UFC 159

Last night I finally finished watching my first UFC event (UFC 159, where Jones v Sonnen was the main event).

That shit was fun! While I’d seen bits here and there, had caught some of the reality show The Ultimate Fighter, seen the poor man’s UFC that is BAMMA, this was my first proper exposure to UFC proper.

For years I tried to talk myself into liking boxing. I could watch highlights but I rarely enjoyed a full fight. Boxing and MMA both have a constant underlying sense of potential danger during a fight, that it could end at any point. But, with boxing, you’ve got a good sense of what that ending could look like. But in UFC the finishing move can be an assortment of things: a simple punch, a takedown and submission, a flurry of elbows that the ref decides can’t be allowed to continue. I don’t know these fighters, their styles, their preferred types of attacks. So perhaps the finish is more expected to those more knowledgeable. All I know is that I could turn away from a fight for a second, and when I turn back everything can have changed. And that’s exciting.

I liked seeing Roy ‘Big Country’ Nelson (who, frankly, looks like a fat redneck) take down the wall of muscle that is Cheick Kongo. I loved watching him celebrate by easily hoisting all of his 18.5 stone onto the side of the cage. He’s like a Hacksaw Jim Duggan for adults.

There’s something grating about Michael Bisping. But goddam that guy can fight (and seemingly never get tired).

Joe Rogan described Steven Siler’s fighting style of holds and grappling as that of “a snake”. Which was exactly what I was thinking at the time. A fascinating fighter.

I already knew that Jon Jones broke his toe, and I’d seen a GIF of it. But to see it live and in HD made me cringe. It was bad enough to see his foot looking like a flipper, but when I realised that his toenail was facing his other toes…well, my own toes are doing a lot of flexing right now. And he still had to sit through an interview with Joe Rogan, who repeatedly mentioned the toe, when I imagine Jones would’ve liked to change the subject.

Ah, Rogan. I started listening to Rogan’s podcast a few months ago when I had little idea of who he was. He’s a good host and you’ve got to respect a guy who’ll record a couple of free two-hour ‘casts a week. But he’s also prone to mentally wander off on tangents, indulge his love of conspiracy theories and run some half-baked thoughts into a conclusion. I never thought he’d be that interesting as a UFC commentator. But he’s great. I’ve got no fighting knowledge whatsoever, in an MMA fight I don’t understand what’s going on 95% of the time. But listening to Rogan I feel like I’d start to pick it up. This is a fast-moving sport, but Rogan has the ability to explain techniques quickly and simply. If I keep watching the fights he commentates on, I might actually start to understand what’s going on down there on the floor (one thing that amazes and confuses me about MMA is that, with two people on the ground, the guy on top isn’t necessarily winning).

So far, the only thing I haven’t liked is the forced ‘rivalries’. I know, it’s easier to promote a fight if there’s a feeling that the fighters hate each other. But it’s so blatantly false, at least at UFC 159. These guys happily shake hands after a fight, and check on each other between rounds. The ‘hatred’ is so obviously false that, even by the end of my first event, I was rolling my eyes at footage of trash talk.

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