Columnist for @USAToday & @MMAJunkie, fiction enthusiast, part-time podcaster.

Trading Shots: In trying to make a name, do fighters risk losing an identity? — In this week's Trading Shots, MMAjunkie columnist Ben Fowlkes and retired UFC/WEC fighter Danny Downes revisit some pre-fight comments from Bobby Green, who might have been onto something when talking about the sacrifices fighters have to make, both in and out of the cage.

Edgar smashes Swanson’s title shot hopes, but did he also clear path for McGregor? — Right off I'll admit it there's a special place in this dark heart of mine for fighters who keep digging for finishes in the final seconds of a five-round fight that they've obviously already won.

The Speed Bag: Lesson to be learned from Bellator 131 and Tito Ortiz — Why can Tito Ortiz do such a big number for Bellator and Spike TV - on the same night as a UFC pay-per-view? In his latest edition of "The Speed Bag," MMAjunkie columnist Ben Fowlkes talks about MMA brand names vs. fighter name star power.

Twitter Mailbag: On Swanson’s big moment, Chandler’s uncertain future, and more — In this week's Twitter Mailbag, a look ahead to UFC Fight Night 57, and some frank discussion on gym bullying in the martial arts scene. Got a question of your own? Tweet it out to @BenFowlkesMMA. That's a tough one.

What we need now — After three days of testimony and a few hours in the cloistered deliberation room on the second floor of the Missoula County Courthouse, my fellow jurors on a recent rape trial kept saying they wanted more.

The (impossible) case against cutting weight — Recently I was talking to a pro fighter about one of the most brutal weight cuts of his career, one that ended with him lying uselessly on the floor, half out of his mind, muttering over and over to no one in particular, "This is so stupid."

Rose Namajunas explains why she spoke out about Roufusport concerns — To hear Rose Namajunas tell it, she wasn't exactly relishing the chance to speak out about what she perceived as a dangerous gym culture at Duke Roufus' Roufusport gym in Milwaukee. It was only when she saw video of the fight that cost amateur kickboxer Dennis Munson Jr.

Duke Roufus responds to team members’ allegations, as other fighters chime in — A Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story about the death of Roufusport amateur kickboxer Dennis Munson Jr. set off a firestorm of criticism aimed at head coach Duke Roufus this weekend, as former fighters such as UFC women's strawweight Rose Namajunas and former UFC fighter Eric Schafer described a toxic atmosphere of abuse, both verbal and physical, at the Milwaukee gym that serves as the home to top fighters such as UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis, among others.

Fabricio Werdum gets a UFC belt, but no denying Cain Velasquez is still king — (This story appears in today's edition of USA TODAY.) For a man who essentially ended up in the same place he started, Fabricio Werdum sure had to do an awful lot to get there. In the process, he might have strengthened a case that didn't need much strengthening, and turned a much anticipated UFC heavyweight title fight into a must-see affair.

Ex-UFC champ Georges St-Pierre regrets not voicing anti-PED stance earlier in career — TORONTO - Former UFC champion Georges St-Pierre still has no idea if he'll fight again. But if he does, he said random drug testing must absolutely be involved. "If I ever come back and fight again, (random drug testing) is mandatory," St-Pierre told MMAjunkie this past weekend in Toronto.
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Nov 26, 2014

Got a question for this week's Twitter Mailbag? It'll run on Friday this week, due to the holiday, so you've got two days to ask a good one.

Nov 26, 2014

"Frosty the snowman, was a something something guy..." -- my wife, singing to our daughter, who wasn't buying it for one second.

Nov 26, 2014

You should read this excellent NY Times story on America's racial divide re: Ferguson. A powerful ending.…

Nov 25, 2014

@123midnite My dog is quite well. The vet said it was likely a benign fatty mass.

Nov 25, 2014

UFC online store claims the UFC Octagon Pendant is a "top seller." Do people like pendants more than I think they do?…

Nov 25, 2014

Tells you something about humans that, when toddlers learn to speak in sentences, they immediately begin bossing you around.

Nov 24, 2014

RT @nytimes: When it came to its oil industry, North Dakotans didn't like to make a fuss. Recently that dynamic has shifted

Nov 24, 2014

Interesting stuff from @jeremybotter about AKA's attempts to limit training injuries in light of recent gym rankings:…

Nov 24, 2014

I was busy rearranging my schedule today so we could record the CME, then @chaddundas reminded me that he's in Seattle this week. No CME.

Nov 23, 2014

The Trading Shots where @dannyboydownes reveals an awkward/hilarious conversation following his first pro win:…

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