Oh My GOD!
Those were the first words Henry “Discombobulating” Jones uttered when he first saw the caged mayhem known as ‘Mixed Martial Arts’–UFC style.
Kneeing someone in the face, choking them out, and roundhouse kicks to the temple? The damage done is more serious than in any other sport.
He said, “Therein lays the appeal!”
Matches are contested in a eight sided ring called the Octagon. Combatans use a variety of fighting styles, from judo and karate to kickboxing and wrestling, and they come from diverse backgrounds. Brock Lesnaw is the current UFC heavyweight champion. He is an ex-World Wrestling Entertainment title holder.
The sports popularity is on the rise: Last month in Las Vegas the UFC celebrated its 100 event, the poster boy of the organization, Lesnar was the headline act.
The show was the largest yet with 5.1 million dollars in tickets sold, with 10,000 plus in attendance and 1.5 million watching on pay-per-view.
The ultimate Fighter reality TV series, returns next month on Spike TV, the series has been viewed by nearly half (49%) of all U. S. men ages 18-49 over the last 4 seasons.
Discombobulating Jones didn’t really like it the first few times he saw it, and even turned down announcing gigs. He thought it was too barbaric for his tastes.
His thinking, “It wasn’t too far removed from the Roman Arena fights of yesteryear, either thumbs up or thumbs down."
They are gladiators all right, but he had seen too many of the pro boxers carried out on their shields, never to return.
A local promoter out of the Charles town area of West Virginia named Lionel Royer kept coming to pro boxing cards to recruit him to announce his MMA cards.
Finally, he agreed to give it a try.
Mr. Royer said, “My unique announcing style would be a breath of fresh air.”
In the meantime, he did his due diligence and studied the sport by watching and reading everything associated with it.
When he started announcing pro boxing two yrs ago his first MMA bout was in Leesburg, Virginia, in Feb. of 2007. The show took place at a Best Western hotel in front of a standing room only, predominantly white, beer-swilling, and profanity laced crowd.
He said, “To be honest I was a bit intimidated and felt more than a little awkward. The rowdiness turned to an almost deafening silence after I climbed the stairs and entered a cage where the combatants would do battle.”
You could have heard the proverbial pin drop. It crossed his mind how this was happening during Black History Month and that he was both black and would be history after the show.
Suddenly, something magical happened that changed his mind. It also let him know just how much he was appreciated.
He said someone yelled “Hey, I’ve seen that guy announce on television a lot of times. He’s FU^&*%^&NG great! It was as if EF Hutton had spoken.”
The MMA fans around the speaker started clapping and hollering as if his mentor himself Michael Buffer had uttered his trademark phrase, “Let’s get ready to rumble!!”
After the show he was hounded by fans and fighters alike for his autograph, and given kudos of how his ring style had greatly added to the event. This experience may have even made him better.
The one other thing that he learned, “That every black face he saw was not his brother and every white he saw was not his enemy.”
That was a lesson taught by the greatest boxing promoter of all time, Don King, and ego tripping promotions like Butch Lewis and his flunky Rock Newman. World champions out of DC like Sugar Ray Leonard, Shamba Mitchell, Maurice Blocker, Keith Holmes, and William Joppy.
None of them reached back to pull him along.
Since the MMA event, he has traveled around the country with Mr. Royer to places as far away as Cherokee. NC. It was here he had to fly into Atlanta, rent a car, and drove another 3 hrs through winding mountains.
He has come to find out that the participants in this rough sport are no different than the pro boxers that he has formed lifelong bonds with.
MMA warriors also have dreams and aspirations, and want to be recognized as the best at what they do, no matter how violent the action and brutal the consequences.
Discombobulating said, “Being affiliated with this sport has also allowed him to form friendships with some of these ring warriors and also use my Social Work skills in a unique way with youth groups who come to see them battle.”
He has been able to speak to wayward juveniles to get them to make conscientious decisions about their street actions, and to do like he asked the MMA fighters:” Leave your Rage….inside the Cage!”
He is a graduate of St. Paul & Augustine College in Raleigh, NC.
After 21 yrs of announcing boxing, he has become known as the “1st prominent African-American Ring Announcer in history!”
Thanks in great part to his mentor, Michael Buffer. He says, "Now I am competing for gigs with his brother, Bruce Buffer, how ironic. Now, if only networks which televise the MMA fights would take notice of me as a desired Voice of Choice!"
His professional ring announcing has come full circle.
On August 22, 20oop he will return home to be the Voice of Choice when the MMA makes its debut in the Nation’s Capitol at the DC Convention Center.
For ticket information and fighters on the card checkout www.VFLmma.com or call 304-283-3053
Henry “Dis-com-bob-u-lating” Jones, ‘The Barack Obama of Ring Announcers!’