Allow me to introduce you to the compelling and controversial world of MMA, where champions drive monster trucks bearing their image and fighters turn into porn stars.
About a month ago, I received a tweet from the @VICE account asking if I'd be interested in writing about MMA for the sports section of the website. After verifying that this was, indeed, the Twitter account for VICE Magazine, I wondered how the hell they found me. And what the hell were they doing with MMA? I thought this was some sociopolitical publication on the fringes of society. By coincidence, a friend had sent me a link to Vice's Ghetto Doll Brothel video, which I took as a sign from the divine that if I write for these guys, maybe I'll get a chance at a couple of Real Dolls myself.
So, who the fuck am I? I wrote for the MMA blog Bloody Elbow between 2008 and 2011. I was given my unceremonious release—for reasons that I'm still not 100 percent clear on—this past October, which was handled with the same sort of tact you'd expect from David Brent at a cancer benefit. I train in Brazilian jiu-jitsu two to three times a week, and I (cheap plug) host the Untethered MMA Podcast on Thursdays at 5 PM. ET at FightFansRadio.com. I've gained a reputation for pissing off everyone from fans to media to fighters, which is usually the sign of doing something right. Just this past week, journeyman lightweight Duane Ludwig blocked me on Twitter (cheap plug number two) after I had the audacity to question him about his anti-vaccination beliefs.
Those are my qualifications. You may be asking, "Why should I care about two guys rolling around in various homoerotic positions?" Good question. Some people might point you to old video of Royce Gracie making steroidal monsters submit in the early 90s. Others would recommend Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar's sloppy war that helped launch the sport’s popularity in 2005. And still others would send you to YouTube armed only with the name "Fedor Emelianenko."
But I'll fix you up with the same treasure that hooked my buddy and I back in high school: Jon Hess. Hess had the physique of a Tuesday-night beer league bowler and the unhinged aggression of a vengeful younger brother. He fought only once inside the UFC, defeating Andy Anderson in the first round of the UFC 5 tournament. His second, and final, fight under MMA rules ended just as spectacularly: He got knocked out in 12 seconds by future UFC champion Vitor Belfort. The early UFCs were a science experiment of unmitigated violence to determine the greatest martial art on the planet. Those styles meshed and evolved with each other and greater levels of athleticism into the sport we enjoy today. Enjoy the rabbit hole.
Even if the sport just ain't your thing, my plan is to write about all the weird, compelling, and controversial things that happen in the world of MMA, and I can assure you that there is no shortage of such stories. This is an industry which has seen a champion arrested for recklessly driving a monster truck bearing his image on a high of energy drinks and Christian revelation, a fighter-turned-porn star-turned criminal, and Bas Rutten's self-defense tapes. And they also punch and kick each other in the head.
You can follow me on Twitter at @ItsMikeFagan.