morbid fascination with Mike Tyson. It was De La Hoya who provided the juice in an age completely bereft of heavyweight excitement. What's more, his Golden Boy promotional company represents an extraordinary accomplishment. A fighter as a promoter? In the not so distant past, the notion was laughable.

And yet, I'm still not sure about Oscar. I should like him more than I do. But even after all these years, I never quite know what's real, and what's a corporate tie-in.

Consider the statue unveiled the other day at the Staples Center. Magic Johnson has a statue there. Wayne Gretzky, too. Jerry West does not. Nor does Kareem. Or Wilt. But now De La Hoya makes three. The strange part is, Oscar has fought but once in the Staples Center. It was a decision he lost to Shane Mosley back in 2000.

In fact, though De La Hoya likes to be known as "the Pride of East L.A.", he's fought only twice in Los Angeles since 1994. The other occasion was his lackluster decision over Stevie Forbes last May at the Home Depot Center in Carson.

The Home Depot Center and Staples are owned and operated by the same company, AEG. As coincidence would have it, that would be the same AEG that has a stake in Golden Boy Promotions.

The basis for the big bronze figure is not rooted in sentiment. It's corporate synergy and strategy.

There's too much transparent public relations. For instance, at the press conference, Oscar's people—including the parade of Mexican champions he claimed as his supporters—wore shirts or jackets endorsing The Ring. For those who don't know, the magazine is now owned by Golden Boy.

Then there's Angelo Dundee, the Hall of Fame trainer brought in to "work with" De La Hoya. Even Dundee—who showed up at De La Hoya's camp in Big Bear just in time for the big media day last month—admitted "I didn't do any homework." What Dundee could teach Oscar at that point, under those conditions, is anyone's guess...

I've long thought De La Hoya's finest moment was beating Ike Quartey—going on 10 years now, the night he knocked down a fearsome puncher in the final round. It had real merit, though no one seems to recall the fight. Rather, if De La Hoya's career were to end tomorrow people would recall his bout with Floyd Mayweather.

The promotion was great. Mayweather-De La Hoya is considered a watershed event in the pay-per-view industry. At 2.4 million buys, it easily set an all-time record.

But you can't measure fights merely by financials (hey, you don't hear anyone talk about the numbers for Ali-Frazier or Hagler-Hearns). The truth is, as a fight, Mayweather-De La Hoya sucked, lacking for both for action and drama.

I'm not arguing that Saturday night with Pacquiao will be a dog. Actually, I expect it to be pretty good, full of action. But it's not the best fight out there, either. That would be De La Hoya against Antonio Margarito or Miguel Cotto, natural 147 pounders.

De La Hoya is only behaving rationally, as any businessman should. Margarito and Cotto represent considerably more danger and much less money. Pacquiao may be a great fighter, with an immense following. But only one of his 50 fights has been above 130 pounds.

You figure that the Golden Boy (both the fighter and his namesake promotional company) selected an opponent based on a finely calibrated cost-benefit analysis. It's about risk and reward. It's about profit points. It's about cross-promotion. It's like being in the beverage business.



The Botterm Dollar in MMA News (Dec. 5)


Here's the latest on Liddell/Couture IV: it is now certain that Zuffa desires to book this fight, and in fact have talked with the camps for both Couture and Liddell about making the fight.

There is a roadblock, however, because the management teams for both fighters are opposed to doing it. They've expressed concern that nobody will want to see the fight yet again, and so they have thus far refused to accept it.

Liddell has said that the fight doesn't make sense at this point in time, and he also doesn't want to wait until June to fight again.

Randy Couture is of the same mindset, and sources say that he's angling to fight the loser of the eventual heavyweight tournament finals, because it'll be his best shot at getting back into title contention. Ideally, he'd like to fight Lesnar, but there is also some appeal to a legends match between he and Antonio Rodrigo Nogiuera.

The company has talked internally about putting the event on Spike for free, but that would be a tough sell to the fighters, who would be taking a drastic pay cut due to the loss of pay per view revenue they would typically get.

Obviously, they can make up the loss in pay with locker room bonuses, and that fight would probably break the MMA cable ratings record quite easily and increase awareness for the company, so I'm certain they would be handsomely rewarded in some fashion.

Plus, a win by either man puts him right back in contention for the title and it's quite possible that a Lesnar vs. Liddell matchup could eventually be made, which would undoubtedly be the biggest fight of all time.

The thing everyone needs to remember is that this giant mainstream audience wasn't around for the first two Couture/Liddell fights, and only a small percentage of them were around for the third one.

Making the fight might not seem like a great idea to hardcore fans who have already seen the fight three times, but this is a fight that would do very, very well with the masses, mostly because it'll be new to most of them.

Liddell also said that he's not fighting Anderson Silva at UFC 95 in February.

-- Dana White has been telling people that he'll have Fedor Emelianenko under contract by the end of 2009. Well, Affliction will probably go out of business by February, which means he'll be a free agent again and thus technically available, but I can't imagine that negotiations for Fedor's services will go any better than they did the first time around.

The UFC certainly is not going to co-promote a show with M-1, and I can't see Emelianenko relenting on any of the stipulations he asked for the first time around.

Dana can tell people anything he wants, but until he's willing to actually negotiate with someone and not act like a 10-year-old kid, he's going to have a tough time getting this deal done.

-- Despite what the world saw on the latest season of The Ultimate Fighter, there are high hopes within Zuffa for Junie Browning. He has signed a regular fighter contract with the UFC and will be fighting Dave Kaplan at the Ultimate Fighter finale show on the 13th.

Our source tells us that Dana White is the one who pushed for Browning to join Xtreme Couture, believing that it would teach him a little maturity and responsibility, and he'd also be able to keep his eye on Junie via Randy Couture and other Xtreme Couture fighters.

For what it's worth, Browning has been a model citizen since joining Couture and is said to be acting light years differently now than how he was portrayed on the show. He's been seen at several events with Dana White, who seems to be mentoring the kid, at least as much as Dana possibly can.

He could certainly stand to be less psychotic and bipolar, but I do believe that the personality Junie Browning displayed on the show will always be around in some form or fashion.

The big money in any sport or facet of the entertainment industry always comes from having a strong bad guy to root against. With a strong villain, people will pay to see him beaten.

The biggest feuds in MMA history have come from either legitimate or carefully-crafted bad blood; all you have to do is take one look at Ken Shamrock vs. Tito Ortiz, quite possibly the most important feud in North American mixed martial arts history, for a perfect example of what I'm talking about.

A fight between two guys with no issues, two guys who are loved by fans, will almost always be less interesting than a fight between a guy the fans love and a guy the fans love to hate. Josh Koscheck realized this early during the filming of the first season of The Ultimate Fighter and played it to the hilt. Junie Browning might not be smart enough to take advantage of it right now, but you can be sure that Dana White (who has apparently taken Junie under his wing) will teach him a thing or two.

This isn't demeaning the sport or putting the money aspect over the traditions and honor of mixed martial arts whatsoever. This is simply adding an extra layer to the mix, a "hook" to bait the fans who otherwise may have been uninterested in seeing people like Josh Koscheck or Junie Browning fight. It's a successful business practice, and it's why Junie Browning, a guy who should have been arrested for assault twice during the filming of the show, is already signed to the UFC roster before the two guys who actually made the finals of the show even step foot in the cage.

-- Speaking of The Ultimate Fighter: the full card for the Dec. 13 finale show has been released, and it features 16 cast members from the show fighting on the card. Here's the full lineup:



Miguel Torres Retains Title Wednesday At WEC Snoozefest


Bantamweight Champion Miguel Angel Torres made it look easy in battering Manny Tapia Wednesday night in Las Vegas as WEC put on one of the more boring televised MMA cards this year.

Torres (35-1) used an effective jab to set up stronger punches in earning a 2nd round TKO (strikes) with just under two minutes to go. Tapia (10-1-1) spent most of the night bouncing around and trying to sneak through Torres' jab, but to no avail. A leading candidate to be Torres' next opponent is undefeated Brian Bowles, who was victorious on the undercard.

For the television audience, there was only one fight in the first 37 minutes of the event and the Torres/Tapia fight didn't begin until 9:56 pm EST. Considering how the rest of the card played out, this marks two straight WEC events that have featured lackluster and bizarre fights (Filho/Sonnen II anyone?), while the tape of Rob McCullough vs. Donald Cerrone is sitting somewhere in digital hell.


In other action:

Brian Bowles defeated Will Ribeiro via guitoillune choke at 1:11 of the 3rd (bantams)


This was a decent little fight, no pun intended. Lots of action in the first round and Bowles almost won with a choke submission then. Early in the third, Ribeiro shot in and took Bowles down, but Bowles immediately sunk in a guillotine choke and flipped him for the tap and win to stay undefeated at 7-0. Following the fight, he talked about getting a title shot and he's probably due for one now.

Wagnney Fabiano defeated Akitoshi Tamura via head-and-arm choke at 4:48 of the 3rd round (featherweights)

For an anticipated fight between two of the top fighters in their weight class in the world, this wasn't very fun to watch. Mostly on the ground with no action, this just went on and on and on with nothing really happening. Fabiano cut Tamura late in the round and then captured him in a choke just 12 seconds before the bell. Analyst Frank Mir made a great comment about how both guys are going to have to change their styles up a bit to keep up with the rest of the division. Yep...that's an understatement.

Joe Benavidez defeated Danny Martinez via unanimous decision (bantam)

This opened the televised show and was notable because it featured a female referee, the first time I've seen that...Benavidez trains with Urijah Faber and has a similar style: straight-ahead. He made the most of his opportunities, striking hard and getting the critical takedowns when he needed, especially in the first round. Benavidez won 30-27 on all cards, but needed more action for an opener.


Vegans Sentenced for Starving Their Baby

ATLANTA (AP) - A vegan couple were sentenced Wednesday to life in prison for the death of their malnourished 6-week-old baby boy, who was fed a diet largely consisting of soy milk and apple juice.

Superior Court Judge L.A. McConnell imposed the mandatory sentences on Jade Sanders, 27, and Lamont Thomas, 31. Their son, Crown Shakur, weighed just 3 1/2 pounds when he died of starvation on April 25, 2004.

The couple were found guilty May 2 of malice murder, felony murder, involuntary manslaughter and cruelty to children. A jury deliberated about seven hours before returning the guilty verdicts.

Defense lawyers said the first-time parents did the best they could while adhering to the lifestyle of vegans, who typically use no animal products. They said Sanders and Thomas did not realize the baby, who was born at home, was in danger until minutes before he died.

But prosecutors said the couple intentionally neglected their child and refused to take him to the doctor even as the baby's body wasted away.

"No matter how many times they want to say, 'We're vegans, we're vegetarians,' that's not the issue in this case," said prosecutor Chuck Boring. "The child died because he was not fed. Period."

Although the life sentences were automatic, Sanders and Thomas begged for leniency before sentencing. Sanders urged the judge to look past his "perception" of the couple.

"I loved my son—and I did not starve him," she said.

When the judge told the defendants they could ask for a new trial, Thomas hung his head low.

"I'm dying every day in there," he said, "and that could take three years."








Research on mice links fast food to Alzheimer’s


LONDON (Reuters) - Mice fed junk food for nine months showed signs of developing the abnormal brain tangles strongly associated with Alzheimer's disease, a Swedish researcher said on Friday.

The findings, which come from a series of published papers by a researcher at Sweden's Karolinska Institutet, show how a diet rich in fat, sugar and cholesterol could increase the risk of the most common type of dementia.

"On examining the brains of these mice, we found a chemical change not unlike that found in the Alzheimer brain," Susanne Akterin, a researcher at the Karolinska Institutet's Alzheimer's Disease Research Center, who led the study, said in a statement.

"We now suspect that a high intake of fat and cholesterol in combination with genetic factors ... can adversely affect several brain substances, which can be a contributory factor in the development of Alzheimer's."

Alzheimer's disease is incurable and is the most common form of dementia among older people. It affects the regions of the brain involving thought, memory and language.

While the most advanced drugs have focused on removing clumps of beta amyloid protein that forms plaques in the brain, researchers are also now looking at therapies to address the toxic tangles caused by an abnormal build-up of the protein tau.

In her research, Akterin focused on a gene variant called apoE4, found in 15 to 20 percent of people and which is a known risk factor for Alzheimer's. The gene is involved in the transport of cholesterol.

She studied mice genetically engineered to mimic the effect of the variant gene in humans, and which were fed a diet rich in fat, sugar and cholesterol for nine months -- meals representing the nutritional content of fast food.

These mice showed chemical changes in their brains, indicating an abnormal build-up of the protein tau as well as signs that cholesterol in food reduced levels of another protein called Arc involved in memory storage, Akterin said.

"All in all, the results give some indication of how Alzheimer's can be prevented, but more research in this field needs to be done before proper advice can be passed on to the general public," she said.



Zombie Nutritionist Recommends All-Brain Diet


"Our research indicates that live human brains are not merely the cornerstone of a healthy diet; they are, in fact, the only food an active adult zombie should consume at all," Rossum said during a press conference at the institute, located at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. "A daily three-pound serving of brains supplies all the vital sugars, neurons, and ganglia essential to promoting zombie fitness and slowing the decomposition process."

The Rossum Plan challenges the traditional zombie food pyramid, which consists of five to seven daily servings of human hearts, three to four servings of livers or eyeballs, and two servings of brains. Instead, Rossum advocates a four-level pyramid, with all four levels consisting of as many servings of brains as possible.

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