Why do We Ride this Brutal Rollercoaster? (MMA Opinion)
Full disclosure: This writer cried twice because of two moments in UFC 261.
At the time of this writing, the prognosis of Chris Weidman is not yet known. So, it is with full and total respect we continue here. His horrific injury was one moment and Rose Namajunas' amazing headkick knockout victory over the terrifying Zhang Weili to win back the belt was the other. To be clear – it is a full-grown man that cried we are talking about who is alright admitting that.
Uriah Hall has had a very public fight with fighting since his time in the pros. He has spoken often and openly about how difficult it has been for him to engage in combat sports because he hates hurting people. He doesn't celebrate victories like others do. We will ignore the paradoxical nature and subsequent discussions of that for now, but suffice it to say, his journey has been there for all to see. So, in addition to the physical trauma of Chris's broken leg and the implications, there was Uriah's own heartache for having caused it. His post-fight words were somber and inspiring.
Then there is the insane and cruel irony of the injury mirroring the exact demolition caused to Anderson Silva in his own delivery of a leg kick that backfired on the deliverer (look up the word up demolition in this context and Coach Longo's use of it). To read Anderson's well-wishes to Weidman post-event was nothing short of Shakespearian. No one would believe this could be real if this story was told in the oral tradition like old folklore. If it were not for video evidence and well-recorded history, it is too much to accept that it really happened. MMA is always dangerous. Pain and suffering are built into it. But this is almost too much to bear for any person with any heart.
Juxtapose this terrible with the terrific (words are weird) victory of Thug Rose. Her pain and conquest of it outside the cage has also been on display. Not a moment of tragedy in a timed cage-fight, but rather a life of seemingly endless difficulty until she enters the cage. If someone heard her story and did not know her face, then saw her intentionality and ferocity in the cage, there is no way they would ever draw a conclusion the two descriptions were of the same human. It is difficult to think of a more poised fighter – ever. When it counts to execute, she does. She just does. When Weili hollowed out (that is a term used in knife-fighting training) thinking a low-kick was coming but instead got unplugged by a picture-perfect high kick, the old guy Bill Shakespeare seemed to be at the pen and pot again.
How can two such opposite things happen in the same night? How can it be that one sport on one night can have such high highs and such low lows? Oh, and in case you missed it, Valentina Shevchenko dispatched former Strawweight champ Jessica Andrade in a way to make all description sound completely condescending to the former champ. Damon Martin at MMA Fighting used the word "bludgeoned" and it almost doesn't seem strong enough. Additionally, Kamaru Usman not only retained his title, but delivered a Rocky movie-like right hand that sent water flying from Jorge Masvidal's doused hair like a fire sprinkler system, knocking him out. Masvidal has only ever been stopped one other time by strikes and that was literally half a UFC lifetime ago.
It is all just too much. There are times MMA leaves us wanting more. Then there are times like this when it gives too much. And not necessarily too much of only good things. Heartbreak and elation rarely live this close to each other in such intense degrees. Yet, here we are. The fans buying tickets to get on this brutal rollercoaster. Very likely at the end of it saying, "Again! Again!" Step right up.
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