My brother Chad, with a record of ten wins and one loss—which he later avenged—and three title belts, has accomplished everything one could hope to accomplish in the 145-pound weight class of the north Seattle suburbs amateur mixed martial arts circuit. If this were Street Fighter II, he would now be fighting Sagat, the one-eyed Muay Thai fighter who shoots fireballs and throws what’s called a “Tiger Uppercut.” Instead Chad’s fighting someone named Mike.

Chad wasn’t supposed to fight Mike, but Chad’s previous opponent backed out earlier in the week because, according to Chad, “He saw my last fight.” It’s remarks like these that make me think it’d be terribly interesting—from a purely journalistic perspective—to see Chad get knocked out.

But it doesn’t look like tonight’s the night. Not only has Mike only fought twice, but by the time they step into the ring Chad will outweigh Mike by ten to fifteen pounds. When he doesn’t have a fight coming up, Chad weighs around 165 pounds. In the forty-eight hours before weigh-ins, he literally sweats off twenty pounds by working out in a plastic suit. After weigh-ins, he spends twenty-four hours rehydrating with Pedialyte while he watches Jurassic Park III. By fight time he’s back in full athletic and mental condition—and again weighs 165 pounds. And since Mike accepted this fight on two day’s notice, he likely didn’t cut weight at all, and there’s really no way he can weigh more than 150 pounds at fight time.

All this to say that if I wanted to spend three hours and thirty dollars to see Chad beat up someone he outweighed by fifteen pounds, I’d take a taxi to our parents’ house and watch home videos of the time when we were kids and invented a game called “Border Crossing.” If I still had time to spare after that, I’d listen to my Dad explain why we should kill all the bears, especially those living in national parks.

So I have made myself a press pass. Brief internet research has led me to believe that most press passes are printed on the copy machine at Rite Aid and laminated with Scotch tape, so I suspect that my press pass—designed in PhotoShop, printed in color on glossy cardstock, with its own plastic sleeve—might actually be too professional.

I am told that this won’t work. I am told that the doormen are ex-fighters and they’re trained to deal with just this sort of situation. So what if your press pass has a lanyard, I’m told. When I actually get to the front of the show-your-ticket line, the ticket taker looks all of seventeen and seems generally scared to be here. I hold up my pass, nod at him, walk right by, and pause to note all the non-members of the press that paid to get in tonight.

I sit between my brother Jake (12) and his next-door neighbor friend (12ish), who requests that in all written material I refer to him as “Bruce.” Bruce spends most of the evening texting with Rachel. Before the fights begin, Bruce informs us that it would not hurt at all to get punched by someone wearing boxing gloves because they’re like padded. Jake and I tell Bruce that there’s an easy way to test his hypothesis. Bruce declines because whatever.

Fight One

The first two fighters have a combined total of zero wins and zero losses. The most interesting part of this fight is when the ring girl enters after the first round and appears to have forgotten to bring the sign that says “Round Two.” So instead of a sign, she’s holding up a single finger. The problem here is that she should be holding up two fingers, not one. In fact, ring girls don’t ever announce round one, since it’s usually obvious that the first round is the first round. They don’t even have a sign that says “Round One.” I’m not sure what sort of deductive logic this ring girl used to arrive at the round-one conclusion. Bruce states that Rachel is hotter than all the ring girls.

A Summary of Fights Two, Three, Six
through Eight, Ten, Twelve, and Fourteen

The word “amateur” is used mostly in two ways: amateur as in “unpaid,” and amateur as in “god-awful.” About eight of the fights tonight are amateur in both senses. One fight deteriorates into a game of paddle fisties. One fighter turns his back on his opponent and literally runs away. One person throws a kick so weak that his opponent catches it in his hand, and then both fighters stand there awkwardly. One guy tries to choke his opponent by covering his opponent’s mouth with his hand. Several fighters intentionally tangle themselves in the guard ropes. One fight ends up with guy one riding on guy two’s back while guy one tries to buck guy two off. It’s a disgrace to amateur mixed martial arts.

Fight Four

One of the fighters in this fight is a pudgy Hispanic named Jesus. He loses. People near me then make jokes based on the concept of Jesus Christ being a pudgy Hispanic that loses an amateur mixed martial arts fight.

Fight Five

I pay for a two-dollar slice of pizza with nickels.

Fight Nine

A man in the standing-room section in front of us, wearing a DEATH POWER T-shirt, raps along to a song that includes the words “strippers in body bags.” I realize that any attempt to find the title for this song will involve Googling “strippers in body bags.”

Quotes from Audience Members that Aren’t Any More Acceptable Even When Taken in Context

“He has the biggest hard on right now.”

“Tea bag him.”

“Pound him, pound him.”

“Let’s raise the roof.”

Fight Eleven, Which Should Be Understood
in the Context of Above Section

Jake returns from the concession stand to report that a stranger has purchased him a Gatorade. Jake says: “This is a good place to make friends.”

Nanna and Boppa

At some point during the night my Catholic grandparents—who will be called Nanna and Boppa—arrive, yet they spend about an hour in the foyer because it’s “too loud” in the gymnasium proper. I’m not sure who thought they’d have a pleasant evening at an event called “Ax Fighting 30.” These are the same grandparents who declared Christmas “ruined” four years ago when a still-unidentified party put a box of condoms in the family gift exchange.

Fight Thirteen

This one’s between two girls in their first fight. One of them, Regan—who has the same haircut as Bruce—has a pre-fight posse-train of twenty-three people. Regan quickly chokes out the other girl with what someone calls a flop choke.

Dad: “Is that a guy fighting a girl?”

Nanna: “Is that a girl?”

Boppa: “What’d she do to win that?”

Chad’s Fight

Chad enters the ring by leaping over the rails, instead of sliding through them like a normal fighter, i.e. someone who doesn’t deserve a thorough beating.

Dad says: “Chip off the ol’ block.”

Chad gets a quick takedown and starts punching. I’ve seen this before. Nanna puts her hands over her mouth. She rocks in her chair. Mike is bleeding from his face. Chad and Mike look like they’ve been splashing around in a puddle of Mike’s blood. The ref pauses the fight to clean up. Boppa is watching with the same expression he has when he’s watching televised golf. He served in Korea.

Mom says: “Do they do HIV testing?” (They don’t.)

The fight resumes. Mike’s mouth guard falls out. It’s not cleaned before he puts it back in. This is the least of his worries. In round three, Chad has finally beaten Mike enough for the ref to end the fight. Chad’s next fight, his coach later tells him, will be paid. You don’t get paid for beating up Mike. No more of this amateur nonsense for him. We may yet see Chad take that beating.