Presuming he's still alive, William Safire would be forced to agree: the more exclamation points an event has, the more exciting it promises to be.
K-1's "Dynamite!! USA" extravaganza made a valiant effort in punctuation, but the end result was something that may go down as the most schizophrenic, culturally confused fiasco in the sport's short history. (And I say this with full knowledge of both World Extreme Catfighting and that one Japanese event that had the handicapped fighting full contact.)
You'll be spared the requisite "Dynamite fizzles" puns, but little else. Grab some Tylenol. This one's gonna hurt.
9:00 p.m. The show opens with a one-hour Showtime broadcast of three undercard bouts. K-1 has booked the mammoth Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for the proceedings, which is roughly as optimistic as dating Madonna and not bothering with antibiotics.
9:01 p.m. The shapely ring girls make a valiant effort to dance in sync with Green Day's "Boulevard of Broken Dreams," a song that doesn't exactly promote lurid movement of the hips.
9:02 p.m. The camera dares to pan over for a crowd shot, which is predictably sparse. Journalist Dave Meltzer estimates a crowd of 8,000 at the outset, though K-1 mouthpieces had previously claimed a paid attendance of 40,000.
Only if they're all pregnant. With twins.
9:03 p.m. "Yo, yo, yo, and away we go," bleats play-by-play announcer Mauro Renallo, immediately reminding everyone why he's best left to broadcasting from abandoned warehouses with no electricity.
9:05 p.m. Renallo refers to the crowd as an "ocean of humanity." More like a puddle.
9:08 p.m. Jonathan Wiezorek (Pictures) makes his way to the outdoor ring, squinting against the sun. A graphics box onscreen lists one of his "Keys to Victory" as "Use Intelligence." Really substantial advice there.
9:09 p.m. Tim "Big Perm" Persey continues the proud tradition of terrible MMA nicknames. Pre-fight, Persey seems positively giddy about getting punched in the face. His Key to Victory? "Find His Nasty Side Early."
9:17 p.m. After introductions, Persey and Wiezorek finally lock up. Wiezorek lands some knees to Persey's happy sack, which prompts the genial Big Perm to finally find that nasty; after a break to recoup, he drops Wiezorek.
9:20 p.m. The plodding first round is over. The pace is about what you'd expect from two heavyset men in 80-degree weather.
9:22 p.m. Wiezorek has back mount and proceeds to pummel Persey for the stoppage.
"Where are you right now?" the physician asks him. Persey eyes the thin crowd. "A Raiders game?" he offers. They let him up.
9:28 p.m. Phil Baroni (Pictures) is interviewed to hype up his pending showdown with Frank Shamrock (Pictures), who will be "weighed, measured, and found lacking," much like a run of bad deli meat.
9:31 p.m. A clip of JZ Calvancanti's pithy win over Nam Phan (Pictures) is shown. This might be the first time a 26-second fight has been edited down.
9:35 p.m. Ring announcer Jimmy Lennon, Jr. channels his inner Snoop Dogg and introduces "Jake Shizzizelds." I'm about to lose my lizzunch.
9:41 p.m. Shields runs a clinic on Ido Pariente (Pictures), HMO-style: quick and merciless.
9:43 p.m. Shields is handed a very phallic-looking trophy, courtesy of K-1 parent company FEG. I chuckle and grab for a pen. A friend preemptively tells me to "grow up."
9:47 p.m. The Showtime broadcast ends by imploring viewers to order the pay-per-view. I sigh and reach for the Zantac.
10:02 p.m. The pay-per-view feed begins. We catch our first glimpse of DJ Hapa, a record-spinning stooge hired by K-1 to pander to American stereotypes. "Make some nooooise," he suggests, then threatens to "be with you all night."
10:03 p.m. Ever the masochist, I Google Hapa. The first returned link is a message board thread labeled "DJ Dork. His résumé includes the crucial ability to bring a "chill vibe" to proceedings; additionally, he's the DJ for the KTLA Morning News. Don't worry: I'm sure he "slows things down" whenever there's a mass shooting.
10:03 p.m. DJ Hapa implores the crowd to "make some nooooise" for the third time, then directs the crowd's attention to the West Tunnel. I wonder if there's going to be a fire drill.
10:04 p.m. Four minutes in and I'm already numb to the sheer inanity on display. It can't possibly get any worse. Dennis Rodman just walked in.
10:05 p.m. Rodman is carrying a torch. Fun fact: Rodman offered to bang a giant drum in a diaper, but K-1 turned him down.
10:07 p.m. The torch is now in the hands of Mu Bae Choi (Pictures), who jogs around the arena. I think the Japanese imagined this pomp with more circumstance, or vice versa.
10:08 p.m. Hong-Man Choi ascends the steps to light the Olympic Torch; he's startled when it pops, not unlike King Kong with the flashbulbs.
10:09 p.m. 1994 recording sensations All 4 One make an appearance to sing the national anthem. You might recall their hit single, "I Swear." And if you do, I sincerely hope you have a vagina.
10:14 p.m. The opening ceremonies begin. Men are jumping on pogo sticks, a musician is blaring a horn, there's fire, and Brazilian Carnival showgirls are gyrating. I think I might be getting a contact high just from watching this.
10:16 p.m. In the most random comment of the night, DJ Hapa declares that the Brad Pickett (Pictures)/Hidehiko Tokoro fight will have a "time limitation." Wha-what?
10:19 p.m. The fighter introductions begin. Hapa channels Bill Wallace circa 1993 by pronouncing "Royce" with a hard "R." The crowd goes nuts for both Gracie and Kazushi Sakuraba (Pictures) …
10:20 p.m. … but there's virtually no reaction at all for "Brack" Lesnar.
10:21 p.m. Rodman is formally introduced and motions that he needs a microphone. In the first decent production decision of the evening, no one gives it to him.
10:22 p.m. Crap, he found one. "UFC, hell no," Rodman shouts. "We is talking about K-1."
10:23 p.m. "I is talking about a raise," I tell Josh Gross.
10:24 p.m. While Renallo and color commentator Bill Goldberg discourse, DJ Hapa is yapping in the background, drowning them out. Not for nothing, but the Marquis de Sade put on better productions in mental hospitals.
10:26 p.m. Quinton Jackson (Pictures) is spotted wearing the UFC belt. I hope he isn't going to pull a Tim Sylvia (Pictures) and wear the damn thing everywhere.
10:26 p.m. Renallo says Jackson is in the "hizzouse." He's immediately punched in the face.
10:27 p.m. Thirty minutes in and someone finally remembers they have fights to stage. Former NFL Receiver Johnnie Morton (Pictures) will make his MMA debut against comedian Bernard Ackah (Pictures).
10:32 p.m. Ackah enters the arena and boards a motorized cart that takes him ringside. What, no elephants to ride?
10:34 p.m. Morton enters and boards his own cart. Forcing a fighter to stand still on these things while their adrenaline is sky-high is a different and special kind of stupid.
10:38 p.m. The bell rings. Morton looks like a spaz out there, unloading a flurry that catches nothing but air. There's no restraint, no polish. Morton tries a takedown, but can't cinch it.
10:39 p.m. Morton wades into the pocket without keeping his hands up and is knocked out cold. He's actually snoring. Thirty seconds goes by and he's still not moving. It'll be another two minutes before he even opens his eyes.
10:43 p.m. Morton is carried out on a stretcher and sports a neck brace. The scene is morbid as all hell and endorses the idea that trained fighters are another breed.
10:44 p.m. K-1 officials attempt to usher a Christian and a lion out to the ring; they appear confused when the Commission intervenes.
11:02 p.m. Professional late replacement Ruben "Warpath" Villareal and Mighty Mo lock up. Mo lands some heavy leather just 93 seconds in, crumpling Villareal in the least shocking moment of the night.
11:07 p.m. Dong Sik Yoon (Pictures) attempts to satiate his South Korean supporters by challenging Melvin Manhoef (Pictures). Manhoef is early-era Wanderlei Silva (Pictures), an absolutely vicious striker.
11:17 p.m. Manhoef comes out like a natural disaster, swarming Yoon with leather. Had it landed, one glancing high kick would've made Yoon forget the alphabet.
11:18 p.m. Yoon contains Manhoef in his guard, but only briefly. The ring ropes appear to be made of silly string, with far too much give to them. In other words, even the inanimate objects are screwing up.
11:22 p.m. Round one is over, and it was likely the best of the night: high-intensity grappling, strikes, and the fighters bouncing around the ring like pinballs. Yoon seems no worse for the wear despite having spent five minutes in the ring with a homicidal maniac.
11:26 p.m. Yoon gets the textbook armbar for the win.
11:32 p.m. Hideo Tokoro (Pictures) and Brad Pickett (Pictures) are coming up. Under time restriction, mind you.
11:38 p.m. DJ Hapa, who has inexplicably not been met with an assassin's bullet yet, implores a listless crowd to boo. "The fighters like that. It gets them riled up."
11:45 p.m. Jeff Sherwood hires DJ Hapa for his birthday party. "It's just so we can drown him in the pool," Jeff confides in me. I promise to be a character witness.
11:48 p.m. After a scramble, Tokoro submits Pickett with an armbar.
11:55 p.m. The hype for Sakuraba-Gracie begins. I have mixed feelings on the return engagement. Their first bout was epic stuff, but the ensuing seven years have been unkind to Saku, who has the all the freedom of movement of a marionette. This is going to be a very diluted sequel, "Jaws II" style.
12:00 a.m. DJ Hapa introduces Gracie with yet another hard "R." At no point in the last two hours did anyone go up to him to correct his first mistake.
12:06 a.m. As Sakuraba enters, Glazer brings up the Ali-Frazier comparisons. Who was the DJ for that one again? I forget.
12:11 a.m. The creaky legends lock up for a second time. Gracie works his patented push kick to Saku's lead thigh. As Royce rushes in, Saku lands a right hand that drops Royce. Working from an open guard, Royce lands a few flush punches to Saku's face. Saku locks up an ankle, but before he can fall back for anything, Royce discourages him with some up-kicks.
12:12 a.m. Gracie butt-scoots and lands several kicks to Saku's legs. Hapa eggs on boos from fans, inciting them to "tell them how you feel" in the middle of the fight. What a complete prostitution of the sport. I can only hope he mistakes his Gatorade Cool Blue with some antifreeze.
12:14 a.m. A familiar sight: Saku locks up a standing Kimura on Royce.
12:15 a.m. Round one ends. A very, very even contest. Royce was dropped, but he landed far more strikes. A 9-9 round is impossible without a point deduction, but this is what one would look like. Forced to score 10-9, you have to acknowledge Saku clocking him.
12:18 a.m. Midway through round two and we have yet to hear from DJ Hapa. In Saku's corner, Chute Boxe captain Rudimar Fedrigo absent-mindedly picks a bloody tooth off of his jacket. Either that, or my subconscious is just trying to cope.
12:21 a.m. Round two ends. Very little action with lots of tie-ups. Royce threw several knees to Saku's thighs; a Chute Boxe-inspired clinch was a stalemate, with Royce landing body shots to counter knees. Saku is completely disinterested in engaging. 10-9 Gracie, but nothing to be proud of.
12:27 a.m. Fight's over. Round three was a snooze, save for Gracie trying a Kimura from his guard. Going by Sherdog.com rules, which play a little like Calvinball, I'd have deducted a point from each man in each round for passivity and declare it a draw. Mario Yamasaki was far too lenient in not breaking up their repeated clinch.
Adhering to CSAC mandates, I give it to Gracie 29-28 for at least trying to be aggressive … but it's specious to say anyone "won" that fight.
12:32 a.m. Gracie is announced as the winner on the cards, ending Saku's perfect streak against the family. Helio appears happy, but really, he's only got one expression.
12:40 a.m. It's time to pop Brock Lesnar (Pictures)'s MMA cherry. Substituting for Hong-Man Choi is Min-Soo Kim, a judoka who has thus far under whelmed in MMA.
12:41 a.m. In a peculiar display of priorities, Kim's cornermen busy themselves by styling his hair.
12:42 a.m. Lesnar enters, looking surprisingly serene for a debuting athlete.
12:44 a.m. Lesnar absorbs a kick and segues into a takedown. He passes to mount and lands some short punches to Kim's well-coiffed cranium.
12:48 a.m. "Yeah! YEAH!" Goldberg maintains objectivity when Lesnar forces the tap from Kim.
12:49 a.m. Goldberg gets his rant on about pro wrestlers in MMA being unfairly maligned. I fail to see the point: Lesnar happened to be an NCAA champ, and that likely had more to do with the win than his experiences in, say, the Royal Rumble.
12:52 a.m. All smiles, Lesnar expresses disappointment that "he didn't get to fight the big-headed guy." Providing he's brought up slowly, Lesnar's work ethic and physical attributes could take him far as a heavyweight, traditionally the shallow end of the MMA pool.
12:55 a.m. The event is over. I feel damaged.
The spectacularly misguided production was, of course, no reflection on the athletes, all of whom displayed their usual mettle in competition.
That a DJ with the IQ of a mealworm was imploring the crowd to boo during Gracie-Sakuraba should, however, be just cause for the return of the firing squad.
Lesson learned. From now on, I refuse to trust any entity proceeded by less than three exclamation points.
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