September 30, 2005

by Damon Martin
“Damon’s Top Five Topics In MMA”

By Damon Martin, MMAWeekly

1. Lee Murray’s Condition and The Situation Surrounding His Tragedy

First of all let me preface this first topic by saying that above everything else that has been said or will be said by any member of the MMA media or any fan reading this article, I truly hope that Lee Murray makes a full recovery and all of my thoughts and well wishes are with him and his family. When I spoke to the representative of St. Mary’s Hospital on early Thursday morning, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I asked about Lee’s condition. I truly felt a moment of relief hearing her tell me that he was in a stable condition. I never knew Lee Murray and never had the chance to sit down and talk to him, but I truly feel like the mixed martial arts community is a family and when anything this jarring takes place it really puts things into prospective. Since then Murray’s condition has improved. He is off the
ventilator and breathing on his own.

Now for the situation at hand is how Murray was attacked and the reality that surrounds fighters on a daily basis. We don’t know the exact details of what caused the brawl or what provoked the attackers to go after Lee Murray, but the truth is that being a fighter literally puts a target on your back and every MMA star has to learn to start watching themselves when something like a bar brawl happens. Frank Trigg mentioned on Thursday’s radio show that many fans would be surprised what fighters have been involved in melees and bar fights before. The truth is that we live in a very dangerous world and the days of two guys stepping outside and having words and maybe a physical exchange is gone. The likelihood is much higher now for one person to pull a knife or possibly even a gun, and no argument or perceived amount of manhood is worth losing your life over. I hope this will be the last time we have to see a fighter go through something like this, but I just can’t believe that it won’t happen again.

2. Tito Ortiz Going To Pride Would Be A Good Thing.

Tito Ortiz has been offered a fight contract with Pride and now we can all wait to see if the one time UFC Light Heavyweight champion will sign the dotted line and step back into the spotlight of the MMA world. While Ortiz himself has said that negotiations are still being hashed out, I truly hope he steps into the Pride ring in the near future for a few reasons. First off, I don’t care what anyone thinks about Tito Ortiz he is still one of the most recognizable names in all of MMA and love him or hate him, people know him. Tito Ortiz was the face of American MMA for the past few years and his brash attitude and cocky demeanor are the very things that made him so popular and well known, even to the mainstream audiences throughout the U.S. Second, if Pride wants to get a foot in the door of the American MMA audience, there is no bigger free agent out there. Pride has plenty of stars in it’s middleweight division and after seeing a few Wanderlei Silva highlights, I’m sure the average MMA watcher would love to see him fight, but starting out, having Tito Ortiz as the main event of a pay per view would surely sink a few extra buys into Pride’s pockets. Last but not least, Tito Ortiz doesn’t deserve what the UFC has done to him and I hope he can make a return for a company that will appreciate his talent. I’m ready for the bashing for this comment, but the truth is that Tito was the poster boy for the UFC during the days when no one was buying the pay per views and he stuck around. He was the headliner when the average fan couldn’t tell Chuck Liddell from Chucky the killer doll. Tito was the face of the UFC for a long time and beyond his demands for more money and his perception in the eyes of the fans, he did help to bring professional MMA back to a mainstream audience long before “The Ultimate Fighter.” I just hate to see the guy put his career and body on the line for a company only to be bastardized by the company’s president. He’s been removed from their website, they don’t even want to acknowledge that he was ever associated with the company, and he’s been barred from attending events or cornering fighters that he trains with. Tito may not be your favorite fighter, but the guy does deserve respect and I hope he gets to prove himself again inside a Pride ring.

3. Hulk Hogan Is An Idiot

Usually, I try to base my topics on what you the fans are talking about, but I couldn’t help but throw this one in there. So here I am flipping channels last night and I run across a show called “The Big Idea” with Donnie Deutch or some name like that, and who do I see but Hulk Hogan. I figure I’ve got 10 minutes to waste listening to him talk but what I heard was shear idiocy. They were discussing the prospect of the WWE going head to head with the UFC on Monday nights. Hogan’s words were as follows, “I think we’ll do better in the long run because we reach a wider audience. Ultimate fighting is more narrow. I mean they’ve got kicking and punching and striking, I mean it’s pretty barbaric.”

Now, I’m not sure, but the last time I checked pro wrestling is much more barbaric than any fight that’s taken place in the UFC recently. Let’s see…on WWE programming I’ve seen over the last few years: A fake funeral where the wrestler’s father was dead and another guy drove off the graveyard with the casket chained to the car. A wrestler hooking up with a prostitute who so happened to be a man dressed up as a woman. An 80 or so year old woman give birth to a hand. Every six months or so a very racially profiled wrestler debuts to give the Americans a hard time. And not a single one of those things is made up!

Hogan may be living in the past when it comes to his wrestling ability, but before making asinine statements like the one above, maybe he should take five minutes to look into the sport he’s bashing before talking about it. Or better yet, how about looking at some of the programming that his company puts on. Sometimes the hardest person to look at is the one staring back at you in the mirror, and while I think that that MMA is a sport that breeds great competition and is nothing like pro wrestling, Hogan needs to look no further than the WWE for the real barbaric show in town.

4. We All Need To Stop Comparing The UFC To The WWE

While on the subject of the UFC and the WWE, recently all the talk has been about the WWE’s move back to the USA network while the UFC is becoming the flagship show for Spike TV, and while that is great and all, if mixed martial arts is ever truly going to succeed in the mainstream market, they have to get away from all of the pro wrestling comparisons. I understand that right now the subject is fueled from a perceived rivalry building between the two for a Monday night ratings war that is about to ensue, but the fact is pro wrestling is a story based, steroid driven, testosterone based male soap opera and mixed martial arts is a sport. The UFC is working very hard to distance itself from the early days of watching bare knuckled competitors slug it out until one of them was left bloodied and broken on the mat, to the state sanctioned sport and event that it is today. I would love to turn on ESPN one day to see a Sportcenter highlight featuring Chuck Liddell’s latest knockout, but we are a long way from that just yet. I just want to see MMA be considered a full contact sport, like boxing or football, not a spectacle or sideshow, which is exactly what the WWE is these days. I hope the drama will fade away and the UFC can get back to showing why MMA truly is the greatest sport in the world, not the new version of “Slamball” or whatever other sport Spike has tried to showcase in the past.

5. Pride Put On An Amazing Show And Another One Will Follow

Pride has had it’s share of bad shows in the past, no one can have a perfect run. For the past year or so, I’ve been a person that has thought almost every UFC show with the exception of a couple, has been better than most Pride shows, but now the tide seems to be turning. Starting with the finals of the middleweight Grand Prix, Pride starting to churn out some great fights. With the most recent Bushido tournament, they have out done themselves. The tournament truly did feature almost every top fighter in the lightweight division, and while I still think the UFC has the best 185lb weight class, the Pride welterweight tournament was solid as well. Dan Henderson may finally get to show how good he really is when he fights others his own size, and he was pretty darn good fighting guys much bigger than him! We finally got to see the Murilo Bustamante that won the UFC middleweight title a few years ago. And of course, seeing Takanori Gomi pull off the wins he does, is like watching poetry in motion. Now, we’ve been given two top heavyweight fights with Josh Barnett rematching Mirko CroCop , and Fabricio Werdum getting rising star Sergei Kharitonov on October 23rd. I hope we get to see Antonio Rogrigo Nogueira on this show as well, but it’s already shaping up to be a pretty good show. And they haven’t even starting to pull together a card for New Year’s Eve, which is sure to be a great event. Pride has definitely raised the bar lately and the real winners are the fans who get to watch these tremendous shows.