MMA is a unique, awe-inspiring sport. It pits warriors who dedicate blood, sweat, tears and so much more to please fans, while making less money than most athletes out there. The promotions who give these fighters opportunities to fight are, for the most part, somewhat respectable. Sure, they all have some major red flags. But, they are still tolerable, and the product they put forth is at least respectable.
Well, enter Rizin MMA and the "new" era of Bellator. On paper, it would seem as if the former frontmen for Strikeforce and PRIDE FC, two of the most venerable promotions in MMA history, would want to do nothing to harm the sport. However, it appears as if the two are doing exactly that.
So, how did all this start? Well, the finger can be pointed to Coker's sideshow matchups, such as Tito Ortiz vs. then Bellator Middleweight champion, the vastly undersized Alexander Schlemenko, followed by a matchup between Ortiz and Stephan Bonnar. However, it got even worse soon thereafter.
The event I'm pointing at might have been most pathetic excuse for a matchup within a "legit" MMA promotion since Randy Couture vs. James Toney, when Coker pitted once respectable MMA pioneer Ken Shamrock, with famed street fighter Kimbo Slice. The fight was viewed as a sham, felt like a sham, and was received like a sham.
However, that was all in the past, right? Since then, Bellator has actually put forth some terrific events, consisting of various notable matchups. Finally, Bellator was back to regularity.
Then, Friday, November 6th, 2015 happened. On this infamous night, the two promotions made decisions so poor, so questionable, so cringeworthy, it seems as if the two promotions are dedicating themselves towards eradicating any respect the sport has garnered over the last several years.
So, what exactly are these dreadful decisions?
Well, let's start off with "The Last Emperor's" opponent.
A few months ago, news came out that Fedor Emilianenko was planning to return to MMA. The announcement was met with a mixture of applause and scorn, but with a lot of anticipation as well. Many fans hoped the legend would finally fight in the UFC. Others believed he would go to Bellator, or some obscure new promotion.
Well, as it turned out, "The Last Emperor" chose the latter, and even the biggest of Fedor fans began to look down at the decision. News only got worse, when it was announced that Fedor would be taking on Jaideep Singh, a raw fighter who's only fought once.
Now, it turns out Singh will not be Fedor's opponent on Rizin's New Year's Eve card. Instead, it will be 45-year-old Tsuyoshi Kosaka, the man who handed Fedor his first career loss back in 2000. The veteran of about 50 fights is a 4th degree black belt in Judo, but has not fought since getting knocked out by Mark Hunt at Pride FC-Total Elimination Absolute, back in May 2006. Honestly, while he's the exact opposite of Singh in terms of experience, and this fight is technically a rubber match, the matchup is still highly questionable.
If that's not bad enough, Rizin is bringing along one of the biggest clowns in MMA, the one and only Bob Sapp.
Once a fearsome fighter who brought terror to the PRIDE ring back in the early 2000s, but has become a walking punchline over the past several years. He was once 10-4 in Kickboxing, and 9-2-1 in MMA. His career record now stands at 11-17 in Kickboxing, and 11-18-1 in MMA.
A lot of allegations of Sapp throwing fights have been put forth. But, Sapp is really quite something else.
Sapp has gone 1-13 in Kickboxing (nine via first round knockout,) and 2-16 in MMA (15 via first round knockout) since getting off to solid starts in both sports. The lone Kickboxing win for Sapp in his last 14 fights came when his opponent, Tofan Pirani, injured himself while kicking Sapp.
That is the man that Rizin is placing on it's horrendous card.
Of course, Bellator doesn't want to be left out of the woodwork when it comes to disgracing the sport. To add to the shitshow, Bellator putting forth its own pair of mind-numbing matchups just a few weeks later.
On February 19th, in Houston, Texas, the promotion that has been desperate for attention is putting forth a rematch that absolutely no one asked for, Royce Gracie vs. Ken Shamrock 3. The first matchup, back in UFC 1, was instrumental in putting MMA on the map, when the much smaller Gracie submitted the tournament favorite Shamrock within a minute of their fight. He then defeated Gerard Gordeau in the tournament final, winning his three tournament matches all in the first round, the latter two via rear-naked choke.
Then, the two rematched at UFC 5, a year and a half later. On that April 1995 evening, the two participated in the longest fight in UFC history, battling for 36 nonstop minutes, until the fight had to be called due to lack of judges.
Since then, both men have disgraced themselves in some way, shape or form. Granted, some folks may still be interested in watching the two men fight, but I find this matchup being too much to stomach.
Oh, and then there's the co-main event for that dreaded Bellator card. On that night, famed street fighter Kimbo Slice will make his second appearance inside the Bellator cage, after that notorious excuse for an MMA fight between him and Shamrock.
Kimbo's opponent for that card? Some dude that goes by the name of Dada 5000. What is Dada 5000? I have no idea. Honestly, I don't even want to know. The dude looks like a wannabe Kimbo Slice, and his name sounds like a horrific shoe idea, with rusty chains as laces. It's as clownish a matchup as can take place in MMA, and does nothing to make the sport seem credible.
So to recap, Fedor's fighting a 45-year old who hasn't fought in almost ten years, Bob Sapp is returning,and so are Kimbo, Royce Gracie and Ken Shamrock.
So, there you go. I was once intrigued by the idea of a PRIDE reboot, as well as the thought of the former Strikeforce headman taking the reigns of Bellator. Now, I am appalled at both. My enthusiasm for each promotion has dwindled over the past several months, but tonight, it hit an all time low.
A freakshow fight here and there is understandable, in my opinion. I don't like it, but I can tolerate it. However, the announcement of not one, or even two, but four abominable matchups, all on the same day? I'm sorry, but that's way too much for me to stomach.