Photo courtesy of JohnJohnsaidit.com
Photo courtesy of JohnJohnsaidit.com
Tim Marchman: I texted Stephan Bonnar earlier, but he didn't get at me. Was hoping to have him as our third participant.
Tomas Rios: Only one possible explanation: Luxuriating on a pile of Anderson Silva money.
Tim Marchman: We should explain to the reader who Stephan Bonnar is.
Tomas Rios: Stephan Bonnar is a 30-something white male who is not very good at his job. He's both best remembered and only remembered for his first fight with Forrest Griffin, which is commonly credited as the fight that made the UFC into a viable television commodity. Also, he lost.
Tim Marchman: I'm not sure he would be a top-three athlete in a 30-and-up halfcourt game at a decent Y. Also, he is known as "The American Psycho."
Tomas Rios: By "he" do you mean Bonnar, or a significant portion of the UFC's preliminary card regulars?
Tim Marchman: Actually I best remember Bonnar for the interview he did after the first Griffin fight. They had some $15,000 car they were giving the winner and he was really bummed out that he hadn't won the close decision, because he really wanted the car.
Tomas Rios: To be fair, the UFC is owned by casino billionaires who are in no financial situation to ensure the financial stability of their employees.
Tim Marchman: He needed that car.
Tomas Rios: The UFC needed to save a few bucks. Needful things, bro.
Tim Marchman: Okay, so maybe the fourth-best guy at your local Y is going heads up with Anderson Silva, who knocked out Griffin with a jab while on one foot, while he was backing up. Would the Texas commission approve this fight?
Tomas Rios: Depends on whether or not the Texas commission has a "Haha, no seriously" provision in its bylaws.
Tim Marchman: Possibly predictive: iTunes just threw up Jello Biafra shouting, "Brain death! Mind death!"
Tomas Rios: Obviously, Silva is going to get grievous on this dude. Which is great because we all know Silva is a guaranteed pay-per-view draw regardless so it doesn't matter who he fights. Oh wait, that's not at all true in any way.
Tomas Rios: Bonnar doesn't have a few years worth of race-baiting promos to his name. I guess the UFC thinks Silva-Sonnen sold because of Sonnen's exceptionally square jawline? Bonnar has that!
Tim Marchman: Maybe he can go with Stephan "American History X" Bonnar. Maintains the “I stopped watching films in college” vibe while getting across something that can sell the fight. Isn't there a guy with a Nazi tattoo in UFC right now, actually? Maybe when Bonnar has to pull out with a training injury they can swap him in.
Tomas Rios: I believe you mean Brandon Saling, who competed on a Strikeforce card and rocked some super sweet Nazi ink. He's also a convicted sex offender. To the UFC's credit, they released him after the sex offender bit went public. The Nazi tats were kosher though. Well, technically not, but you know what I mean.
Tomas Rios: Again, it's not like a multi-billion dollar business should run background checks on its employees.
Tim Marchman: My mistake, and let's also keep in mind that while Strikeforce is owned and operated by the same people who own and operate UFC, it is an entirely separate thing.
Tomas Rios: Yes, key distinction. We all know Scott Coker runs Strikeforce. Save for the fact that he doesn't and any decision of any importance is the UFC's call.
Tomas Rios: The UFC is Strikeforce's dickish stepfather who only shows up to remind you he's banging your mom. I guess the mom in this strained metaphor is Zuffa?
Tim Marchman: UFC has a mustache and keeps some kind of motorbike/lawnmower engine in Strikeforce's basement.
Tomas Rios: We all know Zuffa won't put out for Strikeforce.
Tomas Rios: Zuffa likes some danger. Why else would they leave someone with no business background in charge of things? Serious question: If and when Dana loses his job, would Best Buy hire him? I think he could talk his way into an assistant manager job. Might have to start out on the floor though.
Tim Marchman: He would probably get a job on whatever the meth head equivalent of the TED talk circuit is. "I’m here to tell you the five important things I learned getting ripped off by con men in Abu Dhabi, Macao and Rio de Janeiro.”
Tomas Rios: I think the meth head equivalent of the TED talk circuit is the TED talk circuit. The Ivy League degrees and Jonah Lehrer lookalikes are just a smokescreen for some Heisenberg level shit.
Tim Marchman: "You are fifteen minutes from your own future right now. What are you going to do?"
Tomas Rios: "I AM THE ONE WHO KNOCKS...on your door to sell you only the finest CutCo cutlery."
Tim Marchman: Hey, let's be fair to Dana White. If he can't put on a good fight, he's going to put on human target practice.
Tomas Rios: I have this weird thing where I don't afford much fairness to dudes who are aggressively misogynistic and egomaniacal.
Tim Marchman: If you had a choice between watching Silva vs. Bonnar, Jon Jones vs. Vitor Belfort or Serena vs. [terrible sports pundit here], which would you pick? Serena and [terrible sports pundit] being in a tennis match, obviously.
Tomas Rios: I was about to say Serena vs. Jason Whitlock on the assumption that you meant MMA. This says a lot about how much I despise Whitlock and my desire to see Serena c-walk all over his corpulence. Do the damn thang, Omar. Sheeeeeeit.
Tim Marchman: I'm going to go with the Jones fight. I don't want to see [terrible sports pundit] die on the court, and Bonnar is a really nice guy. Not that I have anything against Belfort, I'm just ready for outright Cubist MMA. Jones' angles of attack in this fight will be based on Georges Braque compositions.
Tomas Rios: It's kinda impressive that the two best fighters in the UFC are both scheduled for fights approximately no one cares about. That's a real dedication to terrible terribleness.
Tomas Rios: Prediction: Belfort rediscovers the magic Jesus angle that filleted Randy Couture's eyelid.
Tim Marchman: So when Bonnar and Belfort get hurt, I imagine the following fighters will be in play as their replacements. Rank the following in order of most to least likely to headline a major show within the next two months: Matt Lindland, Kazushi Sakuraba, Ken Shamrock, Frank Shamrock, Carlos Newton, Hong Man Choi, Jens Pulver.
Tomas Rios: There is only one answer: Kimbo Slice.
Tim Marchman: Kimbo Slice vs. Brock Lesnar would really resonate with the fanbase.
Tomas Rios: Which kinda gets to the core of the UFC's problem. This shit is unsustainable as it stands. Cashing in on random internet street fighters and reformed pro wrestlers is something you can build off of, I guess, but it's not something you can count on.
Tim Marchman: It's hard to build guys like Silva and Jones up as sportsmen really worth going out of your way to see when you are putting them in against bags of meat bought at wholesale. On the other hand let's be real, the idea that the masses really want to see tiny little guys do jiu-jitsu is pretty delusional.
Tomas Rios: On the other other hand, Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao are kinda big deals despite not being large men. It's about marketing. More specifically, marketing not centered on ads that are shot by the B-crew director of every Linkin Park video ever.
Tomas Rios: I had a minor crisis over which band to use there. A part of me still says I shoud have gone with Staind. Or Powerman 5000. Or Creed.
Tim Marchman: Let's say you're a guy in your mid-40s who has roughly Bill Simmons' cultural frame of reference, but not his awareness that you need to have a factotum around to keep you up on what the kids are up to. You're telling me the B-crew director for a Limp Bizkit video doesn't sound pretty with it?
Tomas Rios: Who is Bill Simmons? All white dudes are one amorphous mass to me. You are all one.
Tim Marchman: "You know ROLLING, ROLLING, ROLLING? I was the guy who had Fred pretend to turn a steering wheel in the video. Lot of lighting in that."
Tomas Rios: "Upward fish-eye angle shot of the guitarist? Yeah, all me."
Tim Marchman: "We're gonna make Joey Aldo look like a killer. We're gonna put him in front of, like, a wall full of lights, and then we'll have this Morgan Freeman sounding guy say, 'He is the junior microweight champion.’ With some Korn on it."
Tomas Rios: Pretty sure "With some Korn on it" came a close second to "As real as it gets" in the UFC's tagline brainstorm meeting. The meeting was Dana White scanning Reddit for posts tagged #Aggro, #AlphaMale and #MensRights
Tim Marchman: So what do you think is behind the rash of injuries that has the ship that is UFC beached on the rocks of disappointment? Also, would UFC be better if it had gone with a Pantera-based aesthetic?
Tomas Rios: First question first, the rash of injuries is a confluence of many things. Most folks seem to ignore the fact that fighters fight injured all the time and the UFC actively encourages them to do so. For example, both Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos had pretty serious injuries going into their heavyweight title fight. What's changed is that top flight fighters are starting to realize their value and why it's dumb to fight with serious injuries.
Tim Marchman: I agree. Also steroids. (Little known fact: "Training camp injury” is Flemish for "fucked up his cycle.")
Tomas Rios: The other factor is the UFC's insane schedule which ends up forcing guys into accelerated training camp schedules with shorter rest periods. Human physiology gives no fucks about the UFC's business plan.
Tomas Rios: And yeah, MMA fighters have the same relationship to steroids as teenage boys do with sex. Once they start, they go nuts despite having no idea what they're doing.
Tim Marchman: So, Pantera.
Tomas Rios: Pantera was a glam band that changed their sound the second glam died and heavy metal became a thing. So, there'd be no difference save for some embarrassing pictures of Dana White looking all glammed up. He doesn't have the realness to pull off that look. Any drag queen will tell you this. Instead, we have embarrassing pictures of Dana White leading boxercize classes. Another look he lacked the realness to pull off.
Tim Marchman: I wish they'd gone with an Angry Samoans aesthetic. A band that had a song about the hot new trend of willfully stabbing your own eyes out could really speak to the current fight game. "Everything is better when the world is black! Grab a fork, make your first attack!"
Tomas Rios: If the UFC had a Bikini Kill aesthetic, there is no way it's not the biggest sport in the world. "Suck my left one!" But with Kathleen Hanna. And basically every other woman I've ever had a hopeless teenage crush on. Also, punching.
Tim Marchman: So where is this thing going, man? Are we going to keep watching this sport when Mark Coleman has the Hammer House back together and is waiting by the phone for a call that is probably going to come?
Tomas Rios: I've had plenty of awkward first date conversations about why in the blue fuck I cover this sport and have learned that a) fighting is a fundamentally cool distillation of the concept of competition and b) the culture of fighting is so screwed up and insane there is no way I could ever fully look away.
Tim Marchman: The best part of the culture, and the part where it is really a distillation of other sports, has to be the part where the people who watch fights hate fighters.
Tim Marchman: I read where apparently, as per fans, the problem with all these fights that have been cancelled is that the fighters have health insurance. Thomas Frank is probably off somewhere taking notes on this and filing it away for the "Use for TED talk in case of emergency" cabinet.
Tomas Rios: Well, MMA fans are split into two groups. The vast majority are not just dumb, but objectively bad people. The ignored minority is exceptionally smart and thus mentally hounded by the terrible/awesome dichotomy of fighting.
Tim Marchman: If someone isn't going to fight in a cage at my pleasure, I think they shouldn't have access to medical care.
Tomas Rios: That DanaCare is not a meme represents perhaps my greatest professional failure. That and failing to sexually proposition Joe Rogan when he called me a faggot. Kinda haunts my life to this day.
Tim Marchman: UFC brass announcing in a lordly fashion that they would provide professional athletes with health insurance really reminded me of Mr. Burns’s tar-tar sauce.
Tomas Rios: More reminded of Mr. Burns showing up at the Simpson house to watch the Drederick Tatum fight and having Smithers offer forth a small bag of "chee-tos" as his "munchies" contribution. Don't talk to me about Simpsons references, I'll motherfuckin' embarrass you.
Tim Marchman: So back to fighting: What are you really looking forward to in the next stretch? I am excited about Jon Fitch starting in on the comeback trail, and I am also assuming that Silva and Jones, in their fights against walking speed bags, will be in tacit competition with each other and the memory of what Cain Velasquez did to Antonio Silva.
Tomas Rios: The only fight in the immediate future that I am vaguely excited about as a well-matched competition between legitimate athletes is the Benavidez-Johnson flyweight title fight. I have this thing where I like my sports to function as sports. That whole "the best competing against the best" thing is oddly compelling for some reason.
Tim Marchman: I forgot that was happening. I can't keep track of all the cards anymore.
Tomas Rios: There was a time I could recite upcoming fights without trying. Now I just try to keep a short list of fights I care about. I'm not the target UFC customer, but I am the kind of customer that the UFC needs to get any bigger than it is. That is to say I can afford things, and generally enjoy sports.
Tim Marchman: My list is the Fitch fight and... St. Pierre-Condit? I'm looking over the upcoming cards and seeing a bunch of guys I kind of assumed had retired. It's not that I don't pay attention as much as there is really not anything coming up that I especially cared about when I heard about it.
Tomas Rios: Yeah, that kinda sums it up. I can remember obscure Simpsons references, but the 5,879th permutation of anonymous white guy versus anonymous Brazilian guy? Nein.
Tim Marchman: Maybe I should be paying more attention to hype shows on Fuel, which I don't get.
Tomas Rios: What the shit is Fuel? You mean the band? Because they were also on my short list of bands the UFC emulated.
Tim Marchman: Do you know if they gave their roadies health insurance?
Tomas Rios: I'm going to assume Fuel played the RNC and say no. Paul Ryan's iPod playlist starts at Fuel and ends at Fuel.