Tonight, I sat down to watch some select fights from PRIDE: Bushido 13. After moving out earlier this year and away from my brothers extensive MMA DVD library (UFCs 1-104 and every PRIDE barring "The Best Ofs" and Shockwave 2002) I have left the majority of my MMA video viewing to the Internet.
I had recently been lent Bushido 13 by my brother so that I could see some fights I had not seen such as the welterweight grand prix finals, Gomi vs. Aurelio 2, and Mousasi vs. Lombard.
Once I put the DVD in, my roommate came out to see what I was watching. Although he had a small knowledge of jiu-jitsu due to my routine drunken displays he was still very much an MMA-neophyte and had absolutely no idea what was going on.
As I was aware of all the fight results, I decided to try and do my best to educate him using the fights.
Quickly my thoughts turned to how best approach the situation.
I had one card, which featured eleven fights.
Do I show him the semi-finals and then the final of the tournament so he can connect with a fighter (aka the YAMMA Pit Fighting method)?
Do I attempt to find a stand-up war to lure him in? Or perhaps the opposite and show him some Aoki?
I decided to just skip to the final and put on Denis Kang vs. Kazuo Misaki and try and walk him through the fight and point out positions and try and let him know what each fighter was trying to do
After some wild exchanges to begin the fight, Kang scored a takedown and landed in MIsaki's soon to be closed guard. Misaki controlled Kang's head while Kang through some very tight hammerfists.
"Can you explain this homosexual activity?" My roommate asks.
It's cool, I think. This is how I started out, gay jokes. Then something cool happens and you start getting interested.
Kang stands up in Misaki's guard and tries to throw down some hard punches. He falls back into a Misaki triangle and postures up to avoid danger. Misaki clumsily works to lock it in while Kang lifts him up and slams him down.
"Woah." says, roommate.
That's better, I think.
Kang moves to side control and shortly after the fight returns to the feet. Some wild striking and some takedowns follow that receive no reaction. The round ends. The second round picks up where the first leaves off and in the last minute of the round, Kang and Misaki start trading heavily which peaks my roommates interest a little.
However, the fight ends and my roommate looks pretty non-plussed about the whole thing.
I need a new attack. I think back to how people got interested in the first place. The smaller man, defeating the larger man with technique. Gracie vs. Shamrock, Gracie vs. Severn, that kind of thing. But alas, all I have is the Japanese equivalent. I select Ikuhisa Minowa vs. Mike Plotcheck.
For those who have not seen the fight, I envy you. The purpose of this fight was to illustrate technique over size as I expected a quick Minowaman leg lock victory, what I got though was an example of energy over incompetence.
Plotcheck looked to fight in slow motion while Minowaman scored takedowns and got battered looking for submission attempts. My roommate was amused by a kick/takedown attempt from Minowa but was ultimately left disturbed and disillusioned when round two opened up with an over muscled, gassed man with his hands down staring at a man in black underpants with a battered face for the majority of the five minutes with only some of the slowest strikes and counters you've ever seen seperating the lack of action.
Needless to say this was the last fight I showed, before I slinked off to my room.
My little experiment takes me back to the questions I have surrounding promotions outside of ZUFFA and the task they have in promoting ex-UFC and PRIDE fighters they have without access to their highlight clips. Hypothetically speaking, if Strikeforce actually signed Dan Henderson how could they warrant the money they'd spend on him compared to how much he'd bring in when they have absolutely no footage of him to advertise.
You can tell everyone Fedor Emelianenko is the best heavyweight on the planet but if you can only show him beating up and choking out a tall and goofy looking Tim Sylvia (who also has no footage available that could make him seen important) then you end up just relying on words to get people interested.
I can try and explain to my roommate that MMA is extremely technical and exciting, that MMA was founded on technique overcoming strength and that jiu-jitsu isn't you know...gay but if all I have to fall back on is my word and the lacklustre fights of PRIDE: Bushido 13, I'm always going to end up slinking off to my room.
In closing I'd just like to ask a few questions:
- Is there a science to educating newer fans?
- Do fighters like Dan Henderson and Fedor Emelianenko have an appropriate level of value to an organization like Strikeforce considering they have no footage that is available to advertise?
- What would you have done differently in my situation re: roomate?
- If you had a single card to show a newby, what would it be?