Michael Farrow's sports blog

A collection of new and old writings

…on Baroni, Shamrock, the British press and up-and-coming British fighters

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Phil Baroni

I've never pulled for anybody in my life like I am pulling for Baroni

So, this week, I take a sawn-off shotgun and aim it at Frank Shamrock and the British press. On a positive note, there’s love for Phil Baroni and the little guys of the United Kingdom that could make a big splash very soon.

Phil Baroni vs. Frank Shamrock

I have been watching old UFCs recently and have started to get amped for seeing Phil Baroni kill Frank Shamrock. I understand that Baroni isn’t everybody’s favourite fighter. Let’s face it, he is kind of annoying. However, seeing Phil Baroni jump on the cage after knocking out Dave Menne and screaming “I’m the best EVUH” repeatedly is a thing of beauty. It reminds me of Bjørge Lillelien’s football commentary after Norway beat England in 1981, which is considered in Britain as one of the greatest pieces of sports commentary ever. A man, sitting on top of a cage, amped up to the gills on adrenaline, bragging about his victory over the former Middleweight champion.

I said I would never watch another Frank Shamrock match after his match with Renzo Gracie. I am seemingly supposed to tolerate Shamrock’s arrogance and lack of class because he’s “selling the match” but, in my mind, his James Toney-esque trash-talking is a step beyond what should be acceptable. The man’s deluded and, in his head, it’s still 1999 when he was the man.

Why wouldn’t everybody want to see Baroni beat Shamrock’s head like a drum, just like he did to Dave Menne? It seems like many people are pulling for Baroni. Dana White has offered to double Baroni’s purse and will offer a UFC return if he can knock Shamrock out.

Baroni is apparently in Temecula, California, training with Dan Henderson’s branch of Team Quest. Hopefully, “the New York Badass”, is training his skill razor sharp and is going to come out looking so jacked, they’re going to want to piss-test him twice.

I’m very seldom so worked up about a fight, especially nearly eight weeks beforehand, but something about Shamrock tweaks me. Not in a “I want to buy a ticket to see your ass kicked” way but in a “I hope that Baroni shatters your so-called legacy”.

An open letter to the UK printed press and mainstream websites

Generally, I was disappointed to see the coverage provided by British newspapers of UFC’s recent event in Manchester. While it was encouraging that some journalists were assigned to cover the event, the frankly bigoted tone of many of the pieces was so discouraging that you may as well have not assigned anybody at all. Combat sports by their very nature are violent and bearing in mind the number of fatalities in boxing, I fail to see how so many can take a sneering attitude towards mixed martial arts, especially as, inevitably in the next paragraph, they will often concede it is a lot less likely to cause permanent brain damage.

It’s not to your tastes, I accept that. However, to take the tone that these journalists have taken is, frankly, irresponsible journalism. To take the view that fans are essentially scumbags is offensive. Fighting is fighting, people will watch it in many forms. Boxing journalists, promoters and young fighters, all of whom are protecting their livelihoods, insist on throwing mud at mixed martial arts when the problem is that boxing is a rotting cesspool that needs to be rid of the mechanisms which ruin it.

I wonder, where was the moral outrage two weeks ago when Enzo Maccarinelli beat the snot out of a mandatory challenger who didn’t belong in the same ring as him? Instead of making cretinous statements like Jeff Powell did in the Daily Mail, “It is no coincidence that the UFC arrived here in the week in which some English mothers were convicted of goading their toddlers to hit each other”, Mr. Powell should look at what boxing can learn from MMA. When the promoter of the biggest fighting PPV of 2006 says that boxing is his roadmap of what not to do, Mr Powell should consider that his opinions are quite outdated. Did the UFC see that some nasty pieces of work insisted on getting their toddlers to fight and decide “let’s fly to Manchester and put on a show”? No. You’re a cretin of the highest order Mr Powell and you don’t deserve to draw financial recompense from your awful publication. You didn’t even write a single thing down the whole show, you were fed lines by your neighbours in the press area and you didn’t even complete a night’s work. How do I know? I was watching you from a few metres away.

The Daily Star should not escape wrath for its overwhelmingly damning coverage of UFC. What do you notice about the below picture of Sunnat Ilyasov from Cage Rage 21?

Ilyasov with a Daily Star on Sunday ring girl

Yes, that’s right, the ring girl is wearing a Daily Star on Sunday tank top. She’s looks very attractive but the hypocrisy and irony of one newspaper bashing MMA while its sister paper promotes MMA is probably too dense for these people. As my friend reminded me, this is the same newspaper that railed over paedophilia on page two, while showing a picture of Charlotte Church on page 3, then below the age of consent, which had an attached story about how big her boobs were becoming. The girl was FIFTEEN and yet this picturebook for idiots dares to take the moral high ground.

This isn’t to mention the numerous inaccuracies, both before and after the event, which plagued everybody from the BBC to the Manchester Evening News; yes, the people who sponsor the arena got it wrong.

Why is it left to just Steve Bunce, boxing journalist for the Independent, to write an accurate column without the prejudice of his colleagues? Steve doesn’t understand the sport entirely but he’s willing to learn and approach it with an open-mind. This is more than we can say for nearly everybody else.

The little guys of British MMA

Over the past few years, many heavier fighters from the United Kingdom have enjoyed some level of fame at a global level. Mark Weir, Ian Freeman and Lee Murray all hit the UFC with different levels of success. James Thompson took his massive frame and questionable fighting skills to PRIDE. However, more recently, the lighter weight have started to hit the big stage.

Danny Batten, one of the top three featherweights in the UK, has recently signed a three-fight deal with Pancrase to compete in their 143 lb weight class. His début bout was a one-sided loss to Pancrase Featherweight Champion, Yoshiro Maeda, a fight he took on just a week’s notice.

Brad “One Punch” Pickett has shown up as a rumoured name to face Japanese fighter Hideo Tokoro at K-1 DYNAMITE!! USA. Tokoro is an excellent grappler, which poses massive problems for Pickett, who is still essentially a boxer. Tokoro, poached from ZST in summer 2005, has been a stalwart for the HERO*s promotion

On the undercard of the aforementioned Baroni/Shamrock bout, Paul “Semtex” Daley, the Cage Rage and FX3 welterweight champions, gets into the ring with kickboxer Duane “Bang” Ludwig. This provides a good test for the Brit, though the advantage has to go to the more-experienced Ludwig. It is nice to see British fighters make a step up and it is the first early sign that this alliance may work out nicely for top British talent.


Written by Michael Farrow

May 1, 2007 at 12:18 pm

Posted in MMA

Tagged with , ,

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