Tonight I’m at Shoreline Community College in Shoreline, Washington, to watch Billy Walker fight “Krazy” Kris “The Crippler” Zorrer for the Genesis Fights bantamweight (135 lb.) mixed martial arts title. Billy trains with my brother Chad, has a record of seven wins and three losses, works by day as an electrician, and has a tattoo of a sunshine-moon thing three inches above his left nipple.
The official name of tonight’s event is “Genesis Fights: Eclipse.” The graphics on the program are remarkably similar to the graphics of the popular young-adult paranormal-romance novel of the same “Eclipse” name. At no point tonight does it become clear what conclusions Genesis Fights management wants us to draw from this allusion.
Before the Fights
Before I’m admitted into the gymnasium proper, I’m forced to participate in a twenty-two minute drama regarding my press credentials. Not once does anyone from Genesis Fights staff give my homemade press pass more than a glance. If they had, they would’ve noticed that the expiration date had been amended with Wite-Out, and this whole ordeal would’ve been mercifully curtailed:
Young woman at the door, after glancing at my pass: “Oh okay. No problem. Just go talk to the people over there at the ticket counter.”
Young man at the ticket counter, after a long pause: “I have to talk to someone.”
Young woman who comes out to talk to me after I stand in the lobby for seven minutes writing mordant notes about Genesis Fights and its treatment of the press: “What publication are you with? I’ve never heard of it. Well you see what happened is that you weren’t already on the list and so what this means is that we don’t actually have a seat saved for you.”
Same passive-aggressive young woman after it’s pointed out to her that the seating in the gymnasium is approximately half-full and that if worse comes to worst the press can stand on its own two feet: “Well okay, we didn’t know about you ahead of time and you see we actually already have our own press here. You’re going to have to pay for a ticket. Twenty-five dollars.”
Same young woman after she’s told that it “reflects quite poorly” on their organization to charge the press for entry and that the massive readership of this publication will surely read all sorts of negative things about Genesis Fights: “I’ll go talk to someone.”
Tough-looking management figure who comes out eight minutes later and who could easily kick my ass in a back room: “What publication did you say you were with?”
Second tough-looking management figure who comes out four minutes later with a smart phone and pulls up the publication in question and who also could easily kick my ass in a back room, maybe in some sort of good-cop bad-cop routine with the first guy: “I think I’ve seen this before.”
First tough-looking management figure who returns a few minutes later and actually seems like a pretty decent guy: “Okay, you’re in.”
I promise to write nice things about Genesis Fights.
Fights One Through Four
So let me say this: Genesis Fights might not be as racist as they first appear.
Each of the first four fights features an African American man fighting a Caucasian man. It seems mathematically impossible that this happened by chance. In a lull later in the evening—using math I learned from televised poker—I calculate the odds of this happening by chance. If you start with four African Americans and four Caucasians, the odds of ending up with four interracial fights are just under one in four. It’s far from impossible but still suspicious.
If you’re interested, Caucasians win three out of the four fights. This sample is too small to draw any statistical conclusions from.
I’m standing at the edge of the gym, next to Chad, who’s giving me the rundown on the fights tonight—how Billy is fighting for a title, how Chad’s potential next fight, Drew “The Eternal Flame” Brokenshire, has a Muay Thai fight tonight—and the rundown on the blonde ring girl: “She needs to spend less time in the tanning booth and more time in the gym. And you can quote me on that.”
About ten feet from us a young male is waiting in line for popcorn. He wears a T-shirt titled “Shakespeare’s Insults.” This T-shirt contains a list of insults from Shakespeare’s plays, e.g. “a fusty nut with no kernel” or “canker blossom.” This young man’s skin is vampire-white and he has a mullet so long it must’ve taken him the better part of his life to grow. He vanishes before I can ask him why exactly he’s at Genesis Fights: Eclipse.
Finally we have a same-race fight, Caucasian vs. Caucasian. At one point in the first round one fighter, lying on his back, bends his legs up and wraps them around the head-neck area of his opponent, who is sitting on top of him. They roll around and end in a position best described as reverse cowboy.
In round two, there’s a break in the fight for an unintentional nut kick. Never gets old. The fight ends when one of the fighters won’t stop bleeding. The winner is announced, and I’m not sure whether it’s the bleeder or the guy that pulled the reverse-cowboy maneuver. Keeping track of fighters was much easier when it was color-coded.
I’m now sitting in the bleachers on the west side of the gym, near a group of nine or so guys and one or two of their female companions. From what I can tell, they’re a group of friends who still live in their hometown a few years after high school.
This fight is in what’s called A-Class MMA. The only discernable difference between A-Class MMA and regular MMA is that A-Class fighters wear what are either shin pads or long socks.
Comprehensive List of Nicknames for Tonight’s Participants, in Alphabetical Order
Black Seminole, the
Eternal Fire, the
Silent Assassin, the
The guys behind me accompany this fight with sound effects from the Mortal Kombat video game, e.g. “fatality.” One of them sings two unprovoked verses of the Backstreet Boys song “I Want It That Way.”
By round three, both fighters are so exhausted that they can’t even throw punches, even though both are wide open for all sorts of punishment. Everyone else in the audience must be thinking exactly what I’m thinking: I could dominate both these pussies.
One of the girls behind me has dropped her purse through the gaps between the bleachers. None of the guys will retrieve it for her.
The announcer is wearing a suit and tie, and it appears that he brushed his hair before tying it in a ponytail. It turns out that he also moonlights as a beatboxer. For the first ninety seconds of intermission he gives us a free sample of his beatboxing. It is surely the most professional beatboxing I’ve ever heard. He tells us his name is Darrick Bob Jones.
As I’m walking around the room I see someone with an actual Genesis-issued press pass. He is not taking notes. He doesn’t even have note-taking equipment. Nor does he have a camera. Nor a tape recorder. In fact, while I spend the intermission industriously taking notes and trying to remember the AP-approved usage of “beatbox,” this man, who holds a legitimate press pass and has a complimentary press seat just feet from the ring, spends the intermission dancing, in a half-assed way.
Fight Nine: Tag Team Submission
About a year and a half ago, Chad participated in a tag-team submission fight with his buddy Buck. The video was posted on an MMA website, and in the comment section beneath it were dozens of remarks about how the whole thing and everyone involved were incredibly homosexual.
This fight is the same style as that fight, and I doubt that it would clear up anyone’s questions about the sexuality of the whole affair.
Guy behind me: “I’m really confused right now.”
This fight is between two African American men, listed on the program as Naalij “The Black Seminole” Redicks and Taureen “Black” Washington.
One of the guys behind me is regaling his friends with a story that involved him (the narrator) fucking chasing some guys down—by him-fucking-self—and fucking throwing them (the other guys) into the street.
This anecdote ends when one of the storyteller’s friends declares, “It’s punch time.”
Fight Eleven: Billy’s Fight
Full disclosure: Billy finds me twice tonight to tell me that “I better write something good about [Billy] this time.” As an MMA fighter, Billy is capable of doing terrible things to me, so consider my journalistic integrity compromised: I intend to write nice things about Billy.
Billy’s opponent, “Krazy” Kris “The Crippler” Zorrer, enters the ring to Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down.” Billy, whose beard isn’t remotely pubic-looking, enters the ring to a song one of the guys behind me calls, “Oh shit. This is my jam.”
Before the fight there’s a ceremony where each of the fighters is allowed to look at the belt but not touch it.
In the first round the Krazy Crippler throws a huge punch and Billy takes the punch on the jaw. He goes down. He later reports that for a few seconds he was out cold. He gets back up and nothing much happens the rest of the round.
The Crippler clearly won this round, so Billy—whose spandex shorts fit him nicely—needs to win both remaining rounds or knock out the Krazy Crippler.
In the second round Billy kicks the Crippler a lot. The guys behind me are discussing a Major League Baseball “ruptured nut” incident. Billy likely won this round. Chad’s girlfriend, Jen, states that she will never again look at Billy the same with regards to the spandex shorts he’s wearing.
At one point in the third round, Billy kicks the Crippler in the shin hard enough to knock him down. After he gets back to his feet, the Crippler flops on his back in a failed attempt to do some sort of leg bar thing to Billy. The round soon ends. A ring girl starts bringing out a “Round 4” sign but is waved away, this being a three-round fight. There’s a Billy chant on the other side of the gym. Then it’s announced: by unanimous decision, the winner of this fight and the new Genesis Fights Bantamweight Champion is Billy Walker.
Fight Twelve: The Flyweight Championship
The first fighter’s name is Luis Contreras. By way of Spanish pronunciation, the announcer uses English pronunciation while clearing his throat.
One of the guys behind me has been “waiting for this guy [Luis] to get his ass beat.” And get his ass beat he does: his opponent picks him up by the legs and drops him, lands some good punches, and does a move that one of the guys behind me describes as a “toot’n bootie.”
This ass beating continues into the second round until Luis, while getting his ass beat, somehow bends his opponent’s elbow at an obtuse angle against the joint, and that’s how Luis wins the fight.
This is a Muay Thai fight involving Drew “The Eternal Flame” Brokenshire, who might be Chad’s next opponent. I thought it would be great to get a scouting report on Drew, but I largely neglect to watch the fight because I’m listening to and transcribing a conversation among the guys behind me:
Guy one: “What’s the plan after this?”
Guy two: “Getting drunk. What we always do.”
Guy one: “That’s what we always do.”
Guy three: “The same thing we do every night, Pinky. Try to take over the world.”
Drew ends up losing by decision. I’m not sure if this affects his chances of fighting Chad.
After the fight there’s an altercation among the guys behind me. One of the guys says that he “does not want to play you guys’ games anymore,” and then he gets up and sits next to a sympathetic female. He tells her that his ears were fucking flicked. Twice. And he’s fucking sick of it.
Fight Fourteen: Heavyweight MMA Title
You can tell that the announcer has spent many a night looking in the mirror saying, “This is the main event.” This fight is for the Genesis heavyweight title.
The first fighter enters the ring to the song “White and Nerdy” by Weird Al Yankovic. This fighter, whose stated nickname is “Nerd Rage,” is probably 160 pounds of solid muscle and sixty-five pounds of solid fat. I will almost guarantee that out of everyone in the gymnasium he has the highest-ranked World of Warcraft avatar.
The second fighter comes out to the song “Monster Mash” by Bobby Boris Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers. This fighter’s stated nickname is “Mankill,” and he’s introduced as the “current undefeated Genesis heavyweight champion.” He looks like a younger, angrier, dirtier Mr. Clean. Each of his pectoral muscles is roughly the size of my entire torso.
Judging by appearances, this is the biggest mismatch I’ve yet witnessed at an MMA fight. Chad tells me that Mankill’s previous opponent backed out at the last minute, and Nerd Rage, who surely hadn’t yet seen a picture of Mankill, accepted the fight.
If we can disregard the physical pain at stake here, it seems that Mankill is the one to pity. If he wins, so what—he beat a fat kid. If he loses, he lost to a guy with saggy nipples and a fantastic muffin top.
Nerd Rage, it turns out, is a one-trick stallion. His trick is that he lowers his head, sprints at Mankill, and tackles him in the legs. And it works. At least four times he takes Mankill down with this run-at-him-really-fast-and-tackle-him move. When he connects, the ring shakes in a way that makes me question the integrity of its construction. Twice he almost shoves Mankill out of the ring onto the hardwood. The crowd loves it.
Let’s be clear, though: in no way is Nerd Rage actually winning the fight. Mankill has spent most of the fight punching Nerd Rage in the head, kicking him in the stomach, and generally manhandling him.
In round three Nerd Rage knees Mankill in the face. It’s exciting and, in amateur MMA, entirely illegal. He gets docked a point for it. I still haven’t mastered the MMA scoring system, but I know that this is about as severe as getting docked a goal in soccer. Nerd Rage has almost no chance of actually winning.
As soon as the fight ends, they start playing the song “We Are the Champions.” It’s an interesting choice, since MMA is an individual sport and thus “we” can never actually be the champions. It’s announced that Mankill wins by unanimous decision. The only possible meaning that this song can have is that at Genesis Fights: Eclipse we are all the champions. Nerd Rage and Mankill hug each other.