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Goodnight, MMA


(Arguably my lasting contribution to MMA writing.)

By Matt Saccaro

This is the last post I’ll ever be making at CagePotato, and this is the last day I’ll ever be tweeting for CagePotato. This is honestly one of the most bittersweet moments of my life. I love CagePotato and I feel so sad leaving, but I’m getting a real media job at a website I adore (assistant social media editor at Salon).

I’m not really sure what to say in a goodbye post. I remember once last year, some Bellator prelim fighter retired. He left his gloves in the ring and friend-of-CagePotato Mike Fagan hilariously buried the guy, comparing this jobber leaving his gloves in the cage to a supermarket clerk leaving his apron in the store parking lot. That’s how I kind of feel with this post. In terms of MMA “journalism,” I didn’t really do anything that spectacular or memorable. I think my lasting contribution to the sport will be asking Ronda Rousey whether she moderated a Pokemon forum in her youth. It’s been three years since I asked and I still see people favoriting that tweet every couple of months.

Still, MMA writing meant a lot to me (even if I didn’t always like the sport or the MMA media). It gave me a direction in life when I didn’t necessarily have one.

I first got the idea to start writing about MMA when MMAJunkie started their “Sunday Junkie” writing contest. By that time, I had religiously read that site for years. Before class, I’d enjoy a Pop Tart and a glass of iced tea while listening to the rants of Nick Havok and other amazing characters in the comments section. When Junkie started a forum — back when John Morgan was just KingofAbuelos — I was one of the first members. But eventually reading wasn’t enough. I wanted to be more than a forum poster. I submitted an entry to that weekend’s Sunday Junkie and won.

This was October 2010. Senior year of college had just started. I spent most of my spare time submitting applications to graduate schools — I planned to study history and become a professor one day. However, knowing how tough it could be to get into graduate school, I wanted a backup career. Winning the Sunday Junkie made me consider MMA writing (one whose prospects were even worse than graduate study in history!).

By early 2011, I worked up the courage to submit something to Bleacher Report — an article about how Fedor Emelianenko would lose to Bigfoot Silva. Commenters went nuts, but controversy creates cash. After a few more hot takes, I was getting paid.

I started out as a HUGE Zuffa mark, and I mean huge. How bad? I made Ariel Helwani look like Zach fucking Arnold. I didn’t write anything particularly innovative during this time, just the usual “boxing is dead; the UFC will be bigger than the NFL because fighting is in our DNA” garbage except with the volume turned up to 50 out of 10. Eventually, I came around though.

This is already getting too long so I’ll go through the moments I’m most grateful for in my MMA writing “career:”

1. Appearing on Inside MMA in summer 2013. This was right after Chris Weidman beat Anderson Silva the first time. I had some kind of hot take on it and since Axs.tv already had a crew on Long Island to interview Ray Longo, they asked me to go meet their crew in Longo’s gym to do a brief segment with Bas Rutten. This is easily one of my favorite accomplishments/moments in my life.

I remember watching Inside MMA in senior year of high school. I dreamed about being on the show, but as a fighter since I wanted to be a fighter back then. I was horrible at fighting though. I trained in kickboxing throughout my youth and despite 10+ years of it I was barely average. I possessed even fewer MMA and grappling skills. I trained in MMA and BJJ for two years, 4-5 days a week and MAYBE submitted four people in that time frame. Being an idiot and believing what society said, I thought all it took was hard work. So I kept training more and more, expecting to get better by magic when genetics had other plans. Eventually, I over-trained to the point of permanent injury and now I can’t even do a push-up without being in pain.

So I never thought I’d be on Inside MMA when I stopped training in 2010. But I was! And I was so ecstatic about it, even if the show’s reputation had fallen quite a bit by that time.

2. Predicting the rise of Chris Weidman before anyone else. In November 2011, I went on record saying Chris Weidman would murder Anderson Silva should the two ever meet. As Internet commenters say, “First!”

3. Pretty much everything I did at CagePotato. I could write 10,000 words about how much fun I had here. I won’t though. I’ll just tell you what my two favorite posts were: The 95 Theses of MMA and the Magic the Gathering cards post. The 95 Theses of MMA was born of my own laziness because I didn’t feel like covering two events in the same day — two events I knew would get no traffic. I figured the stunt of not covering the events and instead offering a scathing critique of MMA would perform far better (and it did). Making Magic the Gathering cards of different fighters is an idea I’ve had since high school. I just didn’t know there was a program to make said cards until last year.

And then there’s CagePotato’s twitter account. I don’t think I’ve ever had more fun on the Internet than I did live-tweeting MMA events for CagePotato over the last year and a half. I was so amazed/honored/humbled that people actually liked what I had to say about these events and thought the tweets were funny. I’m still heartbroken I’ll never do that again. The few events that I do watch in the future will feel so lonely and sad now…

When I started running CagePotato’s twitter, Ben and I both agreed we wanted it to be different from the other MMA sites. Maybe at times it was too different, but the following increased by over six thousand people. If nothing else, CagePotato’s twitter had a unique voice that I was really proud of. The last thing Ben and I wanted CagePotato’s twitter to be was one in 1,000 identical voices in the MMA sphere: “What a great fight for [winner], but [loser] will be back stronger than ever!”

I’m sad to go, but this is the way it’s gotta be. CagePotato really meant a lot to me. It was the only positive thing during a time in my life when there were very few of them.

I want to thank Ben Goldstein for letting me write here and tweet about elder gods beaming their consciousness into slices of buffalo chicken pizza and other psycho shit every weekend. Funny story: The only time Ben ever really got mad at me was when I wanted to put guy vs. guy Ultimate Surrender videos in our Ultimate Surrender post. I told him gender equality demanded we do that but he remained unconvinced. For real though, outside of the ring girl galleries, Ben Goldstein is the classiest guy in MMA. Working with him has been a dream. Thanks for everything, Ben.

I’d also like to thank the rest of the CagePotato crew, all the readers, and all of CagePotato’s twitter followers. Thanks to anyone who believed in me as well.

Goodnight, MMA. I still can’t believe this is it.

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