Jul 24, 2012 - Anybody who's ever gone to their
first day of Muay Thai or BJJ practice knows the feeling of being completely and
utterly dismantled, and how it can change the way a person looks at themselves.
It's a humbling process, to be sure, but through it a newfound sense of
discipline usually emerges.
That's the logic Usman Raja is taking with the Unity Initiative. Raja, a 34-year-old fight
trainer from London, has been tasked with the controversial duty of reforming
freed convicted terrorists to safely reintegrate them into society, and he's
found the most effective way to strip them of their "pro al Qaeda mentality" is
by chipping away with a steady diet of mixed martial arts training.
"Any idea you've got of yourself will be challenged as soon as you come in
here," Raja said in an intriguing feature on CNN. "Once that idea of yourself is
challenged and that opening happens we are able to go in and start dismantling
"I try to unravel their Jihadist identity. Previously that identity was being
validated. I say to them let's question that validity."
So far the unique experiment seems to be working. According to the CNN piece,
Raja has taken 10 convicted terrorists under his wing, and successfully reshaped
Of course, there's a lot more to the program than just fight training, but
Brent Brookhouse made a very astute observation when he compared
Raja's philosophy to the inner city boxing gyms that have long been a safe haven
for troubled youths. The Unity Initiative obviously isn't an end-all solution to
a complicated problem, but it's still fascinating to see the unanticipated
applications and positive effects mixed martial arts can have on our
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Usman Raja's London-based Unity Initiative focuses on the use of mixed
martial arts training to "cure" convicted terrorists of their radical views, to
the tune of a staggering 100% success rate. (Check out part 2 for a look at Raja's past, and part 3 for an examination of his
Here's a lesson to all you aspiring fighters out there. If you tell someone
to front kick you in throat, chances are they're going to front kick you in the
Cut Down On The PPVs
I know. I know. This is the ninety-first time cutting down on amount of UFC
shows has been suggested in the last hour, but the reason for the high frequency
of suggestions is because its a real problem. Oversaturation can kill a
business. Ask WCW (although shitty booking and the AOL/Time Warner merger were
also big factors for the pro wrestling company's demise.)
I'm under the impression that the UFC is already locked under a contract with
FOX to provide a certain amount of shows on Fuel, FOX, and FX per year, so the
only events that can be lessened are the PPV broadcasts.
Before the UFC decided to run so many PPVs, a base group of UFC fans had a
habit of ordering PPVs. That's the reason why the floor for UFC PPVs was pretty
dang high in comparison with WWE's floor, but due to the introduction of so many
more PPVs that floor for UFC PPV buy-rates is dropping dramatically. The reason
is that those habitual UFC fans are breaking that habit of ordering ever PPV
because they are beginning to pick and choose between the shows.
The maximum amount of UFC PPVs per year should be twelve, and honestly that
could be lowered. Disagree check out how stacked these main cards would have
been had two of the last four UFC PPV shows been combined.
UFC 146 + 147 - HW Title: Dos Santos (c) vs Mir, Velasquez vs Bigfoot, Wandy
vs Franklin, Werdum vs Russow, Nelson vs Herman.
UFC 148 + 149 - MW Title: Silva (c) vs Sonnen, Int. BW Title: Barao vs Faber,
Griffin vs Ortiz, Boetsch vs Lombard, Maia vs DHK. Make A Great Fight
Making a great fight isn't groundbreaking, but there is one potential bout
that would be huge that is not getting the discussion it deserves. That fight is
Chael Sonnen vs Rashad Evans. Personally, I think they should have coached the
next season of The Ultimate Fighter.
Both fighters are in similar crossroads of their career. Despite losing to
Anderson Silva twice, Sonnen is still an elite fighter and is debating to move
up to the 205 pound division for fresh fights while Rashad Evans is going
through the same phase as he is questioning the possibility to drop down to
middleweight after losing to Jon Jones.
The potential fight that would likely happen at a catch-weight would be the
best non-tile PPV main event that the UFC could put on. Sonnen and Evans both
know how to sell, and the countdown special would probably be
tremendous. More after the jump...
Found something you'd like to see in the Morning Report? Just hit me on
Twitter @shaunalshatti and we'll include it in tomorrow's