One of the biggest reasons I love mixed martial arts is that your ego can be crushed at any time. Everybody eventually loses in this sport, except Philip Miller. Hell, there are really, really good fighters that have lost as many times as Charles “Krazy Horse” Bennett has been arrested.
The methods in which guys lose has always been a source of fascination for me. There are tons of knockouts that get “KO of the Night” bonuses, but alot of them are surprisingly forgotten quicker than you’d think. For example, remember how badly Pat Barry knocked out Shane Del Rosario? Can you picture the knockout in your head? It’s more difficult than you’d think. And that was a BRUTAL knockout. I think Del Rosario might still be sleeping on the floor at the Hard Rock Hotel. That fight only happened 5 months ago.
It’s when you start to explore the bizarre and the inexplicable that things start to become memorable. In the case of fight endings, the word “memorable” doesn’t always coincide with the word “exciting”, but sometimes that anticlimactic, what-the-hell-just-happened dynamic can be its own kind of memory.
(Quick rant: That Ovince St. Preux-Gian Villante stoppage was a one of a kind head scratcher. I’ve seen tons of MMA. Just a ridiculous amount. And I have never, ever seen a referee misinterpret someone that obviously and egregiously. It was like Mulhall had money on St. Preux. Seriously. That moment would be the equivalent to a fighter getting bludgeoned in the nuts and having the ref immediately come over and ask him “Are you in pain?” Of course he’s in pain!)
Let’s explore some of this weird foolishness.
Shinya Aoki def. Marcus Aurelio via unanimous decision @ DREAM 16
Marcus Aurelio is a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, and it isn’t one of those black belts that you can buy at Walmart, like the one Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos has. Marcus isn’t the greatest grappler in the world or anything, but he grapples at a relatively high level, and he’s been at it for a long time.
So to see him go out and get papa-beared by Shinya Aoki was startling. For those of you who don’t remember this fight, Aurelio spent much of his time trapped on the bottom against Aoki, who had a body triangle around his legs. And it’s not like Aoki briefly achieved this position; he had it for most of the fight. THIS MUST HAVE SUCKED SO BAD FOR MARCUS AURELIO. If I were him, I would have rather been brutally knocked out than to have my game not only nullified, but basically taken out of existence altogether. Marcus Aurelio was Shinya Aoki’s grappling dummy. I don’t know if Marcus is a big drinker, but I bet he poured himself a stiff one after this emasculation.
Matt Mitrione def. Philip De Fries via KO (punches?) @ UFC on Fuel TV 9
The common assumption among regular folks is that a bigger guy is categorically more likely to be able to fight than a smaller guy. If he has tattoos and a “I’m itching for you to act a fool so I can throw you out of this bar” look on his face, even better. People just look at it in terms of size. They don’t take into account athleticism and coordination.
Seasoned MMA fans know better. Seasoned MMA fans know that when you start to stray outside of the top ten, things get real ugly, real quick.
The heavyweight division is terrible. It’s steadily gotten better over the years, but it’s still pretty bad. You have guys losing dramatically in the first round with regularity, and when a fight does go to a decision (which is rare), you usually determine the winner by asking yourself “Which man was less close to dropping dead due to exhaustion?”
I’m still not quite sure what rendered Phil De Fries motionless in Stockholm, but it wasn’t the punches of Matt Mitrione. I’m pretty sure Phil just sprinted in for a takedown attempt and KO’d himself on Mitrione’s hip? Or something?
Stuff like this always makes me think “You know, I’d be far more terrified of what a guy like Brad Pickett could do to me than a guy like Phil De Fries. At least with De Fries I’d have a chance to run away, and hey, he might slip on a banana peel on the way in”.
Gray Maynard fights Robert Emerson to a no contest @ TUF 5 Finale
Great Caesar’s ghost, was this awkward. Maynard lifted Emerson into the air and slammed him to the mat, and Emerson tapped out from an apparent injury. The problem? When Maynard completed the takedown, his head hit the mat so hard that it instantly knocked him out. He slowly, limply rolled over onto his back, which placed him literally right below referee Steve Mazzagatti’s ass. Had Mazzagatti uncorked a juicy fart at that moment, Maynard might have been stretcher bound.
This entire situation was both embarrassing and bizarre, but we were just getting warmed up at the Palms Casino. For some reason, they decide to interview Maynard about the situation. I’m reciting this from memory, but Rogan makes Maynard look at the big screen and basically says “You’re out right there.” Maynard responds with “No I’m not. I’m fine.” Rogan, going into attack mode, fires back: “You’re saying that you were okay? You were completely unconscious.” Maynard, visibly upset, replies “No! I’m fine.”
Something about Maynard taking the “I was fine” stance while millions of people can see that he was KO’d, as Rogan blatantly calls him on it, was excruciating. I remember thinking “I never want to see this again.” And I bet Gray Maynard doesn’t either.
Pete Williams def. Mark Coleman via KO (head kick) @ UFC 17
I know, I know. This is just a straightforward knockout. However, I was compelled to include it in here because something about it has always been hilarious to me. In fact, EVERYTHING about it has always been hilarious to me. Coleman shaking off the knee that preceded the kick. The fact that it hit Coleman right in the face. Pete Williams’ reaction. Pete Williams in general. And, of course …
You really haven’t lived until you’ve seen clueless wrestler Aliev Makhmud make his one and only appearance in PRIDE. He comes out, hops around, makes dumb faces, and somehow scores a takedown on the stoic, clunky Tamura. But it’s when he starts attempting strikes that the fun really begins. He starts throwing kicks that resemble those of a toddler after his first viewing of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Of course, it isn’t long before somebody gets hit in the nuts. Makhmud seems to get the worst of it, as he slowly walks over to his corner in pain. The pain doesn’t appear to be unbearable, but I must be mistaken because the next shot of Makhmud sees him laying on his stomach in apparent agony. There are five guys tending to Makhmud as he writhes around on the floor, and they’re treating him like a swordfish that is slowly dying on a fishing boat. Mauro Ranallo is talking.
“Makhmud is rising from the ashes like the proverbial phoenix,” Ranallo says with no conviction whatsoever. “He’s gonna quit,” Bas Rutten replies. Makhmud appears to be indicating that he can’t continue. But no!
A full 6 minutes later, the fight resumes. Makhmud lands the gumpiest left hand I’ve ever seen, then gestures that he wants to quit three separate times before telling Tamura to bring it on. He then throws the funniest kick I’ve ever seen, gets tagged with a kick to the body, and quits in his corner another two times before slowly grabbing his nuts, dropping into a crouch, and acting so erratically that even the Japanese referee sees the fight unfit to continue.
I can’t even call this a fight. This was the public unraveling of a human being’s psyche. If this fight had happened in the UFC, I honestly think Dana White would have spontaneously combusted. That would have been it for Dana. Everyone talks about boxer Oliver McCall melting down in his corner in between rounds against Lennox Lewis, but I’ll put ‘ol Aliev’s behavior against anyone’s in the “This is one of the greatest train wrecks I’ve ever seen” department.
I’m not topping Aliev Makhmud’s meltdown. Have a good week, folks.