June 2, 2008

Chalk up a W for Mixed Martial Arts

And in this corner, weighing in at a verbose 175 lbs, hailing from League City, TX, StifledMind's Senior Sporting Correspondent, Andrew "Armbar" Hauch!

Saturday, May 31st, 2008...

A day in which the uber-fast rising sport known as mixed martial arts officially declared the sweet science of boxing dead. The CBS network slotted the 2-hour EliteXC MMA event during primetime instead of sleazy reruns of "How I Met Your Mother". Being a huge MMA fan for quite some time, I cannot express how much the sport has changed. I started watching the UFC back around '97 by going to Blockbuster and renting all of the early pay-per-view events. As a strapping young 8th grader armed with a pizza face, acne, and a subtle awkwardness toward the opposite sex, it is needless to say I was an angsty lad. What better way to fulfill that testosterone-driven need for competition and arse beating than to watch a sport in which practically anything goes and blood splattering was a normal occurrence? Back in those days, the UFC was a fledgling fighting federation with minimal rules (no eye gouges, fish hooks, or manland hits allowed) and not much direction. Additionally, bouts were bare-knuckle and one could punt the face of an opponent on all fours. Also, no weight classes were imposed which was unfair as all get out, yet hilarious to watch. I'll never forget UFC 8: "David Vs Goliath" in which immediately after the bell rang, a little tiny toon fighter superman punched and flat out KO'd a guy outweighing him by many buffet dinners (like 200 lbs). Talk about awesome! The trifecta of Royce Gracie, Dan "The Beast" Severn and Ken Shamrock (THE pioneers of the sport whom allowed the UFC to hang around--this before of course the latter two killed street cred by delving into laughable WWF careers) would impose their will on helpless legions of slapdick opponents in small arenas with 1,500 onlookers. Fortunately for spectators, several things were changed after the Shamrock Vs. Gracie bout at UFC 5 in which Sham was in Gracie's guard for most of the 36 minute fight (yeah lame). At this point, if fighters were not attempting to advance their position, the fighters would be stood up again, a decision utilized heavily to this day. Also, soon afterwards electrifying fighters such as two of my all-time, Vitor Belfort and Chuck Liddell, entered the fray and added the "wow" factor to the sport. Belfort's victory over Wanderlei Silva at UFC: Ultimate Brazil was pure art how he could throw 30 punches in 5 seconds. lol The UFC's popularity was growing but had not yet hit the mainstream.

Fast forward to 2004, and we witness UFC head hanchos Dana White and the Fertitta brothers releasing a reality show entitled "The Ultimate FIghter" which singlehandedly brought MMA to the masses. This show consisted of 16 up-and-coming MMA fighters in a mansion all vying for a $100,000 UFC contract and instant credibility. It seemed like I couldn't go anywhere without
eavesdropping on garden-variety troglodytes discussing Team Liddell's Victory over Team Couture on Thursday night. I personally loved that show and it was always fun to keep tabs on the antics of Chris Leben, Josh Koschek, and Forest Griffin. They are now running the 7th season of the hit show and each of them have been fun to watch. The vision of the aforementioned UFC entrepreneurs to release this show was without a doubt the greatest thing that happened to MMA.

Last night only solidified the notion that MMA is here for the long haul. Overall it was a great night for MMA since it lacked neverending, lametown fights. Nearly all of them ended with a KO or TKO due to strikes. I'm sure that's exactly how the promoters wanted it. It even showed Gladiator "Crush" wailing on another girl so hard her eye nearly swelled shut. Not going to lie, that fight was downright arousing! What really sucked about last night was the Middleweight title bout. In the 3rd round, champion Robbie Lawler dug his fingers into challenger Scott Smith's right eye, then proceeded to do his taxes and bake cookies before removing them (Ok so that was a monstrous hyperbole, but you catch my drift). The house Doctor dubbed Smith incapable of fighting and his possible championship-winning campaign was shattered. This angered me since this entertaining bout gone wrong seemed like a total set back for the event.

And now for the main event of the evening (drumroll please)........
Kimbo Slice vs. James Thompson.

I wouldn't want my enemies to fight either of these big dumb animals. The first thing noticeable when the fighters made their appearances was the hematoma in Thompson's left ear that was the size of the tri-state area! My friends and I instantly thought "I can't wait until Kimbo explodes his ear!" lol It seriously did look like a Chicken Pot Pie was lodged in his ear! As commentator Spanky Rodriguez so eloquently dubbed it, "the alien life form that is Thompson's ear". This of course after he made a comparison of Kimbo Slice to Tiger Woods (who hired this guy?). Sorry, I digress, we all know Kimbo's story; a backyard brawler from youtube who DERAILED all but one of his thug opponents. The guy is a total freak of nature and new MMA posterboy. He has brought much attention to himself and the sport. Trained by world renowned pancrase legend Bas Rutten, Slice can learn a vast array of knowledge and possibly become a phenomenal all-around fighter. Last night's fight with Thompson had Kimbo pushed to the limit. His cardio was lacking and he nearly lost the fight at the end of the second round (if Thompson had good cardio himself, he probably could have ended the fight here instead of throwing dainty elbows and rabbit punches). This fight showed Thompson being the victor of the first two rounds due to take-downs and ground and pound, however it came at a cost. Thompson got wailed on several times per round in which any normal fighter not cracked out would have gone down. Thompson had an iron chin and brass scones. However, the third round was all Kimbo. He bounced back well from being nearly motionless at the end of the 2nd. Much to our viewing pleasure, Kimbo landed a vicious combination that exploded Thompson's ear and left him seeing stars for the victory. This marked the first time in which Kimbo had to use all facets of his MMA game. He fared decently in the first round with the ground game, but he looked horrible in the second. He is very vulnerable on the ground when his cardio is lacking. All-in-all, he looked fairly impressive with the exception of the cardio and ground game. But now that he has experienced that and been pushed to the limit, I expect him to hone this facet of his game and possibly become a dominant MMA fighter.

Chalk it up for MMA!

In closing, many things have changed in this crazy world. I don't have a pizza face or braces anymore, and even some girls find me cute and pleasant fortunately. But what certainly hasn't changed is my love for mixed martial arts.


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