A year ago, UFC’s champions seemed unbeatable. They beat, humiliated and threw their opponents to the end of the line. It seemed like nobody could defeat them. Enter: Average Joes.
Article Written By: Dave Hirschen
As a young kid, I had an unbridled fascination with comics. Not only that, but the idea of the “super hero” and the “super villain”. This concept has impacted my life more than almost everything else in it has and has shaped the way I perceive and view aspects of life. It helped ease situations of dramatic understanding to me and helped shape things into easier ways for me to understand. And if there is one thing above all that comics has taught me, it’s that the super hero’s NEVER appear until the presence of the super villain calls out for one.
I remember when Brock Lesnar debuted and almost everyone I knew hated him. “Get that freak show WWF wrestler out of here!” or “Fake wrestling fag” is all I heard. I never understood this, being that Brock is by far NOT the first pro wrestler gone MMA, so why he gets shit like he’s the first is beyond me. In any event, he lost his first fight and people laughed. He beat the living shit out of Herring and some people looked. He got the shot against Randy and suddenly Brock became a super villain hell bent on MMA world domination. Everyone thought it’d be the end of the world if Brock won because a WWF freak show would be walking around with the title. No, it would’ve shown the world the SAME thing that the James Toney fight is going to show no matter who wins and that is that you need to train hard and dedicate yourself to this sport to get anywhere. Brock did what he had to do, “out-Randy’d” Randy and took his belt. Now the real heat was on.
Brock won his next fight against Mir, nearly died over the course of the next year and came back with the Vanilla Gorilla Shane Carwin waiting for him. Suddenly Shane was viewed as a super hero. Hell, in the time Brock won and got sick, the heavyweight division exploded with talent from Dos Santos and Valasquez, to the budding Roy Nelson and Stephen Struve. All these would be heros emerged because the villain was in control. So it was natural that in the build up to Carwin’s shot against Brock he was being billed by critics and fans alike as the cure for the Brock disease that had infected the MMA world because for some reason Brock (a legit national wrestling champion and probably the biggest man in the world with the fastest double leg shot, the ability to take a shot and AMAZING top control) didn’t deserve to be a champion. I always found it funny how more people welcomed Kimbo Slice in the UFC than Brock Lesnar… but that’s a talk for another day. The battle was epic but the outcome was ironic because it turned into Brock coming out of it a bit of a hero. Someone who battled a near death illness losing a year of their life and almost his life came back to survive the beating Carwin gave him to smile at him. This man… who knew that whatever Carwin could hit him with would be nothing compared to what hit him over the past year… smiled across the cage at the man who just launched six weeks of intense training at this man’s face. In my eyes, this villain became a hero.
There are other instances where the comic comparison really comes into play as well.
I distinctly remember, close to about a year ago, talking to my room mate and using the phrase “Legion of Doom” when talking about the current lineup of champions in the UFC. At this time, the lineup went BJ Penn, GSP, Anderson Silva, Lyoto Machida and Brock Lesnar. I used that term because this was an almost super villain line up no mere man could possibly hope to contend with.
Lets face it, to most MMA fans, eyeing that roster, how could you not see them as SUPER villains. You have BJ Penn; the man with little size, fantastic strikes, flexible like a Stretch Armstrong doll and submissions like a cobra. You had Georges St. Pierre; a man with super human speed, top control and grabs and holds onto you like a crocodile. You have Anderson Silva; an unorthodox striker with golden gun-power punches and reach with his arms and legs like… well, a spider. You had Lyoto Machida; the mysterious shadow you could never hit and who always seemed to hit you and be gone before you could even see him. He was like your own shadow. Then you had Brock Lesnar; the Juggernaut of a man who could power-slam you into hell. Even if I take a step outside of the UFC, you have one man who stood out. His name was Fedor. A man who resembled what would happen if Zeus had a child with a Tasmanian devil. This was the roll call for the single most dominant fraternity of champions I believe this sport had ever had at one time.
Now let’s fast forward to one year later. Penn was outworked, Silva was almost squashed, Machida was euthanized, Brock was almost crushed and Fedor was dethroned. Did a legion of Super Friends rise out from the ashes and hear the calls of fallen contenders past? Did the governments of the US, Brazil and Europe join forces to create an elite group of heroes to stop the rise of MMA evil? Hardly.
This group of men who came from the shadows is one that I would call, with one small exception, the Average Joe’s. This team consists of these men. BJ Penn was outworked by Frankie Edgar; a young New Jersey kid who would be the love child of Underdog and Scrappy Doo. He is just a regular guy (former plumber with his father) who worked his ass off and won a lot of fights under the noses of a lot of critics and earned a shot against the Penn fresh off what is one of the most horrendous beatings anyone has ever received in what he did to Diego Sanchez. Regardless of what you could say about what Penn’s condition was at the time, he has an L on his record due to Frankie. Brock came into his fight with Juggernaut image nearly ravaged in the first round being man slaughtered by Shane Carwin. Luckily the second round looked up, but Brock will never forget the mistake(s) he made in that first round that lead to what happened to his face. Machida was the puzzle no man could solve with common thought and 6 weeks of video tape training. He ran into extremely talented average guy-physiqued Mauricio Rua; a fighter who, on paper, had a style that spelled doom for himself. We all believed if you put an aggressive fighter against Machida, he will be eaten. Shogun did more than his share the first time to stun the world and then showed his kryptonite hook taking out the unhittable one. This past week, the world saw Anderson Silva, the man who would almost be +500 in ANY fight’s betting odds, ran into a hard working wrestler from Oregon with a black belt in trash talk. Silva will just stomp his face in right? **Insert the “wrong” that Kevin Spacey said in Superman.** Silva was assaulted in the ring for 22 minutes. He was taken down at will, out struck, rocked and knocked down by someone who was just filling in a spot on the card. An average Joe named Chael Sonnen. Of course the most shocking of all was the dethroning of Fedor. Imagine that; Zeus himself taken out by a man who was knocked out (literally) of the UFC. My jaw was dropped for a week afterwards.
The mighty fall, and they fell BECAUSE they rose. The Legion of Doom fell to none other than hard working men doing their best. Is the current cast of fighters who beat or beat down our champions worthy of being called the Justice League? Frankie Edgar, Chael Sonnen, Shogun and Shane Carwin. Only time will tell. For some reason, those names just don’t roll off the tongue as easialy as their predecessors do.
All that is left now is GSP to hold the banner for this frat. He faces Josh Koshcheck after their stint on TUF. Irony is, out of all the challengers that stepped up, he is the most skilled one for his respective weight class. Who do I think will win? I’ll tell you this. I’m keeping my mouth shut. Anyone who thinks GSP will just steam roll and win like usual because GSP winning means the world is normal… just keep in mind what has happened over the course of the past year. As Vince Macmahon trademarked so long ago… “ANYTHING can happen!”
Introduction Written By: Jon Kirschner
Article Written By: Dave Hirschen
Tags: anderson silva, B.J. Penn, Brock Lesnar, Chael Sonnen, Frankie Edgar, Georges St. Pierre, Josh Koscheck, Lyoto Machida, Mixed Martial Arts, shane carwin, shogun rua, UFC