This weekend saw a fight card live from Vancouver that would have had most fanboys like myself scrambling for their wallets and pleading “Please, Dana, please take my $59.99”. Instead the entire thing, in all it’s glory was 100% absolutely as free and as easy to access as slap in Stockton.
While I was careening down the highway to a local watering hole, watching on my FOX SPORTS GO app, tempting fate to make me a statistic lest I miss Smile’n Sam score a gorilla strength KO over King Casey , I couldn’t help but rapid reflect on the past 18 months of fights and think to myself – “Self, I’m right in the middle of the best time for combat sports to ever exist, ever”. Not only are we as fans privileged to be watching fights put together from a roster deeper than Cyborg’s head crater, we’re getting it at a time when we can follow their personal narratives, training routines and hobbies on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. We have multiple device access to content hoarder’s nests like Fight Pass and Flow Combat (and WWE Network but that’s for a different blog). It’s like being a boxing fan in the late 60’s or early 70’s and having permission to sit at Ali’s breakfast table…or drive a golf cart alongside Norton as he jogged…or stand on the ring apron while Frazier destroyed focus mitts…or hang out in the training room with Liston while he was putting Jalapeno juice into Vaseline.
To put some icing on the proverbial multilayered, decadent a.f., German Chocolate Cake that is the MMA scene right now, it looks as if Bellator is going to substantiate itself as a legitimate source of competition for the UFC. Somewhat lost in the Fight Night Vancouver hoopla was the Bellator debut (in introduction only) of THE RED KING! Rory adds a different level of validity to the Bellator roster and brings legitimate mainstream name recognition that they’ve always lacked. Bellator’s night also saw former UFC Champ, Benson Henderson claim his first win since jumping ships – albeit from an in cage injury to his opponent. It’s hard to imagine a way that a real competition between The Ultimate Fighting Championship and Bellator couldn’t result in an even higher level of fight/fighter quality than we’re getting right now (weird to think that’s even possible, right?).
In my head the notion that we’re perched squarely in the middle of the fight fan promised land is absolute, rock solid, cannot be debated F.A.C.T. but hey, don’t take my word for it. Let’s look at some fights only since January of this year: We saw Robby Lawler go to a decision with Carlos Condit in a war that was harder to look away from than the Miesha Tate jump rope gif. Stephen Wonderboy Thompson introduced Johny Hendricks to his left foot and stamped his place as the baddest striker in the sport when he stopped him in the first round! The McGregor and Diaz Saga: The tale of two man who give zero f’s and whose fights require zero hype – fight number 2 possibly the best fight I’ve ever seen. Then in July Red King Rory edges Robby Lawler for 4.5 rounds in a FOTY candidate before having his nose turned into a mess comparable to sticking a Gremlin in the microwave…except worse. Not convinced? Think about this – THAT’S 8 MONTHS FROM ONLY ONE WEIGHT CLASS! Factor in the Holmes vs Rousey headkick clinic in Melbourne back in November, Miesha’s last minute Holmes tap to win the belt, Vanzant and Namajunas …oh wait…now I’m only talking about women…get the point. It’s amazing.
I don’t know when the breaking point of this tsunami wave of unbelievable battles comes but from where we’re sitting now it looks like there is plenty left to ride. The New York debut in Madison Square Garden at 205 promises to be a barn burner. The Jon Jones drama looks to be a bit less damning (boner pills<steroids). Anthony Johnson just broke the Mars Rover with Glover Teixeira’s tooth so we have some interesting match ups in the Light Heavyweight division too. The women’s bantamweight division is deeper and as wide open as it has ever been and Eddie Alvarez is getting called out by McGregor – please Lord, please.
These are truly exciting times with great things up around the bend. It’s great to be a fan living in the best times of the sport you love, and realizing it all the while. For as long as it lasts we should all be very thankful.