THE other day I thought of the TV series Celebrity Deathmatch, from the days when MTV was often funny, before the current 24-hour recipe of randy young people wearing tiny swimming costumes in big beach houses.
Google it, there are dozens. This is an example.
Just like MTV finally turned into a wall-to-wall reality show, the world outside of it has followed a similar path in the past 25 years.
And — sure enough! — the other day we heard that Elon Musk (he of Tesla, Twitter and most of the plethora of internet satellites that obstruct astronomy) and Mark Zuckerberg (he of Vuisbroek) are going to fight each other in an octagonal cage in a bout of middleweight mixed martial arts (MMA).
Barefoot, with thumb tacks
Dana White, the godfather of the governing body Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), promises that this fight will not be a gimmick at all. Although I suspect that it may stink.
For instance, if I were the promoter I would have made the bosses of Twitter and Facebook choose between chainsaws and katana swords for their intended cage fight.
Barefoot, with thumb tacks in the ring.
South Africa's Dricus “Stillknocks” du Plessis (his nickname was apparently derived from a sleeping pill brand, his main sponsor) offered to help Musk prepare, but for further proof that these two might be serious about clobbering each other in a cage, Georges St-Pierre, perhaps the best UFC fighter yet, also offered his services and Musk accepted.
Zeffer than zef
I've always been a little snobbish about UFC.
I'm more than a little zef myself, but anything that makes boxing look like a sport for Victorian gentlemen is a little zeffer than me. During the lockdown, though, I occasionally became curious about the fights: a resident godchild and his visiting pals took care of that.
I cheered Khabib Nurmagomedov when he took out Conor McGregor in Las Vegas, much to the irritation of the public. We stayed up late; those were the awful days when there was no reason to get out of bed before noon.
Here are the highlights from that fight:
A generation of brilliant boxers
The last time I got up at 4.30am to watch people screw each other was boxing and 1985. Also in Vegas.
This is just the first round — in comparison, Khabib and his Irish victim spent too much time thrashing on the ground like fish to be nearly as exciting. Marvin Hagler was my favourite of a generation of geniuses:
PlayStation 4 has its advantages
The godchild, his pals and a PlayStation 4 made an unforgettable contribution to my mental health when we all had to cope with Covid. And UFC is one of those sports that is better on PS4 than in real life.
Cool games like these are how many little chaps choose a sport to follow in the first place.
Rugby is the opposite of MMA. Nice to watch, laughably rotten as a computer game.
Agustín Pichot, who was regrettably defeated for the presidency of World Rugby by the old-fashioned Englishman Bill Beaumont, had a better PlayStation rugby game on his agenda.
As a marketing mechanism, it's hard to think of anything better, except maybe a Netflix series about what happens behind the scenes in a sport.
Paddy The Baddy and Meatball Molly
The Liverpool fighter Paddy “The Baddy" Pimblett is another reason I have started to temper my scepticism towards the UFC. He will probably never become world champion, but the outspoken 28-year-old with his blond pisspot hairstyle is grabbing the headlines.
I happened to see him fight one night last year.
His best friend, “Meatball" Molly McCann, won the main preliminary fight and later loudly supported him while laughing and drinking Jameson's from the bottle. She is called Meatball Molly because years ago she worked in a branch of Subway and smelt like meatballs when she went for a workout.
Here are some of Paddy's more vicious moments:
A powerful business empire
UFC has numerous advantages over the ever-confusing world of boxing, which currently has five recognised world championship belts in 17 weight divisions.
White rules the UFC world with an iron hand and his 15 world champions (11 men, four women) reign unchallenged.
There's no question here of boxing champions trying to stay out of each other's way as long as possible while their promoters try to squeeze as much money as possible out of the payday by inventing nagging postponement excuses on behalf of their fighters.
You will eventually see the fights you want to see.
Women were also treated much more equally from the start than in boxing. Ironic, perhaps, since White's most recent controversy came when his wife and he (in that order) publicly and drunkenly clobbered each other on New Year's Eve in Mexico.
White is also a friend and supporter of Donald Trump.
Counting in his favour is that he turned a beleaguered sport into a powerful business empire. And apparently he likes the Beastie Boys and Rage Against the Machine as much as yours truly.
To remove the aftertaste of that sentence out of my mouth, something of the latter:
Elon just needs to sit on Mark
But back to the anticipated Zuckerberg/Musk showdown.
Musk is 13cm taller and 15kg heavier, but that extra 15kg does not exactly consist of muscle.
Zuckerberg holds a purple belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, designed to defend against a larger opponent and trump him on the ground. The medals he has won have been widely reported.
But it should be noted that a purple belt is only the third rung on a 14-step ladder. Maybe Musk should simply sit on him and he will be done for.
However, the most bizarre aspect of the fight is that White reckons it will break all box office records. It will cost you $100 to watch the two palookas (hopefully) hurt each other on TV and White expects at least 10 million people to cough up for this precarious privilege.
One thing I've learnt over the years: as we get older, we become crazier and so does the world.
A sneak peek
It's not necessarily UFC, but here's a fighting threeplay to encourage our supposedly violent Facebook and Twitter tech bros, who will hopefully clobber each other so hard that they will disappear from the public eye for ever.
Boxing, with lots of cheese:
Cheese, with a little boxing:
♦ VWB ♦
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