Monday Morning Reverie: bodogFIGHT

By Mike Sloan Apr 16, 2007
I need to start this column off by admitting something that typically sounds unprofessional for someone who is a member of the media. But since the cast members over at the various ESPN outlets are blatant homers for various teams and freely admit who they adore, I'll follow suit: I was openly cheering for Matt Lindland (Pictures) to beat Fedor Emelianenko (Pictures).

Don't take that last sentence for more than what it actually states because I am a huge fan of King Fedor. He is hands down one of my favorite fighters to watch as his talent level is beyond comprehension. He dominates B-Level opposition and solves the puzzle on how to triumph over fellow elite fighters. As a whole, he does everything better inside the realm of combat than anybody else, and that includes the usual parade of pound-for-pound claimants.

While such warriors as Matt Hughes (Pictures), Georges St. Pierre (Pictures), Chuck Liddell (Pictures), Dan Henderson (Pictures) and Anderson Silva have been labeled pound-for-pound contestants, not a single one from that group -- or any other group for that matter -- can lay a legitimate claim that would expunge Fedor from his throne.

So why was I rooting for Lindland to win? Simple. He was brought in to fight a man regarded as arguably the greatest fighter in the history of mixed martial arts, and almost nobody gave him a legitimate shot at actually beating Fedor. Most people within MMA labeled Lindland as basically nothing more than a bucket of chum for a pack of tiger sharks.

The pre-event hype leading up to the solid bodogFIGHT card Saturday in St. Petersburg, Russia was all Fedor and understandably so. But even the broadcast team featuring long-time international feed/radio boxing blow-by-blow legend "Colonel" Bob Sheridan was giving Lindland no chance of winning.

Listening to their pre-fight vernacular pertaining to the Emelianenko-Lindland showdown was somewhat comedic. I couldn't tell whether the commentary trio of Sheridan, Paul Lazenby and Jeff Osborne (Pictures), as well as roving reporter Aleks Paunovic, were trying to stage the fight as a possible miraculous Cinderella story for Lindland or if they were just trying to over hype Fedor by giving Lindland virtually no praise whatsoever.

The way they made it sound, it was as if Fedor was defending his undisputed world heavyweight title against some 16-year-old shopping cart gatherer from your local grocery store.

Flabbergasted was I while the broadcast continued and I wondered why they chose that sort of angle. If I hadn't known any better, I would have thought that Fedor was wasting his time on Saturday night and why wasn't this MMA emperor fighting the second or at least third best fighter in his weight class?

It didn't make a whole heck of a lot of sense to me, but then again, it probably was tough trying to make a fight between the world's baddest fighter, who happens to be a heavyweight, and a former middleweight, who lost in his bid to win the UFC 185-lb. title, sound appealing.

Still, they could have tried to paint a better picture for Lindland and that is precisely why I was cheering for him to score what would amount to arguably the biggest upset in the history of MMA. Well, I was also rooting for "The Law" because I have interviewed him probably more than any other fighter and he has always been a genuine, classy individual as well as one of the best at 185 and perhaps 205.

Going into the fight, though, I didn't think Lindland was going to win. My pre-fight prediction was that Fedor would have a difficult time with the Olympic wrestling silver medal winner in the first round but figure him out in the second and then stop him via ground-and-pound in the third. I didn't expect Lindland to rush right in and try to go toe-to-toe with Fedor and open a sizeable gash over his right eye that early, but for the first minute or so of the contest he was doing just as well as I had figured.

Lindland was doing just fine until he attempted the beautiful body slam where Fedor latched onto the ropes (more on that later) and eventually reversed the tides. From there I knew it was just a matter of time because whenever Fedor is on top of his foes, it's basically all over. In a matter of roughly one minute, Lindland was tapping out due to a wicked armbar and the fight was over. Fedor was happy while Lindland was angry at himself and clutching what probably was a broken arm.

Once Fedor reversed the takedown attempt from Lindland he turned it into a Grappling 101 match and easily subbed his opponent. I realize that Lindland is one of the world's best fighters who was moving up in weight, but aside from a cut that occurred thanks to a loopy left hook, Fedor was unfazed.

Fedor did exactly what an elite fighter is supposed to do: quickly dispatch of an opponent who is widely regarded as a massive underdog. Hardly anybody gave Lindland a shot at winning and many predicted an early win for Fedor. Elite fighters do that to lesser fighters. They are supposed to decimate smaller men or men who are a level or two below them. They are also supposed to score victories over fellow elite fighters, which is what Fedor has made a career of.

Kudos to Matt Lindland (Pictures) for stepping up and challenging the Russian monster and I hope his arm is not broken. Kudos also goes to Fedor for making Lindland tap in the first round, and for securing his position as the King of MMA.

Tattooed Fedor impresses

Even though I figured Aleksander Emelianenko (Pictures) was going to topple "Big" Eric Pele (Pictures), I didn't think he'd stop him in the first round. Pele is a very good fighter with an excellent chin but that didn't prevent him from being taken out by Fedor's little brother. It was a solid victory for Aleksander, a taller heavily tattooed version of Fedor with a mullet-in-training.

Pele has never been knocked out before and that in itself makes Aleksander's win more impressive. The jury is still out on the younger Emelianenko as to whether he's a legitimate top heavyweight, but he's exciting when he fights. Thankfully, most of his ink isn't that trendy tribal/barbed wire/Japanese scripture garbage that litters most tough guys' bodies. And speaking of tattoos, maybe talented tattoo artist Pele can give Aleksander a new one if he's ever in Las Vegas.

"Colonel" Bob Sheridan and the commentary

I briefly touched on this topic in my intro, but I must admit that the commentary was good. I've always been a huge fan of how Sheridan calls professional boxing and it was fun to hear him do MMA for the first time.

He clearly is new to MMA but he at least sounds intelligent when he talks. And while it was a bit annoying to hear the other two men screaming at the top of their lungs when something happened in the ring, it certainly was much better than hearing the clichéd Mike Goldberg rambling on and on about nonsense (has Goldberg always sounded like that?).

The rest of the Bodog card …

…was solid. While it wasn't three-girls-in-bed-at-the-same-time fantastic, it wasn't devour-a-gallon-of-Liquid-Plumber terrible, either.

Every fight, save for the women's contest, ended well before the distance and there were some thrilling submissions and stoppages along the way. I think the pay-per-view cost was a bit steep, but other than that the event was solid. Hopefully the company did well enough and will continue to do so to ensure more televised events in the future.

Seriously, was that a joke?

I was watching the Bodog event and at first I thought it was 1992 all over again. I looked to my wife during one segment and I literally said with a hearty laugh, "What the [F bomb] is he doing here?"

Yes, I was referring to the legendary Jean-Claude Van Damme, the Frank Dux/Time Cop/Guile/Brother-of-Dennis-Alexio "International Movie Star" who was once reportedly knocked out cold by real-life tough guy Chuck Zito.

I thought that the man who was the first Predator* for the subsequently titled movie lost his entire career after the hideous yet wonderful Legionnaire was released in 1998. I didn't know he actually made another 12 movies since then plus one that's being made as we speak.

To be honest, I thought he died from a drug overdose a few years back. I had no idea he was still around, making movies and inevitably making a cameo appearance at a Fedor fight. Apparently he is a huge star in Russia?

The Bodog production team had to show Van Damme at ringside about 10 times throughout the duration of the event for a bunch of quick laughs.

I can hear them now: "Dude, pan the camera on to Timecop again! Ha ha ha ha ha! Good one, dude! Man, show him again! Isn't he the same guy who once knocked out a boa constrictor in Hard Target? Ha ha ha ha ha ha! Pan past him again! Look! It's that one guy who was in the background for a split second in Breakin'! Ha ha ha ha ha! Stop, it's too much! My stomach's going to burst!"

Actually, what was even funnier was the fact that he walked into the arena with kickboxing/K-1 legend Peter Aerts (Pictures) and that Van Damme said he was good friends with Fedor. Am I missing something? Please tell me that he is going to turn to MMA.

Misc. debris

While I maintain my opinion that the "Colonel" did a fine job as lead commentator, someone should have told him that the queue cards he was reading off of were too far to the right. When he "looked at" me through my TV while speaking before and after the event, he was actually looking at my dog that was sleeping on the chair next to me. …

I'm not sure if the rest of the world had the same exact time block for the Bodog pay-per-view as I, but after the show ended there was at least a solid hour left over until the allotted telecast time slot expired. I could be way off base here, but they could have at least showed the entire fight between Steve Steinbeiss and Bill Mahood (Pictures) and not just the third round. They could have also at least announced who actually won the fight. …

Bodog probably could have aired a few other fights as well such as Rodrigo Damm-Santino Defranco (Pictures) (second-round choke), Ray Steinbeiss (Pictures)-Dmitry Samoilov (first-round choke), Erik Oganov (Pictures)-Derrick Noble (Pictures) (second-round TKO) and/or Amar Suloev (Pictures)-Andy Foster (26-second KO). They dropped the ball on that one. …

For personal reasons due to countless inside jokes between me and those close to me, Nick "The Goat" Thompson has the greatest nickname in the history of mankind. …

There is no merit in regards to the "Fedor grabbed the rope" argument as to why he won. Everybody grabs the ropes and/or fence in MMA. He wasn't penalized because it was a one-time thing. It happens all the time so let's all collectively get over it and move on. Fedor would have won anyway. …

I realize quite a few of the Bodog girls are much better looking than, say, Ricky Lake, but what exactly was the point of the show-closing segment of them getting out of the pool and walking on the beach? Sure, it was fun to watch but where did that fit in respect to the actual event itself? …

I heard rumors that Joe Rogan enjoyed the Bodog event. Mike Goldberg agreed 100 percent. …

*Van Damme was hired to play the role of Predator, but early in during production of the movie, they scrapped him and eventually created the Predator we all know and love.

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