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None of my casual MMA fan-friends know who Glover Teixeira is.

They do, however, know who Jon Jones is, whether it’s from word of mouth or they’ve watched a UFC pay-per-view with me that featured the man himself. It was almost the same last July, when we gathered to watch Chris Weidman challenge Anderson Silva. They had no clue who Weidman was.

But this is a different situation. Anderson Silva was 37-years-old last year. Jon Jones is a 26-year-old phenom with a lot of years left in him.

I’m not saying that Glover Teixeira isn’t a formidable challenger — he is, and he deserves this Light Heavyweight title shot (absolutely), as it’s a fact that if he can land one of his powerful punches on Jonny ‘Bones’ Jones, that’ll be it. I don’t see it happening, but I also didn’t see Chris Weidman beating Anderson Silva once last year, let alone twice. However, Teixeira just isn’t largely known to the casual American fans demographic.

Jon Jones is a draw, and it’s definitely because of the sheer disdain a horde of MMA fans have for him, wanting — so desperately — to see a loss that’ll consequently strip him of the title that he’s held for three years now.

Some people say he’s dodged fighters, but I disagree — he’s beaten everyone in his path. He TKO’ed the beloved Shogun Rua to win the Light Heavyweight title, submitted Rampage Jackson, choked out Lyoto Machida, DOMINATED Rashad Evans, submitted Vitor Belfort, TKO’ed Chael Sonnen and won clearly three of five rounds against Alexander Gustafsson (let’s be honest — Gus was heading into the championship rounds up on the scorecards, but he was exhausted and Jones put a clinic on him and nearly finished him in the fourth round).

When and if Jon Jones does lose (anytime soon), what will be elucidated for us all is whether or not the fan-hate — and domination — that makes him a draw will continue to be there, but right now, as long as he keeps winning, the more people whose interest is piqued.

I have no doubt in my mind that ‘Bones’ will defeat Teixeira on Saturday night.

And it will be what’s best for business, much to the chagrin of the detractors.

Over the last couple years, the UFC has started a trend in releasing fighters with “boring” styles well before many think the cut is deserved. The most prominent examples are obviously Welterweights Jon Fitch, Jake Shields, and Middleweight Yushin Okami. All three of these cuts came while these fighters were in or near the Top 10 rankings of their division. So, how does the UFC justify releasing top-tier fighters from the premier organization in mixed martial arts?

There are a few contributing factors to these decisions. Age and cost of their fight contract are obvious reasons. However, I believe the most important is the fighter’s style. Fitch, Okami, and Shields are all notorious grinders who are often decried by fans for their smothering, low-offense styles.

It’s easy to criticize the UFC for booting talented fighters with habitual lackluster performances. However, they have little recourse in affecting change in in-cage performances.

In every other major sport, the leader in the industry is capable of adjusting their ruleset as they feel is necessary. The NBA and NFL make numerous adjustments year-to-year and have made dozens over the last decade. Most importantly, when the big leagues make these changes, they’re immediately implemented.

Yet, the unified rules of mixed martial arts have remained almost impressively stagnant since being adopted in 2000. The bigger problem remains that there is no singular governing body to determine the need and implementation of rule changes. The Association of Boxing Commissions is around to discuss and suggest changes annually, but they don’t have any official authority over state commissions. So, even if they approve a rule change, it’s up to each state commission to find a way to to enact that change or not. That’s why we see variance state-to-state in the exact wording of the unified rules interpretations.

Additionally, for better or worse, the UFC has no official representation in the ABC. Even if the UFC would want to adjust the rules to increase action or offense in the fight game, they have no way to make that happen within the current system. Instead, they’re left to send a “message” to their roster through cutting top fighters that happen to be “boring.”

It’s simple really; fighters that don’t deliver action don’t draw eyeballs. In a time where the UFC has almost zero pay-per-view draws and waning ratings on television, they need performances fans can enjoy. Grinding fighters like Fitch, Okami, and Shields do not bring in viewers. In fact, they’re more likely to repel them. That’s why they got chopped and Leonard Garcia was able to go on a five-fight losing streak before getting the axe. It may not be fair, but without an ability to enact change in an official capacity, they’re left with few other options.

When an MMA event (typically, UFC, given it’s the ‘big dog’ in the yard, so to speak) comes around, I generally gather with a few friends and we eat, drink and enjoy the legal violence.

But the UFC just held three shows in eight days. One on Fight Pass, one on Fox Sports 1 and the last one on Fox, and there will be a pay-per-view next Saturday night.

Here’s what Dave Meltzer had to say about Saturday night’s event:

“That UFC number last night is concerning. The reality is they only have a limited number of stars. It was a card insiders were lauding because of the hard to predict matchups, and generally strong quality. But the average sports fan is losing interest except for the few big shows a year. There are a lot of issues involved. The business model is about providing as much content as possible. But the appeal in the U.S. is not going in a positive direction.”

Most of my friends aren’t hardcore fans like yours truly, save one or two. Hell, I only watched Saturday night’s UFC with my de facto brother/lifelong best friend, and that was it, and that was probably because we generally imbibe and have pseudo-intellectual conversations (read: not really, it’s likely just inebriated bloviating, but everything sounds like a well thought out discussion while on the sauce, y’know?), and (too many damn ‘ands’ — my bad) he just enjoys hanging out and watching the fights because we don’t get to hang out too often given our respective commitments and responsibilities in life.

To me, Saturday night’s event was tantamount to an f-wording awesome pay-per-view card. Yoel Romero and Brad Tavares? Check. Donald Cerrone and Edson Barboza? Check! A thrilling one round fight! Miesha Tate and Liz Carmouche, two former women’s Bantamweight title contenders? Check. Travis Browne and Fabricio Werdum duking it out to see who would challenge UFC Heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez? Check.

But to the casual viewer’s eye, nothing about the card excited them, because they know… nobody! No big names. Meltzer has a point.

Somebody said that it was because it was going against playoff games from other sports (and, also, Bernard Hopkins fought last night over in the boxing realm and became the oldest fighter (49 years of age) in boxing history to unify titles). But I beg to differ, because the UFC has faced stiffer competition in the past from team sports’ leagues and have succeeded, depending on who was fighting on those nights.

The UFC is oversaturating the shit out of the product by holding 5-6 events per month. And like pro wrestling (yes — pro wrestling) has taught time and time again, you don’t feel the effects until it’s too late. The UFC is sacrificing American business for international expansion. Maybe it will prove more profitable long-term, but I have my doubts.

However, I will say this, if Jon Jones, Ronda Rousey (two polarizing fighters; ‘villains’ in the sport) and Cain Velasquez (a dominant heavyweight champion) continue winning their fights, all will be good. I’d like to say the same about two fighters I love watching, Jose Aldo and Renan Barao (guys that haven’t lost a fight since 2005), but given how they are the kings of their respective weight classes (Featherweight and Bantamweight), lower weight classes that were only introduced in the UFC in just 2010, I doubt that will ring true if I had the gall to say such a thing.

Brock Lesnar left in December 2011, Chris Weidman beat Anderson Silva twice in 2013 and now Silva’s out after that gnarly leg break last December, and Georges St.-Pierre — the last ‘big’ draw — is retired and on leave from fighting after his controversial bout with Johny Hendricks in November.

The UFC would do good to stack their events with bigger names to lure in casual fans. Less cards, yes, but more compelling matchups that would most definitely entice the casual fans of combat sports. But hey, what do I know?

Fabricio Werdum just decimated Travis Browne. 20 minutes of domination. I’ll omit the first 5 minutes of action, because they were trading punches and kicks, but after that Werdum went Shaq Fu on his candy ass.

shaq fu

Back in August, Alistair Overeem had Browne down and against the cage and was pounding away hammer fists right at his head, and then he gassed, wearing himself out with those punches, and Browne proceeded to kick Overeem in the face, effectively ending the fight by knocking him out.

Back in December at UFC 168, Browne fought equally tough competition in Josh Barnett. Early in the fight, Barnett went for the takedown on Browne, and Browne capitalized on Barnett’s premature attempt by delivering elbows that escalated to a TKO victory just one minute into the fight.

I bought into the hype. Picked him to beat Werdum.

And then, for lack of any better words, Werdum made Browne his meager, little bitch tonight, picking him apart and taunting him from rounds 2 through 5.

But the fight of the night was Donald Cerrone vs. Edson Barboza. Barboza was out-striking Cerrone before Cerrone landed a simple jab square on the face that sent Barboza falling to the canvas (glass chin, anyone?), and then Cerrone took his back in a veteran savvy move and forced him to tap out to a excellently executed rear naked choke submission.

cerronebarboza

Let’s do it. Cutting it close here, with the prelims getting ready to start up, but the UFC is killing me with three events in eight days, and there was also a Bellator event on Spike last night. Tonight we’ll find out who’ll challenge Cain Velasquez for the Heavyweight title.

ufc on fox 11
———————–

Rafael dos Anjos vs. Khabib Nurmagomedov

This is a close fight, much closer than the betting lines (Nurmy -250) would indicate. Dos Anjos looked better than ever before against Cerrone, mixing in some potent Muay Thai with his always-excellent takedowns and top control. I’d love to see him grab the win here, but Nurmagomedov is a brutal matchup: he has absurdly good takedown defense, a great clinch game, and the ability to do serious damage in transition. RDA probably has the advantage at striking range, though with Nurmy’s improvement that isn’t a given, and if he can keep the fight there he has a good chance of winning. I just don’t think he can for all three rounds. Nurmagomedov, unanimous decision.

Yoel Romero vs. Brad Tavares

This should be a fun, high-paced matchup between two guys who like to throw real volume on the feet. Tavares has developed into a clean and methodical combination striker, while Romero’s strengths are his next-level power and athleticism, which nicely flow together with his unorthodox kickboxing style. I’m inclined to think that the latter will carry the day here, given that Tavares is hittable and probably can’t threaten with takedowns the way that accomplished wrestlers like Brunson and Markes could. Romero, unanimous decision.

Edson Barboza vs. Donald Cerrone

I’m a huge fan of both of these guys, and I don’t want either to lose. With that said, Cerrone’s fought and beaten much better competition, and he’s looked absolutely outstanding in his last two outings, with none of the slow-starting malaise that’s plagued him in the past. Both Cerrone and Barboza are fairly extreme rhythm strikers, and whoever gets their timing and range first should take this; based on the Martins and Dunham fights, and Barboza’s epically slow start against Danny Castillo, I think that’s more likely to be Cerrone. Combine that with his underrated takedowns and grappling, and I think he takes a competitive decision. Cerrone, unanimous decision.

Liz Carmouche vs. Miesha Tate

Much like Ronda Rousey, Alexis Davis, Sarah Kaufman, and Marloes Coenen before her, Miesha Tate is exactly the caliber of opponent that Liz Carmouche doesn’t have the tools to beat. She’s great against small, or less grapple savy opponents who can be overwhelmed by her bullying takedown game, but any opponent with a bit of size, strength and chops on the mat can tear her apart. Tate by one-sided decision.

Travis Browne vs. Fabricio Werdum

I think Browne has been undervalued for quite some time, and while he’s the favorite here I wouldn’t be surprised if by Saturday afternoon those lines shift towards even money. Werdum’s best chance at a takedown is if Browne overcommits on a strike and is driven to the ground while off balance. Werdum’s best striking comes from in the clinch, and I don’t think he can bully Browne there. If it does go to the ground then Browne is probably cooked, but as long as Browne can dictate the pace, fight from the outside, and really string together some effective strikes, then he’ll come out as the victor once again. Browne by TKO, round 1.

I know it’s pretty cliche to dig Charles Bukowski’s writing nowadays. But…. the dude was the man. Say what you want, but Buke lived life by his own rules, his own code. And it’s a code I totally respect. Here I present my favorite poem by Buke, and a the code to which I’ve tried to adhere to the last two years.


__________________________________________________

if you’re going to try, go all the
way.
otherwise, don’t even start.if you’re going to try, go all the
way.
this could mean losing girlfriends,
wives, relatives, jobs and
maybe your mind.go all the way.
it could mean not eating for 3 or 4 days.
it could mean freezing on a
park bench.
it could mean jail,
it could mean derision,
mockery,
isolation.
isolation is the gift,
all the others are a test of your
endurance, of
how much you really want to
do it.
and you’ll do it
despite rejection and the worst odds
and it will be better than
anything else
you can imagine. 

if you’re going to try,
go all the way.
there is no other feeling like
that.
you will be alone with the gods
and the nights will flame with
fire.

do it, do it, do it.
do it.

all the way
all the way.

you will ride life straight to
perfect laughter, its
the only good fight
there is.

- Charles Bukowski

In the month of August 2008, a month after I’d met her, a person I once eventually came to (used to…) think very highly of (understatement), mentioned this book, “American Psycho” by Bret Easton Ellis and how she thought it was the most disgusting and vile book on the planet and how one of her friends from the time, Alicia, loved it. A couple of years later I found the book for cheap, bought it and figured, “What the hell? I’ll give it a read.”

I’d watched the movie adaptation of “American Psycho” (starring Christian Bale) and while it was out there, the book blows it out of the water.

After finishing this, I was forced to wait until my brain had cooled down and re-congealed before I could cogitate sufficiently to put my experience with this novel into words.

And yet, even after so many hours have ticked by, the only word that keeps bubbling up to the surface of my consciousness is…”wow”.

…in both the good and not so good variety.

american psycho by bret easton ellis

At first, I had thought about trying to do a “tongue-in-cheek” review by imitating the narrator and describing what “designers” I was wearing while typing this review and what “brand” of shampoo and shaving cream I used this morning, and the excellence of L’Instant de Guerlain Extreme Pour Homme. However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized I wanted to play this one straight given the profound effect the book had.

Therefore, you get (mostly) serious Troy today.

On the one hand, this novel is a visceral, disturbingly dark portrait of the 1980s as an emotionally vacuous, disconnected and superficial bastion of consumerism in which the people living through it became more and more detached from society and less and less able to emote for anyone beyond themselves. In essence, the book deals extensively (and brilliantly) with a loss of empathy.

The protagonist, Patrick Bateman, is the personification of the darkest extreme of this lack of empathy. He is, by definition, a psychopath which has as one of its primary characteristics, the “inability to feel guilt, remorse or empathy towards another person.” Patrick is outwardly charming and good mannered with all the outward indicia of normality.

Inside… there is NOTHING.

I found the beginning of the book to be hilarious in a dark, satirical way. Almost every sentence out of Patrick’s mouth included a description of a specific product “brand” or status symbol. He didn’t just reach into his wallet and pay the cabbie — he opens up his “Ermenegildo Zegna” suit coat, pulls out his “Tumi” calf-skin wallet while seeing in the corner of his eye the “Fratelli Rossetti” wingtips that his friend has on and pulls out cab fare before putting the wallet back in his new black leather attache by “Bottega Veneta”. As the narrative goes on, you realize that we are seeing the world through Patrick’s “distorted” lens and this focus on brands is simply a result of Patrick’s twisted world view.

In addition to having some serious fun with the out of control consumerism of the 1980s, Ellis slowly begins to reveal to us the fact that Patrick (and I might add all of the people he associates with) have no empathy or compassion for anyone but themselves. Upon arriving at a very high-end restaurant where Patrick and his friends will spend an exorbitant amount of money (and barely eat any of their food), Patrick casually narrates for us:

“Outside Pastels, Tim grabbed the napkin with Van Patten’s final version of his carefully phrased question for GQ on it and tossed it as a bum huddling outside the restaurant feebly holding up a sloppy cardboard sign: I AM HUNGRY AND HOMELESS PLEASE HELP ME.”

No further comment is made about the scene and it is only after many more similar occurrences that you begin to get the “picture” that is being portrayed.

I thought that the first half of the book was nothing short of brilliant as an indictment of the period. However, that is not where the book ends and it’s the second half of the book that, while equally well written, was arguably the most disturbing writing I’ve read in a while.

As the book progresses, Patrick’s night time activities become more and more bizarre, sadistic and just plain brutal. Now, I’ve read a lot of horror and seen my share of movie gore and while I don’t enjoy “slasher” movies (or torture porn novels) I certainly have been able to deal with some very brutal images and scenes in the context of a what I read and watch. Well, the images and descriptions of Patrick’s murders unsettled me as much as anything I have ever experienced. It was not just the graphic, detailed AND PROLONGED scenes of rape, murder and torture (not always in that order). It was inner monologue of Patrick totally devoid of empathy for his victims that will probably stay with me for the rest of my life. I had read reviews that the murder scenes were graphic, and I thought, “Thanks for the warning but I should be OK.” Well, I want to say again:

Be warned — it is about as disturbing as you can imagine.

I wanted to make sure I said that because, despite my cautions above, this is a book I will recommend provided people understand the level of gut-wrenching depictions in the novel. It’s not a book to read for pleasure and it is not a book I believe I will ever open again. However, I do believe that this is an IMPORTANT work and will be remembered as one of the seminal novels written about the 1980s.

It shines a harsh and brutal light (if exaggerated for effect) on a way of life and a mindset that has become, over time, all too familiar.

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