As he walked down the aisle I felt the emotion he was protruding over a thousand miles away. It’s the sense of history and tradition that almost escaped last night but held on with a slip of a perfectly placed fist and a tap that sent me exploding off of my couch, angering my dog and waking the girlfriend.
Tito represents a last glimpse of childhood hero that is still holding his sword against foes who don’t understand the turmoil and hardships he has endured to bring the sport to where it is today.
As Tito walked back to the dressing room a fan was yelling at him. Not with rage but with pride and fulfillment. The man was telling Tito he was his hero and proudly pulled up his sleeve to show a tattoo of the original red punishment logo and centered fist. That fan I have never met shares an emotional bond developed from watching guys like Kerr, Wanderlei, Couture, shamrock, Gracie, Ruas, Sakuraba, and Frye turn into superheroes, fade out with their heads up and live on through legendary.
As a fan I’ve had to bite my tongue and shake my head through Tito’s tirades on the internet, cracked skulls, and the sightings with Tiki, but that’s part of why he is who he is.
Watching him hop up on the cage and scream fuck yeah with euphoria after digging the grave to cover it in the center of the octagon one more time sent a masculine tear down my cheek, as it did when Sakuraba’s body finally started to fall apart in the ring, and when Machida respectfully embraced Couture after a total destruction of a fighter he clearly cherished the same way I do.
Once they have all left their gloves in the cage and their mystic in the locker-room there is a void that will be left. It will be partly replaced by the gogos of Diaz, the kicks of Pettis, the comebacks like Kongo’s, the last minute triangle of Anderson, the smile on the last minute replacements face as his hand is raised, the beautiful striking display of the monsoon, and all the Peruvian neckties that come along with the ever-changing landscape that is MMA...