My favorite sport can kick your favorite sport’s ass…literally. MMA has been exploding over the past couple of years—merchandise, reality shows, pay-per-views—and in my opinion it’s the best sport on Earth. Here are some reasons why:
10) Post-fight interviews with Joe Rogan
Interviewing an athlete after a major win or loss can be difficult at the best of times; just look at KG’s interviews after the Celtics won the NBA title this year. But interviewing a fighter after he got his ass kicked is damn near impossible. The UFC insists on doing interviews in the ring immediately following fights. They send Joe Rogan into the cage to ask fighters how they feel and to tell everyone how the fight went down. Replays are shown on the Jumbotron so fighters can give play by plays, but what usually happens is a jumbled mess. A lot of fighters don’t speak English well, or at all, and can barely hear/understand Rogan over the crowd. Other fighters simply watch the replay and make no comments, or say things like, “Yeah I kicked his ass!”, and others are so happy they just talk about being happy, not the fight. Needless to say, it’s hilarious watching Rogan try to make that mess into something viewers are actually interested in.
9) The respect fighters have for each other
The beautiful thing about MMA is that fighters get to release all their aggression, so any fight that’s billed as a grudge match almost always ends with a lot of hugging and handshakes. Instead of throwing a fastball at someone’s head or hitting them from behind, fighters stand face to face and try to rip each other’s heads off. Problem solved. You win, you know you’re better and the issue is settled. If you lose, well, you have to respect someone who kicked your ass. Hockey almost got this one right.
8) There aren’t any Brian Scalabrine’s
Mr. Scalabrine is a member of the Boston Celtics and he’s currently stealing millions of dollars from them. He came into the NBA in 2001 as a member of the New Jersey Nets, and never saw anything but the end of the bench for three years. The 2004 playoffs rolled around, and because of injuries the Nets were forced to play this ginger monstrosity. He had one good game, count ‘em–one, in which he scored 17 points and hit four crucial 3-pointers in a triple overtime victory over the Detroit Pistons. The following season he signed a $15 million deal with the Celtics. Guess where he is now…back at the end of the bench not earning a cent of his paycheck. In MMA if you can’t fight, you don’t get paid. You have to earn your money (with the glaring exception of Kimbo Slice, but he sucks and so does EliteXC, the organization he fights for. Hopefully he’s an anomaly).
7) Dominant Champions
I hate one-and-done champs. Who wants to see a fluke? I’d much rather watch a man at the top of his game stand and defend his title a few times. Team sports like football, basketball and hockey have too many variables to do this—which makes it all the more impressive when teams actually repeat, but I don’t want to wait around for decades to watch it happen. MMA offers that opportunity a couple times a year; the UFC especially. And with champs like Anderson Silva; still champ two years after winning the title, I’ll probably continue to get what I want.
6) Dana White
The president of the UFC speaks his mind freely and often. He isn’t afraid to call out any fighter when they’re not doing their job, and he isn’t afraid to do it publicly. He holds no punches and he expects his fighters to do the same. He doesn’t take crap and because of him, MMA and the UFC has shed its brutal “human cock fighting” image and become the fastest growing sport on the planet. He expects fighters to work their asses off and follow his rules. If they don’t, they’re gone. It’s that simple. Imagine Hank Steinbrenner saying something relevant and actually motivating his players, or Mark Cuban putting together a successful team.
5) The best fighters fight each other
In March of 2007 the two largest MMA organizations, UFC and PRIDE Fighting Championships, became one. The owners of the UFC announced that they had bought PRIDE, and since then the best of both have been slugging it out to see where they stand. There have been unification bouts pitting the champs of both against each other to see who really is the best, and the results couldn’t have been better. With the union of these two MMA superpowers, there isn’t an organization out there that can match the quality of fighters or matches.
4) Forrest Griffin vs. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson
On July 5th these two fought what is arguably the best light-heavyweight fight in the history of MMA. Jackson recently united the PRIDE and UFC belts by defeating Dan Henderson–and made himself look damn near invincible in the process. Griffin earned his title shot by beating Mauricio Rua, who many considered the best light-heavyweight fighter in the world. Griffin is a fan favorite for his appearance on the UFC’s reality show, and because he’s f**king funny. Jackson’s also pretty funny, and before the fight he seemed indestructible—he’s got the largest head I’ve ever seen, there’s got to be a helmet under there–it can’t be all skull. Griffin and Jackson traded rounds and blows for 25 minutes and when it was over, I didn’t see a clear winner, but Griffin won a unanimous decision. Griffin expressed it best in a post-fight interview when he was quoted as saying, “I won and I’m happy with the way things turned out, but I think we are going to have to do it again.”
3) Head kick knockouts
If you don’t think this is awesome, you suck.
2) Every fighter eventually he gets his ass kicked
This is pretty simple. There’s always a 50-percent chance you’re going to lose a fight. No matter how good a fighter is, how dominant he’s been, it only takes one punch or a misplaced arm to end a match. And with the sport evolving as quickly as it is, and fighters getting faster and stronger, it doesn’t take much for yesterday’s champ to become today’s stepping-stone (see: Matt Hughes). If you don’t like a fighter because of his attitude, fighting style, or something he said, just give it some time. Sooner or later you’ll get to watch him get his ass handed to him.
1) Some of the best fighters in history are peaking right now
See: B. J. Penn, Georges St. Pierre, Anderson Silva and Urijah Faber:
These are some of the most badass dudes on the planet and they’re all in their fighting prime. If you can’t find at least one fight from at least one of these guys that’s entertaining as hell, you need to open your eyes and get with the program.