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Cody Garbrant/Bodybuilder and Chinese MMA/Tai Chi Fights Both Very Nearly Happen

This week saw two social machismo media wars very nearly come to pass.

by Josh Rosenblatt
Jun 28 2017, 8:56pm

If you're the kind of MMA fan who likes his fighters engaging in extracurricular combat, online near-maulings of grievously overmatched opponents, social media dick-swinging, rampant cross-disciplinary macho posturing, or generally making a spectacle of themselves by what our fearless editor would call "meathead antics," then this has been the week for you.

For example, over in China, police officers barged into the Xiaolong Martial Club in the Pudong district of Shanghai to break up another fight between an ex-MMA fighter and a Tai Chi master. Back on April 26 the mixed martial artist, Xu Xiaodong, nicknamed "Mad Dog," fought a different Tai Chi master, Wei Lei, after accusing Wei and other practitioners of traditional martial arts in China of peddling ineffectual nonsense. That fight went exactly as one would think, with Mr. Xu mauling the defenseless, peaceful Mr. Wei with punches within 10 seconds. And while Mr. Xu may have proven his point about traditional martial arts, the consequences for him were significant. Once video footage of the fight went viral, outrage in China was intense, with state-run martial arts associations and news agencies banding together to call the fight a violation of morals and question Mr. Xu's sanity. State authorities tried to calm the controversy, even deleting Xu's account on a popular social media site (proof, some experts said, of the government's desire to save traditional Chinese culture from the decadent influence of western notions by controlling the online habits of its citizens). Xu, meanwhile, had to go into hiding. "I've lost everything, my career and everything," he said in an online message. "I think many people misunderstand me. I'm fighting fraudulence, but now I've become the target."

Meanwhile, across the Pacific Ocean, in Sacramento, California, a bodybuilder who goes by the named Shallow King actually showed up at the Alpha Male home gym after squabbling on Twitter with UFC bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt. Over the previous weeks Shallow King, né Matthew Kader, had mocked Garbrandt for pulling out of his fight with TJ Dillashaw with an injury; in response Garbrandt accused the King of having "bitch tits"; Kader claimed Garbardt blah blah blah; and Garbrandt issued a challenge to fight him at his gym. He was even kind enough to tweet the address.

Which, in a semi-reasonable world, would have been the end of things: an unprepared Internet troll looking for Twitter followers gets his bluff called and promptly disappears into the online obscurity from whence he came. But on Sunday, the Shallow King shocked the world by showing up at the Urijah Faber Ultimate Fitness gym just like he said he would. Three hours late, sure, and only able to stay for a few minutes, but still—the King showed!

The only problem was Garbrandt had already gone home for the day, apparently having already waited several hours for the king to arrive. A man behind the counter was kind enough to offer Kader water, and someone else at the gym was pleasant enough to recognize him—"this fake-ass dude"—and polite enough to call Garbrandt to let him know his opponent had finally arrived. He even expressed concern at the sight of Kader's shaking hands. And as Kader walked out of the gym and moved quickly through the parking lot and back to his car just minutes after arriving, the friendly stranger made sure the King knew the name of the team whose gym he had just left. "Team Alpha Male all day!" the man shouted happily as Kader walked away. Far, far away. Back to his kingdom.