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If Bellator 149 was totally nuts, then capturing imagination was in the bag

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Perhaps Bellator’s color commentator Jimmy Smith summed it best when he tweeted, "F…M…L…Jimmy Smith OUT" after Friday night’s fights, but even that doesn’t quite feel as drastic as it should. At some point things flew right past bad and into the Realm of Giddy, where the urge to laugh uncontrollably stood in for the more abstract need to cry. To run. To cover one's eyes. To cut out this nonsense, once and for all, that a Twinkie has roughly the same nutritional value as a carrot.

Who knows how things would have gone if Mike Tyson hadn’t shown up so well advanced into his cups out there in Houston, making America drunk off his fumes during the Derek Campos/Melvin Guillard fight?

(That part was glorious, I don’t care what anybody says).

But by the time Kimbo Slice and Dada 5000 made their way to the cage at Bellator 149, things were already well out of hand. Apologists for this particular "tent-pole" were in high states of hysteria, defiant of anybody who couldn’t recognize an epic little bit of fun. TV execs were slapping high fives, and Bellator president Scott Coker again looked like the cat who had no idea what happened to the canary, even if there was a loose feather caught in his whiskers. Even those who would later bemoan it an "embarrassment" had at least temporarily done away with all inhibitions; they too gave into the orgiastic need to get our collective freak on…free on Spike TV!

Afterwards came reflection. Showers. Scrub pads. Guilt. Vertigo.

Granted, the fight was never marketed as anything to do with the mixed martial arts. It was all about them streets in Dade County. Most assumed it would be a laugher in the more familiar sense, that somebody would get KTFO in the first exchange. Yet, by the time the "Ferg" took Dada 5000 down to the ground the fun house effect was dizzying. It was as if Kimbo became part of the general sarcasm around him. Problem was whatever he was planning on doing down there was lost in controlling the sheer immensity of poundage wiggling below. By the time the fighters got back up, both were spent. That’s the moment you knew that, holy hell, this fight will have to go on, possibly into the canon of all-time worsts.

Possibly into the second round.

It did.

And into the third. At one point, Big John McCarthy — who had to have gone through an existential crisis midway through this sucker — had no choice by to stand Kimbo Slice up from mount. Hands were down. Dudes were sucking air. Comedians were flying out of the woodwork like hallucinogens. The streets of Miami were pretending no knowledge of a Kimbo Slice or any Dada 5000. And Booker T, sitting cageside, was crying with laughter. Such was the silly state of disbelief at all the absurdities that were unfolding.

Then came the end. Kimbo managed to throw a punch that seemed to derive from nine fathoms underwater, and it landed. That might have been a factor, who knows — but soon thereafter Dada 5000 broke away, staggered like a man who’d just slugged 10 shots of Jack on a dare, then collapsed in a merciful heap. He had to be removed on a stretcher.

My god.

What can you say about all that? Well, for one thing, Bellator 149 was still better than UFC 149, an abysmal event that took place in Calgary where Shawn Jordan and Cheick Kongo actively dulled viewer sensibility for three full rounds.  But that’s about it.

Royce Gracie and Ken Shamrock — the wellsprings from which all MMA sprung — came out to finish the show, and on a night like this of course it ended with the Brazilian jiu-jitsu pioneer Gracie scoring his first career knockout. Not that it was emphatic. It was a lingering groin shot that felled Shamrock, some late registering thing that did him in. Shamrock couldn’t adjust the junk before the referee said enough’s enough. Shamrock threw a tantrum in the cage after, then apologized. Later he deadpanned that, who knows, maybe it was a phantom thing.

Maybe the whole thing was. Ratings will confirm it happened, though, and that it was nuts. It was all nuts. It was nuts, nuts, nuts.