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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.

After weeks of hand wringing and head scratching over the identity of Ronda Rousey’s next opponent, it turned out the answer was right under our noses all along.

Now that we know, we can all add a few more months to our Gina Carano Doomsday Clocks.

At least for the time being, all talk of movie-star superfights and big-name free agents can be tabled, as Dana White announced last Friday that Rousey will defend her women’s bantamweight crown against Alexis Davis at UFC 175 on July 5.

Anybody else feel like they’ve been had?

It appears in retrospect that Carano just played-up widespread rumors she might be next for Rousey in order to publicize her new film as something besides the subject of perhaps the worst movie review of all time. In addition, all those flags we raised on behalf of Cyborg Justino and Holly Holm ultimately proved false.

Davis is up — maybe Davis was always going to be up — and y’know what? It’s the right move.

With Cat Zingano still recuperating, she’s the obvious in-house choice. The 29-year-old Canadian has won eight of her last nine fights, including three straight in the octagon, and in a division the fight company seems dead set on promoting as Ronda Rousey and Everyone Else, that’s as good as it gets.

Davis vs. Rousey gives the UFC a nice fallback main event for its midsummer pay-per-view, just in case Chris Weidman needs more time to return from dueling knee surgeries. It’ll also provide a nice, competitive tonic to make the silliness of Chael Sonnen vs. Wanderlei Silva go down easier.

Maybe it feels a little anticlimactic after all those wild stories we told ourselves, but if nothing else, Davis is a challenger we can all agree on.

She won’t beat the champion — this one has first-round armbar written all over it — but at least she fights in the UFC. At least she’s made 135 pounds. At least we can craft a pretty succinct and convincing case for her as a worthy No. 1 contender.

None of those things were true of Carano, the still-retired former non-champion who may be guilty of nothing in this.

And yet it still feels like there was an awful lot of smoke circling a proposed Carano-Rousey squash match for it all to come to nothing. There’s a sense that we haven’t heard the last of this nonsense.

The chance remains that all parties might reconvene to book that bout for the UFC’s gala end-of-the-year pay-per-view, especially now that the groundwork is laid and the initial storm of public outcry has been weathered.

It’s a fight nobody who actually knows anything about MMA wants to see, one no one has been able to justify aside from saying it seems like a good way for all involved to make a lot of money. Somehow, though—and despite Davis’ meeting with Rousey two-and-a-half months from now—it retains an air of depressing inevitability.

For one more fight, however, we can hold off on the debates over its propriety, the philosophical questions about PPV customers knowingly participating in a naked cash grab and all the fire and brimstone about what MMA really means.

Davis vs. Rousey will be a good, spirited fight between the unbeaten champion and a challenger who did everything that was asked of her in order to earn the chance.

I suggest we enjoy it for what it is.

There’s no telling what might come next.

The final season of Showtime’s Californication begins tonight.

I gave it a shot four years ago and was hooked from the first episode on. The show follows Hank Moody (played by David Duchovny; probably my favorite character in the history of television), an alcoholic writer who resides in California (surprise?) and suffers from writer’s block. His drinking and womanizing fuel him. He goes through women like disposable t-shirts while still in love with the woman he perceives to be the love of his life (played by Natasha McElhone) despite her shunning of Hank by getting involved in relationships with dime a dozen bumrat schmucks.

The show’s other main characters are Moody’s best friend and agent, Charlie Runkle (played by Evan Handler), and Charlie’s wife, Marcy (played by Pamela Adlon). Recurring themes are sex, drugs and rock and roll, all of which are featured regularly.

It was a cleverly written show, but the downfall over the last several seasons is the writers of the show’s mistakes of having Hank going in different directions not apropos to the character’s disposition. What made Californication so compelling, particularly in its fantastic first two seasons, was how the writers allowed Hank to be… Hank. He deals with a constant quagmire of inner-adversity fueled by his own personal demons, shenanigans and from the zany sideshow sumbitches he encounters.

The show is laced with rock culture references. It frequently alludes to Warren Zevon and featured Henry Rollins in a guest appearance; some episode titles, such as “Filthy Lucre” and “Turn The Page”, allude to album and song names (Sex Pistols’ “Filthy Lucre Live” and Bob Seger’s “Turn the Page”, respectively). The name of the movie made out of Hank’s “God Hates Us All” novel, “A Crazy Little Thing Called Love” is named after the song with the same name by the rock band Queen on their album, “The Game”. There’s also a shithorde of songs by The Doors. In addition, his lawyer in season 4′s name is Abby Rhodes. His first three novels, “South of Heaven”, “Seasons in the Abyss” and “God Hates Us All,” are all named after Slayer albums.

Another thing I instantly appreciated about Californication is the MANY references/homages to Hunter S. Thompson and Charles Bukowski (more-so Bukowski, but plenty of subtle references to Thompson, particularly his 1972 classic “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”), two of my all-time favorite writers. In one of the seasons, one of the characters notes that he behaves like a “poor man’s Bukowski”. Similarly, in a flashback scene to the night they met, the woman he’d think of as the love of his life calls him Bukowski.

It’s time to end Californication. It’s actually been time to end it after the last several mediocre seasons that subsisted on a few great episodes. I’ll miss the character Hank Moody (who won’t?) and the onscreen chemistry with Charlie Runkle. It had a good run, but nothing lasts forever, maddaaafuckaaaa.

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