Sunday, July 12, 2009

UFC 100

I watched UFC 100 last night. For the uninitiated, which until last night included me, UFC means "Ultimate Fighting Championship," also known as "mixed martial arts." It's a combination of boxing, wrestling, and martial arts. Two men in a ring slug it out with padded gloves. Their fingers extend beyond the ends of the gloves, so they don't have as much padding as boxing gloves, but they can get a better grip on things, like their opponent's face. That's just one difference between this and boxing. They can also tackle each other, grapple and kick, besides punching and wrestling. It's generally a much more violent sport than boxing, if that can be believed. And it's very real - the floor of the ring ends up with lots of red splotches - that's blood from the contestants (each event has several fights). The matches are also short - the rounds last 5 minutes, but there are only 3 or 5 rounds. Championship matches last 5 rounds, and we watched two last night, along with several other fights. Matches only last 3 to 5 rounds because that's all the contestants can take. Many matches end with a TKO or submission before the end of regulation. There are three judges, again like boxing.

I would normally have no interest in this bloodsport, but a friend of mine invited me to watch it yesterday. This friend of mine has a good sense of adventure and a fine sense of the absurd, so I went. We watched it as bar called Big Wangs, where the waitresses wear low-cut black t-shirts that read "SIZE MATTERS." This is a place where "subtle" means less than 80 decibels.

So I watched a sport not quite as civilized as boxing at a bar not quite as sophisticated as Hooter's.

But I have to admit that I had a good time, even though I watched some guys get their asses kicked. Fans, of course, would say that I had a good time because I watched some guys get their asses kicked. In the welterweight championship match, a guy named Georges St.-Pierre, from Montreal, just decimated Brazilian Thiago Alves. That was actually rather fascinating. St.-Pierre has a fleur de lis tattooed on his leg, a nice touch for a French Canadian. He's also much smarter than Alves, which, oddly enough in this very physical sport, gave him a big advantage. Even more important, he knows he's smarter, which is one hell of an advantage. When he sensed an opening, he would just attack, lunging straight forward, and he almost always took Alves down. He won in a unanimous decision. Gotta love those macho French Canadians.

The heavyweight championship match, which was the highlight of the night, such as it was, pitted a mountain/animal with human organs named Brock Lesnar against a slightly more normal human named Frank Mir. Mir is only 20 pounds lighter than Lesnar (245 vs. 265), but Lesnar just seemed to dwarf him. Mir, however, won their first match, a year ago, so Lesnar was out for blood, literally. He had Mir pinned against the cage and landed several good pounds on his face before the referee jumped in and stopped the match. Mir walked away, but his nose was more blood than flesh.

The most amazing sight of the night came in a match between an arrogant Brit named Michael Bisping and an American, Dan Henderson. Bisping is quite the trash talker. He's also quite the dancer, moving all the time. Henderson, however, had his number, and clocked him good. Bisping went down, and was basically defenseless, but Henderson jumped on him and landed a haymaker on his face before the ref jumped on him. You couldn't have choreographed a more powerful scene. I told my friend that that image isn't leaving my brain for a while.

I also told my friend that I was very glad these guys have some way to channel their aggression. I'm particularly glad of this because apparently they need it. After he won, Lesnar walked around the ring (an octagon) and flipped off the crowd. With both hands. He also said that he was going to go home and drink a Coors (it's sponsored by Bud Light). Supposedly he apologized, but the damage was done. To Frank Mir's face, several million of his brain cells, our civilization's sense of decency, and, quite possibly, my own reputation as a sensitive, artistic kind of guy.

But I did have fun.

And the beer was cold.

And I tipped the waitress well.

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