Yakkin' About Mixed Martial Arts: What's Going Down with "The Count"

Tim-Tomas bring it like a Michael Bisping movie, only with less third act problems
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Now with fully articulated punches, that still can't knock anyone out

Photo courtesy of Flickr

Tim Marchman: Since some guy on the internet capped on us for mentioning ancient punk bands in a bid for hip pop culture credibility the last time we did one of these, I just wanted to mention that I'm listening to Bratmobile.

Tomas Rios: Listening to Hall & Oates, because Hall & Oates is how I plan on capturing the zeitgeist. It's also appropriate since after UFC 152, I'm in my ‘I Can't Go For That’ mode in response to most anything anyone says about MMA.

Tim Marchman: How about if someone says that putting Matt “The Hammer” Hamill on a fight card people are paying to see in 2012 is illegal under the Convention on the Law of the Sea?

Tomas Rios: My knowledge of the intersection between maritime law and MMA is tragically lacking, but I do know Michael Bisping inspired ‘You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'.’ How the guy who, when on The Ultimate Fighter, dismissed a castmate by saying that the dude looked like he'd rather be out in a field "smokin' dope" ever lost the fans, I'll never know. Oh wait, it's because Michael Bisping doesn't understand things.

Tim Marchman: Michael fucking Bisping, man. The obvious good point about him winning is that he will probably end up fighting Chris Weidman or Anderson Silva. In that sense, we all won along with him. On a main card with Roger Hollett, though, he stood out as the obvious non-athlete.

Tomas Rios: Michael Bisping also inspired the direct-to-DVD sequel ‘White Man Can't Knock Anyone Out Ever, Not Even With An Illegal Strike,’ better known as WMCKAOENEWAIS. The production was troubled and it had serious third act issues, kind of like Bisping's career, since now he's at the point where winning a title is the only thing left that makes narrative sense and it's just not gonna happen, dude.

Tim Marchman: He can fight as long as he wants to and I'll watch, because I never get tired of watching him try to avoid Dan Henderson's right hand in fights that don't have Dan Henderson in them. We should mention Brian Stann here, too. He is an admirable guy, but the real Captain America would be able to consistently stuff whatever that takedown thing Bisping uses is called.

Tomas Rios: The British call takedowns "beggars follies."

Tim Marchman: Brian Stann will one day call his testosterone replacement therapy Super Soldier Serum.

Tomas Rios: I know nothing about Stann because every time he's on my TV all I can think is, "Yes, we get it. You went to Army."

Tim Marchman: He went to Navy, actually, where he was a linebacker.

Tomas Rios: It's not even his fault, it's just UFC marketing that takes any storytelling note and plays it like Steve Vai at gunpoint.

Tim Marchman: I have an Army buddy who loves Stann precisely because he is obviously embarrassed by UFC's gauche handling of his military record.

Tomas Rios: Gauche is far too fancy a word to use when discussing UFC marketing tactics.

Tim Marchman: "Brian, why don't you wear your Silver Star to the ring?" 

"I, uh, think that's illegal under regulations, Mr. White."

Tomas Rios: "Brian, no big deal, but we have this Arab guy over for you to shoot. Like we said, no big deal if you'd rather not, but it could really help pay-per-view buys!"

"What do you guys think I did?"

Tim Marchman: While Brian Stann was reconsidering his career choices, Charles Oliveira was recovering from the first knockout ever to have been scripted by Buster Keaton.

Tomas Rios: There isn't much absurdity I won't see coming from a guy who once said "Jiu-jitsu is above the wrestling." Even a pomo interpretation of a talented prospect with no brains getting knocked out by a dude with palm tree tats named Cub.

Tim Marchman: I am hoping there is a quality picture of Cub Swanson's ink available for me to filch to run with this, because while the guy is a pretty damn good fighter who has clearly earned the right to step up to the Chad Mendes level of competition, he also has probably the most ridiculous non-neo-fascist work in the game on his back. Learn the lessons of Cub Swanson and Chris Sale, young people. Don't get your name tattooed on your back.

Tomas Rios: Cub Gooding Jr. messed with Chad Mendes once before, dude. No one remembers it because the fight was so bad it triggered self-preservation amnesia in 98.6% of all MMA fans.

Tim Marchman: Oh my God.

Tomas Rios: Oh. Dip.

Tim Marchman: What is that? Is he praying to the Sky God of Bad Tattoos? "I have yielded my back to you... give me knockout power over Charles Oliveira."

Tomas Rios: THE POWER OF POOR DECISION MAKING COMPELS YOU.

Tim Marchman: Is that worse than Lint from Rancid getting his whole dome covered in a spider web so that he can't go out in public without a porkpie hat?

Tomas Rios: Rancid. Porkpie hats. So much zeitgeist, bro. Circling back to amnesia, I feel like I will die trying to make people remember the fact that Demetrious Johnson is the smartest fighter in MMA.

Tim Marchman: I would attest to his intelligence but he was moving too quickly for me to tell what the fuck he was doing. I was kind of fixated on Joseph Benavidez pioneering the use of negative space as an aesthetic tool with which to impress judges.

Tomas Rios: It's amusing. Benavidez was a strong favorite based on being Urijah Faber's bro, I guess?

Tim Marchman: Also, the booing. Dana White is ridiculous but his speech about how anyone who was booing that fight should just never watch MMA again was pretty spot on.

Tomas Rios: Irony being that the people who boo the flyweights are the people Dana is trying to squeeze pay-per-view cash out of. You reap what you sow, and you get the fans you market to.

Tim Marchman: "Hey, I have spent years and tens of millions of dollars marketing this thing as a high end Toughman contest, and am now very irritated that you don't appreciate Demetrious Johnson's intricate footwork and delicate feints." With this said, I appreciate Dana's conundrum here. Defense doesn't sell to Americans in any sport, leave alone sophisticated tacticians who seek to outwit savvy defenders by making them defend things that aren't there, thus leaning into things that are.

Tomas Rios: From my point of view, Dana's only conundrum is that he has to do his job. If you can't get people interested in world-class athletes, maybe you ain't about this life. No one's expecting Dana to get a million buys on the back of a flyweight fight, but no one should forgive Dana for courting the kind of audience that would boo a great fight.

Tim Marchman: Speaking of world class athletes (in addition to this X record I am listening to, which I mention only because I am interested in establishing my with it pop culture sensibility), Vitor Belfort caught Jon Jones in an armbar that popped his elbow and made his arm go numb. 

Tomas Rios: Sorry, can't hear or feel anything over the sound of me and Robyn capturing the zeitgeist and stashing it in our basement.

Tim Marchman: Jones responded by deadlifting his 204 pound opponent with one arm and powerbombing him, a move previously seen only in pro wrestling matches, and then calmly spent the next two plus round kicking him in the face at will and so on. Naturally, the narrative coming out of the fight was about how tough Belfort is. What's the deal?

Tomas Rios: This fight was supposed to go the way it did save for Belfort having a legit moment. Rather than taking that narrative as is, it's become a fucking warrior hymn for the same dude who gives up on fights the second his hands hurt.

Tim Marchman: So Jones really is the LeBron of MMA, then?

Tomas Rios: I think Tiger Woods is the more fitting comparison. Jones [BLACK MAN] is going to be MMA's biggest star and that's not something MMA has ever had.

Tim Marchman: I don't know. I was talking about this to a smart MMA guy the other day and he figures MMA's audience is just too racist for Jones to ever be as big as he should be.

Tomas Rios: That Jones is a hypocritical holy roller with a smirk crafted from concentrated "Uggghhh...." doesn't help much, but yeah. MMA has some race problems.

Tim Marchman: On the other hand I watched with a bunch of Latino hard men who were big on Jones-Cain Velasquez/Junior dos Santos as a fight they want to see and laying in some perceptive talk about the strengths and weaknesses of the stand up games involved in the various iterations of that fight. I sometimes figure that the audience, at least in pockets, is a little different than it's sometimes credited for.

Tomas Rios: North American MMA fans are hecka white and hecka male and I defy you to find me a good thing that ever happened when large groups of white males came together to watch sports.

Tim Marchman: English football?

Tomas Rios: Any Philadelphia sports thing ever?

Tim Marchman: I was covering a Phillies game that took place on the same day as an Eagles-Giants game once and heard a lady bragging on how she and her man had been sitting behind a guy with a Jeremy Shockey jersey on, so in the third quarter her man just leaned over and vomited on the guy. Contra my good vibes re: Latino hard men talking about how Cain's power can work in different registers, which is kind of rare for a heavy, I think that dude is the MMA audience.

Tomas Rios: The MMA audience is everyone I've ever disagreed with on anything ever. I swear my spiteful English lit teacher from high school is in the crowd of every UFC show. My life is a meandering Stephen King short story. Just ride it out and hope it doesn't get any weirder, because if it does there's gonna be a Tom "Flash" Gordon bit. Again, zeitgeist.


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We should mention Brian Stann here, too. He is an admirable guy, but the real Captain America would be able to consistently stuff whatever that takedown thing Bisping uses is called.
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earned the right to step up to the Chad Mendes level of competition, he also has probably the most ridiculous non-neo-fascist work in the game on his back. Learn the lessons of Cub Swanson and Chris Sale, young people.
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the most ridiculous non-neo-fascist work in the game on his back. Learn the lessons of Cub Swanson and Chris Sale, young people. Don't get your name tattooed on your back.
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