Kurt Otto, one of the founders of the old International Fight League, was fond of explaining the appeal of MMA this way. “If there’s a football game in one corner. A basketball game in the other and in the other a baseball game. But in the fourth corner a fight breaks out, you know even the fans of those other sports are going to look over at how the fight is going.”
That is the old playground mentality. A fight always drew a crowd. There is something about two people swinging away that grabs us. That’s why there are John Wayne, Clint Eastwood and Bruce Willis marathon movies over holiday weekends, not Kramer vs. Kramer or Chariots of Fire. We want action, and toughness.
Which brings us to a baseball game this week where a fight broke out and not just the usual hug and roll incidents. Texas Rangers Rougned Odor threw an impressive straight right landing on the chin of Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays. It was fascinating for many media outlets comparing it to an MMA or boxing moment, even using some experts in the sport to analyze.
Ah yes, a fight intrigues, even a brief one.
Segueing to a real fighter known for brief and intriguing, actually mesmerizing performances, Cris “Cyborg” Justino had a dazzling, years in the making, UFC debut last weekend. Cyborg made quick work of Leslie Smith with a typical first round TKO. She hasn’t lost in MMA since her debut in 2005, rolling up a 16-1 and 1 No Contest record with 14 KO’s.
She’s been a Strikeforce and Invicta champion. For years considered the best female fighter ever. At 30 years old she’s just reaching her prime and many consider still the top female on the planet. If she drops to 135 pounds with a title fight on the line, Cyborg has a chance to again claim “Queen of all she surveys” and gives the UFC another major drawing card.
So close for so many years, now an injury to Chris Weidman has at last given 37 year old Michael Bisping a title shot. Coming up at UFC 199, “The Count” steps in to challenge champion Luke Rockhold. Losses to Rockhold and Tim Kennedy in 2014 and one to Chael Sonnen in 2012 ended precious climbs to the top contender spot.
This will probably be Bisping’s last shot as well, but one he has earned. He has fought through an eye injury, never dodged top shelf opponents and is coming off a bloody unanimous decision win over Anderson Silva which no doubt put him smack back on the UFC radar.
It will be of high interest to watch the advancement of Cyborg in the UFC and whether Bisping can rise once more in his biggest moment. And when another pro athlete throws a really good punch, fans will get excited.
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