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CagePotato PSA: If This Is the End, Then Let It Come

By Jared Jones

Greetings, Nation.

As I’m sure you’ve noticed by the absolute lack of content we’ve posted in the past couple of weeks, things have taken a sharp downturn behind the scenes here at CagePotato. I won’t bother you with the grimy details, but suffice it to say, it looks like our lowbrow, profanity-laced shenanigans may finally be coming to an end, all but confirming what many of you predicted would happen some 7 years ago when Old Dad left.

The thought of being the person who finally takes CP behind the proverbial woodshed is a surreal one for a number of reasons, the biggest being the long, crazy way in which I came to be a member of the CagePotato crew in the first place.

I first stumbled upon CagePotato just a few months after it had been launched back in 2007. I was a high school senior at the time and had been following the sport for a good 4 years by then, occassionally getting my rounds in at a local gym crammed into the basement of a children’s dance studio in Upstate New York, and was looking for a website that would both keep me informed on the daily goings-on of MMA and do so in a way that was a little more entertaining than the haiku-length, glorified press releases offered by most of the outlets covering the sport at the time (no offense, you guys).

Thanks to articles like “Ben vs. Ben,” offbeat listicles like “Top Ten Japanese Freak Show Fights That Were Actually Good,” the regular “Fight of the Day” pieces, and of course, the Hot Potato galleries, I instantly fell in love with CagePotato’s uncompromising style of what could be loosely defined as “reporting.” In a time where MMA was just beginning its second life and in need of all the positive press it could get, here you had a website that was not only willing to call out the sport’s many hypocrisies, but tangle with the boss and any fighter who annoyed/pissed them off, really, in the pursuit of making you laugh and mayyybe teaching you a thing or two. It may not have been the most “professional” or “journalistically integritous” route of doing things, but I’ll be damned if it wasn’t a joy to read.

But aside from the articles themselves, CagePotato also had a comments section that was every bit as vile and despicable (you know, in a good way) as the loonies running the asylum — a community full of abrasive, trollish, yet occassionally like-minded characters like fatbellyfrank, FriedTaco, Armfarmer, cecils_pupils, Viva Hate, and of course, CAPSLOCKHAL, with personalities as unique as their names might suggest. I signed up for an account almost instantly — DangadaDang, named after the iconic war chants oft bellowed by the greatest UFC champion/street fight sensei of all time — and spent the next 4 years engaging in flame wars, invoking Godwin’s law, and winning the occasional “Comments of the Week” contest along the way (though I could never really take an interest in the forums).

After college, I quickly realized that a career building foundations and repairing septic tanks with my father’s construction company, though admirable, was simply not meant for me. “No, making dick and fart jokes about a sport that roughly 2% of the country has even heard of is a more stable, HONEST way to make a living,” I said to myself in the first in a series of self-destructive decisions that would plague my young adult life for years to come. And so, I sent an email to Ben Goldstein inquiring if CagePotato happened to be in need of new, completely underqualified writers, or knew of someone who was.

Ben responded to my email within the day, as generous, truly thoughtful guys of his ilk are wont to do, and graciously offered to publish the very first thing I had ever written for public consumption. People seemed to like it alright, so I continued sending in my nuance-free taeks on the sport and silently plotting for the day in which I would rise to power by taking out one of CP’s staff writers in a Showgirls-style “accident.” That moment came when fellow commenter-turned-staffer Doug Richardson (aka ReX13) chose to step away from CagePotato (I believe his reasoning was “to spend more time with his family” or some other such nonsense), forcing Ben to call upon the only other now-at-least-half-qualified guy in his arsenal to take his place. It was an incredible moment for me, being brought on as a member of the website that I had been a daily consumer of since its inception…and the first in a series of self-destructive decisions that would plague both Ben’s young adult life and the life of this website for years to come.

The first year or so here was difficult — watching the same commenters you once joked alongside relentlessly critique and trash everything you hold dear, while not a unique experience to anyone who has worked in online media, is never an easy thing to deal with — but I eventually found something resembling an audience and even got our resident pornstar, Carmen Valentina, to tolerate me. In a website run by Old Dads and New Dads, I’d like to think that I served as a Drunk Cousin of sorts, stepping into the impossible-to-fill shoes of Ben Fowlkes, then ReX, then BG, and attempting to rekindle the magic that made CagePotato such a distinct and fun place to begin with.

While I may have never penned a magnum opus on the level of BG’s “The 50 Worst Fighters in UFC History” or his and Saccaro’s “95 Theses of MMA,” I did once preview a Fight Night event using dog gifs that I thought turned out pretty funny, create the CagePotato Roundtable, and start a conspiracy about the Nate Diaz/Ben Henderson fight that BG once called “a piece of insanity that there aren’t enough scannersheadexplode.gifs in the world to do justice to” (in an email that I framed and hung in my office almost immediately thereafter). Between that and the time I attempted to translate the philosophical musings of James Toney into the King’s English, delivered one of the most unnecessarily cruel, 1 paragraph takedowns of Ken Shamrock ever committed to paper (or screen), and combined the worlds of MMA and reality cooking competitions into a 10-to-1 bit of fanfic, I’d like to think that I contributed at least some good to this site. Getting the chance to speak with the likes of Josh Burkman, Danny Castillo and Felice Herrig and endure an absolute dumpster fire of an interview with Rampage Jackson (though admittedly, it could have gone much, much worse) was just a bonus, I guess.

I’ll spare you all a written history of CagePotato, which I think BG did a pretty stellar job of in his own farewell piece, but if this truly is the end of CagePotato — which all signs seem to be indicating is the case — there are a few people I’d like to thank:

First, obviously, is Ben Goldstein: My employer, my mentor, and truly one of the most laid back, generous, and understanding people that I have ever met (via Skype). Beyond all that he’s done for me by bringing me onboard the CagePotato staff (as well as the Screen Junkies, HolyTaco, and Escapist crews), Ben was an integral part of why I became obsessed with this sport in the first place. As hyperbolic as it might sound, he created something with this site that will forever hold a place in the sport’s history (CP neva die!!), and one that also served as a jumping-off point for some of its most talented writers over the years. I wish things could have ended, so, so much differently, Ben, and I hope that we can actually meet face-to-face one day and get that band off the ground.

Next, I’d like to thank my parents, Ron and Karen Jones, for supporting my wishes to pursue a career that they didn’t have the slightest understanding of at first, and doing whatever they could to help ensure that I succeeded (or at least stayed busy) from there on out. After six years spent covering a barbaric bloodsport that caters almost exclusively to skinheads and homosexuals, I think I’m finally ready to admit that I probably should’ve become an engineer like you said. I love you both so, so much.

Doug “ReX” Richardson, the man who not only stepped aside to give me a shot in the big time, but continuously supported me as I was getting my sea legs in one of the most vicious online communities this side of 4chan.

Seth Falvo, easily the person I contributed with most in my time here, and someone I’d follow into the fiery pits of Hell if he promised to ship me a bottle of booze 6 months after the fact for doing so. You’re a good man, Seth, and an even greater bartender (or so I’m told).

Matt Saccaro, a modern day philosophizer, the human manifestation of white man’s guilt, and the mastermind behind the greatest tweets in CagePotato history. I never got to know you all that well in your time here and I’m not sure if we’ll ever truly see eye-to-eye on anything, but there’s no denying the unique perspective that you brought to CP. Never choose the path of the wicked, friendo.

Mike Russell, who came and went with such vigor that I barely got time to thank him for all he did for this site. I hope all is well with you up in the Great White North, MRuss.

Elias Cepeda, one of the first guys I was given the privilege of editing here at CagePotato and one of the only guys with both the brains write about this sport and the balls to actually participate in it. You’ve obviously gone on to better things by now, but I wish you the best of luck all the same.

Jason Moles, Perhaps the only member of the CP crew who actually went out on his terms. His MMA Stock Market pieces were always the best event aftermaths out there.

Nathan Smith, The 12 oz Curls. Possibly the most eager and passionate contributor we’ve ever had. I really wish we could’ve given you a more expanded role here at CP, but in a different life, maybe.

Ben Fowlkes and Chad Dundas: You guys may not know me, like, at all, but you’ve had more of an influence on me as a (hack MMA/film/comedy) writer than you could ever know — I still watch Fowlkes’ Christmas message whenever I’m in need of a laugh. That you even stuck your neck out and supported our disastrous Patreon campaign just goes to show how far CP will forever be ingrained into your DNA, no matter how much you try to deny it while working at far more “respectable” and “still operating” publications now. (Oh, and buy Chad’s book, you guys.)

To Asaph Bitner, Nasir JabbarDavid Golden and all the guys who contributed to this site in our darkest hour asking nothing in return, to all the MMA writers out there keeping the damn thing alive — Zane Simon, Connor Ruebusch, Marc Raimondi, Luke Thomas, Jonathan Snowden, Chuck Mindenhall, Mookie Alexander, Stephie Haynes, the list goes on — and to any and all of you Taters who stuck with this site until the very end, thank you. This has been one of the most fulfilling, depressing, profound, incredible, messed up, and unforgettable times of my life.

If you’re still looking to keep up with us out there on the Interwebs, continue to follow both CagePotato and myself on Twitter and keep an eye out for my stuff over at Uproxx MMA. Thanks again, Nation. 

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