(A good meal well prepared, and the company of your loving family — that’s what it’s all about, guys.)
Happy Thanksgiving, Potato Nation, and welcome to a short and sweet Turkey Day edition of the CagePotato Roundtable. Today we’re discussing things we’re thankful for in the world of MMA, so if you can spare a moment from shoving cranberry sauce down your filthy gullet, give it a look and tell us what *you’re* thankful for in the comments section…
There’s an argument to be made that the best quarterbacks in the history of the NFL have always been the most boring people on the planet. Throughout the league’s history, the most fascinating quarterbacks on the field have been about half as interesting as the instruction manual that came with your toaster off of it. Johnny Unitas was stoic enough to make Fedor look expressive in comparison, Joe Montana somehow didn’t have enough charisma to last on NBC, Brett Favre made people feel themselves get dumber whenever he opened his mouth, and Drew Brees wears Affliction shirts (seriously). While it’s not exactly a fact that having any type of personality will ruin your chances of becoming a famous NFL quarterback, I don’t see too many people wearing Christian Ponder or Ryan Fitzpatrick jerseys.
So why am I talking about football? For one, it just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving unless some oafish mouth-breather that no one in your family actually likes didn’t talk about football during your holiday dinner and/or roundtable discussion. But aside from that, it’s because, in many ways, this has carried over to MMA as well. As fans, it’s fun to cheer for an interesting fighter — especially when he’s actually good — but while the personalities of our fighters have led to the rapid growth and development of our sport, they have also brought on some downright ugly consequences as well. You don’t need to be the most interesting guy in the room to be the best athlete in your sport, and as fans, we should be far more thankful for the boring guys who are great at fighting than we currently are.
Case in point, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson has outstayed his welcome in the UFC by about three years, putting on boring fights and complaining about the exceptional treatment he’s received as if he’s washing dishes at a Denny’s somewhere. Yet Rampage is still one of our sport’s most popular fighters — especially among mainstream media outlets — because of his reputation as a funnyman and an entertainer, despite being neither funny nor entertaining. Likewise, Dan Hardy has gone 2-4 in his last six, with Amir Sadollah being his most notable victory since 2009, yet his colorful hair and marketable image have kept him on ESPN as recently as last week.
Is Rampage Jackson’s transsexual raping shtick really getting people more excited about UFC on FOX 6 than his opponent Glover Teixeira’s brutal knockouts? I’d like to think that this isn’t the case, but he wouldn’t be pushed as hard as he’s being pushed if the UFC wasn’t profiting from it. The numbers don’t lie — the “interesting fighters” like Rampage Jackson and Chael Sonnen draw more PPV buys than guys like Frankie Edgar and Dominick Cruz so. And we’ve seen our sport suffer from this — quick, name one reason why Chael Sonnen is the number one contender at a weight class he hasn’t even fought at in seven years.
Even worse than that is the number of talented fighters who are shooting themselves in the foot because they’re trying to play the personalities that they think the fans want them to play. We’ve watched Miguel Torres disintegrate from being the most dominant champion in the WEC to a guy who gets fired, re-hired and re-fired over his insistence on tweeting rape jokes. Jacob Volkmann and Matt Riddle have been reduced to “Hates Obama guy” and “Butter-toothed Brit guy” in the eyes of most fans due to their attempts to be comedians, even though they clearly are not meant for stand-up comedy. Tom Lawlor has never been a contender, but I’m seriously starting to think that he trains more for his weigh-ins than his actual fights. For that matter, this explains every goofy haircut and ugly tattoo on the undercard fighters.
Say what you want about guys like Cain Velasquez, Georges St-Pierre, Anderson Silva, Junior Dos Santos, Ben Henderson, and Dominick Cruz being boring outside of the cage, but a boring interview never offended the opponents of our sport. Boring is safe. Boring allows the strength of the fight to speak for itself. And isn’t that supposed to be what matters? Can’t we get back to the time when guys like Bellator’s Mike Mucitelli could get over with fans for armbarring his opponent at Bellator 81 in less than thirty seconds instead of worrying about his promo skills? Can’t our champions fight the challengers who are most qualified without worrying that they’re just “amateur kids who can’t promote a fight?”
Because it’s Thanksgiving, I’m assuming you’re about to watch the Cowboys/Redskins game, where you’ll get to watch Redskins’ quarterback Robert Griffin III dazzle you with his on-field play. Because it’s a Cowboys game, you’ll also get to watch overhyped media-darling Tony Romo compile turnovers and stumble around like an idiot whenever Dallas has the ball. As he overthrows yet another receiver while the announcers gush over whatever he does off of the field, take a second to acknowledge that this is the result of valuing celebrity over performance. Be greatful for the “boring” fighters, because a sport full of Tony Romos is a sport you don’t want to follow.
This time of year, it’s only natural to ponder the things in life that you are most thankful for. Me personally, I’m just thankful we haven’t done anything to piss Dana off again. Oops, almost forgot about that. Well, there’s always next year, right? But what about you, what are you thankful for? I’ll tell you what you ought to be thankful for — 2012 is four minutes into the final round of a grueling, grinding, grapple fest. Grateful you should be that the final bell is forthcoming and we are all announced losers. Not to worry, we’ll go back and look at the tape and come back stronger next time.
In 2012 alone we’ve seen nearly 100 individual fights scrapped, three Zuffa events cancelled, numerous failed drug tests, and a partridge in a pear tree. This year may have been the Year of the Dragon, but it felt more like the year of the Dodo — an ugly, disease riddled bird that eventually went extinct like many of the most talked-about fights this year. All fans, both in America and abroad, should be thankful that 2013 brings the hope of announced fights coming to fruition and the best fighters in the world competing under one roof. Hope that the so called “injury curse” was not a legitimate sign of the supposed impending apocalypse, but rather an unpleasant phase from which much can be learned — kind of like puberty.
2012 was, in theory, to be the dawn of a new era for the UFC as the FOX deal officially began with all the perks that came with it, and hypothetically it was supposed to vault the premiere MMA organization towards global domination, via a national television audience several times a year and a spot on the vaunted FOX conglomerate of cable networks. But as we all found out pretty quickly, as awesome as FOX may in fact be, FUEL is harder to find than this mythical female G-Spot I’ve heard so much about. I have found evidence of both on youtube, but I am still not entirely sure either exists in the real world. So, needless to say, when you mix in the Chernobyl-esque injury plague that inflicted champions GSP (ACL), Dominick Cruz (ACL), Jose Aldo (foot) and Jon Jones (DUI induced ego damage), 2012 will be remembered more for what didn’t happen as opposed to what should have happened.
Last Thursday within a staff email, when Jason Moles jokingly asked what the CP “Thanksgiving/Black Friday Roundtable” topic would be, I said it should be this. When JJ responded with our current topic, I immediately went with my obvious answer. Yes, it was prior to the GSP vs Condit bout, but I have/had way too much on the line to doubt the outcome. I am mostly thankful that order has been restored to the universe and our favorite mixed martial artist, Georges St. Pierre, is once again on top of the world but upon further review, after the fairly crappy year I have had personally, I dug deeper and found something more profound even though it smelled like a used diaper filled with Indian food.
Picking St. Pierre’s victorious return would be the easy way out for me, the self-proclaimed GSP nuthugger, and I could spend the next 3 paragraphs ball-washing him up like I usually do but aside from my favorite fighter’s triumphant return, I am more thankful for something else. It is something that is not only more disgusting than a Rosie O’Donnell thong after Yoga class but it is also a veritable wasteland of sophomoric insults. That’s right dipshits. I am most thankful for the CagePotato comment section.
Whether it was Old Dad or New Dad or BG or JJ or Seth or Elias or ReX or whomever scribing the post — CagePotato.com has a tight-knit group that frequents the comment section. Some are more thoughtful, like ArmFarmer and RearNakedSpoon and shatterproof. Others come in to lighten the mood like Fried Taco and Mr_Misanthropy and macreadysshack. Then there are the ones that come in to stir the pot like RwilsonR and smellypiratehooker and dranokills. Oh, and there is skeletor, whose sole purpose on CP is to tell Danga how much he sucks.
Sure the Cagepotato.com comment section is an armpit for trolls and heathens but it is our armpit dammit. We have formed cyber-psuedo friendships with backhanded compliments and four letter bombs. As Thanksgiving is upon us, I want to acknowledge my fellow miscreants and give thanks to all of you. To NomadRip and angry little feet and Viva Hate and Fletch the V Stretch and the rest of the gang — thank you for being heartless, hilarious and most of all, honest. The comment section and the people who reside there are a huge reason why CP is different and all you floor turds are special to me. Happy Thanksgiving.
Well how the hell am I going to follow that tear-jerker? I’ll start by echoing Nathan’s words of gratitude. We don’t give much attention to birthdays around here, but in case you weren’t aware, CagePotato celebrated its five-year anniversary last month, and I’m incredibly thankful that I still get to do this for a living. With so many people unemployed in this country, I never want to forget how blessed I am to have a full-time job that I enjoy doing, which allows me to work from home so I can be a part of my baby son’s daily life, and never requires me to take a dump next to a co-worker in some squalid office bathroom. It’s the little things, really. And the fact that so many of the hardcore commenters mentioned above have stuck with us over the years is astounding. There are days when I feel like we don’t always deserve your loyalty, but having you around day after day really means the world to me.
Okay, enough bitchassness. I’m thankful that Overeem and Diaz are coming back, and that the modern tragedy known as Strikeforce is coming to an end after January. I’m thankful that there will be a woman fighting in the UFC, even though it’s still not clear who that woman will be fighting, or whether those fights will be squash matches against utterly random broads; no matter what happens, it’s an amazing moment in the sport’s history. And I’m thankful that as jaded as us long-time fans can be, the greatest talents in the sport still find ways to surprise and thrill us. Yeah, it’s been a rough year for cage-fighting. But at it’s best, MMA is still the greatest show on earth, so fuck all the haters. Now let’s eat.