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Posted by brian at 04:01AM, Monday, November 01st, 2004

A brief history of Ultimate Fighting

Klambtroob posted recently wondering what was the most successful style in Ultimate Fighting -- known also as MMA or "Mixed Martial Arts." I asked my friend Jimmy what he thought. We used to work together, and he had this picture of himself next to his desk from Grappling magazine, where he's smiling and holding a guy in a headlock while punching him in the face with the other arm.

Jimmy says: "Everybody is becoming very well arounded now. But each champion does have specific back ground. There are several fighters whom I regard as the best. Of course divided by weight.

"Top 3 contenders of Pride (The biggest MMA event in the world) in heavyweight have different backgroud. Fedor (Champion) - Sambo (Russian martial art, based on Judo), Mirko Crocop (Kickboxing), Minotauro Nogeira (Brazilian Jujutsu).  But they all thoroughly do their homework, Mirko polished wrestling skill a lot, Nogeira polished boxing skill a lot, Fedor polished his boxing and kickboxing a lot.  So it's hard to conclude which one style is the best.

"Also there are phase of strategy and trends of technique every few years, so it's really interesting sport to observe as well. I [once] thought MMA is only for Brazilian Jujutsu fighters, now the sport has grown so different because everyone beccame well arounded.  10 years ago I thought it was only for BJJ [Brazilian Jujitsu] fighters, but it's different now...

"92-96 Brazilian Dominated, 96-2000 Wrestling dominated, 2000 - present - well rounded guys dominating.  Shit I could be MMA historian

"IMO, to be successful, Practice 1. Wrestling 2. Boxing 3. Brazilian Jujutsu 4. Kickboxing."

The company where Jimmy and I worked together was located steps from Fenway Park, on the ground floor of an old warehouse.  Before sox games, hordes of fans would walk by, sometimes banging on the windows or waving.  Weekday day games were the worst for this, as you'd get the drunk fans walking by on their way home.  We had steel shutters that we'd close sometimes if it got too bad.

The worst day, by far, was during the Boston Marathon, which traditionally hosts a Sox home day game as well.   You'd have drunks going to and from the game, and drunks from the Marathon, which passed just blocks away in Kenmore square.

One year, before I started working there, a rowdy fan decided to moon the office occupants, and dropped trou, firmly pressing his cheeks against the window.  Little did he know, the glass had been pierced weeks earlier by a stray BB and when the guy mooned the office, the glass shattered, slicing his ass deeply.

After a stunned moment, the guy takes off down the street, struggling to pull up his pants over his bleeding ass.

Jimmy, legend has it, ran out the door in pursuit, chased the guy down the block wearing flip-flops, and pulled him out of a crowd of a dozen drunk friends, all of whom momentarily thought about taking him on but quickly reconsidered.

This whole scene was witnessed by Josh, the part-time circus strongman, who ran down the street after them.  I can't quite figure what it must have looked like to a bunch of fratboys to have a friend come running up chased by a 5' 7" Japanese guy in flip-flops followed by a 6'8" Jew with a shaved head, but I can imagine it was a pretty quick mental calculus that occured.

In the end, the window was paid for, the ass was stiched, and Jimmy went back to administering the database.

"I think MMA is a human chess match at its highest level," he says. "It's got lot of tool available to win the match."

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