Saturday night’s Bellator pay-per-view card is like a party that got well out of hand when remembered on overly-bright Sunday morning -- the kind of party that requires you to slowly piece things back together, dawning by lamentable dawning, from the "deep" conversations to the sad flirtations all the way down to some foggy certainty that shouting people were making general asses of themselves.
It’s all a glorious blur. Damn did we go hard to the paint. What a night.
Did Muhammed Lawal really go around saying his boss was, and I paraphrase, "riding the d*ck" of his opponent Quinton Jackson, even when on national (cable) television? It seems like he did. The peanut gallery was eating it up too, if memory serves. Just as it was when Michael Page turned rubberman in the wind tunnel each time he set up to throw…some ridiculous something or other…at Ricky Rainey -- and, wait, didn’t Bellator spell his name "Rick Rainy," like he was a sad cloud that rolled in over the post-fight press conference? (It feels like they did!)
There were those drinking games, too, and god did those get out of hand. Bloody Elbow’s Stephie Daniels was on Twitter putting out challenges for the night’s emcee -- Jimmy Smith -- to incorporate little phrases into his commentating (things like "the good, the bad and the ugly" and "the first rule of Fight Club is…"). Ever a pro, Smith obliged with seamless precision, all shout-outs and winks and won’t-be-outdones.
He is actually damn good. Hope he DJs the next one.
But somebody should have cut the judges off at some point; those old gavels were congregating at the keg for big portions of the night, turning Mississippi into a series of crooked letters and humpbacks. How else to explain that two of the three saw the fifth and decisive round for Will Brooks, who was damn near knocked out by Michael Chandler in that round, just before he fought off a trail of submission attempts? It’s well known that O Be Joyful, when rationed in anything larger than thimbles, can make you blind.
Just ask King Mo, who was subjected to a similar fate. Though his left eye was busted up and closing, Lawal brought his singlet to Memphis, and was wrestling the hell out of Rampage for the bulk of three rounds. He was playing a crowd-crushing dictator’s role. Though he wasn’t doing a whole lot with his takedowns and fencework, he was making it his fight. He lost anyway. That bout happened so late in the PPV marathon that it’s possible we’re getting the details all mixed up…in fact, it seems like the winner, Jackson, was the one calling for a rematch. WTF? That doesn’t make sense in the sun-splashed sobriety of Sunday morning, but nevertheless, that’s (apparently) what happened.
There’s a vague recollection, too, of disaster. Like the world was crumbling around us. I think it was when Tito got into it with the little Russian guy, Alexander Shlemenko -- whom Tito said he wanted to make soil himself, that prankster! -- and ended up choking him out. As far as desirable outcomes go, at least when contemplating such high-minded concepts as "promotional perpetuation" and "longevity," this couldn’t have been one of them. Ortiz, who scored his second victory since 2006, threatened that he was back for a long time, which made the record skip most ominously. Back? Long time? But, where, why? How? (I seem to recall this being part of the hazy "deep" conversations we kept having…the boundaries of the Ortiz abyss).
Meanwhile Shlemenko, the middleweight champion, lost a good deal of steam almost at the exact moment he generated it. Sorry dude.
The sense of unwelcome doom didn’t stop there, either. Chandler and current Bellator champion Eddie Alvarez were supposed to hook up like they’ve done at previous parties, but Alvarez couldn’t make it (concussion). That meant Brooks was a stand-in, but he was the worst kind of stand-in -- the kind that thinks he’s the life of the party but is actually raining on everyone’s parade. Brooks got a generous decision against Chandler, and now Chandler-Alvarez III may never happen. Instead, Brooks-Alvarez I, and then, in all likelihood, Alvarez will move on to a different fraternity, which throws entirely different parties.
For now, though, it’s mimosas, Advil and the feeling that we all connected for a night on the Island of Misfit Toys.
Was Bellator 120 worth the cover charge of $34.95-$45.95, depending on your geography/cable package? Looking back at the madness, sure it was. Madness and unpredictability and uncompromised "d*ck riding," even in the abstract, is never anything other than money well spent. The peanut gallery, who were snickering before, during and after, at least were doing so with meaning and caring. People cared about what Bellator was doing on Saturday night. For once we could all be in the same room with them, blasting music and getting loose and bumping along to the chaos.
It’s enough to say, hot damn Memphis! And to Bellator, after picking up the pieces, that was one hell of a party, bros.