In the last two weeks MMA has seen it all.
The good. When 22,000 screaming fans packed the Bell Centre in Montreal to watch one of the biggest sporting events in Canada this year. The main event aside, UFC 97 was a tremendous success for the UFC and for the city of Montreal.
The sad. Likely seeing Chuck Liddell’s last fight in MMA, when a crushing left hand from Shogun Rua knocked him out in Montreal. We’ll miss you Chuck. You’ve done more for the sport than you’ll ever know.
The bad. The UFC 97 main event was one of the worst in history and even Dana White was shown trashing the main event that he put together. A stark contrast from a year ago at UFC 83 when the main event stole the show.
Then this week there was some ugly. And it was really ugly.
On Thursday, the Dream Entertainment Group (who are no strangers to ridiculous matchmaking), who have seen declining ratings; announced one of the biggest freakshow cards in the history of MMA. Dream’s “World Superman Championship” 8 man tournament will include high profiled names like Gegard Mousasi and Mark Hunt. But one name stands out above the rest – Jose Canseco.
Yes, the same Jose Canseco who bashed homeruns and his fellow teammates in a tell all book is going to enter the MMA ring and take on 7 foot giant Hong Man Choi. Canseco’s experience? He claims he is a decorated martial artist but in his only two exhibition boxing matches he was knocked out by former NFL player Vai Sikahema and had a no decision to reality TV celebrity and former child star Danny Bonaduce. Yep, Canseco couldn’t even beat Danny Partridge. Now he’ll take on the 7 foot 350 lbs Choi, who has 18 kickboxing fights and has fought MMA against Mirko Cro Cop and Fedor Emeilenko.
The second was Kyle Maynard’s first ever MMA fight, which had to take place in a barn in Alabama, since his attempts to get sanctioned in Georgia went unsuccessful.
I’m sure you’ve heard of Maynard by now. He is a congenital amputee who was born without elbows or lower legs. He has done more with his 23 years than most ever will in their entire lives and he should be regarded as a hero. But should he be fighting in Mixed Martial Arts?
No matter what side of the fence you fall on this issue – and opinions have been polarizing – it’s difficult to imagine MMA receiving any more mainstream acceptance if Maynard is able to fight on a big stage. For years the UFC has worked with the regulators and refuse to have events in states where no regulations exist. States like Alabama where Maynard fought.
I say good for Kyle. It was his lifelong dream to compete in MMA and he took that ball and ran with it. But at the same time, as a long time fan of MMA and someone who has seen it go from The Ultimate Freakshow that couldn’t get on PPV 12 years ago, to the sport we see today, I can’t help but worry that situations like Maynard and Canseco in the cage could set the sport back.
Baseball would look silly if they brought Clay Guida into pitch a game. I don’t see the Montreal Canadiens throwing Georges St. Pierre over the boards for a shift at the Bell Centre. And I’m not so sure that if MMA wants to continue this growth they need Canseco and Maynard on a big stage.
And if Canseco really needs a fight, I heard David Cassidy is easy beatable.