UFC: The Ultimate Evolution

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“There are no rules!” – the original tagline that attracted the first UFC viewers.

I have recently started to get in on the often hyped and controversial extravaganza known as the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and I have found that I am getting quite addicted for better or worse. Watching the UFC from the very beginning when it started in front of a minuscule crowd at McNichols Arena and seeing its evolution (I’m up to UFC X so far) is quite amazing. The multiple personalities and stars that emerged from those first fights is what gave the event sheer life, what gave it hope and something to shoot for. When you watch or come to a UFC fight, you immediately look for the stars and big names, if you know anything about the history of the sport. It’s good to see new faces as well and watch them work their way up the ladder towards MMA glory, going from unknown to superstar sometimes in the blink of an eye.

I feel that it’s quite hard for me to get interested in an entirely new sport without seeing it develop from the very beginning and getting to know some personalities, which is why I have mildly suffered through some laughable moments early on including Rich “G-Man” Goins’ weird announcing gimmicks (saying the last name twice) and fighter info being mixed up, not to mention the tacky on screen graphics.

Those shorts…

The UFC has been going on continuously since its founding in 1993 and has recently hit a surge in popularity with the rise of superstar fighters such as Conor McGregor, Ronda Rousey, Cris Cyborg, and Junior dos Santos. I have to say I already know more about the old school UFC than the modern and can only name a couple of names off the top of my head. Some of the legendary names from what seems like the ancient past are Royce Gracie, Ken Shamrock, Dan Severn, Tank Abbott, Big Daddy Goodridge, and of course Art “one boxing glove” Jimmerson, the only man to wear a boxing glove to a UFC fight. The first person to lose a UFC fight will always be known as Teila Tuli, AKA Taylor Wily, who had to leave after taking a foot to the face and losing a tooth. The fight lasted less than 30 seconds. That is one famous tooth, which was likely lost somewhere around the announcer’s table and swept up later on after the fight. That tooth would be worth millions today if sold online. Tuli was in only one UFC fight, the first. You can now find him playing Kamekona on the reboot of Hawaii Five-0.

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Royce Gracie at UFC 1

What was once quite an obscure sport slinking in the shadows of mainstream status transformed into a global sensation, but not without its controversy. Way back in UFC 9 of May 1996, as the UFC was just finally starting to get its bearings, Senator John McCain stepped in and declared that the bouts in the Octagon were like “human cockfighting”. He was successful in banning the event from many cable stations, thus stopping people from watching the upcoming pay per view, giving it a bad reputation. If this so called sport was going to survive, mixed martial arts would have to clean up its act. If you want to point the finger at the person responsible for making the UFC too sanitized, polished, and boring, point it at McCain. But on the other hand, if you want to point the finger at the person responsible for discussing the elephant in the room, the fact that this was teetering on the edge of being quite illegal, and motivating the sport to change for the better, point it at McCain.

Since a unified set of rules have been set in place for MMA worldwide, something that took decades to achieve, McCain has gotten off the UFC’s back, letting it grow and thrive into what it is today. It used to be quite a brutal sport, that while quite entertaining to watch because of the no-holds barred action and unpredictability, was quite barbaric and dangerous. Now its still quite a spectacle to see but a lot safer and fairer for both competitors in The Octagon. While I’m quite new to the whole sport of mixed martial arts, I seem to understand now why this has become such a popular attraction. You’ve got the Octagon girls, the merchandise, the video games, Fight Pass, TV, the Hall of Fame, reality shows, and numerous other things to check out. It’s quite the well rounded experience and takes the experience to the next level.

The creators of the original Ultimate Fighting Championship pay-per-view event never in a million years thought they were going to create an entirely new sport: modern mixed martial arts. They most certainly probably never thought they’d be contributing to the evolution of a 10,000 year old activity in just two decades: fighting. That first fight was supposed to be a one time thing to see who would win in a fight. A wrestler vs a boxer? Karate vs jujitsu? It was like randomly drawing two disciplines out of a hat and seeing what came out. Now 300 something fights later and that idea has been developed to a level 100 times greater. The old and modern UFC can be divided along one point: before Dana White and after Dana White. He has greatly contributed to the development of the sport and the overall marketing  The evolution is still unfinished though. The next step is seeing if the UFC’s business model is truly sustainable for the long run.


The Hike to Glory

The football season continues
Warriors come to battle
These foot soldiers in colorful wear
Under the lights, Monday night

Defend your turf
Reinforce the gate
Because the object of this game
Is to keep the enemy at bay

And at the end of it all
The gleaming prize you see
Is the legendary Lombardi trophy
Going to the last standing team


Take the Cake

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The Colin Kaepernick kneeling controversial is perhaps the silliest story to come out this fall. It takes the cake as football’s first big scandal this season after months of afor the new season. In a preseason game, Kaepernick kneeled down while the national anthem was playing to protest because he didn’t want to support a country that oppressed blacks and minorities, based off the happenings in Ferguson and beyond. Another player joined him to support his views on the current state of things. Now U.S. women’s soccer star Megan Rapinoe, who was on the 2015 World Cup winning squad, did the same thing as a “nod to Kaepernick”. And social media blew up.

I don’t see anything wrong with this kind of protest. Kaepernick had every right to express his opinion. The media will find anything they can to get a heated discussion going. The Deflategate controversy is all but exhausted. Let’s get our hands on something else that has little to no meaning on how the season unfolds.


Ryan Lochte? Obviously

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Of course Ryan Lochte gets on Dancing with the Stars. All of the drama that ensued during the Rio games, the run-in with the Brazilian police, only served to give himself more exposure and ways to get his name discussed. After his Olympic career was over, no one would even bring up Lochte’s name in a discussion again. Stepping out of the shadow of 28 Olympic medal winner Michael Phelps was his goal and it looks like it is happening. He even dyed his hair these past Games to better differentiate himself from the rest (the explanation). The Lochte-Phelps semi-rivalry is all but done now with both retiring this year from Olympic sports but there is always action to be had out of the pool.


Youth Pastime

That’s a funny word. Pastime. I always thought it should be two words. Pass time as in something you do to pass the time. Baseball is still called America’s pastime though it has started to die out in favor of faster sports and activities.

One of the favorite things about being a kid in the old days was going out and throwing a baseball. Now in the 2010s decade, that activity isn’t so prominent anymore with all the techno gadgets floating around, which I don’t mind because it makes life more interesting.

This video is from a baseball game from last year that we went to. The home team won 6-0. I went to my first baseball game at six years old at the old Tiger Stadium, which is now likely to inhabit actual live tigers (and other wildlife) because it is so neglected.


Going for the Gold

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The time has come again
To come together as one

A world celebrating sport
And all the thrill that comes with it
Praise your nation
And make a bold wish
Upon the fiery flames
Roaring from the cauldron
The beginning and the end
The alpha and omega
Of the Olympic dance

Racing Stripes

So racing at the Brickyard is back, for the Americans. The Brickyard 400. Recently retired Jeff Gordon is back in the car, driving the number 88, in place of Dale Earnhardt Jr., who suffered a concussion a few weeks ago. I’ve enjoyed racing since I was a small child and started watching all the races in 2003. Lately though, NASCAR has become boring and vanilla what with the new chase for the championship format and crowning a random driver champion every year. Turning back the clock, I realize how much the sport has changed with drivers coming and going and the added social layer of the Internet. Today I realized that one section of grandstands at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway was basically empty, a sad sign that an event once hyped and anticipated has lost it’s luster now in its 22nd year. Still great, but never will be the same.