The past week or so has been a bit of a rough stretch for the UFC, and perhaps MMA in general. It just feels so negative. MMA in NY got shot down. Nate Marquardt got kicked out of the UFC, admitted to using TRT, cried on the MMA Hour, and currently is jobless. Because of Marquardt's withdrawal, UFC on Versus 4 did not fare incredibly well in the ratings (not to say his presence would've been an automatic fix, but it didn't help), and many were critical of the event.
Whenever I go on Twitter (recently), it seems like my feed is full of negative stuff and complaining. I should jump on the bandwagon. I should write an expose article about Marquardt, and bad doctors, and Dana White's hypocrisy, etc., ad nauseum. I just don't have the heart to do it this morning. I want to, but I can't. Maybe I'm wimping out, but I've got to write something fun to turn my chi around. So forgive me as I take off my "hard-hitting journalist" hat for a little bit. I owe you a scathing review of something or someone. You have my word.
Recently, a friend of mine was asking me what my wish list would be concerning MMA fighters I'd like to interview. There are lots of reasons to want to interview someone. It could be because they are in the middle of a controversial scandal. It could be because they just did something magnificent. It could be because they just experienced a terrible failure. I've interviewed a fair amount of people thus far, and one of the things you realize is that an interview is just a conversation. A fighter can be an absolute firecracker in the cage/ring, and then go to the opposite extreme and be absolutely lethargic in an interview. The opposite can also be true. Kendall Grove was recently released from the UFC. The truth is that he just wasn't getting it done in the cage. A lot of fans don't care for him because of his brash persona. He couldn't have been nicer. Kendall drives about an hour from his home to his gym. He called me to talk during his drive home, and stayed on the phone almost the entire time. He's one of the coolest people I've ever talked to. You just never know what you're going to get in an interview.
Anyway, the question (who I'd like to interview) got me thinking: "Who would be the top 10 MMA fighters that I'd like to sit down and have a beer with?" You know, just sit down, and talk about life. Who would be the most entertaining? Who would I learn the most from? Who wouldn't act like they had somewhere else they needed to be? I came up with my list, but I'd love to hear yours. After you read the article, be sure an comment with your own personal list.
The list is in backwards order, with #1 being the MMA fighter I'd most like to grab a beer with. Here it is:
10. Jason 'Mayhem' Miller - The guy is wacky. Some of his antics are a bit much for some people. I personally think he's hilarious. He spent a ton of time in Japan. You know he's got to have some stories. I'm also not too cool to admit that I've seen every episode of 'Bully Beatdown'. I'd love to hear him talk about humiliating stupid meatheads who had a false perception of reality and their importance to society.
9. Jens Pulver - I was a little conflicted about this selection, mainly because I fear that there's a slight chance he is a "crying drunk". We've all known one. It's the guy who is laughing and telling jokes one second, and then the next, he's huddled in a corner somewhere bawling his eyes out. I'll take the risk of Jens. He just seems like a cool guy. I feel bad for him regarding his fall from grace. The truth is that he's never really been elite. He's had some super impressive wins, but just as many surprisingly deflating losses. The guy has really had to deal with some stuff. I think he'd make for a good conversation.
8. Matt Mitrione - During his stint on TUF, I couldn't stand him. I thought his act was juvenile and contrived. I didn't enjoy him as a person or as a fighter. He's grown on me. I feel like you just have to get used to him. I've also been very impressed by his commitment to really learning the sport of MMA and not just being a side-show act. He just seems like the kind of guy you could dare to do something awful...and he'd do it before you finished the sentence.
7. Brian Stann - Not only is he an MMA fighter, he's a Marine, and a veteran of war. I honestly don't even care if he's entertaining or funny. It would be an honor to talk to him and listen to his story. From all of his interviews that he's done that I've seen, he seems very humble and down to earth. If you don't want to buy a dude like that a drink, you've got problems.
6. Wanderlei Silva - I don't how well the conversation would go without a translator. Bless his heart, he tries to speak English, and he does okay. I have a feeling that once the drinks started going down, the English would start to break down. What would you call that? Portugenglish? I should trademark that. Anyway, Wanderlei is an amazing paradox. His nickname is The Axe Murderer, and when he's in "fight mode", he lives up to the moniker. Outside the cage, he is one of the nicest guys you'll ever find. He is famous for taking time for his fans and appreciating his supporters. He does like to walk out to Brazilian trance/club music, but I won't hold it against him. I'll buy him a drink with an umbrella in it, and then he can tell me what it feels like to knock someone out with a brutal knee.
5. Dan Henderson - Dan Henderson is just cool. He's got that 'old man that would whip your ass' kind of persona. The guy's 40. I'm not intimidated by a lot of 40 year olds. That being said, would you disrespect Hendo? I know I wouldn't. Like Mayhem, Henderson spent a lot of time in Japan, and I'm sure he has a ton of stories. He's really one of the pioneers and legends of the sport. There's no way hanging out with him could not be cool.
4. Brock Lesnar - Say what you want about his fighting abilities. The guy is entertaining. He's also just an absolutely massive monster of a man. If you walked into a bar, or were sitting in a bar with Brock Lesnar, you gain instant respect. No one would touch you. Lesnar was a top level college wrestler, a pro wrestler, a pro football player (albeit briefly), and now a top 10 heavyweight MMA fighter. That's legendary stuff. He also hunts in his free time, and I just have this feeling (or delusion) that, at some point, he's done it with his bare hands.
3. Chael Sonnen - Like Mayhem, Sonnen isn't for everyone. I get it. He's offensive, ignorant, etc. Sorry. I'm all in. I think it's shtick, and I think it's amusing. I think people take him and what he says too seriously. I also think people hate on the guy so much sometimes that they won't be honest and consider that some of what he says is true. Lyoto Machida drinking his own urine is bizarre. It just is.
2. Forrest Griffin - Does anybody not like Forrest Griffin? Seriously? How could you not?? He's that guy that walks into the room and everything that had previously going on suddenly seems unimportant. I've never once seen him interviewed where he didn't cause someone to crack up. The guy laughs at his own jokes and writes survival books with pictures of himself in a loincloth on the cover. He's also Irish, and I'd wager he could drink his weight. I'd definitely want to hear him talk about how sick he is of hearing/talking about his fight with Bonnar, and how much he wishes he could be honest about that publicly.
1. Chuck Liddell - This being my list and all, I've got chuck at the top because he's my favorite fighter of all time. He has worn a faded down mohawk as long as I can remember. He paints his toe-nails. According to rhyme and reason, he shouldn't be cool...but he is. He's one of the toughest fighters ever to enter into the octagon. When he was at his peak, his knockout power was unrivaled. I always thought the coolest thing about him was his demeanor. He wasn't bouncing up and down, running around the cage, yelling at his opponent from across the ring/cage. Chuck was there to do business. Knocking grown men out was his job, and right until the end, he was one of the best in the business at that job. Don't remember Chuck for the way he finished. Time caught up to him. It happens. Remember the guy who KO'ed a young Overeem, destroyed Tito Ortiz in his prime twice, and rebounded from an initial loss to come back and KO Randy Couture twice.
**Note: No comments about who should have been in my list. It's my list, not yours**