Eight Sides to Every UFC Story
By Jesse Holland
Special column to UFCmaniaÃ‚Â
Texas Lazy Horse
In my last column I referred to the return of Randy Couture to the land of UFC Heavyweights as "a losing proposition."Ã‚Â I even went so far as to call the Zuffa regime "foolish" for luring him out of retirement.Ã‚Â
I presumed my arguments were well thought-out, and I was sure to include the requisite analogies and cute little Rocky IV references.
Then, I had a chance to watch the debut of Heath Herring.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am not fit to wipe Randy Couture's sweat off the floor of the Octagon.
In fact, I probably would have written this column a little sooner but I spent most of Friday sitting in a dark corner of my basement feeling dirty. I even YouTubed some of Randy's past wins just to cleanse myself.
Couture is set to fight Tim Sylvia, and he may win or he may lose.Ã‚Â But no matter if he drops in the first thirty seconds or he grinds out a decision, one thing we can be assured of, we'll see a competent display of mixed martial arts.
I spell out mixed martial arts rather then use the acronym MMA in the off-chance that Heath Herring is reading this.Ã‚Â While I do enjoy the whole "loose cannon" persona, his post-fight comments (as well as his tomfoolery inside the cage), puts an exclamation point on his appalling in-ring performance – one fans have come to expect from the UFC Heavyweights.Ã‚Â
So much for first impressions.
Steeds like Georges St. Pierre, who've mastered the art of combining disciplines and style, have set the bar very high for today's aspiring fighter.Ã‚Â A swaggering lummox like Herring knocks it right back down.
True mixed martial artists, in my opinion, are what the UFC needs more than marquee names to bolster the heavyweight ranks.Ã‚Â If Tim Sylvia is going to bob and weave for five rounds, then we need a gutsy and athletic big man who can penetrate the sprawl and punish on the ground.Ã‚Â
If Jake O'Brien is going to take you down and figure the rest out later, then we need a crafty veteran who can reverse positions and sink in the sub.
We have marquee names versus proven mixed martial artists.Ã‚Â Even atÃ‚Â 43 Randy Couture gives you both. I can't believe I ever doubted that.
Sean Salmon is a fighter I respect.Ã‚Â In a sport where you're only as good as your last fight, Sean's loss is significant for reasons more important than just hyping the newfound KO power of Rashad Evans.
Sean's knockout, both spectacular and frightening, serves as a wake-up call to all the wannabe-hardasses and keyboard warriors.
Most of us have been there, shadowboxing to our favorite jams, or daydreaming on a lazy Saturday about chop-sockying our way into title contention.
And while we always fantasize of being a certified bone-cruncher, few of us (if any) dream about getting knocked unconscious and rolled onto a stretcher.
But, that's the reality.Ã‚Â
Behind all the glitz and glamour, beneath the machismo and the trash talking, this is a sport that can be unrelentingly cruel.Ã‚Â
Sean has friends. Sean has family.Ã‚Â And at his best, he went down in flames in front of all of them.
Imagine yourself at work, at whatever your profession is.Ã‚Â You're almost guaranteed a promotion if you successfully complete the job you're given to do.Ã‚Â
You give it your best shot but you fail – and fail huge.Ã‚Â Then imagine your superiors play a tape of you failing at every new-hire orientation for years to come. Photos of you failing show up in the employee handbook and on the company Web site.Ã‚Â
Welcome to Sean Salmon's world.
Sean is going to have to swim upstream if he hopes to get back into the Octagon with any degree of success. Replacing Babalu on the highlight reel would be a devastating blow to even the most experienced fighter's psyche.
How will it affect an up-and-comer like Sean Salmon?Ã‚Â Only time will tell.Ã‚Â
I sincerely hope he returns, but if we never see him fight again, I'll continue to be grateful for his effort.Ã‚Â Not because he was KOed, but because like all of the UFC combatants, he had the heart and the courage to be there in the first place.