Maybe Josh Thomson’s walkout song was a bad omen.
For the UFC on Fox 10 main event on Saturday in Chicago, Thomson came through the curtains to a familiar hook for any NBA fan of the 1990s Chicago Bulls. With “The Punk” fighting out of San Jose, Calif., the United Center crowd may have given Thomson a hat tip for his Michael Jordan tribute, but MMA judges -- and the controversy that seems to routinely follow them -- do not take into account any sort of round ball homages.
Coming off his first loss in three years, former Ultimate Fighting Championship lightweight titleholder Benson Henderson had a choice: scrap everything about his MMA game and start anew or stick to his guns. Fortunately for Henderson, he stuck to his musical firearms, and they were awesome. New York rapper R-Swift’s hip-hop-laced devotional take on “Awesome God” has become Henderson’s signature walkout anthem since his time as World Extreme Cagefighting champion, and the MMA Lab stalwart has been a top 10 fighter ever since.
Nine months ago, Thomson made a triumphant return to the UFC with a second-round technical knockout against Nate Diaz at UFC on Fox 7. On that night, he walked out to Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg’s song “Kush,” and after the victory, the American Kickboxing Academy product’s career was driven to new heights. For the UFC on Fox 10 main event, Thomson did not just go to the opposite end of the musical spectrum with his entrance theme song; he broke the spectrum with a violent strike.
Did Dr. Dre ever sample The Alan Parsons Project’s art rock bass lines for a head-nodding hip hop beat? The Alan Parsons Project’s “Sirius/Eye in the Sky” became synonymous with the player introductions of the 1990s Chicago Bulls, who won six NBA titles in the span of eight seasons. If Thomson had defeated Henderson, a crack at UFC lightweight gold was projected for the 35-year-old veteran.
In a battle of top-5 lightweights, both Henderson and Thomson had their moments over the course of a 25-minute fight. Round one saw Thomson take down Henderson and threaten the Arizona fighter with submission attempts. In the third round, Henderson landed a Superman punch and fluid takedown of his own to seal the frame in his favor. Besides rounds one and three, the judges scoring the fight did not agree on anything.
After 25 minutes of action, controversy reigned supreme, with Henderson walking away with a razor-close split decision over Thomson. MMA judging continues to be everything but awesome.
The rest of card was highlighted by UFC fighters with a fondness for solo acts, as well as the possibility of a new MMA walkout music curse haunting your favorite cage fighting events.
Unbeaten in his previous four bouts, bantamweight Alex Caceres turned in a “Fight of the Night” and “Submission of the Night” performance versus Sergio Pettis. The man they call “Bruce Leeroy” parlayed his love of the Paul Simon song “One-Trick Pony,” which is based on the 1980 film of the same name, into the most complete performance of his nine-fight UFC career. Caceres’ love for Rhymin’ Simon knows no bounds.
Blessed with perhaps the greatest Sherdog Fight Finder profile picture ever, Ukrainian heavyweight Nikita Krylov is not afraid to think outside the box. The 21-year-old’s musical tastes span all the way back to 1958 and the “twangy” guitar sounds of Duane Eddy. Finishing Walt Harris in 25 seconds was pretty boss of Krylov. The instrumental riffs of “Rebel Rouser” could become Krylov’s new calling card in place of the “Al Capone” black hat.
Pop culture references in MMA walkout songs are unofficially frowned upon, cursed even. Roxanne Modafferi wanted to morph up with the “Power Rangers” theme song at “The Ultimate Fighter 18” Finale, and she suffered a loss. Garett Whiteley tried to incorporate the crane kick as functionally MMA offense while walking out to “You’re the Best Around” from “The Karate Kid” soundtrack at UFC Fight Night 35, only to suffer defeat.
Sans glow sticks, the “Mortal Kombat” video game theme song blasted over the speakers as Yves Jabouin tested his might and tried to “Finish Him!” However, he came up short against Eddie Wineland. Despite the run of bad luck for pop culture songs in MMA, the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and “Street Fighter II” theme songs are still on the turntable for any fighter brave enough at the UFC’s next event.
UFC on Fox 10 Walkout SongsBenson Henderson: R-Swift “Awesome God” Anthem (2009)
Josh Thomson: The Alan Parsons Project “Sirius/Eye in the Sky” Eye in the Sky (1982)
Stipe Miocic: MGK feat. DMX “D3MONS” Lace Up (2012)
Gabriel Gonzaga: Danzig “Mother” Danzig (1988)
Donald Cerrone: Kid Rock “Cowboy” Devil Without a Cause (1998)
Adriano Martins: Jesus Culture “Your Love Never Fails” Your Love Never Fails (2008)
Jeremy Stephens: Gang Starr “Work (Victory)” Moment of Truth (1998)
Alex Caceres: Paul Simon “One-Trick Pony” One-Trick Pony (1980)
Sergio Pettis: Don Omar “Danza Kuduro” Meet the Orphans (2010)
Eddie Wineland: Avicii “Hey Brother” True (2013)
Yves Jabouin: The Immortals “Mortal Kombat” MK: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (1995)
Chico Camus: T.I. “Motivation” Urban Legend (2004)
Yaotzin Meza: Erick Sermon & Marvin Gaye “Music” Music (2001)
Ramiro Hernandez: MGK feat. Tech N9ne & Twista “Edge of Destruction” Lace Up (2012)
Hugo Viana: Raul Seixas “Al Capone” Krig-ha, Bandolo! (1973)
Daron Cruickshank: Trace Adkins “Whoop a Man’s Ass” Cowboy’s Back in Town (2010)
Mike Rio: Eminem “Cinderella Man” Recovery (2010)
George Sullivan: Mobb Deep “Survival Of The Fittest” The Infamous (1995)
Mike Rhodes: Aloe Blacc “The Man” Lift Your Spirit (2014)
Nikita Krylov: Duane Eddy “Rebel Rouser” Have ‘Twangy’ Guitar Will Travel (1958)
Walt Harris: Mista Mal “Go & Get It” Mista Mal AKA Mr. Governor (2009)
Darren Elkins: Aaron Tippin “You’ve Got to Stand for Something” You’ve Got to Stand for Something (1991)
Tommy Messano is the editor-in-chief of ULTMMA.com. You can contact him on Twitter at @ULTMMA.