Monday, April 13, 2009
Press row. That sacred space where sharp minds watch and analyze all that transpires so fans can gain a fresh perspective on the action in and out of the cage. In theory at least. The truth is, reality is usually far less glamorous. Since 2001 MMA Journalist has been sitting in press row (at underground shows, that means you're the guy standing next to the ring with the notebook; at a UFC, EliteXC or IFL, you're just a few feet too far to be able to catch a fighter's errant tooth), and in that time I've seen some very talented individuals, as well as some complete tools. Here are the top five most unprofessional "journalists" to ever grace press row (and yes, the names have been withheld to protect the not-so-innocent):
- UFC 42, April, 2003 - Almost any clown could get a press pass in Zuffa's earlier days. Such was the case with the idiots sitting behind me at UFC 42 in Miami who were writers for some Florida-based men's fitness newsletter, a pair that guzzled beer nonstop and shouted for Duane "Bang" Ludwig to "kick that chink's ass" when the KOTC veteran was fighting Genki Sudo. Impartiality, douchebags - do you speak it? Curiously, after this event Zuffa began circulating rules as to how journalists were expected to act.
- IFL, April, 2007 - Networking is fine when amongst your peers, and sportswriters can be pretty social creatures by nature. However, trying to hawk your cheesy old school martial arts magazine during a show? Very not cool. I'm there to write, not be a potential investor in something.
- Bellator FC, April, 2009 - Screaming for the referee to "stand them up" because the fighters are on the ground is unprofessional. Not being able to recognize that one fighter is back-mounted on the other and working for a choke, and that the two are furiously battling for wrist control, well, that's just lame. Also, declaring that the pair in the cage "suck" and that your out-of-shape middle-aged self could kick their asses - super lame.
- Cage Fury Fighting Championships 5, June, 2007 - You may be a sportswriter who covers boxing, but you're at an MMA show. Ultimately, that means spewing nonsense about how MMA sucks compared to boxing is a good way to get yourself choked out by a sportswriter who covers MMA - which, incidentally, is what would happen if a boxer faced an MMA fighter.
- Nearly MMA event ever - If you're a member of the mainstream press and you ask for a spot in press row, you better show up at some point. Or don't. When I see your empty chair I signal my blogging friends a few rows back to move up and take it. At least then the seat is taken up by someone who gives a shit.
A Defeated Frank Shamrock Climbs into His Time Machine to Return to the Past, Taking His 1999 MMA Skills with Him
Frank Shamrock is gone. Fresh off his crushing defeat at the hands of modern MMA competitor Nick Diaz at Saturday night's Strikeforce event, the legendary fighter climbed into his time machine parked under a San Jose overpass to return to the past he'd been visiting us from - a past where the former UFC champ's abilities are still considered cutting edge and groundbreaking. "I've done all I can here," said Shamrock from his seat in the cockpit of the saucer-like contraption. "But I am a man out of time, in the wrong place with the wrong set of skills, so now I must go home." For Shamrock home is 1999. In that era, his melding of kickboxing, submission proficiency and top-notch conditioning sets him apart from the rest of the world's MMA athletes. Today those traits are commonplace. "So long, 2009," said Shamrock, suddenly bathed in the blue glow of a timewarp bubble. "I've got some Australian named Elvis Sinosic to fight." A blinding flash of light later and both Shamrock and the saucer had disappeared.