I'm only just now learning about Mickey Rourke's return to the boxing ring at 62 years of age. But before I talk about the UFC while using the Mickey Rourke situation as a stats dashboard front, let's keep talking about Mickey Rourke for a second. For one, I have no idea what caused him to return to the ring. My investigative reporting of one click, and one page leads me to believe that all of this started because Ludmilla convinced Rourke to wear some Putin shirts. I think.
Then some guy behind the scenes whose boxing credentials include playing Marv from Sin City during Halloween agreed to take the fight. Meanwhile, Mickey's trainer was giving him the Rocky 6 speech:
To beat this guy, you need speed - you don't have it. And your knees can't take the pounding, so hard running is out. And you got arthritis in your neck, and you've got calcium deposits on most of your joints, so sparring is out...So, what we'll be calling on is good ol' fashion blunt force trauma. Horsepower. Heavy-duty, cast-iron, piledriving punches that will have to hurt so much they'll rattle his ancestors. Every time you hit him with a shot, it's gotta feel like he tried kissing the express train. Yeah! Let's start building some hurtin' bombs!
Thanks BE reader, Mjanecek. The end result of all this is something far less entertaining than watching Jean Claude Van Damme's infant son being hold hostage in the coliseum that is now booby trapped with mines, and a...tiger.
If you've seen some of Rourke's old pro fights, this should't be that shocking. For example, here he is in Germany in 1993, throwing innocuous looking uppercuts that make Thomas McCoy react like he's a Mortal Kombat character about to be sent flying into the spiked pit.
They say truth is stranger than fiction, but I feel like that axiom is challenged when fiction stars Mickey Rourke and a pair of boxing gloves. Nonetheless, here are five actual fights that I think compete.
Matt Lindland vs. Falaniko Vitale, UFC 43 June 6 2003
This one is a no brainer. Usually when you make a mistake, you still have the ability to recover. After all, traditional mistakes involve something less dramatic, like slipping. Rarely does a fighter's mistake end up doing so much damage that they need a doctor to remind them how they did it.
This was the first real octagon blooper of the Zuffa era as far as I can tell. Lindland was coming off a big win over Phil Baroni at the time, and was lining himself to be the man at Middleweight after Murilo Bustamante vacated the belt. Given Matt's style, and Zuffa's yearning for ratings, this result wasn't exactly unwelcome. Dana White's jedi mind trick worked.
Ken Shamrock vs. Kimo Leopoldo, UFC 48 June 19 2004
When people talk about UFC's most important historical figures, I'm not interested in any opinion that doesn't automatically recognize good ole' "beat you into the living death" Ken. Granted, I'm pretty sure this is an objective thing. Ken Shamrock's transition from UFC fighter turned pro wrestler turned UFC fighter again was something singular, and the UFC needed a singular fighter to pull ratings at a time when people had no idea the octagon existed without Royce Gracie.
However, that doesn't change how awful this fight was. I get that you wanted Ken to be a part of the spotlight while still retaining some level of success, but nobody asked for a rematch in the first place. What we got were two stag beetles suffering from arthritis locked in the center of the octagon for what felt like an eternity. Eternity being a minute, and 26 seconds in this case.
The KO itself isn't embarrassing per se, but in case it wasn't evidence enough that this wouldn't propel their careers, Kimo would go to be 1-3 in his last four following the bout, while Ken would go on a 2-7 run.
Louis Smolka vs. Richie Vaculik UFN 55, November 8 2014
Vaculik doesn't really have to be embarrassed. He put up a solid fight against Smolka leading up to the KO, but his performance, and the pressure of Smolka's foot in his face doesn't change the optics of this looking like the ending of a a Shawn Michaels pro wrestling match.
Gray Maynard vs. Rob Emerson Ultimate Fighter Finale, June 23 2007
This one technically constitutes a double KO, but not really. Where Gray need only be embarrassed about where he placed his head attempting the slam, Emerson should be embarrassed about his life.
Granted, it's hard to make that kind of mistake, but in the heat of the battle, I doubt Gray's first thought was making sure he'd stay conscious with Emerson clinging to his shoulders for dear life.
UFC 76: Knockout, September 22 2007
This one's kind of a cheat.
In case you're wondering why this is up here, and don't remember Keith Jardine (of rocket gif fame) and Chuck Liddell headlining this card, it's worth noting for being called "Knockout" while possessing...as you might have guessed...no knockouts. In addition, there were only 3 finishes.
There were some solid fights, however, so as this is thanksgiving, I recommend rewatching Tyson Griffin vs. Thiago Tavares, Rich Clementi vs. Anthony Johnson, and Matt Wiman vs. Michihiro Omigawa. Griffin and Tavares put on a hell of a technical grappling show, Clementi schools a still oversized AJ, and Wiman and Omigawa briefly turn into rock em sock em robots. Even the forgotten bouts, like Machida vs. Nakamura and Fitch vs. Sanchez are solid technical bouts. Especially Fitch vs. Sanchez. Diego had yet to turn into Arturo Gatti and opened the fight with a hilarious cannonball run toward Fitch's corner.
Still, I leave this card up here because it speaks to the UFC's sometimes embarrassing marketing cues. After all these years, they haven't honed down what it takes to market a card, still relying on the archaic notion that the UFC brand is a perpetual motion machine of public curiosity.
PS: On a lighter (and belated) note, happy thanksgiving BE. There are plenty of things we can all list in our persona lives that enrich our journey towards personhood. But that doesn't mean something as simple as not being embarrassed about spending time reading people comment about the content of this website isn't its own unique pleasure. So a toast to Nate Wilcox who tolerates my presence, Brent Brookhouse who does actual investigative reporting in a climate more interesting in Dana White's cologne, and the BE community at large. Have a great thanksgiving weekend!