So, I was in the cage for the first time, uncertainty and nerves consuming my every move.
My buddy had somehow gotten me into this and all I knew was, I wanted out.
Standing across the ring was none other than Houston Alexander. You know, the guy who destroyed Keith Jardine in a hale of strikes at UFC 71 last year. Usually thickly muscled, though, “The Assassin” appeared quite out of shape, with a potbelly jiggling and hanging over his muay Thai shorts.
“Just hit him first,” my friend (and trainer?) offered just before the opening bell.
Sounded like a gameplan, I guess. Who knows? My scrawny ass certainly wasn’t used to gameplanning for how to stop a very large man from murdering me with his bare hands.
Alexander, it seemed, wasn’t concerned with the strategy of his 135-pound challenger anyway. He charged across the cage with harmful intentions, arriving before me in a flash despite his unexpected beer-gut baggage. I noticed, though, that his hands were down and his chin was right there. So, I loaded up and hit him in the chin with a right cross.
The next moments were a blur, but soon, I was awkwardly shaking my opponent’s hand and consoling him after his improbable loss. Everyone was looking at me weird, like I didn’t belong. Joe Rogan didn’t even want to interview me.
That’s about the time I woke up. Of course, it was all a dream.
I’m no fighter. I’m no psychologist, either, so I don’t know what any of it meant.
But here’s my guess: I had this dream not long after landing a spot on the editorial staff at Fightline. The imagined bout against Alexander and the laughable result was likely a subconscious debate about my journalistic “gameness” for entering the world of legitimate MMA writing.
In my first offering for Fightline, let me be very up front: I don’t claim to be an expert insider. (Let’s recap: I’m not a fighter, a psychologist or a MMA expert.) I’ll be coming at you from a fan’s perspective, first and foremost. I don’t have a lengthy list of contacts and I can’t come close to cataloguing the brief, explosive history of this awesome sport. I’m just a writer who became a MMA fanatic and was awarded this opportunity to share my thoughts (and my work will normally appear on Mondays).
I’ll leave it up to the readers to tell me if I belong — and I’m sure you will.
But, if my subconscious has any clue, I must at least have a chance. Otherwise, what was Alexander’s gut all about?
UFC 91: Couture vs. Lesnar
The marketing braintrust at the Ultimate Fighting Championship is calling this “The Biggest UFC Fight in History,” and that appears to be dead on.
The anticipation for Saturday’s main event is difficult to quantify. That alone is worth noting because, honestly, when’s the last time anyone got excited to see a 45-year-old athlete return to his field and perform? Footage of Michael Jordan playing pickup basketball doesn’t count. Meanwhile, Roger Clemens’ recent image decomposition wipes “The Rocket” out of the conversation, too.
So, that leaves us with “The Natural.”
Couture’s underdog reputation strikes a chord with everyman, even though everyman cannot possibly identify with the physical prowess Couture possesses at his stage of life. Heck, I just turned 30 and the aches of age have already become more pronounced. I strained a muscle in my arm a few weeks ago and it still hurts to pull that glass off the top shelf.
The point is, most men on the tail end of the target demographic are anxious to see if a wise, old lion has enough left to take down a hungry, young bear. Couture is the inspiration for every Joe who thinks, “Man, if I had a few months to train and some pads, I just might be able to whip those high school kids on the football field.”
The odds are not favorable, but “The Natural” has made a career out of feeding people their own words.
Forget Brock Lesnar’s inexperience and all the noise about him not actually deserving this heavyweight title shot. Please. This fight makes sense for all parties and has to happen now. The pay-per view numbers will prove it.
Lesnar is one of three men left for the 45-year-old Couture to fight before retiring, for real (Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Fedor Emelianenko being the others). It would be great to see Couture go against each of them, and the order isn’t important. A loss to any of those beasts wouldn’t knock any luster off his accomplishments.
On the other hand, it’s as good a time as any for Lesnar to fight Couture. He’s coming off a unanimous decision in which he gave a black and blue makeover to proven veteran Heath Herring, and the hype surrounding his talent is at a fever pitch. The former WWE star and MMA newcomer has proven he can survive in the cauldron.
When a phenom comes along like Lesnar, cartoonish frame and all, there’s no use in stunting his development by pulling on the reigns, or in this case, pitting him against blatantly inferior competition. It’s best to just let him go, see what he has against the best.
And Couture still qualifies as the best (if only because Fedor isn’t with the UFC).
This matchup, for some strange reason, reminds me of the 1998 flick “Armageddon.” Bruce Willis’ heroic middle-aged character leads his ragtag team of drillers, dispatched by the government, to destroy an asteroid that’s on course to knock the Earth off its axis.
Couture is like Willis’ character – a calm, calculating, skilled leader and devoted worker. Lesnar is like that massive asteroid, poised to come out of nowhere and wreck the UFC’s heavyweight division.
Willis’ character dies in the act, but he saves the world.
I’m not predicting Couture will expire while defeating Lesnar this weekend. I just see another stunning victory to add to an already thrilling epic.
But, what the hell? Hoping for some long-shot Hollywood ending to a fight is as ridiculous as thinking a wacky dream actually has some kind of meaning to your life.