So according to some fine jibber-jabber posted both here and on sundry other rasslin boards, I have come to the realization that, for some reason, pro-wrestling fans just don’t want to hear about Mixed Martial Arts.
This, for a multitude of reasons, distresses me, primarily due to the fact that I write for a satirical wrestling site and have no interest in following the modern day product. Well, I thought covering MMA events here would have been a dandy way to circumvent that little problem, but no, that wasn’t the case, so it seems.
All right, ultimatum time: this will be the very LAST MMA-centric post I make here at the Rocktagon (no, you are NOT seeing the crossing of my fingers behind my back. . . .I swear, really!) That being said, since it is the last hurrah for what WAS going to save the industry (and by proxy, this site and the chuckles it gives you), I am going out with a BANG.
No doubt about it (or if you’re Konnan, “bout it, bout it, I wish somebody would give me a kidney”), 2009 was a DYNAMIC year for the world of Mixed-Martial-Arts. From Martin Luther King day up until Boxing Day, the year was chock full of all sorts of fighting goodness, and today, I would like to pinpoint some of the sport’s finer moments throughout the calendar year.
One word of caution before embarking upon this journey: this article is LONG (we’re talking Too Cold Scorpio girth here, folks), and quite heavy with the GIFS. If you don’t like images of men being bloodied with face strikes (and the occasional animated visual of a lard ass stroking his gut like a mandolin), then I suggest you take your Internet business to other areas of Internet business making.
That being stated, I welcome thee to. . .The 2009 MMA Year in Review!
Best submission ever
UFC 93: Franklin vs. Henderson (1/17/09)
Maurício Rua vs. Mark Coleman – Rua, TKO (strikes), R3
We began the year with a fight that was, obviously, designed to be an easy win for Shogun Rua. You see, Rua was a pretty marketable name in PRIDE FC, and ever ones to capitalize on a recognizable mug, the UFC brass automatically put Shogun in Light Heavyweight contention with a battle against Forrest Griffin in 2007. Well, the plan sort of backfired on Joe Silva (UFC head booker) and Owner Dana White, as the overmatched Griffin managed to submit Rua late in the third round in his octagon debut. As a result, Shogun is on the shelf for well over a year, nursing an ankle injury and missing fight dates against Chuck Liddell. Well, Rua FINALLY made his second UFC appearance in early January, situated in a warm-up bout against a guy that fought all the way back at UFC 12.
So yeah, the idea was for Coleman to have his ass kicked, thusly making Rua look decent enough to main event against a Liddell-type mid-carder and potentially parlay that into a title fight.
The thing is, Coleman put on a hell of a lot tougher showing than predicted, and pretty much manhandled the heavily favored Rua for two rounds. After gassing in the third, Rua BARELY managed to submit the forty year old cage veteran, winning a contest that made him look like a burlap sack of shit instead of a potential Light Heavyweight golden boy. In what was possibly the freak-good-fight-of-the-year, both men managed to salvage their sagging careers, with Coleman going on to defeat Stephan Bonnar at the UFC 100 undercard (and scoring a main event date with Randy Couture in February, to boot), and as for Rua. . .yeah, he had a pretty uneventful year from hereon out (insert winking face to denote sarcasm).
UFC 94: St-Pierre vs. Penn 2 (1/31/09)
UFC Welterweight Championship: Georges St-Pierre vs. B.J. Penn – St-Pierre, TKO (doctor stoppage), R4
It was unquestionably the most heavily-hyped bout of the year, with two current UFC champions going head to head on Super Bowl Saturday to determine who really was the number one welter weight walking God’s greens. The pro-wrestling style build-up, with GSP playing the role of super baby face and BJ Penn acting as a tanned Ric Flair, was incredibly booked, and the set-up for what may very well be the best modern feud in mixed-martial-arts.
Ultimately, it was a less than exciting drubbing at the behest of GSP, Canada’s most cherished creation since Bret Hart, Wayne Gretzky and Rush began brewing their own hops and barely. For what it’s worth, BJ Penn probably won the first round, but from there on out, it was all St. Pierre. In the aftermath, Penn tried to, well, pin, his loss on the fact that GSP utilized performance enhancing lubricants (read: Vaseline and/or your favorite jerking-it lotion) prior to the bout, but after much fruitless deliberation with the Nevada State Athletic Commission, the L remains on Penn’s record.
It’s really only a matter of time until a third bout is scheduled between the two. Sure, it may be a year or two away, but there’s no way these two uber-champs can continue to devour their weight brackets sans locking horns for instantaneous buy-rates. Never one to predict the future, methinks that little match-up is a lot closer to fruition than one may initially believe.
UFC 96: Jackson vs. Jardine (3/7/09)
Quinton Jackson vs. Keith Jardine – Jackson, DEC
It was a competitive little match-up for fourteen minutes, but it was really the last minute and post-match antics that made this one of the year’s most memorable bouts.
Keith Jardine is basically a modern-day Arn Anderson; yeah, there’s no denying that he has the look, and if worse came to wear, he could probably tear a soul several new assholes, but at heart, he just doesn’t have “championship” appeal. In that, Jardine is effectively a perennial gatekeeper in the UFC’s light heavyweight division. Basically, that means that the UFC books him against guys that THEY WANT to be in the title fray for marketing reasons. With that in mind, take a look at the two men in question: who do YOU think the UFC wants on top, a bulky white guy with a pointy beard that kind of looks like G.G. Allin, or the man that is, quite literally, the modern day analogue to B.A. Baracus?
Well, Jackson cemented a decision victory when he went ballistic on Jardine’s ass with just a minute to go in the final round. However, what served most memorable was when Jackson was challenged by then Light Heavyweight champion Rashad Evans, whom went on to engage in a game of the dozens live on Pay Per View broadcast. It was the year’s most entertaining verbal exchange, and the sort of sports-entertainment showmanship that is certainly spank-fodder for advertising execs. Ever the kind-hearted sort, Jackson promised that there would be “more black-on-black crime coming up”, and then immediately bailed on the bout in order to film the “A-Team”, much to the chagrin of the UFC, whom invested a shit-load of campaign money on an Evans / Rampage main event match-up that, as of the present, has yet to transpire.
Sengoku VII: Seventh Battle (3/20/09)
Mo Lawal vs. Ryo Kawamura – Lawal, DEC
King Mo is the next black thing when it comes to MMA. Following on the heels of Rampage Jackson and Kimbo Slice (and yes, to give props where they belong, original Afro-American scrapper Bob Sapp), it is only a matter of time until Mo Lawal is a household name in the American fray.
Like Kimbo and Rampage before him, Mo has indelible charisma, and lord, is he ever the showman, as apparent by his super flamboyant entrance for this bout. Seriously, this guy has a taste for the extravagant that is so outrageous, even Apollo Creed twinges at his lavish theatrics.
However, unlike Kimbo or Rampage, Mo Lawal certainly has a dedicated future in the sport; whereas Kimbo is a lackluster fighter, King Mo certainly has the attributes and technique to one day be a championship contender at Heavyweight.
If you don’t think that Lawal has the chops for such future greatness in the field, take a gander at the savage manhandling of Kawamura here; for fifteen minutes straight, King Mo does nothing but serves the poor bastard uncooked fist burgers, stopping periodically just to liven up the carnage with a pumphandle pile driver every now and then.
There’s no question that King Mo has a future in the sport, so this is certainly a bout worth tracking down for the MMA fan of refined taste. That, and I’m pretty sure Kawamura will re-learn math again some day. . .maybe.
UFC Fight Night 18 (4/1/09)
Martin Kampmann vs. Carlos Condit – Kampmann, DEC (split)
Tyson Griffin vs. Rafael dos Anjos – Griffin, DEC
It was a double-shot of free cable fisticuffing, and the April Fool’s UFC show proved to be no joke when it came to providing engaging fighting.
The Griffin / Do Anjos fight was essentially a great Clash-of-the-Champions style heel vs. face match-up, a lengthy, entertaining, smartly “booked” match that was centric to a leg injury Griffin incurs early on in the bout. For the next two rounds, Griffin toughs out his ankle woes, and manages to rally his way to a unanimous decision victory over the aggressive dos Anjos.
The Kampmann / Condit bout was designed, yet again, to get the promotion newcomer (WEC standout Carlos Condit) in favorable early standing for a potential bout against Georges St. Pierre. However, Marty never received the memo, and he basically up handed the heavily favored Condit for the duration of the bout.
These were two great, overlooked bouts from earlier in the year: sure, they may have been overshadowed by far more significant bouts over the months, but they are still incontestably enjoyable little throwdowns, and well worth digging up for some Sunday morning viewing. It’s because of under-the-radar gems like these that God made Russian video servers and instilled their proprietors with such blatant disregard for international copyright law, I am assured.
WEC 40: Torres vs. Mizugaki (4/5/09)
WEC Bantamweight Championship: Miguel Torres vs. Takeya Mizugaki – Torres, DEC
My personal pick for best fight of 2009, and that has nothing to do with the fact that right after the bout, I had a good third base make out with Betsy Newkirk in the parking lot of a Mexican restaurant. Nope, not at all.
This was just a terrific back and forth contest, with bantamweight phenom Miguel Torres showing off to his hometown Chicago crowd by besting Mizugaki (a tough foe that took the fight on just a few weeks notice after original challenger Brian Bowles take a bow from the contest). I remember some Internet dweeb comparing this match to the Sting / Flair bout from the first Clash-of-the-Champions: a long, draining athletic contest in which you really did not want either guy to walk away the loser. In a way, random Intraweb nerd #0245673 is kind of right about things.
It is very rare that you see a match that makes you put aside your personal favoritism and just root for the sport as a holistic concept. Sure, there was a lot of strike swapping here, but there was also a lot of technique, and a lot of emphasis on the ground game element of the sport. It was a bout that just gelled, a match-up that seemed to hit all of the intangible “notes” that make fights great. For a twenty five minute opus, the fight flutters away at an astoundingly speedy pace; this is an “epic” fight that never seems to overstay its welcome.
Eventually, Torres did drop his belt to Bowles, and Mizugaki can currently be seen getting paid $600 for fighting on the WEC undercard at some Indian reservation in Florida. Sure, things may suck for them now, but for that one glorious night in April, they were Gods among men; and no, my opinion on the bout was NOT influenced by the surplus of cervezas in my blood stream and/or nacho-stained tongues jammed down my gullet, so stop asking.
Strikeforce: Shamrock vs. Diaz (4/11/09)
Scott Smith vs. Benji Radach – Smith, KO (punch), R3
Scott Smith calls himself “Hands of Stone”, but a better moniker would be “Special Needs”, as the Strikeforce stalwart has YET to grasp the concept of “defensive fighting”. For fans of brain-rattling, face-rocking MMA, Smith is unquestionably your new lord and savior; there’s never a boring (or professional) moment in his fights, and for that, he should be lauded (or condemned, it really depends on which side of the fence you position yourself).
Anyway, this is classic Smith here, with Scotty throwing punches, eating punches, getting taken down, throwing more punches, eating more punches, eating EVEN more punches, getting saved by the bell, repeating the formula, throwing a few lucky punches and somehow, winning the bout based on sheer, blind fortuity.
Sometimes, Smith’s execution of the “protecting yourself is for pussies” offensive scheme results in defeat (see his bout against Nick Diaz), and sometimes, it results in a “you have got to be shitting me a diarrhea milkshake” victory, as is the case in this bout.
Regardless, you have to give Smith credit; what he lacks in rudimentary cognitive skill, he more than makes up for it as the sport’s most consistently entertaining fighter. Hey, it’s not like he needs all of those brain cells, anyway, does he?
UFC 97: Redemption (4/18/09)
UFC Middleweight Championship: Anderson Silva vs. Thales Leites – Silva, DEC
Talking about this bout with other MMA fans is akin to being a veteran of the Vietnam War hanging out with fellow VFW regulars and mutually wallowing in the abject torpor that was our communal experience.
Sure, nobody died from Agent Orange exposure after the beyond-atrocious UFC 97 main event, but at the time, cancer didn’t seem like that bad of an escape from the unbearably shitty match at hand.
For twenty five minutes, Thales Leites did his best Fred Ettish impersonation, falling in his back like a tortoise and flailing his legs at Silva like a toddler experiencing an epileptic seizure. Silva, long hailed as the greatest MMA fighter on the planet, capitalized on the multitude of give-me opportunities allotted to him by Thales by doing positively fucking nothing, at times slapping Leites’ calves with twisty soccer kicks and punching Thales’ knees from a wholly vertical upright position.
The Montreal crowd booed the ever-loving shit out of this bout, and many MMA-purists claim it to be the worst UFC main event since Ken Shamrock and Dan Severn circled one another for half an hour at UFC 9.
Ultimately, this ended up a bout that destroyed Leites career, and cast a serious damper on Silva’s abilities. . .well, until he KTFO out of Forrest Griffin in just two minutes in August, anyway.
DEEP M-1 Challenge (04/29/09)
Grappling Contest: Fedor Emelianenko vs. Shinya Aoki - Emelianenko, SUB
The most entertaining bout of the year, without question. Never mind the fact that this is a purported “exhibition” (read: FAKE) sparring match-up, Aoki immediately came out legit swinging at Fedor motherfucking Emelianenko, at one point even slamming him to the canvas with an impressive Judo toss.
The “Oh, shit just got real” look on Fedor’s face following the first, and ONLY offensive putsch by Aoki has to be the greatest pro wrestling moment of the year, as for the next five minutes, the so-called “baddest man on Earth” proceeds to throw around the 145 pound Aoki like a ragdoll, teasing him with punches and slams that surely would have resulted in murder charges against the Russian.
I kid you not folks: there are about two or three points in this bout in which you KNOW that Fedor could have easily slain Shinya in the ring, and for that, it is a hilariously one-sided diversion that serves as the MMA-world’s number one carnival attraction moment of the year.
By the time Fedor mercifully ends the bout with an Armbar, we come to realize the inherent necessity for weight classes in the sport; for those of you that have wondered what it would look like if Steve Urkel accosted Big Van Vader in a street fight, this match is exactly the eatery your taste buds seek.
Bellator Fighting Championships V (5/1/09)
Lightweight Tournament Semifinals: Jorge Masvidal vs. Toby Imada – Imada, SUB (triangle choke), R3
Bellator is kind of like one of those weird ass Mid-Western promotions that periodically gets people you have sort of heard of before to run shows for them, despite the fact that said show is emanating from a barn somewhere out in Iowa.
Any way, all you need to know here is, HOLY SHIT, what a submission. Seriously, Imada’s INVERTED MOTHER FUCKING TRIANGLE CHOKE might just upend Ryo Chonan’s Anderson Silva slaying heel hook as the single greatest “You have got to be kidding me!” submission moment in MMA history.
There’s not much to say about this bout, other than advising you to do your darndest to uncover it out there in the labyrinthine-like Intraweb. Hell, I’d settle for an animated gif if I were you, so commence googling in three, two. . .
UFC 98: Evans vs. Machida (5/23/09)
Matt Hughes vs. Matt Serra – Hughes, DEC
I’ll openly admit to liking this match way more than anyone should. Sure, I could’ve tapped the Machida / Evans main event as the most memorable aspect of the date, but to be honest with you, I was kind of tanked on rum shots, so I really cannot recollect the rest of the evening.
This was a bout that was a ridiculous fifteen months in the making; originally scheduled as the main event at UFC 79, Hughes and Serra couldn’t get their respective shits together until almost summer of 2009, which says one or two things about them (namely, the fact that they are a bunch of fuck heads).
This was just a big, dumb, entertaining brawl from start to finish, complete with Serra’s trademark assholery in the post-fight interview. There’s just so much entropy in the bout that it is hard NOT to love the chaos the bout consists of; somewhere in between all of the bloody headbutts, half-hearted chokes, and strings of Bill Conti, there is a love letter etched to all of us “true” fans of MMA, the kind of guys that get off on closure bouts more than face-rocking brawls. Sure, both guys may be in the twilight of their careers, but man, was it a hoot to see these two relics mash each other’s faces into Play-Dough for one last hurrah.
OLYMPIA DREAM.9 Featherweight Grand Prix 2nd Round (5/26/09)
Featherweight Grand Prix 2nd Round: Norifumi Yamamoto vs. Joe Warren – Warren, DEC (split)
Incontestably, THE upset of the year. The Orlando Magic making it to the NBA Finals ain’t got shit on this odds-beater.
Anyway, Yamamoto is one of the most popular things in Japan, and I am not limiting that just to fighters. Hell, this guy is BEYOND being one of the island nation’s most beloved sports stars; he’s practically as popular in Nippon as white rice and weird-ass bondage fodder.
So, you have a national K-1 hero taking on some American schmuck nobody has ever heard of, in the second round of a tournament designed SOLELY to put a championship belt around the waist of the country’s number one son. After a hard-fought contest, a split decision was announced. Well, even though the battle was close, there’s no way that the ultra-nationalistic Japanese judges would give the bout to the American on points, right?
With Yamamoto taking a SHOCKING exit from the tourney early, Warren was pegged as the de facto winner of the tournament. . .all the way up until he got his ass handed to him by some Brazilian fellow named Bidandes or something along those lines.
Ultimately, this was the fight that excised the ex-kickboxing icon from the world of competitive MMA; it’s also noteworthy because it validates the notion that even though Japanese MMA promotions are owned by the Yakuza, have their fighters dress up like cartoon characters and have zero concept of things like weight classes, it’s STILL a less corrupt sport than its American counterpart.
Strikeforce: Lawler vs. Shields (6/6/09)
Nick Diaz vs. Scott Smith – Diaz, SUB (rear naked choke), R3
Anytime Scott Smith steps into the cage, it’s basically the MMA equivalent of a fire breaking out at the Ronald McDonald House. There’s going to be no subtlety, no technique, and no visible stratagem; that being said, there’s going to be lots of screaming retard punches, and in that, we are forever grateful for his parents’ humping.
Anyway, this fight verifies the moniker of the promotional title “Strike Force”, because this is just face mashing for a good thirteen minutes, totally devoid of things like “transitions” and “intelligence”.
The Diaz brothers are basically the closest thing the MMA world has to the Von Erichs; Nick and Nate are like Pete and Pete from the eponymous Nickelodeon show, only instead of embarking upon whimsical journeys, they do lots of uppers and win fights against top-ranked opponents, only to have the decision reversed when the drug test results are read. So yeah, a defenseless mongoloid striker with the personality of Karl from “Sling Blade” versus a lawless, marijuana piping steroid-abuser: oh yes, this is awesome.
Anyway, this is the ineffective inverse of Smith’s “howling DOWN syndrome gorilla” offensive schematic on display here; although his mind was still clouded by ganja, Nick possessed enough mental faculties to lock in an ACTUAL MMA maneuver, and with such skillful knowledge of A move, Diaz managed to eek out the “W”.
Anyway, Diaz (or his brother, I have a hard time remembering) when on to kick Ken Shamrock’s brother’s ass (apparently, he wasn’t IN THE ZONE that evening), and as for America’s Favorite Fighting Retard? Well, he ended up having one more fight of note in 2009. . .
WEC 41: Brown vs. Faber 2 (6/7/09)
WEC Featherweight Championship: Mike Brown vs. Urijah Faber – Brown, DEC
All right, so this was supposed to be the night that Urijah Faber reclaimed his crowd as undisputed king of the WEC.
Yeah, that didn’t exactly, you know, happen.
Anyway, this was a tremendous 25 minute barn-burner, with Brown pretty much kicking Faber’s ass from pillar to post for almost half an hour. What really made the bout was the absolutely SICKENING favoritism towards Faber that permeated every aspect of this bout, from the fact that it emanated from Faber’s hometown to the Fox News-level of biasness spewing forth from the announce desk. Seriously folks, if you need a reason to hate Frank Mir, his verbal caulk soaking of Faber as he got battered like a community drum in this match is your veritable blank check to hatedom.
Still, it was an exciting match-up, warmed considerably be one of the hottest crowds in MMA history. Even going into the fifth round, you kind of – sort of wanted to believe that Faber could make a hot comeback, but alas, June 07, 2009 was not Faber’s night to do anything other than have his face re-sculpted into silly putty and medium rare bovine butthole.
The Ultimate Fighter 9 Finale (6/20/09)
Diego Sanchez vs. Clay Guida – Sanchez, DEC (split)
Whenever I think of “summer 2009”, this is the fight my mind wanders to. There’s just something about this (admittedly, inconsequential) lightweight scrap that instantly trudges up so many mid-year memories. Sure, Sanchez may be rocking Guida with some stiff rights and Guida may be choking the life out of his adversary, but in my heart, I am thinking of a serene valley, a warm zephyr twirling the strands of my hair as I bask in the xanthium overhead sol (while getting blown by a blonde chick, of course).
I don’t know if I have made this contrast before (I have), but for those of you not in the know, the UFC Lightweight Division in 2009 = the WCW cruiserweight division in 1997. Sure, there aren’t as many immigrants bedecked in goofy costumes, but there sure are a lot of starving Mexicans on the roster, and for my sakes, that’s good enough to warrant a comparison. I guess that makes Diego “Nightmare” Sanchez Psicosis, and Clay “The Carpenter” Guida. . .uh, Silver King? It’ll do.
Some people say that this match is the 2009 Bout of the Year. While it’s good, I really don’t think that it’s “up there” in regards to such a ranking. That being said, it’s still an excellent, no-frills, no-gimmicks-needed fifteen minute war, and you know what? That’s really all you can ask for as a MMA fan, so yeah, you should go out of your way to see it.
Now if, only I can get the taste of Six Flags nachos and the ad nausem hum of Michael Jackson ballads out of my face holes while watching said fight. . .
UFC 100: Making History (7/11/09)
UFC Heavyweight Championship: Brock Lesnar vs. Frank Mir – Lesnar, TKO (strikes), R2
When it’s all said and done, THIS is the iconic MMA moment of 2009. Watching Brock Lesnar, carting about 290 pounds of water-logged, reddened flesh, stroll to the ring to the dulcimer tones of “Enter Sandman”, as we breathlessly await the moment that Frank Mir makes a B-line towards the champ and heel hooks the mother fucker like he did back in February of last year.
History, as it were that night, did NOT repeat itself.
Instead of getting dropped and subbed in under two minutes, Brock absolutely dominated Mir from start to finish, clobbering him with Donkey Kong shots and smothering him with his size 4XL mitts. Going into the second round, Mir was hurting in the worst possible way, and Lesnar actually LOOKED like the unstoppable monster heel the UFC desired him to resemble.
The bell rings, and Brock goes back on the offensive. Mir goes for a takedown, and gets sacked. Brock is raining punches on Mir, his face turning into bloody hamburger meat. Brock is pounding, and pounding and pounding. . .and the ref jumps in at the midway marker of the second.
Post-bout, Mir is a walking bloodstain, as Brock Lesnar flips off the fans, slobbers on the cameraman and promises to bang his wife, drink the competitor’s beer and assault Mir with a horseshoe. As the show comes to conclusion, there is nary an unsatisfied face in the crowd, a gaggle of souls dying to see the ultimate heel of the 21st century receive his come-uppance. . .
. . .and six months later, Brock Lesnar may never have another competitive MMA match-up. History can be a cruel, cruel thing, especially when it eradicates a future oh-so promising.
HEIWA DREAM.10 Welterweight Grand Prix Final Round (7/20/09)
Welterweight Grand Prix Finals: Marius Zaromskis vs. Jason High – Zaromskis, KO (head kick), R1
I would lose a lot of MMA street cred if I went through a year retrospective without bringing up the name “Marius Zaromskis”, so much to the delight of many Sherdog forum members (read: virgins), here he is in all of his Eastern European majesty.
The Tenacious Z definitely had a hell of a year in 2009, as he head kicked his way to the tops of the DREAM Welterweight pops. Sure, we could debate which foot-to-face thrashing was the definitive ass (er, face) kicking of Z’s year, but it’s hard to not vote for Marius’ highlight worthy toe imprinting upon Jason High in the Grand Prix Finals of the Japanese tourney.
Anyway, Zaromskis is one of the latest acquisitions for Strike Force, and his penchant for being a guy that comes from a country with a really hard to pronounce namesake and kicking people in the head for a living has drawn many comparisons to a former PRIDE FC legend. . .that now sucks.
Regardless, Zaromskis has a bright future ahead of him; who knows? He might just be the guy that head kicks the championship belt of GSP one day. . .pending he doesn’t run into a Gabriel Gonzaga-like foil in the intermediate future, of course.
Sengoku IX: Ninth Battle (8/2/09)
Sengoku Lightweight Championship: Satoru Kitaoka vs. Mizuto Hirota – Hirota, TKO (grounded knees), R4
The “I’m an elitist fight fan and therefore my esoteric, international tastes are better than your feeble, nationalistic American taste buds” bout of the year.
A lot of times, people will slap on a pretentious, intellectually revered item on these year-end lists just to look “smart” and “in-the-know” to all of them bread and butter hillbillies reading the article. You know, like how so many dip shits list Animal Collective as the best “band” of the year even though their “music” is nothing more than Atari 7800 beeps and a drum machine.
That addressed, my admiration for this fight stems from the simple reason that it is so BRUTAL and earthy. Say what you will about the “sanitized” American product, the loosely-regulated Japanese spectrum of the sport still vaunts things like head kicks, spinal locks and giving a good god damn if a competitor is killed in the ring.
The end result of the Sengoku Lightweight Championship bout between Satoru Kitaoka and Mizuto Hirota was especially cringe-worthy; although an underdog going into the fight, Hirota’s brutal knee-strike offense eventually took the heavily-favored Kitaoka down in the fourth, and after feeding him nearly a dozen patella sandwiches, the ref finally jumped into save Satoru. . .and when I mean “save”, I mean his “probable life”.
It goes without saying that you need to be watching Japanese MMA: if you aren’t staying up to date on DREAM and Sengoku happenings, you really don’t know what you are missing (which is, the eventual murder of another human being in competition).
UFC 102: Couture vs. Nogueira (8/29/09)
Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Randy Couture – Nogueira, DEC
Circa 2003, this would have been a “Dream match” for MMA fans, as the poster boy for the UFC clashed with the OTHER PRIDE heavyweight standout. However, at the time of their actual clashing, both men had kind of fallen off the MMA-dar, with Nog returning from his first in-cage stopping at the hands of Frank Mir and Couture entering the fray cold on the heels of a title loss to Brock Lesnar nearly a year earlier.
Though nowhere near as relevant as they were back in the day, the two absolutely tore the house down that evening, putting on (for my money), the single best UFC bout since the beyond awesome Liddell \ Silva match-up from UFC 79 (which, ironically, was also a “Dream bout” betwixt past-their-prime PRIDE and UFC analogues).
Couture displayed his trademark pluckiness, as he somehow managed to survive about half a dozen different submission attempts by Nog; to this day, I have NO idea how “The Natural” survived that nasty-ass D’arce Choke.
This bout had it all; not only was their supremely awesome ground grappling galore, these two went full tilt, Frye-Takayama on each other THREE separate times during the bout, a sort of vertical buffer between all of their horizontal awesomery.
Eventually, Nog won a unanimous decision victory, much to the chagrin of Couture’s hometown crowd. The bout, effectively, reinvigorated Nog’s career, and pretty much forced Couture into Light Heavyweight contention. Although it may be one of the final hurrahs for two of the sport’s greatest legends, there is no denying just how damned great that final hurrah in question actually is.
WEC 43: Cerrone vs. Henderson (10/10/09)
WEC Interim Lightweight Championship: Ben Henderson vs. Donald Cerrone – Henderson, DEC
I’m not quite sure how old you kids are here, so this may be before your time, but back in my day, we has this thing called “racism”. You see, there was lot of tension between Anglo-Saxon Americans (or as they were oft-called “Whites”) and African-Caribbean-Creole-Americans (or as they were sometimes called, “Mexicans”). Anyway, these deep-seeded tensions often bubbled up in forms of entertainment, and the sports world was no exception. Per, ask your parents about the Los Angeles Laker / Boston Celtics rivalry of the 1980s; odds are, if they heap praise upon Larry Bird, yeah, your mom and dad were probably in the Klan.
Anyway, you’re not going to find a “whiter” MMA fighter than Donald Cerrone. He’s an Italian-Irish-German grappler, which according to Spike Lee, makes you the equivalent of all that is evil in existence. Conversely, there isn’t a “blacker” fighter on the planet than the Troy Polamula-coiffed Ben Henderson (although, no shit, there were rumors of Wesley Snipes entering the UFC back in 2005).
So yeah, we have a guy rocking the Bob Marley-Predator-Lauryn Hill ‘do taking on a guy that would wear a ten-gallon hat and fight with chaw on his mouth if the NSAC would allow him. Nope, no racial aspects to this fight. None whatsoever.
Anyway, furtive allegorical ethnic overtones aside, this was a great back and forth five rounder, with Henderson eventually scoring the unanimous decision. . .a decision that irked a great number of people (hint: the White Ones). Oh well, I’m sure that’s the last we’ll hear about questionable judging in the MMA world, correct?
UFC 104: Machida vs. Shogun (10/24/09)
UFC Light Heavyweight Championship: Lyoto Machida vs. Maurício Rua – Machida, DEC
All right, so Lyoto Machida is an undefeated fighter; he uses KARATE as a base discipline, he KTFO the formerly undefeated Rashad Evans, and each morning, he sips a giant jug of his own piss. Since the UFC can’t put the belt on Quinton Jackson because he’s off actually getting paid for something, it should be kind of obvious why the UFC brass DESIRES to keep the Light Heavyweight belt on Machida at the interim.
The thing is, Lyoto has a tendency for, well, being a boring fighter, since he uses all of those gay looking “submissions” instead of giving hillbilly fans what they want, which is Chuck Liddell type flash knockouts (and possibly more homoeroticism, but I digress).
Long story short, Shogun was SUPPOSED to be nothing but a warm-up, easy title defense for Machida as he anxiously awaits the moment Dana issues him to take a dive for Rampage (just kidding. . .or am I?)
Well, that’s not what transpired in reality, as instead of being a walk through the park for Lyoto (whom we can only assume was to stop a few times for a piss break / mouth washing), Shogun put on a hell of a defensive showing, and the following people had Rua listed as the winner of the bout on points: EVERYBODY.
So, after twenty five minutes of getting the shit kicked out of by a guy that looks suspiciously like Enrique Iglesias, pretty much every one on the planet knew that Shogun was going to be declared the victor. And then, the unanimous decision announcement was read, and like that, the Intranet, it was aflame with ire.
A rematch is scheduled for May; now of course, it’s not like the initial bout was intentionally ruled so shittily in order to set up a placeholder match to cover up the fact that there’s a dearth of marketable contenders at the sport’s marquee division, right? Right? RIGHT!?!
OLYMPIA DREAM.12 (10/25/09)
Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Zelg Galešić – Sakuraba, SUB (kneebar), R1
This is a great, grisly moment that reminds me just how much I miss the good old “Vale Tudo” days of MMA.
Kazushi Sakuraba may very well be the most beloved MMA fighter EVER; of course, since only Americans count, nobody in the US of A has ever heard of him, but just take my word for it when I say he’s kind of important.
So, Kazushi has been fighting for about TWENTY years now, making him the squinty eyed analogue to Ric Flair; whether or not he has mad problems with the Japanese I.R.S., I cannot verify.
So basically, Zelg is basically a middleweight dick head, and he deserves a good ass ravaging. Sakuraba is greeted by the Japanese fans as if he’s Elvis (or Ultraman, feel free to pick your favorite ethnic stereotype here) as the British announcer absolutely creams his britches as that dyke that used to do the PRIDE introductions serenades him ringside.
Also noteworthy is the fact that this is the first DREAM card in which the much ballyhooed “White Cage” has been implemented. Well, it’s only a matter of time until that newfangled ivory kennel turns into a house of torture, as the elder Kazushi locks in a SICKENING knee bar and spends an agonizing four minutes twisting Zelg’s leg into shapes that God never intended the human anatomy to resemble.
For one eve, it was like going back to the glory, no-holds barred days of the sport; King Kazushi was on top, joints were yanked out of positioning, and some jerk off left the arena a probable cripple for life. Ah, all that’s needed is some dipshit in a tanktop and it’s like reliving UFC 5 all over again!
Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Rogers (11/7/09)
Fedor Emelianenko vs. Brett Rogers – Emelianenko, KO (punch), R2
Every time Fedor steps foot into the Octagon, the MMA world stops to marvel. As the most dominant heavyweight fighter in the sport’s history, Fedor has absolutely obliterated the best 220 pounders in the world. On a cold November eve in Chicago, Emelianenko defended his nominal title as the baddest mother fucker on earth against his toughest challenger in almost four years.
It was a pretty close first round; for a guy that a year ago was changing tires for a living, that Brett Rogers fellow sure could slug. Unfortunately, having a wife that looks like Mo’Nique is no substitute for all of those years of Siberian grappling experience, and like the mighty Ivan Drago and Joey Stalin before, the capable Russian crushed the specter of capitalism with a vicious right hand that sounded like Barry Bonds swatting a humming bird with a sledgehammer.
Seriously, at the time, I was watching the fight in a pretty loud Mexican eatery, and over the wailing mariachi music, you could STILL hear the crushing impact of Fedor’s lethal blow. As for Rogers, he was later buried next to his father at a family plot in Hoboken. He will be missed.
Regarding Fedor’s 2010 plans, “The Last Emperor” has a date with Fabricio Werdum in April; at this juncture, I’d suggest Werdum’s family begin shopping for coffins around President’s Day.
WEC 44: Brown vs. Aldo (11/18/09)
WEC Featherweight Championship: Mike Brown vs. José Aldo – Aldo, TKO (strikes), R2
WEC (or World Extreme Cage Fighting as it is so abysmally expressed in its full nomenclature) is really the most consistently entertaining promotion in the world of mixed martial arts. As a body wholly comprised of smaller, lighter weigh athletes, the WEC is basically the MMA analogue to a parallel WCW circa 1996 in which only cruiserweights are given TV time. So yeah, in other words, it’s pretty awesome.
The problem the WEC has regards the instability of its champions; for some reason, NOBODY wants to hold onto the belts, apparently, which is truly distressing since the company title holders in the fed become the de facto best in the world due to lack of American competition.
At one point, Urijah Faber was THE face of the WEC; well, one chance encounter with Mike Thomas Brown in 2008 and that little dream was dashed like the hopes of an Umaga title reign in 2010. So anyway, Mike Thomas Brown becomes the new proxy face of the promotion, he bests Faber in a rematch, and along comes this lanky, punchy Brazilian fellow named Aldo.
And thus, the WEC “revolving door” policy in regards to championship reigns continues. All in all, it was a fairly lackluster bout, but odds are, this Aldo kid will be a force to be reckoned with in the future of the sport; he is still a few years off, but one day, this kid will be a dominant force in the UFC lightweight division. Remember, I said it way back when.
UFC 106: Ortiz vs. Griffin 2 (11/21/09)
Josh Koscheck vs. Anthony Johnson – Koscheck, SUB (rear naked choke), R2
Perhaps the second least professional display of skill of the MMA calendar year, Josh Koscheck went into his bout against dangerous striker Anthony Johnson with a newfangled strategy implemented into his repertoire.
So, whom did Kos seek the tutelage of to better his technique? Did he grapple with GSP, or do Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu drills with guys from Black House?
None of the above: apparently, Kos took his game plan from The Three Stooges before going into battle at the November UFC show, as he snuck in not one, but TWO furtive pokes to the eyes of Anthony Johnson on his way to sinking in a second round submission.
Kos is long hailed (or is it condemned?) as one of the UFC’s most hated fighters. In a paper-thin division, the possibility of a Kos – GSP title fight is not out of the question, and in that, one has to wonder if Josh will break out the Ric Flair shit in a hypothetical future championship contest. I firmly believe that it is only a matter of time until we see a heel chair shot in the Octagon, and I’d place even money that Josh will more than likely be the instigator.
The Ultimate Fighter 10 Finale (12/5/09)
Ultimate Fighter 10 Finals: Roy
Nelson vs. Brendan Schaub – Nelson, KO (punch), R1
Jon Jones vs. Matt Hamill – Hamill, DQ (illegal elbow), R1
Kimbo Slice vs. Houston Alexander – Slice, DEC
There’s just something about free December UFC cards that lend themselves to absurdity. Last year, we had the “Fight the Troops” show, which resulted in more severe injuries than Panama and Grenada combined. As the spiritual successor to a show that featured two of the nastiest knock-outs in company history (not to mention an undercard bout in which a guy broke his foot on live TV for all to enjoy), the bar for bat-shit craziness had been lifted quite high for this gala.
While the showing wasn’t as gruesome as that card, per se, it more than made up for it with absolutely bizarre outcomes, beginning with the Kimbo \ Alexander fight that was supposed to be over in minutes. Instead, the two went the distance in a bout in which Slice showed ACTUAL GROUND GAME TECHNIQUE and even dropped the flashy striker (that apparently, has forgotten how to strike post autumn of 2007) with a couple of gnarly supplexes.
To up the ante on weirdness, the follow up bout between Jon Jones featured one of the most stomach-churning ass beatings in company history, with the super-talented Jones LITERALLY cracking open Hamill’s skull with some wicked (albeit, sort-of not legal) elbow shots that resulted in a bloody DQ lose for the future Light Heavyweight champion (remember, I called it first). Remember, only in the UFC can a black male strike a deaf white man and get booed for STOPPING the onslaught.
With the subtitle of “Night of Crazy Shit Transpiring” firmly plastered underneath the show marquee, the event lobbed us one more curveball with the Ultimate Fighter 10 finale in which lard ass Roy Nelson managed to drop golden-body Brendan Schuab with the fattest knockout punch you will ever see as an MMA fan. And the post fight “belly rub” atop the cage? The cherry atop the crazy ass sundae that was The Ultimate Fighter 10 Finale.
UFC 107: Penn vs. Sanchez (12/12/09)
UFC Lightweight Championship: B.J. Penn vs. Diego Sanchez – Penn, TKO (cut), R5
This year’s recipient of the coveted “worst ass mauling imaginable” award. Penn began the year by having his ass handed to him by a French-Canadian that bares an uncanny resemblance to former NFL QB Jeff Garcia, a public humiliation that apparently forced Penn into a life of astute training.
Meanwhile, Diego Sanchez is a former Welter weight fighter that has a thing for transcendental meditation and shouting “Yes!” at bizarre intervals.
The end result of their face-off? “Friday the 13th Part XII: The Bloodening”.
For twenty three minutes, Penn made Sanchez look like an untalented dingleberry, coming this close to knocking him out in the very first minute of the very first round of the fight and subsequently stuffing each and every feeble takedown attempt Sanchez threw at him.
With two minutes to go, Penn said “Enough of this!” and split Sanchez’s forehead into bloody halves, as a waterfall of plasma poured forth from Diego’s forehead like a perforation in the hull of a blood bank. The doctor takes one look at the six inch gash on Sanchez’s face, waves it off, and your winner, by unanimous artery tapping, BJ Penn!
WEC 45: Cerrone vs. Ratcliff (12/19/09)
Donald Cerrone vs. Ed Ratcliff – Cerrone, SUB (rear naked choke), R3
So apparently, I am the only person on the planet that picks up on the auger of racial insensitivity that is the Donald Cerrone character. I mean, here you have a guy dressed up as a stereotypical redneck, and all he seems to do is fight black people: at this point, I’m surprised that no one has gone into the WEC headquarters and noted the lack of brothers on the headquarter wall space (the first person to correctly identify that reference wins. . .something).
So anyway, this was a very tight contest, up until Cerrone decides to elevate the sneaky behavior exemplified by Josh Koscheck a month prior by landing not one, not two, but THREE, count them THREE unquestioned ball shots on Ratcliff on his way to a late third round stoppage.
The funny thing is, the Cerrone guy is so over that the fans actually CHEERED his victory. I’m not quite sure what that says about the aggregate WEC viewer, but anytime a cowboy-hat wearing assailant mutilates the genitals of a young black male, I assuredly want no part of his welcoming committee. The single most uncomfortable racially charged moment of the year, second all-time to when I tried to mask my giggles during all the racial slurs in a screening of “Blazing Saddles” back in the tenth grade.
Strikeforce: Evolution (12/19/09)
Cung Le vs. Scott Smith – Smith, TKO
Strikeforce Lightweight Championship: Josh Thomson vs. Gilbert Melendez – Melendez, DEC
Yeah, yeah, I could chinwag all day about how great the Lightweight championship match was. In fact, the almighty Davey Meltzer called it the “fight of the year” during his commentary on the card, and as the great Uniformity-of-Internet-Thought-Act of 1999 clearly delineates, all that the DAVE states is incontestable gospel. Like I’m going to ruffle the feathers of the most powerful man in the biz that occasionally lets me post articles on his website.
That being said, the Cung Le fight might just be the most memorable hootenanny of the year, as it involved (according to the UFC anyway) “ACTOR” Cung Le taking on. . .you guessed it! Scott “Special Needs” Smith himself!
So, you have a guy with a penchant for flashy, theatrical kicks and a guy that never learned how to block. . .oh yes, there will be connected roundhouse kicks a plenty.
Anyway, after getting the shit kicked out of him for fourteen minutes (and at one point, eating about fifty consecutive punches on the ground), “Soft Helmet” Smith throws three of the luckiest, desperation swings you’ve ever seen and KNOCKS LE THE EFF OUT with just a minute to go. He may need supervision when handling paste, but man, that Smith fellow sure does bring the awesome every time he steps into the cage. And as for Le, why is it that I suddenly hear the aural scratching of one Nelson Muntz in the background?
Ok, so what have we learned this year? Well, very little, and that’s probably because we spent more time watching steroided up degenerates pummel each other than explore insightful commentary on the human condition, reading, or achieving routine physical exercise combined. Oh well, I don’t mind lugging around a couple of extra ounces of Pepsi weight, as 2009 was such a great year for the real-life fisticuffing that I don’t dare aver how 2010 will top it. No matter how the next decade unfurls, no matter the twists and turns the sport may take in the next ten years, one thing is ostensibly clear about the future of MMA:
Scott Smith is one entertaining retard.
- - -
James Swift is a 23 year old
fledgling author from the metro Atlanta area. When he
isn’t watching guys pretend to beat one another up
during the Clinton Administration, he occasionally posts
whimsical nostalgic reflections on Retro Junk and is an
MMA correspondent for F4WONLINE. HEY! Do yourself a
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THE TWF "MENTAL WELLNESS TEST!"
With Christmas just around the corner, what better way to spend your few remaining dollars (left over after the seemingly infinite line-up of fucking pay-per-views ) then on the following "quality WWE merchandise!" After all, if they don't move this stuff, and fast, stockholders just might get time to figure out what "plummeting domestic buyrates" means!... and well, I don't think they need to tell you what that means! (Seriously. They're not telling you. Everything is fine! Ahem.).