Thursday, December 22, 2011
The MMA Movement's Year End Awards (Part One)
I'm choosing to forgo the absurdity that transpired with this recent Miguel Torres debacle, only because it's the Holiday season. I'm feeling happy, and thankful, and festive. I don't really feel like grinding through a 1,200 word column about why Dana White needs to go the way of the dodo. It would seem just as reactionary and inflammatory as Dana. So, I wont. Instead, I'm going to hand out MMA Awards for what was quite an eventful 365 days for mixed martial arts (to say the least). This will be stretched into two parts, so you can read each one during separate bowel movements. Thank me later.
One more thing: I'm running this list knowing full well that UFC 141, coupled with the New Years Eve show DREAM is putting on, will probably be laden with brutal knockouts, spine-tingling submissions, and epic fights. I know this. I'm not even going to pretend to argue otherwise. But it's always been a dream of mine to run a long, comprehensive list of things that happened in a given year, only to have it become dated before that year is even over. It's gonna be awesome.
Most Inexplicable Story of the Year
Zuffa's purchase of Strikeforce definitely dropped some jaws. Sengoku losing it's sponsor and folding was sad but inevitable. Nick Diaz's emergence as a bonafide welterweight badass was unexpected, but not mind blowing.
When it comes to genuine shockers, look no further than Jacob Volkmann's UFC 125 post fight interview with Ariel Helwani, conducted after Volkmann defeated the delusional, his-fights-are-like-watching-paint-dry Antonio McKee. The interview itself isn't anything to write home about; Helwani asks who Volkmann wants to fight next, and Volkmann responds that he'd like to fight President Barack Obama because he disagrees with his healthcare plan. He vows that he'd "like to knock some sense into that idiot".
Smash cut to 48 hours later: Volkmann has been questioned by the Secret Service twice, once at his gym and once at his home. You know, to make sure that Volkmann was kidding. He appears on several shows to talk about the interview. His name even escapes Jay Leno's mouth as a joke on the "Tonight Show".
I guess the thing that's so crazy to me about this is that it's JACOB VOLKMANN. Watch an interview with the man sometime; he has all the charisma of a chili cheese Frito. He's that guy with the "Fargo"-esque accent from Minnesota who could have 15 beers in him and still seem exactly the same. That's Jacob Volkmann.
MMA is a world where Junie Browning likes to drink alcohol until he throws tumblers of Ciroc at light heavyweights, and OD on pain meds before he attacks hospital staff members. It's a world where Jeff Monson, an unabashed anarchist, was arrested for spray painting anarchy signs and "no war" on the Washington State Capitol building when he was THIRTY NINE. It's a world where Jon "War Machine" Koppenhaver gets online and basically says he wishes the President was dead, talks about how he's being oppressed more than Jews in Nazi Germany and blacks during American slavery, and details the police putting a "spit bag" over his head during an arrest by claiming "they were either being dicks or they were trying to disguise who I was" (Right, because who doesn't know who Jon Koppenhaver is? Um ...)
And yet, has any one of these men been the target of any kind of federal investigation? Nope! The feds are too busy making sure maniacs like Jacob Volkmann don't make good on their verbal daggers aimed at the president. I'm not saying that I think the way this all played out is a bad thing, I'm just trying to convey that I think it's crazy that this was the "fall guy" for "crazy" MMA fighters. IT'S JACOB VOLKMANN. I can't stop writing that. By the way, if Volkmann ever DID fight Barack Obama, there's no way he'd put his hooks in. It's too risky.
Knockout of the Year
Cheick Kongo def. Pat Barry - This one can't be the KO of the year because it was such a hideous series of punches, and it can't be the fight of the year because it was over in less than 3 minutes. However, this fight was the only time all year I literally fell out of my chair and started shouting incoherencies as I simultaneously pounded on the floor. Did I have alcohol in me at the time? Sure. But Kongo looked like he did too right before he stankied up Pat Barry. That has to count for something.
Travis Browne def. Stefan Struve - This deserves mentioning because it was SO brutal. Poor Stefan folded like an accordion as his ACL flew out of his body and landed on David Spade. He came apart in sections. Struve has a bad habit of literally running into punches. Good thing he knows submissions.
Alexis Vila def. Joe Warren - Joe Warren spent far too much time reaching out with his arms like he's in a Romero movie, hoping and praying for a clinch that never came. He's done this in myriad fights, and it finally became his undoing when he tangled with Alexis Vila. He woke up with tears in his eyes and his jaw in a different place than it was before.
Lyoto Machida def. Randy Couture - "You're all right, LaRusso ... you're all right."
John Makdessi def. Kyle Watson - Kyle Watson must be kicking himself after watching Makdessi get absolutely smoked by Dennis Hallman. In this fight, Watson showed improved standup, and that proved to be his demise. Sometimes, you just gotta resort to what you know best. Makdessi didn't throw a single strike against Hallman. He threw tons of them against Watson, with the final one being an astonishing spinning backfist that nearly lopped Watson's head off. This is the KO of the year for me. I can still hear that backfist landing. I think it actually produced an echo.
Part Two coming soon.