Here we are once again at Edmonds Community College, where earlier in the week a student was robbed and then stabbed in the face. Tonight my older brother, Chad, is fighting Drew “The Eternal Fire” Brokenshire in an attempt to reclaim the Ax Fighting 145-pound mixed martial arts title belt.
This is the first time since September 2009 that Chad has had a fight where he wasn’t a heavy favorite. In my opinion he’s still favored to beat Drew, who has a record of fifteen wins and four losses and seems like a solid fighter but isn’t any sort of MMA beast. My parents disagree. They tell me they’ve heard rumors about how Drew trains for MMA full-time and is one of the best fighters in Western Washington. When I investigate further it turns out these rumors originated from Chad.
While I’m waiting in the hallway outside the gym, a man walking by says: “It smells like doo doo in here.”
It’s true: it does smell like doo doo in here. I soon discover that this is because there is actual doo doo on the hallway’s linoleum floor, smeared around in a way that makes it impossible to visually determine what sort of creature the doo doo came from or why this creature defecated in the hallway.
Inside the gym my brother Jake (13) greets me with an urgent story that involves his friend Michael and a limousine and really I have no idea what he’s talking about. We walk by an unoccupied wheelchair with a YES WE DID Barack Obama sticker.
I’m here with my wife, who continues to insist on being referred to as “My Beautiful Wife” (MBW), and my co-worker Sonjia and her husband, who as I understand it are here for a horizon-expanding cultural experience, sort of like how middle class families will help at the food bank at Christmas to see how the other half lives.
We sit with the rest of my immediate family and various other Chad fans. There are eighteen fights tonight, and Chad’s is last. My dad, Steve, says: “Let’s hope the first seventeen are quick.”
Fight One: 155 lb. MMA
This one’s between Joe “The Savage” Val and Elis Armenderaz. Throughout the fight Elis’s coaches yell at him in Spanish what sounds like a single word repeated over and over: “Derecha, derecha, derecha.”
Joe and Elis get in a belly-to-belly position on the ground where Elis is on bottom hugging Joe and Joe is on top trying to get out of the hug by violently and repeatedly thrusting his hips. Sonjia asks what this is called, and Steve says: “The Saturday Night Special.”
After The Savage pounds Elis in the head enough to end the fight, Sonjia notes that she feels really bad even watching this.
This is the first MMA event I’ve attended where there’s been an African-American ring girl.
MBW: “Well, she’s kind of black.”
For some unknown reason Steve begins telling someone near him that I’m adopted but quickly rescinds his comment. “I was there when you were born,” he says. “Believe me. I could tell you about it.”
My brother Brady (22) says that it’s hard to tell whether the poop in the hallway was dog or human.
Fight Three: 160 lb. Kickboxing
One of the fighters, Matt, has a tiny torso, disproportionately long arms and legs, and an overall spidery shape. Apparently this is the ideal body shape for a kickboxer. The other guy, Vit, is about as tall one of Matt’s legs. So when Matt kicks, Vit’s head is just sitting there like a plump T-ball. Matt kicks Vit in the eyes, knees him in the forehead, and then plants his foot straight into Vit’s face. Vit gets knocked down four times and stands back up each time. Which is quite courageous, since Vit hasn’t so much as landed a kick all fight. The fifth time Vit goes down, the ref stops the fight.
One of tonight’s ring girls is probably most tactfully described in Sonjia’s words: “She has more confidence than I do. If I looked like that, I wouldn’t be in there.” Or, as MBW says: “For how chubby she is look how small her bottom is.”
Fight Four: 125 lb. MMA
This fight raises the question of how bad it could really hurt to get punched by an adult male who weighs 125 pounds. Apparently not that bad: these guys trade punches for the whole fight but can’t even knock each other down.
MBW’s further thoughts on the ring girl who is clearly African American: “She’s probably mostly black but probably something else too.”
MBW: “See, now that guy is black.”
This African-American guy—whose coach is wearing a “Rodman” jersey—punches his opponent so hard it sends his mouthguard several rows deep into the audience.
Fight Seven: 145 lb. MMA
Steve: “Boring. I’m lucky I had a nap today.”
Fight Nine: 205 lb. Kickboxing
This fight confirms what you probably would’ve guessed: don’t fight someone named Bo Reedus. He’ll kick your ass. Or at least that’s what he’ll do for two rounds, until he completely runs out of gas, just like you’d expect from someone named Bo Reedus.
T-Shirt Text Seen Tonight
TALK SHIT, GET HIT
THE STRONGER THE TEAM, THE STRONGER THE FIGHTER
WATCH YOUR MOUTH
RECYCLE MORE HUMANS
Fight Ten: 115 lb. MMA
Right when the fight starts, the fighter in the red corner grabs his opponent around the neck and lifts him off the ground until he can’t breathe and has to tap out.
Fight Twelve: 130 lb. Women’s MMA
One of the women, Tiffany, comes out to a song that features the lyric “eat, drink, and shut the fuck up.” Tiffany is a truly scary-looking female. In the first round she gets an arm-bar thing on her opponent—a totally normal-looking girl named Erika—and it seems that Tiffany is intentionally hyper-extending Erika’s elbow far enough to cause her pain but not far enough to end the fight. She then somehow crawls on Erika’s back and chokes her out until the ref stops the fight. Erika is crying.
Steve: “And a good time was had by all.”
Fight Fifteen: 125 lb. Women’s Kickboxing
One of the girls here is wearing some sort of a pink skirt. She’s tall and pale and, in my mom’s words, “looks like a clarinet player.” The other fighter, Reagan, could be mistaken for a fourteen-year-old boy.
The clarinet-player girl has that same spidery kickboxer shape, which means that for Reagan to get close enough to land a few punches she has to take a few kicks to the head. It’s a battle of very weak kicks vs. very weak punches. These two could fight all night without knocking each other out.
After the fight ends the announcer announces that the judges have reached a split decision, which means that one of the judges disagreed with the other two.
The announcer: “Judge one scores the fight at twenty-nine to twenty-eight for Griffith. Judge two scores the fight at twenty-nine to twenty-eight for Benedetti.”
After about ten seconds of dramatic silence the announcer says: “Wait, the math is hard here.”
There’s then an excitement-killing minute of whispering between the announcer and the judges, and finally it’s announced that Reagan Benedetti won the fight.
Fight Sixteen: 155 lb. MMA
I’m trying to maintain some sort of journalistic neutrality, but dear Lord this Jeff guy: total asshole, right? There’s something about him—maybe the fact that he gelled his hair before the fight—that truly deserves a beating. Unfortunately, he wins. He yells and jumps up and down, just the way a total asshole would.
The program labels this one “130 MMA Super Fight,” but no explanation is ever given about what the “super” means. The fight itself is pretty dull and not at all super.
What’s at stake in Chad’s fight tonight isn’t just the prestigious Ax Fighting 145 pound title belt. My parents seem to think that this fight will determine whether Chad continues fighting. I’m not sure. If he wins, it seems like it’d be tough to quit: he’s not the sort of person who could easily turn down a chance to call himself a professional MMA fighter. But it seems like it’d be even tougher for Chad to quit if he lost. There’d really be no reason for him to go out on a low like that when he’s had nothing but success at the amateur level.
The announcer introduces Chad “Crombie” Douglas and Drew “The Eternal Fire” Brokenshire. “The Eternal Fire” nickname likely has something to do with Drew’s red hair. “Crombie” is ostensibly short for “Abercrombie” and thus likely has something to do with Chad’s personal grooming and alleged tanning booth habit. The announcer says that Chad and Drew have “the two best records in the state.” This is too vague to be meaningful in any way.
This is a five round fight. If neither fighter gets a knockout or technical knockout, then whoever wins the most rounds wins the fight.
In the first round, Drew lands a few weak punches and Chad stomps on his foot. Chad’s grabbing Drew’s legs and trying to take him down, but Drew is up against the ropes and isn’t budging. It’s clear from my family’s reaction that they’re not used to watching Chad fight people he can’t take down at will. Drew knees Chad a few times before the round ends. It seems obvious that Drew won that round.
In the second round Chad gets a takedown right away, but Drew rolls around on top of Chad’s back, punching him in the head and then getting a tight chokehold around Chad’s neck. Drew holds the choke for about thirty seconds. Somehow Chad escapes and punches Drew a few times before the round ends. It seems like Drew won this round, but I really don’t know how they score chokeholds. It seems like a fighter should get points for how long he holds a choke, but who knows.
At the start of round three, Chad does a spinning backhand punch that hits Drew without much force. For most of the round they roll around and grab at each other’s limbs. An audience member yells: “Get your ass off the ropes.” I’m not sure what’s going on, much less who’s scoring points. At one point Drew gets on Chad’s back and gets another firm chokehold on Chad. It looks like Chad can’t breathe for about thirty seconds, but then the round ends.
By my uneducated count, Drew has won all three rounds so far. This judgment is based only on my perception and not any sort of real scoring system. My parents seem to think Chad won round three, but that might be their parental supportiveness speaking. If I’m right, then Chad can only win with some sort of knockout or technical knockout. If my parents are right, then Chad wins if he wins the next two rounds.
They start the fourth round on their feet throwing punches, and then amidst the punches Chad gets another takedown. Chad stays on top of Drew, hammering Drew’s face with his forearms. Chad then switches to choking Drew for a while, then, when Drew rolls out of the choke, Chad gets back on top of him and delivers a solid beating. Chad finishes the round with Drew bent in half and choked. Steve says: “The pike position.”
Chad definitely won round four, so this last round may or may not decide who wins. This is either a dramatic winner-take-all round or a more or less lost cause, which gives the whole thing a sort of meta-drama about whether it’s dramatic or not.
Announcer, in his best dramatic voice: “Who is the toughest 145 pounder?”
Chad starts the final round by driving Drew into the ropes. Drew lands several solid knees. Audience member: “Get your ass off the ropes. Control the center.” Chad gets another takedown. Steve almost falls off the bleachers. Chad’s landing some punches and then gets his arms around Drew’s neck. Drew gets out and wraps his legs around Chad’s head. Not sure if this is an actual point-scoring move. The referee is blocking most of the action but it appears that Drew is punching Chad’s head.
The round ends. The fight is over. My family is celebrating as though Chad has won. Both Chad and Drew are celebrating as though they’ve won.
Announcer: “Let’s make sure we get this one right.”
Someone from the judges’ table hands the announcer a slip of paper, and then he announces that, by unanimous decision, our winner and new Ax Fighting 145-pound champion is Chad Douglas. There’s no way around it now: this is the end of Chad’s amateur fighting career. His next fight, if he has one, will be professional.