The Fly Route
It was by all means an accident, but I recently had my first real dip in the sludge that is mixed martial arts, or Ultimate Fighting as the case was. After years of being told again and again how naÃive I am for not being interested, how old fashioned I am for preferring boxing, I finally stumbled on a fight, and afterward I had just one questions: "really?"
My search for a late post-state track meet dinner led me to a favorite bar and restaurant not too far from where I was staying. Already set on that as my destination, the jam-packed building didn't deter me, though it took me a few minutes to piece together that all those people really were there to watch the Chuck Liddell-Quinton "Rampage" Jackson fight.
Me, I just wanted some chicken wings.
All the tables were full when I walked in the door. Fortunately, that wasn't a long-term problem.
Liddell, the guy tough enough to make a cameo on one of my favorite TV shows, "Entourage," and the guy the pre-fight announcers had talked up to be tougher than Jesus, lost in the first round.
The fighters, "Rampage" and "lie-down Liddell," spent one minute and 50 seconds prancing around the ring trading nasty looks and maybe a few winks. "Lie-down" then spent one second getting punched, one second falling to the mat, and one second looking up hopelessly as "Rampage" jumped on him.
"Lie-down" got up, "Rampage" got some trinket of a UFC belt and both went off to their in-ring post-fight interviews, not a bruise on either of them.
So I ask again: Really?
That's it? This was supposed to be some sort of big-time fight, a next step on Liddell's path to being the face of the sport. People spent months telling me what a tough guy Liddell is and he not only lost, but didn't even get a bruise doing it?
Really? A punch that barely even touched the "toughest guy in world history" ended a big-time, high-profile match? (Note: Yes, I know it would have sent me to the mat too, but I've never claimed to be tough ... and I've yet to guest star on "Entourage.")
Really? You want me to trade boxing in for this, one minute and 50 seconds worth of staring and three seconds worth of rolling on a mat?
Na. I can't do it. I won't do it. Mixed martial arts has more appeal to me than the National Spelling Bee, and it probably somewhat on par with televised poker, i.e. I'll watch it if it's on while I'm craving midnight chicken wings, but good luck getting me to cram into a bar to see 1:53 of dancing on a normal night.
I once met a guy who claimed to be an Ultimate Fighter. He was annoying beyond belief, scrawny and looked more like a deflated punching bag than a gear in the machine that hypes itself as America's sport of the future.
Oh, and he was 5-foot-5, a fact that fit together perfectly with the Liddell fight -- they were both too short to take seriously.