Johnston on MMA: Odd pairings

March 26, 2012, 6:59 PM

World leaders giving MMA gloves as gifts, a former UFC champ playing tennis, and a female fighter competing against a male comedian … it was an odd weekend in the world of mixed martial arts to say the least.

Canadians know Prime Minister Stephen Harper is a huge hockey fan, but apparently he has a soft spot for MMA as well.

While in Tokyo over the weekend, prior to official free-trade talks commencing, Harper presented Japanese PM Yoshihiko Noda with a pair of UFC gloves autographed by UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre.

Noda is a big fan of Canada’s top MMA athlete, so when Harper became aware of this he reached out to the UFC’s director of Canadian operations Tom Wright to get the pair of gloves.

The UFC… bringing nations together since 1993.

Canadian PM Stephen Harper gives Japanese PM Yoshihiko Noda a pair of UFC gloves signed by Georges St-Pierre.

In another “you don’t see that every day” moment, former UFC light-heavyweight champion Rashad Evans met up with the top female tennis player in the world, Victoria Azarenka. They visited the MMA Masters facility in Miami where Evans showed Azarenka some MMA moves and Azarenka shared a few tennis tips with the TUF 2 champ.

Also over the weekend, Cristiane (Cyborg) Santos — widely considered to be the top female fighter in the sport — appeared on the Japanese game show Honoo No Taiikukai, where she fought a male comedian. Considering Santos was recently suspended for testing positive for the steroid stanozolol and is unable to compete in North America, more appearances like this could be in her future.

It didn’t look like the comedian was holding anything back, but it still didn’t end well for him.

(What would we do without Japanese game shows?)

Whether it’s the three scenarios above or something like Shaquille O’Neal challenging Jose Canseco to a fight, the more mainstream MMA continues to become the more we will see fascinating stories like these arise.

I was thinking…

– In the spirit of odd MMA pairings, if the UFC ever opened a free-weight division, this is the first fight they should set up…

5’3 flyweight Demetrious Johnson & 6’11 heavyweight Stefan Struve.

– That listening to Mike Tyson and Rosie O’Donnell talk about MMA is surprising, a little confusing, but overall quite interesting. Who knew Rosie had a new talk show?

– I’m going to go out on a limb (not really) and say the first season of The Ultimate Fighter Brazil is going to produce at least one future title contender.

– Six weeks without a UFC event is annoying, but six weeks without Arianny Celeste is unacceptable.


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