mma_sd_emelianenko_576In all my years of watching unarmed combat, I’ve always relished freak show fights. I watched, with glee, Fedor Emelianenko, arguably the best heavyweight to put on 4 oz. gloves, pound a 300+-pound Brazilian who went by the moniker “Zuluzhino” into the ground in 28 seconds. I followed every round of Dream’s “Super Hulk” tournament, which featured the surreal moment of José fucking Canseco being walked to the ring in the Saitama Super Arena by his girlfriend, carrying a baseball bat, to be sacrificed to living goliath Hong Man Choi. But this weekend, my love of the intentionally horrible mismatch may have come to an end, for two reasons: the first was the debacle of the Ken Shamrock vs. Kimbo Slice “fight”, and the other was the UFC women’s straw-weight title matchup between Jessica Penne and Joanna Jedrejczyk.
KimboVsKen.0.0Let’s get the most egregious offender out of the way. Kimbo-Shamrock was a fucking work. Lesser learned enthusiasts of pugilism might not recognize this word. A work is a fight with a predetermined outcome, which is exactly what we saw on Friday night. Sure, Ken got cracked wide open by a larger, younger and stronger opponent. But there’s no reason that needed to happen. For some reason that far escapes me, the entire MMA media stood by until the week before the fight and then collectively barfed up this weird amalgam between outrage and acceptance that we were going to let a geriatric cripple step into the ring and suffer ungodly head trauma for our entertainment. So even if the fight wasn’t a traditional work, even if Shamrock didn’t finish sinking in the choke on purpose, and let Kimbo “gain position” a little too easily, the outcome was predetermined. Then, like a bunch of assholes, we watched it happen.
139_Carla_Esparza_vs_Joanna_Jedrzejczyk.0.0The UFC’s women’s straw-weight division, on the other hand, is an even more ambiguous issue. At the top of the heap, you have a beast of a champion in Jedrejczyk, who has been viciously clearing out her division, and what seems like an insurmountable talent gap between her and the closest challengers. Is it her fault? Absolutely not; but her opponents don’t deserve the absolute shellacking they’re set up for. I’d argue that the UFC’s scouting in this case is subpar, that they’re valuing women who can promote a fight thanks to their looks and make it onto a reality TV show vs. actually doing their fucking job and checking out markets where smaller fighters are in the majority! In the immortal words of David Gardner: Hello, Japan! Yes, Jessica Penne may have been “game as fuck” (thanks, Joe Rogan), but she should never have been in there in the first place, and she’ll never be the same as a result.
The only problem with this is that I’m preaching morality in a sport that is dominated by two things: brutality and profit. Regulatory bodies routinely cave to the desires of the promoters that feed them, and the media that covers the sport cowers in fear of seeing their credentials revoked. So, good luck getting any kind of change through that fucking crowd. – JP