An All-Time List: My 30 Most Memorable MMA Moments for My 30th Birthday
On July 18th, I will be 30 years old.
And if that wasn't bad enough, my daughter will be turning seven two days later.
It's a double whammy; my baby girl isn't a baby anymore and my life is half over.
I guess it's time to get rid of all the "kid" stuff I have. It's time to sell the Xbox 360, pull the insanely loud stereo out of my car, buy some Just for Men hair color, and start taking Centrum Silver.
What the heck am I saying?!
I'm still going to rock the faux hawk, make old people mad when I pull up next to them while listening to "Lost" by Gorilla Zoe, be one of those jerks you hate on Xbox Live, and completely not act my age.
But to celebrate my birthday—which for the last seven years has taken place at Chuck-E-Cheese or Build-A-Bear Workshop—I decided I'm going to play two rounds of golf tomorrow and compile a list of my most memorable MMA moments (if the title didn't already give that away).
But it's not all just about fights; it's just about MMA in general. It also includes life experiences.
So kick back, grab a frosty cold beverage, and take a look inside the mind of a madman.
Honorable Mention—Being at Diego Corrales' Last Fight
I know this has nothing to do with MMA, but I had to include it anyway.
My best friend and I were sitting five rows from the ring for this fight that was held in Springfield, Mo., and broadcast live on Showtime.
At the time, I was hoping Corrales would lose since he shorted his trainer, Joe Goosen, somewhere around $100K.
If you happen to have the fight, you can hear me and Paul chanting "Pay Joe Goosen!" after rounds two and four.
Had I known that this would be the last time Chico would ever step foot inside the ring, I probably would have not been saying that.
About a month later, I saw that Diego died in a motorcycle accident scroll across the bottom line of ESPN. I was in a state of shock for a day or two.
All of his personal issues aside, I feel blessed that I had the opportunity to see such a great warrior compete for the very last time.
30. Getting My First Affliction T-Shirt
I can't remember which UFC it was, but when I saw Randy wearing this, I just had to have it.
I was going to order it online because I didn't think anyone would be willing to spend almost $60 on a shirt for me.
But just a few days before I was going to buy it, I got my birthday gift from the kids.
Thanks Ray Ray and Tank. You're the best.
29. Down Goes Fedor
I guess Fedor needed someone's shoulder to cry on. Too bad he's too short to reach Choi's shoulder.
I was at almost a complete loss of words when I saw Fedor kind-of tap when he couldn't get out of the triangle choke Werdum had on him. It was almost like he didn't know how to do it.
Then someone told me something that made me think; what if Fedor wanted to lose?
So many of his fans idolize him like he's a God. Being the deeply religious man he is, maybe he didn't want to be look at like a God.
Maybe he wanted to lose so people would realize that he's just another human being like the rest of us.
Just some food for thought.
28. Interviewing Dan Severn
This one goes back to the days before I even ever considered writing about MMA with any regularity.
I was doing a thesis for a writing class I was taking about the evolution of MMA in the United States.
When my professor gave me the green light to run with this topic, the first person who popped into my head to get some quotes from was Dan Severn.
The interview was great. He enlightened me on many things about the sport that I was not aware of and told me one of the funniest stories I have ever heard.
During the time that Sen. McCain was putting pressure on states to ban "No-Holds-Barred" fighting, Dan was in Arizona and attending the same church as McCain.
According to Mr. Severn, there was a club at the church called "Rosy Cheeks". It was held at the basement of the church and nobody gave it a second thought.
What they didn't know is that there were old-school Pancrase fights happening down there. Only being allowed to strike to the face with an open hand leads to "Rosy Cheeks."
MMA fights were happening in the church and McCain didn't even know about it. I couldn't control my laughter.
27. UFC's Ultimate 100 on Blu-Ray
Yeah, so I already have every UFC event on DVD. But is there anything better that watching MMA in Hi-Def?
Yes I know there is, but this is rated PG-13ish.
Back in February, I found this online for only $60 shipped. I couldn't pull out a credit card fast enough.
Shortly after it showed up on my doorstep, we got a massive snowstorm. The bad thing was I slammed into a curb and bent a rim on my car and had to wait five days for a new one to be delivered.
The good thing was it gave me five days to watch all six blu-ray discs.
26. The Smashing Machine
I picked this up right after it first came out. Being a fan of Mark Kerr, I was shocked to say the least when I saw everything that he put himself through.
The story explains why he fell from grace so quickly. Maybe it didn't do it directly, but we're all smart enough to put two and two together.
It's a shame; he had all the talent to be one of the best—if not the best—fighters the MMA world has ever seen.
25. The Check Bounces
So a few weeks back, I got called on short notice to judge an event in an undisclosed town for an undisclosed promoter at an undisclosed venue.
The event was an absolute disaster. Instead of 10 fights, there were only four. The ring announcers were horrible.
They plugged as many sponsors as they could and could still only give people a hour and 15 minutes worth of whatever they were offering for their money.
Hey, I didn't mind. I just made $120 an hour! Well, it was all good until their check bounced.
The story goes something like this: promoter of the event owns the venue, promoter put money in the wrong account, checks bounce.
Great, now I'm out $150 plus the fees the bank charges me for his mistake.
So I contacted the representative of the sanctioning body overseeing the event to let them know my compensation didn't clear my bank account.
They told me that the promoter was aware of this and they had money orders to send out to everyone.
Supposedly, mine was sent out last week. I still haven't found it in my mailbox and nothing has been mentioned about getting money to cover the fees on my end.
I now judge on a cash-only basis.
24. Getting Pride FC 1-18 for Christmas
So back in 2004, my then wife and I were both working crap jobs, raising our one-year-old little girl, and didn't have much money.
I had discovered Pride FC earlier that year. I thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread.
I saw an online retailer had a set of Pride FC 1-18 plus the first Grand Prix on sale for $200. I really wanted it, but I had given up hope of getting it since it was so expensive.
But Christmas morning, I opened up the only box under the tree with my name on it.
23. Telling Tito Jones My Crew Could Kick His Crew's Butt
So when my bro's ex was dating Tito Jones (according to my nephews anyway), she hooked me up with him for another paper I was writing for school.
Out of nowhere one night, he sent me a text telling me he had just got Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, but was afraid to start playing it in fear he would get addicted. I told him I had it too and it was a great game.
Then I told him "You should get on Xbox Live. My crew could kick your crew's ass!"
I believe it would be a safe bet that Tito's crew could kick our ass at anything non-video game related. However, we have COD MW2 on lock.
22. UFC 100
UFC 100 was a very good event, but it wasn't the event that makes it memorable to me—it's the fact that the UFC make it as far as it had.
Just a few years prior, the UFC was on the verge of being put up for sale after Zuffa had lost almost $30 million on their $2 million investment.
The number "100" has a stigma behind it that I don't think will ever exist again.
Hopefully, they'll just dump the number system entirely and shift the focus more on the fighters.
21. Becoming a MMA Judge
I already wrote a article about it.
In case you missed it—
No, I'm not trying to get more reads; just don't feel like beating a dead horse.
20. Becoming a MMA Writer
Before I went back to college last fall, I couldn't put four sentences together and have them make any sense. I know some of you are saying "You still can't do it!"
You're probably right.
After taking two writing classes, I noticed that a smaller MMA website was looking for writers. I wrote up a piece, submitted it, they liked it, and I spent the next six months toiling away for those ungrateful, um...
My mom always said "If you have nothing nice to say, shut the hell up."
19. Wanderlei Silva vs Chuck Liddell
I had never been so excited for a fight up until that point or anytime since.
I remember sitting on my couch and shaking because I was so nervous and pumped-up.
It was a great fight. The only thing that could have made it better is had it came to a concussive ending.
But it doesn't make the list for the fight itself, but for the feeling it gave me.
18. Judging in the Chicken Hatchery
Yes, I kid you not. If I could upload more photos of this craphole I would.
To add insult to injury, see the next slide.
17. Getting Covered in Blood at the Chicken Hatchery
Okay, so the cuts on the fighters might not have been this bad, but they were pretty bad.
I think it was the fourth or fifth fight of the night. One fighter had a huge gash above his eye; the other had a broken nose.
They just had to be on the ground, right next to the cage, and right in front of me. Had they not been punching each other in the face, everything would have been alright.
But they just had to start punching each other. Blood went flying all over the place. Most of it landed on me, my scorecards, and my bottle of water.
When I asked for something to clean up with, they gave me a roll of paper towels. Even worse, they didn't have any extra scorecards.
What a bunch of Mickey Mouse bullcrap.
As soon as the event was over, I pulled off my blood-covered polo, handed it to the promoter, asked him for my money and told him my lawyer would be in contact if I caught herpes.
16. Bellator 16
While I was still writing for the smaller website, I got them credentialed with Bellator. Since I hooked them up, I told them I was covering the event in Kansas City.
I felt like a fish out of water. I went up there with no real clue as to what to do. And to boot, I got stuck sitting next to a writer from another site (not B/R) who was a complete jerk.
But things did get better. I met a writer from another web site who was awesome and, for lack of a better term, took me under his wing. I think he could tell that I felt out of place.
After the press conference I went to go have a beer with him and we talked for a while. He kept asking me if I wanted to come write for the site he wrote for. I told him I appreciated the offer, but I was happy where I was at.
15. The Apple Doesn't Fall Far from the Tree
Half way there!!! And before you ask, his nickname has nothing to do with Tank Abbott.
Tank, Ray Ray, and I were wrestling around in Tank's bedroom one night. I was throwing them around and slap-boxing with them.
The out of nowhere, Tank yells out "I'm gonna triangle choke you daddy!"
How in the heck does he know what a triangle choke is? Does this mean that I need to make him watch more Curious George and less MMA?
Of course it doesn't.
14. Randy Couture vs. Mark Coleman
This was just classic. Randy comes out to "Stranglehold" and ends the fight with a Rear-Naked-Choke.
Oh, the irony kills me.
And I went out a few day later and bought that shirt. Whoever issues the Buckle's credit card loves me.
13. The Present from Urijah Faber
You're the best, Jesse!
12. Gary Goodridge vs
If you've ever see this fight, you already know what I'm talking about.
I can't remember how far into the fight it was, but at some point, Gary and "The Pedro" were clinched against the ropes in an early IVC event. Since there were almost no rules, Goodridge used this to his advantage.
Gary reached right down Pedro's tights, got his hand behind his cup, and squeezed Pedro's testicles like he was squashing some grapes.
Pedro looked at the ref with a look on his face that said "WTF?", but the referee just shrugged. After all, it was legal.
I know everyone's heard the old cliche saying "win at all cost," but this took that to a completely different level.
11. The Call
Yes, that is my Droid. If you have an iPhone, I pity you.
If you have the iPhone 4, I laugh at you.
Anyway, after Bellator 16, I kept in contact with the writer who took me under his wing. He actually helped me get some contacts for the site I was writing for.
When I passed along this information and didn't even get a "thank you" or anything, I decided to call him about jumping ship.
A few days later, I was on a call with him and his boss. We talked for at least an hour, and I could tell right away that I would be much happier writing for that site.
They sold me. A few days later, I was...
10. Writing for Bleacher Report
Now all of B/R MMA Nation gets to read my rants and musings on a regular basis!
Please direct all hate mail to Brian Oswald and Robert Gardner. It's all their fault.
Erik was just an innocent bystander. Don't hate on him.
9. Seth Petruzelli vs. Kimbo Slice
Elite XC had great backing by Pro Elite and Gary Shaw, along with a great broadcast platforms in the form of Showtime and CBS.
Kimbo was originally scheduled to fight the washed-up Ken Shamrock. Thankfully, Shamrock got cut while warming up, and Seth got the call to fight Elite XC's golden boy.
Seth proved that night what we all knew—Kimbo wasn't a legit fighter.
He also proved that a promotion couldn't put all their eggs in one basket. When Slice got KO'ed, so did Elite XC.
8. The Apple Fell Even Closer to the Tree
One night, I decided to judge a few fights using the "half-point" system just for fun. I choose to use Griffin-Jackson and Machida-Rua for this experiment.
Using this system, I actually scored Griffin-Jackson a draw. It surprised me a little bit.
That's when Serenity came in to the living room and asked me what I was doing. I told her I was getting ready to judge the Machida-Rua fight. She told me she wanted to judge it as well.
Why not? Let's see what happens.
Since she was still a little too young to understand the whole half-point thing, she judged the fight using the "check-mark" system.
Using the half-point system, I scored the fight 49.5-46.5 for Rua.
After converting the check-mark system into the 10-point must system, she scored it 49-47 for Rua.
The judges appointed by the CSAC couldn't get it right, but a 6-year-old girl with a dad who watches way too much MMA did.
It made me feel all warm in fuzzy inside.
7. Randy Spanks Tito
After being wrote off by many fans, Randy Couture decided to make another run at a title, but this time it was at Light Heavyweight.
After defeating Chuck Liddell as a huge underdog, Randy earned his shot at the champion who loved to play "duck-duck-goose" without the goose.
After putting on a wrestling clinic for more than 20 minutes against Tito Ortiz, Randy found himself in the positions pictured. He proceded to give Ortiz a spanking (as if he hadn't been spanking him the whole fight).
This has to be one of the funniest moments in MMA's history.
6. Bellator 22
My first live assignment for B/R MMA was to cover Bellator 22 with Robert Gardner. Yes, the same Robert Gardner who I met at Bellator 16 and convinced me to come write for B/R.
Remember, all hate mail can be directed to Robert Gardner and Brian Oswald.
Not only was Bellator 22 a great event, but it was my favorite journalistic experience to date. We got with each-other before the event and decided that we were going to set the bar for coverage of future events.
Now I'm not trying to toot our own horns here, but I believe Robert and I crushed it. We got a pre-fight video interview with predictions from Jimmy Smith and post-event video interviews with Ben Askren, Dan Hornbuckle, Bjorn Rebney, and the Sexy Bellator Girls.
Thanks for leaving me to talk to Bjorn while you got your pimp on with the Bellator girls RJ. Bjorn's an awesome guy, but seriously bro—I have dibs on August 26th.
It was an incredible learning experience. With the help of Sam, look for even better coverage next month at Bellator 26.
5. Pride 33 Weigh-Ins
So we flew in to Vegas the night before the weigh-ins for Pride 33 at Caesar's Palace. I was so excited that I couldn't seep. So I just stayed up all night drinking and playing blackjack at our resting place—The MGM Grand.
The next afternoon, we headed over that way. While they were getting everything set up, my ex and I went into the room where whey would be holding the weigh-in's.
The one thing that left a real bad taste in my mouth was when Takanori Gomi rolled through the room with his crew. Me and two other guys tried to get him to take a picture, but he just gave us the shoulder roll and blew us all off.
After that, it made me very happy to see him get beat at...
4. Pride 33
I took that picture from Margaritaville at the Flamingo. I forgot to take my camera to the event and the pictures I took were lost about 17 phones ago.
This was possibly the best deal I made in my life. I had to sit through Celine Dion's "A New Day" show at Caesar's. In exchange I got to sit five rows behind Chuck Norris.
It was the most incredible sporting experience of my life. Seeing Gomi getting gogoplataed made me as giddy as a school girl, especially after what he did prior to the weigh-in's.
The only bad part was that I had to watch my hero get knocked out.
3. Meeting My Hero
The weigh-ins were about 30 minutes away from starting, but I never gave up hope of getting the chance of getting to meet my favorite fighter of all time.
Sure enough, the last two fighters to go in for the weigh-ins were none other than Shogun Rua and Wanderlei Silva. I got to meet Wandy, got my picture taken with him, had a brief conversation with him, and told him I looked forward to seeing him KO Dan Henderson.
I swear I'm a curse.
And I also got to meet Shogun and almost got my picture taken with him as well. Too bad the batteries in the camera died. He didn't speak any English what-so-ever so I could ask him if I could change the batteries real quick.
2. Fighting 11 Amateur Fights
No, that's not an actual photo of one of my fights. All those and the videos were "lost" during my divorce.
I started wrestling when I was 6, picked up Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu the Evan Tanner way, and learned striking from my brother-in-law while I was training with him at his school.
Amateur MMA didn't become legal in Missouri until 2005, so all of my fights were basically "school vs school" fights. Seeing as how I weighed 140 pounds, I always had to fight people bigger than me.
I won once by TKO and six times by submission. I lost twice by submission and was knocked out once. One fight went for over an hour and we agreed on a draw.
I'm not holier-than-thou because I've fought, and people who think like that make me mad. You don't need to get knocked out or knock someone out or be submitted or submit someone to be knowledgeable about sport.
Some of the most knowledgeable people in the sport have never stepped foot in a cage.
Prime example—Robert Gardner. I dare you to go head-to-head in a verbal war with him about any MMA topic. You will get pwn3d!
See, I told you I wasn't going to act my age.
1. Keith Hackney vs Emmanuel Yarborough
I got home one night much later than I should have as I was only 15 years old. I walked in the house and my brother was making some late night tacos.
I looked at the tv and I just saw this huge cage. I asked my brother what he was watching.
"Fighting," he said.
"What, like boxing?"
"No bro, you got to check this out. This s*** is crazy!"
My first exposure to what is now known as Mixed Martial Arts memorized me. I thought there was no why that this huge guy could get whooped by the guy a third his size across from him.
I was in disbelief when I saw that crazy overhand palm strike from Hackney that put the 600 plus pound sumo wrestler on his butt. Then after taking 30 or so shots to the head, Yarborough finally "tapped out".
I was hooked. I dubbed the tape of that event and can't even remember how many times I watched UFC 3. From then on out, I was at the video rental store every week hoping they got in a new UFC or UFC clone event. I couldn't get enough of it. I even got a subscription to Black Belt Magazine just because they had a few pieces about No-Holds-barred fighting in it.
Thanks Lonny. You created a monster.