Website review:

If you find football not violent enough, boxing not bloody enough, and hand-to-hand urban counterinsurgency not conveniently located enough, have I got some mayhem for you.

It’s called Ultimate Fighting, and details of this fast-rising sport can be found at the subject of this week’s website review,

According to the home page, the Ultimate Fighting Championship organization follows a rich history of competitive martial arts that dates back to the ancient Greek Olympics and found a more modern embodiment about 80 years ago as Vale Tudo, which translates to “anything goes.” Known in some quarters as mixed martial arts (and in others as “beating the crap out of someone”), UFC combines elements of karate, jiu-jitsu, kickboxing, grappling and sumo, sprinkles in some bright graphics, explosives and scantily clad “Octagon Girls”, and finds itself near the top of the heap in the much-coveted young hyper-male demographic.

To entice us into their various pull-downs, we see a lot of mean-looking guys scowling at the camera in obvious discomfort with all the chains and ingrown hair around their necks. Upcoming bouts are promoted alongside ads for high-energy sports drinks, online poker and, inexplicably, Joe Rogan’s comedy tour. Tickets, for those who are interested, are still available for the Rampage Jackson vs. Jim Miller contest which, if names are any indication, Jim is probably going to lose.

As in any sport, it’s the personalities of the competitors that help determine its popularity, so I take a look at a few biographies of the 200-plus fighters listed. I find myself drawn to some less-competitive individuals, with winning records just a tad about .500 yet surprisingly still alive.

Rob Emerson is a smallish fellow who’s won only ten of his 18 bouts, including a loss in February by a method described as “submission/choke”. He describes his favorite hero as South Park’s Cartman, his previous career as something called a “scrapper,” and his favorite techniques as “leg kick, flying knee, and gogo platypus” (the last of which might explain his February choking). At least he’s now fighting others in his own weight class, unlike the early days of UFC when in one bout a competitor was outweighed by 400 pounds.

Krzysztof Soszynski is a bigger guy at over 6 feet and 200 pounds, but still has managed to prevail in only 17 of his 27 battles. As you may have guessed by his name, he’s not from around here. He’s from Manitoba. There, as a 16-year-old bodybuilder, he met wrestler Bad News Brown who “showed me an armbar and a kimura and I was immediately hooked.” He gave up his pursuit of a college degree to work as a driver and truck loader before devoting himself full-time to fighting. He describes his favorite striking method as the “up-down-up, jab to head, cross to body, hook to head,” which is not as frightening as it sounds, judging by his record.

Jess Liaudin is a Frenchman who’s won only 12 out of 23 fights with what he describes as a “well-rounded unorthodox style.” I guess losing almost half the time, including his last three in a row, could accurately be described as unorthodox. Having given up formal education at an early age, he spent 13 years trying to get into the UFC with the spinning back fist as his best move. After finishing well at a Japanese shootboxing tournament (guns and boxing?), a European Cage Combat championship and a Brazilian grappling meet, he was eventually called up to the big time, “where I intend to stick around and do some damage,” mainly to himself.

Elsewhere on the website, there are some good descriptions of what’s involved in the sport for the uninitiated or those who were perhaps searching instead for the Ugli Fruit Consortium or the University of Florida at Clearwater. Competitors use 4-6 ounce gloves designed to protect the hand as it impacts what’s euphemistically called the striking surface. Commission-approved shorts are the only uniforms allowed, as shirts and shoes present the temptation to grab, which is forbidden. Matches take place in the “Octagon,” an arena that includes safety padding for fighters who fall and a fence for those who are tempted to run away. The aforementioned Octagon Girls are also padded.

Despite its origins as an anything-goes format, there are restrictions on what competitors are allowed to attempt on each other. Not permitted are “butting with the head, eye gouging of any kind, biting, hair pulling, groin attacks of any kind, putting a finger into any orifice or laceration (!), small joint manipulation, clawing, stomping, kicking the kidney, spitting, pinching, kicking the head, and throat strikes of any kind including, without limitation, grabbing the trachea.” (These are only allowed at the next day’s chiropractor appointment.) Other behaviors that will get you disqualified include timidity and throwing in the towel.

The site also offers opportunities for fans who want to use new-media interaction to blog about their favorite UFC stars. One, known as mrkong, wants to see a fight between Josh “The Dentist” Neer and Diego “Nightmare” Sanchez – “this would be an amazing fight I think, how do you think it would go?” Another writer, cripplerfan, notes that “I am pleased to join the UFC community sharing my great interest in the UFC fight, I hope I will learn more about UFC, especially the fights in May, I go for Mir my patron in the coming fight, thanks.” There’s also an online fantasy league, news about the Spanish audio feed and trouble-shooting guides for the chronically bug-plagued UFC On Demand service. I didn’t see any news about fighters who Twitter, probably because few of them have thumbs left.

Lastly, there are the obvious attempts to conduct commerce and generate income for the UFC. There are ringtones for sale that are hard to describe in writing, though titles such as “Entrance – Get Out of My Way” and “Theme – Optimus Bellum Domitor” are certainly evocative substitutes. There are diet supplements like “N.O.-XPLODE,” “CellMass,” “Syntha-6” and the mouth-watering “ATRO-PHEX.” There are baby outfits with slogans like “Crib Fighter” and “Ultimate Screamer”. And there are souvenir items that can be ordered, such as a grappling dummy (disappointingly non-anthropomorphic), a UFC custom mouthguard, a chain wallet, a barstool and life-size cardboard standups of the five members of the UFC Hall of Fame, which welcomes steroid-users. Prices are reasonable, and you can get a discount if you join something called “Fight Club,” which I guess you can’t talk about except to speak the account number of your credit card.

All in all, I’d say is a well-produced website, packed with enough bright colors and shiny graphics to attract even the most concussed patron.



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2 Responses to “Website review:”

  1. planetross Says:

    UFC is wicked cool! It’s like watching a public beating in … public … and on pay-per-view … and the cops aren’t go to show up to ruin the party!
    If I could get beat up for a living, it would definitely give me a reason to get up in the morning.

  2. Jen Says:

    Hi that is a very fascinating view, It does give one food for thought, I am very delighted I stumbled on your blog, i was using Stumbleupon at the time, anyway i dont want to drift on too much, but i would like to mention that I will be back when I have a little time to read your blog more exhaustively, Once again thanks for the post and please do keep up the good work,

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