A year or so ago, I had little idea of who Mark Hunt was. I remember watching him fight Chris Tuscherereere, thinking to myself that Dana White must avert his eyes when that much belly flab undulates about the octagon; Dana disdains the unphotogenic fighter, after all. Even when fans posted about the walk off K.O., I thought to myself, big deal; Chris Tuschurereerere was not a victory one applauded from the rooftops.
Then, Alistair Overeem failed to happen, failed to make his assigned beatdown with Junior Dos Santos, and a strange new cry rang out across the Bloody Elbow. "Mark Hunt", they said. They posted highlight videos, stated their case, enthusiastically nominated a heavyweight who was born down, who could bang with the best of them, who had a head made of stone and gave no fucks. "Why do they care so much about this Mark Hunt?" I wondered, so I watched the videos, watched a fighter take a shot to the face, drop his hands and lean forward to demand more...a move so counter to everything in heavyweight combat sports that Seanbaby was moved to write a Cracked article about it...and I began to be swayed.
The inexorable tide of what could be pulled me out into deeper waters, and before I could cry for the lifeguard, I had created a Twitter account to #RallyForMarkHunt. The man himself took note of us, dubbed us his #ArmyofDoom, and the infectious spirit even roused the Man Who Gives No Fucks to a new level of dedication to his chosen profession. We saw a new side of Mark Hunt, found him engaging and humorous, and it became even easier to believe. I rallied. I rallied enthusiastically, feverishly, relentlessly. I created occasions to hashtag, even including Justin Bieber in my appeals to Dana White, Lorenzo Fertita and countless other UFC employees. I was tireless. I sent thousands of tweets, but it wasn't to be...yet. Instead, Frank Mir walked into the inevitable outcome, leaving us to mourn quietly for what could have been.
Then, Fate would once again tempt us, and the fires were stoked. "He's riding a four win streak" we noted. "He was born down" we emphatically observed. He was clearly the right choice to fight JDS, and finally, the UFC agreed. The fight was made.
This morning, as I glare through bloodshot eyes at a screen tinted with Remorse, the excess alcohol my liver could not process is off-gassing through my skin as though I were an overripe onion, and my heart is broken in two pieces, and I realize, this is all your fault, Bloody Elbow. It was this cursed internet forum that first began to believe in something fun, something incredible, that Cinderella stories could become real. It was the #RallyForMarkHunt that changed the color of my glasses from dark jade to light rose, that fooled me into thinking fun could be trusted.
When I was a kid, Fun convinced me of all sorts of things; jumping into creeks, building forts that later melted, crafting shoddy ramps in an attempt to launch my bike into "big air"...and every time, fun was wrong. Those were terrible ideas, that always ended up with me bruised, battered, clothes tattered and filthy, parents angry. Fun was never around when I had to explain why I was a mess, or my lower lip had a hole through it and my mouth was full of rocks (the ill-advised bike ramp) or where the pack of cigarettes had come from. As an adolescent, I learned to stop listening to Fun and do the responsible, adult things. Logic became my new friend as I invested my money wisely on rent and groceries instead of beer and movie tickets.
Rush Limbaugh was fond of co-opting Maureen McGovern's "The Morning After" to gleefully rain on the winning voter's parade after the election, saying the economic recession we were suffering was like the hangover after a night of ill-advised inebriation in celebration of something improbable, and today is my morning after. I let Fun back into my life, I believed in fighters who had heart, I rooted for guys who had statistically fewer chances of winning, and now, the piper is at my door, taking payment in the form of my heavy heart.
Damn you, #RallyForMarkHunt and damn you, #ArmyofDoom, you are nothing but my old childhood "friend", Fun, come back to taunt me again. I let you suck me in, let you convince me that fighting and MMA could be about having a good time and enjoying the spectacle of grown men testing themselves in the arena of combat, that long odds sometimes pay off. I drank the ambrosia of What Could Be, and now I'm hungover, hoarse and hairy-mouthed, and I blame you. Curse you. Curse you all.