My older brother Chad, despite ten consecutive amateur mixed martial arts victories, has relinquished his AX Fighting 145-pound title belt. A viable contender, Drew Brokenshire, challenged him to a fight, and Chad declined the challenge. According to the rules of amateur MMA, if you decline a challenge, you must forfeit your belt. It’s similar to the rules for duels in nineteenth-century Russian novels.
Chad turned down the fight because he’s been working out of state on test flights for the Boeing 787 and hasn’t been able to train consistently. I’ve been unable to gauge exactly how Chad feels about forfeiting his belt, but I’m sure he’s aware that saying, “I’d fight you, but I have to work,” is exactly what a total pussy would say.
So instead Drew is fighting Kale Bradford, a 145-pound fighter who trains at the same gym as Chad, Charlie’s Combat Club. Journalistic responsibility seems to require that I attend AX Fighting 33 to witness the fight for the belt that was formerly my brother’s. There’s a chance that if Chad’s work schedule cooperates and he stops being a puss he’ll fight the winner of this fight to regain his dignity and delay his move to the pro ranks, where I’ll all but guarantee a beating or two awaits him.
I’m accompanied tonight by Chad, several of his friends, and my beautiful wife, who has agreed to attend and provide color commentary for AX Fighting 33 under the condition that in all written material she is referred to as My Beautiful Wife (henceforth MBW).
We arrive at Edmonds Community College right as the fights start. The thirty-dollar bleacher seating has already sold out, and all that remains are thirty-five-dollar seats in the folding chairs closer to the ring. I’ve brought my homemade press pass for just this purpose, but while we’re in line Chad appears with two reserved-seating tickets for MBW and me, rendering my press pass unnecessary.
An Anthropological Analysis of Tonight’s Audience
I have no way to confirm this, but we have to be setting a per-capita record for Nickelback fans.
This fight is between a Mexican man and an African-American man. Chad and his friend Robert offer a racially charged commentary for the whole fight. This commentary is not written down, despite Chad’s completely valid objection: “Like we need to be politically correct here.”
MBW’s analysis: “The black guy looks a lot stronger. Just in terms of muscles.”
The two men sitting to my left are on an iPhone looking at an X-ray of a human spine. They are discussing vertebrae. They are not watching the fight. They soon leave.
The fighter in the blue corner enters the ring accompanied by a song that keeps rhyming “fuck” with “fuck” and other conjugations of “fuck.”
MBW’s take on this fighter: “He looks like he’s been in jail or something. Looks like a serial killer.”
It’s true: he has an orange mohawk, a goatee you could hide a shank in, and what can only be described as methamphetamine eyes. He’s not big or even muscular, but I’m receiving reports from further down the row that he looks like the pedophile from Prison Break, which I haven’t seen and now will not see.
The only note I have about the second fighter is that his posse is the goofiest-looking bunch of misfits in the history of MMA.
In the first round Meth Eyes gets his ass almost literally handed to him: at one point his opponent has him bent in such a way that his ass is just inches from his mouth.
This angers Meth Eyes. At the start of the second round he runs at his opponent and throws a huge no-one-hands-my-ass-to-me punch. His opponent, in a move that’s both smart and awesome, simply ducks and tosses Meth Eyes to his back.
Someone behind me is yelling: “crucifix, crucifix.”
In MMA, there are at least two ways to handle being on your back. The first way is to wrap up your opponents’ arms and legs and hunt for ways to choke or harm him—this is called “guard,” and it makes for a more or less neutral position. The second way, which we’re going to call the Meth Eyes Approach, is to flop on your back, go limp, and just give up, letting your opponent pummel your face until the ref stops the fight. Meth Eyes goes to his corner and stands there, pissed that he lost, his face flush and smeared with blood. This doesn’t make him look any less like a serial killer. For the rest of the night he lurks in the area behind our chairs, stretching and pacing.
On a trip to the restroom, I see some tall white men in community college basketball uniforms. They’re peering into the gym, looking confused. I’m assuming they came to shoot some hoops, only to find that the gym was being used for decidedly non-hoop-shooting purposes.
Someone behind me keeps yelling: “push on his face.” Not an actual MMA move.
MBW’s Commentary on the Ring Girls,
Collected Throughout the Night
MBW’s analysis of the ring girls in general:
“The ring girls are so disgusting.”
MBW’s stance on the ring girls’ attire:
“When you really think about it, the idea that they wear bathing suits is just sickening. I mean, they could just wear really skanky clothes. It’s not subtle at all.”
MBW’s assessment of the ring girl in the pink bathing suit:
“The one in the pink bathing suit doesn’t even have big boobs.”
MBW’s assessment of the ring girl in the red bathing suit:
“She’s awfully short. Those boobs don’t look real either. I’m sorry, but they don’t.”
MBW’s continued assessment of the ring girl in the red bathing suit:
“Looks like a porn star. That hair.”
MBW’s take on the ring girl in the black bathing suit:
“She’s got more cellulite than I’d like people to see. I’m just being bitchy though.”
Fight Seven: Girl on Girl, Part One
This is the first of three female vs. female fights tonight. The fighter in the blue corner is named Brittany. She looks like what my Dad would call a very nice young lady. She has pale skin, strawberry-blonde hair tied into a ponytail, and looks like a perfectly healthy 140-pound female. Or, as Chad puts it, she looks like she would “take fourth place in a wet T-shirt contest” (out of four participants, presumably). Her opponent, Jamie Gonzales, who trains at Charlie’s Combat Club with Chad, is 140 pounds of fem-muscle and, as MBW says, “has a very nice tan. She’s very toned. Or maybe she might be Mexican.”
What follows is the night’s real downer: Jamie shoves Brittany to the mat, straddles her, and punches her again and again in the baby-fat face. Brittany takes her beating quietly, without much of a struggle, just the way you’d expect a very nice young lady to take a beating.
It’s sad, seeing a nice person get beat up like this. What makes it worse is that there’s really no one to blame. Brittany can’t be blamed for signing up. She probably somehow thought she had a chance. And Jamie’s not really at fault for doing exactly what she was supposed to do, that is, winning. The people who arrange the fights can’t really be blamed either, since they arrange the fights according to fighters’ records and don’t have anything to gain from mismatches. It seems that we just live in a universe where, in the midst of an otherwise enjoyable and entertaining evening of athletic competition and mild violence, a very nice young girl can get her face beaten into a bloody mess.
MBW’s take: “If I won, I wouldn’t want to take a photo with a ring girl.”
The second fighter’s intro song is evidently not a song at all but one of those spoken interludes sometimes found between tracks on rap albums. I only have the time and the emotional wherewithal to write down the first sentence, which was a sort of thesis statement for the next forty-five seconds of audio:
“I will tie you to a fucking bedpost with your ass cheeks spread out.”
A small girl holding a stuffed pink unicorn soon sits in the vacant seat to my left.
MBW is now playing games on her smart phone. She states on the record that she is sort of bored.
This one’s a boxing match between someone named David and someone the announcer calls Tim “One Punch” Abell. I suspect he gave himself this nickname. It takes him significantly more than one punch to win the fight.
Fight Ten: Girl on Girl, Part Two
The announcer seems uncertain whether we’re ready for another women’s MMA fight. We assure him that we are indeed ready for another women’s MMA fight.
This one’s in the 155-pound weight class or, as MBW says, the “that’s a big girl” weight class. Everyone in our row agrees that we wouldn’t have given it a second thought if the girl in the blue corner had been introduced as a guy.
MBW is unable to shed any feminine light on why girls seem unable to block punches.
At one point in the first round, the gym is almost totally silent with boredom.
A clothing company called Hooligan Inc. has a booth and a large banner in the southeast corner of the room. The banner says “Hooligan” and then, in a slightly smaller font, it says:
This appears to be both a URL and an email address.
Elsewhere in the gym is the sound booth, staffed by two young males around age twelve. They are wearing T-shirts that say “TapOut.” One is cradling a basketball. In a brief interview, they confirm that they are responsible for tonight’s volume levels and music selection, except of course for fighters’ intro songs. They then make it clear that they are not interested in further journalistic inquiries.
Two of the ring girls spend the intermission furiously texting. The third chews gum and gazes at the ring.
MBW’s take on the intermission: “I’m bored.”
MBW’s smart phone has died, so she’s now on her work phone playing a primitive game of Where’s Waldo?
This fight is ended by a literal knockout punch. One of the fighters lands a fist right on his opponent’s chin, which produces a loud “clink” noise. It’s either the sound of knuckle hitting jawbone or of teeth snapping shut or, most likely, both. That’s the end of the fight.
The ZipFizz Girls
This is the ZipFizz girls’ third trip out to the ring to distribute ZipFizz, a just-add-water beverage that now features the tagline “Healthy Energy Drink.” I’m not sure on the technical distinction here, but one of the ZipFizz girls is short enough to qualify as a dwarf or a midget. Despite her height, her breasts appear large enough to topple even a normal adult human female. I’m not quite sure how she’s staying upright.
There are five or six people in the audience standing and screaming for the ZipFizz girls to throw them canisters of ZipFizz and/or ZipFizz T-shirts. All of these people are white males over age forty. Typically the ZipFizz girls throw out canisters of ZipFizz one at a time, but these ZipFizz girls seem to have misunderstood their instructions and instead throw the entire plastic bag of ZipFizz canisters at once, to what must be one ecstatic middle-age man.
MBW has found Waldo.
Fight 15: Girl on Girl, Part Three
Someone has triggered the emergency-exit alarm. The announcer says: “Someone has a loud-ass Motorola.” This is met by one or two laughs, so he amends his joke to “loud-ass pacemaker,” which is met by silence and more beeping.
Once the beeping stops, the announcer assures us that whatever the outcome of this next fight, we in the audience are the winners. This fight, he tells us, is for the 125-pound women’s AX Fighting MMA title.
The first girl, Amy, has a large and distinctly ellipsoid belly button. The other girl, Regan, has short hair and nineteen people in her posse. The female fighters seem to have the largest posses. Someone in our row points out that, in case we hadn’t noticed, Regan and Amy are oriented differently in a sexual way.
The first round makes obvious what you could probably guess about 125-pound females: they can punch a lot, and they can punch accurately, but they just can’t punch that hard.
In between rounds, the sound guys play filler music. For previous fights they’ve played Eminem or other twelve-year-old-listener-supported rap. For this fight—a fight that touches on some interesting questions regarding gender, especially gender as it relates to athletics—they play the chorus of that “Lovely Lady Humps” song.
In round three, someone behind me is yelling what sounds like “three way.” At one point, Regan punches Amy’s blood-covered face and blood sprays into the first four rows. Regan wins. She’s now the 125-pound women’s AX Fighting champion.
Fight Fifteen: The 145-Pound Title Fight
Before the fight starts, the announcer asks several times if Chad Douglas is in the house. Chad finally enters the ring, carrying his AX Fighting 145-pound title belt. The announcer introduces Chad as the current 145-pound AX Fighting champion, and then asks him why he’s not defending his title tonight.
“Taking a little intermission,” Chad says. “Be back soon.”
Showing an investigative tenacity that puts my interview with the twelve-year-old sound guys to shame, the announcer asks Chad what’s going on, what he’s doing, what he’s planning on doing, why he’s not fighting. The (just barely) unspoken question: “Are you just being a pussy or what?”
Chad says: “A little intermission, and then we’ll see what’s up.”
The whole thing seems aimed to humiliate Chad. It’s mercifully ended for the actual fight to start.
The fighters are introduced as Drew “The Eternal Flame” Brokenshire and Kale (pronounced “collie”) “Hawaiian Punch” Bradford. It’s unclear whether these are established nicknames or ones that the announcer penned himself.
In the first round, Hawaiian Punch takes The Eternal Flame down and punches him a few times. It’s hard to gauge this sort of thing, but it seems like both fighters are much tougher than anyone Chad has fought in recent history. While Hawaiian Punch continues to punch, the Eternal Flame wraps his legs around Hawaiian Punch’s head and grabs his arm. Hawaiian Punch stops punching and starts thrashing around, trying to dislodge The Eternal Flame. I still don’t understand the geometry or physics of this move, but the Eternal Flame succeeds in locking out Hawaiian Punch’s arm in such a way so that Hawaiian Punch has two options: one, let his elbow break and lose the fight or, two, tap out and lose the fight. He chooses option two. After The Eternal Flame is declared the winner, Chad then has to actually hand him the belt. Again: humiliating. The lights go on. The ring girls are putting jeans on over their swimsuits. The emergency exit starts beeping again. If Chad fights another amateur fight, it will most likely be against Drew “The Eternal Flame” Brokenshire.