As you all are likely aware by now, the world is ending tomorrow. The Mayans did not (to my knowledge) tell us exactly when the world would be ending on 12/21/12, but I wanted to get this out early in case it happened midnight Great Britain time, which I think is soon. If, on the other hand, the world is going to end time zone by time zone, I hope at least the western readers can enjoy this before the clock strikes midnight in their respective areas.
Leading up to our impending and unavoidable doom, I have been thinking about a lot of things the last couple of days. First, I have considered a lot of things I wish I accomplished: I wish I hadn’t wasted any time saving money, I wish I would have traveled more, and I wish I would have been athletic and handsome, and somehow have been able to ask Arianny out on a date.
Also, I have been thinking back at all the really enjoyable moments of my life. Along these lines, I tried to come up with my five top UFC moments that have occurred prior to the end of the world. They are not necessarily the most important five moments in the promotion’s history, but they are five moments that, for one reason or another, I thought were pretty cool. So here they are, in no particular order:
Chuck Liddell vs. Wanderlei Silva: UFC 79.
A common theme in the early days of the UFC was the question of how the promotion stacked up against its Japanese counterpart, Pride FC. At the forefront of the debate were two of the most recognizable fighters in the respective promotions: Chuck Liddell and Wanderlei Silva. Over the years an inter-promotional fight between the two was teased many times, with Silva even entering the octagon after one of Liddell’s fights. Although the fight never materialized while Pride was in existence, the UFC was able to put the bout together at UFC 79 in 2007 after acquiring its former rival. While some would argue that the fight was a couple years late, I would argue that the fight was awesome no matter when it happened. Just thinking about the two staring each other down before the fight still makes me giddy, and the bout itself didn’t disappoint either, as they played Rock’em Sock’em robots for the better part of 15 minutes. Liddell would get the win by decision but, in reality, the sport of MMA won that night.
Anderson Silva vs. Forrest Griffin: UFC 101.
Full disclosure, I may think higher about this moment than most because I was at the fight and was full of beer, cheesesteaks, and happiness. The crowd reaction in Philly was unlike anything I have every encountered at a sporting event. At the beginning of the fight, the crowd was 100% anti-Silva, as he was coming off the garbage fights against Thales Leites and Patrick Cote. There was so much energy in the building behind Forrest that I can’t do it justice with words. Literally every hair on my body was standing. Then the fight started, and everything changed. As Silva repeatedly sent Forrest flopping around the cage like a fish out of water, the crowd did a complete 180 and went nuts for him, as if you could see the stink of his previous fights being washed away. Somehow, the reaction for Silva after the KO was even stronger than the initial reaction for Forrest. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep for about three days after being surrounded by all of that energy.
Randy Couture vs. Brock Lesnar: UFC 91.
This fight isn’t here because it was the night Brock Lesnar won the UFC Heavyweight Title. Rather, this fight is on the list solely because of Randy Couture. Randy had been away from the UFC in a contract dispute for over a year, yet unexpectedly agreed to return to take on Lesnar. To say that Couture looked physically overmatched would be the understatement of the century, as he was outweighed by about 80 pounds of muscle on fight night. Yet, somehow and for some reason, I still believed he had a shot. To my delight and amazement, Randy held his own in there, even taking Lesnar down in a first round that he very likely won. Although Brock would eventually put Randy away, I think this fight (even moreso that the Tim Silvia fight) really exemplified how awesome Randy Couture is, and why he is an athletic marvel and hero.
Steve Jennum vs. Harold Howard: UFC 3.
If you are relatively new to MMA, do yourself a favor and watch the first few UFC events. They will not only show you how far the sport has come, but they will also entertain the hell out of you. Case in point, the original UFC’s were set up as tournaments involving Royce Gracie, Ken Shamrock, and a variety of other guys who may or may not have been qualified to be in anything other than a bar fight. Gracie cruised through the first two tournaments without much issue, so the UFC organizers had never really experienced a need to test their contingency plans. That all changed in UFC 3, when both Gracie and Shamrock dropped out mid-tournament due to injury. At the time, there were just alternates in the back, ready to join the tournament when needed, without being required to fight in any qualifying bouts. Enter Steve Jennum. As such a replacement, Jennum walked directly into the finals and was able to defeat Harold Howard and earn an oversized novelty check in less than 90 seconds of work. The debacle led to the UFC to creating alternate bouts prior to future tournaments, and guaranteed Jennum (who looked like the most average average guy ever) would remain a footnote in MMA history.
Everything About It: UFC 1
Speaking of awesomely entertaining old UFC’s, none will ever top UFC 1. To this day the event holds up as one of the most unintentionally funny sporting events in history. From the start, things seemed doomed, with lead announcer “Thunderfoot” Bill Wallace burping on air and incorrectly (and repeatedly) referring to the promotion as the Ultimate Fighting Challenge. The first fight was equally lol-worthy, as Gerard Gordeau defeated sumo wrestler Teila Tuli by sending one of his teeth flying across the octagon with a roundhouse kick to the face and a straight punch. In addition to that craziness, there was a random old ref in a crew neck that clearly didn’t know the rules, and there was the G-Man. Ohhhh there was the G-Man. UFC 1 has gotten me through many times when I wasn’t feeling good with its unbridled unintentional entertainment value. As a matter of fact, in anticipation of the world ending, I may re-watch it now.
Stay safe everyone!