The sport of mixed martial arts and the world of comic books rarely clash against one another, although they do carry some of the same characteristics.
Both feature larger than life figures doing extraordinary things like rescuing damsels in distress and fighting in cages, as in the case of MMA.
Retired UFC middleweight Nate Quarry brought the two worlds together recently with his independent comic book release Zombie Cage Fighter and is now combining the brands even more with an appearance on AMC's Comic Book Men, airing on Thursday night.
The reality show focuses on a store in Red Bank, New Jersey called Jay and Silent Bob's Secret Stash, owned by famed Clerks director and pioneer of SModcast Kevin Smith. Typically, Comic Book Men stays centered around the world of superheroes, but in the next episode, Quarry introduces them to what mixed martial arts is all about.
Quarry says it's actually quite natural that comic book fans could be MMA enthusiasts and vice versa. It's just a matter of the two worlds colliding at just the right moment.
"It's the exact same demographic if you look at, for lack of a better term, comic book nerds and fight nerd—they're the exact same guys," Quarry told Bleacher Report. "The fight nerds are more about the three-dimensional guys fighting in cages. The comic book nerds they're looking at the two-dimensional with the superheroes, but in both cases, people are looking for something greater than the average everyday life that most people go through."
Quarry's appearance on the show centers on him attempting to get the store to carry his comic book, but he also has the chance to show the guys a little mixed martial arts.
"They had never seen a real fight before. It was just a whole new world for them to come see," Quarry said.
"When I was a kid, I got prejudice from the cool kids in school for liking comic books and not playing sports. Now as an adult who still loves comic books, I get prejudice from the comic book world because I'm this jock who obviously is just glomming onto the popularity of zombies. So I've had to break down barriers with people in the comic book world to show that this is a story I'm passionate about."
In the episode, Smith and his co-star and best friend Jason Mewes (who actually is a long time MMA supporter and has appeared on Inside MMA previously) coach two fighters who square off in the cage dressed as their signature counterparts, Jay and Silent Bob.
Quarry says the whole crew flocked to MMA once they understood it, and one member of the team, Ming Chen, actually started taking kickboxing classes after the show wrapped just to see what the rage was all about.
It was a hard sell at first, but Quarry was persistent, and by the end of his time in New Jersey, he had turned the Comic Book Men into MMA fans.
"I could see when I first showed up, they couldn't see the connection," Quarry said. "They didn’t know how I was going to fit into their world because I'm coming from some place completely different, but then after being able to spend a little bit of time with them, they could really see I'm exactly like them. I just chose to be a fighter instead of running a comic book store. Our passion about what we do is exactly the same."
Quarry's appearance on Comic Book Men airs on Thursday night at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.
Damon Martin is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report and all quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.
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