FanPost

Finally done with my MMA history marathon, now for my rambling thoughts

So a couple months ago, I decided to educate my inner amateur MMA historian and watch every event from the major MMA promotions (UFC, Pride, K-1 Hero's, and WEC) in chronological order. I started seriously getting into MMA around UFC's 85ish to 95ish, so I had a LOT of work ahead of me. Fast forward to the present, and here I am, greyed with MMA wisdom. Anyway, onto my list of random, stream-of-consciousness thoughts I was thinking as I watched the old events:

  • It's really amazing that Frank Mir ever managed to become the UFC HW champion and stay in the top 10 for so long. This is the guy that got absolutely mauled by Ian Freeman, yet he can say that he's the first person to ever knock out and submit Big Nog. Also, just a brief aside, but his submission of Pete Williams was awesome, I wonder why you don't see that move more often in MMA.
  • It's conventional wisdom that Pride's HW division was stronger than the UFC's while Pride was still active. I will say, however, that after watching Ricco Rodriguez vs. Big Nog fight pretty much to a draw (Big Nog's win was bullshit), I'm led to believe there was a period when the HW talent was split half and half. Yes, Fedor lorded over everyone, but ignoring him, it's hard for me to say that UFC's roster of Ricco Rodriguez, a young Andrei Arlovski, and aging but still dangerous Pedro Rizzo was somehow so inferior to Pride's roster of Big Nog, Heath Herring, and Fujita.
  • I came out of this experience kind of disappointed in Wanderlei's legacy. Yeah, the guy bashed in Rampage's face, but his psycho killer reputation I find is a bit overblown. His first fight with Dan Henderson especially spoiled that reputation for me. The first round was an insane war between them, but once the second round came, Wanderlei basically LnP'd his way to a decision victory. My MMA boner was so hard for that fight, only to go flaccid towards the end in disappointment. Also, people make a big deal about his incredibly long win streak in Pride, but... seriously, he fought a lot of cans.
  • Dave Terrell, man, what an unsung hero. Huge shame that his career was spoiled by so many injuries. Also, turns out that the WEC used to have a fighter named Dave Terrel. That was confusing.
  • Carlos Newton, another unsung hero. I wonder how much better his record would've been if he had trained with a better camp. Come to think of it, Murilo Bustamante's another one of those guys who doesn't get enough credit. He fought an incredibly close fight against Rampage, even though Rampage was probably something like 20 lbs. heavier than him.
  • For all the people who keep harping on about how Igor Vovchanchyn is one of the greatest HW's ever... I agree with you. That guy was a badass.
  • Pat Miletich was probably one of the most boring UFC champions ever. Every fight of his, I zoned off and couldn't recall what on earth happened during his fight.
  • For how often people cry "PRIDE NEVER DIE", it's amazing how boring the first few Pride events were. Pride 4 stands out especially strong as a painfully boring event.
  • Since I'm ragging on everything that was boring, Jesus Christ, there was a brief period in UFC history somewhere in the UFC 20-30 era, IIRC, when wrestlers realized they could just lie on top of people en route to a decision victory. That era was fucking terrible, thank god I didn't get into MMA at that time.
  • It was weird watching Don Frye's interviews during his UFC tournament runs. That was a very humble, respectful, normal Don Frye that's the polar opposite of the drunk Amurrcan Don Frye we have today.
  • Throughout Pride's history, I kept having "Why?" moments for their indescribably idiotic matchmaking. Like, Wanderlei Silva vs. Kazushi Sakuraba 2 and 3. As much as Pride was awesome, thank god the UFC won out, because we get much more sensible, responsible matchmaking now.
  • Another thing that Pride made me question "Why?" often was the fighters they signed and retained for so long. They had so many fighters I just couldn't care about, like Akira Shoji... and of course they were then matched up against the champions for epic can-crushing.
  • Joachim Hansen's knee KO against Masakazu Imanari was... wow. Not talked about that often because it's hidden underneath all of Cro Cop's high kicks and Liddell's overhand rights, but hot damn, that was violent.
  • I'm hard-pressed to think of a fighter physically more unappealing than Yoshihisa Yamamoto. I bash on Tim Sylvia, Cole Konrad, and Josh Barnett for being physically uneappling, but holy fuck, Yamamoto was one ugly bastard. It didn't help that his shorts looked more like diapers, so the end result was an overgrown, fat, ugly baby.
  • I thoroughly enjoyed Jeff Blatnik's run as color commentator for the UFC. I thought he actually had a much better chemistry with Mike Goldberg as the educated one of the two than Joe Rogan currently does. It was also refreshing to hear Blatnik discuss the grappling portion more with wrestling terminology and theory than the BJJ terminology Rogan uses. I think a good color commentating cast would be Rogan for BJJ, Blatnik for wrestling, and Ricco Rodriguez or Ray Sefo for striking.
  • I've gotta say, I basically lost respect for K-1 Hero's to the point that I gave up on that organization for this project. It felt like I was watching a Japanese version of King of the Cage with a thousand times the budget. They rarely ever set up meaningful matches, so you got a ton of squash matches that artificially inflated the fighters' worth. It's truly no wonder why Akiyama's done so poorly in the UFC or JZ Cavalcante have recently when they only fought a bunch of nobodies, yet MMA publications for whatever reason decided to rank JZ as a top 10 LW for the longest time.
  • Y'know what, I'm still not done bashing MMA publications for their idiotic LW rankings. Ok, so I understand that it was a lineage thing. The UFC's top LW's ended up fighting in Japan when the UFC decided to dissolve its LW division, so that's why the top 10 has been spread over so many organizations for such a long time. K-1 Hero's picked up Caol Uno to legitimize its LW division, while Pride picked up Jens Pulver and Yves Edwards. So, I get why Joachim Hansen, Tatsuya Kawajiri, and Takanori Gomi were top 10 LW's for the 2003-2006 period. That said, why on earth were they still ranked top 10 long after 2006? It should've been clear that by 2007-2008, the UFC's reborn LW division was filled with the new top dogs in Hermes Franca, Joe Stevenson, Sean Sherk, etc., whereas Pride's LW's were in decline.
  • How awesome would Genki Sudo vs. BJ Penn have been? Jesus Christ, why did Sudo have to retire so early?
  • As much as I hate Nick Diaz, the conventional wisdom that he can't handle wrestlers is overblown. The only fighter who really outwrestled him during his prior UFC run was Diego Sanchez, but his fights with Joe Riggs and Sean Sherk were more striking matches than anything else. And after watching Nate Diaz's recent performance against Jim Miller, it's hard to think that his older brother who's the better fighter would somehow get LnP'd all the time if he fought wrestlers. Yet for whatever reason, the UFC refuses to book him against a wrestler in wrestlerweight.
  • Did anyone else laugh when Gary Goodridge's hoochie mama ran into the cage after Gilbert Yvel knocked him out? That made me laugh so hard, and I'm not sure exactly why.
  • Who the fuck was the early UFC's ring announcer, and why was he on staff for so long? His habit of repeating names was so annoying and awkward. "AND ON THIS CORNER, THIS MANNNN IS A GRACIE JIUJITSU PRACTIONER. ROYCEEEE GRACIEEEE, GRACIEEEEE."
  • The whole racist stigma about the explosive, athletic black fighter vs. hardworking white fighter is incredibly overrated. Every color commentator in MMA has described explosive fighters as explosive, and this includes white-ass dudes like Sean Sherk and Urijah Faber. Also, I mean really, who doesn't think Kevin Randleman, Melvin Guillard, Jon Jones, and Melvin Manhoef are "explosive and athletic"?
  • There are a lot of fighters whose entertainment value is vastly overrated. I couldn't recall ever being entertained by Robbie Lawler, Jeremy Stephens, or Josh Koscheck because of their own styles. Anytime they had a fun fight, it was because their opponents made it awesome, not because of them themselves.
  • Oh my god, the "Japanese samurai warrior spirit" has to be one of the most annoying memes ever in all of MMA. It's such a stupid, exotic stereotype of Japanese fighters that people apply in every situation they possibly can. Did a Japanese fighter get completely stomped and cried because he lost embarrassingly? It's because his samurai warrior spirit makes him passionate. Did he lose a fight by close decision? It's because his samurai warrior spirit made him keep fighting for a lost cause. Did he win? It's because he's got samurai blood in him. God, just shut the fuck up already.
  • How sad is it that HW's are as good and as bad as they were almost 8 years ago? Especially when you compare them to the LW division, it's just sad. Like I mentioned earlier, from 2003-2006, the LW talent was split among several Japanese orgs, yet the HW division stayed largely intact. The difference is that the LW diaspora had this seeding effect, where new prospects and future champions emerged. HW's just sucked throughout history, even when the talent has been consolidated for so long.
  • Going back to Pat Miletich, I was strangely irritated watching him constantly dislodge his mouthpiece in order to breathe through his mouth. It made him look like a fish gobbling or something. Jamie Varner shares that same fish mouth quality, only he doesn't even need the mouthpiece, he does it whenever he talks.
  • How did BJ Penn ever lose? He's like the complete opposite of Frank Mir, in that it was very clear from the get-go that BJ's talents were otherworldly, yet he consistently found ways to disappoint his fans and lose.
  • I have this sneaking suspicion (almost said submission, wow, I've been watching too much MMA) that Zuffa's tried its damndest to promote Tiki Ghosn for whatever dumb reason. The guy was given so many chances in both the UFC and WEC yet he lost every single fight. It's truly amazing how irrelevant his career is, yet we see his face everywhere. He's like the Kim Kardashian of MMA.
  • Similar to how the HW division has stagnated for years now, it's an absolute wonder how Mike Goldberg manages to suck at commentating after all this time. He's been working for the UFC for years, yet he still sounds like he just started watching MMA. I mean, I admit I was a dumbass when I first started watching MMA. I thought Chuck Liddell was the pinnacle of striking abilities. Of course I learned I was wrong, but hey, I actually learned something! Goldberg, on the other hand, hasn't improved one bit in his UFC tenure.
  • You know how everyone bitches about Kenny Florian's brother as one of the most annoying cornermen ever? Add Kawajiri's cornerman to that list. My god, that guy's voice grated on my ears.
  • The collective MMA community has to take a moment and admit, "Ok, we fucked up." The idea that super huge, powerful wrestlers would dominate the HW rankings has been debunked so many times throughout MMA history, it's ridiculous. First it was Ken Shamrock, then Dan Severn, then Mark Coleman, then Mark Kerr, etc. Every time a gigantic wrestler won a major championship, he eventually lost to much smaller men. We should've seen that one coming for Brock Lesnar when he was the UFC champion.
  • Pride had a couple of karateka vs. judoka matches that were painfully embarrassing to watch, most notably Masaaki Satake vs. Naoya Ogawa. Satake didn't have the grappling experience to defend takedowns, while Ogawa didn't have the striking experience to set up his takedown attempts with strikes. I think Pride's executives meant to use this as a showcase to increase enrollment in judo and karate classes, but throughout the fight, I was like, "Uhhh, I think I'll stick with muay Thai and BJJ."
  • You know what was awesome about Takanori Gomi? It was after he won by UD versus either Jean Silva or Luiz Azeredo (two badasses who everyone forgot about, by the way) that he was visibly frustrated with himself because he couldn't get the knockout. It's so admirable that he cares so much about his fans that he disappoints himself if he wins by decision. Compare that to Frankie Edgar, who whines that he thought "he did enough to win" just because he landed some weak punches and takedowns without any damage.
  • It's amazing how much nutrition and weight-cutting has improved over the years. Basically everyone went down a whole weight category over the years. Jens Pulver was considered one of the strong guys at 155, but last I heard, he's cutting down all the way to 135. Meanwhile, Ben Henderson's reigning at 155 even though he would've been a 170 lber if this was the year 2003.

Ok, that's enough for now, but I'll probably add onto this list. If anyone actually finished reading all of this, I hope you were mildly entertained.

\The FanPosts are solely the subjective opinions of Bloody Elbow readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bloody Elbow editors or staff.

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