Friday, July 26, 2013

UFC on Fox 8: Johnson vs Moraga Discussion

UFC returns to action with an all-day event on free TV. Lobster Sting is taking a look at the card to find out what's worth watching.

JH: I am pretty hyped up for this card. It's got all the things I say makes for the best MMA: free MMA, women's MMA, and tinyweight MMA. I could probably find something to talk about on every fight, but I think we should just focus on the few that look really engaging.

For me, it's Yves Edwards versus Daron Cruickshank. Yves is pretty much unable to have a dull fight, and Cruickshank is a fun striker, so I think they'll put on a really cool standup fight.

CC: I agree! For as much as I like wrestling and submissions, I can definitely appreciate two guys who just stand and bang. You predicted this to end with Yves submitting Cruickshank on your rad blog, but I think Cruickshank will likely win in the second with punches and elbows. Or, at the very least, I doubt we'll get Yves winning with a submission.

I do agree that the combination of Free MMA being Best MMA, a rad women's fight, and Demetrious Johnson being super entertaining that this has all the makings of a fun evening of punches and kicks.

Question: I really like Demitrious Johnson, but he's a small guy. How many clones of Mighty Mouse would it take to successfully fight and beat Cain Velasquez?

JH: That's an interesting question. I would say at the very least, three cloned Mighty Mice would be needed to defeat Cain in a MMA bout. I don't see them stopping him, but I think they could move around enough to hit and not get hit, frustraing "Brown Pride" to a decision victory.

Are there any other fighters you look forward to seeing compete? I've always been a fan of Melvin Guillard, even if he doesn't make the best decisions, either in fighting or in life at times.  Plus, despite him being a good person, I've never been able to get behind Mac Danzig as a fighter.

I'm also really curious about two of the ladies fighting. I know a bit about Julie Kedzie and Liz Carmouche, but Germaine de Randamie and Jessica Andrande are pretty unknown to me. All I know about either is that de Randamie is an accomplished kickboxer, and Andrande's nickname "Bate Estaca" means 'piledriver' in Portuguese, and it's because she hit a piledriver in a BJJ competition. So I'm definitely intrigued by her.

CC: The Melvin Guillard v Mac Danzig fight is a fight I'm really looking forward to. I think I've only seen Melvin Guillard win one fight since I've been following MMA, but I've always liked what I've seen so far. He has a lot of fights and not many went to decision, so it should be a fast and exciting fight if nothing else.

Mac Danzig seems like a really well rounded and solid mixer of the martial arts, but from what I've seen he hasn't really been able to tie it all together as well as could. This should be a really good fight, though, but I expect Guillard to come out very aggressive and hungry and to finish Mac "Danzig" Danzig.

I agree about the two ladies fights. Liz Carmouche put on one of the most exciting fights I've seen so far this year, and all of the other female fights I've seen in the UFC have been really physical and exciting. I'm hopeful Carmouche can get a few wins and get another chance at Ronda Rousey because I think she could put away Rousey with another fight. I also hope anyone that goes by "Piledriver" wins for obvious reasons.

Now, the fight I'm most excited for is the Rory "Mars" MacDonald v Jake "The Burgernaut" Ellenberger. So far Ellenberger has been my MMA horse. He's my Seabiscuit.

I know Bovada has Rory as the favorite, although not to the extent they have Carmouche or Mighty Mouse in their respective fights, but come on! Let's recap Ellenberger really quick: His name is Ellenberger, came from the seed of an iron worker, has a rad twin brother who won't let his own blood that pumps through his veins kill him, was a Marine, and is good at wrestling and striking. What does Rory have going for him? He trains with GSP, he dresses in a way that women who like Dr Who and who post on Tumblr would find attractive, and he put away a doughy BJ Penn. That's it. Ellenberger all the way on this, and if you're smart you should mortgage your home and put money on him for a fast payday.*

JH: Well, the thing about Rory is, he's obviously a giant dork which is the main reason I've bet dinner on his Canadian shoulders. Plus, he ragdolled Nate Diaz supremely, and that's always fun.

Your main man, the Ellenberger, has been known to get a bit gassy as fights progress, and that's not good with an uncaring, weird, hipster-robot facing him.

Though, to be honest, I've felt like I've made a huge mistake at least three times after making my prediction on our podcast for this fight. The Burgernaut probably hits harder than anyone Rory's faced. Besides, even if Jake doesn't knock young MacDonald's block off, he'll probably just wrestle Rory into a fine powder after fifteen minutes.

CC: I've seen other people talk about how Ellenberger will gas out by the third round, but my retort is to ask why does that matter when the fight won't go that long? Win or lose, I expect this to be a really fun fight that keeps moving. Or I'll be screaming at my TV for 15 minutes wondering why Ellenberger is so scared to just rush Rory and Rory ends up winning with a decision.

But, honestly, I expect Ellenberger to make Rory look like Nate Marquardt. Plus, at this point I think we've double-or-nothing'd like 5 fights now so you only me a lot of meals, so when Ellenberger wins you'll owe me a dinner for every night of a 32 day month (Smarch). I like burgers, hummus, and liver and onions. Thanks!

JH: Oh yeah, well, I expect Rory to do another super-honky Ali Shuffle all around Jake's wheezing body.

(How would you like those burgers cooked?)

*Betting advice is to never be taken seriously. Lobster Sting does not recommend either betting on MMA, becoming romantically involved with an MMA fighter, or otherwise even watching MMA.

Friday, July 19, 2013

On Daniel Bryan and CM Punk, and the Virtues of Cheering For Someone

Competing feelings of support and opposition are persistent in sports and in much of life. There were many more people cheering against the Miami Heat than there were cheering for the San Antonio Spurs this past NBA finals. Even outside of narrative devices that prompt an audience to cheer for or boo against someone, we all find ourselves having strong opinions for a variety of reasons.

Of course the most exciting sporting events are the ones where a you are excited to cheer for one participant and equally excited to boo against the other. Few NBA Finals were as personally exciting as the ones involving the Utah Jazz and the Chicago Bulls in the 90s for this very reason.

Two years ago I thought I was in a similar position with CM Punk and John Cena. Like many I had become bored with John Cena, and I had always enjoyed CM Punk. It was easy to cheer against John Cena during this period, and CM Punk had a lot of great feuds that made me, just like everyone else, a big fan of Punk.

Then a funny thing happened. I soured on CM Punk. I found his matches to lack the sort of excitement I expected, his feuds became rather bland typical WWE Face v WWE Heel feuds. Even John Cena started looking better in comparison, and instead of crediting CM Punk with their matches being the classics they were I started to see that Cena had a large role in them.

More and more it became apparent that while I did like Punk to an extent, and I do, that much of the esteem I had for him came from his constantly being in feuds and matches against people I disliked. His feud with Jeff Hardy is one of my favorite wrestling stories ever, Straight Edge Society was similarly engaging because he stood against many of the same things I also disliked, and his cult like leadership of the New Nexus was engaging because it continued (even if poorly) the revolutionary nature of the Nexus. It was easy to give CM Punk too much credit, and I conflated my cheering against many of the people Punk was fighting against as support for Punk himself.

Much of this played out in the last year. Punk floundered and many of his feuds didn't have any impact. The only feud I cared about, and the one that really cemented this point for myself, was with The Rock. It isn't like I was cheering for Punk, but I still thought he deserved better than to lose to 2013's The Rock.

All of this makes sense. Punk is a revolutionary. He points out what is terrible or awful and attacks it. His revolution against the 2011 WWE status quo was subverted into the WWE itself, and the fact he was allowed to even have the "Summer of Punk" furthered legitimized the WWE. Once he became champion and "won" the revolution we found that there was nothing there to cheer for, Punk found himself standing against everything but for nothing.

There is only so much emotional resonance one can feel by cheering for a revolutionary that stands for little more than himself. Those cheering against the Miami Heat would have felt the satisfaction of them losing dissipating rather quickly, whereas those cheering for the San Antonio Spurs would have had days of exultation.

It's easy to become disillusioned with wrestling, and the WWE especially. It's easy to love wrestling but to also not enjoy what is going on in wrestling. Punk was, for a long time, a great conduit for those feelings. He not only spoke what many of us were thinking, but he usually targeted those thoughts and feelings at deserving targets. Even still, his ascent and recent plateau proved to be ultimately emotionally dull.

Contrast this with Daniel Bryan. Sure, Daniel Bryan has had matches and feuds with people many of us dislike, but regardless of the match-up most of us found ourselves cheering for Daniel Bryan. Many of us have been cheering for Daniel Bryan for many years, and these last two have been exciting and frustrating, but rarely dull. Either we find ourselves excited by Daniel Bryan's ascent or frustrated by his stagnation or worse. Regardless, it is all about our hopes for him as a performer and as a character, and not about those he interacts with. It's liberating and simple to enjoy a wrestler for who he is, and not for who he is against.

Ultimately, I am much more invested in Daniel Bryan than I ever was in CM Punk. Punk may spit some truth, may tear down people I dislike, and may stand against many of the same things I disliked, but once he was on top and no longer stood against something meaningful I found myself bored. I cheer for Daniel Bryan, even when he is putting on matches with people I otherwise like and respect. Daniel Bryan is engaging and exciting by being who he is and just by wrestling. There's less of a deeper meaning to Daniel Bryan, but that is okay since he puts on exciting matches every week and has gotten many of us behind him as a performer and a character. There's a lot more mileage the WWE can get out of someone we cheer for, and I hope his future proves that point.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Lobster Sting Podcast #1

Jessica and I casted the pods last evening and we discussed the current state of the WWE, our feelings about Chikara, and reviewed some of the most recent happenings in Mixed Martial Arts.

We start by talking about professional wrestling and we discuss MMA at 49:40 for the rest of the show.

Also, as mentioned in the podcast Jessica's critique of Tank Abbott's novel is seriously the best thing. You can read that here.

If you do not see the audio player, or wish to download the MP3, click here.

Please let us know if you have any thoughts, criticisms, or things you'd like to hear us talk about the next time we do one of these. Thanks for listening!