Welcome to MMA 101.
This is an ongoing series dedicated to those who are just beginning their journey into MMA fandom because let's face it, to love it... you must first learn it. (I've been watching a ton of Bruce Lee documentaries, can you tell?!?)
I like to consider myself an honorable man, a man who believes in equality. I think everybody should be entitled to a place to sleep, a place to eat and most importantly a place to watch UFC 198!
If you're new to the sport but have an interest in watching this weekend's pay-per-view, which I totally recommend you do, here are a few fighters I think you could root for.
Fighter: Vitor Belfort #3
Opponent: Ronaldo Souza aka "Jacare" #2
*Fun little note: Those #'s next to their name refer to the fighter's ranking within their division. Again, I'm here to teach. You're welcome.
Weight Division: Middleweight = 185 lbs
Why You Should Care: Vitor is not only a legend, he may be one step closer to making UFC history.
To some, the name "Vitor" may ring a bell and hopefully the reasons fall more along the lines of his incredible fight legacy and not the steroid allegations that threaten to tarnish it. Just take one look at the guy and it becomes clear to see why they call him "The Phenom," it also becomes clear he could use a new barber. What may surprise you is learning he is breeching 40 years old and has 36 fights (25 of those wins) to show for it. By age 40, I hope I've made 36 trips to the gym, let alone 36 trips to the cage for a professional fight. The man has spanned multiple eras, weight classes and MMA organizations. Basically, if you were to make a list of the "who's who" of the MMA of old, he's fought them.
The shocking part is, Vitor isn't phoning it in, collecting a paycheck off his name, which can't be said for many legends still in the game. If he defeats Souza on Saturday night in Curitiba, Brazil (say that five times fast), it's absolutely in the cards for him to get another shot at the title! As if being ranked #3 in one of the toughest divisions isn't enough, he could potentially be a 40-year-old CHAMPION! Eat it, Brad Pitt! You're not the only one crushing it over the hill! He would then become the oldest middleweight champion in UFC history!
*Randy Couture currently holds the "My Dad can kick your Dad's ass" award, by becoming the oldest UFC champion in history at the ripe ole age of 45, which occurred in the heavyweight division.
Fighter: Cris Cyborg
Opponent: Leslie Smith
Weight Division: Catchweight = 140 lbs
*Catchweight - Adjective, of or relating to a contest in which normal weight categories have been waived by agreement. Or in laymen's terms, it's the "You're fatter/skinner than me, so let's meet in the middle" rule. Knowledge is power.
Why You Should Care: Cyborg is a pioneer for woman's MMA and after years of fans clamoring for her to join the UFC, it has finally come to fruition. Not to mention her name is "Cyborg" and she is fighting somebody nicknamed "The Peacemaker." Can you say "mismatch?!?"
Women's mixed martial arts is still relatively new compared to it's male counterpart, but Cris "Cyborg" Justino was in on the ground floor and quickly became a force to be reckoned with. You're probably familiar with Ronda Rousey, but you may not have realized most of Ronda's fights end on the ground, and by "ground" I mean most definitely in an "armbar." Which, for the longest time, was the big knock on female cage-fighting, receiving the label of "boring" because fights would rarely end in knockouts. Enter Cyborg (13 wins by way of knockout).
So watch this fight and then next time you're by the water cooler at work and the only mention of a female fighter is Ronda Rousey and her new movie deal, drop some serious Cyborg knowledge on them. In fact ... elbow-drop it on them.
Fighter: Stipe Miocic #3
Opponent: Fabricio Werdum (Current Heavyweight Champion)
Why You Should Care: I'll tell you why I love Stipe, but all in all, this is the main event and for the UFC Heavyweight title. Do not leave early to beat traffic and miss this fight. DO NOT.
Stipe Miocic hails from Cleveland, Ohio, so if you're not familiar with Cleveland sports, google "never-ending sadness." Sure they have LeBron and they have a shot at the NBA title, but in most sports, especially in MMA, any trophies would be welcomed and what better trophy is there than the heavyweight championship of the world?!?
Not a good enough reason? OK, how about the fact that Stipe is currently a part-time firefighter? Notice I didn't say "former?" That means Miocic is putting dudes in chokes by day, putting out fires by night!
He certainly will have to douse the flames on Saturday, when he faces off against a BEAST in Fabricio Werdum, a world-renown jiu-jitsu black belt. Though, as Stipe stated in Episode 1 of the UFC series Embedded "It's hard to do jiu-jitsu when you're getting punched in the face." Truer words were never spoken.
That concludes this week's lesson. I'm proud of you. I'll see you soon for our second edition of MMA 101: What the heck are they doing on top of each other!?