(“I eventually had to start eating my fingers for sustenance,” recounts horrified blogger from hospital bed.)
By Jared Jones
A mixed martial arts fight blogger lies in critical but stable condition after succumbing to the effects of a brutal 4-hour “liveblog” that nearly took his life Saturday.
Reports say that 31-year old Chip Chessworth, a quote unquote “MMA journalist” for FistFighter.com, sat down at his Brooklyn, NY apartment at 7:30 EST last night, with the assignment of “liveblogging” – or rapidly typing grammatically challenged round-by-round fight recaps — the UFC Fight Night 36: Machida vs Mousasi prelims for his website. A six pack of Red Stripe at his side, Chessworth was looking to shake off the memory of UFC 169, a “ten-decision, record-setting catastrophe” (as UFC President Dana White called it) that had claimed the lives of over 1,500 livebloggers earlier in the month, as well as report on what he hoped would be “a decent night of fights.”
“I had just spent my fourth straight Valentine’s Day alone, so I was really looking for some vicarious retribution in the form of a few sweet knockouts,” said Chessworth. Little did the lonely writer know that by the time the preliminary card was over, he’d be in a fight of his own. For his life.
Looking back on the ordeal, Chessworth says he should have realized that something was…off from the very first fight of the night. In a bout between UFC newcomers Douglas Silva de Andrade and Zuba…Zubariai Somethingorother, the liberal arts major said he could feel “a weird energy” in the crowd while watching the event on his 13” laptop screen.
“When Bruce Buffer is only spinning 90 degrees during the intros, you know you’re going to be in for a long night,” lamented Chessworth.
The next fight, between Ildemar Alcântara and Albert Tumenov, was similarly lackluster. Eerily similarly lackluster, you might even say. There were a few decent exchanges here, a decent scramble there, but the Brazilian crowd, know the world over for their fierce and uproarious nature when in group settings, seemed uncharacteristically calm. Not quiet of course, but restrained. Subdued even. It was a crowd not unlike the lethargic arena full of New Jersians present at UFC 169, and as the saying goes, “If it reminds you of Jersey, it’s probably terrible.”
At the start of fight 3, Chessworth placed an order to Ho-Tung’s Garden Palace. “Like I said, Valentine’s Day had just happened, so I had been binge-eating take out for a good six days. Last night, I had a hankering for Szechuan dumplings. Maybe some crab rangoons.”
As luck would have it, his dinner would arrive just as Felipe Arantes vs. Maximo Blanco was wrapping up. That coincidence would mark the only time that good luck would rear its head in Chip’s ensuing crawl to Hell and back. Chessworth rushed down the five floors that separated him from his deep fried, soy-glazed payday, made sure to tip the delivery driver, and returned to his Ikea floor model of an apartment moments later.
The Chinese food would have to wait, however, as the 4th prelim between Iuri Alcantara – brother of Ildemar – and Wilson Reis was already underway.“The worst part was knowing how soggy the rangoons were going to get if the fight lasted more than a couple of minutes,” Chessworth told reporters from his hospital bed.
And soggy would the rangoons get. The Alcantara-Reis fight would last fifteen long, excruciating minutes, rendering the wontons wrapped bits of deliciousness all but inedible. Although Chessworth was forced to discard half of the meal he so desperately needed, he was confident that the dumplings would be enough to save his already underwhelming fight-viewing experience.
Of course, one cannot properly eat Szechuan dumplings and liveblog at the same time, or vice versa. So despite the rumbling of his stomach and his mind’s insistence that no one was actually reading his crappy little liveblog anyway, Chessworth forged ahead. “Surely this Trinaldo-Ronson fight will end inside of two rounds,” Chessworth said to himself, his body already beginning to shutdown due to lack of sustenance.
The beer-drinking, cheese-pretzel consuming audience in attendance at Fight Night 36 would have the benefit of being able to call the ensuing fifteen minutes “boring and forgettable” in hindsight. Chessworth, however, could only stare out the window of his hospital room when asked to recount it later. “By the time it was over, calluses the size of golf balls had formed on four of my fingers,” said Chessworth while rapidly pressing his morphine button.
And by the time the judges scorecards for the next fight — a lightweight tilt between Rodrigo Damm and Ivan Jorge — were being read, Chessworth’s fingers had been stripped to the bone – partly because of all the typing, partly because Chessworth had been forced to consume them to stay alive. The dumplings were so close, yet so far out of reach for the liveblogger, who had now been glued to his chair for nearly three and a half hours.
The seemingly never-ending string of decisions had left Chessworth cold to his core and on the verge of starvation. His six-pack of Red Stripes gone, Chessworth knew that he could not turn back. For some reason, a fight between unknowns Joe Proctor and Cristiano Marcello had been selected as the featured fight of the prelims, and there was simply no way that Chessworth could skip what is considered “a marquee matchup” in today’s UFC landscape.
Chip awoke at Our Lady of Peaceful Slaughter hospital in Brooklyn some eight hours later. “I was told I made it halfway through the second round before I passed out due to blood loss,” said Chessworth. “I heard the main card was…OK.”
The $50 dollars Chessworth had received from Fist Fighter for covering the event would surely ease the pain, but the $10,000 it had taken to replace the blogger’s middle and index fingers with cadaver ligaments would be “a hefty expenditure moving forward to say the least,” added Chessworth.
A lawsuit with the UFC appears to be inevitable as well. Chessworth told reporters after the incident that he’d be willing to forgive the promotion if it “cancelled my Fight Pass subscription and reimbursed me the 10 dollars,” but when asked about the likelihood of that happening, UFC President Dana White was quoted as saying, “He wants his [expletive] ten dollars back?! Tell that [expletive] [expletive] I’ll see him in [expletive] court….[expletive].”
Seven fight. Seven decisions. Four and a half hours of Hell. And now, a battle in court on the horizon. All in the name of what Chessworth still refers to as “the most exciting sport on the planet.”