Draft Day Suit writer Clay aka Mayopie is the lover and the fighter behind the latest installment in the Why I Love series.
I was a huge boxing fan until the UFC came along. I’m not sure what it is, but when two men start punching each other in the face, I want a front row seat and I’m going to need everyone to be quiet. There are two dudes trying to dismantle each other over here and I need some “me” time.
I’m a caveman. I admit it. I’ll watch people hurt themselves all day if they’re willing to do it. Apparently, most find it entertaining. I didn’t make anyone punch anyone else (not today, anyway). They were going to fight whether I watched it or not. And had it not been at an approved venue, sanctioned and regulated by the Nevada State Athletic Commission and refereed by a giant man, it would be in a street or in a bar or worse, somewhere I am. As much as I enjoy watching other people get hit in the face, I don’t like being punched at all.
That brings me to my first point about why I love the UFC: If these guys weren’t beating each other up in the octagon, they’d be beating me up for mouthing off to them when I was drunk, which I would absolutely do. Having an outlet for these men has saved my life.
Case in point. I saw Forrest Griffin in a bar one night. He told me he liked my shirt. Rather than say, “What are you looking at, halfpint?” I said, “I love you, man.”
Second, in a decade, the UFC has rapidly evolved thousands of years of fighting. Men have been fighting since there were 2 of them and each region has bred a particular, distinctive fighting style. Each style has been honed, perfected, taught for generations and then one day, they were all put to the test on a world stage.
For the first time, we got to see legal, full contact fighting. It was exactly like Bloodsport without the acting, which had I directed the film, is exactly what would have been left out.
What we would learn in this new age of fighting is the Hawaiian art of bone-crushing that some Samoan dude made up in his basement is not a real fighting style, especially when compared to the American art of barfighting. If you recall the earlier UFC’s, you’ll remember that one of the most fierce fighters was Tank Abbot, known for his beer belly, crippling knockout power and being voted in high school “Most likely to have paths cleared in front of him wherever he goes.” Tank would also teach us that if you can’t fight on the ground, you can’t fight in the UFC.
Now, you can fight me if you only know karate and you’ll win. Big time. You can know a guy who knows karate and probably beat me up (I used to be pretty tough, but nowadays I’m sore after peeing). My point is, serious martial artists from all over the world were finally able to practically apply their own styles against other styles to assess the effectiveness or suckiness of their lives’ work. Many were extremely disappointed to find out their efforts would have been better spent woodworking or eating Cheetos.
A decade or so later, MMA (mixed marital arts) would become a bonified sport and today is exploding. (Personally, I wanted it to be called Greco-Ju-Kara-Kwan-Thai-Box-Bar-Jitsu-Do, but whatever, they didn’t ask me. It’s a good thing they can all fight or I’d make a stink.) Thousands of years of training and technique would be fused to create one, superior fighting style. And it all happened right before our very eyes. Undoubtedly, we’ve finally figured out that it’s not just one fighting style that’s the most effective, it’s all of them combined. It’s like awesome fight soup. (Another name I suggested and still haven’t heard back on.)
Fighting is the oldest sport. In fact, sports were invented to keep men from fighting, but they still fought for sport because they liked it so much and never stopped. So popular is fighting that every time one happens, people make a circle around it and cheer. What’s that say about us? We’re fucked up.
MMA is a culmination of the history of mankind, and for me, there’s no other sport that compares.
The President of the UFC, Dana White, is my personal hero. The UFC was bankrupt when he bought it for a song (one million dollars). It was dead. He personally brought it back to life by legitimizing the sport. Weight classes were added, 5 minute rounds and some key rule changes. UFC would then become sanctioned by the Nevada State Athletic Commission, and so began the rollercoaster ride.
White vehemently promoted his sport, silencing critics time and time again by pointing out that mixed martial arts is less violent than boxing and football. Not with opinions, but statistics. In a boxing match, the winner often gets punched in the head 200 times. In MMA, the fights are typically stopped before any long term damage can be inflicted. In football, which we can all agree is America’s passion, concussions and broken bones are much more commonplace than in fighting. The fact is, while hitting someone in the eye with a clenched fist might be unsettling to some, MMA is safer than football or boxing. It’s a scientific fact. Dana White would convince the world of this and today, he sits atop the world’s fastest growing sport (and a pile of money).
Outside of his obvious business savvy, Dana White is one cool motherfucker. He’s the first head of a major sport to come out and publicly welcome gay men to the sport. That’s major. Especially in a sport where they roll around mostly naked and hug. And any fighter that’s not okay with it? I doubt you’ll see them fight again.
Add to that the time he was scheduled to step in the ring with TITO ORTIZ AND TITO BACKED OUT AT THE LAST MINUTE, you have a guy that walks it likes he talks it and refuses to be intimidated, even by one of the most fierce men in the world. I love you, Dana.
In modern day, White is the closest thing I have to a hero. He says “fuck” a lot, he rescued a sport I love and is literally a symbol for what I believe in most, which is saying “fuck” a lot. Imagine Goodell saying, “That hit on fucking Jackson was brutal. I can’t believe that douchebag Robinson. What an asshole. Well, I’ll take a $50,000 chunk out of his ass. Fucker.” I’d never miss a press conference.
Dana White fears no one in a world where he should fear everyone, because each man whose fate he controls can kill him in a heartbeat. Can you imagine giving Brock Lesnar a private talking to? Dana White can, because he did it and he still has a head. There is no ego he can’t handle or won’t handle. That’s pretty cool.
I know this post is long, but we’re witnessing history here. Imagine the first days of football, curling, skiing while shooting stuff with a rifle, picking up heavy metal balls and throwing them as far as you can, running and jumping over things or men skating around with sticks and ironically using their hands to hit one another. Imagine what it was like when soccer was invented the first man said, “Hey guys, this game would be soooo much better if we used our heads instead of our hands” and then the other guys said “You’re bogarting the peyote again” and then they smoked some more and agreed it was a fantastic idea.
You’re witnessing the development of the world’s new sports baby, and he’s already getting to be a very big boy. Before you know it, he’ll be all grown-up.